Friday, March 26, 2004


JR Ewing: Bastard
I don't have to be here you know. By rights, I should be a millionaire, living it up on some island somewhere with champagne, caviar and all the buxom beauties I can eat. But no. Robbed I was, robbed of my rightful position in life of oil magnate and squillionaire at the tender age of five. See that JR Ewing with stetson hat and huge-shouldered wife? That should have been me.

Instead, it's "This time next year Rodders, we'll be millionaires."

The Great Canadian Oil Rush, wrecked by treachery, I tell you.

Did I ever mention that I once lived in Canada? Whoops. Everybody's got to be somewhere, and there I was in Vancouver at the age of five, dodging the draft into the War in Vietnam. Couldn't tell you exactly where but Champlain Heights rings a bell. I was a small boy in a biggish city, so my entire world comprised of a large, modern, sensible housing estate that smelled of pine, school (note how the mission statement spells out "Anchors" - in my case, they appear to have missed the W off the beginning) and Safeways. We didn't have supermarkets back in England, and the buses still (pfffft) ran on electricity. How rare.

We weren't poor, we were in Canada so the Old Man could teach medical studentssecret stuff about bottoms, a profession that has stood him in good stead for the best part of thirty years. But imagine the great joy if number one son should strike oil.

Oil! The black gold! Countries go to war over it. Governments rise and fall because of it. The currency that makes the world go. And there it was, right on our doorstep. Quite literally.

Great big black lumps of ...err... oil.

Rich! Rich! And say it a third time - rich!

Even as a five-year-old kid, I knew there were two things to do here. Number one: stake our claim on the stuff or some other grabbing varmint's going to come along and pinch this fortune from right under our noses. Not quite knowing where the local Stake-You-Oil-Claim-Here shop was, I used my initiative and stuck a lump (by way of a sample) in a bag and stuffed it through the letterbox of our local newsagents. They never wrote back, the bastards.

Second: Get as much of the oil inside the house as possible and pronto. I corralled my brother, sister and her best friend, promising them equal cuts of the riches, and we stole every single grease-proof paper bag out of the kitchen drawer to scoop the stuff up with. It was, I recall, a raging success. Despite ruined clothes, black hands and fingerprints on the walls and curtains, Mum and Dad could only be pleased to see such unrefined wealth spread across the living room carpet.

Armageddon. I was ignorant of such phrases as "fully furnished rental" and "losing your deposit" back then, and I still am today. The sofa, I remember clearly, was blacker than Margaret Thatcher's heart, and a can of righteous whoopass was let loose on my world.

Look, cut a boy an even break here. How was I to know they'd just resurfaced the communal parking area outside our house? What was lying there was not a fortune in black gold, but ten bobs' worth of black tarmac in great filthy lumps which some lazy git of a workman was too lazy to take away with him at the end of the day. Live and learn, as they say, live and learn.

Sesame Street was banned in our household for a whole week by way of punishment. Parents can be so cruel.

And I'm still not rich. Bloody Canadian oil thieves.

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