Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Census Wench visits.

Blogging will be intermittent for a while. The snow/hail/rain miscellany of the past few days has driven me indoors from the garden so I'm engaged in serious spring cleaning. When it's over I'll have the cleanest springs in the land.

There are also two writing deadlines as well as the zombie book and the dystopia (which is scary to write - every time I think of a new oppression, the Coagulation implement something worse) and there is an endowment policy to deal with.

When I was twenty-two I was homeless. By the time I was twenty-five I had a mortgage on a pokey, tatty little flat in the shitty end of town, above a drug addict and below a Goth infestation, and it was an endowment mortgage. It wasn't my best business decision although it was far from my worst, because I did manage to eventually sell it for enough to cover the remaining mortgage, so I didn't land myself in debt again.

The endowment I kept on, even though I rented for years after leaving the flat. When I bought this house I thought 'Great, in 2011 I can knock £20,000 off the mortgage which will bring down the monthly cost nicely.'

That time has come, and with it has arrived pages of forms full of questions that make as much sense as 'Are you now, have you ever been, or does your father in his spare time?' I also have to prove who I am by sending photo ID. For twenty-five years these buggers have taken money every single month from my bank account and never once asked for any proof of who I am. Now it's time for cash to flow the other way and it's all 'Oh? Do we know you?' Yes. I'm the mug who's given you money every month for twenty-five years on the promise of £20K which you now inform me will be 18.5K.

They suggest a financial adviser. I think I need a translator. I need to phone for clarification but I have not yet worked out what to ask!

It won't pay the full amount promised but it doesn't matter. It will still knock a third off my remaining mortgage. This is my only debt and the sooner it's gone the happier I will be. If only I can work out what the hell this form is asking for.

To add to the form woes, today a wench called with an envelope. 'This is your census', she said.

'I didn't order a census,' I said. 'What does it do?'

'You don't order it. The government sends it to you and you fill it in.'

'What does it cost?'

'It doesn't cost anything,' she stated with an evident total lack of understanding of the nature of government. Everything they do costs us all something. We are even paying for her to go around telling us it's all free.

'Well, it's very nice but I really don't have time for questionnaires. Can you come back next week? When I'm not home?'

These census people don't like to engage in banter. 'If you don't fill it in you'll be fined.'

'I see.' I accepted the package, addressed to someone called Mr. Occupier. He's had letters delivered here before, usually from politicians around voting time and from other lying advertisers. He never turns up to collect them.

She had a clipboard. They always do, don't they? I'm going to have to get one. People answer anything if you have a clipboard.

'How many people live here?' There seemed no end to her questioning.

'How many can you see?'

'Well, just you, but there might be more inside.'

'Not when I last looked, although there's this Mr. Occupier who gets his mail sent here. I've never seen him.' I think I detected a little steam from her ears.

'So you live here alone?'

'Yes.' Perhaps I shouldn't have waggled my eyebrows and leered. It was a risk, she was no looker. Not much of a thinker either, judging by her next question.

'Is this house detached or semi-detached?'

There was a pause while I considered whether to push this further, but then the little red man on my left shoulder stuck his pitchfork in my ear.

'Neither,' I said. 'It is entirely attached to the house next door.'

She didn't just close her eyes, she sucked them right back into her skull. Her lips puckered to the point where I swear you could not have put a titanium drill through there. One more pucker and her head would have imploded. Then she marked 'semi-detached' on her clipboard. She could have done that from halfway up the street. Houses are, on a human scale, quite large and visible from a distance, as are the gaps - where they exist - between them. I pictured her asking every occupier of a terrace if they lived in a terrace, and what floor each flat was on. How can anyone resist tormenting the stupid? It's so much fun.

Her eyes reappeared, having evidently failed in their search for a brain because they were still blank. Her lips unclenched just enough to force words through. 'Right. Do you need someone to help you fill this in?'

'Not directly. I plan to fill it in using blood, but not mine. Do you have a list of blood donors?'

Have you ever seen a face attempt to blanch and turn red with rage at the same time? It's better than TV. Eventually she managed to shake her head until something connected in there.

'You can just use a pen like everyone else, you know.'

