Gilbert Egg-Hound’s bendy tale – Part One


Brisbane-city-by-night-mt-coot-tha

‘…orrow morning, you scum-sucking, vilely useless piece of infected, foul-smelling discharge!’

Gilbert Egg-Hound was not a patient man.  Having slammed the phone down with the sort of force normally employed by officers of the West Yorkshire Police Force during ‘extended questioning of coloured gentlemen’ during the 1970s, he less-than-calmly walked to his chair.  On reclining and gazing out of the window, Gilbert’s mood began to lift.  From his office by the canal, Gilbert had one of the best views in the city – to the right rose the Corn Exchange (which couldn’t help but to remind him of a majestic single breast nestled amongst the largely phallic skyline) while the building sites, shops and alehouses of Briggate and beyond disappeared straight ahead.  Over to the left, in the distance was the Town Hall, mercifully obscured by the offices and suits of Park Row.

The Town Hall occupied a very particular place in Gilbert’s heart.  Fully to understand this, first requires you to accept the fact that, despite appearances, hearsay and reams of evidence to the contrary, Gilbert Egg-Hound is a man of heart.  A well-hidden heart, yes.  A dysfunctional heart, almost certainly, but a heart nonetheless.  Alongside the hate for his former wife, an obsession with pastry products and the unlikely, unrequited love for She Who Must Never Be Named, sat in Gilbert’s heart a fear and distaste for the Town Hall and its staff, rivalled only by the fear and distaste displayed by the citizens of Lincolnshire when presented with evidence of electricity.

As you may have surmised (correctly, I might add) by this point, Gilbert Egg-Hound is not the sort of man to fear anyone; he was much more the sort of man to be feared.

The Town Hall however, put the shits up Gilbert like nothing else.

It was 1986 and the World Cup was being hosted by Mexico. England was in the grip of its usual deluded, fervent hope that they were going to win, just like twenty years before.  While he wouldn’t call himself a football fan – and while he’d never willingly admit to getting carried away with the ecstasy of an assembled partisan throng – Gilbert was as susceptible as anyone to World Cup fever.  Having followed the matches at arm’s length so as not to appear interested, Gilbert’s reserve finally broke during the Argentina game.

He locked up his office and headed to the pub. The landlord had managed to appropriate, from somewhere, a television the size of a fridge, and had, with faith alone,  hoisted it high up the wall with a length of rope. Literally dozens of people sat and stood beneath it, peering at the action.  No-one had seen a television of this size before, nor have they done so since, a fact that is merely a matter of background.

Gilbert arrived in time to see a slo-mo Peter Reid being thoroughly embarrassed by a dwarf with a perm, so set to drinking.  Heavily.  Unable to get comfortable and watching England get, for want of a better phrase, done over by the Argies, Gilbert began to feel unbalanced.  After a few more tetchy minutes, it happened: The Hand of God.

At this point, nobody was one hundred percent sure what had happened.  That is to say, nobody was prepared to say what exactly had happened – a key distinction.  What is known for certain is that on the evening of 22 June 1986, four men were admitted to Leeds General Infirmary with wounds that seemed consistent with ‘being beaten by a large, blunt instrument wielded by someone with the strength of a bear’, according to melodramatic neurosurgeon Dr Noray Parmalat.  The other definite in this murky expanse of half-truths and fabrications was that on the morning of 23 June 1986, Gilbert Egg-Hound was released from the Central Police Station without charge, without his possessions, and with a hangover that would wake the dead then immediately kill them again.

An uncharacteristically chastened Egg-Hound shuffled towards his home, under the non-existent cover of dawn, the streets pulsating with the rhythm of his pounding head.  Luckily for Gilbert, the streets were as good as empty at this time of the morning, so he was able to theatrically vomit into a drain with relative anonymity.  Having walked what seemed like the the thousand miles to his house, Gilbert entered, locked the door and went to bed to sleep the sleep of traitors, whores and criminals.

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The Ballad of Star-Streets Tony – A Cautionary Tale


street-lightsWell, enough of the bleating on about word counts and other guff, it’s time to embrace the whimsy.

Bob F, my compadre of creative gubbins (on occasion), had an awesome idea about an alien called Star-Streets Tony who shat stars. I know. Awesome. This, friends, is the start of his tale. In rhyme. Not very good rhyme, either. And remember, THIS COULD HAPPEN. Enjoy!

The Ballad of Star-Streets Tony

Oh, the world it was breaking, no more fuel for to take
The future uncertain, for everyone’s sake
As the lights slowly flickered, and started to die
The people of Earth sat, and started to cry

The future was bleak, but that was until,
Simply Red started playing, on a charity bill
Somehow this music called from on high
An alien being, who fell from the sky.

Yes, Star-Streets Tony – he fell to the earth
As Mick Hucknall sang for all he was worth
This mystical being, as welsh as can be,
Shat stars of power to light up the streets

The council of Rhyl, they harnessed these stars
To run all their street lights, and even their cars
They powered all the tv’s and radios too,
It could even run Rhyl’s famous portable loo.

