PAIN AHEAD

“Through the use of filters we’ll make it appear you’re going to be submerged in the icy water of the South Ford,” John announces triumphantly.

I have little interest the anatomy of television and stop listening. Indeed, anything to do with electricity or electricity-powered gadgets rings alarm bells for me. I must have been absent from my Physics class the day old Dr Hughes introduced the subject. I’ve never even seen this stuff called electricity. All I know is that it runs down walls. It is one of the many tiny miracles upon whose magic I prefer never to look.

There is no way, however, this young man who has discovered his passion in life and actually gets paid for indulging it is going to stop. My eyes drop shut..

“. . . baseball bat?” asks John.

“Wha’?”

“Can you swing a baseball bat?”

I shake my head slowly from side to side. This makes me feel nauseous.

“What about a golf club? You ever use a driver on a golf course?”

I don’t want to shake my head again. “One time,” I gasp.

John extends his open palm towards me in a high-five gesture. “Wicked!” he bawls. “The smashing of the Jeroboam will be a skoosh, then.”

I try to guess what the ‘Smashing of the Jeroboam’ entails. It’s associated; I think, with an errant tribe in the Old Testament – something to do with a battle the Israelites fought perhaps in the land of Canaan. My head is beginning to hurt already.

“. . . reverse,” finishes with pride in his voice.

“Reverse?” I say in the back of my throat.

“Yes,” John says adding a brittle laugh so I will think we’re going to have fum, fun, fun on this shoot.

I’m convinced it will be pain, pain, pain.

Dia bhith timcheall orm, God be round about me! These insane people are trying to replicate an Old Testament battle scene in the Middle East. I flash on Joshua and Jericho for a split second. Do they intend to dress me in flowing white robes and have me slowly emerge from behind a sand-dune in Hosta? Will they have me made up to look like Lawrence of Arabia? Will I be mounted on a white stallion or even a camel? Where will they get camels from? What a tool (pace, Peter O’Toole) I’ll look as I sway on the back of a black ram as we stumble forward to scourge idolatrous pagans from Canaan! No, I’ve got to dissuade John to abandon this idiotic enterprise by pointing out insuperable difficulties in the way of realising his mission. I focus on the problem of finding camels in Càirinis.

“Jush wanna shay – wanna shay shay . . .”

I blank out, then quickly recover. “Jush wanna shay . . . where’sh the caam-elsh?”

“What are you trying to say, Norman?”

By the time I realise how garbled my speech must sound, I see the numb, torpid expression on John’s face and I crash and burn. “Nuh-nuh- nuh – nothing,” I trail off feebly.

A man in the grip of his passion will not be thwarted. John’s response to my inability to explain myself is a single “Hmmmh,” whereupon he continues to harangue me in TV speak: “The shinty stick or golf club or whatever weapon Robbie decides to use will be resting on your right shoulder. Got it?”

“Uh-huh.”

“But what the viewer will see is you bringing the club down and across your body to smash into the giant container of whisky, shattering it into hundreds of pieces, okay?”

“Uh-huh,” I grunt indistinctly. I try to smile to indicate that I now realise that the word Jeroboam has nothing to do with the ancient Israelites.

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