The Bogeyman

I’m not easily led into buying things but every now and then I do buy things just because they sound brilliant and I get suckered into purchasing something that I really shouldn’t. Every so often I will get a glimmer of information about something I think I need in life and the next thing you know I’m on eBay ordering it up. The rule of thumb seems to be is that if it turns up from eBay with a two-pin plug on it and originated from China, disappointment is almost guaranteed.  To this end I have a plethora of fake iPhones (and other mobile phones, mainly Chinese), shit Chinese tablet computers, poor quality digital cameras and video cameras, radio controlled helicopters and broken eBook readers littering the drawers around Aitchworld Towers and many more things have come and gone and ended up in the bin.

Away from the internet I think I do a little better. By day I am a mild mannered salesperson and like to think that no-one can get one over on me. And generally this is the case, but then there was the body warmer incident…

A couple of years ago I was in a town somewhere in the West Country, killing a bit of time before my next business meeting. I was in shop very much like a Poundstretcher, or one of the other chains with “Bargains” in their name, be it Home, Family or B&M, but this store was clearly privately owned. I’m fairly sure I was once a Woolworths building, because the fixtures and fittings looked very familiar. It was summer and the clothes shops were selling their summer-wear lines. This shop, however, in its small clothing area, was selling body warmers. I can’t even begin to imagine why I even glanced at them, as I had been given a nice body warmer by my in laws for Christmas just a few months earlier. But looking at them I was, albeit in a half-arsed, uninterested way, when the woman who owned the shop sidled up to me.

“Can I help you with anything, love?” she asked. Reaching for an exit strategy, I replied “Well I was just looking at these body warmers, but unfortunately you only seem to have them in an XL size”. I glowed with pride at my quick wittedness. I didn’t reckon on just how quick my adversary was though. “They are Chinese designer body warmers” she informed me. “The Chinese are a smaller race than us, so an XL will be the same size as a Medium for us”, she continued. “You look like a medium yourself”, she said, reaching for a body warmer and removing it from the hanger. “Here, let me help you on with this…” Before I could utter a single word of protest, my arms were outstretched and the garment was being slipped onto me. “It’s reversible; fleece one side and shower resistant fabric the other. And it has a poacher’s pocket”.

I’ve never been fishing. The thought of sitting around for hours only to be out-witted by something as dim as a fish has always seemed rather soul destroying, but I was quite taken with the idea of a poachers pocket, it has to be said.

“Doesn’t this young gentleman look handsome in his body warmer, Doris?” the shopkeeper called out to another shopper who was obviously a regular. His body warmer? I’d only intended to try it on to humour her. As far as I was concerned the thing was going straight back on its hanger! “Oh yes. Very dashing. And it fits him well”, agreed Doris…

“Dashing, eh?” my subconscious mind thought. “If this thing makes me attractive to women it might be a wise purchase”, it pondered. I have no idea why my brain thought all this because I was (and still am) in a happy relationship. I wasn’t looking for a new one any more than I was looking for a new body warmer. But here I was, standing in a shop in the middle of a West Country market town, wearing one. It was like I was cheating on my other body warmer. “So you would fancy me in this, Doris”, I said to her with the cheesiest of grins on my face. I have no idea where this came from because I certainly never expected those words to leave my mouth. Nor did she it seems, because poor Doris damn near tripped over her walking frame in her rush to get away from me.

What followed is a blur, but all I remember was walking with the Manageress of the shop towards the till, still wearing the body warmer. As we reach the till, she turned to me, “I’ll take the tags off and scan it into the till for you”, reaching towards me with scissors. The next thing I know I am standing outside a shop in the middle of summer wearing a suit with a body warmer over the top of it, tags removed so that I couldn’t even take it back later on when suffering buyer’s remorse,  wondering what had just gone on here.

