Five Hundred Eyes

What I did on my summer holidays

Well, I spectacularly failed to get a job; we might as well get that out of the way to begin with. At least I tried, although I have an idea that I set my aspirations too high - but then, I would have liked to have made a net profit on the deal, and anything in the locality of Cherry Burton was paying such peanuts (“agricultural rates”) that it wouldn't have even covered the bus fare. I was better off on the dole.

My most spectacular job failure was trying to break into journalism. Basically, the reason I got nowhere was that I applied for a job that didn't exist, and no matter how wonderful they thought I was, they weren't really prepared to create one specially for me. Or something like that. And I even wore a suit to the interview. Believe me guys, I tried.

But in the absence of gainful employment, I had fun. Expeditions to St Andrews, Dunkeld, Liverpool, Swindon (I may have mentioned that) and Tintagei kept me occupied, and in the intervening weeks I made a right nuisance of myself at home, foisting numerous guests upon my long suffering mother. Anyone who can put up with myself, Richard, Nicole, Paddy, Nikki and Brian all at once has a certain special quality. Gullibility, I think.

It was, actually, quite a quiet summer, a fact perhaps not unconnected to Richard's disappearance to California for two months. I missed him, of course, but I must thank Nicole for removing him so that I could have his CD player.

The major event, from my point of view, was not Honeycomb, or my visit to Paddy and Jean's luxury caravan, or being gobsmacked by the sheer scale of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, but the fact that, on September 7th, a very significant thing happened. And if you think that that's the day that Battlefield started, then you have a very confused idea of my priorities.

On September 7th, around 3.15pm as I recall, I was lying on a rock on a deserted beach somewhere on the north coast of Cornwall, soaking up the sun, feeling the waves lapping my ankles and listening to an emotive piece of music on my walkman, when suddenly, without warning, my stomach went twang.

Those of you who know me well will know about my stomach's propensity for doing such things and will bear with me whilst briefly recap for the new chaps. About two years ago I had a touch of appendicitis, nothing unusual there, happens to the best of us, what could there be to worry about? was taken to Ninewells hospital in Dundee, that's what there could be worry about. Now, far be it from me to accuse them of gross medical incompetence, far be it from me to suggest that they don't know their appendix from their spleen, but seeing as all my friends diagnosed appendicitis within a few hours of the pain starting, I don't see how it took Ninewells two weeks and an operation to come to the same conclusion. By which time my appendix had utterly disintegrated and my stomach had two weeks-worth of infection liberally distributed across its outer wall. My medical encyclopedia also says that the worst thing you can do to appendicitis is give the patient a laxative [“extremely dangerous as it may cause an acutely inflamed appendix to perforate”]. So what do they do?

Right. Well, they had to get rid of the remnants of the Barium Meal' somehow.

I don't think I'll be able to drink a pink milkshake ever again, especially as it was accompanied by some metabolism-accelerating drug that caused me to double my clock speed and live five minutes of my life at eighteen gigahertz. (My apologies if you're attacking the mince pies at this point - may I suggest you put them down for a moment.)

So instead of the standard keyhole surgery that appendicitis usually requires, my surgeon had to follow the Lancelot Spratt school of hack-and-slash and slice me open from belly-button to crotch. He left it open for a fortnight, to let the infection drain away, and then sewed me up in time for Christmas. Six days and one St Andrews Golf Hotel breakfast later, I split open, spewing brown gunge hither and thither, and I could wave goodbye to any chance of returning to university for the foreseeable future. Which is why, for those of you who wondered, I am technically in the fifth year of my degree course.

Anyway, back to the plot. As a result of the above shenanigans my lower abdominal regions, stitched up as they were in a manner more fitting to a football, took on the appearance shown below in figure (a). Dave's own patent built-in corset, wonderful. At least I would never have to worry about a potbelly. I could eat what I want with impunity.

Ha! That was then, this is now. On the aforementioned September 7th of this year, lying on the aforementioned rock, I felt a certain ... twang. A searing pain shot through my stomach, lasted about half-an-hour, and the next time I looked down at my beautiful flat, muscular abdomen I discovered a pot. As it turned out, I had indeed managed to eat too much, and something, somewhere, had to give sometime. And so I stretched, and I now have the potential to have a disgusting pot with the best of figure (a) them. And that was my Significant Event of the summer. really do live.

(It's just occurred to me that nowhere in this zine have I actually come clean and told you who it is who's sent you this 'thing'. I'm David Gibbs (remember me?) and I can be reached at 38 The Meadows, Cherry Burton, Beverley, East Yorkshire, HU17 7SD.

Yes, that David Gibbs.

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