'That would cost me something. You said it was free. Still, not to worry. I have bottles of blood in the fridge. I use them in my work.'

I do, really. Horse and sheep blood are components of many bacterial growth media and if you really want to get all witchcrafty, try brain heart infusion medium with 5% added horse blood. It really does contain what it says it contains. There is nothing vegan about bacteria. I have had tremendous fun explaining to students that they also have to have a circle of salt while preparing the media and that they must do it at specific phases of the moon. If you have a microbiologist working for you who insists on coming to work at midnight to prepare media - sorry, it was probably my fault.

The blood is in the fridge in the lab, not the house, but I neglected to mention this and the big grin was perhaps mistimed, because she left at that point in something of a hurry.

I haven't yet taken the form out of the envelope. I have important things to do first. Filling it in with horse blood using a quill made from a discarded seagull feather would cost me around £20 but you know, it would be worth it. Especially if she made a special note to look out for the nut at a particular house. It would be hilarious to hear they'd tried to DNA-analyse that blood to find out whose I'd used, because I know they would start with the premise that it was human blood and never consider that it might not be. If they found a match I'd laugh until my hair fell out.

Especially if it matched Census Wench.

She also said something about filling the form in online and there's apparently a code that's personal to me inside the envelope. But the envelope isn't addressed to me. It's addressed to Mr. Occupier so it's his code, not mine. I won't do it online. I can't do it in blood online.

If you don't have access to lab supplies, liver is cheap and comes with a lot of blood. I had liver and onions this week, £1 per half-kilo and it's great stuff. Pure meat, no bones, no fat (it was lambs' liver and they hadn't developed a serious drinking habit yet) and full of concentrated meaty goodness for pennies per meal. Lambs' hearts are also on sale but they are seriously filling and are in packs of three. I couldn't use them all before they went off. Besides, they are a Valentine's day meal really. Funny, girlfriends never seem to answer calls on February 15th. It's a mystery.

I have to wonder why they are in packs of three. Lambs don't tend to have three and if you're cooking a Valentine's meal for three - damn, I'm impressed!

Anyhow, have to get up in the morning. Someone is helping turn my wasteland of a garage into an actual useful workroom. It's going to be messy, in fact it already is because the house is burdened by the piles of crap that were in there until recently. Car? You couldn't get a pushbike in there. Fortunately I have neither.

So if I miss a day, it's because I can't get at the computer through the mounds of stuff I didn't know I had and don't know why I own.

The Day of the Hired Skip is approaching, I can feel it...


Anonymous said...

Lovely feed of Lambs fry and bacon this week. Home kill so apart from a bit of drench luverly grub! Census here cancelled because of earthquake. What you need is a decent (semi decent) (not on the Jaopan scale) natural disaster!

JuliaM said...

"...which is scary to write - every time I think of a new oppression, the Coagulation implement something worse..."

Maybe they are tapped into your consciousness?

JuliaM said...

"How can anyone resist tormenting the stupid? "

I never can.

joe said...

Haahaaaa!!! Excellent Leg Iron.

I'm still trying to decide whether to fill it in with complete and utter bollocks or just not bother??

Anonymous said...

Liver and onions, yum yum.
Always used pigs liver. Must try lamb.

Anonymous said...

CENSUS Question 17 is a secret test of our creativity and should not be left blank. Draw a cock in this box

Anonymous said...

Boycott the census.

A Veggie.

PT Barnum said...

Hmm, here's one vegetarian wondering if a trip to the butcher's might be a fun idea...although I'd be more inclined to splash the entire form with blood.

wv = andoodym (an instruction to census workers?)

Anonymous said...


My answers were those which got me through the form most quickly.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Excellent stuff, LI. Had me in stitches. :)

Longrider said...

That Mr Occupier gets about a bit. He's been squatting at my place, too. But those sneaky government people are onto him. If they miss him at yours, they sent a form here just to make sure.

George Speller said...

I've thought about all the angles and I've decided to fill it in in English, but using the Runic alphabet - representing 1000 years of Anglo Saxon history.
I like the blood idea - I might include a few stains.
Also a warning about it having been handled by a smoker is a must.

Anonymous said...

