Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Coming up ambergris

Isn't it funny the way things turn out?

It seems to me that no matter what we may have planned for or expect, there is always that element of unforeseen chance that either makes or breaks us - and usually when we least expect it. I normally put it down to that fickle ould whore - the bane of my life - Lady Luck; and I suppose that's as good a way as any to describe the phenomenon - the phenomenon of pure chance.

Take the other day, for instance - last week, actually. There was a fellow by the name of Ken Wilman, and he decided to take his dog for its daily perambulation along Morecambe beach, probably something he does every day.

"Oh well," says he, "let's get it over with. Get yer lead."

Off he went with his mutt, who is nameless as far as I know, off for another freezing meander along the sands while the chien did its bit to pollute the Irish Sea. I can see him now, wandering along, watching his dog trying to catch seagulls, when he came across a foul-smelling lump on the sands.

"What the devil is THAT?" he may have said to the dog. "It smells worse than a Liverpool docker's armpit!"

So, he had a good look at it from a distance, like a skunk - nice  to look at but you wouldn't want to be too close.

"Weird!" said he to nobody whatsoever. "I'll have a look on the internet when I get home, see what it might be."

Well, imagine his surprise when it turned out that its appearance suggested there was a possibility that the foul lump could well be a thing called ambergris! (Notice the diplomatic way that I have avoided comparing anyone to the foul-smelling thing? That's called diplomacy, that is.)

So, good old Ken (remember Ken?) read some more about the foul object and discovered that it was not only called ambergris - the name (apparently) for whale vomit - but it could be worth a small fortune in shekels if it was ambergris.

Ken the beachcomber promptly returned to the beach - hot foot, leaving  tread marks on the cat as he went through the front door - snatched up the foul object, no longer noticing the smell (because the very mention of dosh is enough to block anyone's sinuses - look at the tanning industry, and a few others) and carried it gently back to  his home and wrapped it carefully in his wife's best frock. More research revealed that ambergris is used in perfumes. I've always suspected perfumes - they mask other smells.

Anyway, the point is that you never know when that fickle ould tart is going to stop kicking you in the cobblers and do you a favour for a change. Ken certainly wasn't expecting a bit of a windfall when he took the mutt out. Turns out that the lump of nasty-smelling whale vomit is worth a bob or two and Ken is sniggering all the way to the bank, as he should be too. Good luck to him. I bet Morecambe sands have been full of vomit-seekers ever since - but bon chance never strikes twice in the same place.

Well, Lady Luck seems to be putting it about a bit lately, and not out of evilness, as her usual wont seems to be. She's been quite kind to me too. My parole hearing is to be at 10:30 a.m. on the morning of March 5th, just four days short of twenty-seven years. The only thing that seems to be on the agenda is my risk management when I am released to the hostel, which I will be because my case has now been officially accepted by the local Probation Service. Of course, The SS - and possibly The Wallace - will be present for the hearing from Northumbria, so that's fine. They know me and my case better than anyone - sometimes I think they know more about me than I know myself.

Two years ago I was stuck in high security, tearing out my teeth trying to get sense out of the system. Now here we are, on the verge of release. I haven't got one foot out of the door, I've got both feet out - now I'm just trying to drag my arse out. The thing is, I could be released in about six weeks! Isn't it funny the way things turn out?

The Voice In The Wilderness

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