Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Leap Home

And so it came to pass that I prepared to set off on an epic quest to reach Dundee with the 5 by 5 by 5 Cube. I had estimated that it would take just under two years to walk to Dundee from San Diego, and began asking the committee of puzzlers if they might provide me with a packed lunch to sustain me on my travels. The puzzlers conferred for some time and concluded they would jointly fund a trip home via private aeroplane for me, so that I could get to Dundee quicker.

I began to panic as I am greatly afraid of flying. Thankfully, a Chinese delegate told me I wouldn't be expected to fly the plane myself, which calmed me somewhat. To be safe, however, they all agreed I should be rendered unconscious for the flight so that I did not become agitated and risk jeopardising the mission.

I'm afraid I can remember little else, for you must know that someone slipped a drug into the Fanta I had been drinking and I very soon blacked up, or rather blacked out. I did put up a small protest, and insisted I have something of the late Perkeo to honour his memory. They allowed me to cut off his cold, gnarled hand and keep it so that I could later make it into a memorial keyring. But soon after that, I became unconscious.

When I eventually blacked in again and regained consciousness, I found myself in a ditch around the back of Dundee Airport bespattered with clay and suffering from hazy and sordid memories. My entire body was slicked with morning dew which led me to believe I had remained stationary in that ditch at least overnight.

The Cube was still in my pocket - thank Christ - but some grubby thief, either a sticky-fingered air stewardess while I was asleep on board the plane, or a passing tramp while I lay in the ditch, had made off with my severed dwarf hand and replaced it with a vaguely simian looking paw, which was, of course, no substitute.

Readers, I know it is my job to tell you the plain facts of my adventures, but in all honesty, it is difficult to do so when so much of my memory is patchy and befuddled. In writing it just now, yet more memories return to me, some of which are terribly confusing and distress me.

I think I must stop for now while I try to make sense of things.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Aftermath

As I knelt beside the crumpled cadaver of Perkeo in that dismal hall of puzzles, I became cognizant of the crowd. They had gingerly encircled an object that lay on the stage at the exact position where Bossert's 4 by 4 by 4 Cube had exploded and he had met his end. What further madness was this? They reverentially approached something at the locus of the still smouldering blast zone with the air of pilgrims outstretching their hands to touch a piece of the true cross, or the likeness of Christ in a bagel.

Still shaken from the harrowing pain I had earlier suffered, I limped towards the crowd of puzzlers and raised my voice to an authoritative bellow.

"What transpires here, you cursed rouges?" I thundered. In truth, I had intended to say "rogues", but I was so impassioned that I misspelled my imprecation. No matter, for as soon as I approached, they each stepped back in awe of my domineering presence. I can be quite butch when the situation demands it.

In the centre of the ring of agog puzzlers there sat a Cube, steaming gently. This was of course confusing because we had all witnessed Bossert's 4 by 4 by 4 Cube exploding. It was then that the full horror of what I was seeing struck me. It was unthinkable, but I was forced to think about it nonetheless. It was unimaginable, though after I saw it, it became all too easy to imagine it because it was there in front of me. It was unbelievable, but I had to believe it anyway what with it being there. Gentle readers, this Cube was a 5 by 5 by 5...

"How can this thing have come to pass, you course brutes?" I probed, again misspelling a word in my fervency, though thankfully far fewer people noticed this time.

Up spake a bookish looking Swede: "We believe that Bossert's wicked soul overloaded the 4 b' 4 b' 4, causing a rift in the space-time continuum, and causing the Cube, in common parlance, to 'blow up', as it were. We believe that at the exact instance that the 4 b' 4 b' 4 Cube became overloaded, a larger Cube was spontaneously created that would be robust enough to accommodate the recalcitrant soul of Patrick Bossert. Hence this awful 5 b' 5 b' 5."

Readers, this was quite beyond my ken, but I was not about to admit any ignorance in front of this rabble, so I feigned understanding.

"It is as I conjectured," I said.

"And of course, this Cube must never be solved, for if it is, Bossert's soul will be released into the world," said the Swede, "And that would be disasterous. What we see here is a terrible weapon."
Certain puzzlers quickly indicated that they wished the Cube for their own. Treachery and greed, readers, treachery and greed: how quickly it consumes lesser men. A Canadian puzzler stepped up and said, "It is a gift. A gift to the foes of America. Why not use this Cube? Give Canada the Cube. Let us use it against the US!"

A terrible shouting match began, which got a bit hectic. All the while, the Cube glowed kind of malevolently like. I made a decision.

