In disgust, Bill Georgeson put down his book, The Angry Mountain by Hammond Innes – a ridiculous pot-boiler in which the protagonist took a mule onto a small aeroplane and disposed of a baddie by having Dobbin kick him in the head.
Bill was at the beach with his dog this morning. The wind was so strong his eyes leaked like a punctured hose. He was looking for the dog’s lead that fell out of his pocket onto the sand two days ago. It wasn’t there. Instead, he saw what looked like a dead fish lying on the tideline. The gulls had had its eyes and most of its face but it was no fish. It had a beak. It was a baby dolphin. Bill had never seen a dolphin before. You wouldn’t expect to, not on that beach.
Bill was never the brightest star in the firmament. Forty years before he retired, he was working as a porter in the local hospital. He was very keen on a studious, bookish nurse. He told me later, in his own breathy style:
‘She winked at me.’
That wink was all Bill needed to make his move.
He knew the nurse was fond of poetry, so he borrowed a book of poems by Rupert Brooke and, on some pretext, went to the bonny nurse's room to read some of the poems to her.
She asked him what the poetry was about.
‘It’s by a chap called Ruptured Brook and it’s red-hot,’ said Bill. ‘There’s references to slaking and everything.’
It turned out that the nurse was very keen on Bill. He staggered home some time later, shirt open, cap awry, face covered in lipstick.
‘What happened to you?’ his brother asked Bill.
‘I think I’ve been slaked,’ he gasped.
© R.T. Hardwick