Dwindling Numbers

Having the misfortune of being a literary genius and international author of vast repute, it’s not often that I find the time to drag my attention away from all the wondrous creations that have sprung from my ageing, yet still fertile imagination and actually scan the WWW for signs of life, particularly in the blogs that I used to follow in the early days (when I was still relatively new to this blogging thing). Well today I found that time and I was shocked. They’ve been (mostly) deleted or abandoned. Their creators, it seems, had simply given up in the face of planetary indifference. So I took a wander through more recent blogs. In many cases their authors are lamenting about falling readership. Some are considering calling it a day. Others remind me of the old axiom: ‘If it isn’t working, try something else’. This gave me cause to pause, as it were, in the pursuit of readership and – hopefully – commensurate book sales. I logged on to my publishers’ web site and checked out my book sales. Ten books sold in July – seven of which were freebies. Not good. Then I compared the numbers of visitors to this blog. Disappointment turned to concern; despite the fact that the number of ‘followers’ have continued to slowly increase, those reading my literary and photographic efforts have fallen spectacularly. People really do seem to be giving up on the Internet – or at least WordPress. In May 2017 I had 3600 visits. The same month in the following year saw only 1800 readers call by. This May I got just 524 visits. By June I was down to 302. I know Summer is never a good time: people have other things to do; so I was slightly relieved to discover that July hasn’t been quite so bad. As of the moment I’m up to a heady 767 hits. On Flickr figures are better; but I can’t post stories and comedy there – although I do air a few Earplug Adventure photos to mix it up a little. So, with dwindling numbers, I’m beginning to question the logic of continuing HamsterBritain.com. But I don’t want to stop promoting my serious fiction, hamster-fiction, or earplug silliness. That would be a crime against humanity – wouldn’t it? Maybe it’s time to try something else. Any suggestions?

Tooty

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Distant Land (part 26)

Five minutes later the Cyber-Oracle was surprised to see, not only the Captain, but also the ship’s compliment of senior officers. “Hey, guys.” It responded to their encirclement. “How ya doing?”

Cedric Mantequilla’s response surprised the Cyber-Oracle rather less: “We are in need of your wisdom and guidance.” He said succinctly, if sparingly – on detail at least.

“That’s what I’m here for.” The fountain of all knowledge replied. “That’s why every star ship has a Cyber-Oracle aboard. For just this sort of occasion, when silicon life-form’s brains simply aren’t up to making big decisions, or for plumbing tips, or sometimes need the latest cricket score.”

But when Kragan Welliboot blurted out the details of Cedric’s request, the Artificial Intelligence found that, in order to respond positively and accurately, it required to activate a whole gamut of memory banks…

It decided to play for time. “Hmmm, that’s a tough one.” It said. “Now, if our glorious leaders had installed some kind of rule or regulation that might guide space-farers, such as yourselves, the question would probably never need be asked.” Then it fell silent.

“And?” Hooper Helstrom inquired.

He was quickly followed by Cams Layne: “So what’s the answer?”

The Cyber-Oracle regarded his inquisitors…

“Captain Mantequilla.” It said. “How long have we been working together?”

Cedric responded in the only way he knew: “Ugh?” He grunted. Then, recovering, he added: “Zero time. Since the Brian Talbot’s shake down trials and the beginning of this mission, I have never ventured into your presence.”

“Precisely.” The Cyber-Oracle replied. “You and I know nothing about each other, yet you are prepared to place the safety of this ship and it’s crew in my metaphysical hands.”

Captain Mantequilla hadn’t gained the position of Ship’s Captain by being overtly thick. Unlike his subordinates he appeared to understand in a second. “Ah, I see. This is a question, not of logic, or even ethics: it is a question about being a living, breathing life-form. They, those Skail brothers, are earplugs: we are earplugs. The question should not even arise.”

The Cyber-Oracle, had it been able, would have looked proudly at Cedric. But it didn’t get the chance, because Grenville Hill said: “So I guess you’re superfluous, right?”

“No,” Cedric answered upon the machine’s behalf, “it’s wisdom has already been imparted. Let’s go.”

So, at their Captain’s command, the bridge crew of the Brian Talbot about-faced…

…and departed. But it was quite a while later, when Cedric and Grenville were alone in an otherwise deserted corridor…

…when Grenville was surprised by his commanding officer:

“I was just showing off, back there, Grenville. I don’t follow sub-text overly well: what did the Cyber-Oracle actually say?”

“It said, Cedric,” Grenville snapped, “exactly what you appeared to think it said. Act upon it, or I’ll tell the others what a nincompoop you really are.”

