Monday, August 20, 2007

A stern mistress, lunch with Kojak and Harry Potter's nob.


I have just been thoroughly berated by Mrs Patel the Post mistress. I'm not entirely sure that this title is official these days but her clearly homemade badge proclaims it as her salutation so who am I to argue. Anyway, apparently I hadn't filled in the Special D form so that it met with her rigorous standards of accuracy (and I'm fairly sure, penmanship). After a fairly brisk thirty seconds (which felt much more like an hour or two) of high speed lambasting with accompanying dirty look I was finally allowed to post the results of head swap week along with the greens for cheorls and skirmishers. As I left the regular chap (who I assume to be the long suffering Mr Patel) emerged from the back room with a cup of tea for his wife who then relinquished her place at the counter much to the relief of everyone still in the queue. With a bit of luck I'll manage to get a few more packs finished this week and posted off to the Beasty boys before I'm dragged off to Crete next week.

Have you ever felt a situation sliding away from you and felt absolutely powerless to stop it? Yeah, well I had one of them this weekend. It's a fairly involved story with some essential background info so if you're gonna stick with it you might want to go and grab a cuppa before we start. Don't worry I'll wait...

Sitting comfortably? Then I will begin.

Uncle Dick is dying. I could beat around the bush try and break it gently but he's never been keen on that kind of thing. Lucy's (hereafter know as the wife) uncle has been diagnosed with cancer and so has been spending quite a lot of time back and forth to hospital having tests and things. He was due in again on Saturday morning (which I found most unusual) and so the wife and I were going round to look after his boy whilst his missus drove him to his appointment. Dick's a great fella and while we sat and had a cuppa before he set off he decided to tell me all about his condition in his own inimitable style.

***Bad taste alert. These are Dick's words not mine!***
Apparently it's cancer of the bumhole (that may not be entirely accurate but as that's where the probes and scopes keep going that's what he's calling it) and he's developed a new found respect for the friends of Dorothy. It would seem that mans best friend is not, in fact, the faithful hound but the tube of cooling lube. Dick never takes anything very seriously.
***Bad taste will now resume at normal levels.***

Anyway Dick went off to hospital and Cameron (the lad) and I fell into our usual discussion of 40k and then adjourned upstairs for a quick troop inspection and a small game (now you see why I got asked to child mind). As the afternoon wore on and the marines were put away I noticed his copy of the latest Harry Potter book sitting on his shelf. Having just finished reading it myself [side note: I had never read a Harry Potter until this last one came out having been content until now to wait for the movies but seeing as the series was finally complete I went and bought the lot and read them back to back. I had no great desire to read them but hate having stories spoilt for me (whether I want to read them or not) so to ensure I got the find out on my own terms I thought I'd get them read. I must say though that I thoroughly enjoyed them.] I was confident the talking about them could while away an hour or so before we had to think of something else to do to keep Cam entertained. As it turned out we had a great afternoon. As the conversation gambled gently across the HP(not the sauce) universe we got on about Quidditch. Both of us thought it'd make a cool little tabletop game and as you do we found ourselves brainstorming rules ideas.

As evening drew in we both became more and more excited about this little project and decided we'd have to do something about it next time I was round. Then the phone rang. Dick was going to have to stay overnight and his wife was popping back to pick up some bits for him so would we be alright to stay on? The wife had to work and so foxtrot oscar'ed to get ready but I stayed on. Finding ourselves with a few more hours with nothing to do Cam and I got on the computer and started writing our rules. A quick bit of research on t'internet and we were raring to go. There was one awkward moment when during an image search of the word quidditch we stumbled upon a picture of Harry Potters nob. It was a publicity shot from that horse rape play he did. The uncomfortable silence was short lived as Cam's mouse clicking finger got us out of trouble and moved us on to a picture of Ginny Weasly which he seemed to enjoy a lot more.

Anyway by seven o'clock the rules were written and I'd knocked us up a board and some pieces to play with. It was only 'travel size' and used crude counters but was no less fun for that. Here is our quidditch board.The rules worked nicely and after a couple of tweaks to the way things worked (that snitch is a sticky problem) we were soon enjoying ourselves immensely. As the games went on we were talking about making a proper sized pitch and I'd said I might be tempted to sculpt up a couple of teams for us to play with. I even entertained the thought of having it as a participation game at a couple of shows next year. At nine Dick's missus got back and was a little surprised to see Cam was still up and so we packed away the board. As the wife had gone to work and Cams mum was knackered I stayed on the sofa with the intention of going home the following morning.

So Sunday dawns and while Mrs Dick did us a fry up Cam and I got the quidditch out again. We played for most of the morning until it was time to go and get Dick. Seeing as the wife was sleeping I daren't go home and wake her up so I went along to the hospital to keep Cam company while mum sorted out Dad's discharge. We could have stayed at home but Cam wanted to see his dad. From this point on things are a bit of a blur.

