Lest We Forget


I first posted this two years ago, since when the world has arguably become even more dangerous for innocent civilians, whatever their nationality or creed. As I feared, Syria is still very much at the forefront. I truly hope in another two years we will have sorted our collective shit out.

But I won’t be holding my breath.

Originally posted on Kind of Lime:


Twelve years ago today, Mrs. Limey and I were aboard a charter flight to Crete. The journey had been largely uneventful until around an hour from landing, when the cabin crew grew suddenly and noticeably tense. They asked us, politely but firmly, to return the DVD players we had been watching, although with no explanation as to why. Clearly something was amiss.

What they knew, and we didn’t, was that 9-11 was underway.

We remained in ignorance right up until we reached our hotel room. Then, as is something of a holiday tradition, Mrs. L retired to the bathroom while I, rather than do something useful, like unpack, turned on the television to check out the exact number and nature of the available channels.

The television screen flickered into life, to reveal the unmistakeable skyline of New York. As I watched, a jet plane careened silently, as if in slow…

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Move Over, Stanley Kubrick…

Just over a year ago I put together an amateurish little music video and posted it on You Tube. So far it has had exactly ten views. Not exactly viral, I fear. It certainly won’t be knocking Grumpy Cat and his ilk off their virtual perches, that’s for sure. On the other hand, ten is a nice number. Three better than seven, I would venture to suggest.

Psychologists tell us that we tend to be too fond of our own ideas. We nurture our little brainchildren and become very over-protective and under-objective. Also we tend to act a lot like pushy parents, shoving our progeny into the limelight at the drop of a hat and shouting “Look at them! JUST LOOK AT THEM! Aren’t they wonderful?”

In my defence, I may now be reasonably accused of the same thing, but think how much discipline it took to wait a year before I cracked and went the route of self-indulgence.

Now watch my bloody film you bastards!

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Red in Tooth and Claw

RIP #CecilTheLion


Breaking News July 29th 2035

One of the last remaining dentists in the world was hunted down and killed last night in an act that was described by Save Our Dentists’ Skins (SODS) as “unmitigated savagery”.

Dentists have largely been in decline over the last 20 years as their preserves have been invaded by poachers and game hunters. They are much prized for their gleaming white teeth and extraordinarily large bank accounts, and authorities have been slow to protect them according to a report published last year following a SODS investigation into Incisor Trading.

“In the wild, unfortunately, dentists are incredibly easy to spot,” explains Doctor Ivor Molar who commissioned the report. “They tend to congregate in what are known as ‘practices’ and to a trained hunter there are many tell-tale signs that instantly give away their presence. For example, an unmistakeable high-pitched whine can often be heard. To the expert ear it’s a dead giveaway. Then, of course, there are also the signs that dentists leave around, like a trail of breadcrumbs leading their predators right to them.”

dental practice

A typical tell-tale sign

Milo Phang, a biodiversity researcher at Cambridge University, agrees with Dr. Molar’s bleak assessment. “Like many creatures, dentists have simply failed to adapt in the face of ecological change. Habitually, when faced with danger, they are likely to charge. Some charge twice, even three times. Their charging is probably their most recognisable feature. But charging doesn’t help when you’re faced with a predator who uses a crossbow from several hundred yards away. Most dentists think that it won’t hurt, but, trust me, it does.”

So what can be done? Doctor Molar is an advocate of extraction. “We need to take them from their natural habitat and keep them somewhere safe. I know it’s painful, and can often mean they lose touch with their roots, but the alternative is that, sometime very soon, the only way you’ll be able to see a dentist in the wild is by paying a small fortune to be on a select list.”

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Seek The Answer Within

Over the years, popular music has posed several enduring questions, but few have ever been approached using the scientific method. “Rigour” is my middle name. Well to be strictly factual, it is my fifth middle name from the right, just after “Peregrine” and right before “Van Helsing”.  I’m taking “Van Helsing” there as one middle name, rather than two. Anyway,  in the spirit of enlightenment I have attempted to shed new light on a few old favourites. If you have any examples of your own with which we could extend this thread, please don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section. I will be happy to help.

