Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Into the Mines

Following tutelage from an old friend, I have discovered that my cassette is something called a 'computer game' (apparently an entertainment form popular in the early 1980s before Cheese Strings were invented). I went to a local computer shop and asked whether I could use one of their machines to play the cassette, but the vendors confused me with their babbling mode of speech. I gathered that as my cassette is so cutting edge, they did not yet possess a machine capable of playing it and I would have to seek specialist help. I left the shop despondent.

On the return journey home, I saw a shop called OX-FAM. The 'X' in the name convinced me that the shop must be futuristic in some way, and because my cassette is labelled part of the 'ZX Spectrum', I decided to give it a try. As it happened, the shop did stock the required device and the lady sold it to me for only £7.00.

When I got home, I set up the device and loaded the game. I quickly gathered that my task was to guide a miner through a series of magical mazes. I believe that a great clue will be revealed when I complete my quest. Thus far, I have almost helped my character traverse level two (entitled 'The Cold Room'). I am confident that I will solve this before long.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I met with the Japanese scholars at 3am this morning. Together we dug a hole some sixteen feet deep at the spot where I had earlier found an old crisp packet. By 6am we had found nothing. The scholars raged, declaring me a fraud and an enemy of truth, before departing in a quite shameful hissy fit, leaving me to refill the hole alone.

As I was doing this, I discovered a cassette in a plastic holder stuck in a clod of Arbroath's sandy earth, which we had previously overlooked. On the front was a cartoon of a spelunker and the words "Manic Miner". I think this is a clue.

I tried playing the cassette using my walkman device but any secret message to be found is cunningly disguised in high-pitched bleeping and chirruping sounds. This will require more research, but I feel hopeful that this will yield an important clue.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

An Exciting Lead

As I finished penning the last few lines in my previous diary entry, a shrill ringing sound shook my home. In my alarm, I fleetingly assumed it was the death rattle of a trussed up hog, but I quickly ascertained that it was my telephone making the noise to indicate that someone wished to converse with me telephonically. I picked up the receiver and was greeted by what sounded like a berating in Japanese or Korean or Chinese or Mandarin - I confess that the languages of the Orient are a closed book to me.

I tried to explain that I did not understand what the speaker was saying, but as I only know a few phrases in Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Mandarin, I feared I would simply cause confusion when I interupted him to state, "Moshi moshi, Daniel San, arigato! Ichi ni san chi go, geisha. Om mani padme hum, padawan. Saki wasabi, Pai Mei grasshopper?" Nevertheless, I clearly made my point well, for he swiftly replied, "Baka gaijin!" (Chinese for "Gracious apologies") and reverted to English.

"Sir, you spoke to my wife and I yesterday regarding a crisp packet found near the eastern wall of the decaying ruins of Arbroath Abbey, former home to an order of 12th-century Tironesian Benedictine monks, and true location for the Stone of Destiny," he said.

"Yes," I shrugged.

"My wife and I are scholars from America's Grant University and Barnett College respectively, currently drawn into a rollercoaster adventure around the globe, uncovering secret worlds of fantasy, religious cover-ups involving albinos, and booby-trapped labyrinths, while risking life and limb along the way," he said.

"And you are both Japanese?" I shrugged.

"Of course," he said. "Throughout our journey we have been stalked by the last remaining members of the Knights Templar, some vampires, and the FBI."

"Sounds fun," I shrugged.

"It is anything but fun you thin-legged archer!" he cried, "Along the way, we have been aided by what we suppose is a group called the Hashashin, the ancient Assassin Cult, and a group calling themselves The Crescent Guard of the Sultan. They typically help us by surreptitiously leaving obtuse clues and word puzzles where we may encounter them. We now believe your crisp packet to be the latest of these clues."

"Explain how," I shrugged.

"The answer lies with 'Cream cheese and chive'," he said. "In some dialects of ancient Japanese, this is approximately homophonic for 'Clee m'chee san chi Vee' which, in Modern English, translates as 'Seek the wealth here'. We believe an item of great import is buried at the point where you found the crisp packet."

"Intriguing," I shrugged.

"Yes, we ask that you meet us at Arbroath Abbey on Sunday morning at 3am - we will supply the shovels. We need you to specify the exact point that you found the crisp packet."

