Friday, August 25, 2006

Heavy petting part II

Dear bloggers

That picture I posted yesterday was to demonstrate 2 things. First, I had just received my new Sony Ericsson K800i phone and found out it a had a 'blog this picture' feature. To test my technological skills I took a picture and blogged it. Yippee, it works. Second, the picture itself illustrates just what a mess my life has become. Now I'm not a man to beg for pathos from his contemporaries, but maybe you'll shed a sympathetic tear when you read what's being going on. Dolores's latest blog contains some of the story (here). For my part, I will fill you in on the shocking events that started with my scheme to get Ravel to date a girl accusing me (unjustly) of sexual molestation (part I is here)


I stayed up late that night, wondering what Ravel was doing with the woman who had accused me of molesting her in the field. My mind wandered from one idea to the next. One minute I imagined them feasting in the village's gourmet italian restaurant 'La Ronda', the next I had morbid visions of my faithful and loyal, but linguistically challenged research assistant throwing the woman into the nearest loch - bound, gagged and wearing concrete boots.

At various moments I got up and put my coat on as if to go out. Dolores asked me where I was going, but I couldn't find an answer. Eventually she grew tired of my evasiveness and went to an early bed. The door was firmly shut. I was left to entertain the twins as best I could, but I couldn't even get comedically angry at their attempts to balance all the vases in the institute on top of each other. Instead I just told them quietly to stop what they were doing, removed the vases, replaced them and sat down in my chair again. When it was time for them to go to bed they neither protested nor philibustered, so pervasive was my gloom.

Come 10:30 the institute was almost silent. Sitting in my favourite armchair with the windows of the lunge open, all I could hear, apart from was my own breathing, was the gentle hum of the freezers in laboratory number one, the occasional animal sounds from the field beyond, Dolores snoring three rooms away, and the sounds of footsteps approaching the main door of the institute in cabin number 3 (you may recall from earlier posts that the institute consists of a series of mobile cabins strung together like a space station).

It took me a few seconds to register the footfall sounds. They became heavier, and then stopped. I was out of my seat faster than I thought I could move, and fair lept towards the front door. The person on the other side was looking through the keyhole - a useless gesture as we all know, and I guessed from his action that it must be Ravel. He was back early, was my first thought, as I unlocked the door.

'Oh motherfucking crabsticks, she's dead!' was my second thought as Ravel entered the insitute with the body of a well proportioned and scantily clad woman over his shoulder. I didn't hesitate in releasing my thoughts as a parched cry of surprise. To my own surprise he responded by clamping his large hand over my mouth and motioning me to shut-up.

'The twins will wake' he whispered urgently

Too taken aback to protest I allowed Ravel into the institute. I walked backwards, unable to believe what was happening. We went into the lounge and Ravel tipped the girl, back first, on to the sofa. The sight that greeted me almost made me throw up on the spot.

Where her face should have been was a mass of gore, bits of bone, blood, pineapple, more gore, salami, more blood....

'Boss, she fell in her pizza. Head first.'

Through the mist I heard Ravel trying to tell me something. He must be confessing, I thought. he'd shot her in the face whilst they were having dinner!

'I bring her here after it happen. No-one see me I think'

Again he was trying to tell me something. I turned to him, shocked, horrified, nauseous. I took him by the collars, bent him close to my face.

'She get so drunk in short time. I could not keep up. She better stay here'

The man was acting so casually. Here, in my lounge. A dead girl with a mangled face. Shot, Ravel responsible. Me, an accessory!

'I get cloth to clean her up'

I think at that point I passed out from the stress. The next thing I remember is sitting in my chair and watching whilst Ravel mopped the gore from the poor girls face. When he finished he motioned me to come over. I stared at him, completely unable to figure out what was going on. The worst thing, and it was something that had just knocked me for six since the moment he entered the institute, was the way he kept smiling.

'Come boss. She's OK now, looking much better.' he said, a broad grin on his face. The grin of a psychotic maniac as far as I was concerned. When I recoiled in the chair he approached with his hands out and tried to drag me towards her. I refused to budge, lifing my legs off the floor and pushing myself as far back into the chair as I could manage. Eventually he gave up and asked me what we should do with her.

