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Story by Emmjay

A dejected Father O’Way pulled up a stool and waited for Merv to pour him a ‘Szarz n soda’.  Merv was experimenting and climbing on the wave of overpriced cocktails.  He had decided that his signature cocktail was going to be a whimsical butcher-inspired number with three parts Johnny Whacker Red, one part soda and one part crispy bacon rind crackling bits.

Father O’Way looked dubiously at the concoctiontail and sipped as he would if it was a Dubonnet and lemonade.

I despair he said to Merv, dispensing with the quotation marks.

Oh, why is that Father ?  Did the Bish actually put the skids under St Generic Brands ? said Merv, for whom the lack of quotation marks was proving difficult since he wasn’t clear about where he was supposed to come in or whether he was supposed to say “he said”.  He decided to wait until Emmjay came to his sentences and began to put the punctuation marks back in.

“Ok” said Emmjay from the margin.  “Icon take a hint”.

No, said Father O’Way.

“Emmjay, Father O’Way isn’t using punctuation marks again”, said Merv.

“All right.  All right”, said the good father in an exasperated tone. “I’m exasperated by the utter shwistle young people are reading these days.  You remember when Pix magazine used to publish outrageously lurid, but funny articles like “Two-headed pensioner refused second pension – Outrage” ?  he said.

“Yeah, that one really cut me up father.  I mean that sounds pretty unfair on a pensioner.  He did actually have two heads.  I saw the picture” Merv said.

“It was a bodgied-up picture, Merv.  There was no damned two-headed pensioner”, said the good father, self-censoring himself. “Oh yeah,” Merv said, perjuring himself in God’s eyes.

“Well,” continued Father O’Way, look at this tripe” he said, thrusting the latest copy of “Men’s Health” in the general direction of Merv.

Editor’s note:  Astute readers with hi-res screens may be able to detect that it was not actually the latest edition of Men’s Health, but it was the latest one in Amal Gam (the Erko dentist’s) waiting room.  Amal (he called himself Dr Amal, but everyone knows he’s just a dentist) noticed the good father reading the august tome and reluctantly parted with it.  He was reluctant because he thought Mitchell Johnson’s wall-to-wall smile was good advertising.  Not that Mitchell was an habitué of Amal’s ‘You killem and I drillem’ salon de dentine, mind you.

“This is fraud, Merv” said the good father.  “Look at this”, he said pointing to his own well-upholstered midriff.  “Build a warrior body in four weeks! I’ve been building a warrior priest body for forty years and it’s still a work in progress.  And look at this…” he said “Eat pizza, lose weight”.

“What kind of mugs do you think these bozos take us for ?” said Merv, pretending that he had grasped what Father O’Way was on about.  In truth, Merv was considering another eye-catching piece titled “8 sex moves to blow her mind” and he was about to borrow the mag for a closer critical review, but Father O’Way was on a roll and had moved on to “Burn off the Belly”, Psych Out Your Enemies”, “Schmooze the In-laws” and the debatably useless exhortation to “Ride a Stampede Bull”.

“Stampede !” said Father O’Way.

“Surely they meant ‘stampeding'” said Voice, satisfied that she had trumped Emmjay by engineering a single quotation mark inside a double quotation mark.

“And that Mitchell Johnson quote !” said Father O’Way … “You can never think that you’ve made it”.

“Like not even if you’re the spearhead fast bowler who single-handedly demolished England five blot ?” inquired Hung.

“Ah, it’s a total wank,” said the good father, who was picking up Hung’s argot at an alarming rate… without really having a vast understanding of what it meant except that Hung usually said it when he wanted to express a lack of appreciation for something.

“It says ‘the magazine men live by”, said Father O’Way. “Does that explain the depressing state of play ?”

“No, we thrashed the Poms”, said Merv.  “That bit at least is ridgy didge”.

“What about that other headline Merv ?” said Voice. “Never need glasses. “Pour me another plastic canoe of Trotter’s Ale”, she said.

“Very funny”, said Merv, discreetly feeling under his apron to see how his warrior body was coming along”.

“Geeze, a 58-inch  Plasma TV for envy reader !” hooted Hung, thumbing his way to page 82 – the first page some gullible punter in Amal Gam’s waiting room had torn out. “That’s a bit depressing”, he said, handing the mag over to Merv.

“I dunno” said Merv – whose mind had turned to planning an eight part romantic pantomime.

“I wonder what happened to that two-headed pensioner”, said Hung.