Slowly did Tony give to the planet
The gift of his star poo – his electrical winnet
Nations had to swallow that bitterest pill
As they were suddenly ruled by the Council of Rhyl.

For many a year Star-Streets Tony did good
Shatting stars as only an alien could
But the council was shrewd and it kept his leash short
And they exploited him without so much as a thought.

But Tony became such an unhappy creature,
All needs were fulfilled, though his own didn’t feature
He grew tired and depressed at the futility
Of being used for his star-shatting ability.

He was old now, and wished for it simply to end,
This existence as a being, heavenly sent
But there was no way this immortal could just up and die
Except the council knew better, but kept up the lie

They refused to let Tony have his final hour,
The refused to let Tony take back all that power,
So angry as only a mystical being can be
Star-Streets Tony set about making himself free.

I know. Brilliant. Well, thanks for allowing me to put that in your brains.

Pip-pip, for now.

Scene 5: Finale


Fade in. Then out again. Boom moved a little to the left. “Dammit, Nigel, where did you learn to be so royally useless.” Boom replaced in original position. Sullen indignation of Sound Recordist.

“ACTION”

I sit here, reclining in my fashionable regency chaise longue, wreathed in finest crimplene, swollen with pride. An almost paralytic amount of it, to be precise, and curiously enough measured in gills – a truly archaic unit of measurement.

5352“More wine, dear wife,” I call in my  arrogant yet probably endearing manner.

She sways in like Badgers never had a graceless moment, though her brother Derek has the coordination of a baby elephant with a case of rickets, so I know it to be just plain luck.

“Get your own wine,” she shrieks.

Briefly I ponder the nature of the universe. That a mighty god watches us always begs the question where the f*** was he when I asked her to marry me. Off fishing probably. Or carving figurines of dolphins. Or whatever – for is it not sang, “God Only Knows”, and that is a direct quote, entirely unedited or paraphrased. From the bible and everything. Maybe.

I wasn’t really regretting the decision to abandon Belgium to its fate. And I think we can all say, with total lack of offence, that nobody likes Belgium anyway. Romaine was worth it. The way she walks (erect), the way she talks (orally), her very attitude (spunky).

“CUT! Come on! We’ve talked about this, man. Stick to the script. People died in the congo for this, or something. Just keep it together and leave out the sexual weirdness.” A pause. “Nigel, move that fucking boom, or I will use it to clean your oesophagus. From below. Good. ACTION!”

“Was it worth it?” I ask, doubts assailing me like chickens fired from a cannon into the side of a barn.

She grimaces in a fever of over-acting, throwing herself to the floor before spearing me with a glare and saying, scornfully, “We got the world. Nobody likes Belgium. I can’t believe THE INTERVIEW OF THE CENTURY ended in our world domination, in a quite unbelievable and entirely un-thought-through way.”

“Yeah,” I said. I’d failed Belgium, but married the leader of the earth’s first global tyrannical dictatorship. It was a small price to pay. If only for the fringe benefits. I get free parking and everything. Screw Belgium.

“CUT! Thank Christ we can all go home now.”

Cue embarrassing bloopers reel, featuring the moment on the set of the interview when the interviewer is unwittingly racist, and the time the actor playing Sir Kenneth Badger accidentally shot an urchin in the back.

Fade to a distinctly inspiring void that consumes the universe.

Let there be light.

Fin.

Scene 4: The post-modern face-off


Fade in. The music is maudlin, the colour leeched and the video grainy. Cue our hero, sat in a cafe in Dusseldorf…

The attempt to save Belgium, and by extension the world itself, is underway. It’s only slightly spoiled by the fact I got on the wrong train and ended up in Germany. Damn both my poor knowledge of european languages, and a ticket-agency convinced it knows my destination better than I.

espressoI only just escaped from a trap. Romaine Badger, the erstwhile benefactor of Sir Kenneth’s legacy and vast personal wealth, has her minions seeking me throughout the continent. Only last week I savagely resisted a young Badger’s attempt on my life when he tried to re-enact a scene from The Omen, only to realise that chasing me on a child’s tricycle had only minimal chances of making me fall to my doom over a balcony.

And what’s more, the staff of this cafe insist upon smiling at me in a friendly manner, which is crippling me emotionally. I cannot cope with the kindly and prompt service. I am English, and such efficiency and pleasance makes me suspicious.

I sip at my espresso. I really must find a train to Belgium. I feel waffles and other traditional images of Belgian culture nagging at me. When one is assailed by images of Hercule Poirot, you know you have a job to do.

I look at my vintage timepiece, given to me by the rotted corpse of H G Wells himself, and realise the time is approaching for action. Rising, I note with some alarm that a face I recognise appears around the corner. Romaine Badger herself. The face of a withered deer, an expression that curdled milk aspires to, and armed to the teeth with every manner of projectile weapon.

“______,” she says, calling out to me with her voice like a badly maintained Volkswagon Passat. “Don’t Push it. Don’t push it, or I’ll give you war you won’t believe. Let it go. Let it go!”