Why do birds fall down from the sky every time you walk by? karen c

This is potentially one of popular music’s most alarming questions, raising, as it does, the possibility that a casual passer-by is having some toxic, or soporific, effect on avian-kind. In a worst-case scenario this would constitute a biohazard.

Very well then. Before we all rush to the clean room to put on our Hazmat suits, let’s examine the evidence.

Our first line of enquiry should be to distinguish between causation (the subject of the song is the reason birds fall down from the sky) and correlation (the subject of the song lives, or often walks, in an area where a significant number of birds fall down from the sky on a regular basis). The song tends to indicate the former, but without scientific testing we would be unwise to rely on the subjective observations of the questioner, who reveals a definite bias in her explanatory note: “Just like me, they want to be close to you.” Is, perhaps, the observer conflating “falling” and “swooping”? Are the birds predominately seagulls? Does the subject have birdseed in his or her back pocket, or otherwise smell of mealworms?

These are all pertinent questions. The situation is further confused by the next question:

Why do stars suddenly appear every time you are near?

There is no information as to what type of stars are being seen. Unless the subject predominately prefers to walk in the late twilight, it seems unlikely that this is a reference to the sudden onset of a night sky. It would, perhaps, have been helpful if the song had seen fit to include spectral analyses and some indicative magnitudes of the stars involved, but the opportunity was missed and there’s no point crying over spilt milk. What’s done is done.

A more credible hypothesis is that the subject is a celebrity who associates with other celebrities whilst indulging in perambulation. The observer is literally “seeing stars”. If so, the question seems somewhat naive. It would be like asking “Why does Brad Pitt turn up every time George Clooney throws a house-party?”

A third possibility is that the observer is affected in some way by the same toxin or soporific that makes the birds fall down from the sky. Visual disturbance would be a likely side effect. All in all, I fear there is insufficient data to posit a credible theory at this stage. Clearly the testing undertaken thus far has been amateurish in the extreme. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: that’s what happens when you send Arts students to do a Science student’s work.

My conclusion: more research needed.

Why does it always rain on me? Is it because I lied when I was seventeen?

fran hI’m afraid that this is demonstrable nonsense. Even were the subject of the song living permanently outdoors in the rainiest region of the planet, the assertion that it always rains on him could not conceivably hold true (although it might explain his predilection for hats).

What, then, of  the possibility that perpetual rain might be considered a by-product of an act of mendacity at the age of seventeen? Frankly, this disregards even the most basic tenets of climate mechanics. With all due respect to proponents of the butterfly effect and chaos theory, this conclusion doesn’t stand up to even a moment’s scrutiny.

My conclusion: “it doesn’t”. And “no”.

It’s not all about you, Fran.

Who let the dogs out?

baha men  To answer this question, we must turn to our old friends means, motive and opportunity.

Means: who was capable of letting the dogs out? Were the dogs under lock and key, or some other form of secure detention. If so, then our enquiries must, of necessity, concentrate on those with access to the keys or the codes.

Motive: who benefits from the dogs’ egress? A neighbour irked by their incessant barking? An animal rights group freeing them from a medical research test? A dog warden business fallen upon hard times?

Opportunity: within which window of time was the foul deed perpetrated? We are told it was when “the party was nice and the party was bumpin’ and everyone having a ball”. This is instructive. Who was missing at this critical period? Witnesses say the alarm was raised by a poor man shouting. Who was this man? How poor was he in reality? Are there, in fact, any number of suspicious payments into his bank account?

My conclusion: it’s either the poor man, the Benji man or the man in white shorts. Arrest all three and beat the truth out of them with a rubber pipe. Harsh but fair.

Are friends electric?

gary n  A very easy question, Gary. Yes. They are. You are. We all are.

My conclusion: yes.

Where did you come from? rednex  

Where did who come from? Me? Mankind? Is this a question about the origin of life itself?

Where did you go?

Where did who go? And when? Please be more specific.

Where did you come from, Cotton Eye Joe?

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Let’s try and make our questions a bit more focused, okay?

Where did you come from?

Are we still talking about Cotton Eye Joe?

Where did you go?

I’m not usually given to ad hominem attacks but if you don’t stop repeating the same stupid questions I’m going to punch you in the face.

