“You know, old man,” said Benjamin Disraeli as he ducked a flying poleaxe, “you probably shouldn’t put anything on your blog thingy today.”
It was an odd time to make such a comment. Having decided that our normal Sunday afternoon activities of water polo, carpet bowls and criticising Sir Launcelot the Brave’s vinegary Waldorf salad were a bit tame, Benjamin had determined that we were overdue a day trip. And so it was that we found ourselves at the Battle of Hastings, doing our best to join into the spirit of things. I’m still not entirely sure which side we were on.
Furthermore, Benjamin had brought along a friend of Launcelot’s, Merlin the wizard, whom Launcelot said could do with getting out a bit more. Merlin turned out to be a miniscule, pudgy figure less than three feet high, clad in a bright purple robe and Turkish fez, who had a high-pitched laugh and an aggravating habit of casting frivolous spells at just the wrong moment.
“Whatever do you mean?” I queried querulously. “It’s a Sunday, my dear fellow!”
“Well, yes,” conceded Dizzy in complete silence (cf paragraph 2, line 1), “but frankly, Ward Sell, what do you have to write about?”
“I have plenty!” said I. “I thought I might write an offended retort to this demeaning article I found in a free newspaper on a train which derided the pretentiousness of modern youth. I’ve planned it all out and everything, it’s going to have lots of rude words in it.”
Dizzy coloured slightly, being the bashful sort, but pushed on. “But, my good man, invective is just not really your thing, is it? Why, don’t you remember that whole rant-against-apathetic-students thing last month? You spent the best part of a week fretting over whether you’d offended anyone, and it quite put you off your water polo. You nearly drowned the poor horse.”
“Well then, I’ll just write about something else…” I paused to neatly decapitate a murderous Saxon, or possibly a Norman, “…all those restaurants, for example. I had to review seven of them this week, don’t you know. Or I could write up a humorous ditty about yesterday, and how impossible it is to find food in Brisbane on a Saturday afternoon, and how we found a mangrove swamp in the middle of the city.”
Benjamin paused here, considering the point. “You could,” he said wordlessly. “That might be quite funny, actually. Have you drafted up some jokes? I do like to savour a tasty witticism of an afternoon.”
I stared at my shoes to avoid his eyes, noting regretfully that they were caked in blood. “Well, no.”
“Well, then, that’s just the problem! If you’re going to have this terribly aggressive sort of blog, which you advertise on book-face and all that tomfoolery, you really do need to put a bit more effort in than just reciting whatever you happened to do last night. And really, if you’re going to be so dashedly positive, and not just have a good complain about how awful your life is…”
Ah. I understood now. Benjamin, you see, is an absolute sucker for misery tourism. I should never have even mentioned to him that I’d had something of a crappy week. He absorbs reality TV voraciously just to watch the teary losers’ interviews, and checks that fmylife site with worrying regularity, sometimes even in the middle of a whist drive (this pisses Thomas Edison off something rotten). Possibly the high point of his life (since dying, anyway), was discovering those programs where Gordon Ramsey shouts at wobbly-lipped chefs until they feel completely worthless, which he rather worrying described as “even more entertaining than Anne Frank.”
“No, I’m sorry, it simply won’t do,” I responded. “I’m not going to be sucked into writing massive long whinges every three days just because you get off on torment and suffering.” I had to admit, though, that he had a point about my other ideas. What if the journalist from the free train magazine read my vitriol and got upset?
My train of thought was halted on the tracks of cognition here by Merlin, who’d emerged from the billows of his robe to magically explode a whole battalion of the invading army, and turn them into those cute little bubble cars from the 1960s. He then closed his robe around him and ran around the battlefield giggling frantically, occasionally bumping into a horse. Me and Dizzy caught each other’s eye, and sighed. We were going to have to do a whole lot of cleaning up here, otherwise there was going to be an anachronism. There was the Bayeux Tapestry to think about.
“Oh, very well then,” I admitted grudgingly when we’d hidden the last of the wing mirrors under a rock. “You may be right. But …there is my duty to my viewing public to think of, Benjamin. Can’t I …Can’t I at least write up this conversation, and put it online?”
Benjamin thought about this for a few seconds. “Oh, all right,” he said. “Here, you can use my smartphone.”
So saying, he produced a longbow from the folds of his dressing gown, and took careful aim at some bloke sitting on a horse at the top of a hill. The man collapsed, with the arrow in his eye.
“Right,” said Benjamin Disraeli. “That’s that out of the way …what say we go home and play skittles with Launcelot’s welly boots?”