I shook my head, unable to formulate an answer.

'But boss you said just I take her out. So I do, and I bring her back here like we agree. Now what? I think, though, that it worked - she will not accuse you now'

'What?' I tried to whisper, but my heart was racing so fast the word came out like a jet of steam from a pressure cooker.

'She tell me in restaurant before she go into pizza that she was thinking of, how she said it, dropping charges'


'Yes boss. No need to take her out really. She told me she knew you didn't really do anything with her. She is nice girl though'

'Was' I said, correcting his English for the umpteenth time that day.

'Was what?' he asked

'She was nice' I whispered, and suddenly I was freed by his linguistic faux pas to unleash my anger in a torrent of heavily whispered abuse 'Now she's a fucking mangled corpse lying in my lounge, and you killed her, you fucking idiot. I said date her, not fucking shoot her in the face whilst she's eating pizza. Where the fuck did you get a gun? Where are the fucking police? What the fuck are you doing?

Ravel was not listening. Instead he was in the process of pushing my chair in the direction of the girl. I tried to push back but he was too strong. I closed my eyes as we approached the corpse, not wishing to offend them again.

'Look boss,' urged Ravel gently. 'She look much better now I cleaned up the mess'

'What mess?' said a childlike voice behind me. My heart froze. It was the voice of Twin X (or possibly twin Y, I couldn't be too sure at that point) . 'Ravel said there was a mess.'

'Don't look!' I screamed as I pushed myself out of the chair to shield my childs eyes from the horrific sight in front of him.

'Don't look where dad? That girl has her skirt too far up. Should I not be looking there?'

'Huh?' I cried, my eyes drawn unwillingly to where Twin X (for it was he) was pointing. Indeed he was right. Not even in death was the poor woman afforded any dignity.

'Go to your room' I hissed. ' There's nothing to see here'

I still couldn't bring myself to look at the girl's face as I stood up from the chair and shooed the boy back from the body. Still facing away from the corpse's head I told Ravel to move the skirt back down, but there was no movement. I then realised that Ravel was no longer in the room.

I was all alone with a dead girl and not a single rational thought in my head.

It seemed like my world was about to crash around me.

************TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!!!!!!***********

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Heavy petting

That phone call last week really shook me up. I wasn't prepared for that level of personal abuse, tending, as I have to find the goodness in everybody whenever possible. It took me a couple of days to calm down enough to tell Dolores what I'd heard. She was moderately sympathetic, and asked me if I recognised the voice. When I told her it was a Welsh person who appeared to be in a pub she asked me if I was a public enemy of the Welsh yet. Her sardonic question led to a certain degree of disgruntlement on my part, and when she refused to see my side of things the inevitable argument ensued. We have been arguing a lot lately, mainly I think due to the stress. I feel some degree of responsibility. Take what happened earlier this week, for example....

As part of their on-going investigations into Incident no 1 (my misguided attempt to bring about modesty to a semi-naked girl in a field: see here for the story), two policemen turned up at the institute a few days ago to take a statement. The girl, I can now tell you, was accusing me of sexual assault. It was of course a preposterous charge, and no doubt made by the girl to protect herself against potential ridicule. The police knew this almost immediately, despite their reputation for preponderous ineptitude, and in fact were in the process of winding down the investigation into myself and cranking up their investigation of the girl instead for wasting police time.

So why were they visiting me again?

Well, as I 'm sure you are aware, stress affects people in different ways. I hope you understand in advance of this tale that all I wanted to do was protect Dolores and the twins from any further harm to their self esteem. They had all been the subject of a whispering conspiracy in the village and had complained to me on several occasions that certain village shop owners were refusing them service. My suggestions that they should go shop at Asda instead had not gone down well. After a short time of reflection I realised that had to do something to alleviate the situation. I wanted to bring closure, to prevent this sorry episode from spiralling into an unnecessary court case in which there would be no winners.

