Junior Earplug Adventures: The Masters of Scroton (Part Fourteen)

Despite the facsimile pirate end cap saucer’s success, Nigel wasn’t entirely certain that he liked it very much. He said as much at dusk, when he went for a walk with Magnuss…

“It’s not terribly regal, is it?” He complained. “I mean, everyone will think it’s a damned pirate vessel. How can the leader of an entire planet arrive at the Museum of Future Technology in a rip-off space pirate vessel? Surely it would be unseemly at the very least.”

“You want a redesign, don’t you?” Magnuss replied.

“Please.” Nigel answered. “Do you have any other designs in mind? Another mighty vessel upon which you once travelled, perchance?”

Magnuss cast his mind back to his arrival at the planet that he had named Scroton. He had been aboard the Worstworld ship, K T Woo…

But when he thought about it a bit more he realised that he knew didally squat about the alien craft. So he took the decision to confess that the museum had once owned a starship of its own: the slightly fragile Ship Number Fifteen…

‘Hmm,‘ he thought to himself, ‘if we cut off the bottom half and reduce the upper hull by seventy percent, and dump that lousy anti-neutrino drive…’

“Yeah, that’s it.” He said out loud. “I think I have the answer.”

By now they had wandered to the edge of town, where together they stared out at the nearby alien countryside…

…and watched as a flight of defensive satellites swept by in low orbit.

“I’m glad.” Nigel said finally. “Let’s go tell the tech-guys. I’ll be generous; I’ll give them until daybreak to come up with a prototype.”

“Excellent.” Magnuss replied. “That will give them all day to test it. If it’s okay we could lift off for Earth tomorrow night.”

Well morning came quickly enough, and Nigel was invited to feast his eyes upon another reconfiguration of the basic cable end space ship model…

Fang and Magnuss came along to see.

“We call it the X-One.” A bright red scientist announced.

“Is that because it’s the first experimental craft of its kind?” Magnuss inquired.

The scientist turned to the green tech-guys opposite.

“No.” One of them replied on his behalf. “It’s because we think it looks like excrement – especially the colour. Fortunately there is only one of them. If I had to build another one, well I think I’d have to quit my job and become a lavatory attendant.”

“Yes, it does look a bit ploppy.” Nigel agreed as he screwed up his nose in disgust. “Couldn’t we paint it a nicer colour?”

Magnuss shook his head. “No, of course not.” He blurted. “Ship Number Fifteen was this colour; and it battled space pirates, landed on Mars, and travelled all the way to Worstworld and back. You couldn’t possibly risk changing the colour: it could lead to disaster!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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Wallpaper 357: Roadside Thistles

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Thank You, Regular Readers

I don’t have a vast readership. Despite my best efforts, I’m not exactly what you might call a ‘successful author’ –  either as an on-line blogger or in the number of books sold. So it always pleases me to see the same names and avatars appearing after I post some ditty or other. My regular readers – you know who you are: without you I’d give it up. So thank you for staying with me. Also I’d like to thank those of you for whom English isn’t their  first (or sometimes last) language. When I see this on my stats page…

…I wonder what it is you get from reading my piffle and looking at my photos. But whatever it is, I’m glad you’re there to read it. So thank you too. And even those who download the free e-books from Amazon, but don’t return to buy any more: I’m pleased you go to the bother. It’s good to know that people from all around the globe take the time to cast an eye over my work. It’s as good to entertain, as it is to be entertained – that’s what I’ve found in my time on WordPress. I just wish I could earn a few more cents for my trouble; but we won’t mention anything so mercenary, eh?

Tooty

 

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Photography: Knowing Your Way Around Your Camera

As you probably know already, I’m a point-and-shoot kinda guy. Not only do I not bother with complex lenses and clever cameras, I don’t even download the on-line user guides for my simpler devices. If I can’t figure out how to use a camera intuitively, then chances are I don’t use that camera well at all. Yes, I’m a lazy good-for-nothing photographer who wings it on every photographic occasion. I’m not proud of it, but its a fact of life. Generally speaking camera designers make cameras for saps like me: easy to handle, logically laid out, and simple to use. Heck, I even managed to get some nice shots out of my rather fancy Sony HX400 – though I could probably do better if I used it all the time and could remember what button did what. Here’s a shot that I took with it. It was a difficult one – what with the dull morning light creeping through the dark canopy of leaves and all that variation in light intensity stuff…

