Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cap in hand

Life continues at a very slow pace. There has been no news from the police investigating the destruction of the Institute. One of my contacts in the village near where we used to live told me on the phone that the rumour machine is fully functional. Someone apparently told the vicar that they had overheard me telling the butcher that I was fed-up of living in the area and was looking for an excuse to leave. The conversation with the vicar was overheard by the cleaner, who told her husband, who told the butcher that I was planning to burn down the Institute and claim on the insurance. The butcher told the police that there was a rumour going round that Curly was an innocent victim and that I had gone mad.

The police recently rang to ask me to tell them of my travel plans. I suggested that they concentrate on finding Curly before he does something similar, and informed the sergeant that I could not formulate any travel plans without having access to money. At this point the policeman asked if I had been able to obtain any work. I told him that there were very few vacancies for PhD-trained scientists specialising in parasitic infections, within the hamlet or neighbouring area, and hung up.

'We really do need an income, Joseph', said Dolores one night over our dinner of poached (ie, snared) rabbit and (stolen) carrots. 'Look at us. We can't even provide toothpaste for the kids. I mean, how much longer are they going to have to chew on sticks to keep their teeth clean?'

She was right, as usual. Chewing on sticks is a tried-and-tested method of tooth cleaning, but sooner or later we would need to provide more elaborate goods, like toilet roll. You see, I had spent all our current-account money on replacing essential items (microscope, books) lost in the fire, but had forgotten about the consumables. When Dolores had opened the first package from Amazon she had assumed that the book had been ordered before the fire, and that I had simply informed the company of our new address. After the seventh book (an excellent tome by the famous parasitologist Claude Coombes) arrived, she began to suspect I was making fresh purchases. I admit that I might have been a little hasty in trying to reconstruct the library (I lost about 30% of my books - mainly those kept in the lab), but it was an attempt at resolving my transition from somebody to, well, nobody.

'How much have you actually spent?', she asked, having already established that I had made upwards of twenty purchases.

'I'm not entirely sure, love, but I suppose it must be, er, somewhere in the region of just under six hundred or so....'


'Parasitology books are not mass-produced. They have a limited...'

'Our money is limited, you idiot. What were you thinking?'

'The insurance would...'


'Well, love, that's not strictly true. We are insured - I'm just not sure how much. And I thought if I could - now just hear me out here - I thought we could get going again and do some consultancy work for the - please just listen - do some work for the local vet. I've got his number and I thought if I got a microscope I could....'


And so it went on. To cut a long story short, I had inadvertedly spent all our current-account. We have some savings, but they are all investment based, and have never recovered from the dot.com crash of several years ago. Fortunately I hadn't thought of raiding them before being caught by Dolores. Same difference, really, as we are still penniless, and looking seriously towards taking on some menial work until such time as either the vet returns my call, Uncle Jake wires some money, or the insurance company become the good guys.



Anonymous said...

The suggestion of madness.. how very dare they.
I myself pay for my somewhat high living by Truffle hunting. JMC perhaps you could give this a go. I even fooled the most famous of Chef's that a rotting lump of something I found in the forest was infact a truffle when I myself thought it may have something else less savory.


Gorilla Bananas said...

Have you ever considered a career in the circus, Dr Joe? A lot of circus animals get parasites and I'm sure you could pass yourself off as a vet.
A PhD certificate looks impressive and many things can be learned on the job. I am sending you an e-mail so check your account!

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

PLum - It isn't the first time I've been accused of losing the plot, but at least this time I have witnesses. I 'm not averse to truffle hunting, but I can't even afford a pig to help at the moment

GB - I have seen posters for a circus somewhere around here. Thanks for the tip - I'll go find out.

Nikki said...

You could always prostitute yourself.