The robot will see you now

"Mmm, tell me, what's the last thing you remember?"

"Walking to the shop for milk, looking up to see a piano swinging into a third floor window, thinking it's only unlucky to walk under a ladder.... Next thing I know I'm standing here like a lemon in front of your not-so-pearly gates."


"Are you a test?"

"What'd'yer mean, a test?"

"Testing the new system because this all sounds like a set-up to me"

"What new system?"

"Entry program ... Upstairs imposed it on us; we're still learning the blessed thing."

"How does it work?"

"First you have to make up a password-"

"Open sesame!"



"My password, I just made it up."

"No, you'd try the patience of a saint. You have to pre-arrange one with your Official Robot; he enters it into the system with a hand thingy. No hand thingy, no password, equals no entry."

"I'll just wait here then, while you sort it," I said, after all, it wasn't like it was my fault their system was total rubbish.


"You can't wait, you're holding up the queue."

I looked behind me, no queue. No one, no nothing at all; a few clouds, maybe, far off

"I can't see a queue."

"You wouldn't, would you?"

"Why not?"


"Say you were the Taliban and you'd blown yourself up in a crowded marketplace; would you want to see the housewives, traders, passers-by and other victims immediately behind you in the queue?"

"No, I guess not."

Just then a thin weedy chap appeared beside me.

"I got here first, mate," I said, establishing my claim. So much for the bloody queue arrangement, it was more rubbish than the entry system.

"I'm your iRobot, you were too quick for me."

"No, I wasn't. 'First' I was walking along minding my own business, then, 'Second', I was standing here. I didn't see you for diddly bloody squat, so don't give that entire 'I was too quick for you' mate."

"Whatever. You need to make up a password, Russell Claude Atkins, consist-"

"Wrong!" came the Voice, "This is Russell Charles Atkins - you cocked up, iRobot. And this isn't the first time, that's happened."

"Impossible, he's the only Russell Claude Atkins in the system."

"Tried wildcards?" asked the Voice.

"No, damnation!" cried the iRobot.



"Russell Claud Atkins, heavy smoker," gloated the Voice, "Found him on the old system."



"I know Russ Atkins," I cried, "He's famous, I've followed him all his career, he's about twenty years younger than me; we share the same name. I didn't know his middle name's Claud, he kept that bloody quiet. He's just retired as England's highest paid footballer. His fiance is that lovely model, Cherry Bell."


"She's left him until he gives up smoking, drink and drugs," commented the iRobot, reading off his hand-thingy, "Says he's the only man she could ever love but she couldn't just stand there watching him kill himself."

"That's it, then!" I cried, "He dies of cancer or an overdose, and I live!"


"Says here ... 'Russell Claud Atkins ... old age ... in the arms of his soulmate'," boomed the Voice, "According to the old system."

"Old age because you took me by mistake!" I moaned, "Aren't I supposed to be the customer here?"

"It's got 'Claud' without an 'e' on the old system, but I've got the target down as 'Claude' with an 'e' on the new," whinged the iRobot.

"CICO," I said.

"What?" asked the Voice.

"Data input," explained the iRobot, "Crap In, Crap Out, meaning the results are only as good as the data typed in. I guess somebody input the wrong spelling."

"Send Charlie back," commanded the Voice, after a short pause.

"Can't, it was a very heavy piano, very messy pavement."


"Just take Russell Claud's soul and pop Charlie in his place," suggested the Voice.

"Great," I said, "What about his lungs and liver? And his drugs problem?"

"I'll fix that," the Voice said, "I still have my executive powers, until the system is fully integrated, that is."

"OK, Charlie, let's go." The iRobot tugged my arm and the gates suddenly disappeared.


I appear to be in a huge private gym with picture windows obviously high up, showing the city skyline. There's only one guy in here. Oh my God! It's Russ Atkins, household name, football star, now TV pundit, owner of several Manchester nightclubs, an on-line betting shop and endorsements of high quality international products. He's got it made.


At least he's in his gym getting fit-

What the f-?

No, he's not getting fit. He's sitting at a bench press, swigging vodka from a bottle and he's holding a smoking spliff in the other. No, Russ, I wanted to call out to him, your body is a temple!, when the iRobot touched me lightly on the shoulder.


"You ready, Charlie? This might tingle a little."

I nodded that I was ready.

Then in a silent prayer I apologized to my Uncle Claude for changing his name to Charles; if he heard me I'm sure he understood.


Stay updated with our latest articles, deals and offers.