The Global Odd Sock Enigma

The bony man edged forward purposefully in his seat. During the train’s snaking journey from Rugby to Coventry, she had caught his eye several times more than she felt comfortable with. True, there wasn’t much to gawp at in the drech gloaming outside the rattling carriages, sluiced by unrelenting sheets of January rain. But he seemed inordinately interested in her. Why couldn’t he just avert his gaze, hang suspended in the tedious stasis of solo train travel, like everyone else?

Leaning on elbows that could slice bread, he smiled greasily and nodded as if to say “you’ll like this”.

“You’ll like this” he squeeked in a fay, faintly lascivious cockney whine.

She looked up and smiled unconvincingly, as if to say “no, thank you, I’m too ensconced in my book”. Her eyes returned to the page, but as she tried to read on, she felt his rheumy little peepers crawling over her face.

Spiv

The bony man took a battered tin from his waistcoat pocket. There was something jarring about him. Something awry. Like a rotund, big-breasted women running down the street. Something unlikely, incongruous, precarious about him.

This inkling of oddness bothered her. He should seem more reputable, she mused, clad as he was in a three piece suit and topped with a trilby. Yet despite his obvious sartorial pride, he looked scruffy and crumpled as severely thin men always do. Like a child doing dress-up in father’s clothes. The red tin said Licorice Wafers – for COUGHS due to COLDS. Spindly, simian fingers popped it open to reveal tobacco and cigarette papers.

As he rolled, he spoke.

“You might not think so to look at me, but I’m something of a genius”. She froze. He was apparently addressing the air, but he knew she – as the only soul within touching distance – would feel obliged to respond.

“Pardon?”

tin

As he sealed his oily rag in one fluid movement across his tongue, he settled back – ominously, she thought –  as though he were settling in for a long chat with a good, familiar friend.

“I have made a series of groundbreaking discoveries. Solved age-old and hitherto perplexing mysteries that have furrowed millions of brows and confounded millions of minds. I think you’d like to hear, wouldn’t you”. An assertion playing dress-up as a question. There was something jarring about it.

“I’ll give you an example. Just one. I have solved the Global Odd Sock Enigma”. He spoke these words as if they were capitalised and of tremendous import. “I – and I alone – know what happens to socks that disappear during the laundry cycle”.

“Oh” was all she could muster. As much as she resented him and his presumption, there was something sadly ridiculous about the man. Which was almost endearing. Almost.

He continued. “I mean, we all know the problem. It’s a familiar one. We submit pairs of socks to the laundry cycle. Into the washing machine they go, then out into the garden on the washing line, or clothes’ horse if the weather’s inclement, or tumble dryer if we have the luxury of owning one of those shining white knights of labour-saving amelioration”.

It is a problem, she thought to herself. I mean, this man is an unbearable arse, but it is a problem. Her body began to untense as her interest was piqued and the initial wave of rattled indignation dissipated.

Sock“But when we come to sort, fold and put away our clothes, what do we find? We find hitherto partnered socks in a sudden state of sorry solitude. Their twin vanished without trace. The Global Odd Sock Enigma. And over time, we put these bereaved single socks to one side, perhaps on top of the chest of drawers, or back in the sock drawer, in the eternally-springing hope that they will be returned to a state of duality come the next laundry cycle”.

She wrestled to contain a smile as he repeated the words ‘laundry cycle’, as though he were an expert speaking the argot of some rarefied and recondite academic discipline. His pompous air and self-important speech were inherently ridiculous, and they served to soften his alarming oddness into something approaching an endearing eccentricity. She began to feel a cosying warmth build in the pit of her stomach. Her nods and smiles were now encouraging, inviting and bidding him to continue.

