Monday 7 April

Partaking in footerball is always a great escape for me - from lingering lovestrikes or work-life-drinking overbalance - but occasionally it is impossible to escape from the sport itself, even once home. Allowing my feet to steam to the beams will inevitably set the smoke canary shrieking but today it is I who exclaim the louder, in a hapless attempt to evacuate sudden and immeasurable pain. My toes are in revolt, apparently attacking one another; perhaps a long-dormant argument between them (that beastly miss in the under-8s that saw me towel-whipped by Cockhold, then set upon by the remaining teachers?) is to be settled once and for all. A crippling inertia now takes control, of a sort not experienced since last week when Barton visited and, treated by our surviving Grandma Kranjcar, we feasted on Chinese pie buffet until unable to speak, move or sleep. The next day Barton proved twice the expected weight for his trip of a lifetime to North America and, unsurprisingly, his first communication via the worldwidewotsit confirms he was stung for excess baggage while rolling out of Liverpool. Things soon get worse. I have forgotten to lock the door and Miss Jordan is out modeling for Percy’s new range of loose-fitting corsets.

‘So what do we have here then?’ utters Shifty McQuiggin.

‘Why it’s our old workmate,’ replies Scarface Jones.

‘And what’s he been doing?’

‘Sticking his nose in.’

‘Actually it’s my foot that’s-‘

They go on like this for some time, speaking to each other like a pair of puppet show pirates, ignoring my offer of a cup of tea or something stronger (like a cutlass up their backsides).

‘You best stay where you are from now on,’ concludes McQuiggin, finally.

‘Of course I bloody well will,’ I mutter, with uncharacteristic impotence, ‘You can be sure of that.’

The men bow out, mutually satisfied and smug, leaving me with an even greater determination to fix my toes whatever the cost. I recline upon the Ottoman and smoke my strongest Turkish cigarettes. It performs the trick within a mere three days.

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