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Umpire's ordeal is "no joke"

"It was a funny old day" for Hoggshire league umpire 'Boring 'Norman Makepiece. A bizarre sequence of events left him questioning his sanity ... but even worse news was to follow. However, in a PDCC exclusive, we ask: is it all a terrible misunderstanding?

Hoggshire league umpire Norman Makepiece is worried that his life - or what little may be left of it - has turned into "a sad joke".

The experienced official has fallen foul to a number of strange events that left him fearing for his sanity ... and now he fears for his life.

Boring Norman's colleagues would pretend to be asleep just to avoid conversation.

"I normally lead a very quiet existence," said Makepiece, who lives with his wife Margaret and their Hoggshire Terrier dog Higgins. "My friends call me 'Boring Norman'. But now they may have to find another name."

Former accountant Makepiece became a full-time umpire in the Hoggshire League over ten years ago and forged a reputation of being firm but fair, and very, very dull. He had just completed another rewarding season on the Hoggshire circuit and was looking forward to a long rest but his peace and quiet was about to be shattered in an extraordinary way.

"It all started when I had a dream where I was eating a giant marshmallow," said the 61-year-old from Bear Pit Park, "and when I woke up the pillow had gone. I know it's a bit of an old joke but it's true. I was worried about the possible implications for indigestion. However, my wife told me that she had been up early to change the bedclothes and had removed it whilst I was still asleep so she could put it in the wash. Apparently I was fast asleep and hadn't noticed."

"People wing wong number." Herbalist Dr. Hoo denied that he was hard to contact by telephone.

Mr. Makepiece thought nothing more about it and set off for a pre-arranged appointment with a Chinese herbalist Dr. Hoo.

"I had to go and see Dr. Hoo because I have been experiencing tremendous flatulence. I said 'doctor, doctor have you got anything for wind?' He looked in the medicine cabinet and gave me a kite. I was a little surprised because he normally gives me ancient herbs from the Ming Dynasty and tells me to keep off the cabbage. This time he told me that new research had shown that gentle outdoors exercise would help restore my body's natural equilibrium and reduce the intestinal pressures that caused my problems. But as a precaution he made an arrangement for me to see the wind specialist the following day at 2.30."

After returning home Mr. Makepiece discovered that his beloved canine companion Higgins had been involved in a fight with another dog in which Higgins' nose had been bitten off. Higgins was immediately taken to the veterinary surgery, where Mr. Makepiece informed the vet that his dog now had no nose.

"I had to ask the vet how my dog would smell. He replied that it wouldn't because it had no functioning olfactory senses. He said that as well as the nose injury, the dog had bad halitosis and a skin infection and was in dire need of a bath."

Fielder: "Umpire, that dog's got no ears."
Umpire (not pictured): "How's it hear?"
Wicketkeeper: "I think it came on the bus."
Joke supplied by Dickie Funn

On the way home Mr. Makepiece stopped outside the Post Office from where he observed a domestic chicken causing traffic chaos by crossing a busy road.

"I stopped a passing farmer and asked him why the chicken had done that. He said that it was simply trying to navigate the busy high street to access an area where some chicken feed had been accidentally spilt. He said it was normal behaviour for domestic fowl to gravitate towards the nearest available food sources, often placing themselves in danger by doing so, especially in urban environments," said Mr. Makepiece.

But that was not the end of Mr. Makepiece's busy morning.

"I went into my local pub because I was feeling a bit shaken up by the day's events. Whilst I was in there an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walked in. They went up to the bar and each ordered a drink in turn. The Englishman had a pint of bitter, the Irishman a pint of Guinness and the Scotsman ordered a whiskey. They told me that they were Britain's ambassadors at a convention arranged by the European Alcohol Commission and were enjoying a quiet lunch-time drink before going to a seminar."

After leaving the pub Mr. Makepiece met his wife for lunch and took her to the local Italian restaurant for their anniversary meal.

Patient: "Doctor Doctor, I keep thinking I'm a Nightwatchman."
Doctor: "Take these tablets and come back in the morning."
Joke courtesy of Dickie Funn

"I couldn't wait to tell her about all the weird things that had occurred. Then, during the first course I noticed that there was a fly in my soup. I called the waiter over to remonstrate and he said he told me to be quiet because if every other customer in the restaurant knew that I had such a creature in my starter then they would all be jealous and it may create a disturbance. He further explained that the fly was not an ordinary one - but a rare edible variety from Milan that had incredible flavour and was seen as a great local delicacy. They had placed it in my bowl as a special treat, knowing it was our anniversary. He said that the chef would be very upset if he thought the addition of the ingredient had ruined our meal."

"My wife - who is a little overweight - then announced that she was on a diet. I asked her which diet she was on and she replied 'the Sea Food Diet', and that when she had access to fresh fish and prawns she would consume them because they were much lower in fat than other meats. She asked the waiter if they served Dressed Crab. He said that they would serve anything if the customer wanted it, as long as they had the correct ingredients in the kitchen, which on this occasion they had, so they were pleased to oblige."

After leaving the restaurant Mr. and Mrs. Makepiece visited a travel agents to make plans for their next holiday.

"We have always fancied going to the West Indies especially when there is some cricket on. I asked the travel agent if he could recommend anywhere. He said that he and his own wife had been to the West Indies themselves the previous year and they had a lovely time. The only problem was that he was suffering from short-term memory loss and couldn't remember the name of the place he took his wife to.

'Jamaica?' I asked. 'Yes'; he said 'that's the place. I booked it as a surprise for my wife and she loved it.'"

Mr. Makepiece has asked for a simple funeral ceremony with his coffin lit by four candles.

Makepiece arrived home and was looking forward to night in front of the television. However, his prospects of a peaceful evening were soon rudely interrupted.

"There was a loud knocking at the door about 4pm. I shouted 'who's there?' A voice came back saying 'Doctor'. I said 'Doctor who?' And the voice said 'Yes, it's me, Dr. Hoo from the herbalists. I'm afraid you are going to die'".

A distraught Mr. Makepiece - who was too upset to open the door and speak to the doctor - had to break the difficult news to his wife.

"I am having to make arrangements for my own funeral. I am planning on it just being a small affair with close family and a couple of fellow umpires. Later, I will be going out to the hardware shop to buy four candles for the service."

Umpiring colleagues have been quick to pay tribute to a man they have worked closely with throughout his time on the circuit.

"You have to laugh," said veteran official Larry Tugg. "It could only happen to 'Boring Norman', the dullest man in Hoggshire. I shall be going to his funeral, although it won't be much of a FUN-eral, knowing him."

PDCC contacted herbalist Dr. Hoo for a comment. He told us: "I think Mr. Makepiece misunderstand. I referred him to wind specialist and he wanted to see Mr. Makepiece to die at six rather than to morrow at tooth hurty, when he has dental appointment."