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Spoiled Illusions 8: Shoot it While U Can!

Sometimes a location for an Earplug Adventure photo-shoot can disappear with little notice or warning; so it’s very important that I grab the opportunity to gather some story material before the opportunity is lost. This was especially so in my former workplace – often because the prop or set was due to be loaded upon a truck and despatched to far away places. Louvres were often a big deal, so if I chanced upon one that stood out a little – that could maybe become something else entirely in the Earplug realm – I’d shoot as many pictures as possible, irrespective of any story line. Just get them in the can, so-to-speak, and worry about the continuity later – often MUCH LATER, like months or even years. Here’s such a louvre…

This looks like two zombies – Clux and Grimnax – from The Time Tamperer

In the absence of the original Main Thoroughfare that featured in so many Museum of Future Technology interior shots, I used this shelf and a perforated louvre as an alternative. A sort of secondary thoroughfare. The following picture features some cardboard packing-out pieces, upon which I stuck some little bits of yellow paper. It was to simulate apartment buildings. The length of grey/green insulation material is a grassy bank. Yeah – honest. Both are hidden beneath a sheet of plastic that served two purposes: One: to mask the area behind from the camera. Two: to hide the set from prying eyes. Even the boss couldn’t mistake the yellow paper for anything other than windows, right?

I can’t count how many times this ‘set’ was used. It’s not that it was a product that would likely disappear; but it could have come in very handy if the Despatch Department had required some packing-out material. So it was never secure. I was lucky to keep it. Here’s a couple of scenes in which it appeared…

I think they call this a scene setter. This time from Return To The Museum of Future Technology

And here is the same set in ‘action’…

Don Quibonki and Panta Lonez arrive at Lemonstone. From the same story

Not in any danger of being carried off in a truck, but certainly likely to be placed where it belonged, this plastic light tube cover was also used extensively. There had been some trouble with the light fitting; so whilst the cover was off, I hid it in plain site on this shelf – and no one seemed to notice it – for three years!

Well what a perfect corridor / tunnel it has made…

Here it appears in the story The Grand Tour

And I was still using it in Haunted Mars

There were other soon-to-disappear props that would…er…disappear for entirely different reasons. This shot from The Missing featured a hole that had been drilled through a concrete floor…

Clearly something has punched clean through the roof of the Museum of Future Technology!

which would soon be filled with concrete. And as regards this next shot from The Grand Tour

Well soon that set would be powder coated in matt black and travelling along at 120mph. Yes, inspiration comes in many shapes: even engine casings of a 1979 Kawasaki Z1000!

Make Room!

Sadly to say, with space needed on this blog for newer stuff, three Earplug Adventures have been excized. Yes, I know it’s terrible, but The Time Tamperer, Distant Land, and A Tale of Three Museums are surplus to requirements. Everyone say: “Bum!”

Who Has Been a Busy Boy Then?

It may have escaped your notice, but Tooty has been rather quiet of late. Some of this is due to his dislike of the cumbersome new system at WordPress; but much of his slowness to post is down to something else entirely. Yup, he’s been working on all his Earplug Adventure stories in preparation to post them as FREE PDF copies on HamsterBritain.com. In the process he has dropped the ‘Junior’ from the group title, and, in doing so has been forced to create new ‘covers’ for the PDF files. So he aint had a whole bunch of time to do much else. Oh, how he suffers for his art! Here’s a collection of pictures that display how the ‘new’ versions look…

Now all he has to figure out is how to make them available for you to download and read at your leisure. It can’t be difficult: just give him time.

Tooty the Chef in ‘Parsliotto!’

Tooty the Chef – when it comes to creating dishes – has been known to push the boundries of both his experience and his luck. Recently he decided that since everything else he has attempted ended in triumph and culinery glory, and also that the cupboard contained three packets of out-of-date arborio rice and the dregs of some Polish dried onions, he’d give Risotto a bash…

But when he looked in a cookery book for some rough guidence, he didn’t like what he saw…

So he put the book back from whence he discovered it…

…and decided to do it ‘his way’. In an aside, does anyone recognise this cupboard? If you’ve been reading Haunted Mars, you should. Look, it’s…

…part of Chef, Charles Du Glop’s Martian kitchen! But that’s by-the-by: on with the show. Well that self-same cupboard also contained this…

A rice cooker. Tooty the Chef is a big fan of rice cookers. He likes them so much that he keeps a spare in the attic. Never be without a rice cooker, that’s what he says. But before he set the wonder-device into operation, he sliced some chicken breast and peppers…

Then he proceeded to make some chicken stock by adding some ancient Spanish stock cubes (no Italian in the cupboard) to some boiling water…

After that he found time to turn his attention to the much-adored rice cooker, into which he poured sufficient water for three cups of rice…

Now Tooty the Chef is well-known for his stodgy meals; but on this occaision he thought it best to create something light and attractive that would linger in the memory for years to come. So, using his precisely measured Cafe au Lait cup, he poured in three cups of Waitrose Arborio rice…

Then – being an old and infinitely wise chef – he poured the remaining rice, from the packet, into a sealed jar – and didn’t forget to place a sliver of the packaging in with the rice for future identification. Good tip…

…even if the label was upside down. Well, no sooner had he done this, when it was time to start cooking the chicken and peppers together in olive oil…

But, of course, cooked chicken and peppers does not a risotto make. He knew he needed more. So he rooted through his supply of multifarious herbs and spices for something to add to the Polish dried onion. He found this three quarters-full container of parsley…

The onion was old, so it was a given that it would all go into the mix. Parsley is a bit of an unknown to our favourite chef, so he took no chances – or prisoners – and tipped the lot in. The result looked awfully like this…

So, whilst the rice steamed, blubbed and burst spectacularly in the direction of the kitchen sink…

…the parsley-stained stuff did much the same on the gas stove…

When he thought that it had bubbled like a looney for long enough, he reduced the heat – yes, you read that right: he REDUCED the heat – and let it simmer. This allowed him time to take out some plastic and cardboard packaging for recycling…

…and surrender to his prostate gland’s demands for him to visit the toilet…

Then, following a thorough washing of the chef’s hands (of course), it was back in the metaphorical saddle…

Which meant taking the cooked rice from the rice cooker and folding it into the chicken/peppers/Polish dried onions/parsley mush. It still turned out to be a complete stodge-fest…

But, boy, was it yummy! To call it a success would be to demean it. It was historic!

P.S This was written using WordPress’s fucking horrible Block Editing system. I anticipate that it took me twice as long compared to using their original system. If it was designed to reduce the amount of posts on WordPress, I imagine it has been a huge success: I’ve certainly cut back. Hmmm, I’ll have to try one of these Tooty the Chef tales on Wix.

Revel in the Ribaldry 31

The time is due for another excerpt from one of my…er…fabulous...Hamster-Sapiens books. It has been a while since I last entertained you with a snippet from this book...

…so it seems logical to do that right now. And here it is – and chosen entirely at random by pure chance…

Horatio became aware that Beryl was tugging at his sleeve, but tried to ignore it. So Beryl was left with no alternative but to knock off his novelty fedora if she wanted to gain his attention. So she did, and it worked wonderfully.

“I’m not native.” She whispered, “Who is that pompous ass-hole from which distain drips from every pore?”

Acknowledging the indisputable truth that Beryl wasn’t going to remain quiet unless Horatio gave her the information she required, the trepidatious young hamster decided to acquiesce to her demands.

“His name is Henderson Dangerpimple.” He spoke as quickly as he thought Beryl’s brain could assimilate the information, “He is a professor of Pox and Pustules at Chunderford University. He was the owner of the seafront fondant shop in the same town. Unfortunately his shop was destroyed by a mini-tsunami caused by a huge propeller that fell into the sea from the airship Dragon Slayer.”

Beryl was confused. “And he blames you for it?

“I was one of the passengers.” Horatio shrugged his shoulders, but instantly regretted the act lest the subtle movement reveal his location to the ethereal sniper.

“But still,” Beryl persisted, “that seems a little unreasonable.”

“Well I stole his wife too.” Horatio added slightly shamefaced. “They’d only been married a few hours. They hadn’t even consummated the union. But it wasn’t my fault: I had a really snotty allergy: An allergy to life without Colleen Slapper it turned out. So I told her that I loved her, begged her to leave Henderson, and she did. Now he hates me. I guess I can understand his motivation.”

“Is that tale in your autobiography?” Beryl inquired. “If it isn’t it should be.”

“Yes.” Horatio turned to regard the female beside him, “Haven’t you read it properly?”

“Not everything.” It was Beryl’s turn to look shamefaced, “Only the rude bits when you talk about your massive scrotum and suchlike. I just like to browse when I read.”

