b3ta.com user Leo Sasquatch
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» The nicest thing someone's ever done for me

Sheer coincidence
My brother died at the age of 39 from inoperable stomach and bowel cancer. He was a lot older than me, and had moved out and joined the Army before I was even born, so we were never really close. But still, I have a photo of him hanging on the wall, taken on the day he was promoted to Major in his regiment, not very long before the initial diagnosis. He was my bro', and I've always been so very proud of him.

Some time ago, I was in a dreadful state of debt. My house was about to be repossessed, making me homeless in the process, have my credit rating destroyed, everything I owned sold off until the debts were paid, and quite probably lose my job as well. Warrant sales are a bitch.

And the day came when the dreaded knock at the door turned out to be the initial representative from the bailiffs. A big, tough-looking bloke, who looked like he would be well capable of handling himself if the home-owners kicked off violent. I didn't - I had nothing left, I just let the guy in. He was very professional, doing an unpleasant job with calm and civility, and then he stopped, halfway mid-spiel. He was looking at the photo of my brother, hanging up in the hallway. He turned slowly to look at me and said: "That is Tony (Sasquatch), isn't it?"

"Yes, it is."
"D'you mind my asking - how did you know Tony?"
"He was my brother." I was, of course, completely confused by this point. Was this some sort of horrific Candid Camera set-up - what the hell was going on?
His posture and body language transformed instantly. "Fuck me, you're Tony (Sasquatch)'s little brother? He was my Captain for three years. Fucking decent bloke. Right, sod this, I'm not having his little brother made homeless. Here's what we're going to do..."

And he laid it all out for me. What I'd have to do - who I'd have to call, what I'd have to claim for, what forms to fill in, and what to put on them to get them through first time. He gave me names and phone numbers, shared every tip and trick of the trade with me, and promised he'd 'forget' to file the paperwork for my job for a couple of weeks, to give me time to get it all sorted. I'd have to put the work in, but it was the best chance I was going to get.

And it worked. It all worked. I lost the house, but got rehoused instantly by the council, kept all my stuff and my job. It didn't even wreck my credit rating, due to the way the handback of the house to the building society was processed. I was 24 hours away from being homeless and completely destitute, and this guy saved me from all that, because he thought he owed Tony one last favour.

Thanks Robert.
(Sun 5th Oct 2008, 16:05, More)

» Kids

Two true tales
Both from around the same time - my son was very young, around 2 years old. The first was just sort of funny (after the fact). The second, I still don't know.

The first: we were in the local swimming playpark - not a proper pool, just rubber rings, and a wave pool, and jacuzzi beds. Leith Waterworld - always a handy weekend destination. Coming out of the wave pool, my son sees a very large lady spilling out of her costume in all directions and pipes up: "Fucking troll! Fucking troll, Daddy!" He's not being quiet, and half the poolgoers hear this, especially as he's pointing straight at her. She goes scarlet and scurries away. I tell him I'm very cross with him, he's being very rude, and we're going home now. This does not make him happy. I pick him up and cart him off to find my wife, who's on the jacuzzi beds, and tell her we'll be leaving, even though we've only been there 10 minutes.

"Why, what's the matter?"

"Well, your son just called a woman a very nasty name."

At this, Little Sasquatch speaks up: "Not nasty. She fucking troll!" Mrs Sasquatch blanches, and asks him where he's heard such horrible language.

"Thomas Tank!"

It takes a few moments, but understanding slowly dawns. "Oh, you meant 'Fat Controller!" We leave anyway - the thought of trying to deliver that explanation to the lady in question just didn't appeal somehow.


The second one weirds me out to this day. We were in a mini-mall, and waiting outside the health food shop, as it was tiny, and packed, and didn't need all three of us to go in for a few bits of shopping. Across the way was one of those art/print/poster shops, and in the window was a print of the classic Barrie Clark picture of a Spitfire. More interesting to a small child than rice and spices, I thought, so we went over.

"Isn't that a nice aeroplane?" I say.
"Spitfire." says my not-two-year-old son.
"What...?"
"Spitfire." he repeats.

It's not written on it anywhere, and he's not reading yet anyway. How the hell does he know?

Then he says, clearly, and in a broad Yorkshire accent: "Aye, that's the one. We can do it. Give 'em hell, lads!" Then he looks up at me and repeats, as if he's the one speaking to a small child: "Spitfire."

At this point Mrs Sasquatch emerges with shopping and he runs over to greet her. The moment, whatever it was, is over, and he never makes further mention of it. It kind of stuck in my mind though, although I never heard from our own personal 'Captain Howdy' ever again.
(Sun 20th Apr 2008, 0:56, More)

» Pathological Liars

Bi-lingual? Tri-lingual? Quad-lingual? Keep trying...
My dad never had any time for religion. But he still didn't like being rude when various god-botherers stopped bothering their (g/G)od and came bothering him instead. Before WW2, he'd been in the Egyptian police, so he spoke Arabic like a native. He'd been in France and Germany and spoke both those languages pretty well too. He'd picked up bits and pieces in his travels, some Hindi in India and god-knows what in Burma, and amongst the Gurkhas (Nepalese/Gurkhali). Perhaps not good enough to make dinner-party conversation about politics, but enough to get by on a daily basis and command a troop of Gurkhas. He also 'spoke' some very basic sign language, and knew the British sign alphabet.

So one day there's a knock at the door, and when he answers it, there's two guys there, who immediately kick off in american accents, so I reckon they had to be Mormons. My dad stands there for a few seconds, then says in French: "I'm sorry, I don't speak any English." Well, Mormon no.1 looks at him, and starts struggling to reply in halting schoolboy French.