I digress, but it is a story that needed to be told. It is with this rash purchasing foible of my persona that led me to purchase a snot sucker. This essential device is nothing more than a flexible tube with a couple of filters and a collection chamber. You stick the narrow ending of the collection chamber up the nose of your chosen infant, the other end of the tube in your mouth, and suck out any rogue bogeys. Both Arthur and Henry have had colds already in their few short weeks on planet Earth, and the snot they produce is copious and the bogeys they have snorted out mightily impressive. They would be big if they had come out of my nose, but I swear some of them that have been produced are almost the size of the babies’ heads. They must be like an iceberg, with only the tip of them poking out of the end of the nose and a massive amount hidden below the surface.  Some of them have been so obstinate that they won’t even fold up on themselves small enough to get into the collection chamber and just stick out of the end of it, wedged like a shard of glass in a bottle neck.

Of course the first few times are quite novel – it is kind of like fishing in a way because you sit around with the snot sucker to hand, just waiting for a bogey or even just a length of stringy snot to appear low enough down the nasal cavity for the collection chamber to get a purchase on it, given enough suction and you do need to give the thing quite a hefty suck to get a catch. As time goes by though, the misses occur more often than the hits and you sit around with an empty collection chamber (and poachers pocket), turning blue and feeling dizzy from all the sucking.

What I should do is stick the mouthpiece into the baby’s mouth. Fairly early on, one of the many pieces of advice I was given was to check whether a baby is hungry is to stick a (clean) finger into its mouth. The first time I did this with Arthur, he damn near took my finger off. Fair play to anyone who is breast feeding – there is no way I would want to stick something that sensitive into a vortex like that. I can only assume this is where James Dyson got his inspiration from. I’ve seen the adverts (and not fallen for them): V6 digital vortex chambers my arse – a digit in a baby mouth more like. However, I did fall for the marketing blurb and I was suckered into the purchase of the snot sucker, quite literally.

I’m not alone in this – Mrs Aitchworld has her moments too, although she is generally a lot more controlled than me when it comes to technical items. She did turn up at home the other day with swim pants for the boys though. She wants them to learn to swim and while I am all for the idea, I hate the idea of going to the local pool. I never liked it when I learned to swim there and it can only have got grimmer in the intervening thirty plus years since I last swam there. However, I have a cunning plan…

Aitchworld Towers used to be two flats and at some time in the 1980s the occupants of the downstairs flat cleared out the cellar and installed a bathroom down there. And not just any old bathroom – they put in a bath that is about one and a half times the size of a normal bath. It is also has full Jacuzzi functions, bubbles, water jets, the works. I have no idea why they installed this, but these same people were still living there when I moved into the upstairs flat in the mid-nineties. I didn’t have much to do with them, but every now and then I would bump into them and each time they would tell me something more about their personal life that I really didn’t need (or want) to know. It was during one of these conversations that I gleaned that they also slept in a water bed (until it burst, from “too much hammer”, apparently), so make of that what you will. A giant sunken Jacuzzi bath kind of suited them.

By the time I had met Mrs Aitchworld and she had moved in with me, they were long gone. Several more couple had been and gone since, but one of them had just split up when she moved in and we bought the downstairs flat in order to convert it back into one house (not the wisest financial move of our lives, it has to be said) and the Jacuzzi bath was still down in the cellar. And it is not hard to see why – after the bath was winched down a spiral stair case was erected and so that bath isn’t coming up that any time soon.

Now my thinking is that, proportionally, the ratio between bath size to baby size is about the same as me size to infant swimming pool size. I reckon if we fill it with water, chuck in a bit of Domestos to faithfully recreate the smell, and a couple of plasters and maybe one of those rubber verruca-prevention  socks, it will be just like the municipal pool experience, only with added bubbles. All I need is a sign that says no running, no jumping, no diving, no bombing and no petting. My only fear is, if one of the twins has an arse explosion half way through a length of the pool/bath with the bubbles and jets going, what’s going to happen to it all? That’s going to take some sterilising! At least down at the pool someone else can scoop it out with a fishing net while we bugger off quickly in embarrassment.


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