Horatio nodded. Once again he found himself capable of understanding the motivation of someone else – and it made him feel good. The Horatio Horseblanket Chronicles did run to three volumes after all. And there was the illustrated version too of course: That even included the famous photograph of his personal area that appeared on the cover of The Bucktooth Times. “Yes.” He said, “So I imagine that you’ve read all about how the President of Europe had a Particularly Popular Peoples Party pamphlet inserted into my anus and then set alight?”

“Oh yes.” Beryl assured Horatio, “It’s one of my favourite bits. And the episode where the famous Hamster-French three-wheeled go-kart race, Norbert Disentangle bit you in the…”

But Horatio was no longer listening: Instead he was regarding the TV monitor as a

cascade of whooshes and fizzles gave way to an actual picture…

“Yeah.” An unknown pilot yelled as he struggled with the controls of a recalcitrant military dirigible, “He’s my first-born. I named him after the first thing that I saw when I entered the delivery room in the hospital. His name is Legsakimbo.”

Further conversation with an unseen comrade was interrupted as the airship bucked and yawed in the turbulent night air.

Below searchlights scanned the heavens – sweeping across the night sky like photonic brooms. Every so often anti-dirigible explosives would be sent hurtling into the air from gigantic catapults – to cause mayhem and consternation amongst the crews that flew high above enemy territory.

“Legsakimbo Dangerpimple?” the comrade struggled from somewhere aft in the gondola with a huge cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake for the pilot. “That sounds almost exotic – like something from Deepest Jungle Land or somewhere similar.”

“Totally accidental I assure you, old chap.” The pilot gratefully accepted the gift of delicious comestibles, and began stuffing his face.

The comrade checked his fob watch. “Hmmm.” He muttered, “I think I’ll check with Marius: We should be just about there by now.”

But he didn’t need to. Instead a voice crackled over the intercom…

“This is Marius Moonvictim, Skipper: Time that we said ‘bye-bye’.”

“Roger that.” The pilot responded into a huge brass microphone that hung above his pilot’s seat. He then clicked on a radio transceiver. “This is Pilot Officer Brandenberg Dangerpimple to base. We’re having some difficulty with our navigator. Request permission to break off the attack, over.”

“Your navigator?” A distant voice floated in and out of audible range, “What the fluff’s wrong with Moonvictim this time? Over.”

Dangerpimple didn’t hesitate to lie. “Bad case of the shits, I’m afraid, over.”

It took a few seconds for the distant voice to become audible again, but when it did, the owner sounded exasperated.

“Tell him to hold it in, and get on plotting your course. The target for this bombing raid was chosen by the Prince himself personally.”

“Too late, base.” Dangerpimple couldn’t help but smile wickedly as he spoke, “I’m afraid that he’s soiled the navigation equipment. When we get back it’ll need a complete overhaul. We’re virtually flying blind up here. I think we can just about make it to the emergency landing tower at Mollusk by dead-reckoning if we turn back now. If we try to continue – then I think that we’d probably get horrendously lost, and fly right off the edge of the world. Over”

He knew that this last line was a certain winner. He needed only wait a paw-full of seconds before a radio acknowledgement was received.

“Right’o, Marius.” He shouted, “Plot us a course for you-know-where.”

He heard a laugh in response. “Already plotted and on the board, Skipper.”

And Brandenberg Dangerpimple’s response to that was a sharp twist of the wheel to starboard, and the instruction to his nearby comrade, “Okay, Flight Sergeant Binge Tanning: You know the ropes: Prepare for borders.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

 

Tooty The Chef in ‘cauliflower cheese cottage pie anyone?’

Tooty the Chef would have liked nothing more than to have replicated the original Cauliflower Cheese Cottage Pie he alluded to recently, but unfortunately there was a problem. Two problems actually. One: he couldn’t remember what he did last time. Two: there was a distinct lack of ingredients in the fridge. So, with this Mark Two version, he laid his mits upon this stuff…

Left to right: minced pork (couldn’t find any beef), packet cheese sauce and some Delmio pasta bake sauce (Chef forgot to buy any ready-made cheese sauce in a jar), packet cottage pie mix (why piss about making sauces when you can get it like this?), cauliflower (of course), an expensive pointy pepper (Waitrose had sold out of the usual kind), a courgette, and an onion. He later delved into the fridge again for some grated cheddar and mozarella cheese.

So then it was straight into prioritising mode. Time was tight: barely a moment to lose. Clearly he would require the Roasting Thing: but what else? Ah-ha – a big frying pan and the Microwaving Thing…

Decisions made, it was time to chop up the cauliflower, which was so huge that his microwaving thing was only half big enough…

So he had to cook the cauliflower twice. Here’s the first load going into the microwave for seven minutes…

With the first load heating up nicely, it was time for Tooty the Chef to start dicing. Within seconds this had happened…

When I say ‘seconds’, actually, by the time that he’d tossed it all into some hot olive oil in the frying pan, the microwave had gone ‘ding’, and Tooty was fighting with some super-heated cauliflower…

But no sooner had the second load of cauliflower begun its journey into culinery hell, when the meat-veggie amalgam demanded Tooty’s attention…

Now it was at this point that our wonder chef displayed his multi-tasking skills. The ones that have him swearing like a trooper. Yes, he had to mix up the cottage pie mix whilst boiling and stirring the cheese sauce mix (which drives him insane) and keeping the meat-veggie amalgam on the move so that it cooked evenly and didn’t create any nasty burnt bits…

As is normal, the cheese sauce took an eternity to cook. When he was half-satisfied he added the pasta bake sauce with a generous helping of grated cheese…

…which gave Tooty the opportunity to display his remarkable talent for thespianism that has had thoroughly employable actors crying into their beer – and shows just how much he enjoys using Waitrose products. Waitrose, please note this free advertising: perhaps you would like to get in contact? Whilst that mess bubbled nicely for a few seconds, Tooty upended the frying pan into the Roasting Thing and poured in the cottage pie mix…

Of course the second load of cauliflower had long-since cooked, so it, and the first load, were gently laid upon the first layer of the cauliflower cheese cottage pie…

Then it was simple matter of using a spatula to spread the cheese sauce all over it in a most generous manner, and stuff it into the very hot oven for fifteen minutes…

Now you might have noticed at this juncture that Tooty the Chef has revealed a slender buttock: should Waitrose be wise enough to sponsor HamsterBritain.com, he may have to cook with his underpants on. It’s sad, I know: but Waitrose and buttocks are probably mutually exclusive. Of course, should the John Lewis Partnership elect to go it alone into an uncertain future, Tooty can continue to show his arse willy-nilly. But that’s by-the-by. With fifteen minutes to spare, it was off to the toilet (of course) and a quick watch of the local news on TV…

So, shortly, it was check-the-dinner time…

It was bubbling insanely, and was clearly cooked; but it just didn’t look properly cooked. Our favourite chef decided that it needed a few minutes under the grill. So, whilst Tooty selected some sugar-free Sprite and Mulled Wine…

… and warmed up the plates in the microwave, the cauliflower cheese was getting somewhat blasted by the grill, which left it looking slightly worse for wear…

But, being a seasoned kitchen campaigner, he quickly stirred the nasty burnt bits into the meal. And when he slopped it onto the waiting plates…

…it was, of course, glorious. It tasted quite nice too – with a good texture. And only one person noticed the burnt bits. All-in-all a vast success. You should try it.

I Couldn’t Help But Notice That…

…almost everyone missed the final installment of Haunted Mars. I must have released it when people were looking the other way. So, just to make sure you see how the enormous story ended, here’s another chance. Just click on Haunted Mars (part sixty-two) and be transported to another world. You know it makes sense.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part sixty-two)

Shortly, Bo stood at the water’s edge. It wasn’t the larger expanse of semi-frozen water that constituted the ‘sea’ that the museum overlooked: but a smaller body near the old citadel, which (perhaps by coincidence – or by perhaps by design in an earlier time) made a perfect reservoir for the sunken city…

“How was it that female engineer in the museum described Mars?” He asked himself. “Haunted? Well no more. Those ghosts of Mars have been well and truly exorcized.”

He then wandered to the pedestrian entrance beside the ancient citadel gate…

…where the property developer in him reasserted itself.

“Hmm,” he mused quietly, lest some passer-by overhear his verbalised thoughts, “maybe I won’t cadge a lift back to Scroton on the Gravity Whelk after all. This is all prime land now – especially along the sea front. A nice promenade would look charming – and maybe  a pier poking out into the sea – with a funfair at the end of it: that would be nice. And, of course, house prices would go through the roof for such a location. And I have the expertise to make it happen. Yes, ride this wave of good fortune, Bo: you deserve it.”