“Until I made my discovery, this remained one of the last great mysteries of our age. Up there with ‘where do we go when we die?’, ‘are we alone in the universe?’ and ‘why is belly button fluff always grey?’. But as to these poor missing socks, where do they go? Are they lost somehow in the washing machine, the only garment diminutive enough to slip through some tiny aperture when wet? Do birds pluck them from the washing line to build their nests with? Well, no. In short. The answer is quite simply this. They are subsumed by larger items. Most usually duvet covers. They find their way into the corners. And we never think to look for them there. So there they remain. The truth is, no sock ever truly gets lost. They are hiding in plain sight. In our drawers, languishing like Jonah in the belly of a textile whale”.

With this he noticed the train pulling into Coventry station – his cue to alight. He picked up his tobacco tin and returned it to his breast pocket. He gripped the brim of his hat between his forefinger and thumb, mimed a little doff, before scurrying down the carriage, through the doors, and off into the soggy winter evening.

She made a mental note to check all her duvet covers and pillow cases when she got home. There were three odd socks that had been sitting on top of her dresser for months now. Rendered redundant and gathering dust.

As the train lurched into life and began to pull away from the platform, she noticed a small moleskin notebook on the table in front of her. Realising it must belong to the bony man, she grabbed it and scoured the platform for any sign of him, but he was long gone. And, besides, there was little she could do now the train was in motion. Except open it and have a read. The contents page was an eyebrow-raiser:

  • The Physics of a Viable Perpetual Motion Machine…p1
  • The Solution to the Global Odd Sock Enigma…p24
  • A Mathematical Proof of the Existence of the Soul…p32
  • Why Belly Button Fluff is always Grey…p33
  • A Quantum Mechanical Explanation of Time Travel as an Existing Phenomena…p49
  • The Solution to the Global Missing Tupperware Lids Enigma…p57

The essays were dense, florid tracts crammed with mathematical ‘proofs’ (she barley scrapped a pass at school so couldn’t discern Nobel physics-prize-brilliance from innumerate nonsense) and a verbose and baroque writing style, falling over itself in a dense thicket of multi-clause sentences and rambling digressions.

Still, if it helped her track down her odd socks and missing Tupperware lids, it was probably worth keeping hold of.

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Science Fiction story

“I can’t believe it’s the year 2087” said Cheng Shakespeare, in a state of disbelief. Behind him a man with a cybernetic eye fed some bitcoins into a levitating vending drone.

Cheng watched a Skybus glide vertically upwards and zoom off above the towering skyscrapers of this moribund synthetic metropolis, making a noise like a synthesiser with an ‘insect’ setting. It was night time, and also really smoggy and raining hard and generally quite depressing in a brutalist post-industrial kind of way but with hover cars.

No-one seemed to have gardens any more. The rampant clamour for dwellings had gobbled up green space as human populations exploded like a protracted number bomb. Since the early twentieth century humanity had been breeding at an unsustainably exponential rate, without so much as a telepathically transferred thought for where it was going to bloody well put itself. A telepathically transferred thought humanity could have had, thanks to Amstrad’s patent Brain-to-Brain Interface of 2019.

0e3b422f-a3de-487e-8e9b-86000aa51c71-274-00000033f975bc7f“You what?!” returned Quasar O’Doherty, somewhat incredulously. Behind him a holographic prostitute was doing her darndest to solicit the custom of a silver-skinned man with self-tailoring clothes.

“What do you mean ‘what?!’?!” Cheng fired back. But before the two men could resolve their frankly aimless exchange, a thunderous bang shook the Lower Twelfth Precinct, which quickly filled with billowing clouds of debris and smoke. The unmistakable sight of two AI Militia materialised from the swirling grey haze, their machine-like gait and USBs-for-bollocks the only subtle signs betraying the inorganic identities of these cybernetic simulcras.

“Shit! Download the Police!” Quasar bellowed, reaching for his iPenis. After just a few seconds of frenzied tapping on his wi-fi enabled nob module, a bank of lasers shot out from the Police headquarters several miles away and 3D-printed a Lawbot on the street in front of the insurgents.

Shakespeare and Quasar flagged down a hovercab which whisked them up through the neon-lit troposphere to a cruising altitude of 4 clicks, and away from danger. From up here civilisation was little more than an ugly inorganic sprawl, neon-lit, rain-soaked and with lots of steam rising from it (at night).

