Saturday, September 30, 2006

Has anyone seen my husband?

Dolores here. No time for niceties I'm afraid. Joseph was due back yesterday from the police station after having been bailed for some ridiculous amount of money. I sent Ravel to fetch him as I was feeling too nauseous to travel. I heard from Joseph just after he got in the car with his research assistant and then.....


I don't know what's happened. They've both gone AWOL. There have been no reports of an accident anywhere within 3o miles of the village, and no other accidents involving a car that matches the description of our own. His phone is off. The police are on the look out, allegedly, but....the other possibilities are too awful to contemplate, especially with those recent threats by persons unknown.

I'm not quite at my wits end, despite what you might have expected. The nausea being caused by number 3 is beginning to wear off, and I'm feeling able to draw on some kind of inner strength. I only cried for half an hour after hearing of this latest setback. My mother is coming over tomorrow to keep me company, and the Institute staff are rallying round. The twins were almost apoplectic when I told them last night what had happened. Twin X, currently believing he is a 'gangsta', threatened to go 'blap blap' at anyone who hurts his dad. What that means, I'm not sure.

I'll keep you informed as to progress


P.S. Additional information - I have now heard from Joseph. He is holed up in a 'secret location' concerned that a relative of Miron is after him. Don't ask me where, or why, or what the hell is going on inside his head. I am just relieved that he is OK, at least for the time being.

P.P.S. Unbelievably, Joseph has ALREADY begun to blog about his situation. What is wrong with him??????

P.P.P.S. He emailed me to say could I please point you all towards his new blog, so that his case doesn't become forgotten. Anything for a quiet life I suppose. He is here:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Twins call for father's release!

Hello all

Dolores here, once again, struggling to keep head above water whilst husband dines at taxpayers expense. He is hopefully seeing the magistrate tomorrow, but has already asked to be put on the witness protection programme after receiving 3 death threats. I'm already looking around to see how many empty boxes we have lying around.

I told the twins what had happened to their father as soon as he was arrested. At first they were a little unconcerned, but when they found out about the scale of charges they started to talk in a language that suggested they had suddenly discovered the phenomenon of loyalty. It got so bad after a few calls to their boarding school that Twin X even insisted in copying Ravel and issuing an open statement of support for his father. Unprecedented, I tell you. Next thing you know they'll be camping outside the station and refusing to eat until he is released.

Anyways, here is Twin X, in his own words. Please bear in mind he is only 12, and appears to be going through a phase of thinking he is from 'the ghetto'

'Are ya listening?

I was in bed in me crib when Mumsy rang to tell me that Dad had been arrested by the Feds and is now in HMP. Are ya listening yeah? He didn't do nothing. If any pussios want to disagree with me I'll get strapped up and get my brethren round to talk to them and we'll make em smoke their Nan's ashes through their crack pipes. Me and my bro are sending out this message yeah? Our Dad's gonna bust case yeah? The Feds and all them other dickheads are chattin shit about what my Dad's done. If my Dad gets a big man's sentence yeah, he'll ride it out on his bogbrush, he won't let no batty boys chat no shit to him. Whatever dem who chat bubbles say, he's not some neeky guy yeah?

Allow it man. '

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ravel writes!

Dear all

Dolores here. I have been asked by Ravel if he can use this blog to make a statement about his boss. You must forgive any grammatical errors. He's come a long way in the last few months and we are encouraging him at every opportunity to practice his English (he's originally from Bulgaria. You can read how he came to the institute here). He's also quite a sensitive chap and wanted to say things 'alone in his words', so I've left things as he wrote them. You should be just about able to make sense of what he is writing.

'Dear bog people

My name is Ravel. I am proud senior research assistant with big scientist the famous Dr Joseph McCrumble. Maybe you heard my name sometimes in this bog. I am here today to tell you that my boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble, is innocent. Completely innocent he is. I try to defend my boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble, when they come for him but I get hit on the head by policeman with very hard stick. It hurt so much I get to hospital for two days and they let me go home. I now look after the wife of boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble on her own. Tonight I give her Bulgarian special.

I want to say it is not my boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble, fault that he is in prison. I make mistake of bringing not dead girl back to the Institute. I feel guilty and should be in prison not my boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble. If I could get him out I will. Do not forget he is guilty until proved innocent, so don't just give up. He needs our support to help him now with his crisis. I know he will be pleased that I ask you assault your member of the parliament with shouting cries of 'Freedom Dr Joseph McCrumble.'

