JOHN Collard is coming to visit.
I haven’t seen him since school days, which was fine by me. Why is he doing this?
He lives in England and somehow he found my address.
He’s the reason I’m here for God’s sake!
Everyone has a John Collard in their life. He is the bloke at school who could run faster, jump further, shout louder, and fight better than anyone else.
That wouldn’t matter so much, but he’s also the bloke who ends up as Dux, who achieves nothing less than honours in any subject, is school captain and, may God rot him, stands two metres in his socks and has the finely chiselled features of one of your more seductive Greek Gods.
There is always one. One child who gets it all. One teenage boy who is a magnet for every available teenage girl in a 100-kilometre radius.
If you needed proof there is no justice, then this is it. In a just world he would be a chess champion, but he’d throw a ball like a girl. In a just world he’d be the world’s youngest Everest climber, but he’d have a prominent wart on his upper lip.
John Collard got everything. Well, actually, he didn’t get the wart. But he got everything else.
There’s only one thing to do with a kid like John Collard… be near him. Stand close enough so that when the girls fling their arms round him, one of the unlucky ones might just end up with you!
This is the theory while you’re at school anyway. Beyond your school days the best tactic is to be as far away from John Collard as possible. I reckoned the other side of the world would be about right… far enough that there would be little likelihood of bumping into someone who shrieks: “Oh, do you come from England?… you must know John Collard!”
But not far enough, it seems.
I have no idea what he’s doing now. The email didn’t say, but I suspect he’s a nuclear physicist.
When he’s not conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, that is.
Or being the first civilian to orbit the moon.
After marrying Nicole Kidman.
Who would be known forever after as “John Collard’s wife”.
And they’d live happily ever after.
There’ll be a John Collard in your life, too; except that if you’re a woman, he’ll be Janet.
But the rules are the same. By rights you should hate them, but on top of the looks, the brains, the physique and the skills, they are actually sensitive and caring people who genuinely like you.
It’s still all right to hate them though.
I have spent some time dreaming up ways of queering his pitch, but it’s not easy. Killing him will only make a martyr of him. Flags will be flown at half mast all round the world.
Ideally I’d like to see him mildly disfigured.
He’s been growing old at the same rate as me so that’s a possibility.
What am I saying! There is no possibility that John Collard grows old like the rest of us! He’ll probably live to be 110 and die on a polo field!
I’m going to have to introduce him to my wife!
She’s already suspicious that I have a close friend I’ve never talked about.
Did I say suspicious? Fascinated, is a better word.
“He sounds… interesting,” she said.
“Interesting! It’s a three-line email for God’s sake!”
“I wonder if he’s changed…”
The problem is worse than I thought.