I find that writing under the cover of the nom de plume Pa Kettle does actually provide you the freedom to fess up to events you would never personally admit to. In fact, after a long career in corporate life where I have often found myself in the SH1T, I have generally found that one of my great, if not my only life skill, has been the ability to use my natural guile and cunning to sneak my way out of the piles of said excrement that quite often threatened to engulf me.
I can well remember early examples of brilliant moves I made as a young lad to avoid the ignominy of a thrashing inflicted from the wrong end of the feather duster by my loving mater. On one occasion I remember going against my parents express wishes to avoid the mill pool. They were probably thinking my inability to swim was against such a venture but when faced with the wood, nails and a hammer with which to fashion a raft, which young boy could resist. Unfortunately, one of my life skills was clearly not going to be in the manufacture of seaworthy vessels. Half way across the pond it became clear that a Titanic-like calamity was in the offing.
The point came where my friend gave the order to abandon ship and it appeared to me in the spur of the moment that an overhanging branch may provide the perfect means of escape. However, I hadn’t reckoned on the branch bending under my weight and I found my bottom being dipped in a yoyo-like way into the pond. Clambering to the bank, thoughts of the feather duster prompted me to immediately start to plan my way out of disaster. My friend lent me his red indian outfit to change into and we quickly hoisted my soaking short pants onto the washing line, confident that the trousers would be dry by the time I had to go home and my mother would be none the wiser.
After a day naturally spent playing cowboys and indians I returned home with trousers that weren’t exactly dry but weren’t sopping wet either and I remained confident of escape. However, in those days my mum was sharp as a tack and her radar picked up on my soggy bottom within seconds of my entering the house. She looked at me anxiously and said “Have you wet your trousers?”. I was about to fess up but then, in a flash of inspiration, it dawned on me that she thought I had lost control of my bladder. The Mill Pond scenario hadn’t yet occurred to her. Quick as a flash I admitted to my lack of self control and found myself the subject of mollycoddling instead of punishment. I learned a lot that day.
But sometimes fessing up becomes unavoidable. Today, I was carrying out one of my least favourite jobs. I alternate filling two large plastic wheelybins with my daily collections of chicken poo. When both bins are full, the oldest bin gets carted to the bottom of the field well away from the house and emptied into an increasing pile of lovely fertile chicken dung. Now a small bucket of chicken droppings is manna from heaven as far as gardeners are concerned and costs around £10 at a garden centre so I reckon I make around £2000 a year in value from my daily poo collections.
Todays bin was exceptionally heavy. I have found the trick when emptying the bin is tofirst lie the bin on its side making sure the hinged side of the lid of the bin is on top. If the hinge is on the bottom then as you lift the bin the lid shuts and all you achieve is an upside down bin with a shut lid. However, on this occasion the bin felt as if it was at least three times heavier to lift than normal. I was pushing with all my might to get it upright. I wondered if I was weakening for some reason. I mean I didn’t feel ill or anything. I mustered up all my strength and gave it one last mighty shove. Now the last thing I was expecting was for the bin to shove back, but that’s what it did and it threw me right over straight into the pile of dung. I was covered.
After an intense outburst of expletives that on reflection described the situation I found myself in quite well, I began to wonder how on earth such a thing could have happened. On examining the bin I could see the lid had been bent and then I realised it must have buried itself into the ground and that final push had caused it to recoil like a spring. Obviously in hindsight a big mistake.
I immediately began to think of the consequences. How can I hide this one from the wife? Could I sneak in and hide my clothes in the washing basket and get changed before she sees me. With a growing sense of dread, I remembered that my wife has a nose that can smell a rose at 50 feet. The chances of me sneaking anything smelling of finest chicken poo into the house without her noticing were quite frankly zero. I briefly considered stripping naked in the garage and doing a streak across the yard but dismissed the notion as memories of those disastrous events of my youth when streaking across Grosvenor Bridge in Chester (which was all the vogue in those days) came to mind.
Sometimes you just have to fess up. There is no way out.