I try to always be good assistant to my boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble, but sometimes it is not easy for me. I now speak little English but he is always good to me except when I make slang for sex up. This happens sometimes but not deliberate. We all slang for sex up somewhere yes?

I must now go because the wife of my boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble is making demands. You ever not accept demands of another mans wife, you are in big trouble. I tell you this from experiments.

with good wishes


Senior Research Assistant with my boss, Dr Joseph McCrumble'

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Still in the clink

Joseph is still in custody. He should have been back by now, so his solicitor said, providing the magistrate sets bail at a reasonable amount. But then I heard two things. One, the magistrate had been taken sick whilst running a practice marathon. This delayed his hearing by a couple of days. Then, I heard that he was VOLUNTEERING to stay locked up in fear of his own safety. If you read back a few weeks, you will read that someone unknown to us issued a death threat. That was shaky enough, but what Joseph didn't tell me (or yourselves, apparently) is that he has since recieved two other threats. The suspect is a disaffected student from the university where Joseph was marking papers and where the head of department is now on the run (something else no-one told me). For all I know, the head of department could be issuing the threats himself. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.

The solicitor told me that my husband is in good spirits considering his position, and has been giving impromptu 'seminars' on parasitology to the local police. He knows most of them anyway, and I think they see him as the local eccentric rather than a serial criminal. I don't really see the difference, as he is still locked up and I'm having to run the show pretty much by myself.

Ravel came back from A&E without any obvious injuries. He took a blow on the head from a truncheon when he pushed one of the policemen away but seems OK. They said he suffered a mild concussion, and should take it easy for a few days. So I've given him some light duties, mainly in the kitchen where I fear to tread. Denise has been demoted back to receptionist after she served me chips with gravy three nights running.

The solictor also told me that since Joseph has no previous convictions and is considered to be of good character, he should be treated leniently. I couldn’t help letting out an ironic snort when he told me . ‘So why’s he in jail on assault charges then?’ I asked.

The solictor gave me a letter that Joseph had deposited with him just a few days earlier. Typically for Jospeh, he included instructions with the letter on how it should be ‘deployed’. He has instructed me to use the letter as the ending of the book. The assumption in this statement is that someone is going to finish the book whilst he languishes at Her Majesty's Pleasure. He apparently wrote the letter some time ago, expecting the worst. A permanent sense of his own predicament is one his enduring characteristics.

Oh, I nearly forgot - he asked me through the solictor to say thanks for all the messages of support. He maintains his innocence and looks forward to blogging with you all again soon.

Nice to know he's got priorities.

Anyway, that's all for now



Thursday, September 21, 2006

Joseph in chains?

Dear All

Dolores here. You may have been expecting another melodramatic statement from Joseph, but I'm sorry to say he won'tbe blogging today.

Why? Because he has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

They came for him early this morning when I was out jogging (a dawn raid on my husband!). Apparently the shit hit the fan when the police came to the door. There was some sort of scuffle. Ravel got hurt in a vain attempt to smuggle Joseph out of the back door, and had to go to the nearest accident and emergency (30 miles away!). No doubt, if they bail him, my husband will blog what happened sometime next week. Fortunately the police left behind his computer.

I’m not sure I can cope very well at the moment. I’m feeling sick every morning. I can’t go into the fridge without gagging. The only thing I find that has any positive effect is the smell of apples. I’ve strewn them around the Institute. Denise the receptionist has been temporarily promoted to kitchen manager. From what I remember, she can't cook, but at the moment I don't really care.

Actually, thinking about it, I might just hire external catering. Joseph can pay for it.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the last hurrah?

You may have noticed that the last few entries have focused on events that stop just around the beginning of September. There is a good reason for this, and that is because I have been fighting a war on several fronts the last couple of weeks and have not had the inclination nor the opportuntiy to bring you up to date.

Perhaps I have been putting my head in the sand and it is time to face the music. I have been interviewed by police from 3 forces more than five times in the last four weeks. The Norfolk Constabulary told me yesterday on the phone that they are pressing charges for assault on Toby Hancock-Jones, my fomer nemesis whom I decked in a Kings Lynn hotel a few weeks ago, and that I should report to a police station within 24 hours or they'd come and get me.

Then I was contacted by the local constabulary who told me they were pressing charges for sexual assault against the girl whom I thought killed by Ravel. They knew that the Norfolk police were after me, and offered to deal with both cases if I report to the local village police post within 24 hours.

