It is I again, William H. Tyler, the hopefully beloved chairman of They Came and Shaved Us, the convention where everybody knows your name and social security number.

Just heard that at the SFX Event Robert Rankin was awarded the award for Best Book of 2003 Award! I haven't read Hollow Chocolate Bunnies myself - I'm only up to Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls - but I'm going to make a real effort to get all of his books read before the con. I'm really enjoying them, I must say. The gentle humor and searing insights are helping to keep my mind off certain things.

Not that it's anything really bad, this time... My friend Peter, who I've known since high school, just got himself a PC. Naturally, since it seems like I'm the only person in the whole damn town who knows how to plug cables into sockets, I'm the one they all come to to install their PCs. Not that they pay me, or anything. No, around here everything is done on "favors". In Peter's case, he offered to rust-proof the underside of my car. Unfortunately, he couldn't do this until he could borrow a power-jack from his neighbor, who was on vacation and had loaned the jack to someone else in return for looking after his dogs for the duration of the vacation. So Peter went over to the guy who'd borrowed the jack and asked him if he could take it for a day, but the guy didn't want to part with it, unless Peter could offer him something in exchange. Now, as it happened this guy was having trouble with his VCR, and Peter knew I used to work in a VCR service center, so he told the guy that I'd help him out. This means that I ended up doing Peter two favors - setting up his PC and fixing this guy's VCR - for only one favor in return. He couldn't understand that this wasn't fair.

I was willing to let it go, but my better quarter (she's a lot smaller than me) said that if I did, then before I knew it I'd have everyone in the town walking all over me. "Besides," she said, "we're emigrating in a couple of months and I don't want to leave with anyone owing us favors." So she sent me back across town to Peter's house to see if I could sort it out. This was about eight in the evening, and Peter was at work, but his wife was there with the kids. She seemed delighted to see me. "Come in!" she said. "You've got perfect timing! Can you look after the kids while I pick up my mother from the station?"

I was about to say "No problem" but then I could visualise Katie standing behind me, poking me in the back. "Uh... No, sorry," I said. She looked at me. "What?!" "I mean, yes. Of course I will." So she went off and I went in to see the kids. They have twin boys in fifth grade, and a girl in third grade. Naturally, they love it when Uncle Bill comes over because Uncle Bill is a soft touch and always ends up helping them with the homework.

So Peter came home an hour later and saw his wife gone, the kids watching television and me doing their homework for them. "What the hell is going on?" he demanded. I tried to explain, but he wasn't interested in the homework: he was pissed off because the kids hadd been watching his tape of Jackass and the twins were trying to encourage their sister to jump from the top of the cabinet, do a flip and land on the disturbingly thin sofa cushions they'd put on the floor.

Peter went nuts, as you can imagine, but what really bothered me was when he said, "You owe me big-time for this." This is why I've spent the past three weeks building him a whole new set of kitchen units.

Believe me, the move to Ireland can't come soon enough!

Bill Tyler, Chairman
20th May 2003

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