We arrive on 'the unit' at about eleven and Dick's not quite ready to go yet as there are some results the docs are waiting for. Having packed the Quidditch board in my backpack ready to get dropped off on the way back from the hospital Cam and I can't resist having a quick game in the visitors room. At some point during the game an older couple come into the room and we have to tone down all the shouting about quaffles and bludgers. It seems though we didn't tone it down quite enough and soon the lady is asking us what we're up to so I explain what it's all about. It turns out her son is on the unit and is a mad Harry Potter fan. We chat for a bit longer before they leave to visit their son. Twenty minutes later they come back with son in tow. It seems he was intrigued by his mum's talk of our game and wanted to see it for himself so I talk him through the rules and invite him to play Cam. He's well up for it and asks his mum if she can get the nurses to bring his lunch in to the visitors room, as it happens this isn't allowed but they are quite happy for us to go to his bed space and play there. After a quick check with Dick (who's results are still MIA) we go onto the unit proper and get the board out yet again. Cam is completely unfazed by 'the unit' and chats away merrily with Phil (our new acquaintance) about Potter.

For what feels like the millionth time this weekend the Quidditch board comes out and as we play Phil runs us through his illness. Apparently it was battered into remission last year but has come back with a vengeance and seems determined to finish him off. His main worry (as a17 year old fella) is that he's gonna loose his hair again and will be back looking like Kojak (a reference I found unusual for a 17 year old but apparently it came from his dad). Lunch arrives while we are talking about what I do for a living. Now it's never easy to describe what I do so I've taken to carrying around a few odd casting so that people can see what the hell I'm on about. While Phil's examining a couple of Saxons Cam tells the nurse what the game's all about and tells her I'm going to make all the figures for it. Phil was very nice about the Saxons (although I'm not entirely sure he was convinced) and seemed keen to get his hands on a set of Quidditch players. Not being sure what to say I promised that if they ever get cast up (frankly unlikely) I'd send him some. He gave me his address. At this point I sort of loose the plot. Somehow all of the staff know that I am now definitely(apparently) making a set of Quidditch figures and that I'm taking orders.

A couple of them start handing me addresses and/or phone numbers asking for sets of figures and the game rules. My Saxons have done the rounds at this point and everyone seems quite excited. I on the other hand am starting to panic. It's when someone suggests that they would be a good way of raising money for 'the unit' that I really start to get shaky. Some form of madness seems to affect everyone around me and I can hear snatches of conversation about 'fund-raising committees' and 'legal departments'. Lucky (?) Dicks results arrive and he's ready to go so Cam packs up and bids farewell to Phil. I say my goodbyes and prepare to make a sharp exit when one of the unit staff asks me for my phone number so they can get in touch about a potential fund raising project. I say fine and give her my digits and escape with the family Dick.

I'm still not entirely sure what is going to happen next. If they are anything like me another shiny thing will come along to distract them and even if someone does try to pursue it I'm fairly certain Time Warner or JK Rowling (delete as appropriate) will have something to say on the matter. Be that as it may I have decided to sculpt up a Quidditch team for Cam and me and if I might be tempted to dig out my old hand casting kit and knock out a set for Phil, although that may be asking for trouble. I've never seen a group of people so completely and desperately latch on to an idea as the folks on 'the unit' did. It was kinda scary and really intense. In some ways I found that I would have expected that kind of fervent desperation (this may not be the best expression) from the patients rather than the staff but they all seemed more in the stoic and resolute camp. Maybe working somewhere that see a good number of clients leaving feet first instills something into you, maybe it's being around people who seem entirely resigned to their own mortality, I don't know.

I think I'll stop now as this is getting a bit intense.

It an attempt to lighten (or lower) the tone let me just say: 'Knickers' and I'll see you next time.

Stay lucky,


GuitarheroAndy said...

...or maybe it's a bit of all that PLUS the fact that Harry Potter is an almost universal language and the staff could see that you might have something there that could genuinely help terminally/seriously ill kids/teens to get through those moments when they aren't feeling quite so stoic...I tell you what, you get a few sets sculpted and cast up and I'd even be prepared to do one of my paint jobs on a set if it was for charity... (4 of my uncles, one grandad and two good mates have succumbed to the 'big C' over the years so I'd happily give a bit of time if it would help...)

Soapy said...

If anything ever comes of this I'll certainly let you know.

Someone I spoke to this evening reminded me about the books for comic relief that JKR did so I'm sure she's up for a bit of charity unfortunately there are bound to be an army of lawyers saying it can't be done.

It'd be nice to put my powers to work for good instead of evil just this once.

Stay lucky (and healthy),

Dave said...

That is the worst excuse I have ever heard for coming back from a hospital with nurses phone numbers.

There's no way Lucy is going to swallow that load of old nonsense, sheesh.

TWD said...

As a lawyer dodging compromise how about designing a nice Early Saxon Wiglera called Harald Pottyr (or similar)and getting the Beasties to cast 'em up and donate some of the proceeds to the ward?
I'd buy one.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers don't kill ideas, people kill ideas.

Soapy said...

They may not kill ideas but they do seem to provide a kind of mental comdon keeping ideas from conception.

That randomly mixed metaphore sounded much better in my head...

Still hoping for a positive outcome.