Finally, I was contacted by the Serious Fraud Squad who let it be known that I am a potential witness in the trial of the former head of department at the university where I noticed bizarre things going on with student exam scripts. They sent two men round to the institute to interview me. They’d come all the way from Manchester and were not in the best of moods after having been led down a very narrow lane by their satellite navigation system. So narrow in fact, that their newly acquired car turned up at the Institute looking like it had been attacked by a pack of wild cats.

For a man to face two sets of charges, one of which is without foundation and one of which has been grossly exagerated, is simply not expected. I have to say that my fortitude is wavering slightly. Dolores is being superb of course. I am facing the prospect of defending myself in two courts simultaneously with some trepidation. I asked a local constable how it would be logistically possible for me to face two sets of charges under two constabularies at the same time whilst appearing as a witness at a major fraud trial. He smiled, in a genuine attempt to show sympathy I think, and told me that they’d just stack them up on top of each other. One after the next. He didn’t want to alarm me, he said, but I could be looking at five years.

‘But I’m innocent!’ I protested

'If that’s your story Dr Crumble’ replied the policeman. 'Then I advise you to stick with it'.

To distract myself from worrying I have begun to put my house in order. First priority is the book of the blog. I’ve already written the acknowledgments, the preface, the novella bonus section, designed the cover. If I am taken into custody and not given immediate bail, Dolores will have to finish things and get the printed tome out into the wider world. That is assuming the police don’t confiscate my computer. To guard against this eventuality I’m backing everything up on an online server. Dr Mark Booth from the university of Cambridge has kindly agreed to take over the editing and marketing of the book. He doesn’t yet know about the charges against me, and thinks I ‘m just too busy. I think he also feels a bit guilty about persuading me to hand over all the profits (yes, I capitulated) for his charity. I hope he doesn’t think badly of me.

By the way, the 24 hours was up about 6 hours ago.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Apple Strudel (Part II)

A couple of posts ago (read part I here) I was in Austria with Dolores and the twins. I had just praised them for showing a modicum of restraint after a local child had accused them of 'losing' the hotel guinea pig. We pick up the story just moments later as several adults and children continue to hunt for the hirsuite pet.


The commotion outside brought several people into the garden in quick succession. Dolores was there alongside the owner of the hotel and three of his staff. The mother of the Austrian child who had assaulted the twins was joined by her husband and eldest daughter. I immediately noticed that the daughter looked particularly annoyed, and she kept trying to attract her mother's attention as we searched the garden like a row of police hunting for clues.

After one full sweep of the 100 foot long garden we had found nothing. Every bush had been prodded, every clump of grass trodden (lightly). The guinea pig was certainly no longer there. I asked the hotel owner if there was any point of weakness in the garden perimeter through which the rodent could have escaped. He couldn't be certain so I walked all the way around to check the integrity of the fence. Nowhere could I find so much as a fractured slat. The gate to the garden was spring loaded, and the only way a guinea pig could have opened it was to have acquired super-guinea pig strength. Not to mention an ability to spring three feet up in the air, grab hold of the handle, pull it down whilst still up in the air, pull the gate open whilst falling back to the ground, and nipping through the opening with lightening speed before the gate snapped shut.

'Well...' I said, after completing my investigation and ruling out the possibility that the guinea pig had made a solitary escape, 'it is beginning to look, I'm afraid to say, that your guinea pig may not have left the compound of it's own accord. I hate to be the one to suggest this, but the evidence is clearly pointing towards.....'

'Oh no!' cried the Austrian child's mother.

'Yes, Frau....Frau.....'

'Rotwein', said the lady helpfully

'Ja Frau Rotwein. Sorry, but I think that the poor creature may have been.....kidnapped!'

There was a collective intake of breath all around me. The twins breathed in particularly sharply.

'I'm sorry boys, ' I said, turning round and bending down to their eye level. 'I know how much you loved the little creature.'

'Yes Dad. We did,' they chorused.

At this point the daughter of Frau Rotwein tugged firmly on her mothers sleeve. The mother tried to brush her away but the daughter persisted in tugging. She motioned for her mother to bend down. When Frau Rotwein obeyed, her daughter then started whispering loudly in her ear. I couldn't make out all of what she was saying, but I did hear the names of the twins, and the German for guinea pig ('Meerschweinchen' in case you are interested). I turned away from the boys to see Mrs Rotwein interrogating the child

'Bist du sicher?'

'Ja mama. Ich bin sicher. Ich sah alles.'

'What's that?' I asked, curious as why this girl was getting involved.