Where did you come from, Cotton Eye Joe?

Oh wait, you’re Swedish. I see what the problem is.

My conclusion: Swedish. Need a translator.

Why d’ya have to go and make everything so complicated?

avril Science is complicated, Avril. Even simple questions may have complex answers. Like “why is the sky blue?” or “how has Piers Morgan not been murdered in his sleep yet?” I know it’s frustrating, but a good grounding in the Sciences will help. Seems you took a bit of a wrong turn when you went the Arts route.  Still, what’s done is done. No use crying over spilt milk.

My conclusion: must try harder.

Is this the way to Amarillo?

tony cSeriously, Tony? You want to waste my valuable time on this?

Do you know the way to San Jose?

dionneEt tu, Dionne? Turn left at Amarillo, then buy a bloody map, FFS!

Won’t you show me the way, everyday?

pete fPeter, I fear this would only breed dependency. Some things you just have to work out for yourself. Maybe you, Dionne and Tony could put your heads together and form some sort of self-help travel group.

My conclusion: Testable hypothesis: pop stars suck at Geography

Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?


Not sure, Lionel. Do you perchance live in Amarillo or San Jose? Do you know Tony, Dionne and Peter? If so, I may be able to help.

My conclusion: may have solved one of them

How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?

bob dOh, Bob! You and your stupid puzzles! Here’s one for you: what do you call a bloke floating in the water? Bob! Geddit? Bob! No? Oh, come on! That was way better than yours.

My conclusion: blowing in the wind…

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Gull Wars

Truro Council hopes ‘anti-gull’ paint will thwart seagulls putting the seaside town ‘under siege’

The Independent

It seems the summer silly season is upon us once more. Or is it? With some help from my spirit guide, Bob, I asked five famous authors for their thoughts on the seagull menace.



No one would have believed in the early years of the twenty-first century that Cornwall was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences far greater than man’s; that as men busied themselves about their various journeys they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro on South West and First Great Western trains, ice creams, buckets and spades in hand, serene in their assurance that their train would, indubitably, not arrive on time. Yet across the vast array of stations, feathery minds regarded our not-so-easy transit with envious yellow eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

Ernest Hemingway

Robert Jordan saw them there on the roof, white feathers stark against the dark blue sky. He looked down and saw the rail stretching away. Soon the trains would come. The trains would come bearing the ones with cojones. Ice cream cojones. He watched the gulls and heard his own heart beating in the unnatural stillness. Then he heard the singing of the tracks. The tracks sang a song of fear.

It would not be long now.

“Yawk!” cried a gull.

“Yawk!” echoed a hundred of his compatriots.

It is a terrible thing, when a gull rips away your cojones. But not as terrible a thing as war.

Leo Tolstoy

When a pigeon defecates on your head he does so with the self-assurance of one who knows not what he does. When a robin defecates on your head, he does so with the self-assurance of one who knows he will be forgiven because he is universally loved. When a blackbird defecates on your head, he does so with the self-assurance of one who knows his syrupy song will lighten the tension and all will be well again between you both. When a seagull defecates on your head, he does so with the self-assurance of one who does not give a fig for what you think because he is your sworn and implacable enemy. Fear the seagull: when one’s head is covered with the vile stench of rotting fish guts, one doesn’t weep for one’s hair, one weeps for one’s life; one weeps for one’s very country.

 Joseph Heller

“They’re trying to kill me,” Yossarian told the Health and Safety Inspector.

“No one’s trying to kill you,” the Health and Safety Inspector cried.

“Then why are they shitting on my head?” Yossarian asked.

“They’re shitting on everyone’s head,” the Health and Safety Inspector answered. “They’re trying to kill everyone. You just have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you’re in Cornwall and could get your head splattered at any moment.”

“I more than resent it, sir. I am absolutely incensed.”

“You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don’t like dunnocks, swallows, choughs or nightingales. Subconsciously there are many avians you hate.”

“Consciously, sir, consciously,” said Yossarian in an effort to help. “I hate them consciously.”