The camera tried to make the shot brighter, but I knew how to dampen its ardour for light a little. But when I tried my more recently acquired Canon Ixus 180, this was the best that I could do…

What the heck – is that a supernova erupting out there? Five minutes of (what quite frankly could be justifiably described as) pissing around with the controls, I could find no way of taking control. Well the aforementioned Canon is not a cheap toy: it’s just not designed for lazy sods like me. So, for the first time since I took up digital photography, I’ve just downloaded the user’s manual from Canon UK. Afterall, I can’t have the camera telling me how I take my pictures, can I? Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

The Canon Ixus 180: A good camera with a lousy user? Probably.

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Junior Earplug Adventures: The Masters of Scroton (Part Thirteen)

The Museum of Future Technology never sleeps. At any time of day or night every area and exhibit remains open to both customers and inhabitants alike. So whilst those beyond its futuristic walls lay in slumber, Throgennis Frote took Cuckoo Slazenger for a stroll around the expansive arboretum…

But far from cheering up his cousin, following her double-bouts of nausea, the plants of the arboretum merely…

…activated her latent talent for pulling hay fever-induced faces, which finally broke through Throgennis’s new-found good nature, and made him give her a dirty look.

“Oh sod this.” He said testily. “This tour is doing more harm than good. Let’s go take a look at the empty cafe I’ve just leased.”

So they did…

“Like I said in my letter,” Throgennis began, “the place is a blank canvas. I hope that you’ll bring your genius for interior design to bear upon it and make this a thriving enterprise.”

Cuckoo looked around inside the retail outlet’s interior…

…and she wasn’t impressed.

“I feel no warmth or character, Throgennis.” She said. “If I’m going to summon up some great design, I’m going to need some serious inspiration. Something significant is going to have to happen. Until then my head is entirely empty.”

“Yeah.” A downcast Throgennis replied. “And so is my café. Now where are we going to find some kind of amazing inspiration for your artistic talents?”

Meanwhile, upon distant Scroton, Magnuss had an idea…

“I know where we went wrong with your flying saucer.” He suddenly blurted to a despondent Nigel. “It doesn’t look like an End Cap attack saucer. That’s a great little ship. If yours looked like one of those, it is bound to work better!”

Nigel considered Magnuss’s logic to be the result of unsound reasoning; but without an alternative plan, he ran with it. Twenty minutes later…

“Very impressive.” Nigel commended his tech-guys. “You used the reconfiguration technology again, I take it?”

The scientists confirmed this. “It was the only course of action open to us. Your half-hour deadline was somewhat restricting. Do you want to see it rise up like a raging tornado of power?”

“Please.” Nigel replied.

So, as one of the tech-guys fiddled with a remote control unit…

…the craft did exactly as it had been described.

“I like it.” Nigel said appreciatively…

…”Let’s climb aboard.”

No one thought that it was a good idea, but Nigel was the Golden One, and anything he demanded must be made possible. So, having entered through the sole hatchway, Nigel and Magnuss enjoyed the sensation of floating above the ground on a column of energy…

…whilst everyone else tried desperately not to poop in their pants with the fear that their leader would  be blown to smithereens when the ship crashed to the ground and exploded in a fireball of incandescent fury.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

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Junior Earplug Adventures: The Masters of Scroton (Part Twelve)

But, unfortunately for Magnuss, his control over the direction in which the flying saucer flew was easily usurped by the simple expedient of flipping a switch in ‘Ground Control’ and flying it remotely – with Magnuss now reduced to the level of passenger, or even possibly ‘ballast’…

So, despite the famous earplug’s protestations, the small craft climbed out of Scroton’s atmosphere, where…

…it cleverly reconfigured itself back into the original shape and specification. Not that Magnuss noticed, of course: he was too busy gasping for air. It seemed that there was still some work to be done with the craft’s structural integrity.

Meanwhile, far below, Edni, Sponson, and Saskia had infiltrated the Grand Plaza of Scroton Prime – just as a passing security patrol…um…passed…

They spoke in whispers…

 

“I used to know them.” Edni told the others. “One of them used to be my neighbour – before the security forces press-ganged him into servitude. The one in the middle, with red eyes”

“He doesn’t look particularly grumpy or upset.” Saskia observed.