'I'm sorry Herr Crumble. My daughter is making a serious allegation against your boys. I am asking if she is sure about what she is saying.'

'Oh....' I said flatly. Looking to my left I could see that Dolores was paying rapt attention.

'Yes,' continued Frau Rotwein. 'She says, I'm sorry to say, that your boys took the animal yesterday up to the castle and came back without it. She says this today is all to pretend that they don't know what happened. She says she knows this because she followed them.'

'Castle?' I asked. 'What castle. I didn't know there was a castle?'

I could sense Dolores by my side, her arm on mine 'Darling, your voice has cracked. Try to calm down,' she said calmly.

'That one, I suppose' said Frau Rotwein, pointing up at some ruins in the distance.

I spun round on my heels to face the twins. My expression must have been quite severe, for they simultaneously took three steps back. Just far enough that I couldn't grab them.

'Boys!' I said in as low a tone as I could manage. 'Did you hear that?'

'Yes Dad' said Twin Y, his eyes cast downwards.

'And?' I prompted.

'We.....' began Twin Y' but he got no further before Frau Rotwein's daughter was in front of them, face like thunder. Aggression clearly ran in the family. She pointed at the twins accusingly, her chubby little right-hand index finger jabbing away with each syllable .

'Meerschweinchenmörder! Ich sah alles!' she screamed, with such elevated pitch and sonic venom that it made me stumble backwards. The effect on the twins was even more profound. Twin Y broke down and began accusing his brother of 'doing it'. In repost to this breaking of their solidarity, Twin X thwacked his brother on the nose, knocked him over, fell on top and began the mother of all pummelling's on his brother's torso. He was so fast that he got in a good five blows before I could grab his collar and haul him away.

Ten minutes later we were standing in front of the entrance to the castle ruins. I was holding firmly onto the hand of Twin X, Dolores was dragging a reluctant Twin Y. Behind us were Frau Rotwein, her two children, the owner of the hotel and his wife.

'Where is it?' I asked Twin X. He pointed straight ahead up the path. There was what looked like a wooden cross just to one side. 'Are you being serious?' I asked, pointing towards the cross.

'Not there' said the child sullenly, 'up there....'. He was still pointing ahead. As we passed the cross I peered closely, just to make sure. In fact it was a sign pointing to the toilets.

I let Twin X guide us through the extensive castle ruins. It was certainly a well placed fort, with sheer drops and spectacular views of the valley below.

I asked if the guinea pig had been dropped or something, to which Twin X shook his head. He then led us further into the ruins and up to an intact drawbridge leading to an inner keep. Here he stopped. Twin Y broke free of his mothers grip and the two of them pointed towards a drainpipe protruding from the wall of the ruin.

'In there' said Twin Y quietly. I could just make out what looked like the head of a small furry animal poking out. It looked pretty much lifeless from where I was standing. Frau Rotwein's chilren began to cry.

An interrogation followed. Imagine the scene, if you will. Five adults and two children surrounding the twins, demanding to know what happened. At times it came close to what I imagined a lynching might have been like back in the good old days of instant justice way out west. But I managed to keep order, and essentially what happened was this:

The previous day Twin X had challenged Twin Y to do something naughty. I know they play this game occasionally and to forfeit the challenge is likely to lead to some puerile punishment. So Twin Y had to agree, even though he felt, he said, uncomfortable about the idea. He had seen the guinea pig in the hutch and thought he would hide it somewhere for a day or two. He had removed the animal from the hutch and the two of them had gone up to the castle, having found nowhere suitable in the grounds of the hotel, and antipicating a finger-tip search once the alarm had been raised. They had come across the drainpipe whilst hunting for a suitable hiding place. Climbing up the ruins, they found the entrance to the pipe and placed the animal inside. Their plan was to put some grass inside and a stone over the entrance. The guinea pig fitted nicely into the pipe. A bit too snugly in fact because it couldn't turn round. The pipe was also a bit slippery inside due to recent rain and a thin covering of moss. They watched as the hapless rodent slipped and slid its way down the pipe until the end. At first they feared it would slide out of the other end, but it became stuck fast. At that point they panicked and left the ruins. They decided to raise the alarm themselves to divert suspicion, and at no time had they seen Frau Rotwein's daughter following them.

The owner of the hotel had brought his zoom camera with him, and after interrogating the boys we trained the lens on the end of the pipe, presuming we would see an ex-guinea pig. In fact, this is what we saw:

Yes, dear reader, you may well blink in disbelief. It was not a real guinea pig at all, but rather a soft toy.