"I will take it," I said, quietly. Here I snatched up the Cube and wedged it awkwardly into my pocket. "I will take the Cube to Dundee. Though...I do not know the way."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Perkeo the Brave

I stooped to Perkeo's hunchbacked form which lay twisted and rasping 'pon (upon) the concrete floor. I greatly pitied that brutish cove, repellent though his bloodied face appeared, and thanked him for his courage in coming to my aid when all hope seem'd (seemed) lost. He tried to speak, resulting only in a sad bubble of blood gurgling from his fat split lips and staining his crooked teeth red. Kneeling down, I cradled Perkeo's grossly enlarged head in my lap to offer him some semblance of the parental love and comfort cruelly denied him all his days: 'twas (it was) the least I could do for the stunted abberation.

"Sir, I owe you my life," I whispered, stroking his bulbous forehead in what I hoped was a gentle nurse-like manner. "I am pleased you found your mettle in the end. Though your lumpen body is frightful and your skin pendulous and coarse, your spirit, if it could be seen in the form of the living, would assume the figure of an upstanding and heroic man, smooth-browed and clean of limb, and with eyes that flashed undaunted courage. A little like David Boreanaz."

Hearing this tender obituary, he wept freely and unashamedly, exhuming decades' worth of deeply buried raw emotion. He looked pretty ridiculous. Perkeo tilted his misshapen face towards me, his cracked voice sputtering what I knew were to be his last words:

"...We cry life isn't fair
Beneath our cries the truth is there:
A power that will break the spell
We should know very well
Is locked within ourselves...

Then, glowing with the angelic dignity of the truely selfless, he expired, after first voiding his bowels.

Readers, as I sit and write this entry, I am moved almost to tears. I must leave the narrative again in order to sit in a darkened room and weep until I am spent.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bossert Tries to Solve the Puzzle

Dear readers, I hope I have not misjudged the duration of the gap between diary entries. It was my intention to leave you on a cliffhanger, so that you would remain interested and be eager to come back to read more. I fear I may have left you waiting too long and many of you will have lost interest and sought out some other electronic diary to read. Most likely, one written by a plump woman in Michigan and her useless struggle to lose weight. Good riddance to you. Either that, or you have become so agitated and excited that you are now whipped up into some sort of a frenzy and will not be able to concentrate on what I have to tell you. I am sorry for this, but you must do your very best to calm down, because I will now continue from where I left off.

I must tell you that as soon as he began trying to solve the marvelous and outrageous 4 by 4 by 4 Cube, Bossert became utterly absorbed. The crowd at once protested against Bossert's crime against puzzles: some brayed, some booed, some threw jigsaws at his chin. Bossert remained oblivious. His fingers blurred as they slipped and slid across the Cube. Faster and faster they flew as the Cube's sections swivelled and clicked so rapidly that smoke began to billow from it.

In my position as human battery for this evil puzzle, my pain grew more and more acute. But Bossert had greatly underestimated the power demands of his creation - each of the puzzlers in the room, honest men and women all, were drawn nearer, sucked towards Bossert's terrible Cube. Beyond their control, they flicked through the air, many evaporating as they made contact with the dreadful puzzle, their souls torn asunder and wasted as fuel for the horrible Cube. The rest managed to grab hold of spare pillars and so on.

All seemed lost. I, frozen in time, was unable to act as Patrick Bossert's ultimate puzzle became a hellish vortex that would suck up all souls in the world until the puzzle was solved, something that would surely take years. Bossert's miserable dwarf held tightly to a door handle to prevent himself flying into oblivion. I wished fervently that he would soon perish as no soul deserved it more, but then I saw him looking at me with something approaching pity. He pitied my poor tortured state, dear readers, even though his life was in imminent danger.

Before I could be too surprised by this, Perkeo did something else to make me more surprised and so the latter surprise trumped the earlier surprise. You see, he grinned at me, winked, then let go of the door handle. As he flew through the air, spinning wildly towards certain death, he raised the leash he had previously used to enleash me, and thrashed it like a whip at Bossert's bespectacled face. Bossert dropped the puzzle in his shock, and was at once sucked into the Cube. The Cube promptly exploded, and I was at once released from my time bubble. The puzzlers were likewise released from their descent towards death.

In the aftermath, a few uncertain cheers went up from the shaken puzzlers, but most sensed that the mood was not yet celebratory. For you see, I fear that poor Perkeo received the brunt of the terrible explosion and lay wheezing, near death, upon the floor.

I ran to his aid.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Ultimate Puzzle Revealed

I am afraid I left the narrative on a 'cliffhanger' yesterday. This is a trick I have learned from Noel Edmonds on Deal or No Deal? He is extremely sophisticated in his use of it - he will take the phonecall from the Banker, who tells him what the cash offer is to be. Instead of immediately informing the contestant of the Banker's cash offer, he often says, "Let's take a break first", at which point the studio audience groans and the programme stops for adverts. The reason the audience groans is because they are very eager to hear the Banker's cash offer and are now forced to wait an excrutiating three minutes before learning what the offer is to be and how it affects the course of the game. The audience at home is similarly desperate to find out how things will unfold, and is more than willing to endure the three minutes of adverts in order to get back to the programme. It keeps them watching and keeps the excitement levels up. That Edmonds is a master and I have learned from him.