Isaac Asimov

Q. We are not here to listen to speeches, Doctor Seldon. Let me suggest to you that your prediction of gull-related disaster might be intended to destroy confidence in Truro Council for purposes of your own

A. That is not so. The mathematics of psychohistory predict it.

Q. Your mathematics claim that a flock of seagulls will lay waste to Truro?

A. That is correct.

Q. I put it to you that by the mere prediction thereof, you hope to bring it about, and to have then an army of a hundred thousand pest controllers available to rid the land of what many perceive to be a peaceable, nay protected, species.

A. Gentlemen, your peaceable, protected species conquered Bath Spa barely three months ago.

Q. Bath Spa? It is in the Badlands is it not?

A. It is.

Q. Then, pray tell, how did you come by this information? Truro has been isolated from the Badlands for centuries now.

A. A train got through. Possibly the last train from a dying civilization.

Q. Enough, sir! You tax this Council’s patience too far! Your phantom menace of the gulls is one thing. Now you would have us believe that a train ran all the way to Cornwall? Leave us, Doctor Seldon. We have more pressing priorities than your fantastical and paranoid delusions.

One year later

A bloated, blood-red sun hangs low over the shattered, guano-strewn ruins of a once mighty city. Crumbled buildings thrust blackened fingers accusingly at the darkening skies from whence the first gulls had come, leaving no man, woman or child standing in their pitiless wake.

From his underground laboratory, Doctor Hari Seldon gazes at the telemetry images broadcast from the one remaining webcam. He watches the gulls strut and nest. He sees them scavenge and breed. And as the sun sets on the old empire, he lays on his bed and begins to plan for the new Foundation.

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Defeeting Terorism by Nigel Molesworth (The Curse of St Custard’s)

With apologies to Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle

@reelmolesworth has been keeping the flame alive much longer than I (GRAMMER). Please follow him if you read and like  this.

Molesworth Hello, gentle reeder and welcome back to st custards. Everything you wanted to kno, and a lot you didn’t, is rite hear at your fingertips.

Exclusiv news…our Head is in a rite bate. As any fule kno st custard’s hav not exactly set the thames alite when it comes to Leage Tables (viz. botom of OFSTED Ryman Leage Div 5 nine yeres running, 0 goles scored, ten points deducted for spending the skool gym referb money on BEER and CIGGIES for masters) but today he sa in a v. loud angry voice that the expetiv deleted govt. is making his life an expletiv deleted misery.

Between you and me it is v. hard to see how any Headmaster coud posibly be more miserible than the one’s we hav sufered since they all lost the Kane. “think positiv, Molesworth” they sa now “theres a gold star in it for you, noble lad! Think of the skool!” What they reely mene is “I want to kane you boy within 1 inch of yr life and i wood to, were it not for Childline (GRAMMER).” Even the skool dog skulks around with a miserible expresion as he is not alowed to bite anyone, not even fotherington-tomas who deserves it if anyone does. Chiz.

skool1 In short, life in st custards is prity much the same uter shambles it hav always been only more so and with added inspektions. The Masters are the usual shower of asorted weeds, wets and underacheevers, the skool dinners can only be described from behind a led screne, and then only with a peg on your nose, plus there is never enuff.  gillibrand, who wins every sport we can still aford to play (i.e. hopscotch and booles) always gets 1st dibs because he is “a growing lad” and “one day he will reprisent the county” chiz chiz. He is victor ludorum but noone sa that these days because Latin is even deader than usual as noone kno how to teech it. In the good old days Latin Masters were famous for remembering Horace, “I met him once at a dinner party you kno. Fasinating chap.” Now we hav some spoty oik wearing a ranebow loom wristband made by his soppy little sister and boasting about his  digeree in Populer Coitture. He woodnt recognise a dative if one danced like Salami in front of him. He cant even translate the skool motto. Q.E.D.

The word on the skool grapevine (i.e. mi best mate Peason) is that the Head recieved a misive from the Governers telling him to do something about terorism. David Cameraman, who is a bigshot VIP in parlaiment with a silver spoon and corgis, wants skools to spot terorists and jihardys early on when they first show up during lessons, e.g. History:

MASTER: Can anyone tell me anything about the American Revolution?