'Gott in Himmel...!' exclaimed the hotel owner as he looked at the image on the LCD screen.

I showed the boys the picture. They clearly hadn't expected a close inspection of the pipe and had nowhere left to hide. One of them tried to make a run for it, but his mother was quick to respond and had him by his collar before he'd even taken two steps. The other sat on the ground and started crying. I remained surprisingly calm, and asked them where the guinea pig was. Twin Y pointed to the ground below the drainpipe. It was a drop of at least fifty metres. The hotel owner trained his zoom lens but the ground was obscured by bushes. The guinea pig was nowhere to be seen.

The real truth was rapidly extracted from the twins. They had indeed forced the guinea pig down the pipe but had watched helplessly as it slid not just to the end but beyond. They had heard it squealing as it exited the pipe and stared at each other in horror. After a few moments panic they had hatched the bizarre notion of replacing the animal with a stuffed toy, just in case anyone had seen them near the castle. They had bought one from the local toy shop that looked big enough to get stuck and pushed it down. Satisified that they had covered all their tracks, they then raised the alarm.

On the one hand I was impressed with their flawed ingenuity. On the other, I was mad as hell that they had abused their position as guests of the hotel. Dolores was equally astonished and angry. We had to spend the rest of the day apologising to the hotel owner and the family Rotwein, and were forced to drive to the nearest pet shop, some twenty miles away, to buy a new guinea pig. I told the twins to expect a very severe punishment, and, after discussion with Dolores, decided that their allowance would be cut in half between now and the half-term holiday. It was a shock tactic that worked. From that moment on the two boys remained silent and sullen and within eyesight and earshot for the next two days of the trip. We returned to the UK just in time to pack them off to boarding school. Into each of their bags I packed a guinea pig soft toy and told the boys to look after them or their allowance would be cut further.

They don't like me at the moment but I can live with that. I've got far more important matters to deal with.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Group Portrait

In preparation for the forthcoming publication of my blog, I have commissioned the following portrait of the main characters, using the excellent character generatation tool at

I am determined to have it all finished before...I don't want to elaborate at this stage. Sufficient to say that the police people from 3 forces are still interested, and it has been suggested that I don't leave the country anytime soon. Something in my bones is telling me that I might not be blogging as a free man for much longer.

yours, in trepidation


Friday, September 15, 2006

Autumn Exhbition

Hello all

Despite recent traumas, I have managed to muster enough time to prepare three pieces of work for my Autum Exhibition. Pop over to my art-page to persue the exhibits. Comments welcome.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

McCrumble in print?

Dear all

I was contacted recently by a Dr Mark Booth from the University of Cambridge (a well known higher education establishement in the UK). He co-ordinates a charitable venture called the Matangini Project from within his research group. He asked me whether I would like to contribute. Now, I'm all for giving money to charity but I'm not too happy about unsolicited approaches.

'No Joseph, ' he said when he phoned me at the Institute this morning. 'I'm not asking you for your money.'

'I'm glad to hear that, ' I countered, 'as I'm facing the possibility of losing everything. On top of that I've got a new child en route.'

'I know' he said, 'I've been reading your blog'

'Oh yes,' I replied. I sometimes forget that my life story is now in the public domain. 'So what do you want?'

'You've been writing for about 9 months now, yes?'

'Indeed. I started last January. It's been a bit sporadic but I'm still going...'

'How would you feel about publishing what you've done so far?'

'Publish? Who would publish this stuff? It has no literary merit whatsoever!'

'It may not be literature Joseph, but it makes me laugh. And if it makes me laugh, it might amuse others.'

'You find my misadventures funny?'

'Not all of them of course. I thought your story on how you reached your celebrity status was particularly saddening.'

'A tragic tale indeed. So, anyway, why should I publish, and how would it be possible?'

Mark then told me all about something called Print on Demand. It turns out that for a modest outlay one can publish ones book oneself. Copies are made only when someone places and order. It is a relatively risk-free enterprise.

'Well, thanks for telling me about that Mark. Forgive me for asking, but what's in it for you?'

There was a long pause.

'Er, well, I thought I would basically take the profits....'


'Sorry - I thought I made it clear. In my email....'

'Oh yes....I did mention something about fundraising....So, basically speaking, you want the Matangini Project to take the profits from my life-story.'

'Essentially, yes. Sorry if you thought...'

'Not at all. My mistake entirely. Don't read things properly these days. I...can see how that might just work. I'd never actually thought of publishing, and it's very unlikely anyone will actually buy the book....unless......'

