The first rule of birth control
Long before the domino game began, Haemorrhoid was already in full flight.
He'd turned up early only to find Gene Autry, me and The Beast sitting idly waiting for a fourth. For those coming in late, Haemorrhoid (real name Ernest H. Flower) was clueless about dominoes but a regular at our games. Haemorrhoid, an ultra-lazy articled clerk and raconteur supreme, had earned the nickname by a combination of his middle initial and constant complaints about the "piles and piles" of files on his desk. His shaggy-dog stories were masterful, so he was allowed to kibitz. To fill the downtime, Haemorrhoid explained the first rule of birth control:
"Imagine a sleepy Kansas town during the Wild West era, mostly inhabited by ordinary, law-abiding townspeople. The town rarely experienced trouble, except for the usual month-end visit from ranch hands recently paid and looking for vices (usually wet) to spend on.
"One month end, Gene Autry ('the REAL Gene Autry; not you' was his aside to our Autry) rode into town on Champion. He went immediately to the saloon and ordered a drink. A ranch hand who'd been whoopin' it up decided to enhance his reputation by defeating the great Gene Autry in a gunfight. No matter how hard Autry tried to avoid contention, the drunken ranch hand niggled and harassed until Gene said, 'OK, meet me outside.'
"As the two stood, 10 paces apart, townspeople scurried for cover and shutters closed with synchronised rustling sounds. A few brave townfolk could be seen peeping out from behind closed windows. Gene allowed the ranch hand to draw first but, in a blur, pulled his six-gun and plugged the poor sod in the heart. As the upstart lay dead on the dusty street and townfolk began to come out of hiding, they heard Autry mutter, 'Well, that's another one to learn the first rule of birth control.' The townspeople were puzzled: 'Mr Autry,' they asked in unison, 'what's the first rule of birth control?"
Gene replied drily, as he blew on his muzzle and reholstered his gun with a flourish, 'Don't f**k with Gene Autry!'"
I remembered that old saw when the education ministry banned Charlie, Charlie Challenge from schools as if the ministry wanted schoolers to apply the birth control rule to duppies. Upsetter, another non-domino-playing member of the old crowd, visited recently from his Florida base, and we had a good laugh at the ministry.
Don't get me wrong: Things exist in this 'world' science can't explain; things we can't touch, see or feel yet are very real. But the stupid, fearmongering use of words like 'demons' and 'demon-possessed' is insane and once again invented by the Church to keep us in line.
Anybody with a passing understanding of 'fulcrum' knows no school child can perfectly balance one pencil on top of another by hand. The top pencil will move. If you predesignate the only places to which it can move as 'yes' and 'no', then ask leading questions, you'll get answers and believe anything.
In the late 1960s/early '70s, we played Ouija Board (pronounced 'Weejee') often. We couldn't afford the fancy-schmancy Ouija Boards in stores, so we made our own. All we needed was a sheet of cartridge paper, a shot glass, and a marker. We drew a large pie with 28 slices and marked the letters of the alphabet plus 'yes' and 'no' at each slice's outer circumference.
Two of the players ('mediums') sat opposite each other; placed the glass upside down in the centre of the circle; two fingers of each hand (middle and index; eight in all) on the glass; then summoned 'Ouija'. The glass moved (apparently by itself); spelled out words; answered questions unknown to either medium; and made some impossible predictions that turned out 100% accurate. Also, 'Ouija' often predicted foolishness that never came to pass. Thus I learned, from personal experience, there's more to this life than what we see, touch, feel or read in the Bible.
'Ouija' was played late at night (presumptively because 'spirits' were awake then, but more probably for quiet and concentration). None of us became 'demon-possessed'. We were youngsters having fun. Today, everything is overanalysed and churchified. Charlie, Charlie is branded 'demonic' and banned from schools. If you think that's stopped anyone from playing, you're the one possessed, but by folly, not demons.
Peace and love.
p.s: The answer to last Tuesday's pop quiz: Unheralded country singer Billy Brown first recorded the Jim Reeves standard He'll Have to Go.
• Gordon Robinson is
Email feedback to email@example.com.