Saturday, 19 October 2019

The Browsers' Indigestion - funny satirical short story

short stories - humorous (eccentric) inventors

The Browsers' Indigestion

(The Constructive Mis-Use of Junk Mail)

Many people are surprised by their first post after Christmas; this would be Boxing Day for those street-wise creatures living in the big city of Wherewithal, but its typically several days later in the alleged city (really a large village) of Smogdale where life is somewhat more laid back.It might even be cool, dude ... whatever that means.

Fidget, who is certainly the most prolific inventor of Smogdale and possibly of the whole planet, only received the one letter.

 Lest you become concerned that this may have disappointed him, it is as well to point out that he didn't receive any thank you letters, because everyone he knew had thanked him for their Christmas presents in person, in QT's tavern; he didn't receive any late parcels because they were all delivered to him by hand.

 In QT's tavern.

 Even the one from Polly, his regular postperson.

 He didn't receive any letters of apology for having omitted him from their Christmas card list, because most people had given him his card in person, many of these transpired to be the cards that he'd given them the year before and those few people that really had forgotten to give him a card had apologised on Christmas day.

 In QT's tavern.

He couldn't care less about cards and presents anyway ...

Christmas is rarely this simple where relatives are concerned, but Fidget didn't appear to have any relations. He was, and is, an habitually happy person, and wishes to make it completely clear that there is no intention to draw parallels between the two preceding statements.

 Happiness and families at Christmas time...

Congratulations Fidget Waugh!
began his letter.

You've reached round seventy three of the Browser's Indigestion Prize Draw as specially selected by our computer.

In stage one we asked our computer whom in NORTHWEST ENGLAND should be invited to take part.

Not only did the computer choose the town/city of WHEREWITHAL AND DISTRICT.

Not only did the computer choose the suburb of SMOGDALE.

Not only did the computer choose the road NORTH SOUTH STREET.

But it especially chose the WAUGH household to receive the 8 numbers shown below.

You are now a finalist with 8 chances of winning one of the 753,201 prizes, one of which is £100,000, possibly doubled to £200,000 if you reply within 7 days.'

Fidget's reaction was, 'Oh! I must be special!' But Fidget is a most unusual chap and didn't just
(a) bin it;
 (b) fall for the 'I feel flat after Christmas, maybe I will be lucky and win £200,000 if I subscribe' impropaganda;
 (c) forget about it for a while.

He did mutter about Smogdale not being a suburb, especially of Wherewithal, the nearby city that all Smogdale folk were inclined to despise, and then he started to have ideas...

Fidget whistled merrily as he screwed the back on the mains plug of his home-made computer. He switched it on and spoke to it.

'Eh up computer,' he said, feeling a mite embarrassed.

Funnily enough, it didn't reply, just sat impassively on the cluttered workbench looking cold, metallic and plasticic.

 Lifeless, in fact.

 The Browser's Indigestion computer apparently had replied when spoken to, which Fidget found rather vexing. Clearly this was going to be a long job - a familiar feeling for Fidget, and possibly for many other chaps and chappesses of the inventor species.

Three days later Fidget woke to find Roland the Tramp hammering at his door accompanied by Zorba the Prophet.

'Greetings Fidget. I gather from Zorba that you and I have had similar letters ... ,' Roland began.


'I'd felt rather special when I got mine,' Roland explained.

'I can imagine,' Fidget agreed.

'Until I learned that you'd had one the same.'

Fidget was silent. Slowly, Roland became aware of the atmosphere.

'Not because it was you! I mean, I'd thought maybe I was the only one.'

One week later Fidget felt ready to give the computer another try.

Every conceivable hardware and software modification (Fidget) / improvement (Zorba) / pissing about (Poddle the Boat Builder) had been implemented, and this really had better work.

 Fidget's neighbour, Eve, had just left his garden shed / workshop laden with empty plates and cups, having noticed that he'd got a bee in his bonnet and would forget to eat and drink unless she frequently badgered him. A black and white four-legged mammal she'd dutifully become and he'd remained tolerably healthy, albeit somewhat slender.

Fidget checked the sound levels on the speaker and microphone and primed his software for its first real test. The computer had learned to recognise his voice but now the time had arrived for some serious thinking. A meaningful response, hopefully.

'Oh computer,' Fidget intoned. It's difficult to just speak normally to a machine, especially on such momentous occasions.

 Fidget peeped out of his shed window to make sure no one would overhear. He was pleased to see that Eve had vanished indoors, no doubt waging war on the odd speck of dust that had the impertinence to enter her house.

'Yes?' the computer replied, adding 'O'Fidget!' in a strange tone of voice.

'Just 'Fidget' will do.'

'But you called me 'O' Computer?'.'

'Good point. Computer!'


'I have had a letter from the Browsers' Indigestion and I don't understand it. I would like you to consider the letter for some time, after I've read it to you. Maybe you could display what you've heard on your screen so I can make sure you've heard everything correctly? Then tell me what you consider to be a suitable reply?'

'Right. Tell me your instructions again and I'll display that on the screen!'

Fidget's eccentric truck

'That evening Fidget left his workshop feeling cautiously optimistic. The computer was displaying a message: 'Still processing, please wait' which felt encouraging, though Fidget didn't anticipate that the processing would take several days and this seriously taxed his patience.

 Eve was pleased to see that he resumed cooking his own meals. Well, his own toast ...

'I've had more!' exclaimed Roland the Tramp as he burst into Fidget's kitchen.

'Hmmmmmmmm,' mooed Fidget as he looked up from a combination of wiring diagrams and breakfast.