So, despite his naturally miserable visage, Bo Smidgin was a very happy cable end, as he made his way along the shore to the Future Museum of Mars…

Naturally, that evening, an award ceremony took place…

Sir Dodger Muir made a fabulous speech in which he praised the crew of the Gravity Whelk for their sterling work. Actual awards were thin on the ground, but Treacle Fagging had his engineers manufacture a Golden Welder’s Helmet, which they thought was most appropriate under the circumstances.

Folie – being the de facto ‘skipper’ of the Gravity Whelk – stood centre stage: but it was Bo who rushed forward and claimed the Golden Welder’s Helmet.

“Mine, I think,” he said as he grabbed it and thrust it upon his head, “after all it was my idea and it was me who undid the bolts that held the Gravitonic Multiplicitor to the deck.”

But, sadly the helmet had been designed for an earplug’s head, and poor Bo couldn’t see where he was going. He stumbled around for several seconds before falling off the stage. Placebo couldn’t have been more pleased.

“Serves you right,” he jeered, “you big show off.”

Then it was Frisby Mumph’s favourite part of the ceremony – because on walked El Custardo y Los Natillas…

Of course their guitar strings remained permanently ‘twanged’, and their trumpet mouthpieces would never again accept pursed lips: but they could perform a cappella, and so they did. With much clapping and stamping of feet, the Latin beat got everyone out of their seats…

Frisby was so happy that he didn’t even mind the presence of the plugmutt, Rufus on his precious museum’s red carpet…

…because (when the festivities were over) he was going to enjoy the rest of his life bringing the planet up to a habitable standard. He couldn’t wait for the morning to arrive.

But when that morning did arrive, and with its soft-top roof repaired, the Gravity Whelk launched from Mars for the last time…

In time there would be statutes that forbade loud rockets booming over inhabited areas: but for now Folie was happy to celebrate their departure by letting the motors roar as loudly as they could.

Shortly after the rocket motor’s sound had died away upon a light breeze, in the mists and shadows of early morning William of Porridge used his fine baritone to sing songs of love to Lillie…

And his soulful rendition of the classic What Becomes of the Broken Winded brought tears to her eyes. But not only Lillie’s eyes: a short distance from the shore, two faces emerged from the ‘sea’…

“Honestly, Arthur,” the female said, “it’s not enough that we awaken from a million-year sleep: but we have to listen to that awful racket when we do!”

“I know, Millicent,” the aquatic earplug named Arthur replied, “noisy neighbours are such a curse. But this looks like it’s going to be a vast sea: I’m sure we can find a nice little place somewhere in the depths.”

The End (for now)

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

WELL – DID YOU ENJOY IT? SHALL I DO ANOTHER ONE?

 

It’s Strange…

…but, under normal circumstances, I would have published the two volumes of Haunted Mars prior to the final episode going on-line. It’s a kind of tradition with me. But (if you’ve been reading my recent laments about both Lulu.com and WordPress) you already know that it aint gonna happen this time around: and there are no published Earplug Adventure e-books available either. What with my Wix experiment looking to be a complete flop, I may have to carry on with the inferior version of WordPress a little longer ( I mean, who wants to give up all those followers? I’d have to be crazy), whilst I continue to seek a format that suits my particular requirements. Or I could have two blogs running concurrently: this one and the yet-to-be-created blog. Who knows? But regards the Earplug Adventures, I really am in two minds about them. So, for now – assuming that the new (and not-improved) WordPress allows – I might just post PDF files of the complete books for everyone to download and read at their leisure. The published versions earned me mere pennies, so it’s not like it’s going to cost me a fortune in lost royalties. And, who knows, maybe a proper publisher might see one and have a lightbulb moment. See – even a guy in his sixties can still dream. So, following the publication of the final episode of Haunted Mars, hopefully you’ll be able to indulge yourself in a plethora of earplug stories. But it might take a while: they’ll all need new covers – and that could take time and patience. I think I have plenty of the former: but the latter is in short supply.

Tooty.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part sixty-one)

Of course, the locals turned out in small numbers. They were used to catastrophe and ecological disaster, so tended to stay indoors. Despite Frisby Mumph’s best efforts, most of their population still remained in deep-freeze. Could this dusty world finally herald a new dawn for their civilisation?

Gargling Vastium thought that perhaps it might. “Nice.” He said to his colleagues. “When the dust settles, we’ll be able to get a decent tan at last.”

“Oh, absolutely,” the red-brained Nipper Sodbury replied. “And look at the previously ice-bound citadel steps…

…they’re running with fresh melt water.”

Klurk and Radvalve made their way out of the citadel too…

“I guess you’ll be crowned as Prime Minister again after this?” Radvalve mused. “Allowing Mister Mumph to save the world was a good political move.”

Klurk leant sideways conspiratorially. “Actually,” he replied, “I’m putting you up for the role. For me – with all this surface water and a moderate climate – I’m going to start making coracles for a living. Everyone is going to want one. Muffins always loved coracles: I think it’s the roughly-hewn, vaguely circular shape that does it for them.”

“That’s a point.” Radvalve responded. “Coracles. And what if you turned them upside down and glued a stick in the middle? You could make a nice sunshade. We haven’t got time to grow some forests: I know a Muffin with a whole bunch of prehistoric sticks that date back millennia: how do you fancy going into business with him?”

Of course William soon joined Lillie outside. She quickly divested herself of her tatty pressure suit…

They walked here and there, despite here and there looking awfully similar, talking of nothing in particular all the while. And as they did so, the dust began to settle. So as the day wore on they discovered that the museum lay upon a lovely golden beach, with views over the rapidly-thawing ice sheet…

“Would you believe it, William,” Lillie said with a sigh of inner contentment, “that I’m actually getting paid for strolling along the beach with my favourite guy. Oh, this is so fabulous. And Las Chicas are going to adore it!”

Meanwhile Folie and Kyboshed were busy retrieving the Gravitonic Multiplicitor…

“I think it was Donny who said that we’d never know when a Gravitonic Multiplicitor might come in handy,” Folie said as he completed the task of bolting it down to the deck once more. “How right he was. I’m so glad we didn’t have to return to Scroton for a new one.”

“And the toilet?” Kybosh suggested.

“Oh yes,” Folie agreed, “we’ll definitely need to recover that too: it’s such a long walk to the Fantadanta Room.”

Soon the short Martian day came to an end, and William and Lillie sat themselves down upon a huge slab of sandstone to watch the sunset…

“I expect the ice-sheet will freeze a little over-night.” William said. “But come the morrow, the Sun will thaw it just a little more of it.”

“And the day after that, a little more.” Lillie added to the joy of the moment.

Shortly they were joined upon their slab by others…

“I wonder, does anyone think that proto-sea will ever contain fish?” Chef, Charles De Glop asked no one in particular. “It would be good to add seafood to the menu.”

Then more arrived…

And one pretty young female, realising how charming the scene really was, turned around and beckoned everyone else out of the Future Museum of Mars.

It wasn’t until the new day dawned that the Gravity Whelk returned in triumph from its mission. It swooped along the new ‘sea front’ and passed above the museum…

“Can you put me down near the old citadel?” Bo asked the Automatic Pilot. “I don’t really go for all that hero hoo-hah. I’d like to walk back to the museum by myself. You know – a little solitude before the inevitable festivities.”

“Sure,” the Automatic Pilot replied, “anything  for the cable end who saved the planet Mars.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part sixty)

On board the Gravity Whelk, Kyboshed was describing events to Folie and Placebo…

“Now it’s got something substantial to grab,” he told them, “the Gravitonic beam can stop arsing about with the planet’s surface and start pulling Mars from its current orbit.”

“So, what – it’s now using Mars’ gravity against itself?” Folie offered.

“Pretty much.” Kyboshed agreed. “If it’s a tug-of-war, with the Gravitonic Multiplicitor as the rope, it should be a one-way street. Dark Space has a heck of a lot more gravititational power than a small, rocky planet. Excuse the mixed metaphor there: I don’t know what came over me.”

A similar conversation was taking place in the museum…

“Nice colour,” Jenson Prong observed. “I once had a bedspread that looked much like that. But my Mum accidentally boiled it with my soiled motocross jersey: it was never the same again”

Then, displayed in all the halls – most of them empty – a distant camera captured an important phase in the battle of gravity…

Dark Space held the Gravitonic Multiplicitor in an unbreakable embrace. Now it began to move backwards – or inwards – towards the sun…

…and the frozen Mars fled its eternal position in the Solar System as it unwillingly pursued its tormentor.

“Hurrah for Dark Space.” Frisby Mumph cried out with joy. “We’re on our way. Next stop – diametrically opposite Earth. We’re going to have a climate worth talking about. And we don’t care if it completely mucks up celestial mechanics: we can sort them out at a later date!”

And a short while later…

…a contented Folie found himself immersed in Dark Space.

“It is done.” The soundless voice spoke into his mind. “Mars has a new home. Now I shall be on my way. The cosmos is vast: but not so vast that it precludes the chance that we might meet again one day.”

