dubiously true stories and cartoons

Sunday, December 27, 2015


First of all let me say that I didn’t write what follows. It was written by my good friend and bromance partner Andy Baker for a Secret Santa (my last one in Saudi Arabia) and I’ve kept hold of it for three reasons: (1) I like it, (2) it makes me (and still makes me) laugh, and (3) it sums me up perfectly. This is the only post on Travels With My Rodent that I haven’t written myself but I thought as it’s Christmas I’d reproduce it here for you all to read. I hope you enjoy it. I know I will. 
And, Andy, even though we’re thousands of miles apart, I still love you.
Steve Mitchell is a man. A lovely man. A lovely and surprisingly old man. (Sorry Steve but bear with me!) A lovely and surprisingly old man trapped in the body of a middle aged man. A lovely and surprisingly old man trapped in the body of a middle aged man with the hobbies, interests and passions of a 15 year old boy. A man whose interests run deep. Very . . . very . . . very deep. Not very wide ranging admittedly, but deep.

When Steve’s name fell out of the Secret Santa envelope I was pleased, very pleased. “A man with that many interests should be a doddle to make a gift for,” I thought to myself. Myriad ideas and possibilities tumbled through my mind, most of them, it has to be said, had the underpants on the outside. 

Now we all know that Steve is a geek. A geek of the highest order, a fanboy of the first degree, a book fanatic, movie buff and music fan with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the things he loves and absolutely zero tolerance and no interest whatsoever in the things he doesn’t.

“Steve, did you see the match last night?”
“No, but I did download and watch 46 Episodes of a Romanian Comedy Zombie Series based on the works of Emmanuel Kant. Its central premise is that Reason is the source of Morality, hence the use of Zombies as an allegory for amorality. It was bloody Brilliant” (This was quite prescient of Andy because I've just downloaded a black-and-white subtitled Iranian vampire film).
“Steve, have you finished that important report for the Director of Supply Training that I asked you to write?”
“No, but I did once get Batman’s Autograph” (see the blogpost Batman's Autograph or read my book Permanent Moments).
So then . . . Secret Santa, what should I do? So many options. Always go with your gut instinct I say. Superman suit. Perfect. I drew the designs, got as far as the big “S” then had a brain wave, he’s always banging on about his weird blogs, “Living with my Cheese” and  “My last wife was a Rodent” so why not a cheese/slash/rodent based Logo on his superhero outfit? I spent several days working up an awesome looking design, a Cheese segment with a Rat on top, then heard Steve telling someone he got a Superman suit from Secret Santa last year. 


OK, so, ‘Ixnay on the Ooperherosay’. 

But what now that I couldn’t do a Superhero? Ah, but, I suddenly remembered that Steve has another true love – The Dark Knight, Batman himself. And as Steve will tell you, Batman is not a Superhero, he has no superpowers. A Batman suit would be then, perfect.

After several trips to Zamils and the Taba Centre the component parts of the world’s most awesome home-made Batman suit were spread across the kitchen table awaiting assembly. Until that is, horror of horrors, Steve revealed to all and sundry that he had borrowed a fantastic Batman suit from a mate for the Christmas dressing up season.
This was getting beyond a joke. Two aborted Secret Santas later and the 100 Riyal budget just about gone, there was only one thing for it – you guessed it, the trusty old stand-by – I would get Steve a Yankee Candle for Christmas. He’d absolutely hate it and we’d all get to laugh at a middle aged man in distress. Perfect.

But wait, it was the Sara Compound Christmas Fair and there was Steve pedalling his humorous, distasteful and offensive wares; and therein lay divine inspiration. He always laughed at his own jokes so my problem was solved, he had no choice but to find this absolutely hilarious!!

Merry Christmas Steve Mitchell, open ‘your Secret Santa Christmas Present. 
Lots of Love from your now probably-not-so-secret Secret Santa.

And here is that T-shirt. Well, obviously not the actual T-shirt.

Thanks Andy.

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