I've decided that tomorrow I will perform a series of controlled experiments to see if I can still dowse.
Many years ago I was sitting drunk with some flatmates and, for some reason, the subject of dowsing came up. I nipped into my bedroom and, from a couple of biro casings and a wire coat hanger, fashioned a pair of rudimentary dowsing rods. We then took turns standing in the corridor whilst the others filled a mug with water, covered the mug and set it on the floor with seven or eight, empty, covered mugs. The test subject would then enter the room and attempt to divine which mug had the water in it.
To cut a long story short, we discovered that I had The Power. Seven or eight times I entered the room and my sticks wobbled unequivocally over the water-filled mug. Mindful of the risk that I was taking subconscious clues from the others we organised the later test runs such that one person filled the mug and left the room before I entered it. We were all science students and we did it right.
Then I went to the toilet and, on my return …
I had lost The Power
A couple of other sessions at appropriate points over the next few months confirmed the sorry fact that, yes, I could dowse but only when I really, really wanted to go for a pee. Clearly there was some kind of sympathetic magic thing going on there.
I decided then that an altruistic career in Water Diving in parched Third World countries did not beckon. The thought of spending my entire professional life with an aching bladder and the prospect of urological dysfunction in my middle years did not appeal. I took this weighty decision armed with all the necessary facts and experience. I was a then member of Captain Chunder's Gallon Club; admission to which requires consumption of eight pints of beer without a loo break. Friends who know me of old are also aware of the fact that I would spend a whole night drinking very slowly, sit with four pints of beer in front of me and then neck them all in less than a minute if somebody suggested not buying me another one. I would never visit the bathroom throughout the entire course of an evening's drinking.
I did, however, undertake a MSc in Geophysics which included seismic, gravimetric and magnetic surveying techniques. Fortunately, at no point was I required nine pints of beer as part of my coursework.
Time passed and I thought little more of my superhuman powers until relatively recently. Membership of the First Earth Battalion requires a total focus of all of your potentiality towards the goal of serving Gaia and its component entities.
Like a tired old superhero I must seek out other semi-retired pub superstars who have discarded their skills and fallen into physical and spiritual decline. One last great, ultimate battle awaits us in which our collective lager-fuelled powers must be harnessed in order for Good to finally triumph. Some of these heroes I have known personally, others are only known to me by reputation. I must walk the Earth and seek out …
Centurion - Capable of drinking 100 pints of beer in the seven days before his final exams.
Quicksilver - Gifted with the ability to drink a pint of any fluid from cider to petrol, except Guinness, in under 2.5 seconds.
Gold Top - A Herculean figure renowned for downing three different pints of flavoured milk and then regurgitating a colour or mix of colours, chosen at random by the audience, into a pint skiff.
Contouro - A legend amongst men. After training with Tibetan Monks he has the power to roll a condom over his head and explode it simply by breathing out of his nose.
McVitie - A man who fertilises biscuits.
Tetley - See Tetley speed-eat whole teabags, a pack of crackers or a King Size Mars bar without chewing.
Snakebite - Half Man, Half Biker. Snakebite wows the crowds by drinking pints composed of 48% Lager, 48% Rough Cider, 25cc Vodka and a shot of blackcurrant cordial. He then vomits purple and is banned from the pub for life.
Marc Almond - let's not go there shall we …