Denktash Fugue Syndrome

Mrs Gubbins, the octogenarian crone given to knitting and villainy, has recently come under the supervision of a doctor. It will not be too long before she becomes a nonagenarian crone, and though she is in terrifyingly tiptop health for one so aged, there have been signs that all is not well. First there was the abduction of Little Severin, the Mystic Badger, after which she went on the run for several months, holed up in a dank cave guarded by bats and owls. This was followed by her becoming smitten by the unlikely figure of Mark E Smith, and her habit of playing the complete works of The Fall at ear-splitting volume on a brand new Bang & Olufbangbangbang hi-fi system, with her windows open, at all hours of the day and night. A dawn visit from Blunkett and Blears, respectively sightless and diminutive, and somehow all the more minatory for being so, set her back on the straight and narrow.

A couple of weeks ago, La Gubbins’ knitting circle invited Rolf Harris to give a talk. Unable to attend, yet honoured to be asked, Harris instead sent a tape recording of an entertaining address in which he spoke for some hours about various Rolfs and Ralphs and Rafes and Raufs. Fatefully, at one point he mentioned the name of Rauf Denktash, the one-time President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Hearing those two syllables, denk and tash, together, Mrs Gubbins was propelled into a fugue state, from which she has yet to emerge.

Denktash Fugue Syndrome is a thankfully rare condition, so rare that Mrs Gubbins is only the second person in history to display the symptoms. It was first identified by the Victorian mountaineer and eccentric Dr Henry Hyde Hargreaves Hopton Hibbingdibhoondoon during a sojourn in Tashkent. The journals in which he wrote of his discovery have long been lost, or disfigured by potato mould, depending on who you believe, but the basic facts were retailed by Dobson in one of his early pamphlets. Atop a Tashkent mountain one day in 1862, the doctor’s brain was ravaged by mysterious fumes, and, when he tried to say “Tashkent” it came out as “Denktash”. With him upon the peak was a dumpy, bearded sage, a man not unlike the Beatles’ pal the Maharishi in appearance, who, when he heard the word “Denktash”, was sent into a fugue state. In his journal, Hibbingdibhoondoon spelled it “foog”, but it is clear what he meant.

What remains unclear is for how long the sage remained so affected. Dobson’s account simply peters out, in that annoying way he had, and which can make his early works such a trial to read. Also unclear is the nature of the fugue itself. In Mrs Gubbins’ case, it appears to take the form of dribbling, staring vacantly into the fireplace, and absentmindedly unravelling not only the tea cosy she has herself been in the midst of knitting but also those of her compañeros in the knitting circle.

Doctor Drainditch, who has been called in to treat the loveable yet spiky crone, claims to be the only living expert on Denktash Fugue Syndrome. Unfortunately, the treatment she recommends consists of a two-week retreat in a dank cave guarded by bats and owls with an abducted badger for company, followed by a therapeutic course of listening to the complete works of The Fall at ear-splitting volume. So round and round we go, it seems.

If you, or anybody close to you, is suffering from Denktash Fugue Syndrome, there is a helpline number available. Premium rates apply, and if you manage to get through you might be lucky enough to hear a pre-recorded message from Rolf Harris telling you not to worry yourself sick. All callers are entered in a raffle, with the chance to win one of Mrs Gubbins’ tea cosy knitting patterns. You must tell your parents before placing the call, and if your parents have passed to the ethereal realm beyond our puny understanding, there is a range of ouija boards and ectoplasmic goo on special offer at Hubermann’s department store.

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