I now must tell you the nature of Patrick Bossert's ultimate puzzle. It will be difficult for many of you, incompetent as you are, to understand the complexity of it. Even I, who have been through some of the Scottish secondary school system, struggle to comprehend it.

Bossert flung off the black cloth and revealed his puzzle to the horrified crowd. I thought at first that it was another Rubik's Cube, but I could see that the puzzlers in the room recoiled in terror at the first glimpse of it, so I supposed that they had observed something about this cube that I had missed. Bossert grinned maniacally and held aloft the cube.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he twittered, "I give you....Cube Plus! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hee!"

It was at this point that I realised what was unique about this cube. Readers, I advise you to pour yourself a liberal slug of brandy or some similar restorative before continuing because the nature and complexity of this cube will shock you.

Gentle readers, this cube was not 3 by 3 by 3, as was Rubik's original and nigh-on impossible Cube, but rather..... (I feel sick but must continue) .... it was 4 by 4 by 4!

Bossert let loose a torrent of frenzied laughter and directly set to work on solving this insane puzzle. The crowd tentatively began cautionary chants, such as, "Too far, Bossert, too far!" and "You're mad sir, mad!" and "You'll never solve it!" and "Impossible!" and "You speccy c___!" Bossert was so absorbed in the puzzle that the words of warning could not reach him. With a freakish rictus twisted 'pon (upon) his face, he stood twisting the 4 by 4 by 4 Cube rapidly in his hands, oblivious to the chaos surrounding him.

The crowd grew uglier and uglier, especially the Welsh stall, while all this time I remained frozen and in the most abject of torture and misery.

Again I will use the device of the cliff hanger and leave you desperate to discover the Banker's offer and how I came to escape from my predicament. We will now take a break.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Readers, I have taken a tincture of senna to calm my nerves and fortify my constitution. I now feel suitably equipped to continue my tale of woe. Bossert fired the Proton Pack directly at my face and at once I was overcome with an unutterable agony that filled every nook and cranny of my world. Revelling in my misery, he produced a strange device from some hitherto unseen crevice, and pressed a button upon it. The wibbly luminous beams eminating from the Proton Pack immediately froze, as did I. I noted that a bead of sweat fleeing from one of my forehead pores became suspended in mid air. Bossert let go of his Proton Pack, which remained stuck fast in air, and turned to address the crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, but somehow contrived to make the words rhyme, "The device I have just used will be familiar to many of you. It is a humble Rubik's Clock, which I have doctored using a science of my own devising so that it can pause time."

At this point, the French contingent spoke up, and Bossert quickly replied, "Yes, it is just like in the CITV series Bernard's Watch."

The Canadian team promptly appended an additional comparison, and Bossert confirmed, "Indeed, it is also similar to the remote control used in the new Adam Sandler film, Click".

The Croatians also tried to get in on the act but Bossert had to correct them by saying, "No, it is nothing like the eponymous green distillation invented by Professor Gibberne in H. G. Wells's short story 'The New Accelerator', for that made subjects move at a vastly increased speed, and it only seemed to them as though time had paused."

He continued, "I have frozen Mr Carew in time, at the precise moment that his soul has been extracted from his body, and also, happily, the moment at which his pain is the most heightened and exquisite. For you see, my Rubik's Clock Time Device (RCTD) does not freeze Mr Carew's mind, so while his body is fixed fast in time, his mind is free to witness the horror he is experiencing and free to endure the terrible pain he is suffering. I could retain him in unbearable agony until the end of time itself if I chose to."

At hearing this, I tried to panic but could not, as the act of panicking requires the passage of time.

Bossert went on, rhyming all the way, mind: "His soul is now available to permanently power my ultimate puzzle. The puzzle is of such devious and morally repugnant difficulty that a human soul would quickly burn down - this way, I can use the same soul, frozen in time, without resorting to mass genocide." A puzzler from Jersey protested that this made no sort of sense, but Bossert had Perkeo shoot him.

The Schoolboy Cubemaster attached one end of a pair of jump leads to my frozen chest and the other end to something concealed beneath a black cloth. At once whirring could be heard and a bright blue glow issued from 'neath (beneath) the cloth.

"It works, it works," said Bossert. "Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for the unveiling of the most fiendish, the most outrageous, the most unbelievable puzzle ever devised..." Here he whipped off the cloth and revealed...