A quote from Rambo – First Blood. Damn she’s good. I respond in the only way possible, setting my thighs to inscrutable. I postured up as Romaine Badger approached, and said “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

She visibly flinched. I’d dug up that Dumbledore quote as if from nowhere. She quailed, turning and running when she saw I was preparing a quote from The Lion King.

She’d be back, armed with better quotes – probably from Rocky or, perhaps, a bland Jennifer Aniston rom-com.

But I’d be ready.

Fade to ineffably ginger and with the words, “To be continued,” written, bizarrely, in Comic Sans font.

Scene 3: The Badgers threaten.


Cue some jazzy intro music. Perhaps – no, definitely – a saxophone solo. And some maracas. Yes…that’s about right. Actually, the maracas are rubbish. Lose the maracas. Marimba? Surprisingly nice.

Mood funky – check, panning camera panning – check. Fade into…

mannekenpis-brussels-belgium-filipfuxa-shutterstock_39608626-600…The man sits at the desk, staring at the piece of paper in front of him, anguish writ large upon his face. Suddenly he wonders why he has started the scene in the third person.

Irritated, he gives a terse shake of his head. That should sort it, he thinks.

I stood up, crumpling the paper angrily, and threw it with the abandon of an overtly sensual basketball player throwing a ball whilst dead. It missed the basket.

I paced, my mind a whirl, or a whorl or something.

The paper I had discarded had printed upon it (with some sort of typeface and ink magic) a telegram. It said the following:

Sir stop Sir Kenneth Badger is dead stop Now we will have our revenge upon you stop

I’d known Sir Kenneth for thirty years. His death had shaken me to my rabid and infertile core. And on top of that, suddenly they were after me.

If I’d been any sort of a man I would have thrust out my chin, found some cloth and girded my loins, then stood with my noble feet apart and a grisly look in my eyes.

But I wasn’t just any sort of man. I was the man who brought the world to it’s knees after the interview of the century. Sigh…THE INTERVIEW OF THE CENTURY. So long ago it haunts me yet. With Kenneth’s passing I was the only one left who could stop the inevitable. But I was old. So old.

But age changed nothing. I needed to save Belgium or the world would end and it’d be my fault. And the Badgers were after me.

Cue pause for melodramatic sting and fade to a justly vapid green.

 

SCENE!


Set the scene – A television studio, London (England for the US among you), 1952. Picture the sharp suits, the cigarette-smoking executives with the natty waistcoat, their waxed slick hair and uncomfortable trouser waist-line. Picture the huge cameras, hunched on their stands. Picture the sickeningly beige and grey backdrop of the London skyline.

The ‘talent’ sits in the comfortable leather chair, cameramen, make-up ladies and lighting crew getting ready for the interview of the century. That’s THE INTERVIEW OF THE CENTURY.

Backstage I sit, trying to juggle a scantily clad, buxom wench in one hand and a fifty-year old scotch in the other. The effect is curiously calming, although that may be the effect of the weed.

A runner pops his head into the green-room and asks me to make ready for the interview of the century. That’s (once again) THE INTERVIEW OF THE CENTURY.

In the days that follow the fallout from this night’s broadcast will resonate throughout the world, particularly in Belgium.

FADE TO BLACK and the words “There is no punchline”.

One day you will thank me for this small scene.

Love spreads around…


Love is the topic for today. Love…rhymes with glove, which is interesting in ways I have yet to think of. Perhaps something about it sheathing the hand or something to do with fingers. Unpleasant and leathery.

But I digress.

I have been scribbling away in my sporadic manner, and I have found myself describing a scene where the thorny issue of love has raised it’s head. I am sure that many writers out there absolutely LOVE a bit of the old romance – it appears to be easy for them, although I have not looked into it (that spanks too much of research which itself spanks too much of organised effort, which all right-minded people should avoid at all cost). But I find the whole process enormously ridiculous, despite its necessity. Or perhaps because of that necessity.

Of course, LOVE is a part of life, as much as tedious local TV news and the rightful aversion to camping out, and as such it should feature in my character’s lives, but why do I find it all so, well, embarrassing?

Can it be my Britishness? We do have an aversion to overt expressions of intimacy or feelings (at least we did prior to 1997…Lady Di and all that….wow…talk about over the top. Thanks US). Or could it be more personal? Probably the latter.

It’s not a big issue, don’t get me wrong. I can write romantic shash until the cows wend their way back to their barn-of-birth, but while I am doing it I am realising with increasing annoyance that it IS shash. To me it seems that any real attempt to impart the feelings that occur in a romantic triste cannot help but be tawdry, tedious and contrived. It is so subjective.

Romance is the bedrock of a lot of stories, as is action, adventure and a beginning and an end, but the extent to which it features is up to the author. I am going to be careful that it does not become a central theme, which I admit is a decision of personal taste.

I’m just not going to dwell on it. I’m going to be doing the equivalent of sitting down, having a cup of Yorkshire Gold and being sensible about it, like a good old fashion Brit. I prefer it that way.

All the above is an excuse to post this drawing of mine. I LOVE IT!