Enter Ravel, stage right.

Ravel, you may remember is my faithful research assistant from somewhere in Eastern Europe. He has been with me for some time now and is as keen as ever to help his boss whenever possible. These days his English is much improved (as is his dress-sense after Dolores took him on a shopping spree). He also owed me a favour or two.

I summoned the handsome lad into my office one morning and told him the truth about what had happened between myself and the young lady. He had heard some heavily distorte version of the story from village gossips, recognised the girl from my description of her physical attributes and indicated that he might know her. He was shocked to hear that the police were thinking of arresting me and asked if he could help. In fact, he actually insisted that he should help, in any way possible.

'Are you really sure, Ravel?' I aksed.

'Yes boss. I'm ready to help whoever the situation'

'whatever the situation Ravel....'

'Yes boss, like I said. What can I do to help? I have friends in Scotland now who know many things about this kind of situation. It is common in my home.'

'Well Ravel. It's like this. Sit down and listen carefully. Ok, basically what I need is for the girl to lose interest in having me charged for assault. To do this I think she needs, well, how can I put this...? Basically Ravel, I want you to, you know....take her out for....'

'Taking out boss? That is a step too far isn't it? Though I could arrange if you like. Is that what you want? You want me to take her out?'

There was something in the way young man's dark, heavy lidded eyes narrowed that made me hesitate for a moment. He seemed to be suggesting something that I hadn't previously mentioned, or even considered. Was he, I wondered, inclined towards a act of violence?

'You do know what taking her out means don't you Ravel?'

'Sure boss. I go round her house, take her out..'

'Then bring her back home....?'

'Sure boss. I can bring her here if you want. You can see for yourself how I take her out'

'Ravel, let's make this clear. You are going to date this girl, yes?'

'Sure boss. Whoever you say.'

We were inconveniently interrupted at this point by Twin X wanting Ravel to play football using cowpats for goalposts. I wasn't sure whether Ravel had completely understood my intentions, but didn't have another chance to talk with him before that evening. I tried to intercept him as he was leaving but Twin Y inconveniently managed to slice his finger open with a scalpel just at the same moment Ravel put on his leather jacket. The door slammed shut as my son pushed his lacerated finger in front of my face. 'Look dad' he squealed excitedly '...blood!'

************ TO BE CONTINUED **********

Saturday, August 12, 2006

McCrumble going down?

Fellow bloggers

Oh woe is me. I have just recently returned from the conference in Glasgow. I arrived at the institute to be greeted by Ravel (my faithful if flawed research assistant) and Dolores (my fragrant if hormonal wife). They both wore sombre faces. Ravel took my bags with barely a word of greeting. Dolores looked pale, as if she had recently received a fright.

‘You won’t believe what happened when you were away…..’ she began.

‘Hello dear, nice to be home….’

‘Joseph, this is no time for niceties. Do you have any idea what’s going on?’

At this point I had to confess that my wife had a point. Prior to leaving for the conference I’d been unfortunate to receive calls from a number of police force representatives, all wishing to interrogate me on various matters. As if this wasn’t enough, poor Dolores had, in line with my intuition, been the victim of a most unsettling situation. You can read her dramatic encounter with the tartan-collared tortoiseshell pussycat here. Not being at all superstitious myself I couldn’t help but be somewhat sceptical of her (dramatically retold) prediction - namely that her life was in mortal danger. But at the same time I knew that only a short time would pass before she would take action to rectify things. It is her way, the way of a woman never beaten by fear.

‘Joseph, I want us to leave Scotland.’

It was during a muted dinner of lamb-chops and sweet-potato mash that she dropped her bombshell.

‘I can’t stay here any longer. The people in the village are starting to whisper. I’m scared to death and you’re about to be hauled off to jail…..’

‘They haven’t charged me with anything…..!’

‘Let’s face it Joseph. You do have a habit of bringing trouble on us with alarming regularity.’

‘What are you saying my love….Do you want….?’