I will come back to this tomorrow, as I wish for you to be kept in suspense.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Demonstration...continued

Dear readers, I apologise for my outburst yesterday. My ill temper was not of your doing, but rather caused by inadvertantly knocking my plum with a trowel. This engendered a feeling of discontent which caused me to become sullen and pugnacious and take out my hot passions on you, gentle readers. For this I am sorry. If any readers offended by my comments could send me their address, I will post out a collectable Pog by way of an apology. It may accumulate in value over the coming years.

Back to business: Bossert's demonstration of his so-called 'ultimate puzzle'. The puzzle is not difficult to explain, but I am aware that my readership is mainly made up of gypsies and dullards, so they will find it difficult to understand. Therefore I will explain it in painfully simple terms.

Since 1983, Bossert has devoted himself entirely to the creation of the ultimate puzzle. After he solved the Cube, a feat no one else has since repeated, he sought to design a challenge worthy of him. But how to improve upon the Cube? He threw his life into the task. After many, many years of considering the problem, the schoolboy cubemaster hit upon a design so complex, so incredible, so ultimately evil that creating such a thing would be akin, morally speaking, to coughing up a driblet of phlegm directly onto the baby Christchild.

If we were to place Bossert's ultimate puzzle upon the Satanic Puzzle Spectrum (created by Norris McWhirter) where Diabolical Dingbats TM are rated 3 Beelzebubs and Killer Sudukos TM are rated 6, Bossert's would break the top of the scale, previously reckoned to be 100, and come in at roughly 12 million Beelzebubs.

Bringing such a fiendish and wicked puzzle into the world demands the restoration of moral equilibrium. By the casting of bones and the pricking of thumbs, Bossert found that his puzzle, before it could be created, required the sacrifice of two honest human souls. Playfully making an additional puzzle of this problem, he sought a method to solve it without taking any lives. He contacted a leading paranormal investigator at a Scottish university (whose name he withheld from me) who told him that 10,000 ant souls would happily stand in for one human soul, and that a certain Dundonian man (me, Horton Carew) was possessed of several souls thanks to eating magic mushrooms on the 8th of March, and perhaps one of these spare souls could be taken without ending his life.

And thus he took 10,000 ant souls without mercy, and thus he came to kidnap me and aimed to steal one of my souls. And so I stood before the throng of puzzlers in San Diego, now aware of my fate. Bossert announced that the demonstration of his puzzle would begin as soon as my soul was extracted. He produced a Proton Pack and, without a pause, fired it at me. The pain was indescribable, so I will not attempt to describe it.

The memory of this horrific event has caused my hands to shake and tremble to such an extent that I dounbt I will ber able tocontinue typoing toinight, so I willl end my narratoivee for tonighty.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Demonstration

Now gentle readers, I come to the nub of the matter: Bossert's 'ultimate puzzle' and my involvement in it. No doubt you are wondering through what marvellous ways all the preceeding story threads will come to be unified in a final, gloriously coherent denoument. How, you are asking, does Horton fit into all of this? Why has Bossert targetted him, a lowly Dundonian? Has Horton forgotten about all that earlier stuff with the ants? And the souls of ants and so on? You are wondering how all these things will be satisfactorily interwoven and explained, or if indeed they ever can be. You doubt my ability to relate the remainder of the story without leaving dozens of plot strands dangling freely in the breeze.

For shame! This little revelation only goes to prove that my readership has no faith in my abilities as a teller of tales. I've long suspected my readership to be predominantly made up of gypsies, and this affront only serves to confirm it. Well, I will not tarry here to be insulted. Good day to you!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bossert's speech to the Throng

When I left the tale last, you will recall that my life was imperilled. Bossert bade me stand 'pon (upon) a lecturn beside him as he addressed the congregation of puzzlers. He spoke entirely in ryhme which, even although I feared greatly for my life, I thought sublime. I cannot remember exactly what was said and I would be doing you a grave disservice if I attempted to write it out from my meagre memories. To give you a clear picture of Bossert's skill as an oratory poet, I will note that he was able to make his points beautifully, calling upon a vast reserve of verse forms completely appropriate to his content.

Amongst many other skillful uses of poetic technique, he flicked deftly between deibhidhe and Sapphic ode, did something a little cheeky with the Habbie stanza using sprung rhythm, then employed threnody and the ubi sunt motif to inject a melancholy tone reminiscent of certain eligiac distiches. He shifted to an Onegin stanza model for several minutes, and slyly snuck in a bit of mosaic verse, doubtless lost on the bulk of the assembled crowd, then admitted that one line was indeed a ligne donnée, but in his subsequent use of a katauta schema combined with a liberal splash of soriasmus, he more than lived up to expectations. Finishing on a stunning envoi, which made use of syneciosis and duple meter, he left the congregation extremely eager to see the unveiling of his puzzle design.

