Early retirement! She had said it with a nervous chuckle. Or was it a witch’s cackle?
After twenty-six years as a security officer with Watson-Mycroft, Victor Meldrew was on the last leg of life, with nothing to do but confront the insanities and frustrations of everyday existence.
To his dying day he would not understand why he’d found a python with rigor mortis in his flight bag on the plane to Athens. It was one of those events over which he had no control: like the Citroen 2CV in his rubbish skip; the dead tomcat in his freezer, and the charred remains of an elderly neighbour that turned up one morning on his kitchen table.
And yet, bizarre as they were, such problems paled into insignificance beside his colourful experiences with two hundred garden gnomes, a naked woman in the local community centre, a toe-curling rectal examination at Luton Airport, and a remarkable orgy of sex and drugs involving two dozen old age pensioners and a lovesick gorilla on Christmas Eve.
These encounters – and much more mayhem besides – add up to a dossier of disasters that are no more or less than an average year for a man with One Foot in the Grave.