‘No you stupid loon. I just don’t want to be here any more. It’s giving me the creeps. Don’t you feel it too?’

The only things I felt at this point were 1) aching eyeballs and 2) slightly irritated that I had been away a full eight days, fourteen hours and thirty seven minutes and the chances of exercising my conjugal rights were rapidly evaporating. I’d spent the entire journey back to the institute dreaming of bedroom antics, but my fantasies were by now almost completely deflated.
Ravel popped his head round the door a few moments later and asked if he could get us anything. I, rather sarcastically, told him we needed a lawyer, an estate agent, a removal company and a marriage guidance counsellor. He didn’t seem to get it. My wife did, and promptly left the table in what I guessed was a bit of a huff. Serves her right, I thought, then immediately regretted the sentiment. Dismissing Ravel for the evening I followed my wife into the lounge and attempted reconciliation.

Waking up on the couch next morning I was struck immediately by the notion that perhaps sarcasm is best reserved for ones enemies, rather than ones rather volatile spouse. Dolores had gone for an early morning swim at the local municipal swimming pool leaving me to fix breakfast. I had, whilst away, prepared statements for each of the police forces and resolved to post them immediately after I finished my porridge. The statements, I thought, were rather cleverly written. I was honest and to the point in each of them, and employed a succinct, formal style that I trusted would come across as the wise words of a learned scientist, rather than those of a semi-illiterate broker of crime.

I was just in the act of leaving the institute when the phone rang. I let it ring through to the answerphone rather than picking up the receiver. The voice that spoke the obscenity laced message was distorted by a poor line and background noise (a pub maybe?). But the message itself was loud and clear. For the record, and certainly not because I get a kick from writing like this, here is a transcript of what was said (important: please note that the asterisks and exclamation marks are my own additions. The use of capitals throughout is designed to convey the idea that the person leaving the message was speaking in an unrelenting loud voice).


That was the end of the message, at least the spoken part. A few seconds of random shouting and grunting followed before I heard a dull thud indicating the phone had been dropped on the floor. Slowly approaching the answer-phone, I began to tremble, my throat dried up and I felt my legs weaken. I could now hear the sound of the pub(?) crowd and nothing else. I stood in front of the machine, unsure of what to do, scared to pick up the receiver. The pub noise continued for another minute or so, with the occasional thumping sound where, I guessed, the phone was being kicked around the floor. When the maximum time for a message expired the machine cut the line with a cheerful ‘Thanks for your message!’ A click, then silence, punctuated only by the sound of a lone bleating sheep in the field outside the institute.

I must have stood there for about 5 minutes, trying to work out what to do next. Part of me was tempted to erase the message and pretend I had heard nothing. Another part of me wanted to phone the police and a third part of me wanted to lock all the doors and hide under the duvet. I had no idea who had just called me. In case you were wondering, it certainly wasn’t Toby, my one-legged former childhood nemesis currently residing in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. I knew this because the caller had a distinct Welsh accent, and Toby hailed from Cumbria (a hilly area separated from Wales by several hundred miles of motorway and the county of Lancashire for my foreign readers). But it was someone who knew where I lived, that I am married, have a beard, and have recently put on a few pounds in weight.

To call me fat though – well, that was taking a f**king liberty……

******** TO BE CONTINUED! *********

Monday, August 07, 2006


I'm still at ICOPA XI in Glasgow. As a special treat the organisers organised the showing of some scenes from a play called Parasites! by Ali Muriel. It's showing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and is based on the idea that Toxoplasma parasites affect the behaviour of their rat-hosts to make them less fearful of cats. But what would happen if the parasite strain causing this was transferred to humans....?

Cue rudeness and laughter as the infected person (quote from the writer who appeared in a Q&A session) engages in activities that "...are illegal, probably even in Holland'

It's set in a fictional parasitology department. If anyone reading this thinks that the drunken professor in charge of the department is modelled on myself then please be assured that this is not the case. At least I don't think so.