With that I agreed. More to follow.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Grail Clues

Rewatching Disney's Robin Hood last night, I have uncovered what I believe is the first of the clues to the Ustinov grail quest. At the section where the fox Hood is disguised as a stork in order to enter an archery competition, I have noted that if you reverse the point where the fox Marion utters the line "Thank you, my thin legged archer", you can clearly make out "Arbroath Abbey". Either that, or "Arbroath Smokie", though this seems unlikely given that this is a type of delectable smoked haddock.

Committed to following up this obvious lead, I decided I should visit Arbroath Abbey this morning to look for more clues. Arriving there, I discovered it was a ruin and there was no possibility for secret passages. I did find a discarded crisp packet (cream cheese and chive) near the foundations of the eastern wall, but this did little to console me. I approached some Japanese tourists and asked them about the crisp bag, but they were unable to help me.

This is mystifying.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The First of the Spirits

The first of the spirits promised by Bill Owen has unveiled itself to me. It was none other than Sir Peter Ustinov, or at least, a spirit assuming his form. For reasons best known to itself, it spoke to me using the voice of cravenly animated lion, Prince John, from Disney's Robin Hood, throughout our interaction. That film is well known to me as it rightly depicts Hood as a fox, and Little John as a clothed Baloo.

Sir Peter sat down on my linoleum and proceeded to relate an endless rambling tale that, despite his mellifluous tone and glorious brandy voice, quite bored me. It involved a quest for some sort of grail and various clues to its hidden location that can be found by decoding certain clues concealed in certain films starring Sir Peter. As Bill Owen had told me I was honour-bound to aid any spirit seeking help from me, I promised the ghost that I would make the effort to watch Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981) which starred Ustinov as a Chinee detective, and Blackbeard's Ghost (1968) featuring Ustinov as a spectral pirate.

This apparently satisfied the ghost, who smiled and disappeared, leaving behind a small glass bowl of strawberry Angel's Delight as a tribute. I ate it. It was a little powdery but overall it was reasonably Delighful, though nothing of it gave any hint of the Angelic.

I have not yet worked up the courage to watch these films.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Creating Nutrilium

Last week I followed the instructions on how to create Nutrilium and this led to a string of problems that I have only just recovered from. I cannot reveal the instructions in their entirety lest some boob attempt to replicate the creation process and bring the civilised world to its knees.

After I had assembled the small distillery and the required bellows, I set to work. The instructions were extremely complex and necessitated the addition of certain rare chemicals and compounds including Boswellox and Bividus Digestivum, and the intonation of liturgical chants in Middle English.

Unfortunately, I misread a key instruction at day four and added three plum tomatoes instead of the stated 'Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate', which led me to create what I believe is 'anti-Nutrilium', for when I tried to massage the final concoction into my pate it resulted in dull, lifeless hair, dandruff, and split ends. What is more, it paralysed my body completely from the ankles down.

During the time I spent lying helpless on the kitchen floor waiting for feeling to return to my body, I saw the likeness of Bill Owen in my curtains, who brought with him a warning that the anti-nutrilium would awaken a psychic link to the spirit world, and that I would be visited by several ghosts over the next few days, who I should attempt to help in any way I could. I told him that I had already made contact with several eskimo spirits recently but he informed me that I was a halfwit. As he disappeared, I felt the feeling return to my body and I promptly rushed to my computer to update my readership on these strange events.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

L'Oreal's Secrets Revealed Via Ghost.

My recent ghostly visitor

I have enjoyed further success in conversing with the dearly departed. Yesterday another ghost came to my door and again took on the appearance of a flesh and blood person in an effort to deceive me.

