Wednesday 4 June 2003

The Whimsy Generator

I keep a small machine in the bottom drawer of the chest in my bedroom. It's portable and lightweight, but can only be deployed when conditions are perfect. It runs on numerous different ingredients including Sundays, bad journalism and breakfast tables. It can be part-fuelled by fatigue, the metabolic remnants of Saturday night excesses or it can run solely on like-mindedness and banter. It acts as a lens through which different interpretations of life's underlying truths can be seen. I present to you my Whimsy Generator.

A previous use of the machine during a long train ride from Brussels revealed the cow that lives in Phil and Gareth's Putney flat. Its bovine duties were initially restricted to milk production, but after proving trustworthy, its role has been extended to light domestic cleaning and a part-time minicab service named "Tom Harris Cow Taxis" specialising in picking up drunks from Southfields station.

A long time ago the Whimsy Generator proved conclusively that I was the sixth member of Take That. I would wait, warmed-up, in the wings at their concerts lest Robbie twist an ankle or Howard be overcome by a spell of extreme dizziness. Alas, my opportunity for fame as a travelling minstrel never arose.

On the most recent occasion conditions were appropriate to fire up the generator - a long, long Ridgeway walk this past weekend - it showed that Boo is a lesbian Vampyr, energised by Satanic rituals and unable to cross either moving water or the thresholds of holy buildings. Also, the quintessential English country village of Bledlow is populated entirely by bears, from a rather cute ursine barmaid to the grizzlies that live in the large house next to the church.

Quite a nifty little contraption all-in-all, a shame the uses are relatively infrequent.

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