'Unless what....?'

'Well, I've written something that is pure fiction that I was going to serialise on the blog. It's actually a humorous novella about scientists behaving badly at an international conference. I could, I suppose, include it as, say, a bonus section. Would you consider splitting the profits if I added value to the product?'

'Sure Joseph, whatever. So you like the idea then?'

'Yes, I think I do. It will do wonders for my PR with Dolores and may just go someway to restoring my reputation within the village. You know she wants to leave because of all the trouble?'

'I read that somewhere, yes. It's not been a good year for you really, has it?'

'I can't disagree with you on that one Mark'

We continued chatting about work related items for a while then said our goodbyes. I then spent some time pondering the implications of what I have agreed to do. I need to re-arrange everything in the blog, format it, edit for clarity and continuity, check for any copyright infringements.... the list goes on.

Never mind though, at the end of the day, it's all for charity. I'll keep you informed as to progress.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apple Strudel

Hello all

Those of you who have visited my wife's blog will no doubt now be aware that she is carrying our third child. She revealed this magnificent piece of news to me whilst she was holidaying with our two existing children in a place called Austria. This small country of just over 8 million inhabitants is famous for a number of things, not all of which are particularly sweet. It is also an incredibly wealthy country.

As soon as I heard Dolores was pregnant, I offered to fly out to Austria. The journey to that landlocked country took me almost a day, and I had to hire a car upon arrival at Linz in order to get to Losenstein. It was the first time I had ever driven a left hand car on the right hand side of the road. It was a tricky journey down the increasingly windy (as in going round the bend, rather than buffeted by air currents) roads, but I managed to reach Losenstein within a couple of hours and with only the passenger side wing mirror missing.

Dolores practically fell into my arms, owing to the fact that the owner of the hotel had not laid some flags properly in front of the main entrance. I caught her in my own arms with a mild admonishment that falling when pregnant may harm the baby. She failed to see the ironic humour in this statement.

The twins were already in bed, so we retired to the bar. I ordered a large beer for myself, and an orange juice for Dolores. We talked for at least an hour on good terms, using the time to make friends and try to explain our recent, somewhat irrational actions. Then the local darts team arrived, and somewhat spoilt the atmosphere by smoking, drinking and throwing darts at the electronic dart board positioned not one metre (Austria is metric) from our table. We left after one badly aimed dart landed on my pregnant wife's belly, causing a small puncture wound.

The next day we were awoken by the sounds of the twins fighting. Nothing new in that, except this time they were fighting one of the local children. They were outside our bedroom window, making all sorts of sounds not usually heard in this quiet Austrian village. Dolores shouted at them from the bedroom to shut up, but either they didn't hear or else they were ignoring her, for the noise did not cease. Eventually, I was forced to raise myself from the bed and walk to the balcony.

It was a slightly cloudy day, and I was presented with the following, south facing, picturesque view of the local hills.

Looking down, though, my view was spoilt by the sight of two english boys beating up a slightly overweight Austrian child. I shouted at them to cease and desist. Twin X did as he was told, whereas Twin Y continued pushing and shoving at the, now bawling, local boy. Once the local boy collapsed to the floor and started pleading with them in the local dialect to stop, Twin Y obeyed my command.

I was downstairs just a few moments later. The twins had retreated to a distance of 2 metres from the prone form of their victim. Behind me was the boy's mother. She went immediately to his aid, whilst I approached the twins, finger wagging and stern faced.

'What was happening here boys?' I asked, sternly.

A cacophanous reply ensued, with both twins trying to tell me the story the fastest. Eventually, and after much interruption, I managed to make sense of what they were telling me. Essentially, it was thus: In the garden was a rabbit hutch containing not only a rabbit, but also a companion guinea pig. The twins had been introduced to the guinea pig by the hotel owner, who said they could pet the small hairy mammal whenever they wanted. That morning, the twins had gone to the hutch and found it open. The rabbit was still sat there, contentedly munching on a carrot, but of the rodent there was no sign.

The twins had searched all around the garden but could not find the animal. About five minutes later, the young Austrian boy (nephew of the hotel owner), had also come into the garden to pet the guinea pig. On seeing the cage empty, and the boys prodding around with a large stick, the child had come to the erroneous conclusion that they had lost the animal. The boy approached the twins and started haranguing them in a language they did not understand (Austrians speak a dialect of German). At first they kept their cool, but the Austrian boy wouldn't stop and Twin Y had eventually tried to push him away. Perhaps the Austrian boy had taken this as a sign of guilt, or a pre-emptive strike. He pushed back, somewhat harder, causing Twin Y to fall to the ground.

