The Lie Emporium

A Life Less Scary

"The interesting and varied life of Scary Duck, Genius, French Cabaret Chantoose and small bets placed."

"Gym of Doooooooooooooom"

A daft bugger, recently

Bollocks to horrible diseases. Specifically, bollocks to TB. And if you want to be pedantic about it, bollocks also to the person who invented the BCG injection against said disease. Granted, he saved generations from a horrible death hacking up blood and goo, but why oh why oh why did they make the injection and its aftermath just so bloody messy? There's a design flaw that just wouldn't get through the front door these days.

Anybody who's had the BCG knows what I'm on about. Your arm aches for days, and if you're really unfortunate, it begins to look like one of Popeye's. Then this huge great pussy lump comes up where the needle went in, which grows and grows. Then it bursts. On a regular basis. For the next year and a half. Usually at a crucial moment in your teenage life, such as the school disco just as you sense a slow dance off that quiet girl with the huge phunamic* norks you've fancied all year.

The scene of the crime, the upper right arm, then, was usually covered in anything from a plaster to a huge bandage, depending on the level of affliction; and became a legitimate target in any playground fight. In PE lessons, this led to carefully dressed upper arms and a system of in-the-field first aid that pre-dated professional rugby's blood-bins by a good fifteen years; and is now used by the armed forces as a model for casualty evacuation.

On a bad day, gym classes saw more blood than an Ozzy Osbourne concert, but Mr Prince had seen it all before. An ex-boxer, most of the blood he had seen was his own, and mere pain, blood and entrails just meant the boys needed a bit of toughening up. A cross country run through the flood plains by the River Thames. Hellish rugby. And Pirates.

Pirates was a special treat. Nobody had to die for at least a month before we were allowed Pirates. All the gym equipment came out, and it would stay out for a whole week, such was its popularlity. It was simply a game of tag. However, if you were off the ground - up a rope, on a climbing frame or balanced on something creaking and dangerous, you were safe. Terribly simple in theory, harder to achieve in practice, especially if you were playing in the lesson straight after lunch break.

The game was played out to an Indiana Jones soundtrack, interspersed with quotes from favourite movies and TV shows: "You throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip", "Vyvyan, you bastard!" and bizarrely, "These aren't the droids you're looking for."

Andy Collins climbed a rope, all the way to the ceiling of the gymnasium - some twenty feet up - and by looping the rope around his leg managed to stay there. It took more effort that it looked, becuase he soon sweating like Alex Ferguson in front of an FA committee and looking decidedly peaky. I know how he felt. I couldn't climb a rope for toffee, and would usually get two feet off the ground before my bladder gave up and worried teachers would prize the thing from my cold, determined hands like it was about to explode: "Stand back, men - he has a rope!"

Andy was also the only boy in the school not to have had the BCG injection. A freak of nature, tests had shown he was immune to the TB virus - probably because not even a starving rat would bite him - and he went through adolescance with upper right arm intact. We hated the bastard. It has to be said that he was also the king of the double portion in the dinner hall. The shape of a cigarette, he could eat anything and not put on an ounce of weight. God knows where it went, but today it wasn't going to stay there.


Double sausage, beans and chips followed by sponge pudding and pink custard rained down onto the panicked ranks of pirates below, who slipped, fell and crashed into each other like the Keystone Cops XXX Mud Wrestling Spectacular that never quite made it to cinema screens. Puke. Diced carrots. Blood, blood, endless blood! And green arm goo.

Mr Prince freaked. His brand new PE mats looked like an entry for the Turner Prize, and would probably have won if entered as an allegory on human frailty. His best vaulting box would have to be burnt, and three basketballs were subsequently deemed a danger to human health and formed part of a government dossier on chemical weapons.

The vomit and blood-soaked hoardes huddled together in the corner of the gym, clutching oozing arms and swearing death on the miscreant Collins.

"Sorry," he said.

Oh, that's alright then.

We never played Pirates again.

* This is a real word, honest.

While this story is based on actual events in the life of Scaryduck, certain identities and venues may have been changed to protect the innocent.