Safely back at Residential Quarter #7569, the two companions took the stairs to the anti-gravity roof restaurant. Quasar ordered the pulled-thylacine sandwich, whilst Chang opted for the banoffee pie via neural upload. Both men had electromagnetic coffee delivered through foot plates underneath the table.

img_0510-1“Well, can you believe it’s the year 2087 now, Cheng Shakespeare?’ Quasar enquired sardonically.

“Yes. Yes I can, Quasar O’Doherty. What with everything that’s just happened, I damn fucking well can”. Both men laughed heartily, before retiring to sit in a dark room for several hours, since the imperative for sleep had been neuro-engineered away, yet people still liked to observe the now antiquated tradition of doing fuck all over night from about 11 until about seven or eightish in the morning.

Blues and terrible twos

Two constables were working like Dutch whores in stag weekend high season to keep the growing crowd of rubber neckers and busy bodies at bay. As the investigating officer glided through the increasingly unruly throng of curious locals and into the relative calm of the crime scene, one of the officers instinctively went to lift the police tape to allow her to proceed unchecked. To his transitory astonishment, this wasn’t necesssary.

BRITAIN-LATVIA-CRIME-MURDER“This your first suspicious death?” enquired Detective Sergeant Nigel Muck. He was stood at the foot of the stiff: a well dressed, portly middle aged man with an expensive salon cut and bruising to his throat and face. The corpse, that is. Muck was a slovenly shit of a slaphead beanpole.

Without warning she stopped still in her tracks and fixed him with an incredulous, faintly amused look. Clearly feeling uneasy under her searching gaze, he muttered “don’t, er, I mean, well, take as long as you need, this is a real tit-twister. A bloody arsing great shitemare of a head-scratcher”. With that, Muck fished a Crunchie from his Parka pocket, and exited the room masticating horribly.

73e0ff11-7c85-439c-988f-6e6659eeba60-237-00000021f2fac38c_tmp“What happened to the man?” she asked, pointing at the prone unfortunate.

“It’s a bit of a mystery I’m afraid, ma’am” replied a forensic scene of crime officer, who was busily taking photographs, making the tatty little room at the top of this cramped Docklands bedsit feel like the world’s saddest fashion shoot.

“There are clear signs of a struggle, and yet the room was locked from the inside with only that tiny” he gestured with his camera “velux window in the roof. Only about 10 by 12 inches. I mean, you could probably” he tailed off, thinking better of suggesting that his superior could feasibly have been the mysterious Spring-heeled Jack that perpetrated this fiendish act. “His injuries” he continued, “are consistent with strangulation, and we’ve pinned the time of death to between 24 and 27 hours ago”.

ef5fcf00-82a3-4aa8-955d-4f4f42ecce26-237-00000023eccb36ac_tmp“Stangly-ayshon. Twenty teighty four hour wowers” she mused, drawing out and lingering on her words as though they tasted lovely. Her grin disappeared when she saw that the SOC officer was staring at her with a half disbelieving, half disdainful expression.

“NO! Why is the man there for?” she barked. Her unsignalled annoyance made the officer start, and he sheepishly picked up from where he had left off.

“Odd thing is, at precisely that time this room was being used by the young man who rents it. He’s one of those internet vloggers“. The last two words he said with special emphasis, as though at pains to signal that he found them alien or objectionable to utter. He might just as easily have said ‘one of those piss fetishists‘.

He continued. “He was doing some sort of live stream. Four hours and thirty seven minutes of utter bollocks. But as alibis go, it’s water tight”.

She hopped back and forth between legs, all the while shaking her head. Clearly a brilliant maverick, he thought, some sort of Holmesian savant, must be why she’s on the force so young, obviously a brilliant mind. But she was awfully young. Too young. It was silly, really.

“Well ma’am, what happened to him?”.