Hopefully my summary has made it clear exactly what Bossert's poem was like - I went to some trouble to find the correct poetic terms to better enlighten you. If it remains unclear despite my use of helpful terminology that exactly describes the techniques he employed, then you may as well say that the whole practise of critically examining poetry to an almost scientific level of categorisation and taxonomy is bunk. And no one would say that.

I will now give you the gist of the content of Bossert's speech as far as I can remember it. I will write it in prose so this will not be exactly as it was originally said, but I have done my best. He said,

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have designed the ultimate puzzle. I will now demonstrate it."

I will tell you about the demonstration in tomorrow's diary entry.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

An Electronic Mail on Unreliable Narration

Today I received an Electronic Mail from someone claiming to be a regular reader of this diary. Here is the message:

hey horton my old jim dandy if I can call u that lol...

Wots happend wth teh blog? dont beleive u r telling the truth here bout wot happend in teh past. How the heck cd u remember exactly wot Patrick bossert said right down2the last word & his exact rymes? No1 cd remeber all that!! Esp whn u wr fearing 4 ur life!! :grin: u must hava really good memory!! .......Doubtful! roflmao lol

See ya!, Dev

I think it must be from some poor soul with English as a second language, though what their first language could be it is beyond my ability to conjecture. I am no linguist, but I would guess it is Yiddish or Rastafarian. I gather the writer is doubtful of my ability to accurately recall every word spoken by Bossert and others when I am relating my tale to you. A reasonable point, and I must admit that my reams of quoted text stretch credibility somewhat, but the writer has couched his case in such a moronic manner that I do not feel I should be obliged to engage with it to any extent beyond sneeringly dismissing it.

However, I will admit to my more literate readers that, of course, I cannot recall exactly what was said word-for-word, and thus the quotations and rhymes cannot be regarded as verbatim. Where there are natural holes in my memory, I have had to plug the gaps, so to speak, by recourse to a certain amount of creative Polyfilla. Such tactics are permitted by today's historians, as long as you are not using it for propaganda purposes, so it is no great crime. It happens all the time: take today, for example - I received an Electronic Mail from a reader who complained that I would never be able to remember all of Bossert's rhymes, so I was too unreliable a narrator. I accidentally deleted that Electronic Mail, but I wanted to tell you about it so I have done my best to recreate it as I remember it. There is surely no harm in this. [Edited to add: see footnote *]

I have quite exhausted myself today and shall wait until tomorrow before continuing my tale of peril.

[* Edited to add: Readers, I have just checked my Electronic Mailbox and discovered the original Electronic Mail is not irretrievably lost and actually remains safe in the Deleted Mails section. I got a few minor points wrong when I attempted to write it from memory above. In fact, the relevant Electronic Mail was not really complaining about my unreliable narration as such, but was more concerned with selling me a product to rectify my comparatively substandard girth.]

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I am Dragged Before the Throng

"Get in there tartan-arse," vociferated Perkeo, forcibly tugging me into the Convention room by my leash. I did not approve of his vociferating and when I stood my ground and refused to be pulled, he tried hollering the same phrase. This likewise failed, so he yelled it instead. He gave bellowing a try but again, this did not elicit a response. He proceeded to scream, bawl, screech, exclaim, bark, and roar the words, but I would not be moved. He briefly toyed with ejaculating but this only made me more determined to stand still. Eventually he resorted to plain old honest shouting, whereupon I allowed myself to be moved into the room. I hoped that my protest would instill in him the lesson that I simply will not negotiate with showboaters.

Inside the room were hundreds of people of all creeds and hues. They gathered in flocks around innumerable stalls at which salesmen demonstrated and sold puzzles of all colours and shapes. Every man jack of them froze and stood silent when Bossert stepped majesterially into the arena. (As an aside, I am afraid I never saw many of the prototype puzzles on display - ideally I would like to offer my loyal readers some tips about what puzzles and games will be available on the market shortly and might become the number one toy for Christmas, but I only saw in detail the stall nearest to me which was staffed by a team from India. They were demonstrating a plastic likeness of an onion bhaji which the user was required to disassemble and then successfully reconstitute as a small model of Sherlock Holmes. I include a picture below for reference purposes)

Once Bossert was assured that he had every person's attention, he declared,

You know me as "The Solver", friends,
But today that title ends:
Forevermore you'll know me as
The puzzle maker with pizzazz.