“Bye, Dark Space.” Folie replied.

Then he was back on the bridge…

“Dark Space has gone.” He told the others. “We should too. Last one there is a rotten egg.”

Moments later…

“Yeah, okay,” the Automatic Pilot’s voice echoed around the empty bridge, “I’ll stay and monitor the situation and stop us falling into a planet or something. Don’t worry about me.”

And, indeed, the paltry crew didn’t worry about the Automatic Pilot: they were too busy in the Fantadanta Room, dispensing celebratory mugs of delicious Cafe Blurgh…

“I want a Crappachino.” Placebo complained.

“You’ll get whatever this machine chooses to dispense.” Folie replied as he punched the keypad. “Whatta ya want, Bo?”

Then it was the time that Folie had been longing for – at least since he discovered that the Engineering lavatory had been ejected into space…

“Ah,” he sighed, “a Colon Evacuation Device. All this and Heaven too.”

Below them, upon Mars, Frisby wasn’t quite so content: he’d just seen the remnants of his cherished (if stunted) terrestrial forest poking out of the ground like long-lost fence posts…

“Bloody fire storms,” he grumbled. “Now I’ll have to start all over again.”

And when he and Lillie took the opportunity to look out of the cargo door, they found a world almost overwhelmed with wind-blown dust…

“This is going to give the extractors a hard time.” Lillie opined. “Fortunately I got in a whole bunch of new filters only last month.”

“Well done, Lillie.” Frisby said with a Fatherly smile, “I always knew you were the right girl to be my assistant – even if you didn’t.”

Then a thought occurred…

“Oh cripes, Lillie,” he said, “with so much work to do, I’m going to have to bring that lunatic, Badgerlilly out of suspended animation.”

“That’s fine, Frisby.” Lillie replied, “With so many frightened customers in the museum, there’s bound to be piles of nice fresh manure for her plants.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

WIX?

I had a spat about how WordPress had been utterly ruined by their new system recently. I think I might have sworn a couple of times. Well I stand by what I said: the ‘new’ WordPress is bollocks: but I’ve just spent a couple of hours tearing out what remains of my hair as I’ve tried to make something meaningful happen at a WordPress competitor – Wix. I don’t think I’ve ever said the word ‘fuck’ so many times before in my life. And arse holes too. Mostly it was: “No – you fucking arse holes!” It was a torrid affair. But you might (and I stress the word ‘might’) be able to take a look at the result of my labours by clicking HERE. You won’t be impressed. Oh God, please don’t tell me I’m stuck with WordPress? I don’t think I could stand that. Where are those sleeping tablets?

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-nine)

Massive discharges from global electrical storms lashed the surface of the planet…

Frisby and the others stood resolutely as they watched it on the monitor…

To their credit, the engineers were pretty good at standing resolutely too…

…even when the storm redoubled its efforts to scare the heck out of them…

In space, the Gravity Whelk could do nothing now, but watch from a safe distance…

“I hope that’s not the atmosphere that’s getting sucked away.” Folie said nervously. “That could prove problematical.”

“Nah, it’s alright,” Bo Smidgin replied, “the rest of the planet will catch up.”

Heedless of the dangers – real or imagined – William of Porridge and Lillie stood together on the metallic apron that surrounded the museum…

“Look at that.” William said as he held his beloved Lillie to him, “Nasty.”

“Oh, William,” Lillie replied, “I might appear so frightened that I’ll likely wet myself: but I’m not. Not all the time that you’re with me. I know that with you here I can’t be hurt. You wouldn’t let it happen.”

It was some compliment…

…but, as the lighting altered even more, William couldn’t be sure that it was entirely accurate. So he said: “Oh, in that case, p’raps we’d better get indoors.”

Then the winds that Sir Dodger had more-or-less promised arrived – tearing at the sandy Martian surface…

…and scattering it far and wide. Monitors relayed the image to empty halls…

…because those visitors, who might have been in those halls were, instead, standing in line for the lavatories…

“Will you hurry, Gerhardt,” Doubry Furkins complained, “I have large trousers – and I don’t want to fill them!”

In some places the vast strain upon the planet’s surface caused more magma to erupt through the weak points created by the rocket attack. Fire storms swept across the land…

Inside the museum one particularly brave visitor watched as one approached…

His resulting alarm caused the passing Tangerine to say: “Do not concern yourself, Visitor: this museum is equipped with a futuristic sprinkler system that pre-empts any fire and extinguishes it before it gets here. But, whatever you do, don’t open that door: you’ll confuse the sensors.”

Crevice McNally, Treacle Fagging, Clifton Wedge, and Glen Watkins were doing much the same on the opposite side of the building…

“Don’t worry, Glen,” Clifton mouthed-off like he was an expert on the subject of fire storms, “you wanna be more like me. I don’t let silly little things like fire storms concern me. No, what you want…”

But when he spotted the sheer size of the approaching holocaust…

…his mouth stopped working, and his backside took over with a series of terrified staccato barks that were almost as offensive as the view outside. Not that it affected Crevice McNally: he was too far into denial to notice them. But just as everyone thought that destruction was unavoidable, the gravitonic beam struck bedrock…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-eight)

Within moments the Automatic Pilot brought the ship closer so that the crew could check the Gravitonic Multiplicitor for crash damage…

When it received the information that all was well, it fired up the main drive and eased away…

…before showing off by circling back and performing a fly-past…

Then it left the device alone in the darkness of space…

…which was quickly replaced by the light of the manoeuvring thrusters that Bo had fitted…

Below, in the museum, engineers roved in packs – battening down hatches and turning off the gas, water and sewerage systems…

…whilst Frisby, Lillie, William of Porridge, Charles De Glop, and Tangerine stood idly by and awaited their fate.

High above, the Gravitonic Multiplicitor made its final thruster burn…

…before settling nicely into a high geo-synchronous orbit.

Uncertain what to do next, and not wanting to be alone with their thoughts and fears, many of the museum’s engineers joined their boss in one of the halls…

“Won’t be long now, boys and girls,” Frisby said in a grim voice. “We have plenty of cameras: we shouldn’t miss a thing.”

It was at this point that the Gravitonic Multiplicitor swivelled upon its axis…

…and selected a distant point upon the surface of Mars that was its intended target. Then came a pause, and it seemed that the stars themselves dimmed in recognition of the immensity of what was about to unfold…

Then, when everyone watching finally ran out of breath and gasped for air, this happened…

Quickly followed by this…

And those who weren’t already screaming, decided to. Especially when the gravitonic beam hit the planet…

Scur-runch!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

Time Could Be Up For HamsterBritain.com

Today WordPress removed the post editor which worked perfectly for me over the years – to replace it with something so complicated that I find it next to useless. And Jesus Christ it’s slow! I shall attempt to use it, of course, but (as usual, it seems) something that isn’t broken has been fixed – to my detriment. Just as I pulled my Earplug Adventures from Lulu.com because of their total fuck-up, I think I might jump ship here too. Fortunately I’ve already scheduled the final episodes of Haunted Mars, so you’ll get to see how the story ends. After that, we’ll see; but I’m looking for an alternative site for my stories and pictures. Oh, WordPress – why can’t you fucking leave things alone?

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-seven)

Shortly after that the Gravity Whelk launched upon its historic mission…

As it passed from the atmosphere into the airlessness of space, Dark Space visited Folie…

“I am leaving you now, Folie.” It said. “Thanks for the ride – and for opening my intellectual eyes. I am not the same alternate realm I was when I snared this vessel. You have given my existence purpose. Or you have given purpose to my existence – depending on how you like your grammar. Now complete your mission: eject the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”

By now the Gravity Whelk had come to a full stop far from the influence of Mars’ gravity…

“Decompressing Engineering and cutting artificial gravity.” Folie announced.

A split second later everyone heard an impact and the rending of metal. Instantly the ship went to Crimson Alert…

“What is it?” Folie yelped. “Is it hung up on something?”

But a quick look at the main viewer told him that the Gravitonic Multiplicitor was free from the ship’s restraint…

“Looking good.” Bo Smidgin said calmly. “Lots of metal fragments – all from the Gravity Whelk.

“Yeah, that’s what worries me.” Folie replied. “I’m going to take a look.”

Moments later the young earplug poked his head into what remained of Engineering…

“Well it’s re-pressurised okay.” He called back into the bridge.

Then he looked up…

What he saw made him wander farther into the compartment; lean back; and make a serious survey of the damage…

“Oh, Guys,” he called again, “you know that soft-top roof we have on Deck One? Well now we’ve got one here too!

And please tell me no one was using the toilet when we decompressed.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Tooty the Chef: Has He Lost The Magic Touch?

