October 0003


Ms. Pimbleman’s Mum Writes In. Dr. Scharf Tells A Story.


Dr. Scharf, what have you done, AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING to my daughter?

Planchette Amelie Pimbleman, Atlanta.

Nothing. Where did you get that idea from?


Factoids (2)

Owing to a technical glitch, the Australian Minister of Health for February 1979 was a wallaby called Wadsworth.

On March 27

th 2007, Gavin Wilson of Strangford, England gave his son, also named Gavin, a dead camel for his twelth birthday. This is believed to be the worst birthday present ever.



It’s the third drink that does it. You can go to a bar, have one drink, and still do something useful later. If you have a second drink, doing something useful later becomes much less likely. Have a third, and all is lost. There’s no hope then of doing anything useful at all. In fact, you’ll stay and have a fourth, a fifth, and probably a sixth. This is an important thing to know, and knowing it helped me a lot one of the times I saved the world.

I was sitting at the bar in the Builder’s Arms, in Muswell Hill, London early one evening. It was wet, and midweek, and no-one else was there. After a while, a man came in. He bought himself a drink, and sat down two stools away from me, in that willing to have a conversation, but not pushy zone. He was quite tall, blonde, and about 25. He looked like he was probably a German. We did start to talk and skated around, trying to find a subject of mutual interest. I asked him where he came from and he assured me I wouldn’t be able to guess. I tried Germany (no), Scandinavia (no). Europe (no), and then all the other continents (no to all of them). At which point I said it had to be somewhere on earth.

“No, I’m not from Earth at all, as it happens. You really won’t have heard of it. By now it doesn’t matterif I tell you.”

When he said this, I thought he was joking, so I asked him what he was doing here; was he on holiday, or on a business trip, or what?  I resisted asking if he wanted me to take him to our leader.

He told me it wasn’t actually a business trip, but it was definitely work, and work of a humanitarian nature.

“You know, your planet produced life much earlier than it should have done. Your’re all, and by all I mean you, and everything else right down to the little bugs in that drink you’re holding, you’re all about a billion years premature. By rights, you should be in the advanced slime stage at the moment. And our people areto blame for your aberrant development. What happened was that a vessel from our planet crashed here, and spread a lot of debris, including organic matter, and that was what accelerated your evolutionary process”.

“Want another drink?” I asked. At least this was fun. I still didn’t really believe him, but somehow, he did seem convincing.

“It’ll have to be a quick one. I’ve got to go in (consulting his watch) just over half an hour’s time.”

So I got his beer, and asked why he had to go soon. “Somebody waiting for you at home?”

“I told you, I don’t live here. It’s, important, like work.”

“You haven’t told me what your work is.”

“This isn’t a regular job. It’s just one specific task I have to do, and the main thing is that to get to where I’m going, I have to leave at a precise time. This journey is only possible once every hundred million years, and only from one particular location, and that location is the car park outside, and the time is soon”.

“So where are you going exactly, and what are you going to do there?” On the one hand, it sounded like he was talking nonsense, but on the other, he did look like one of those people who don’t make many jokes.

“The job I’ve got to do is to prevent an accident. As I said, it’s humanitarian. That crash I told you about, I’ve got to stop it happening. We lost five good guys in that crash, and we always do everything we can to rescue our people if we can. It’s expected. That’s why they agree to do these dangerous things. So I’m going back to Earth a few billion years ago, and I’m going to use this signalling device in my bag to tell them they’re badly off course, and prevent them crashing. We still don’t know exactly why they crashed, but my guess is that they all went to sleep together, so I’m probably going to have to wake them up. “

I thought about this, and decided that if any preventing was going to be done, it should be done by me, and what I should prevent was him going back to stop that space ship crashing. After all, if he succeeded, there’d be no life on Earth, would there? Or at least, completely different life on Earth, and nasty icky sticky life at that. And that certainly wouldn’t be good for me. But how to do it? An appeal to his sense of justice and morality wouldn’t work obviously. He had his own system worked out, and certainly couldn’t be persuaded in the next five minutes. He’d probably only say that we were some kind of abnormality, and ought to be disposed of for the sake of the Universe, or that our fate wasn’t his concern, or something like that. Nor, looking at him, was violence likely to be effective. He was pretty big. So the answer could only be distraction.

As I told you, this guy was serious, and this meant that he was probably an expert of some kind. And experts love a respectful audience.

“Look, this is really interesting. Why is it that you have to make this trip at such a specific time?”

And he was off! A few more stimulating questions from me, and he was so busy explaining it all, he didn’t even notice me motion the barman for another drink each. After a while, and a few more, he suddenly looked concerned, and asked me the time – “Just coming up to ten” I said, and he rushed out, without saying anything.

I never did ask him his name.