Saturday, November 30, 2002


I made a solemn promise to Mrs Scary that she would never appear in one of my stories. So this is it.

When we were first going out together, she and I became regulars at The Swan just outside Reading. She liked it because it was a nice country pub, not to far from home with a nice atmosphere. I liked it because the landlady had enormous knockers.

One Friday night, things were going particularly well, and it was becoming increasingly clear that my luck might be in. Like Tom Sharpe’s Zipser in Porterhouse Blue, I realised that I had been caught short, and that I might need rubberised protection of some kind. The kind they dispense from a machine in the gents’ lavatory.

I headed for the bog, pretended to have a piss while the last punter finished off, turned my attention to the machine. It had that funny ha-ha graffiti on the front: “For refund, insert baby”.I was totally out of babies, so I put my pound coin in the slot.

I pulled back the drawer. Nothing. I could see the pack of three TRYING to come out, but it was caught in the mechanics. I pushed the drawer back slowly, hoping that it might fall through, but it snapped back shut before it had the chance.


I tried again with my last pound coin. I opened the drawer, and it was still empty. The packet was almost, but not quite, coming out. It just needed a little encouragement.

I gave it a prod with my finger. It moved but no dice. So I gave it a firm push. It disappeared back up into the machinery and the drawer snapped shut. On my finger. I was trapped. In the gent’s toilets. With my hand stuck inside a rubber johnny machine. Try explaining that one away...

For what seemed like ten minutes I turned my finger this way and that, pushed, pulled, twisted and shook, but I was stuck fast, and if anything it was getting worse.

Then I heard footsteps.

Someone was coming down the corridor towards the gents. I was trapped. Laughter, ridicule and slow embarrassed death was only seconds away.

With one foot halfway up the wall, I let out a silent scream and gave one final mighty tug.

There was an audible CRACK! as my finger freed itself and I staggered backwards across the bogs, regaining my compsure just in time for the landlord to come in for a piss.

“Alright there”, he said.

I wanted to say “Actually, no. The machine’s eaten my money, and now it’s just tried to kill me and I only just escaped with my life.”

So I said “Alright Dave” instead.

That final blood-curdling tug actually broke my finger, and killed of any desire for after-hours activity. I was so embarrassed about the circumstances that I never told Mrs Scary about it, and only saw a doctor the following Thursday when the pain got too much to bear. Even then I told him that “I slammed it in a door”, which wasn’t too far from the truth.

You are the first person I’ve told. Go gently on me.

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