"Hello good sir," he said obsequiously.
"Hello," I replied suspiciously.
"How are you this morning?" he asked enquiringly.
"I am well," I replied truthfully.
"May I enter?" he asked meaningfully.
"I suppose you may," I returned coquettishly.
"This is a delightful house," he said hennishly.
"Why thank you," I said mawkishly.
"May I sit down?" he asked churlishly.
"Help yourself," I replied amateurishly.
"Right then Mr...?" he began bewitchingly.
"Carew," I answered defiantly.
"Okay Mr Carew, I have something exciting to share," he declared calculatingly.
"Do tell," I said deafeningly.
"First, I have to say that I love your hair," he stated candidly.
"Thank you again," I said winsomely.
"But if I may be so bold, I think it could be improved," he offered accusingly.
"I must say I'm offended," I said dishearteningly.
"I apologise," he said edifyingly.
"No need - please go on," I said apparently.
"Have you heard of Nutrilium?" he asked scathingly.
"I have indeed," I replied reassuringly.
"Well, Mr Carew...or may I call you Clive?" he asked toyingly.
"If it pleases you, you may call me Clive," I opined sporadically.
"Well Clive, as you know, Nutrilium was discovered in 1996 by the boffins at L'Oreal," he said unblinkingly.
"Of course I know this," I replied presumably.
"Well, Nutrilium is a new element, previously unknown to the scientific community," he suggested tantalisingly.
"Pray continue," I urged swooningly.
"As you may know, Nutrilium works wonders on human hair - it improves its condition tenfold," he said self-pityingly.
"Yes, this is common knowledge," I said quietly.
"But L'Oreal have refused to share their knowledge with the world, and hold the scientific community to ransom, for only they can produce this marvellous element!" he squealed triumphantly.
"That is horrific," I told him successfully.
"Indeed Clive! But I have been working under cover in L'Oreal's laboratories and have discovered the secret of Nutrilium," he revealed promisingly.
"Amazing!" I declared uncomfortably.
"For just $250, I will tell you the secret Clive, and you can produce Nutrilium in your own home for free," he shouted rejoicingly.
"I'll do that deal," I said deftly.

And with that, the deal was done swiftly and pleasingly. He gave me a piece of paper with strange instructions that I will attempt to follow at a later date.

What a nice ghost he was!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

First Contact!

I believe I have at last made contact with departed souls. My Arctic Roll plan was scuppered by some creature sneaking into my home and purloining the snack long before the eskimo ghosts detected it. Various clues, such as a lingering odour of umber and boysenberries, lead me to believe that the culprit was an eaglet. I will avenge this slight in time.

On Saturday, however, I hit upon a superior plan, which was to disguise myself as a walrus by growing a moustache and stuffing my clothes with cushioning and loft insulation. This would certainly attract ravenous eskimo ghosts, who enjoy the fatty hides of walrusses as we enjoy sweetmeats like fudge. It took me until last night before I was satisfied that my moustache was of sufficient length to pass it off as walrus whiskers: at this point I readied the rest of my disguise.

At once, there was a knock at the door. Answering it, I was greeted by a tremendously fat couple. Surely eskimo spirits in corporeal form, I assumed! I know from consulting books in the past that eskimos pride themselves on reaching gargantuan proportions. Their children are subjected to systematic treatment by confinement in narrow dark rooms, where they are fed on farinaceous foods and the flesh of young seals until they are almost a shapeless mass of fat. The eskimo women reach with astonishing rapidity the desired embonpoint on a diet of buttered clams and Play-Doh.

I saw by the looks on the couple's faces that my appearance alarmed them. A proud race, clearly they were humiliated to have fallen for my walrus-disguise-entrapment-ploy ('the old looby-loo' as it's known in the trade). To throw me off the scent, they maintained a cover story that they were a local couple collecting money for the charitable organisation 'Scottish Spastics', now called 'Capability Scotland' for reasons of politeness. I told them to drop the charade and tried to capture them in the shoebox I had laid aside for this purpose, but they were too plump. They ran away.

My efforts to discourse with the dead were not entirely successful, but at least I have finally made 'first contact' with the spirit realm. I hope that word gets around among the spooks that I am a gifted medium, and that they will now flock to me in droves.

My disguise.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Arctic Roll

This is Arctic Roll, the preferred roll of those who dwell in the Arctic. It comprises the following key ingredients: devilishly sweet vanilla ice-cream fashioned into a cylinder, raspberry glue, and the dryest of sponges designed to engulf the ice-cream cylinder and protect it from the ravages of the wild Arctic winds.

Although we Brits have never developed the taste for such foodstuffs, such chilled treats are adored by eskimos who have acquired the taste for it through many generations of necessity.

As the candles failed to attract eskimo ghosts, I will set out a single Arctic Roll in my kitchen tonight and the ghosts of eskimos will surely flock to it like Orcadians to a cardiganned poet. I have placed it in a shoebox, which I will shut quickly the instant an eskimo-shaped phantom enters it, as they do on that film where they bust the ghosts - Ghostbreakers I think it's called.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tempting the Dead

Although Father Bouffant admitted that he was a fraud, it has long been a cherished belief of mine that certain people in this world can commune with the spirit realm. I hope that I will soon be able to add myself to the ranks of those with this ability, for I aim to train myself in the art of spiritualism. If the likes of Derek Acorah and Jonathan Edwards can make vast acres of money by merely pretending to contact dead bodies, then imagine how wealthy and famous I shall be when I prove that I can do this for real!