This elicited more gasps of astonishment, not least from the Swedish contingent advertising "Ultimate Scrabble", excited at the use of six z's in one brief phrase. Bossert allowed a moment for his rhyme to sink in. Whispers began to circulate. As curiosity and excitement grew around the room, Bossert turned his head and from the corner of his mouth said softly,

Step up Horton, stand up straight,

...At last you'll meet your sorry fate.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Annual Rubik's Convention

Gentle readers, I know that many of you only read this electronic diary to see whether or not I have perished dreadfully in whatever misadventure I have become embroiled in. At present I am recounting terrible events from the past rather than as they happen, and the fact that I am alive to narrate will tell you that I survived safely. This severly reduces the dramatic tension but I have devised a way of injecting a little of it back into the current narrative. During my time spent with Bossert I smashed my digital watch, but I will not tell you how or when at the moment. This will encourage you to read on. Your curiosity will get the better of you. You will be on edge until the breakage occurs.

Bossert called once more for his ugly dwarf, Perkeo, who scuttled in carrying a crust-topped bottle of aged Tabasco sauce, which Bossert had earlier bid him fetch. As the hunchbacked oaf burst through the door, he knocked me into the wall where my digital wristwatch smashed. Bossert thanked his miniature slave and proceeded to pour a few drops into the creature's eyes: punishment, he claimed, for not bringing the Tabasco sooner. Perkeo squealed and I greatly pitied the wretch as he rolled about on the floor scratching miserably at his eyes. Bossert watched the whole sorry display with a strange and laviscious smirk; how I loathed him then. After some time, Perkeo stood up and asked what Bossert required of him. He was told to take up my leash and follow him.

Perkeo saw an opportunity to take out some of his anger and humiliation upon one more damned than he and wasted no time in dragging me up by my hair. He called me all manner of racist terms like 'Jock', 'haggis muncher', 'sheep sh***er' (shagger), 'porridge wog', 'whisky enjoyer', 'Scotty from Star Trek', and finally, 'Scotch Egg'. He really was a most noxious little munchkin.

I was pulled through endless corridors by my leash, Bossert leading the way. Eventually we arrived at a great set of doors with a sign on the front that said "Welcome to the Annual Rubik's Convention, San Diego 2004". Perkeo ambled up to the doors and threw them open. Bossert adjusted his tie and marched in with the air of one who commands instant respect: not easy to achieve for one trapped in the body of a schoolboy. I heard some awed gasps and also some odd gasps coming from inside the room.

Here I will break off in the interest of creating a cliffhanger.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bossert Hints at my Fate

In an effort to raise my spirits after my recent hardships, I ventured outdoors today. It was a tolerably pleasant morning so I decided to treat myself to an ice. I had a marvellous hankering for something like a Cornetto or a Strawberry Mivvie or a Fab. By and by I ended up at the freezer section of a Chinese supermarket, where I bought myself an intriguing Chinese ice called a "Frozen Pig Uterus". I loosened the uppermost buttons of my shirt and felt quite dapper as I licked at my ice in the sun and ambled back home. I am sorry to report that the Chinese, adept though they are at kites and fireworks, have yet to master the humble ice. It was not a patch on a Mr Freeze. But enough merriment for one day - I must now darken the tone and continue my sorry tale.

After Bossert revealed to me that he had deliberately twisted a boy into the shape of a lumpen dwarf, he proceeded to give me some indication as to my own fate. I would not be slain, he made that much clear, but I was certain to live out the rest of my worthless life in perpetual agony. I asked that he deleash me ('deleash' simply means 'un-enleash') so that I might at least face my destiny with dignity, but he refused my request in the following way:

I refuse your request, so do lay to rest
All your hopes of escape, for hopeless they are:
Soon Mr Carew, you'll make your debut
At the Rubik's Convention at which I'm the star.

His rhyming had begun again with gusto, signalling danger for me. I begged him to let me go free, but he would not allow it. In an effort to regain some semblance of control, I then begged him to allow me to let out a pitiful wail, to which he agreed in this fashion:

You may let out a wail for today I unveil
To the world's greatest puzzlers my latest design.
Your role, I fear, will soon become clear
So be patient you cretin and nevermore whine.

As you perceive from the fact that I am currently at home in Dundee recounting this story retrospectively, I did manage to escape from Bossert's clutches. I am sorry if this ruins the dramatic tension for you as readers, but there is little I can do about that. Maybe you could play some tense music as you are reading this diary in future to spice things up a bit if you are that bothered. Something along the lines of the theme tune to Casualty.

I will tell you some more of this story tomorrow.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Story of Perkeo

I will now continue the story of my time spent with Patrick Bossert. After he had dismissed the wretched, twisted dwarf, Bossert bade me sit, then told me the following in his thin and reedy schoolboy voice:

Mr Carew, I will break from my habitual rhyming mode of speech in order to talk candidly. Oh yes, poetry often yields the greatest truths - on that point there can be no doubt - but I find it can become tiresome and meaningless if one draws out the parlour trick too long.