1ca504ef-2a6c-49c4-a1a4-648662e10519-237-00000029eb554368_tmp“That man POOED himself ‘cos he was very naugh-ty. And then he didn’t, and he did because YOU stangly-ayshon him with you BUM”. On this staccato ‘bum’ she dropped to the floor and started rolling back and forth, asserting every now and then that she was a “floppety spider” and a “no-face”.

The Chief Superintendent walked in at the height of her asylum worthy floor-based antics. “Shame” he muttered. “Such promise but clearly the job is just too damn much for her”.

“Is 30 months too young, sir?” offered the female Inspector at his side. “I mean, if you consider that there are 216 months in 18 years, is 30 months enough time to develop all the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to be a police detective?”.

c7b429be-3340-4ccd-9c31-44ed3273bf3d-237-00000028fd21c83c_tmp“Five minutes ago, I would have replied a resounding ‘yes’. But now”, he paused to observe the diminutive sleuth edging round the room whilst wearing the dead man’s shoes and issuing high pitched squeaks, “I’m not so sure”.

The World of FMM

The other week I went to a big event, it was called #FMM16 – the Fat Masturbating Men conference 2016. The Birmingham NEC was packed with hundreds of fat men masturbating, I gave up counting at 756, although that was barely half. Not to mention the legions of officianados and collectors of fat masturbating men.

I spoke to a few of the fat masturbating men. Some of them had always wanted to be a fat masturbating man, others just kind of fell into it.

e3475a4a-ac2f-49ff-98b6-d453b296a005-217-00000005e859e7a9_tmpOne guy, called Gary, said he’d known all his life that he wanted to be an FMM, which is the term they use. “I was a skinny kid” he panted at me over coffee “but hard work and competitive eating saw me through”.

Another chap, Terry from Hartlepool, had a very different story. “I never saw myself as a fat masturbating man” he told me in the queue for the keynote speech. His voice was shaky, breathy, because we struck up conversation just before he hit the vinegar strokes. “I’m an architect by trade. This is just something I’m doing for a while. For the money mainly. I hope to go back to architecure in a year or so”.

The Fat Masturbating Men expo started at around 10am. By midday the Birmingham NEC was almost unnavigable. The exhibition space was becoming unhygienic and beginning to turn stomachs. Hardly anyone touched the buffet. Except the fat masturbating men. They all grabbed handfuls of it. Whilst masturbating.

The auction was a great success though. One fat masturbating man from Rochdale went for £17,500. I was outbid on a giant, red haired Welsh wanker. To be honest I only really bid on him because I liked his hat.

After the conference had ended I shared a taxi back to the station
with one of the fat masturbating men. He wasn’t masturbating anymore. We chatted awkwardly about the expo, although he seemed reluctant to discuss the fat masturbating man world. “I’m not as into it as some of the other blokes” he said. “Perhaps that’s why you didn’t sell at the auction!” I tried to joke, but it fell flat. He glowered at me like I’d just farted into his biscuit jar.

I don’t reckon I’ll go next year. I mean, it looked really interesting on the advert, but if anything I found it all a bit disgusting.

Do Unto Others

He felt his fists balling in anger as he watched the Alsatian deposit its feculent pay load, the third of the week, on the pavement between his gate and the road. It’s owner, a bald, badly dressed mouth breather with faded green prison tattoos and a violent criminal stare, sucked vacantly on a vape contraption. He looked like an ape orally exploring a piece of alien technology. The fucking unthinking cunt.

3ea83fe5-bd13-448b-83ab-d2204a2d2999-215-0000003e2e870d93_tmpThe dog finished its crap and lurched off. The man followed, although not before sending a lump of spit hurtling into the hedge. No thought to bag up his dog’s business. A gift to the neighbourhood, a freshly squeezed little tower of shit to surprise unsuspecting shoes and pramwheels. Well, not quite this one. This one was bagged up. With the man and dog still in sight, he followed behind at a discrete distance, the little orange bag of warm crap swinging from his fingers.

