Poking about in a clogged flue with a wire brush, the noted historian of athletic pursuits Alonzo Potentate was intrigued to find a reel of magnetic tape. Caked as it was with the gunk of ages, he had it cleaned by professionals. And boy oh boy were they professional! Operating from a cabin on a perilously steep incline, the bods at Ancient Reels Of Magnetic Tape Cleaned Up Good And Proper With Swarfega And Jets Of Steam R Us took seven years to restore the tape to “good and proper” condition, by which time Potentate had grown a dashing moustache, bitten his nails to the quick, and sat in many stadia watching many sporting events. The day came, at last, when he could collect his find from the cabin on the incline, and he hurried home to listen to it. To his delight, through hiss and crackle, he heard the only interview ever to have been conducted with fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol. Here is a transcript of that historic exchange. Sadly, we have no idea of the identity of the interviewer.
Interviewer : I am so pleased you have agreed to be interviewed for my radio programme Magnetic Tape Recordings Of Athletes, Fictional And Otherwise, Mr Tivol. May I call you Bobnit?
Bobnit Tivol : Puff puff puff.
Interviewer : You seem a bit out of breath.
Bobnit Tivol : Pant.
Interviewer : I expect your training session sprinting round and round this running track for hours upon end has winded you somewhat.
Bobnit Tivol : Gack.
[At this point the interview is interrupted by guttural shouting. Alonzo Potentate suggests this is the sound of fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol’s all too real coach and mentor Old Halob, demanding that the spindly sprinter essay another fifty laps of the running track. The long stretch of hiss and crackle which follows indicates that he does so, leaving the interviewer presumably waiting trackside, looking on in awe.]
Interviewer : So tell me, Mr Tivol, or Bobnit, would you say that your fictional status has been a benefit to your career, or a drawback?
Bobnit Tivol : [Groaning sounds, interspersed with retching.]
Interviewer : I have heard it parlayed about that the tension between your wholly fictive existence and the undeniable flesh and blood presence of Old Halob is what has spurred you on to such achievement unparalleled in the field of provincial amateur athletics. Would you agree?
Bobnit Tivol : [Gasping and spluttering.]
[Again the interview is interrupted by the catarrh-wracked bellowing of Old Halob, who this time thrusts a polevaulting pole into his charge’s hands, and commands him to vault over a dizzyingly high bar, over and over again. There is a further half hour of hiss.]
Interviewer : You knocked the bar down a few times there, failing to clear the jump. How did that make you feel, if indeed you are capable of feeling, being a fictional athlete?
Bobnit Tivol : Pant pant pant.
Interviewer : Some say your coach Old Halob, over there in his trenchcoat and Homburg, is quite a hard taskmaster, particularly given his background as a secret policeman in one of the more rigorous East European Communist regimes. Is that true, or does he treat you with kid gloves?
Bobnit Tivol : Gack.
Interviewer : [To audience] And with that, the fictional athlete goes haring off again, round and round the track in the gathering dusk. I did try to get a word in with his coach and mentor, but I’m afraid Old Halob has staggered off to a distant kiosk to get a carton of cigarettes. Such are the ways of this legendary non-fictional athletics coach.
Alonzo Potentate has taken his transcript to Hollywood, where he is in talks to turn it into a screenplay for a blockbuster movie. Word has it that Kevin Costner has expressed an interest, though that seems unlikely, as the Kevster has a very limited range of expressions, and they are, without exception, wooden.