20 Jan

mostly harmful

“Advice, eh,” said the old woman again. “Just sort of general advice, you say. On what? What to do with your life, that sort of thing?”

“Yes,” said Arthur. “That sort of thing. Bit of a problem I sometimes find if I’m being perfectly honest.’ He was trying desperately, with tiny darting movements, to stay upwind of her. She surprised him by suddenly turning sharply away from him and heading off towards her cave.

“You’ll have to help me with the photocopier, then,’ she said.

“What?” said Arthur.

“The photocopier,” she repeated, patiently. “You’ll have to help me drag it out. It’s solar-powered. I have to keep it in the cave, though, so the birds don’t shit on it.’


She handed the copies to Arthur.

“This is, er, this your advice then, is it?” said Arthur, leafing through them uncertainly.

“No,” said the old lady. “It’s the story of my life. You see, the quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead. Now, as you look through this document you’ll see that I’ve underlined all the major decisions I ever made to make them stand out. They’re all indexed and cross-referenced. See? All I can suggest is that if you take decisions that are exactly opposite to the sort of decisions that I’ve taken, then maybe you won’t finish up at the end of your life…’ she paused, and filled her lungs for a good shout, “… in a smelly old cave like this!”

She grabbed up her table tennis bat, rolled up her sleeve, stomped off to her pile of dead goat-like things, and started to set about the flies with vim and vigour.

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