He followed his quarry a couple of streets away, where they went into number 25 Staunton Terrace. Biding his time, it wasn’t long before he saw a light go on upstairs. Swiftly he made his move down the driveway. At the door he tore open the bag, lifted the letterbox open with his index fingers and gently jiggled the turds through. With a satisfying ‘phut’ they hit the carpet inside the hallway. Nervously, excitedly, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out several flat but heavy stones, which he also dropped through the letterbox. As they hit the dog shit they squashed it deep into the carpet fibres, ensuring maximum disgust and difficulty to clean out.

Walking home he felt buoyed by a warm surge of righteousness. Natural justice had been dispensed, a wrong had been righted. Biblical, perhaps, but no less just for that.

a375b65e-df9e-4c0c-a642-b68a2697cbb2-215-0000003dcfad6a16_tmpRounding the corner of Parson Drive, he slowed his pace to watch a young woman size up the gap between a badly parked car and a hedge. Adjudging it too narrow, she had no choice but to push her pram around the car on the road, her mouth drawn tight with frustration. As he crossed over he reached into his coat pocket and clutched his door key tightly. Manipulating it between his middle and index fingers, like some covert prison shank, he slipped his hand back out of his pocket and pressed the key hard into the pristine paintwork of the selfish areshole’s Audi, holding it on to leave a good foot long scratch, in one smooth movement as he walked by. Untraceable. Expensive. A just dessert.

At around 8 o’clock it started again. Mr Mayhew next door always seemed to come to life every evening about this time. The cavity-less 1930s wall that divided their dwellings might well have muffled much of the sound of that analogue age, but it was no match for the decibels kicked out by Mr Mayhew’s Bose bins. Classic rock filled his living room, almost as clearly as it did Mr Mayhew’s. It was a maddening intrusion, an unforgivable encroachment into his private sanctuary. Mr Mayhew couldn’t have affronted him more if he’d let himself in the kitchen door, popped the kettle on and fixed himself a sandwich.

There was none of the instant karma he was used to with this one. No, this was a slow burn, a long game. The first symptom was a ringing in the ears. He knew Mr Mayhew was suffering from tinnitus because he heard him speaking to his family on the phone, when he would complain, rather loudly – no doubt as a consequence – of his aural disturbance. Some months after the onset of the tinnitus he had been delighted to see Mr Mayhew fall over in the street. It wasn’t icy out and it was barely 10 in the morning, so booze wasn’t a likely candidate. No, he was sure that it must be the next symptom. Loss of balance.

730b683e-6b21-4d94-9527-e8d46eb8c4d1-215-0000003f62db286d_tmpMr Mayhew’s inner ear was under attack. The cells that regulated his hearing and balance were losing a protracted and covert war being waged by a cocktail of ototoxic medicines that were being syringed into his gold top every morning. The aspirin was easy enough to come by. Six of those over-the-counter little bad boys every day. The neomycin he liked, an antibiotic with particular toxicity for the cochlear. That, along with the ethacrynic acid, the viomycin and the chemotherapy drugs were hard to come by, but not impossible. Very soon, if it were not already the case, the nerve damage would be permanent. Irreversible. And then there will be no merit in playing your music, will there Mr Mayhew. And our living rooms will fall silent. Yours, dispiritingly so. Mine, blissfully.

He felt a dull twinge of conscience. Once or twice. After all, this wasn’t anything a good scrub with bleach or visit to a car body shop could fix. But it was really the only fitting punishment. This was, beyond doubt, the most heinous of all selfish behaviours. That which invades, pollutes, makes intolerable another’s private space.

Bowling at one stump

The training room was on the fourth floor of a characterless office block overlooking the river.  A dull, dirty grey concrete carbuncle probably thrown up in the 1960s, he pondered, as he pushed his way through the revolving door and into a time warp vinyl-floored, neon strip-lit lobby.

