The Bear lives in two places. One is Easington, which is a horrible town, a kind of homage to 1970's Poland only where people lack the manners or decency or hygiene to be 'good proletarians'. The other place though is the internets, inside of computer land where words and pictures wait before they come onto your computer's tv box. In this place he has a 'site' in which you can see him saying things considered below proper society and doing funny dances and gestures. It must be very hot inside the internets, or maybe inside the screen, because here he always has no clothes on and is always shaking around a lot, much like a man whose heating has been disconnected again. Dammit, I won't pay those bills unless they show me some respect.
Last week, however, we saw him sitting in a corner of our box, head low, paunch saggy, beard more dishevelled and orange than normal. We threw him a stick, an apple and bag of soggy crisps (they bounced off the screen, but at least the intention was good). If he had stopped moving, who was going to keep things running in there? (we admit we have come across female versions of the naked bear, but they were not shaking as much, and less hairy). A plan needed to be devised to get him moving again, or perhaps we could free him from his proletarian constraints. The laws of Capital say that if you give a prole money, he will buy shiny things which will make him happy (temporarily). So if we gave him a shiny object to fondle, we could make this man do another song-and-dance number, tape it and sell it on the internets. Everyone wins in the end, except in Grandfather's will, in which a rather insulting clause was so specific as to disinherit 'the thieving coward', a rather judgemental piece of posturing from a blow-hard old fool who lacked the wherewithal to hide his bank deposit books quickly enough after his stroke, and who undoubtedly should have shown more class than calling the rozzers on his own kin.
It was a simple enough call to make for him, but it left him bereft of his last 'loyal' family member. For months now we had given him our time (a worthless currency, but little did he know, his was running out anyway) without so much as a question or an answer as to his 'fortune' (a dwindling pile of bottle caps). If he really had been a prisoner of war in Germany for all those years, why did he come back with so many medals? Or a burnt bottom? We were going deep here – research is our middle name – but going to Germany was out of the question (recent opinions expressed on the Bavarian question and the Leipzig beer gardens had left our reputation in tatters). The only option was a full investigation conducted from our temporary HQ in the pub across Grandfather's house.
“Could we have some ham?”
“Could it be on credit?”
“Yes maam, yes, that is Grandfather's house across the way.”
“Yes maaam, yes maaam, indeed it is sad news”
“Yes maam, perhaps another slice. Could you be so kind as to lend me a mustard.”
“Piquant, delicious, I am of a gratified disposition”
For the benefit of The Librarian, who is laggardly, that was the conversation we had with the harridan lurking behind said pub's bar. Her part has been omitted for: 1, succinctity; 2, security reasons; 3, doctor-patient confidentiality; errors of recollection, memory, and such; 4, an elaborate ruse to use the Oxford comma.
But what of the Ham?
Ham comes in slices, it is pink and it is tasty. Hams come in big and small shapes and can be eaten in lots of ways. If you want to know more about ham, phone up The Propagandist using the code name 'convertible' - he will get excited and he will help you, even if he cannot help himself.