I first had to ensure my home was welcoming to spooks, so I tore up some tissues and laid them carefully upon the living room carpet. I hoped this might persuade the ghosts of eskimos that I was willing to accomodate the winter wonderland environment to which they were accustomed in life. As far as I know, eskimos subsist chiefly on wax so I left out a few candles in order to tempt them out from their afterlives. I have also left out a carrot or two for their reindeer which guide their ghostly sleighs.

I will now retire to my bed and hope that I will receive a visit during the night.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Acorah's Confession

As yesterday was a public holiday, I busied myself with scouring the streets for discarded receipts. This pleasant activity eased my restless mind and produced a bountiful yield: amongst the treasures collected I found a rare Morrison's till receipt for the purchase of Ragu pasta sauce, hummus, and a packet of ice-cream wafers. As you know, examples like these are akin to Venus's arms and you had better believe that this will take pride of place in my collection.

On a high for the rest of the day, I flattered myself with increasingly outrageous compliments until I began to blush furiously and I had to retire to a darkened room to compose myself.

This morning, a discordant rendition of Onward Christian Soldiers signalled the return of Father Bouffant. I had earlier determined that I would openly confront him about his true identity (fraudulent TV spiritualist Derek Acorah). When I did so, puffing out my chest and angling my thighs to the right to appear more demanding, he looked crestfallen and sheepishly related the following fantastical account:

"Well Mr Carew...or may I call you Clive?" he began. I agreed that he could call me Clive. "My story is a strange one. In 1950 I was born to a Liverpudlian drudge, the unhappy product of an ill-judged but passionate affair with an unnamed peripatetic gypsy. My mother will tell you that on the day of my birth, the midwife mistook me for a lung and almost cast me to the flames in horror. Such was my ignoble start in life.

"Until I was 27 years of age I worked with my mother sculpting marzipan fruit for tourists. On my 28th birthday I became aware of my Gift. My grandmother had it, my mother had it, and by all accounts, every gypsy ever born has it too. It is that fabled, heaven-sent ability to trick simpletons into believing you can commune with the dead in exchange for cash. Two avenues were thus open to me - the spiritualist circuit, or the priesthood (where I might pretend that I could specifically contact one dead man, Jesus H. Christ).

"Seduced by the glamour of dark robes and wine, I picked the church. In those days the Catholic church would not ordain Scousers, believing them to be altogether too sinewy, so I was forced to change my name and adopt the persona of a meek Scotsman. To this day, I still practise as a priest under the name Father Onesiphorous Bouffant in the small township of Tongue.

"When Living TV was devised in the late 90s, they put out a call for those with the Gift, and I readily applied because at last the stage was set for those with the Gift to make serious money, where previously they were limited to paltry donations at garden fetes. I returned with pride to my true name and accent, and in my interview put on a tremendous show wherein I pretended to be possessed by the spirit of a long-deceased basking shark. The TV folk lapped up my performance and hired me on the spot.

"This is now my lot in life - in exchange for large quantities of money, I pretend to speak to people who aren't there, and occassionally feign possession. Possession is tricky because although I have developed a variety of different grimaces, I can still only do the one voice, which sounds a little like a pirate, but if I start to struggle I simply pretend to faint, which is usually enough to fool Yvette Fielding.

"I will not deny that I am an incredibly wealthy man. But this has its downsides - I now expect the very best in life, such as brand-name cornflakes rather than the generic 'Tesco value' ones, which proves somewhat costly. Whenever Most Haunted or Ghost Towns or The Antique Ghost Show is not on the air (sometimes as much as one full week of the year), I am forced to return to my old disguise as Father Bouffant and perform exorcisms in order to support my flamboyant lifestyle and lust for new earrings.

"I can only apologise Clive, for attempting to trick you. I see now that you also have the Gift, so I will leave you - it is not the done thing to attempt to fool one of your own. Before I go, however, I will have to ask you for £300 for services already rendered."

I gave him the money, plus a 10% tip, and wished him well. What a nice man.