‘Enterprise House’ the cliched, faintly ironic name of the building. Ironic since it’s prefab uniformity spoke of automation, ugly efficiency, a dispiriting artlessness that was as far away from the spark of human creativity and dynamism – the true hallmarks of enterprise – as it was architecturally possible to be.

img_0170The bowls of the building were as humdrum as the dermis. The lift was out of order, so he climbed the stairs to the fourth floor, passing a rather forlorn looking – and presumably lost – soft bunny rabbit, slumped against the water damaged wall where it had been dropped by a sleep-slackened hand.

‘Hello, I’m here for the Distraction Training. The name’s Peter Curtis’.

‘One moment please, sir’ replied the girl behind the reception desk, without looking up. Peter went up on tiptoes to take a surreptitious snoop over the counter, and was a little peeved to see her finishing off a text with a flourish of emojis. She smiled to herself as she poked the screen to send her little e-missive off into the ether. To her boyfriend no doubt, Peter thought, his annoyance provoked as much by the realisation that this thought-derailingly beautiful girl was spoken for, as much as it was by her churlish ignoral of him.

‘Go on through, it’s room D16 on the right. Go through the double doors, follow the corridor round to the right and it’s the second door after the lift’. She smiled the sort of smile one squeezes out when someone in a position of power, whom you loathe, says something they deem funny.

‘Thanks’ he muttered, already walking away. Peter could feel himself shrink. He was a very sensitive soul, like a blank photographic plate onto which other people projected themselves, he often thought. It was as though his frame of mind or sense of self were governed by, connected to everything in the outside world by millions of microfine wires, and every little tweak on them, good or bad, sent impulses racing into him, each one recalibrating his psychological state. A marionette boy, jerking and jigging to the tweaks of the world.

The training room was a large, square space with an old oak desk in it’s centre. Three chairs faced one chair, the standard interview set up. Around the edge of the room women sat on chairs with young children on their laps, or crossed legged on the floor, eating or drinking, reading books, a few asleep, five or six running around. The sleeping ones awoke when a large wooden door at the other end of the room swung open and vomited forth three besuited men who were engaged in raucous and jocular conversation. The women, children and Peter all gave the men their full attention as they seated themesleves in the three chairs. The panel.

‘Good morning all, and for many of you welcome once again to another Distraction Training session. There are a few faces I don’t recognise, including – of course – yours’ he gesticulated towards Peter. ‘I think the basic premise of today’s training bears elucidating, for which I look to my colleague here, Mr Brownlaw’.

A few of the children, who were all aged somewhere between 2 and 3, started to lose interest in the men, occasioning their mothers to hiss some stern words of rebuke, and no doubt sanction, into their wandering little ears.

‘Yes, thank you Mr Pepperdew. Mr -?’ he aimed interrogatively at Peter, who swiftly responded. ‘Curtis. Peter Curtis’.

img_0171‘Mr Curtis, I do beg your pardon. Mr Curtis is here for a 30 minute session of Distraction Training. The scenario he has specifically booked onto is our Distraction Interview Training. Myself, along with my colleagues Mr Bronwnlaw and Mr Renshaw, will be delivering the interview part of the bargain. You -‘ he said, pointing around the room at the mothers and toddlers, ‘will be providing the distraction’.

At this point the women got up, coaxed their little ones across the room towards Peter, and went to leave. A few of the children tried to follow them, one in tears, but they were soon distracted again by the cry of ‘who would like some chocolate?’. It was Mr Brownlaw. The children swarmed to him, wide eyed and palms outstretched in hopeful supplication. ‘Mr Curtis over there’ he pointed ‘has the chocolate’. The children came padding round the table. ‘Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Mr Curtis? What is your professional background?’.

The interview had started. Some of the children were still hovering around Peter, expecting treats. The rest were now running about, shouting, playing with the toys that Mr Renshaw had just dumped in a pile around Peter’s chair. The decibel levels were rising, and so was Peter’s heart rate.

‘Well, originally I studied English Literature at -‘

‘What are you saying?’. A little pug nosed boy was pulling at his shirt sleeve.

‘Oh, I’m just telling the man-‘

‘Focus on the interview please, Mr Curtis’ bellowed Mr Pepperdew, looking reproachful with knitted brows.