“That’s because he’s been brainwashed.” Edni hissed angrily. “Inside he’s still the same old dung beetle herder that he always was – and was born to be. I imagine he must be screaming on the inside.”

“He doesn’t look like he’s screaming on the inside.” Sponson argued.

“What’s his name?” Saskia inquired. 

“Dragoon Blimp.” Edni replied. “I wonder if he recognises me in my new guise.”

“Who are the others?” Saskia asked further.

“Does it matter? They’re security force members: we don’t need to know.” Edni snapped slightly louder than was comfortable for any of them.

Sponson sided with Saskia: “It would be nice to know.” He said in a slightly complaining tone of voice. “Just in case we meet them socially or something.”

“Bertram Hisscod and Flutie McTurd.” Edni whispered impatiently. “Now let’s follow them, and see where they take us.”

So they did…

…and it wasn’t long before they discovered that the three yellow cable ends weren’t on a regular patrol, as they’d imagined, but were on a mission to accompany some very important persons from one region of Scroton Prime to another. And those very important persons were none other than Nigel the Golden Cable End, and (the recently returned from orbit) Magnuss Earplug…

“I can’t apologise enough.” Nigel was saying to Magnuss as the multi-coloured trio came within earshot of their leader. “I’ll have the tech-guy responsible for almost suffocating you taken out of his laboratory, shipped up to the northern polar region, stripped of his underpants, and dropped through a hole in the ice. If necessary I’ll have one cut especially.”

“Ooh, I’m not certain that the punishment quite fits the crime.” Magnuss, an essentially kind earplug, was replying. “Perhaps I could clip him ’round the back of the head with the heel of my hand when he least expects it. Maybe when he’s struggling with some bothersome spaghetti, or when he’s on the toilet. That’d be a nasty surprise.”

It was at this moment that Bertram Hisscod noticed the three fugitives watching. He quickly moved to intercept…

“You can’t be here.” He informed them without preamble.

“But this is the Grand Plaza.” Edni argued without forethought. “As citizens of Scroton Prime we’re allowed here. At certain times of the day it’s very popular. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean honest folk can’t go for a pleasant stroll you know!”

“True.” Bertram replied – the wind taken out of his metaphorical sails for a moment. “But the Golden One is passing through with an important galactic ally. We can’t have anyone around right now: some disgruntled cable end might hurl abuse or toss yesterday’s custard ration in their direction.”

Sponson was stunned. “You mean that there is actual dissent amongst some elements of society? I’m…ah…stunned.”

Bertram looked closely at the three cable ends before him, perhaps for the first time. “And I’m stunned that you don’t know that.”

“We don’t watch the news on TV.” Saskia answered athletically.

Her response was, perhaps, a little too quick. “Show me some I.D.” Bertram demanded.

Sponson’s brain shifted into overdrive: “I left mine in a jar on the mantelpiece above the fireplace.”

Saskia’s words came almost at fast, but were far more telling in their effectiveness: “And I keep mine in the bottom of the drawer that contains all my lacy underwear. All of them – including the ones I’m not wearing now.” *

This was the opening that Edni had been waiting for. Fluttering her delightful eyelids, which best showed off her lustrous white orb-like eyes, she said: “Oh Bertram, you don’t want to see my silly old identity card: let’s find a quiet bar and have a little drink together – just you and I.”

So whilst Bertram tried to regain control of his lolling tongue, Edni spoke to her compatriots from the side of her mouth: “I’ll take care of this guy: you two follow the alien. I have a feeling that we might have a future use for him.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

  • * Don’t worry, this line of dialogue will not appear in the child-friendly e-book version of this tale.
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What Came Before the Fabulous After?

Every day thousands of Earpluggers write in and say:

“Dear Tooty, I can’t believe that a butt-wipe like you really produces those wonderful photos in your Earplug Adventures. Obviously you waste a fortune employing a special effects company to produce them for you – stupid. So prove me wrong – if you can!” Or words to that effect.

My response is immediate and telling. Regard this photo, taken from the ‘Making of’ file on my computer…

What do you see? A sheet of card, upon which rest a fake rock solar light, four pink earplugs, and another sheet of card that has been partially immersed in water? Yes, and the wet card is supported by the spout of my Senseo coffee machine. Now look at the result of artistic genius…

Yes, those doubters were correct: clearly this is a result of an expensive special effects company. Who else could have produced a picture that so well represents a bunch of young monks who are lost in the snowy mountains?

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