I felt my life – always so precious to me – ebbing away as I gulped for air and got only beans. By the side of the pool I could see the petition to save me gathering momentum but no one doing any actual preparatory work towards actually saving me or my life. Francois Devine was gazing wistfully at the beans, Melba was coordinating the signing and providing biros to those who hadn’t got the decency to bring a proper pen to the swimming baths, the life guards were busy hosing down the constant tide of beans that plopped up over the edge and created a very real danger of slipping (especially if patrons broke the rules and ran along, thus deserving everything they get), and the other bean-bathers were laughing and joking as they enjoyed their once in a lifetime bean emersion experience. Only I was actually drowning and wishing, inwardly for I maintained my dignified silence, to be rescued. I slid beneath the beans for the third time and it was only the realisation that I’d not amended my will for over a week and that Francois Devine – whom I no longer trusted after the recent fund raising friction – was still in line to be the main beneficiary of my estate that got my head up above the surface one last time. I mentally jotted a memo to Mr Butternob asking that my last will and testament be shredded and replaced by my next to last will and testament (main beneficiary Andrew Pixley for services rendered) as signed two weeks and two days earlier. Then I broke my silence.

“Help” I said firmly. I spat out a mouthful of beans and had another go. “Help” I repeated. Francois Devine looked up from a careful and considered study of his fingernails and feigned not to see me waving my tomatoey sleeves and coming as close as I was prepared to do to actual bellowing. “Help” I said for a third time.

“Is that you horsing around, Melba?” he asked.

“I think it was Dennis Brent” repeated my friend Melba, my loyal and trusty friend Melba.

“I haven’t seen much of Dennis Brent recently. How goes he?” asked Francois Devine.

“He’s drowning in beans and I’m getting ever so many sponsorship pledges to let him drown. There is a very real possibility he’ll be the second highest posthumous earner this year.”

“Behind the King?”

”Behind the King” agreed Melba.

“Though that Whitehouse female is racking up the sales” mused Francois Devine.

“Oh yes – he’d hate to think he’d be out-earned by a female. That would go against his code.”

“Help” I said yet again. They were right about my code being breached by a female earning more than me but now was not the time to be agreeing with me. Especially if they were agreeing with a posthumous me that hadn’t yet passed away. I struggled to get my head as high as possible and tried to extend my part beyond merely saying Help.

“Would someone please get me out of these beans?” I demanded.

“Oh” said Francois Devine, looking at me for the first time since he discovered his fingernails. “I’d forgotten about you as a going concern. I was mentally drafting a note to Mr Butternob asking when I might begin liquidating your assets. I’m planning on giving Pixley fifty pounds for services rendered, I hope that meets with your approval.”

“Grab that big hook and drag me ashore” I ordered.

“I could but you were awfully rude to me earlier” he tossed out.

“I saved you from the chair hurling mob” I countered.

“That is true but if I save you from drowning, thus negating the earlier chair-based distraction, then we must return to the painful memory of your caustic remark and I’m not sure I want to return to that painful – oh so painful – memory.”

“Then don’t – just save me from drowning, wait for the second class post on Thursday, accept my apology and, if you still feel aggrieved, I’ll see you in the small claims court as normal. But please start the ball rolling by saving me from drowning.”

“You’d lose all your sponsorship money” warned Melba. “I don’t think you’d get away with faking your own death again – twice bitten, thrice shy.”

I beamed at him for using the correct, original version of that expression but then realised he was technically condemning me to death and didn’t deserve my warmth. I looked around for something that might save me and eventually my eyes fell on an empty bucket by the fire doors.

“Francois Devine – if you filled that bucket with beans, you could enjoy a whole bucket of beans and c-o-c-k an almighty snook at the avaricious Heinz corporation of America” I suggested.

His eyes flickered between the bucket, the beans and the thought of getting one over on the avaricious Heinz corporation of America.

”I could, Dennis Brent, I could get one over on them and their absurd bespoke bean ordering red tape.”

He grabbed the bucket and scooped up a hefty helping of beans.

“Hold hard” barked one fellow bean-swimmer who almost lost a limb but Francois Devine was now in full gastric mood and no mere slip of an athlete was going to stop him. His first bucket of beans went down well (he paused only once to remove a verruca plaster from between his teeth) and, as I’d hoped, he’d soon consumed a good six inches of beans from the pool. I used every ounce of strength to keep myself breathing until the bean level had fallen sufficiently for me to wade ashore. I climbed up the ladder in triumph having overcome the odds in exactly the same way Britain did during whichever World War didn’t feature in Story ZZ. The proles standing around Melba saw me emerge and let out sighs of relief that some would later misremember as boos. One man was so relieved he had to grab the form from Melba’s clipboard and tear it into little pieces just so he could give me a celebratory ticker tape parade.

“Buggrit” he seemed to say as he stumped past me. I beamed at him but he just pushed me back into the bath of beans by mistake. It was all right though – the level was now low enough that the back of my head was able to strike the floor of the pool, knock me out for a couple of minutes and still I didn’t drown. Aside from the inevitable effect that so many beans would have on Francois Devine’s intestines, it had ended well. Though we still hadn’t raised any money and so were falling ever further behind in the race for The Memo.