Now the twins are no weaklings. They might be a little short for their age, but what they lacked in stature they easily made up in numbers. It was an unfair fight from the start, and soon the Austrian boy was on the ground, bruised and crying.

I conferred with the mother of the Austrian boy. She spoke excellent English, and basically corroborated the twins story. I was proud of them for telling the truth, and could only admonish them gently for using their numeric advantage unfairly. I promised I would treat them to some apple strudel in the afternoon for not starting the fight.

Unfortunately, I was forced to renege on my promise soon after. Not something I like to do, generally speaking, but circumstances prevailed that meant the twins would not only forgo their late afternoon treat of spicy apples and raisins in a delicate filou pastry, but would also be sent to bed with the threat of immediate repatriation!

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Celebrity Endorsement

Hello all

Before I carry on with telling you what happened in Austria, I thought I would fulfill a promise to tell you about an exciting new collaboration. It happens occasionally that, as the world's first celebrity parasitologist, I am approached by creative types looking for some bona-fide scientific input into their work. In these circumstances I take on the role of consultant with a view towards some mutual benefit and enjoyment. It was in fact taking on this role that brought me into the public eye for the first time (if interested, you can read that story over several parts: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5 part 6 part 7 part 8 ). Sadly, that particular collaboration didn't work out so well.....but, well, times have moved on and I look forward to completing this current collaboration without witnessing any fatalities, court-cases or having to remove any botfly larva from the eye of a former judo fighter.

The collaboration started when I was contacted by a very talented artist called Renee French. She is an author and illustrator with a very unusual but excellent sense of humour. She writes comic strips, books, etc. Her drawings are superb, and I encourage you to visit her website at

The fruits of our collaboration will be revealed in due course. To give you a taster, here are a couple of drawings she sent me (both are (c) Renee French 2006)



Sunday, September 03, 2006

Heavy petting part III

Dear blogerati

You may have read the last post in utter astonishment at the turn of events. Not as astonished as I was to be faced with what appeared to be a horrendous case of murder transported into my own living room. If you are new to this story, please read part I then part II before starting this episode. We rejoin the story at the point where I am about to confirm to myself the horrific act that Ravel has perpetrated.


'Silent witness'

I stood in the same spot for some seconds, fighting the double urges of weeping uncontrollably and throwing up. Ravel remained out of view, possibly lurking in the shadows so that I might not see the malevlolent delight on his face. I peered upwards at the celing of the gloomy lounge and made some pathetic gesture with my lips that I needed help. No answer came down from the heavens, and I knew at that moment that I was truly alone. Only a miracle, etc etc.

I was still standing at the girls feet. I could still hear Dolores snoring and gave brief thanks that at least she couldn't see me in this state. I felt totally castrated from any rational processes. Every possible scenario started to roll through my mind. I could simply run and keep going until I found a place to hide, bury the body and pretend nothing had happened, phone the police and confess my unwitting role in a heinous crime or claim it was a terrible accident.

All but one of these scenarios involved lying. I would either be lying to myself, the authorities, or the memory of the dead girl at whose feet I stood. None of them were acceptable. I, Joseph McCrumble, would not be able to face life if it meant perpetrating so many un-truths on such a grand scale. And so, through a gradual resoration of logic, I came to the conclusion that the best course of action was to phone the police.

First, I needed to face the fact that there really was a scantily clad corpse on my sofa. All I had to do was turn around and look at the girls mangled face. I suspected that Ravel had done little to mop away the gory mix of pizza contents and gore, and I could feel my stomach tightening even as I closed my eyes and turned around.

Not being able to see with my eyes closed, I used the girls body as an aide to the route towards her head. With my left hand I felt my way up her legs, past the still-hitched skirt, over her bare midriff, over her prominent breasts...

I was at the face. Under no circumstances was I prepared to touch her mangled visage and at that point I knew that I had to open my eyes. But something was wrong with my eyelids. A mechanical problem from deep in my subconscious was preventing them from opening. The best I could do was flicker them half way before they shut again.

What I saw was not what I expected. I knew that Ravel had performed some crude cleaning operation on the girls face, but from my obstructed viewpoint I could see no evidence of a wound at all. There was no mass of gore - in fact I couldn't see any blood at all.