I perceive that you resent your treatment at the hands of my dwarf, Perkeo. Please do not judge him too harshly for pain and debasement is all he has ever known. I designed him myself, you know. Oh yes, it is true. How, you ask? Tell me Mr Carew, have you ever heard of the Comprachicos? No? Then I will tell you.

'Comprachicos' is a compound Spanish word meaning 'child buyers'. The Comprachicos were an association of 17th century itinerants which traded in children. At the time, there was an enormous demand among the aristocracy for human freaks: dwarfs, hunchbacks, people with one leg slightly longer than the other, and the whole gambit of human monstrosities. They were so popular at Court that it even became common for royalty and the upper echelons of Spanish society to rampantly interbreed in an effort to produce deformed offspring. Well, the Comprachicos saw an opening in the market and began to manufacture human oddities.

They would always purchase babies, for the younger the child, the greater the opportunity to corrupt their physical purity. Who would sell their children into a life of unspeakable torment you ask? Your confusion speaks of your naivety Mr Carew. The lowest, poorest, and most hopeless of our world can always be relied upon to exploit those more helpless than themselves. A familial bond is infinitely weaker than the bond between mankind and money. Pardon Mr Carew? Indeed, a familial bond is likely weaker than a James Bond too, but let us ignore this for the moment.

The Comprachicos would break bones and mutilate faces. It became something of an artform. Freaks could be made to order. If, through some perversion, a wealthy nobleman desired an armless man with the features of a Doberman Pinscher, or an eight foot woman with a head the size and shape of a sugar beet, then this could easily be arranged. A specialist branch of monster making arose whereby babies were held until adulthood in distorted jugs. Over the years their bodies grew to fill the shape of the oddly shaped jugs, and when the poor creatures' growing was judged to have ended, the jugs were smashed and the warped creatures hobbled out with hideously entertaining jug-shaped bodies. The jug shards were collected and sold as cheap and affordable crazy paving.

Yes, I designed my dwarf, Perkeo, using the methods of the Comprachicos. I flatter myself that I have done very well for a first attempt: his wretched body appears irreparably knotted. You look appalled, Mr Carew. Do not fret - I designed Perkeo as a puzzle, which I fully intend to solve on some idle afternoon when my interest leans that way. Yes, I believe that, using secret surgery techniques of my own devising, I can wholly unknot and untwist the low creature like a human Rubick's Cube. I can make of him a fine figured man of tall stature and unblemished features whenever I choose. Why not now, you ask? do not have the mind of a puzzler, Mr Carew. A puzzle solved is a puzzle lost. Besides, Perkeo is so much easier to kick in his current shape....

Reminding myself of Bossert's monstrous cruelty has drained me, dear readers. I am forced to stop for the moment. At any rate, the final of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? is on shortly and I need to see which girl will win the grand prize of working with Andrew Lloyd Webber on a day to day basis: any girl's dream.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Brief Interlude to Request Information

I will continue the account of my recent adventures shortly. Before I do so, I would like to appeal to any devotees of the programme Neighbours to fill me in on certain episodes I missed while I was held hostage in a cell and enleashed ('restrained in a leash'). Yesternight I heard some men in the radio making mention of an event in Australia involving one of my favourite characters (pictured):

From what the men in the radio said, I gather he has committed some sort of a murder on the high seas and that Crocodile Dundee was the victim. Watching today's episode of Neighbours however, none of the other characters made reference to the murder and the creators preferred to focus on a plot involving Karl and Susan rescuing a lamb from a snake and rescuing Karl's geriatric father from himself. Thus I am confused. Did Scott Timmins do a murder while I was away? If so, I am disappointed - it is completely out of character! The worst behaviour I'd expect from that scamp would be a certain amount of cheekiness and some very barbed comments, or perhaps the puncturing of Harold Bishop's pomp. But no murderer he!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An Encounter with a Dwarf

Upon being released from my rank cell, a sharp tug at my neck reminded me that I remained enleashed, which means 'restrained in a leash'. At the other end of the leash I observed a swarthy dwarf with a great misshapen head and a shock of tangled, dishevelled hair. Never have I seen features so deeply marked with the hideous resemblance of Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, save upon the face of Steven Tyler himself, of course.

The dwarf's thick lips curled back from his yellow teeth in a sneering grimace, and he spat upon me with evident delight. He forced me to crawl on all fours while he led me through endless corridors and he seldom failed of a smart word or two upon my current low state. I quickly resented my cruel treatment by that insolent cub, that malicious urchin, and longed to see him brought low(er). He stopped at a set of grand mahogany doors and knocked three times.

"Enter at once, you foul-breathed dunce", came a voice from within, at which I quailed, realising from the rhyme scheme that it was Bossert who spoke. At this cue, I was cruelly yanked into the room by that stunted brute.