[Noone speak. A dried pea pings off the Masters red vained nose. Larfter all round. At the back of the class Peason high fives grabber, the skool captane and winer of the mrs joyful prize for rafia work.]

MASTER: Anyone? Molesworth? MOLESWORTH?

[I shrug like a Gaul and inspect an imaginery spek of dust on mi fingernale. The American Revolution is beneeth mi keen interlect.]

MASTER: What about you Fotherington-Thomas?

FOTHERINGTON-THOMAS: Sir! The American Revolution sowed the seeds that spawned the Great Satan, sir! The vile infidels were suckled on the breasts of jackals and one day we will wipe them from the very face of the Earth using Allah’s fiery sword! Allahu akbar, sir!

MASTER: Aha! Got you, you latent jihadi! Off to the beak with you, you vile jelly!

fotheringtonIn the reel world, of coarse, fotherington-tomas will grow up to be a master, for he is wet and weedy and he skips at the drop of a hat. Peason is already a terorist viz. the time he put molesworth 2’s head down the skool toilet which he had filled to the rim with frogs. Mi bro came away from that gibering like a gibon. He makes me ashamed we share the same jeans. In fact if I had to put anyone in the frame for future terorist it would be him. He is quite beyond the pail. gillibrand wld only be a terorist if they could garantee weakends off for football. grabber will folow his pater into investment banking which is worse than terorism anyway.

Anyway thats all the news for now. Geog. in the skool annexxe awates. Chiz chiz.

Yours ect


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Be Careful What You Wish For

image1 (1)

The old boy sitting next to me in our local was clearly hoping to join in our conversation. It’s not an uncommon occurrence: the banter flows freely most Saturday lunchtimes and we are, I like to think, a fun bunch on our day.

To give him his due, he did not try to force the issue: some folks engineer their way into a bar conversation in much the same way as a bulldozer might attempt to delicately penetrate a trifle.  We’re not a stand-offish crowd by any means, but a little finesse is always appreciated.  He had been dutifully restrained, but nevertheless you could sense he was dying to join in.

Having run through the usual checklist  – not an evangelist, a racist homophobe or an investment banker;  the only slight oddity was that he was drinking pints of ale with rum and coke chasers  –  we brought him into the fold, discovered his name was Jim (I’ve changed it for the purpose of this true tale) and spent a pleasant fifteen minutes or so shooting whatever breeze was wafting.

During a lull in proceedings, Jim motioned me to lean in and listen.

“You might not think it to look at me,” he said, “but I’ve been extremely lucky on The Lottery.”

I winced inwardly. This was the kind of opening gambit you might typically expect from a con artist. I envisaged a conversation that was the pub equivalent of one of those Nigerian scam e-mails. Out of courtesy, I kept these thoughts to myself and simply nodded politely and made an encouraging grunt.

“Ah, there it is!” he said “The Look! If I’ve seen it once I’ve seen it a thousand times. You don’t believe me!”

Clearly my non-verbal leakage was like an ill-maintained gutter in a thunderstorm.

“Not at all!” I stressed, attempting to repair damaged fences. “Sounds like an interesting story…”

“Well,” he said, “last year I won £800,000. But that’s not the end of it. Three weeks ago, I won another million!”

Now this was stretching a tall tale too far, but I had learned my lesson and so I began to throw in interested questions, occasionally asking for some sort of arcane detail that might normally catch out a storyteller, if only in a slight pause as they sought to fabricate new information.  All these he answered with consummate ease. At no point did he contradict himself or offer up an unlikely response.  After a while I was left with only two possible conclusions:  either Jim was an immensely accomplished liar or a genuine two-times Lottery winner.

“Anyway,” said Jim, “to cut a long story short, I’d like to offer you and everyone else in the bar a drink on me. Help me celebrate my good fortune.”

Now this was the kind of scenario that I had long imagined in my own day dreams about being a Lottery winner.  How to graciously spend my new found largesse. A pleasant enough reverie when it is unlikely ever to happen to you, but a genuine issue once it has.

“There’s that look again!” he said. “Why not let me buy you all a drink?”

