Sunday, June 18, 2006

Explanations and Further Leads

My dear and patient readers, I have much to relate. I have been unable to update this electronic diary for the past week or so as I have been confined in a private room in a hospital ward, comatose for much of the time and hooked up to a saline drip for the rest.

My private room had a television set exclusively for my own use, which showed the World Cup endlessly. I have not heard of the 'World Cup' before - a student doctor told me that in the 'World Cup', male representatives of the world's nations meet in giant German arenas to try to kick a ball into their enemy's net using cunning and athletic prowess. The least successful nations are eliminated and the strongest proceed to the later rounds until there remains only one nation, which is declared the winner and gets given a small trophy, a bottle of fine champagne (vintage), and a hearty round of applause.

A nurse in the hospital told me that this is a good way for men to work out their inherent anger with foreigners and to thus avoid real wars with real casualties and bloodshed. This is all very well, but Neighbours has been put off the air until this dreary and interminable competition has been played out. This is wholly unacceptable and the depression brought on by learning of Neighbours's abscence from the TV schedules delayed my recovery by several days.

I must now reveal how I found myself confined to a hospital bed, miserable and in pain. Several days ago now, I welcomed a visitor into my Dundee home. He was a representative of Hughes de Payens Software Ltd, Hull, come to bestow a gift upon me, my prize for successfully completing Manic Miner and surely a key clue in the Grail quest bequeathed to me by the ghost of Ustinov. The man introduced himself as Miss Agatha Daggs, M.Litt, and congratulated me on my recent success in besting the game. My suspicions were at once aroused because this man was patently an albino, but one who had gone to great lengths to disguise this fact. He had grown long mousey brown hair on his scalp and had acquired a glorious sun tan all over his wide-hipped body. He wore make-up, perfume, and nail polish to disguise his albinism from me, but I was not to be fooled. Wary though I was, I allowed this faux-albino into my living room, assuming from his feminine build that, should he attack, I could easily overpower him.

He explained that the official prize for beating Manic Miner had been set in 1983 and was four month's subscription to Speccy Plus! magazine, which had unfortunately gone out of business on the same day that the game was released, so no one yet had ever bothered to phone the number to claim the prize. I detected that he was testing me in some way, subtly probing me to see if I was worthy of the true prize, the secrets of the Grail's location.

"A prize is mine by rights," I said, "And if you cannot provide me with the stated prize, you will have to find some other way of pleasing me, Miss Daggs!"

This did not please the man. He repeated that the prize was now only to be considered a novelty, and that I could not realistically expect to receive issues of a magazine no longer in print. As a gesture of good will, he said, Hughes de Payens Software Ltd, Hull, would be delighted to offer me a W.H. Smith book token to the value of £5.00. I declined, stating that I sought only the true prize. Here I winked at him to indicate I was aware of the game he was playing, and said, "You shall now give me my prize, Miss Daggs". Here I winked again and, leaning in very close, smiled to show that I knew there was an exciting prize awaiting me behind all his bluster. He maintained a steadfast composure, so I squeezed him companionably on the knee and winked a third time.

It was then that he revealed his true albino nature and flew into an apelike fury, beating me about the face and screaming. He produced a can of mace and sprayed my eyes, which caused severe discomfort.

And so I found myself bludgeoned by that albino. I awoke in hospital where the police came and questioned me about my conduct towards Miss Daggs, that treacherous albino, presumably to see if they could find and arrest him for his wickedness towards me. My good friend Dr Anthony Gland the psychiatrist was called for, and the police went away after he spoke with them and explained to them my Grail Quest.

Returning home today, I have found the £5 book token for W.H. Smith still lying on my couch. It occurs to me now that this is actually the prize I sought after all - it is a patent clue! Tomorrow I will go to W.H. Smith and follow this lead. Representatives of the Knights Templar may be in league with that renowned stationer.

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