"Master, I have brought the scum," said the dwarf. From behind a large mahogany desk, Bossert glanced coolly down at me, and to my surprised apologised to me in rhyme. True, he was forced to clumsily rhyme 'sorry' with 'quarry' as there is a great paucity of words that rhyme with 'sorry', but I was grateful for the gesture. He looked sternly at the miserable dwarf and said, "End this fiasco - fetch me tabasco!" to which the dwarf replied, "Right away, Monsieur Bossert".

As the dwarf scuttled lopsidedly out of the room, Bossert offered to have him drowned as recompense for his wicked treatment of me, but the dwarf at my entreaty had no other punishment than a sound whipping. Bossert laid his hand upon my shoulder and gently uttered these words:

I will now let you know of my devious plan,
You mentally weak and mephitic old man.

At this point, I will again break off my narrative to return to it at a later date. I wish to watch a programme on Channel 4 tonight called 9/11 Liars which sounds very intriguing - I want to find out whether there are indeed 9 or 11 liars involved and what they were lying about.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Jailed and Enleashed

I will now continue my narrative, having recovered my strength and caught up with Neighbours. After announcing his plan to abduct me, Bossert allowed me a certain amount of time to update my electronic diary and to have a bath and a dinner of salmon. I suspected that he permitted me such kindnesses in an effort to instill in me early a form of Stockholm Syndrome, but being wise to this scheme, I used my brief freedom to take a Stockholm Syndrome vaccination of my own devising (Old Spice). My captor took me aside and calmly said,

To knock you unconscious for your personal good,
I must needs bludgeon you with a stout length of wood.

At which point, all went black (except those things that were already black, which remained so while everything else went black). By this I mean that I was was knocked out. And by that I mean that I lost consciousness.

I awoke with the uneasy sensation that a great many hours had elapsed while I had been out. I discovered to my horror that I was enleashed, which is not a real word and any attempts to search for it using will only result in misspellings of 'Unleashed' (a film starring Jet Li as a man-dog in Glasgow). However, I use the word 'enleashed' simply to mean that I was placed in a leash like some sort of Glaswegian man-dog. I correctly assumed that Bossert had thus enleashed me.

For several days I was kept in my darkened room, forced to wallow in my own ordure. Each day at 16:15 a man slid very thin foods such as dried lasagne sheets, vine leaves, and filo pastry under the door of my cell. This was cruel psychological torture because he knew that Come Dine With Me was on channel 4 at exactly this time of the day and that my paltry provisions would seem doubly awful when I was forced to imagine the delicious meals being enjoyed by enthusiastic foodies on that programme. I curse that gaoler still for his inhumanity.

After roughly 5 days of this sorry treatment I was released from the cell. Recounting this tale has coaxed briny pearls (tears) from my eyes, so I fear I must stop for tonight. I will continue the narrative tomorrow when I have regained control of my emotions.

Friday, September 08, 2006

My Return

Readers, I am returned. I have had a most rare ordeal, past the wit of man to say what ordeal it was. Man is but a deranged goon, officially diagnosed as suffering from a staggering array of visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions with schizophrenic tendencies, and comorbid manic-depression, if he go about to expound this ordeal. Nevertheless, I shall relate my recent tribulations.

These past 3 weeks have been dark ones. Bossert succeeded in abducting me through fiendish cunning and the resourcefulness of his disguise. He gained access to my home by pretending to be a jovial door-to-door seller of kitchen paraphenalia from the Pampered Chef range. No sooner had I agreed to watch a demonstration of a mechanised yam shaker than Bossert exposed himself. He remains a schoolboy in appearance, though ever so many years have elapsed since he was coined the 'schoolboy cubemaster'. Over the weeks that were to follow, I came to the conclusion that Bossert had somehow aquired the secret of eternal youth - I suppose that once one has solved the Cube, all is easy. The trickster uttered softly into my ear the following stanza (for you must know that he speaks only in rhyme):

I'll brutalize you, dear Horton Carew,
If you fail to obey my every command,
So listen to me, or your fat head will be
Introduced with some force to your rank prostrate gland.

The recourse to such alarming and indecent imagery drove Bossert's threat firmly home and I will admit with no shame that I quavered and readily agreed to do whatever he might demand of me. The schoolboy cubemaster continued:

You'll come with me, o'er the rolling sea,
To the land of burgers and fries,
And there for a week, you cretinous freak,
You'll entertain yanks with your agonized cries.

By the 'land of burgers and fries', I naturally assumed he meant Aberdeen but I was later to find that he meant to take me to America (The United States).

And here, dear reader, I must break. I will tell more shortly but at present I am too weak and swollen to continue my narrative. I must retire to bed with a hot blackcurrant drink.