My vassilating eyelids provided my eyes with barely enough of photons required to construct a valid image. I needed to get a closer look, so bent down in front of the girls face. By placing my left hand on the girls midriff I was able to steady myself enough so that I could lean right over the body. This, I assumed was the best way to detect the location of the bullet wound. Not too close otherwise I wouldn't be able to focus, so I positioned myself at about 13cm away from her skin, and formed a sweep pattern in my head which would proceed from her chin up to her hair in several lateral movements.

Breathing heavily and with trembling eyelids, shaking hands, racing heart, I began my search.

Chin: clear.
Mouth: clear, closed
Lower left cheek: clear
Nostrils: clear
Lower right cheek: clear
Upper right cheek: clear
Nasal bridge: clear
Upper left cheek: clear
Upper left eye: clear, open
Upper right eye: clear, open
Right forehead: clear
Left forehead: clear

Surely I had missed something. There was too much mess before. Ravel must have shot her at point blank range. I performed my sweep again

Chin: clear.
Mouth: clear, closed
Lower left cheek: clear
Nostrils: clear
Lower right cheek: clear
Upper right cheek: clear
Nasal bridge: clear
Upper left cheek: clear
Upper left eye: clear, closed
Upper right eye: clear, open
Right forehead: clear
Left forehead: clear

More than a little bemused I was about to start my third sweep when I heard Ravels voice from behind me. I turned and managed to ascertain that he was indeed there, towering above me and still.....smiling.

'What the fuck are you smiling about?' I hissed.

'Boss, I made the spare room up. She can stay there tonight. We kick her out in the morning.'

It was just at the word 'kick' that my fog-clouded mind recounted the results of my last full sweep of her face. Strangely, at the very same instant, I was freed from my my oscillating eyelid problem by the impact of a bejewelled fist approaching from the left at about 250 miles per second. The fist impacted on my left cheek bone with enough force to knock me clean backwards onto the floor. As my head hit the floor, I simultaneously felt the impact of a be-sandled foot hitting my crotch area. Fortunately, the foot was not aimed very accurately, and only my left testicle felt the full force. Still, it was enough for my brain to register that something untoward had happened and stimulate my vocal cords to let out a piercing shreak that would have put several opera divas to shame.

'It's a miracle!' I managed to cry, before passing out.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the spare room feeling immediately wet. Dolores was standing over me with an empty bucket. I thought for a moment she might be about to attack me aswell but instead she put it down on the floor and began interrogating me as to what had happened. I tried to explain as best I could that there might have been a misunderstanding, but my normally efficient ability to talk myself out of trouble simply wasn't working. She knew it, and eventually gave up the interrogation with the words 'I'm going tomorrow with the kids. Deal with this one yourself'

Too scared to move anywhere, lest I be attacked by any more reanimated corpses, I elected to stay in the bedroom, the duvet pulled up to my eyes. I stayed like that until overtaken by sleep. I remember Dolores coming to me at some point in the night, then nothing more until a sheep outside bleeted very close the window. Panic momentarily set in, before I realised that I was still in the Institute and not actually in a police cell. There was no reply when I called for Dolores, so I tried Ravel instead. He dutifully appeared within seconds.

'Where's Dolores?' I asked

'Dolores take the twins on holiday. She tell you.'

'Oh. Yes. Right. Is the girl...alive?'

'Yes boss. How she could kick your nuts if she was dead?'

'Where is she now...not here is she?'

'I take her to police station. She make statement. They come to visit you soon'

'Oh shit, not again'

'Not quite boss. This time she claim you grope her everywhere.'

'Oh shit. I thought you killed her.'

'No boss. I take her out like you say. What you think? I don't understand English? If you wanted me to kill her you should have said.'

He wasn't smiling.

'Good grief man. No, I do not want anything like that. Bring me some tea will you?'

And so the truth eventually emerged. Ravel had really taken the girl on a date. She had been drunk even when Ravel had picked her up at her home. She drank more at the pub before they went to the restaurant and managed to down a carafe of house red before the pizza even arrived (the restaurant is not noted for its efficient service). She had been trying to stand when she collapsed, falling heavily into the deep-pan pizza. The restaurant owner had ordered them to leave immediately. Ravel had then carried the girl back to the Institute - a distance of nearly three miles, after being unable to summon a taxi.

The next couple of days were unpleasant. The police came to take a statement, and left seemingly unconvinced that I was telling the truth. Then, about 3 days later I finally heard from Dolores. You can read here what happened.

I don't understand how these things pile up like this, I really don't.