A long screw . . . (episode 74)

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August 4 1999

401B Concrete Shacks
Wortlewell
CARPOOL C68 4VZ

Hello Auntie

I haven’t received a reply to my last epistle? I hope you haven’t fallen into one of those holes you keep digging, have you?

Do you like the calligraphy produced by my new ‘Flow Ball’ black biro by the way? I think it makes my writing a lot more legible and adds an increased level of plausibility – especially when penning words of at least five syllables!

I have been engaged in helping my chum Reggie (you know, the dog walker with whom I was recently engaged on a ‘dog rustling’ mission). He phoned me up to regale me with a tale involving the horrors of attempting a cat flap installation toute seule.

“Can you help me out?” Ralph, pleaded Reggie. “It is very hard to hold both the inner, and outer, parts of a cat flap stationary when a chap is by himself. The beastly thing keeps warping when I try to screw it to the door.”

“Honestly Reggie,” I said. “Can’t you do anything by yourself? Last time I helped you out, someone got the wrong end of the stick – and we could have been arrested!”

“Please Ralph . . .” said Reggie.

“Oh, alright,” I said. “What on earth are you going to do when I start my student nursing course?”

But Reggie simply rattled off the address and banged down the phone.

Tutting somewhat, I materialized round at Swish Town House some ten minutes later. Reggie was sitting in a pile of screws (in three different lengths) and holding a rather mangled-looking cat flap whose flap would not flap.

“What have you done with it?” I said, crossly. “Where’s the old one?”

The flap on the old one did at least flap, even if the rubber flange running the whole way round it had perished clean away.

“Put the new flange on the old flap,” I said, “And we’ll try again.”

Trying again did not yield up success, and the beastly thing simply buckled once more!

We sat and cogitated.

“Where are the old screws?” I eventually said.

“Here” said Reggie, picking them up.

Well, do you know Auntie, the old screws (medium length) had had their tips sawn off to make them shorter.

“Let’s try them instead,” I said to Reggie, who looked like he was about to start weeping.

He started to screw them in and I shouted jovially from my side of the door,

“Unless our luck changes, Reggie, I think this is the nearest we are going to get to an actual screw for quite some time.”

I thought I discerned sniggering from the other side of the door, shortly followed by what sound like,

“YES!! YES!!! YES!!!!”

The cat flap was on and the flap was flapping!

I think I may have missed my vocation in life Auntie. Is there anything that requires fixing round at your premises?

Yours on the crest of success

Ralph

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