Sunday, August 06, 2006

No peace whatsoever

Hello all

Am currently in Glasgow, sitting in the business centre of the Scottish Exhibition Centre. They are charging me the extortionate price of £1 per ten minutes, and as I can't type very fast I'm going to have to keep this fairly short.

As previously mentioned, I am attending ICOPA - the world's largest gathering of Parasitologists. I have left the turmoil of previous weeks behind for the time being. Let me fill you in on what happened after we got back from Hunstanton though, so that we are all up to date.

Essentially it was like this: after many hours driving northwards we landed up at the Institute about 11pm. It was a bamly evening and the two of us were in fairly good spirits despite our fatigue. It was nice to be home of course, and Dolores went immediately to put the kettle on for a cup of late-night tea. I went towards the integrated lounge area (ILA) - a specially constructed module used by members of the team for relaxation. The first thing that caught my eye when I entered the room was the flashing red light of the answer phone. The next thing I noticed as I switched on the light was a piece of paper stuck to the phone. It read 'URGENT MESSAGES'. Slightly bemused, I lifted the reciever and pressed play. The first message went like this.....

'Good evening Dr McCrumble. This is detective sergeant Henry Bosworth calling from the serious......'

I moved onto the next message in a hurry, lest Dolores hear something.

'Hello. This is Constable McJohnson. I've received a report about an incident recently in the village.....'


'Ahh, hello? Dr McCrumble? I'm calling from the Norfolk constabulary regarding an alleged incident...'

My heart started thumping even as I softly replaced the receiver. It was clear to me even without listening to the messages why these police people were calling. If you look through recent blogs you will find that I have been adversely affected by several events, not all of which were under my control. On the one hand it was a good thing that the police had finally got involved, as it meant I could defend myself properly. On the other, and under a worst-case-scenario type situation, I was looking at potentially serving time in three seperate prisons over a long period. My demenour immediately shifted from tired-but-content to one of my-life-is-ruined. A blanket of misery smothered my mind.

'Who rang?' asked Dolores as she came in the room.

'Er, no-one?' I tried, my voice weakened by the sudden stress.

'So the answerphone light was flashing spontaneously was it?'

'Oh, that....just some sales people trying to, er, sell us some reagents. They want to send a rep around. I'll, er, deal with it in the morning.'

'You're lying Joseph. I can tell. But I'm too tired to interrogate the truth out of you. Bedtime I think.'

I was now too alert and worried to sleep properly. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't bring peace to my mind for a couple of hours. When I did sleep, I had a dream where 3 policemen were pinning me to the ground and singing old Bing Crosby numbers to a sleeping fat lady who turned out to be a high court judge disguised as a prison visitor. Towards the end of the dream the fat lady sent me down for fifty years without hope of parole and demanded that my liver be removed for experimental purposes. I awoke in a cold sweat, unsure of my surroundings and feeeling quite unsettled.....

**** To be Continued!*******

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Turmoil and more

Dear all

Blog more often says Anonymous. Likewise Nikki demands that I bring forth the next episode. Would that it were that easy. Hunstanton was a pleasurable trip, and all I wanted to do was to tell you how nice it was to see the multicoloured cliffs for which the small Norfolk resort is famous. But, somewhat sadly, events not of my choosing have overtaken my desire to blog the simple things in life. To summarise: as soon as we got back to the Institute all hell broke loose. I'll fill you in later, but suffice to say I have been speaking to no less than 3 police forces, none of them on a social basis.

Things are afoot that I could not have predicted a short time ago. In the coming weeks you can expect major changes from the McCrumbles. My ever present spouse Dolores will be posting her own shocking tale of mysterious goings-on whilst I take a welcome break at two of Scotland's more well known metropolisis(?). First, I am heading to Edinburgh for a small fringe workshop on parasites (yes, I may take in the festival). Then, on Sunday I am heading to Glasgow for one of the largest gatherings of parasitologists ever undertaken. You can read all about it at

When I get back from Glasgow I promise to put fingers to keyboard and reveal all. That is, if I'm not arrested between now and then. Wish me good luck, dear blog chums, for I sorely need it.

yours in trepidation

Joseph McC