• Mr Humphries

Mr Humphries' Isolation Diaries - Week 5

To make a rod for your own back [idiom; UK]

def. If you make a rod for your own back, you act in a way that creates more problems moving forward.

e.g. By giving in to the terrorists’ demands, the Government will simply be making a rod for its own back.

Why is it that this idiom comes to mind whenever the end of the week blog rolls around? Is it the monotonous nature of this period of time? Is it because it pains me to admit that Mr Squirrel doesn’t exist? Or is it because the exalted literary peak upon which I perch feels increasingly precarious? One false madcap step and I’ll be scrambling on a scree slope as the summit slips from view. The perils of genius! Now I know how Daniel Bedingfield feels.

But fear not, I’ll give you, the terrorists, what you want. Once again you’ve held me to ransom with your threats to torch my Mölkky set. I hope you’re happy with yourselves…

If truth be told, Mölkky has taken a backseat this week because I have a new hobby: metal detecting. I have been inspired by BBC’s Detectorists on iPlayer, a comedy series about two friends who go in search of their hearts' desire with a couple of metal detectors. I have watched two of the three available series and am obsessed. I have the theme song on repeat on the Spotify (funny that Google Docs offers an autocorrect to delete the - how little it knows of comedy gold) and I felt myself welling up with joy as series, ooops (again!), season two drew to a close. It’s glorious (but contains the odd use of colourful language so this is not strictly a recommendation).

Anyway, I have thus become a detectorist. My DeepDive Excalibur II TurboXi Speedster 99 arrived earlier this week and I unwrapped her with glee. I called her Doris, Doris the Detector.

Just like me, Doris couldn’t wait to get detecting. We began in the hallway. My mind raced with the treasures that might be hidden in the depths of the cream carpet. After just moments, a beep! What could it be? I knelt down and plunged my hand deep into the pile. I brushed away the loose strands of polyester and...behold! A tin of cream of chicken soup. Not my favourite, but still, what a find! What flavour soup do you dream of unearthing with your metal detectors?

Giddy with my early success, I moved towards the lounge. The carpet here is also cream. I swang Doris left. I swang Doris right.

Perspiration glistened on my forehead as the thrill and anticipation grew. Snoopy mopped my brow, not wanting my vision obscured by sweat-swept eyes. The dial wavered, teasing me, torturing me.


Surely not more success? “Snoopy, pass me my trowel!” I excavated with the precision of a young Tony Robinson but the item, whatever it may be, was far deeper than my Heinz soup. I upped the ante and grabbed my spade, even though this was potentially fatal given that we live in a first floor flat. One false move and I’ll be watching Bagpuss with the kids downstairs.

I delicately slid the blade of the spade further in. Clink! Our eyes brightened with the metallic sound. On my hands and knees, I grasped an earthy clump that surely held treasure within. It had been rumoured that prior to our tenancy, Spanish royalty had occupied this two bedroom flat and as legend has it, their forgetful king had left an ancient hoard of treasure...

I expertly brushed the detritus away to reveal a small, round, metal object. I sought an engraving, any sign that it had once belonged to the Spanish monarch. I began to make out some lettering. At first indistinct, but then a C emerged before my eyes. Could it be Carlos? King Carlos? No. The next letter was an O. Snoopy googled Spanish for king - “Rey” he called. Damn. What was this ornate lettering spelling out? I brushed to reveal an R.

“But Mr Humphries, listen to this, the Spanish for crown is…”

Before he could finish his sentence, the words glinted before my eyes.


Crown! Spanish royal gold! Ole!

We jumped and jigged for joy. Rich beyond our wildest dreams! After a full forty five minutes of dancing to Enrique Iglesias, we fell into our chairs and let out the most satisfied sighs.

“Want a beer Mr H?”

“Yes please Snoop!”

“Want a lime in it?”

“Oh go on then…”

PS - my sister said she wanted a shout out so here it is! Hi Wilma! (If anybody else would like a shout out, please let me know. £20 per hello. £18 for family).

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