It was my birthday on Monday, so naturally, as soon as I woke up, I checked out all my readers e- Greetings. I had two messages. I clicked on the first one:”BUY VIAGRA NOW!” I clicked on the next one, from Jessica: ” Re: The Saturday Column. UNSUBSCRIBE ME NOW! AND LEAVE ME ALONE!”
I decided it was time to go bowling. I haven’t been bowling since I was 15. I rang the Queensway Bowl. “Can I book a lane for this afternoon please?”
“We don’t accept same day bookings”, the woman said. “That’s OK.” I said ” because I am in Australia, so it’s Tuesday here, so I am not booking the same day am I? I am leaving in my private jet in five minutes to fly to London so we can get back in time, to go bowling at your place this afternoon.”
“Oh that’s all right then,” she said, “I’ve got a lane free at 2pm.”
I wish I was making that up. I rang my doctor. He is also the Pope’s doctor. While I was waiting to be connected, I thought that can’t keep him that busy can it? I mean, how often does the Pope get taken ill in Ladbroke Grove?
He came on the line: “Doctor, I need to see you urgently.”……”Why?”…….”I stopped smoking suddenly 6 weeks ago ..from 60 a day to nothing, just like that! I am not having any withdrawal symptoms, no craving, no irritability, nothing. I am really worried.Do you think something’s seriously wrong? Do I need a scan?”…. “No” he said and hung up. He probably had the Pope on hold.
I went for breakfast at Raoul’s, my local coffee shop in Maida Vale. It’s a very busy place. I went outside for just one minute to take a phone call. When I came back, my coffee and fresh orange juice had disappeared, the table had been cleaned and my Times, Telegraph and Herald Tribune were in the rubbish bin. There was no evidence that I had ever been there.
“I thought you had gone”, Zamir the manager said, “I need your table.”
” No, I was on the phone,” I said.
” This isn’t your office you know”, he said.
“I know that” I said. I felt I was on pretty safe ground here. My office is in Baker Street and I have been going there for 10 years.
I had lunch with my friend, Harry. He asked me what I was doing for Xmas.” I am just going to be spending a lonely, depressing, suicidal Xmas here in London,” I said. ” I am quite looking forward to it.”
I decided not to go bowling and, instead, looking for thrills, I dropped by my parents to collect my annual new shirt. “Peter, your father and I have decided what we want for Xmas.”
“Great! what is it?” I asked.
“A sphygmomanometer,” she said. “Your father and I want to be able to take each other’s blood pressure.”
“Mum,.. you and Dad… you have to get out more!…this is not a healthy thing…it’s too incestuous” I said.
In the evening I went out to celebrate with some friends to the new Bush Bar and Grill, according to the Sunday magazines ‘This Week’s’ Hottest Place on Earth’…or at least in Shepherds Bush! However, having spent the first 20 years of my life trying to ESCAPE from Shepherds Bush… for me it can never be fashionable enough.
For the starter, I ordered that fashionable new dish, ‘Mushrooms on Toast’. The last time I saw it on a menu was in my mother’s kitchen when I was fourteen. It arrived 30 minutes later as ‘Mushrooms under the Toast.’
“Excuse me,” I said to the beautiful young waitress, who hadn’t stopped smiling since we had arrived, “I asked for mushrooms on toast. This is mushrooms under the toast.” She stopped smiling. It’s OK .”I said, ” I can cope.”
Waiting for a cab after dinner I hadn’t got a paper, so instead I killed time reading the big yellow Police sandwich boards every 5 yards along the Goldhawk Road. ‘ROBBERY ..CAN YOU HELP?’ one asked. I got my pen out and scribbled on it “Yes. But only if we can do it on Xmas Day. I’m free then.”
I was getting into bed when the phone rang. It was Harry, my friend from lunch. ” Peter, are you still doing nothing for Xmas?”
“Actually Harry” I said, “something has come up. I’m doing a bit of voluntary work. I’ve just answered a street appeal”…” Why?”… “I was going to ask if you would like to come to our house in Barbados with us,” he said. “I ‘M COMING!” I said.
I was just falling asleep when the phone rang again. It was my mother. “Darling, I want you to know, it won’t only be for us…. when friends come round we can take THEIR blood pressure as well. And sometimes, when we go out, maybe we can take strangers blood pressure too.” HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
COPYRIGHT.Peter Rosengard for Rosengardworld2000
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