Friday, 8 August 2014

A Change of Pace

Norman worked at the chemical plant for all his life, from the age of fifteen until he retired, earlier this year upon unexpectedly reaching the grand old milestone of sixty-five. Fifty years of breathing in noxious fumes, half a century of wading through deadly, impossibly-named solvents and still he clung on, determined to see his dotage through in peace and tranquillity, unlike the dozens who had fallen beside him over the years.

He had seen many an accident in his time, even after the intrusive attentions of the Health and Safety Executive; people succumbing to respiratory difficulties, a number of alarming, unexplained rashes which developed into hitherto unrecorded episodes of dermic trauma and a higher than normal incidence of premature hair loss and liver spots. At the plant they still spoke in hushed whispers about the time that Dave – nobody remembered his last name – drowned in the acid bath and all that was recovered was a single white wellie.

But Norman had outlived them all, so it was with some concern that a few months into his salad days he found himself seeking medical attention. The doctor was perplexed and more than a little cautious as he surveyed the gruesome spectacle of Norman’s bright orange wedding tackle. He’d never seen the like and after a cautious examination from behind the prophylactics of face mask, apron and latex gloves he was close to admitting defeat. Nervously backing away from Norman’s incandescent knackers he began his research.

The medical textbooks threw up little in the way of clues, so he turned his attention to Twitter. Nothing. Wider Google enquiries brought a plethora of hideous sights into his surgery and after an exhaustive search of the worst the web has to offer he found himself occasionally blanching as yet another specimen of diseased and disfigured humanity flashed up on the screen. But still he found nothing to adequately compare with Norman’s bright orange bollocks, which glowed accusingly from between a pair of ancient, knobbly knees.

Finally he admitted defeat and said as much to his dismayed patient. For a while they sat in silence as Norman put his pants back on and the doctor, in an inspired guess, wondered aloud if there could be other causes than the years of contamination. What if there were lifestyle contributions, after all, Norman had recently undergone a complete change of pace? The first avenue was to ask Norman whether it might be a surfeit of vitamin B; did he, the doctor asked, eat an inordinately large amount of carrots, for instance?

Norman was less than impressed by this line of questioning but confirmed that his regular diet had never strayed far from the staples of fish, chips, meat and two veg, crisps, Mars bars and cans of Coke and he had no intention of experimenting otherwise. Neither had he, he ventured, made any material alterations in his lifestyle; he still frequented the working men’s club most nights, although he confessed to rarely having the staying power to stagger home at closing time.

Early retirement?

“Aha!” said the doc, “so you HAVE changed your routine!” Norman looked at the doctor’s newly animated face and said, “I don’t want to get your hopes up, Doc… all I generally do when I get home is watch porn and eat Cheesy Wotsits.”


  1. Thanks for allowing me to copy this to my blog. Will be up within the hour.