My uncharitable mind had flashed back twenty years to another rich old man who, once a week on Sunday lunchtime, would routinely pop his head around the door of our regular haunt in Wembley to inform the amused topers that he had enough money to buy the pub, and everyone in it, thrice over. Old Frank had been variously considered anything from an ageing pederast to an eccentric millionaire in the popular imagination of the time. What had been beyond doubt was that he was both unloved and unwanted by the regulars. Whether his self-evident bitterness towards the clientele was the cause or the result of this state of affairs I never did find out.

“I’d be happy to accept a drink from you,” I said, making the instant proviso in my head that I’d buy him one back as contingent to that acceptance. I didn’t say it aloud, though, as I had a feeling it would have been interpreted as a failure to grasp the true spirit of his gesture. Which, upon reflection, it probably was.

Jim nodded and extracted a couple of twenties from his wallet. “A drink for my friend and his wife,” he told the barmaid, “and once right round the bar!”

This got the attention of my drinking buddies, as you might imagine, and I helped out with an explanation: “Jim has been extremely lucky on The Lottery and he’d like to buy us all a drink.”

My friends’ faces briefly registered The Look. I wondered if Jim had ever encountered anyone, aside from a Lottery representative, who hadn’t given him The Look. It struck me that everyone’s first thought was likely to be the cynical one: “Where’s the catch?”

As the drinks were poured Jim was now regaling the rest of the bar with his tale.

“The thing is,” he was saying, “if it had happened to me twenty years ago that would have been great, but I’m 76, my wife is dead: what am I supposed to do with all that money?  I can’t spend it fast enough.”

“Buy a nice house,” someone suggested.

Jim snorted. “What would I want with a bigger house? Or a different place? I rattle around in the one I’ve got, and, trust me, I’ve lost more friends since I won the money than I care to count. It’s bloody hard making new ones. You can’t even buy people a drink in a pub without coming across as some sort of sad old git trying to buy a conversation. Plus I don’t have anyone to leave the money to when I go, and I’m buggered if I’m going to leave any for the bloody Government. Have you tried spending thousands of pounds a day? You’d think it would be a breeze, but it’s bloody difficult! Fast as I spend it, the interest replaces it and more!”

The faces around the bar had now polarised on a spectrum between outright disbelief and utter bemusement. For my own part, having taken the man’s pint, I felt a strange compulsion to believe him, mixed with the sudden urge to say “Tell you what, if you don’t want it, give it to me!”

I was about to say that very thing, in jest, when it occurred to me that he might very well take me at my word. It had been a strange enough encounter already and there was still plenty of time for it to get weirder. Uncommonly, I bit my tongue.

“Why have you lost so many friends?” I asked.

“I’ve always been a pub goer,” he answered, “I’ve spent a lot of time with people who’ve happily bought me beers in the past, when I didn’t have the money sometimes. So one of the first things I did when I got my win was visit all my old haunts and try to give something back. You’d think it would be easy, but people didn’t believe me. A bit like you don’t. Some of them refused. I even got barred from a couple of my favourite places.”

“Barred? Why?”

“Because when you sit on a barstool and get pissed, you eventually fall off.”

I searched his face for signs that he was joking, but he was deadly serious.

“That’s right,” he said. “My life is one long session down the pub, only I don’t ever run out of money. I don’t have anything to go home for, so I stay and I drink and I get drunk.  Eventually I get taken home, or left to sleep it off overnight.  The way I’m going I can’t see myself reaching old age. A lot of my old friends don’t speak to me anymore. You might not want to speak to me tomorrow, after we’ve had a few more.  That’s my life.  I’m a lucky bastard, right?”

There was infinite sadness in his voice as he stared down the tunnel of his long suicide mission.

Thoughts of counselling Jim whirled briefly through my head, then I remembered an old saying: “You saved my life. Now you owe me!”

“My round,” I said, in true co-dependent fashion.

We left the pub shortly after. Jim, needless to say, did not do so until much later. I have gone over that conversation a hundred times in my head. It was not the money that trapped Jim, even assuming there was really a stash in his bank account; after all, he could give it all away in an instant. No, Jim was trapped by his needs. It was just beyond the bounds of a mere Lottery win to satisfy them.

I suppose that is the human condition.

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