“Gherkin hotline”

Number 53 - 2010.

Before getting into bed last night, I wrote down the 24hr emergency hotline number that was on the jar of gherkins I’d just bought.

You just never know when you’ll need to make that call.

Admittedly,… assuming that you haven’t slipped in the shower, while eating a gherkin, (a proctologist once told me exactly where he’d found a small bust of Napoleon.

..unfortunately we were just about to have dinner) …the chances of anyone having a gherkin emergency in the wee small hours are small; but I like to be on the safe side.

“Thank you for calling the Gherkin Hotline,” she starts laughing,

“I’m sorry sir..it’s just I can’t believe that someone’s finally called us. It’s Sharmeena speaking,do you have a gherkin emergency?” .. hysterical giggles.

“Yes I do. You see it’s 4am.. and I’ve suddenly realised that I’m down to my last gherkin.” Long Pause …”OK…. the truth is I’m a middle aged, divorced man, and I’m lonely; I just needed someone to talk to.

I was desperate.. the Kellog Cornflakes hotline is experiencing a very high volume of calls..it’s permanently engaged…I was desperate, ..so I looked in the fridge; and I thought I’d give the gherkin hotline a go.”

24 hour hotline numbers are everywhere these days; so I wasn’t surprised, when staying in a Bali hotel recently, to see that the Japanese superloo..The ‘Clean Butt,’ (slogan.. ‘we reach the parts others can’t reach’?)in the bathroom had a 24 hour emergency hotline number on the bowl.

It must have been designed by NASA, because the electronic control panel had six different settings ..’posterior male parts.. ..anterior male parts ‘.and I’m not even going to talk about the Ladies section,.. let alone mention the ‘ high powered fountain enema spray’ option. I decided against pushing the green flashing button marked ‘GO.’ ..I’m old fashioned in toilet matters; I went with the handle flush.

Talking of toilets, I once gave Prince Charles a lavatory for his 32nd birthday in 1982;( trust me on this) he collects them. He’s probably got hundreds of them. Some people collect Picassos, HRH collects original Thomas Crappers.

It doesn’t make him a bad person. It was a porcelain Victorian 1850 loo..appropriately it had Prince of Wales feathers on the bowl. I’d bought it from ‘Sitting Pretty’ on the Fulham Road.

My gift to our future King didn’t come with a 24 hour hotline number; possibly because Bell didn’t invent the telephone until 1874.

I received a very nice letter back from his Equerry: ‘HRH The Prince of Wales has asked me to thank you for your magnificent gift of a lavatory, .. it will shortly be installed in Kensington Place where it will no doubt be greatly admired.’

I’ve often wondered.. where was he planning to put it? In the dining room? Anyway, he is the Heir to the Throne. (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist it.) Whatever you might think about the Prince’s views on architecture or genetically modified foods.. the one thing you could never call him is ‘eccentric.’

When I was growing up in the 1960s,.. forget about gherkin hot lines, the only emergency 24 hour hotline number we had was 999. But from personal experience let me tell you something which might just save your life: If you’ve really got an emergency..forget 999; call the Gherkin hot line. You’ll get put through to a human being a lot quicker.

One thing: prepare yourself for Sharmeena’s hysterical giggles.




Peter Rosengard

February 21st, 2010.