The following page may prove useful for prospective rune users:

Direct transliteration from the Roman alphabet to the Anglo-saxon Runic one, which is sufficiently phonetically similar to modern English to suffice.

Oldrightie said...

Census might become irrelevant soon!

Anonymous said...

You need to use blue or black blood...

Budvar said...

If they do a DNA test on the horses blood, knowing your luck it'll come back as belonging to "Shergar"!!

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

You got a visit from an Actual Real Live Person? Mine just appeared through the letter box. Of course, if I decide not to fill it in, I'm sure I will get a visit from an ARLP. I was wondering whether they really existed, or were the figment of the government's imagination.

David Davis said...

Old Underdog, you have really excelled yourself there. May I share you on facebook (with Mr Occupier perhaps?)

And the spambot said "besser". Perhaps these census people really are nazis after all.

Angry Exile said...

You bugger, that made tea go down my nose.

Angry Exile said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Great post, had me laughing properly all the way through! Best line;

"'Neither,' I said. 'It is entirely attached to the house next door.'"

Mmmmm liver! All livers are good except apparently Polar Bear livers - too much vitamin A or something...


Anonymous said...

I truly want to believe in microbiologists working in a circle of salt.

The very thought quite brightened my day.


Intruder said...

I live in France and on the day I opened a bank account here the manager told me that the French system is based on finding something simple and then making it complex. Mostly this is true of the governments official requests. The census guy called here a couple of weeks ago and produced the form. There were only a few questions. Name, did I live here full time and how many rooms in the house. That was it done and dusted.

The UK forms are complicated and I cant believe that 100% will be correctly completed so how reliable will the results be?

SadButMadLad said...

For those wanting some guidance in how to fill in the census, you could do no worse than read the instructions I've written up over at AnnaRaccon.

Matthew said...

Thank you for this LI; it produced my heartiest laugh of the week thus far.

Anonymous said...

Mr Theo.C.Cupier is a name I've used in the past when purchasing T.V goods or when some Borg requests a name. No one has noticed yet(sigh)


timbone said...

hahahaha the census. My son (a 31 year old with a thriving business, two offices in different cities, a BMW and tight as a ____________ (insert own choice).....where was I? Oh yes, my son didn't even know what it was (he should watch 'Heir Hunters', fabulous programme). My wife told me I had to fill it in on 27th, and she was worried 'cause we are in Spain then. Bless her, clever girl who got place in private school, but no sense sometimes.

Anyway. Went online and di it.

Anonymous said...

Another Leg-Iron classic!


Anonymous said...

PS: UKIP offers a novel way of dealing with the census.

Leg-iron said...

JuliaM - if they are tapped into my consciousness, the only way to save the world is to render me unconscious through whisky. I should therefore get Ardbeg on the NHS.

George S - no warning re smoking this time. Just some ash and a cloud of smoke into the envelope before sealing.

Leg-iron said...

Dr. Dan - don't forget to write the runes right to left. In case someone there can read them.

Leg-iron said...

Anon - blue blood would mean slaughtering an aristocrat. A bit too French for me.

Black blood, well, if it's heated it can go very dark.

Leg-iron said...

£60aweek - yes, the census forms were hand delivered here. She came back again today to hand them to those who weren't at home yesterday.

I suspect it's so that we can't pretend it didn't arrive, and so that she can deliver the 'Obey or pay' warning.

Oh, and tick some boxes.

Leg-iron said...

David D - everything here is public domain. Share away!

Leg-iron said...

Angry Exile - lucky it wasn't whisky. That burns.

SadbutMadLad - thanks for that link.

Fausty - I'm not going to shred mine. I will probably forget to add my phone number, although the thought of some poor sap phoning up expecting 'clarification' certainly appeals.

timbone said...

"I will probably forget to add my phone number" - or put 770 2219, which is 'piss off' if you hold it up to a mirror.

smokervoter said...

Can you come back next week? When I'm not home?

That's a useful antidote to the monthly evangelical visits I get from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Especially effective when delivered while exhaling a little cloud of Beelzebub's Blend.

Woodsy42 said...

Excelent post, even Mrs Occupier who lives here thought it was funny, and I don't usually let her see what I'm reading!

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