"Oh dear," says my dad in fluent German, "I'm sorry, I don't speak French either.". Mormon 2 starts in with some German (got to give 'em credit, the poor sods were trying real hard to save his irredeemable ass).

"No, sorry," says my dad in flawless Arabic, "German's no good either. Maybe you should try another house?" At which point the god-botherers spot me behind my dad in the hallway. "Excuse me, sonny, but do you speak English? We're trying to talk to your dad about Jesus.".

Dad turns, sees me, and starts signing to me. "No, no," he says, in what he later assured me was Hindi, "the boy's deaf and dumb - can't hear a word you're saying. - not right in the head, the poor lamb." Meanwhile, I've heard the J-word, so I've sussed what's going on and am keeping quiet.

At this point, the guys figure out they're not getting a straight answer, and it's time to cut their losses. "We'll be going now. Sorry to have bothered you." they say in that way people do when they're talking to the elderly and insane.

They'd turned away by this point, so I couldn't actually see their faces when my dad closed the door, saying "Not at all, old chap, good day to you!" in his best BBC english accent, but damn I'd have paid serious money to have done so.
(Sun 2nd Dec 2007, 2:35, More)

» IT Support

PCs and the evil mouse
I was there, the day the first PC came into our office. We'd managed very well until then with dedicated green-screen terminals, which only had a single Big Red Switch on the front, that simply powered up the monitor. The Department Manager, her 2IC, and three Team Leaders were all standing around this PC, wondering why it wouldn't work. They weren't impressed. This was rubbish! It wouldn't even turn on!

It was running Windows 3.1, just like my home machine. This booted remarkably swiftly from a hard drive, but the system had two On switches - one more than they were used to. The power switch on the base unit was a big, solid, up/down toggle switch, exactly like the one on the base of the monitors of the green-screen terminals. The monitor switch was a tiny, square switch, of exactly the same colour as the plastic around it, on the monitor itself. I listened to the whirring noises from the HD that told me when Windows was ready, then reached over and pressed the switch on the front of the monitor, which came on immediately to display the Windows desktop. There was a genuine collective gasp of amazement, and I was the IT guru for the entire department from that point on.

That, in and of itself, had its drawbacks. They asked me to write and present the course to train the entire department how to use the PC, plus Word and email. Yoink. But okay, it could be done, although I hadn't realised how much I'd absorbed in 10 years mucking about with computers since the days of the ZX81. Mostly, it wasn't too bad, and I actually learned a lot about dialling my assumptions way down when training.

But there was one guy I nearly killed. I delivered the course individually, as we only had one PC in the department, and they wanted everybody trained on PCs before they went to the expense of rolling them out to everyone. Now Allan was apparently intelligent enough to hold down a role at a major life assurance company, but he could NOT grasp the idea of the mouse. Everybody else had taken 10 seconds to grasp the basic idea of 'mouse = cursor'. Then a few minutes more to go over single-click to select, double-click to execute and right-click for secondary menus. They were all smart cookies. But Allan did not get it. He'd look at the mouse, and mentally measure some distance, then move the mouse that distance. Then look back at the screen, see how far he'd fallen short, or over-shot, look back at the mouse, move it again, look back at the screen... I could not make him watch the screen while he moved the mouse. Three times, he walked away from the training, because he got so frustrated that he couldn't make the PC do the simplest thing. It was shit, it was evil, it hated him - oh my word, the language he used.

On the fourth attempt, I brought in a shoebox, and cut a small hole in the end. I put the shoebox over the mouse and made him put his hand in the hole so he COULDN'T SEE THE MOUSE while he was moving it. I saw the clicky happen in his eyes as he realised he didn't need to. After that, File Manager, Word and email held no terrors for the poor chap.
(Sat 26th Sep 2009, 9:47, More)

» Tales of the Unexplained

Dad's Sister
My family used to have the village shop in a tiny farming village in rural Lincolnshire. And because it was so distributed, my dad used to do deliveries in the van. Farmers and their families would phone through their orders, and make a date for delivery. On weekends, as a young Sasquatch, I'd go with my Dad and help him carry boxes and bags. This was great, as I got to go round all the farms, play with all the kids and be shown all the animals.

One day, we were visiting a farm, and the farmer's wife introduced my dad to her mum, who was visiting. She said her mum was the local fortune-teller, at which my dad smiled politely and said "How interesting." or some such. He didn't believe in any of that rubbish. A more mundane and normal setting could not be imagined - a workday farmhouse kitchen, plain wooden table, muddy boots by the door.

Then this woman looks up at my dad and says "I've got a message for you." Her face crumpled, and she was clearly confused. "It's your sister, but it's a man. He's in a greenhouse in the sky, but it's falling and it's on fire. How can a greenhouse be in the sky...? How can a man be your sister?"

To my total surprise, my Dad's face was wet with tears. He thanked her for the message and said he understood perfectly. Things returned to normality; tea was made, drunk, and we left. In the van, I was bursting to know what that had all been about. When my Dad had been a teenager, his best pal was a lad called Peter, and they looked very similar in height and facial features. People used to ask them if they were brothers, and their stock reply was "No, we're sisters!" Peter had gone into the RAF during the war, and had flown in an Anson light bomber, which was nicknamed the Flying Greenhouse. His plane had been lost over the Channel.
(Fri 4th Jul 2008, 8:15, More)
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