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 Peter Morford

About the Author

From a young age I wanted to write but the necessity of earning a living got in the way. When I retired I lost the excuse to dither and got in the bad habit of writing short stories for my own entertainment. I joined BWG about three years ago and have enjoyed the monthly challenge of writing to a theme suggested by each month's chairman.

Examples of Work

Oliphant

It must have been just after Easter when my old friend Oliphant phoned me. When I say Oliphant I should tell you that it was none other than Professor Robinson Oliphant, FRS. Yes, the world famous physicist, a man whose fame and achievements were already putting him in line for the Nobel Prize.

                “I need your help,” he said. ”I can’t explain over the phone. Can you meet me at The Hungry Hunter tomorrow for dinner at 7 pm? I’ll explain then. Oh – and come alone.  This is a delicate matter.”

                “I’ll be there.”

                When I arrived on the following day I saw that his reinforced pick-up truck was already parked near the entrance. He saw me and lowered himself from the passenger side and his driver went back to sleep, knowing he would not be disturbed any time soon. We joined the queue for the £20 all you can eat carvery.

                I collected my lean steak and salad. He stacked his plate unstably high and carried it with great care to our table. We ate in silence.  We finished together. “Time for seconds,” he said, taking his plate to the serving counter.

                He returned, empty-plated and indignant.

                “The server had the audacity to refuse me my second helping.  Said I’d be banned from the place if I tried again. It’s outrageous. I’ve always had seconds.”

                “And thirds, and fourths,” I said.

                “I’m a big man. I need a lot of food.”

                “Perhaps, Elephant,” I said,

                “There – you’re calling me Elephant.  I’m heartily sick of being insulted.”

                He must have seen me smile. He knew what I was thinking.

                When we were fourteen I was a skinny beanpole of a boy. He weighed a stone for each year of his life, barely came up to my shoulder and was called Round Robin.  Because he was a booming bass he joined the Seniors Choir and was excused from PE.  By the time we got to university he had kept up his stone a year growth rate. He won a First in Physics at 21 stone.  We all called him Elephant.

                He proceeded to his M.Sc, then doctorate, and by 30, was a full professor, heading for greatness.  In a recent tv interview he revealed that he had created an equation which would refute and replace the long-held KreigBlitz Speculation. He was described as worthy to stand on the shoulders of Newton, Einstein and Hawking. Now that’s a challenge for those underneath.

                Meanwhile I was carving a different career. With a modest, you might even say, courtesy, degree in Media Studies, I had been at a loose end for a year or two. Then one day I had an inspired thought. I remember thinking about Oliphant, his weight; the weight of all around me.  I would develop and market an obesity therapy which would sweep the adipose world. That had proved to be a wise career choice.  My clinics were always busy and my books sold world-wide. I must have saved several people from an early death.

                And now, as Oliphant grumbled about his short rations, I took sympathy with him.  Just this once I would collect his seconds as if for myself and kindly pass them to him. Alas, the carvery chef saw through the ruse and rebuffed me.  I swore never to visit the place again and we left in some dudgeon to find a McDonalds.

                Just to be sociable I took the smallest cheeseburger I could find and watched him champ is way his way through a couple of double jumbo-burgers, an apple pie and several large cokes.

                At last Oliphant felt strong enough to get to the point of our meeting.

                “We’ve been friends all our lives but now I need your professional help. I’m sick to death of being called Elephant and Overload and even Fatso. I’ve got to lose weight.”

                “You’ve just eaten four dinners,” I said. “Your cure is in your own hands.”

                He looked offended. “I’m a big man.  I need sustenance. It’s never worried me before. Then the other day I realised what I was missing in life.”

                ”And what’s that?”

                “Female company. You know I’d like to dance. At the Geneva Science conclave a nice young research physicist was sitting next to me at dinner.  I ate well.  She said I ate too much and it was a pity that a great man like me should have an uncontrollable appetite. I got the distinct impression that had I been two hundredweight lighter she would have fancied me.”

                “So the fair lady wants to reform you?”

                “I must lose weight first.  And you’re the only man who can help me.”

                “You’re nearly forty. What do you weigh?”

                “I’m not as heavy as I was, in a manner of speaking,” he said.

                “You mean that you’re less than 40 stone?

                “Probably.”

                “I suggest we check. Get in your truck and follow me.”

                At the municipal weighbridge we found that he was only 35 stone. He was almost pleased. “I expected to be forty stone,” he said.

                “Elephant,”  I said.

                “I wish you wouldn’t call me that.  I’m and O not an E”

                “OK – Oliphant - if you don’t let me help you, you’ll never live to get your Nobel Prize.”

                “I can still dance – look.”  He stood up and tip-toed a few steps. “See, I’m light on my feet because I’m strong.”

                “But you can’t reach round your belly to embrace a slim girl.”

                “That’s why I need your help.”

                “I can cure your weight problem,” I said.

                “I’m not having any surgery.  I don’t trust sawbones.”

                “Don’t panic Eli – I mean Oliphant- my method is based on diet-control, exercise, hypnosis and my noble gases strategy.

                “Nobel, as in Prize?”

                “Noble as in aristocratic.  The summer vac’s in three weeks. We’ll start your therapy then. Come to my laboratory- I mean clinic - at 10 o’clock tomorrow.”

                We shook hands.

                I won’t give you the details because they are far too complex for a layman’s understanding and a therapist needs to keep his mystique. I can say that after three weeks the man at the weigh bridge was impressed.  Professor Oliphant had lost ten stone even if it didn’t show.

                Before the start of the Autumn Term we were able to weigh him at the Sports Centre. He was now down to 20 stone and could, for the first time in years, use his bathroom scales.

                It was time for my annual holiday in the Far East. I gave him strict instructions and told him I would be checking his progress daily on Facebook.

                After my holiday I phoned him from Heath Row to ask him how he was getting on.

                “Fine,” he squeaked. I was momentarily worried about this side effect of my therapy.

                When I saw him the following day at his house I was pleased to see there was a spring in his step in both meanings of the term. He bounded towards me, seeming almost to float in two-yard paces.

                “Look,” he said, as he performed a quite creditable handstand and bounced on his plump hands. Then I noticed a clear gap between his hands and the carpet.

                “You’re floating.”

                “Only just,” he said as he righted himself. “I’m a bit buoyant these days. I’m afraid of high ceilings and as for going out …”  

                “I know a good shoemaker who can get you weighted boots,” I said.

                “There’s a problem.  My students have been watching me. Some call me the hollow-man, or just Blimp because I can float.  They seem to think it’s funny that a man of my shape can be as light as they are.”

                “It’s the helium inflation effect,” I said, handing him the bill.