‘Yes, of course, sorry. Well I subsequently went on to train as a -‘ there was a loud scream, as two little girls fought over a plastic pirate toy. Peter instinctively wheeled round to attend to the sound of infant alarm, but again he was chided, and he turned his attention back to the mock job interview.

After an exhausting half hour, with his ears ringing and his head swimming, the women came back in to collect their little gems.

‘By the way, I should say there’s a toy rabbit on the stairs’ Peter tannoyed to the room, and an appreciative lady gave him a broad smile and a mouthed ‘thank you’.

When the room was emptied of everyone except Peter and his three interrogators, Mr Pepperdew led the feedback.

‘Well Mr Curtis, after a shaky start I’m pleased to say that you did very well and showed admirable concentration and focus under the most testing of circumstances’.

‘Indeed’ concurred his colleague , Mr Renshaw. ‘If you can conduct an interview as expertly as that without the distraction of twelve rambling, babbling, chivvying, mithering toddlers, then I’m convinced you’ll ace the real thing sans distractions’.

Peter walked back out into the street, feeling enlarged, recalibrated, at peace. His Distraction Training had been a success. He knew the job was his.

Talking Bollocks

I’ve been treating Michael for almost three years now. His case is one of the more unusual in the literature, in fact he’s something of a special case. I believe he’s one of only six people in the UK to suffer from Orchitis Voxosis, or OV for short.

OV was only discovered as recently as 1987 by a Swiss Urologist who received a referral of a twelve year old boy complaining of ‘singing balls’. What he found was staggering, and hitherto unheard of. Only now, almost 30 years on, are we truly beginning to reveal the secrets of this strange and socially ostracising condition.

imageThe problems start in utero, in the very early stages of embryonic development. In a nutshell, if you’ll excuse the metaphor, the testicles develop a kind of proto larynx. Shortly after conception, in the first trimester when the zygote is undergoing mitotic division, problems arise with cell differentiation.

As far as we know – and it appears to be linked to errors in the base coding of Tritiptonase Phorylose during mitochondrial axial regression – the glitch occurs as a result of cytoplasmic contiguity. This simply means that the cells that will become the gonads and those that will develop into the throat are so close together they’re practically the same.

In rare cases, we think around 1 in 900,000, normal mitosis is disrupted, and what we call regional cellular displacement, or RCD occurs. Basically, organs can develop in atypical regions of the body, including duplicates.

imageMost famously this is how Donald Trump ended up with two rectums. One in the usual place and one on his lower mandible, around where his lips should be. I happen to know his specialist very well, and he tells me that Mr Trump has to have his Gastroenterologist present whenever he visits his Dentist. It’s not pleasant. Put it this way, when Mr Trump has a birthday party and blows out his candles, nobody eats the cake.

The fact that a small voice box can develop in a testicle is amazing in itself, but the mechanism which causes the testicle to appear to talk, and even sing, is truly remarkable.

When someone with OV walks, the muscles in the leg squeeze the femoral artery which sends blood rushing up the the pelvis and through the proto larynx in the testicle. This causes a sort of guttural sound, sometimes more plosive or sibilant, like a whistle. In complex cases tiny integuments, or flaps, develop which mimic the bioarchitecure, and consequently the action of the lips and tongue. In these vanishingly rare cases – we’re talking 1 in 7 million here – rudimentary vocalisations may be audible, and sometimes, just through the normal operation of chance, they resemble discernable linguistic units. The water density of the testicle acts as a kind of amplifer, which means that they can be heard up to three metres away.

I treated a patient with this incredibly rare ‘talking’ form of the condition. His testicular vocalisations were almost always of two syllables. Common examples included ‘peach god’, ‘fish tease’ ‘don’t care’ and ‘bog boy’. He actually lost his job as a primary school teacher.

imageThe saddest case of all was of a 21 year old schizophrenic man. One of his vocalisations was ‘end you’, which he did after years of – as he put it in a moving final letter – ‘being hounded to madness and despair by my balls’.