Oh, have I a tale to tell you, my friends. A saga for the ages. A story of defiance in the face of overwhelming odds and the true spirit of courage. A narrative tapestry of such a heart-rending beauty that even this paragraph of flowery bollocks can barely do it justice.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a story about a patch of mould.
I'll give you a minute to change your underwear.
So it came to pass
yesterday a few weeks six months ago that I had a lot of free time and almost no idea what to do with it, a circumstance admittedly rare in the tumultuous intrigues of my life HAHAHAHA no it's really not. Anyway, I decided I would alleviate my boredom with large quantities of beer.
But no! I must stop you there, dear reader, for this is not what you think. For I was not planning on drinking beer, oh no. No, I was going to use this time to BREW beer.
As an aside, I highly recommend beer-brewing to any self-respecting alcoholic bum out there as a cheap and wholesome way of maintaining your inebriated stupor in this economic climate. With nothing more than a big bucket, a good sense of hygiene and a fair amount of patience - okay, you can probably get away with just the bucket - you can turn fifteen quids' worth of ingredients into forty-plus pints of delicious golden brew guaranteed to refresh your palette through summer eves and winter nights. Well, that's the theory. What you'll probably get is forty-plus pints of a substance that could only be called beer out of an act of pitiable charity, but it's alcoholic and only occasionally poisonous and that's all that usually matters.
Anyway. Unless you're planning to drink the whole bucket in one go, you'll also need bottles. As it turns out, bottles are like twenty-five quid for a box of twenty. Bollocks to that, I thought, I work at a pub. So I nicked some out of the recycling skips.
This is where the mould comes in. Well, this is where mould in general comes in. The specific bit of mould – the shining thread of this weave – isn't here just yet. But he will be. Have patience, oh readers.
Now, I'd like you to imagine the state of the bottles I pulled out of the skip that bright sunshiny afternoon. And if you envisioned a bunch of slimy, crusty lumps that could probably crawl away under their own power if you left them for more than five seconds, then you're a tit. The average pub's recycling bins are emptied every two or three days at the very least. There's no time for any sort of mould to form. Give 'em a once-over with sterilizer solution and you're golden.
Unless, of course, you happen to suffer from a chronic case of Lazy Bastard, with the condition manifesting such symptoms as shoving all your bottles in the garage the moment you get home and forgetting everything of their existence for nearly three weeks. I'm certain there are websites out there with worse stuff in them than these bottles had, but if you've ever visited them you're probably due a visit from the child protection services any day now.
So. It turns out mould is a right bastard to get rid of if all you've got to hand is Fairy Liquid and a bottle brush; even bleach doesn't seem to shift the stuff. However, remember I mentioned using sterilizing solution? Well, the particular brand I use must have been made from the pixie dust of the magical land of I Want To Kill Fucking Everything, because nothing survives contact with this stuff. I'm quite sure the only reason it didn't eat through the bottles themselves is because it's quietly plotting the destruction of the entire cosmos and didn't want to reveal its capabilities too soon.
So the process for cleaning the bottles becomes thus:
- Fill a bucket with twenty-five litres of warm water.
- Dissolve into this aqueous trove a single teaspoonful of sterilizing powder. Just the one.
- Fill a mould-infested bottle with this apparently pathetic solution.
- Set the bottle down on a tabletop.
And maybe ten seconds in, the mould clinging so stubbornly to the bottle just seems to... give up. It just peels away and, like a nerd trying to have a life, drifts about aimlessly for a while before slowly breaking down.
And so, gleeful that I have once again found a short-cut around honest labour, I set about on that most British of past-times, colonial genocide. Fill a bottle, wait a while, empty bottle, rinse and repeat. (Hah! That's, like, the first time I've ever seen that phrase used in a situation where you actually do rinse something before repeating! Truly, every day brings a new experience.) All is well. Then, about thirty bottles in, I notice...
Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. This is the moment. Allow me to introduce the star of this spiel. The manliness that is. Give a big hand to:
A Spot of Mould About a Half-Centimetre Wide.
|Since my camera is shit, our protagonist is played here by an actor.|
Now, the bottle had been standing for the requisite amount of time and the solution was murky with the sludge of vanquished mycelia... but this one spot was still there. Whatever alchemical wonders comprised the sterilizer I was using, they hadn't worked their magic on this little guy (or girl, let us not be non-inclusive). It simply sat there, apparently unaware anything had even been going on. Well, it would, wouldn't it.
Okay, no biggie. This isn't even the first one I came across: a half-dozen other bottles all had some tough specimens too. So I rinsed, re-dosed, and let it stand for another five minutes.
And... no effect. Huh. Now this, I thought, is unusual. None of the others survived two doses.
Third dose. Extra-hot water. Shake bottle vigorously. Still no effect.
I stared down the neck of the bottle and I fancied I saw it staring back. And it was jeering. Waving its middle fingers and going ''Hurrr, is that all you've got? Huh? Huh?''
Oh, this shit is on.
