Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I Smell a Legend

Every so often, out of the blue, a friend, associate, work colleague or relative hits me with an urban legend. Now I've not made a special study of urban legends but I always know one when I hear one. Quite often it's one I've never heard before...the notable exception being..."Eddie Murphy paid my relative's hotel bill" - Y'know the one "Down, lady! Down!" Eddie shouts this in the lift but he's really talking to his dog but the relative; your elderly aunt thinks she's is being robbed and to make it up to her Eddie pays her hotel bill. NOW LISTEN HERE! HEAR YE! HEAR YE! This may come as a shock, but Eddie Murphy did not pay your aunt's hotel bill. Neither did Will Smith in the Will Smith version of the legend. Not even if this was just post 9/11 and will had extra security with him in case of a terrorist attack. In the version of this ancient urban legend that was desperately trying to sound current in October 2001. I first heard this one in 1993 and it was old then.

Next! No, a gentlemen of middle eastern appearance did not drop a wallet near a friend of yours in a shopping mall; have it be returned by said friend only to be warned: "You've done me a favour now I'll do you one - stay out of this mall on X date." This one I've heard the most, probably, different people, hundreds of miles and years apart - yet almost word for word the same.

Next! No, your relative did not give a ride to a mysterious old lady, suddenly feel uncomfortable...trick her out of the car...only discover later that she had left a handbag in the car and it had a hatchet in it. This I've heard since the eighties when it was also an episode of Roald Dahl's Tal es of the Unexpected. Yes the story is creepy the first time you hear it but you are still a sap for believing it.

Next! No, (and here is my most recent acquisition) no-one you know has ever eaten in a chinese restaurant and got a piece of metal lodged in their tooth then had to go to the dentist only to have the dentist tell them that it is the id chip from a dog. I mean, really.

Next! The police have traced my IP address and it turns out that I am making this post from inside the spare bedroom upstairs in your house right now. Don't go upstairs! Run! I'm a psychotic blogger with an axe. No come back! I was joking.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Cyborg Boy Versus the Living Hedge

Around the age of eight or nine, circa 1975, I had watched so many episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man that I was pretty much convinced I was bionic myself. I hadn't been in a terrible accident or anything I just thought that at some point when I wasn't looking Oscar Goldman had had me fitted with robotic limbs. As I dashed around the school yard I could hear the Six Million Dollar Man theme tune (and just occasionally the earlier theme song - "Can't catch him if you can't beat him, if he can't love 'im - cos he's the man; Six Million Dollar Man...Six Million Dollar Man...) echoing in my empty head.

Part of the playing field of my school was a steep hill and sometimes we played a game of "British Bulldog" (for US readers - running past someone who tries to stop you). Well, we were playing this one day and I started running down the hill...cue bionic leg movement sound effects...towards a kid called Nigel who was built like a brick outbuilding...I had envisaged that my incredible speed and power would bounce him out of the way; instead I seemed to bounce off him and into the Hawthorne hedge which served as the boundary the school. Ow! It flamin' hurt. I took the advice of close personal friends and quit playing the game to retire hurt to "The Quiet Area" a central courtyard zone within the school. I sat on a bench with my buddies and became aware of sharp stabbing pain in my left forearm. I rolled up my shirt to find a tuft of greenish sappy wood sticking out of my skin. And, you'll have to trust me on this, but there were witnesses...I yanked out the green wood to reveal that it was just about the biggest hawthorne thorn I've ever seen. Had to be an inch and a half long. If I was bionic and this was a robotic arm why did it hurt so much? Conversely, if I had a real arm...where was the blood? The 'wound' for there was a hole in my arm that had to be the same length as the thorn was totally dry and bloodless. To tell you the truth I felt a little faint. My friends went to tell a dinner lady (lunch attendant) and she refused to believe that anything of the sort could possibly have happened. With the benefit of hindsight I think it warranted a tetanus shot at least. But we gave up trying to convince her and eventually we went back to playing. With, if there's any justice, my pal's regarding me as slightly more macho than they had. And I was able to go back to believing I was bionic.

Strange addendum: in about 1982, I suffered a deep puncture injury to my left wrist (yes wrist, where all those vital blood vessels are). And er, that didn't bleed either. So either I'm leading some kind of charmed life or Oscar Goldman had me fitted with a bionic left arm when I was a kid. Admit it. You can't catch me, if you can't beat me, if you can't love me...I'm the man.