All across the globe Tooty the Chef fans are asking each other (on-line of course) the same question; “Where the flipping heck has he disappeared to? ” Or: “Where’s that buttock-baring bastard got to?” Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, a few months have passed since he lost the most important person in the world to him; so he’s not an overly jolly chappie at present. But he hasn’t slipped into a  stagnant bog of dispondency: no, he’s been trying to live a little (in these Covid 19 lock-down days). So, in addition to his picture-snapping and story-telling, he’s also found time to utilize his playthings…

But the family must be fed, so Tooty the Chef must still wield the ladle with gusto…

…so that he might produce goodies such as the following…

And he still conjures up sufficient enthusiasm to use his roasting thing too…

…in which stuff such as these example meals are created to stratospheric levels of fabulousness…

But, despite the sense of satisfaction that he gleans from all this culinery artistry…

…what he really likes best is this…

Yes, dressing up in tight leather. No-no-no – I mean riding his motorcycle. But fear not – that hat and apron are never far away.

P.S that hula-hoop in the garage shot is not his. He doesn’t do the hula: he has a dodgy back.

Revel in the Ribaldry 30

It’s been a while since the last bout of ribaldry-revelling. Since this e-book…

…gets the lion’s share of my affections, I chose, this time, to delve into the rude wonders of this one…

…which is a double sequel – to The Psychic Historian AND this e-book…

So, you could be forgiven for thinking that it must contain all the qualities of both. And you’d be right. Here’s a random excerpt…

The next reader didn’t arrive in a cloud of smoke; appear from thin air; or present himself in an imaginatively spectacular manner as many had expected: Instead he merely ambled into view upon rickety legs from his perch upon a roughly-hewn log at the rear of the audience. But when he spoke everyone was absolutely certain that the being that now stood with his be-whiskered snout to the microphone could only be, without the faintest doubt, the elderly owner of The Where House – Boney Legge himself.

“I aint much good at public speakin’.” He announced. “In fact I aint much on speakin’ at all. I just likes to ogle and complain – in that order; or, dependin’ on me mood, goin’ for a shit at inopportune moments. But like the rest of us what live hereabouts I keep a diary, and for some reason the ghost of Freda Bludgeon took mine and made somethin’ out of it. She had no choice of course, coz it’s me what wrote the next bit of the story. But coz as an orator I’m total crap, I’m gonna ask my android friend, Colin, to do the talkin’ for me. How does that sound to you lot?”

“If it means that we don’t have to listen to you mangle the Hamster-British language anymore, that’s just fine.” Molly Horseblanket yelled from her seat beside her son, Horatio.

Boney nodded enthusiastically. He then waved to someone in the shadows. Moments later the tall, handsome, artificial hamster strode to the dais; hopped aboard; and gave the audience one of his toothy smiles for which he was almost famous.

“Well isn’t this a lot of fun, Boney?” He said. “I do love a nice chin wag on a sub-zero evening.”

Boney wasn’t sure that he would describe the current situation as ‘fun’: He’d rather be tucked up nice and warm in front of the brazier in his foldaway scooter park; perhaps playing darts at the Mouldy Lectern public house; or even watching nothing happen on the CCTV monitors in his security office whilst wrapped up in his favourite duvet, and supping on luke-warm cocoa. But he had to admit that it wasn’t exactly the worst type of torture that he was experiencing right now, and he consoled himself with the thought that his mere presence there that night might inspire one or two of the audience to spend a couple of Rodentos, and visit his emporium of alien artefacts, and possibly keep him financially solvent for another week.

“Yeah.” He replied, and tried a patently false smile that somehow came across as a lecherous leer, which frightened Farmer Niblet so badly that she squealed loudly, and instructed her husband, Farmer Tablet, to “skewer the deviant with your pitchfork, my dearest”.

Fortunately for the evening’s proceedings, Farmer Tablet seldom did as he was instructed. Instead gave Boney a cheerful ‘thumbs-up’.

Colin didn’t really need to clear his throat in preparation to speak; but he found that generally it got everyone’s attention rather well, especially when he turned his volume control up to ‘ten’ – nearly frightening people stupid in the process. And so it was that evening in Danglydong Dell – when he accidentally wound up his volume dial to eleven, and instead frightened Wendy Nuthatch stupid.

Blubbersday, the Forty-sixth of Plinth. Like the other two parties before them, the group that was psychically protected by Primrose Pickles entered Far Kinell through one of the four main gates. In their case it was the rickety old Historic gate, where market stalls had been set up that sold ‘old fashioned’ or ‘retro’ stuff – like woollen bloomers; clogs; wooden false teeth; earthenware bed-warmers; beetroot wine; and a plethora of multifarious strap-on dildos.

For a brief moment Colin was quite taken by the latter, and even went so far as to study one or two of them minutely.

“Ere,” Boney called down to him from the broad back of Gargantua the giant cavy, “leave them fake dicks alone. Nothing good can come of tinkerin’ with the unnatural.”

“But I’m unnatural.” Colin reminded his current owner. “There isn’t a natural product in my body. And I was just wondering if I could utilise one of these as an addendum to my ‘special tool’. It could be fun. I could frighten sailors with it.”

Boney had to think about this for a few seconds. “Yeah that sounds alright.” He replied finally, “Maybe we can mass produce ‘em too, and sell ‘em as advanced alien trinkets. They don’t have no patent laws in this world, do they?”

It was a brilliant idea, and Colin duly flicked a few coins in the vendor’s direction, and snatched up the largest, most impressive specimen on his stall. It wobbled alarmingly in his paw as he walked away, and appeared almost too real for comfort. “Indeed they don’t.” He said quietly.

Primrose, meanwhile, was reconnoitring the immediate area with all six senses. She cocked her head upon one side – as if listening to something that no one else could hear.

Gargantua noticed this, and immediately he began mimicking her.

“What are you doing?” Primrose inquired.

“Hoping that whatever you’ve got rubs off on me.” Gargantua replied. “Maybe I can

be the first recorded psychic cavy in history.”

Primrose was instantly fascinated. “Do they keep such records in Prannick?”

Gargantua shrugged his shoulders, which almost flipped Boney from his elevated perch. “Somewhere in some secretive cubby hole of The Wheel they do, no doubt.” He said.

Primrose’s fascination dissipated. “I’m trying to sense Tybrow Mooney’s presence, or at least his spore.” She spoke sternly, “Don’t interrupt with mindless trivialities.”

Colin arrived. He waved his wobbly dildo in Primrose’s direction. “What do you think of this, Primrose?” He asked politely.

Primrose wasn’t really paying much attention. “Lovely.” She said absentmindedly.

“Would you like me to go back and buy one for you?” Colin offered generously, “There was a sign that said ‘One size fits all’. Obviously I wouldn’t know what that means, but I’m sure it must be a positive attribute.”

Primrose then noticed the dildo as it wobbled like an elongated jellybean. “No!” She screamed. “It’s disgusting. Put it away.”

“You know those are exactly the same words that a police-female spoke when I got out my special tool during our last adventure on an alternate world.” Colin chuckled. “Lionel and Fanangy had to break me out of jail just a short while afterwards.”

“Hey!” Gargantua suddenly bellowed, “Maybe I aint no psychic, but my nose is smelling real good today. I smell cavy. One of ‘em is a foreign cavy too. It’s got the unmistakable pong of Sponx royal finery about it.”

“Margarita?” Primrose cried out in hopeful wonderment.

Again Gargantua shrugged his mighty shoulders. “Do I know this Margarita?” He inquired from behind suspicious eyes.

As Boney scrabbled to retain his tenuous grip upon the flanks of his mount, Primrose mentally slapped her wrist. “No, or course not.” She answered. “Silly me. Now tell me – does your sensitive nose detect the aroma of a Law Master’s saddle?”

Gargantua scented the air. “Yeah,” he answered in surprise, “I do. All sweating ass-hole stuff. You know it reminds me of the time when I was a Law Master’s mount. Great days. Great days indeed – what with all that driving peasants from their hovels, and chasing Stix across the countryside until they dropped from heat exhaustion or threw themselves down holes. Then I got sold to Lucas Cleats of course. It was still fun after that – but a different kind’a fun. Not so much Stix chasing; but loads’a abbey crushing and Law Master mangling. But it quickly palled, and I became disillusioned. So when you lot came along I saw it as a perfect opportunity to right some wrongs. As a result – here I am. Ta-dah!”

“Don’t he go on!” Boney complained. “It’s enough to make me ears come out in sympathy with me aching knees.”