I fill the bottle with water again, and this time I pour an entire spoonful of powder in along with it. The same dose that, so far, has been sufficient to cleanse thirty-nine other bottles. Hah! Take that, you little bastard! Let's see you survive this one!
Now twenty-five litres is, conveniently, around forty pints, making the solution in this bottle forty times stronger than the stuff I was using before. To give some idea of what this means, here's some other examples of things being multiplied about forty times:
Getting punched in the face by some average dude.
Getting punched in the face by four world champion boxers at the same time.
Eating a ham sandwich.
Eating like it's Christmas every meal for three days running.
Lifting a person of average weight.
Lifting a car.
No, wait, hang on: I'm British, so we're talking average weight in Britain here, aren't we. Quick correction:
Lifting three hundred cars that are made of lead after turning the local gravity up a few orders of magnitude.
Lifting a person of average weight.
You know, once upon a time it used to be the Americans who were all fat cunts and we Brits would point at you and snicker. And then one day my fellow countrymen just decided to start inhaling fish and chips instead of air. Nice going, crotchspots.
So anyway, you now have some idea of just how much stronger this solution was compared to its predecessor. This thing is like the Hulk of cleaning solutions. I swirl the bottle and I watch, intrigued.
... and nothing happens. Nada. Zilch.
All right, what the fuck.
I empty out the bottle and get another spoonful of powder - but I don't bother with water this time. Oh no, this time I empty the dry sterilizer right on top of this cavalier mouldy rebel. Fuck solution. I watch as the powder soaks directly in. I fancy I can hear it screaming, and I smile. Oh I smile, readers, and I walk away laughing as it burns.
Now despite the direct application of powder there was still a bit of water in the bottom of that bottle, which conveniently allows us to get a ballpark strength of this fresh assault. Let's assume about 20ml of water. The previous solution was a pint, which is 568 ml. (The British pint, at least. The US pint is 473ml, because we Brits can hold our drinks better. Oh wait, no we can't, can we, because we're also the drunkest nation in the world. What the fuck happened to us? WE USED TO RULE A QUARTER OF THIS FUCKING PLANET, WHY ARE WE SUDDENLY SO SHIT?). So we round up to 600ml because I can't be arsed, and this solution comes out at 30 times more powerful than the last one. That's 1200 times more powerful than the first one (well, assuming I disregard the saturation point since not all the powder could dissolve in the BLAH DE BLAH BORED NOW). Here are some things being multiplied about 1200 times:
The length and width of a mouse.
The length and width of a football field.
The total word count of all the books in the British Library.
The total word count of all the "Arrow in the knee" comments posted on Youtube in the last five seconds.
How sad I must have to be to have written this article.
How sad you must be to have read this far.
Five minutes later, I come back. I swirl the sludge around in the bottom of the bottle. I look through the glass.
It's still there.
I fancy I hear something in the recesses of my brain go 'ping'.
I'm not too sure what happened next. I remember there was screaming. Lots of screaming. I remember gnawing at the bottle mouth as if I could chew through the glass and kill that fucking mould with my bare hands. I remember suddenly being in the kitchen with a boiling kettle; I remember pouring boiling water into the bottle until the plastic funnel buckled and melted into ruin; I remember pouring two, two spoonfuls of powder in after it. At double potency, and since apparently the rate of a reaction doubles for every ten degree rise in temperature, I estimated this solution to have a cleaning potential of like a billion times more than when we started. Here are some things being multiplied about like a billion times:
Like a billion pounds.
Having a pebble forced up your FUCK COMPARISONS, FUCKING JESUS FUCK WHY WON'T THIS MOULD FUCKING DIEEEEE
I remember seizing the bottle and shaking it until my hands blistered from the heat, until the air inside the bottle heated and the pressure shot up and boiling-hot sterilizing solution sprayed from the mouth and up my arms, and I remember how I lurched to the sink and tipped out the bottle and rinsed out the bottle and peered into the bottle and the mould was
And I remember... calmness. I remember quietly setting the bottle down, and slumping to the floor. And I remember crying as I lay there. Beaten. Humiliated. Unmanned by a lion in the guise of penicillin.
Folks, I didn't think there was any organism on God's green Earth could put up with the beating I gave this little guy. (Well, except maybe Deinococcus radiodurans. Or Thermococcus gammatolerans. Or any organism bigger than the average cat, which could almost certainly shrug it off with nothing more drastic than reconstructive surgery and a few years of counselling.) It was like something out of Braveheart. I threw at him the most powerful cleaner I had, I threw it super-concentrated, I threw it undiluted and I threw it boiling, and still he found the strength to look me in the eye and scream “FREEDOOOOM!”
|Like this, except instead of Mel Gibson it's an old piece of crap at the bottom of a bottle. Oh wait.|
THAT WAS HORRIBLE AND I SHOULD BE SHOT
I'd like to propose that we remember this little patch, ladies and gentlemen; that we remember his pluck and his courage and his resilience that let him bear a hundred times what a hundred of his companions could not. I say raise your drinks this hour and OH GOD I NEED A LIFE