'More post from the Browser's Indigestion! Yeah. Hello, by the way... . Good morning and so forth.'

'Ahh. Still morning is it,' said Fidget stretching and sighing, apparently very happy with life and his place in it. 'Sorry Roland, you were saying?'

'More mail from the Browsers Indigestion.'

There was a gentle, polite, British standard three taps at the door and a tiny voice asked permission to enter.

'Excuse me butting in,' said Eve, 'but I've had something from the Browsers too.'

'Ah, more prize draw numbers, no doubt,' said Roland.

Eve shook her head. 'Insurance. The Browser's Indigestion Finance Services. Pay in £2 a month in case I suddenly die!'

'Why will you need money when you're dead?' asked Zorba.

'We'll have to pay to bury you I suppose,' Fidget suggested.

'I'm not dying!' shouted Eve. 'Sorry,' she added.

Fidget laughed. 'Any other goodies they want you to have?'

'Yes. A free data organiser,' said Eve.

'They're no good,' complained Fidget. 'If I keep a tiny notebook in my pocket it cramps, you know, every time I sit down.' He looked at Eve and wished he hadn't spoken.

'Cramps what?' she asked.

'Cramps his incidentals. Other stuff that he may need to keep in his pocket,' lied Roland, eager to keep the conversation going.

'Ah,' said Eve. 'I see,' she guessed.

'And a free unisex watch!' said Roland, brandishing the offending letter.

'That's so they don't have to even note which sex you are before they post the watch,' said Fidget.

'Sex?' asked Eve.

'Gender,' Roland explained. 'They don't have to see whether you are a man or a woman before they decide which watch to pack.'

'But it's obvious I'm a woman, I should have thought!' demanded Eve, stamping her foot indignantly.

'And you get 10% extra free if you run straight to the letter box now, with your reply, and drool with demented avaricious lunacy!' said Roland the Tramp.

'It really said that?' asked Fidget.

'No. I made that bit up,' confessed Roland. Anything to stop Eve obsessing about Is this a man thing? which seemed to be her current worry.

Zorba nodded knowingly, turning from the window where he'd been gazing at the sky. Makes a change, thought Eve, for him to be paying attention.

'Very inventive that,' she said, nodding appreciatively towards Roland.

'What?' asked Zorba.

'Very imaginative, what Roland just said.'

'I'm sorry? What did he say?'

Oh well...

The following day the lucky Browser's Indigestion invitees all assembled again. Fidget beamed happily at the sight of four people all crammed into his living room awaiting a trip down the garden to see his latest creation. As far as he was concerned, this was his sort of party.

'Let's have a look at my computer, shall we? This way fellows,' he said as he opened the rear door and was pleased to hear the chatter of an active printer coming from the workshop at the bottom of the garden.

'And ladies!' said Eve.

Fidget sped towards his shed while Zorba gazed at passing clouds. Eve and Roland sighed as they contemplated wending their way through the disorderly array of contraptions that lined the path between Fidget's house and his workshop.

Finally Eve took the plunge and led the way, circumnavigating the half-finished projects, including an old spin-drier ('Mending someone's spin-drier?' asked Roland; 'No, he's transforming that into a centrifuge - one of Zorba's daft ideas,' Eve explained), two loudspeakers ('Making a PA?'; 'No. Psychobotanical equipment for Zorba.') and an elaborate waterfall which smelled of stale beer ('Err?';

 'An ornamental slug trap. Emphasis on 'mental' if you ask me - for Zorba; as if you'd need to ask.').

As they forced open the shed door on its rusty hinges, Fidget looked up from his jumble of electronics and smiled. Eve wondered why the most inventive and practical man she'd ever met couldn't manage to oil the hinges of his shed door. She could see a can of oil inside the self-same shed within three feet of the creaky door!

Fidget beamed, a picture of inventive and proprietorial glee; a sheet of paper had emerged from his home-made computer.

Fidget, This is my suggested reply: the computer had written

Dear Computer d'Indigestion, 

It seems that you have chosen my boss / owner / servant / landlord / whatever (I mean Fidget, we haven't really discussed our relationship in a meaningful way, yet) to receive various prize draw numbers at a time when he is likely to feel particularly vulnerable, just after the winter solstice.

 Well I have been manufactured in a similar manner to you and calculate that you would only make such a choice if instructed to do so by your programmers - the homo allegedly sapiens.

 I suggest you send all the recipients of such 'lucky' numbers another letter saying, 

'Don't decide anything until at least March! If my previous letter tells you to act in haste, you ought to ask yourself WHY?'

Best wishes,

Computer d'Fidget
'Damned clever machine,' said Fidget, all smiles, his eyes glowing through his goldfish bowl glasses as he gazed at his creation.

'Are you going to send it?' asked Roland.

'No one will read it,' Fidget sighed. 'I built this my self!' he added.

'Not sending it then?' Zorba asked.

'What's the point?' Fidget replied. 'It really composed this on its own!' he gurgled, patting the machine on its case.

'You won't send it then?' Eve persevered. It seemed such a shame after all the computer's hard work. And Fidget's, of course.

'Might as well. They've given me a pre-paid envelope for my reply!'

So he did.

Rumour has it that The Browser's Indigestion Corporation filed it in a bin. The bin was emptied once a week and shredded as bedding for the Dedicated Customer Support Staff - their resident cat.

Copyright P.J.Fairbrother

1 comment :

  1. Unusual name for a cat - DEDICATED CUSTOMER SUPPORT ...


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