But Primrose hadn’t been listening. Instead she strode forward through the market place, and headed straight for the only building in town that had rented rooms with adjoining stables.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Obviously I don’t need to remind you that this e-book is available at various outlets – some of which are mentioned on the sidebar. They include the publishers Lulu.com

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-six)

It was snowing again, some while later outside the Future Museum of Mars…

…when Frisby, accompanied by his right-hand-girl, Lillie, stood at a cargo door and watched the weather. But neither of them noticed the inclement conditions. They were there, trying to clear their minds before they had to announce the great plan of planetary salvation to the museum’s visitors. Frisby decided to play it straight…

“Right, you lot,” he said to the small knot of customers who had bothered to respond to his summons on the public address system, “I’ve got some scary news for you all. I want you to listen carefully.”

The word ‘scary’ brought forth an influx of eager visitors…

“Yeah,” he continued once the resulting hubbub had lessened, “really scary.”

This time the word impinged upon the consciousness of three members of Las Chicas De La Playa as they went in search of a nail varnish machine…

With no nail varnish machine within sight, they turned their attention to the growing crowd…

“In fact,” Frisby added for emphasis, “it would probably be a good idea to carry at least one change of underwear wherever you go.”

“And some moist toilet tissue.” Lillie added helpfully.

Well this had everyone hooked. Silence reigned like never before…

Then Frisby told them of the plan. “It’s gonna get rough.” He concluded without hesitation. “I don’t know how rough: but moving an entire planet closer to the Sun doesn’t come without massive disturbance.”

“There’s bound to be a lot of wind.” Sir Dodger informed them. “And not all of it outside the museum.”

“And tectonic movement.” Lillie added.

“Not all of it outside the museum too, I’d wager.” William of Porridge whispered in her ear.

“Dinner’s off.” Charles De Glop announced. Then by way of explanation he added: “I can’t work whilst all my utensils are being cast around the kitchen like disturbed spirits.”

“In summation, the only positive thing I can say,” Frisby finished, “is that there shouldn’t be any plague and pestilence.”

“Unless, of course, the tectonic movements disturb some long-buried virus below ground that rises up and wipes us out.” William added. “But I feel that’s unlikely.”

So the crowd broke up in sombre mood. But Lillie was anything but. She dragged William along to a Ladies Outfitters…

“Right then, William.” She said, “I’m going to go inside this futuristic changing room: I want you to look the other way.”

William did as he was bid…

…but he felt terribly tempted to take a peek. So, to calm himself he wandered to and fro…

…and wondered why it took so long for one female to try on one garment. Then, as his patience neared breaking point, he heard his name whispered. Turning around he was smacked in the face by astonishment…

“Lillie,” he yelled, “you’ve ditched your tatty old pressure suit!”

Lillie was as thrilled as William. “Yes,” she squealed with feminine delight, “I’m wearing regular ‘girly’ stuff. What do you think?”

“Think?” William responded. “I can barely think at all. I am overcome by your loveliness. By the Saint of All Earplugs: I was proud to have you on my arm before: now…

…I’m going to parade you around the museum for all to see!”

“And this outfit is thermal too.” An excited Lillie replied as they made their way to the exit. “We can outside, and I won’t freeze to death.”

So they did…

…and William suspected that Mars had never seen such beauty walk its surface.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-five)

A half-hour later Frisby and Bo explained to Kyboshed that they had finished unbolting the Gravitonic Multiplicitor from the deck…

“Now we can jettison it into space.” Frisby finished.

“But I don’t understand.” The robot replied. “This is Engineering: we have no cargo door or aperture large enough to allow egress for the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”

“We didn’t say it was going to be easy,” a surprisingly ebullient Bo answered, “it will require some lateral thinking.”

“Ah,” Kyboshed said, he thought knowingly, “you’re going to dismantle it and pass it through the Space Vents in the ceiling; then reassemble it in the vacuum of space whilst wearing pressure suits.”

Folie overheard the unfamiliar term, Space Vents, and duly went to inquire…

Looking upwards he saw – for the first time since coming aboard the vessel weeks earlier…

“Hey,” he complained loudly, “I had no idea that vents opened directly onto space from here. It’s a terrible design: we could have been sucked into space without a moment’s warning. Also I note that the vents appear to be open: why aren’t we out there in space?”

“Force field, Folie.” Kyboshed explained. “It’s always on. It even has its own battery back-up in case the main power fails. And the vents automatically close in that eventuality too.”

“Great,” Folie said as he calmed down, “but why have them in the first place?”

“Two reasons.” Kyboshed explained further. “One: in the event of an uncontrollable fire in Engineering, the oxygen required for combustion can be vented into space instantaneously. Two: if we’re boarded by Space Pirates we can retreat to the bridge and blow them into space from there.”

“Oh, I like that.” Folie said as he felt himself warming to the design feature. “So we’re gonna dismantle the Gravitonic Multiplicitor and poke it out through those, are we?”

“No.” Bo replied. “I’ll explain on the way back to Mars.”

As they approached Mars, Folie still couldn’t quite believe what Bo and Frisby planned for the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.

“We can’t reassemble it in space.” Frisby had explained before disappearing into the toilet. “It’s too complicated. And we don’t have space suits. Well I do, but it’s old and tatty and not worth a fart.”

“We’re gonna cut the artificial gravity,” Bo said, “and let it float out through the openings.”

“But it’s bigger than the openings.” Folie pointed out the obvious.

“No problem.” Bo had replied. “The Gravitonic Multiplicitor is made on Scroton from a very dense material. It’s much stronger than the metal used on the Space Vents. It will simply barge its way out of Engineering. We can fix the vents later at the Future Museum of Mars.”

It was all perfectly logical, and soon the Gravity Whelk began its descent to the planet’s surface…

Once back in the museum, Frisby made contact with the Muffins in the ancient citadel…

He spoke with the blue-brained scientific chief, Gargling Vastium…

After explaining their plan he added: “Well, what do you think, Gargling?”

Naturally Gargling was excited at the prospect of a huge scientific experiment that pushed the boundaries of what was practicable. “Yo, man,” he cried, “go for it. But you’d better check with the politicians first: they might get really miffed at being left out of the loop.”

So it was a call to the uniped, Klurk that Frisby made next…

Naturally Klurk took some advice from his aid, Radvalve Thermostatic, before replying…

“We have no concept of a dual party political system on the planet you know as Mars,” Klurk informed Frisby and those watching, “so if anything goes disastrously wrong, the opposition can’t haul us over the coals in parliament for making a bad decision. We trust you, Frisby. You have our permission to save the world.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Lulu.com Vs Earplug Adventures

I’ve been using the on-line publishers, Lulu.com since I published my first book in 2009. For ten years our relationship was harmonious. Then, in 2019 they went for a massive re-build of their systems – and disaster followed. Authors across the globe cried into their word processors. It was an almighty fuck-up of literary biblical proportions. I won’t detail my concerns, but since I don’t sell enough books to worry my bank balance, I sat it out and waited for them to sort out the mess. Others jumped ship. But by the time that I was ready to publish again – following my wife’s passing – their ‘new’ system (although a pale reflection of the excellent former system) seemed to be working okay. It was shit; hard to fathom; un-helpful; and total bollocks: but I was willing to give them another chance. At first all seemed well: volumes 1&2 of A Tale of Three Museums went into global distribution – eventually: but 3 seemed mired in no-mans-land. Apparently there was something wrong with it, but Lulu didn’t seem keen on specifics. So I went through the manuscript and cover image with a fine-tooth comb. All was  well, with the exception of a slightly over-spec resolution on the book cover. So I made it the equal of volumes 1& 2, and duly republished. Lulu never got back to me on the subject; but the book didn’t make it into global distribution. But, considering what I’ve experienced in recent times, it was no big deal. I let it ride. But tonight I attempted to publish Vol 1 of Haunted Mars. To say their system tried my patience is the understatement of the year. No matter what I selected: what box I ticked or unticked; what file was downloaded, uploaded, reloaded, nothing could get the bloody book published. Apparently – and I use the word ‘apparently’ because nothing on their site is clear and simple – I could only buy the book myself; no one else could see it; and it didn’t have a cover image. So I removed all the Earplug Adventures from sale. I couldn’t delete them – that’s not possible these days: I could only ‘retire’ them. The whole point of author-controlled  on-line publishing is that the author chooses what gets published, and what happens to the work afterwards. Well that’s how it used to be: but the new-look Lulu isn’t the outfit I signed up to in 2009. I’ve left my serious books and the hamster-fiction up there for now – after all they’ve been there long enough that they have cyber cobwebs hanging from them. But, if I’m to share my stories with you, I’m going to need a new plan. A new publisher perhaps? Any suggestions? I’d really like to see these books out there…

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-four)

Naturally Bo shouted: “Abort! Abort! Get us the heck back to Mars!”

Equally naturally Placebo had already reacted to the potentially disastrous situation by turbo-boosting all the way to the doomed planet in a blind panic, and soon the Gravity Whelk was descending gracefully through a surprisingly azure sky upon Autopilot…

“Well that didn’t work.” Folie complained as he wiped sweat from his brow, “I suppose we’ll have to think of something else. It was such a good idea too: what a shame we can’t make it happen.”

