Hold your breath, pinch your nose and dive head first into the absurd world of Thomas Howarth’s Uni Confessions.
My housemates, Roller Girl and Joshua Packet, abandoned me for the colours and shapes of Nottingham town, and so I sat alone in the lounge eating crisps and drinking crisps smoothies. I was watching a music channel countdown of “Prince’s Twenty Greatest Onstage Simulated Wanks”(“That Blue Peter appearance was just subversive, groundbreaking stuff”– David Quantick) when it happened.
A wheelbarrow plunged into the kitchen by way of a shattering window. I scurried into the hallway and up the stairs as two barrel-bodied burglars infiltrated my home. I heard them right the wheelbarrow and push it through to the lounge, where they set to work filling it with our precious belongings. I listened to the unmistakable clang of a collector’s edition Jurassic Park boxset falling into criminal possession, and winced as hundreds of prawn cocktail crisps fell over it like earth onto a coffin. They pocketed my Nintendo Wii nunchuck and reentered the hallway, whence one of their torchbeams shot up the stairs and temporarily blinded me.
‘Oi, who are you?’ one of the men barked. He approached, wielding the nunchuck. I fumbled around for a sense of vision and stuttered the first alibi that came to mind.
‘I’m a burglar, guys, it’s okay, I’m a burglar too.’
‘Yes, I’m stealing things.’ I gruffened my voice with a cough.
‘Oh, well, that explains the mess.’
‘What about you fellas?’ I asked, voice quivering like a feather over a volcano.
‘Same, pal. Anything valuable upstairs?’
‘Yeah, loads,’ I said. ‘I mean, no, not really, just – ’
‘Well come on then.’ They barged towards me and hauled me upwards. ‘These the bedrooms?’
‘I don’t really… yes, try this one.’ I led them into Josh’s room.
‘You get another,’ one man commanded to the other.
‘First on the left, first on the left,’ I squeaked, directing him to Roller Girl’s stead. He blundered off, leaving me and my new friend to thieve together.
‘Right then, having this,’ he said, grabbing a lava lamp. ‘You want anything?’
‘I think I’ll just… just this, I think.’
‘Right, whatever. Next room.’
Before I could stop him, he burst into my room. Everything glistened.
‘What do you want from here?’ he asked me. As he reached for my camera, a scheme came to mind – I’d keep up the pretence, and I’d barter for all the most valuable items.
‘Ah, that camera’s naff,’ I said. ‘What you want is this.’ I handed him a pencil drawing of a Cyberman.
‘You sure?’ His heavy brow furrowed. He reeked of suspicion.
‘Definitely. Worth loads on the black market, I’ve heard.’
‘Alright then,’ he smirked, handing me my camera and stuffing the drawing into his jacket. ‘What else?’
‘Well, I’ll take this fairly standard DVD player, and you can have this.’
‘A used train ticket?’
‘Ah, well, you see, that’s not just any old used train ticket. That was…’ I scanned him for clues. I noticed that over his face had been tattooed a lifesize image of Lana Del Rey’s face. ‘That was Lana Del Rey’s ticket.’
‘Aha mate, having that.’ He snatched it from me.
‘And then if I have this laptop, you can take this bottle of water. It’s… it’s a good one.’
Convincing enough. We three moved back to the lounge with our spoils, and I helped them load their share into the wheelbarrow.
‘Nice doing business with you,’ they said as we left the building. I carried my possessions in Josh’s pillowcase.
‘Yeah, it’s been great,’ – I pondered for a moment – ‘… lads. This house is useless now though, let’s not come here again.’
‘Agreed. Where you off to?’
‘Oh, just a… a crack… den.’
‘Wicked. Have a good un.’ They hopped onto a pair of Harley Davidsons and thundered off into the night, trailing the wheelbarrow on a nylon rope.
I returned to the safety of the house, put my things back in place, and now I sit in the lounge coming up with a way of explaining it all to my housemates when they get back. I think I’ll say they had guns. ‘The men had guns,’ I’ll say. ‘All fifty of them had two guns each.’ Yeah. That’ll see me through. The old ‘weapons of mass destruction’ routine. A tried and tested classic.