Placebo might have replied with some inanity designed to calm his friend’s tattered nerves; but Folie never heard it, because…

…he found himself ensnared within Dark Space.

“Lucky it wasn’t me piloting.” He complained. “Snatching me away like that…well we could have piled into the Martian surface and become a flaming ruin.”

Dark Space decided to ignore the earplug’s outburst: “That experiment was foolhardy.” It said. “Had I not been there to use my vast gravimetric energy to save the Gravity Whelk impacting on the Sun, it would have been a complete failure – as well as a disaster for you, Placebo, and everyone else.”

Folie was placated in an instant. “That was you?” He said gratefully. “I thought it was just blind chance – or maybe the legendary Saint of All Earplugs.”

Again Dark Space ignored Folie: “But it did give me an idea. I am aware of your attempts to save the planet below from ecological disaster – again. The Scrotonite’s plan for using the Gravitonic Multiplicitor is ingenious – but flawed. Without something that has greater gravity than Mars for it to anchor itself to, the planet cannot be moved.”

A slight pause developed. Folie filled it with: “And?”

“I can be that greater gravity source.” Dark Space finally volunteered.

Folie, being surprisingly quick-witted when in the company of Dark Space, thought he could see a flaw in the alternate realm’s logic: “But you have no mass.” He pointed out. “You’re integrated into the deck, yet you disturb no atoms and add no weight to the ship. In fact, instead of slowing it down, you make it go faster.”

“Exactly.” Dark Space said with a hint of triumph in its telepathic voice. “I make it go faster by adding my great gravitonic energy to the thrusters. Of course it will mean that I will have used up most of my energy reserves; but, hey, someone’s gotta stop roving some time: and this Solar System of yours looks kind’a nice: A pleasant blue habitable world full of interesting intelligences: two – if I strut my funky stuff sho’nuf.”

Folie didn’t require any further convincing…

“Placebo,” he yelled, “don’t land: get this ship back into space!”

Placebo, slightly annoyed at the loud shouting in his ears, trusted his friend’s judgement implicitly and hit the launch motors. Seconds later the ship was clawing its way spaceward…

In the Fantadanta Room, Frisby and Bo were caught off-guard…

Bo expressed some little-known Scrotonite expletives, and Frisby asked: “Hey, what gives?”

Folie quickly explained.

“We’ll be right there.” Bo replied.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Spoiled Illusions 7: The Factory Toilet!

Are you one of those who, upon watching a DVD check out the extras, which often include a Making Of clip. I used to; but I don’t anymore: I don’t like to see the illusion spoiled. But just in case you are, here’s a little Earplug Adventures illusion spoiler.

Sometimes, during my working day – when things had gone a little quiet – I would steal away to shoot Earplug Adventure scenes. One of my preferred places was the ever-reliable lavatory – a place that quaranteed anonimity and freedom from intrusion – though, it must be said, lacking in many artistic opportunities. In my latter working days, this particular loo proved a boon to my story-telling…

Positioned at the end of a row of cubicles, it was very cramped, and drafty (in winter), with a tendency to block easily. It was unpopular – so it became my go-to-loo for shooting earplugs. Here it is in all its interior glory…

I imagine you’re thinking, “Not a lot of creative potential there.” But you may not have factored in the genius of the Earplug Adventures creator. Look at that narrow shelf and structural support tubes…

Why, the potential is almost unlimited. Check this out: the very first shot taken (17/08/2017) in the ‘new’ factory bog…

With a little plastic widget for a ‘prop’ doorway, it’s two of the dancing girls from ‘The Missing‘.

In contrast, here’s the last picture taken there, in early 2020…

It utilizes the diagonal support tubes as they intersect the shelf. I didn’t know that it was the last shot at the time, of course. I also didn’t know that this character would appear in ‘Haunted Mars’ and be named Mulleon Cleets.  And I certainly never imagined that it would become an exit from a cave.

After moving to the ‘new’ factory in 2017, most of my shooting took place at home. But there were times – when a new idea arrived – that I’d need to shoot then and there, before the thought escaped. Here’s a shot from ‘Mutant Island’ that used the top of the cistern for the first time…

It would be used again, fear not, as proven by this scene from ‘The Grand Tour‘…

…in which a desperate photographer needed an access tunnel for his characters to emerge from, but could only find the toilet roll. Desperate times: desperate measures. But I’m sure it was entirely convincing  within the story itself. And it was only half a toilet roll after all. And I did squash it slightly.

Speaking of toilet rolls – look how handy their  dispensers can become…

Yes, it’s the scene from ‘Distant Land‘ in which the reader is introduced to Placebo Bison. I didn’t figure he’d get a sequel at the time. But then why should I: I never plan anything.

So, finally, we come to the…ah…final example of lavatorial inspiration. It’s the opposite end of the shelf, where the bitter Winter wind blows into the bog in an uninterrupted manner. Prior to plugging it with a length of polystyrene, I snapped this shot for ‘The Time Tamperer…

Hopefully it conveys the idea of distance beyond the well-lit area. I’m sure it does.

In the next episode we’ll be looking at other locations around my former workplace – many of which were opportunistic. By that I mean I shot some piccies with no plan whatsoever – before the location changed beyond recognition, or disappeared somewhere on the back of a lorry. It was a working factory after all!

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-three)

Naturally Frisby – himself no slouch when it came to engineering – and Kyboshed bent themselves to the task of assisting the being from Scroton. It continued that way for an unmeasured amount of time…

Eventually Bo was forced to call a temporary halt whilst he stopped for a lavatory break…

“Would you look at that!” He exclaimed on the way to the toilet with a revolving door and a pink light above it. “We’re in space, and I didn’t even feel us launch.”

Frisby was a mud-plugger: he didn’t like the limitless openness of outer space. “Yeah,” he grumbled. “Great innit?”

But he was even less impressed when he discovered an original Anton Twerp hanging on the wall. In fact he was so less impressed that he walked on by without making mention of it…

But Bo felt differently. “I like this.” He gushed. “I really, really like it.” Then he had a thought: “Kyboshed; do you think Folie and Placebo would mind terribly if I purloined this? It would look wonderful in my toilet.”

But soon it was back to work…,

Bo felt the need to survey the situation from every observation point available to him. Even really high ones with no safety rails or parachutes…

And it helped too! “Hmmm,” he hummed. He then expanded on his thought processes: “The Gravitonic Multiplicitor should be pointed at Mars and activated. With any luck it should latch on to the planet in exactly the same manner that the tractor beam did in the Galactic Lens – all those years ago for Beaufort and Richter Skail.”

Frisby foresaw a problem. “But all that will accomplish is the ship being pulled down towards Mars’ surface quicker than its engines can keep it up here.”

Bo hadn’t thought of that. “I hadn’t thought of that.” He confessed. “It’s what comes of taking a cable end out of his natural environment and turning him into a property developer with no imagination or soul. Okay, let’s think about this. What do we need to make this work?”

“Something heavier than the ship and Mars for the Gravitonic Multiplicitor to pull against.” Kyboshed suggested.

Bo threw a glance out through a high window in the Fantadanta Room. “Yeah,” he said, “we’ve got one of those.”

Two minutes later the Gravity Whelk was passing behind the Sun, directly opposite the orbit of Mars…

“We’re in position.” They heard Folie’s voice over the ship-wide intercom…

“Excellent,” Bo said without looking up from the Information Matrix Globe, “now point the Gravitonic Multiplicitor at where I’ve calculated Mars should be, and give it a half-second blast.”

A half-second (and the time it took for Placebo to line up the Gravitonic Multiplicitor; select the timer; and to press the button) later…

“Why has the light outside gone all funny?” Bo demanded.

On the bridge Folie and Placebo were almost speechless…

After several seconds of uncontrolled shaking, Folie managed: “Because we’re ever so slightly nearer the Sun than we were a half-second ago…

…A whole lot nearer!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

No Time To Lose

Today Tooty the Chef turned one of his multifarious talents to the problem of a garden that had been left to its own devices over winter. It would have been a ten-minute tidy up, but (as usual) he got carried away, and, several hours later he realised that he should have been preparing a fabulous cauliflower cheese cottage pie for the main meal of the day. Yes, you read that right: Cauliflower Cheese Cottage Pie. It was an idea he had in the middle of the night. Paul McCartney dreams songs: Tooty the Chef has culinery nightmares. So, with no time to lose, he washed his delicate artist’s hands, and got stuck in. Speed was of the essence, so, of course, any thoughts of photographing the event were dismissed. In any case, there was the likelihood of abject failure, and none of us like to see a grown man cry into his ladle, do we? So he contented himself with a solitary shot of the finished product…

…which was splendid in every way. And because it was splendid – and not average-to-vile – he will produce the meal again, and give you all the gen in a full Tooty the Chef cookery lesson. Look forward to it!

And, yes, if you look  very closely indeed, it can be seen on his meal planner.

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-two)

Fifty-eight minutes later, Folie, Placebo, and Kyboshed entered the engineering section of the Gravity Whelk

“While we’re waiting for our guests,” Folie said to Kyboshed, “you check out all these winky lights: Placebo and I will warm up the pilot’s seats.”

Of course the robot was more than happy to comply with Folie’s instruction, but time was not on his side. A minute and a half later he received a call that informed him that Frisby and Bo were standing in the cold outside the airlock. Naturally he wasted no time allowing them ingress…

“Welcome aboard the Gravity Whelk.” He said to his guests. “I don’t suppose for a moment that either of you want to arse about with unnecessary preliminaries: I expect you’d like to get stuck in with your inspection. What would you like to see first?”

Folie had been listening in the corridor outside Engineering. From there he rushed back into the bridge…

“They’re on board.” He said to Placebo. “Start the engines: let’s get this boat where it belongs.”

Moments later the ship launched…

…quickly levelling off and streaking across the ice-sheet…

…towards the precisely calculated geographic point from where it would climb up the gravity well of Mars, and thence into orbit.

Bo had suggested to Frisby that they first conduct a search for technical information in the ship’s records. So Kyboshed took them to the room with no title…

“I noticed the lack of a nomenclature plaque upon the door.” Frisby said – most eloquently, or so thought Bo. “What do you call this compartment?”

“We don’t call it anything.” Kyboshed replied accurately.

Frisby was puzzled: “But it must have a name?”

Kyboshed was perfectly nonchalant when he answered: “Probably, but we have no idea what it is. If Folie wants a coffee, he merely informs Placebo that he is going to fetch a delicious mug of Cafe Blurgh: he has never mentioned where he gets it from.”

“You could call it the Coffee Room.” Frisby suggested. “After all, one day it might be important that this room is labelled. Like people, rooms should always be labelled.”

“Very well.” Kyboshed replied. “I now designate this room as the Fantadanta Room.”

This caught the attention of Bo Smidgin: “Professor Eduardo Fantadanta, the brilliant roboticist?” He inquired.

“Indeed.” Kyboshed replied. “I name this room after the cable end that gave me sentience. I’ll inform the others later – when I take them each a delicious mug of Cafe Blurgh.”

But Bo had already lost interest: all his attention was upon the golden Information Matrix Globe. “Ah, this is what we’re after. If the engineers on Scroton were believers in the old maxims of Scroton, they should have taken information from this globe; then replaced it with more information from the records in Scroton Prime. This could be a treasure trove of technical info. Where’s the ‘On’ button?”

Frisby had no idea, so he went to help himself to a delicious mug of Cafe Blurgh. This coincided with the ship breaking free of Mars’ puny gravity…

…and slipping into a low orbit…

“Doesn’t Mars look strange?” Folie said. “Mostly ice, but with bits of land poking through it.”

“Pretty.” Placebo agreed. “But, if we’re not successful, it’s ultimately doomed.”

Meanwhile Bo had decided to consult the ship’s log…

“That’s interesting.” He said as the information flashed by his ocular organs. “Apparently this ship once pulled itself out of a Galactic Lens by means of attaching the ship to a distant planet via tractor beam. It’s been high-lighted by some observant engineer on Scroton. It could be significant. All Cable Ends are born engineers; but I railed against the tyranny of familial expectations and became a property developer. But my instincts remain intact: and those instincts are telling me that I’m on to something here.  Let’s see if there is any follow-up info on the subject.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part fifty-one)

Bo Smidgin’s next encounter came during his passage of a recently re-painted vermillion section of the museum. But, due to indifference to anything beyond his immediate goal, he failed utterly to spot husband-seeking Patti Roularde making eyes at him…

“Oh, well,” Patti said with a sigh as Bo passed her by without so much as a grunt of acknowledgement, “his nostrils were too close together anyway.”

Then, as he stepped into a large auditorium, Bo’s gaze alighted upon Kyboshed…

“By The Golden One’s Big Blue Plume,” he exclaimed sotto voce, “that robot is Scrotonic. This must be the sign I’ve been waiting for. But what shall I do? There’s no point in acting in haste. I know: I’ll follow them; listen to what they have to tell Frisby Mumph; then make a decision. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Brilliant plan, Bo.”

Well Bo didn’t have to tail the new-comers for very long: the meeting room was just off the auditorium…

“So,” Sir Dodger opened, “you chaps have come here to save us, eh? Thought up some wizard means yet, have you?”

Of course Folie had to admit the complete opposite. But when it appeared that Frisby was about to hyperventilate at the news, Placebo made the inspired choice of inviting Frisby aboard the Gravity Whelk. “Perhaps,” he said in conclusion, “you can turn your improvisational skills loose on our vessel. We may have the means to save everyone: but it could be you who recognises it.”

These words were exactly what Bo had most wanted to hear…

He was now certain that the moment of the miracle, which would  save Mars, was beginning its gestation period. So, as Frisby and the others discussed the invitation, unseen by any of them, Bo slipped away …

He now had to pick his time and his words perfectly: and right now he had no idea what either of them looked like. So he returned to the chill of the futuristic toilet…

…to mull things over in his mind, and to complete his task of earlier.

“Now where do they keep the toilet tissue?” He complained.

But he didn’t have very long to do his mulling – or anything else for that matter. Already he could hear the voices of the Gravity Whelk crew passing by outside. So, as quickly and as subtly as he could, he followed them…

It was the sight of Kybosh that gave Bo’s thoughts the wings they most required. Taking a short-cut to where he calculated Kybosh and the others were heading, he raced ahead of them, and cut them off as they departed a section that had a nice door with a window in it that displayed the view outside…

His sudden arrival caught Placebo unawares. “Ugh?” He grunted. “You’re an Ethernet Cable End: what are you doing here? Did you stow away aboard our ship?”

This ridiculous accusation was just the sort of opening Bo would have prayed for, had he thought of anything so preposterous. “No,” he replied, “but I’d very much like to be included amongst those you have invited aboard your ship.”

“Is that right?” Folie said, with a slightly belligerent air. “Why would that be?”

“Your robot is of Scrotonic design and construction.” Bo replied in a voice that disguised his nervousness and fear of failure. “I am a property developer on Scroton – visiting Mars on business. Now if my theory is correct, since you have a robot amongst your crew, it is logical that your ship has undergone a re-fit, or had improvements made upon Scroton that require a Scrotonic engineer’s skills to maintain or operate.”

Folie was impressed: but he didn’t want to show it. “Yeah?” He replied – his tone not moderating by so much as a single degree, “what about it?”

Bo urged them to continue walking…

“I am of Scroton.” He said. “You have equipment of Scroton. I have an imagination – your robot does not. You may have the means to save Mars aboard your ship – but you just don’t recognise it.”

“That’s what Placebo said to Frisby Mumph.” Folie, unaware that Bo had listened to their conversation in the meeting room, replied.

“What do they say?” Bo said with a chuckle that was genuine. “Great minds think alike? Well, do I have permission to come aboard, Sir?”

Something in the cable end’s manner intrigued Folie. He certainly spoke sense. “Yeah,” he said with a slight smile, “you do. You can join Frisby Mumph in about an hour from now.”

So it was a happy Bo Smidgin who continued along the walkway with the crew of the Gravity Whelk...

…which stunned the Splints, who were walking in the opposite direction.

“Did you see that, Griselda?” Tobias said through a glazed expression. “Hob-nobbing with extra-terrestrials now!”

“Does he have no shame?” Griselda replied.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Tooty’s Been Thinking Again

Although I haven’t been paying my Mr Point’n’Shoot blog as much attention as this one (naturally), I have been quite pleased with the response to it. It’s getting some descent hits, and (very pleasingly) some followers too – despite the fact that I don’t post as often as I should. But, as I trawled through my photographic files in search of nice pictures for it, I discovered that (through the years) I’ve taken a disproportionate number of piccies that feature either blossom or blooms. What’s that, you’ve figured out what I’m about to suggest already? Oh, you obviously know me better than I thought. But I suppose I’d better make the suggestion anyway. I was thinking, wouldn’t it be a fab idea to direct lots of flowery kind’a pictures – which might otherwise clog Mr Point’n’Shoot with a repeat subject that could, just possibly, turn off people who don’t like flowers particularly – to a third blog that would specialise in the subject. It could be called…um…er…I don’t know…Mr Blossom’n’Blooms. Does that sound promising? A blog full of this sort of thing…

I’ll take a ‘Like’ as a vote of confidence.

P.S Please note Tooty the Chef’s meal planner behind me. How professional is that!

 

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