So, five minutes later… 

“Er, run V.T?” Captain Cedric Mantequilla suggested.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

Polystyrene: A Fiction Author’s Best Friend

Now I expect you’re thinking, “How the heck can polystyrene possibly aid a tapper of keypads? I mean, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it?” Well if the author’s name is Wilbur Smith, Arthur C Clark, Catherine Cookson, or the like, then your doubts would have substance. But when that author is me, it’s a whole different ball game. After all, aren’t I the creator of…

…the Earplug Adventures? Yes, I am; and I’m telling you that the whole affair would have been a whole lot more difficult to produce without the aid of this…

Polystyrene. It may be deeply non-ecological, but look what I did with this particular lump of packaging…

That’s right, it became a monastery…

On the top of a mountain no less…

Other bits invited the application of paint…

The result on this particular occasion looked slightly like…

The wonderous product can produce convincing buildings such as this…

 

And this…

Day or night…

It’s especially wonderful for distant buildings…

Or unusually decorative interiors…

It also makes fabulous corridors, down which earplugs can either meander or rush…

It’s not bad for creating distant hills either…

Guess what scene this created…

Yes, it’s the Museum of Future Technology’s busy Transfer Conduit Terminal…

But (if you’re a regular reader) you will have probably noticed that polystyrene’s most prolific usage…

…comes in the creation of Star Ship bridges…

How often have I used these circular (ceiling fan) packaging pieces to tell daring tales of all sorts of earplugs…

…as they dash about the Galaxy, doing stuff…

…and often almost shitting themselves…

Lots of times; that’s how many.

So there you have it. If you’re anything like me, your greatest literary aid is the garbage that other people throw away. And why not? It’s called recycling. Very eco- friendly.

©Paul Trevor Nolan

Next time I’ll bring you examples of another great chum of mine: discarded cardboard. A marvelous material. I’d be stuffed without it.

Distant Land (part 25)

But, most remarkable of all, the greater the distance that the ship travelled away from the Galactic Lens, the more the earplugs resembled their true selves…

Or, to put it another way: Richter and Beaufort turned yellow again – which pleased Richter no end; but left Beaufort…

…most annoyed: he didn’t much like the colour yellow and he’d enjoyed being purple. And as his mood darkened so did the shade of his skin. “Bum.” He complained bitterly, “You can contact the Museum: I’m off to the galley in search of some space biscuits: I feel the need to comfort-eat.”

Meanwhile, aboard the Brian Talbot, the watching crew jumped in alarm…

…as the Red Alert sounded…

“Sorry.” Folie whispered to Cedric. “But my bladder is absolutely bursting. I simply had to press the Red Alert button on your Captain’s chair. I wonder; would you kindly call an intermission? I need to go pee-pee.”

The interruption gave Captain Mantequilla a moment in which to consider the entire situation. “Intermission.” He snapped curtly. “Stop the video.” Then he added: “Senior officers to the Thinking Compartment.”

So, whilst the new arrivals raced away to unburden themselves, Cedric Mantequilla, Hooper Helstrom, Grenville Hill, and Kragan Welliboot, assembled in a compartment adjacent to the bridge that had been designed purely for the expounding the verbal results of clear and logical thought…

“Well?” Cedric inquired without preamble. “Whadda ya think?”

Hooper Helstrom replied with a question of his own: “What do we think of what?” He asked.

“This whole thing.” Cedric answered unhelpfully – or so thought Kragan Welliboot – before comprehension dawned:

“What – you mean the video message? Oh, it’s the real deal alright: no one could fake those special effects.”

“I concur, Captain.” Grenville Hill said in his most professional voice. “What we are seeing is definitely an accurate account of two alien earplug’s adventure. Clearly there is another Museum of Future Technology out there somewhere; and that it’s in deep, deep doo-doos is without doubt.”

“That’s what I thought too.” The captain spoke as he ruminated upon the subject. “But that brings up a question of ethics.”

“Ethics?” A puzzled Kragan responded.

“Indeed, ethics.” Cedric said as he looked up from his navel gazing. “Do we have the right, the wit, and the wisdom, to go poking our noses into the affairs of an alien world that has developed in an incredibly similar way to planet Earth, but which appears to be on the brink of ecological ruin?”

“Do we have the right to ignore their plight?” Hooper responded vehemently. “Are they not earplugs? Are they not our brothers?”

Cedric thought long upon his officer’s outburst. “Tell you what.” He said at last. “Let’s go look for a second opinion. Follow me.”

So, a few moments later…

…the entire bridge crew descended into the veritable bowels of the Brian Talbot.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019

 

 

It’s the Earplugs Fifth Anniversary! Well Nearly.

Mooching back through my few remaining ‘old’ blog posts, I found this, from August 2014…

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s been a little quiet at work recently. Although this is an unfortunate situation, I’ve made it tolerable by allowing my creative juices to flow and doing what I do best – that is thinking up really silly rude stuff. The result – The Ear Plugs.

tooty nolan holds picture

Whadda ya think so far?

I can’t believe I’ve been shooting these daft pictures and writing this ridiculous prose for a full half-decade. Interestingly, the rude aspect of the stories was shelved early on. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But, whatever, the Earplug Adventures continue to roll. Honestly, don’t I have something better to do?

And the question still stands: Whadda ya think so far?

Distant Land (part 24)

Richter could feel them too. “I wish those jackhammers would stop.” He wailed. “I keep fumbling with the tumblers!”

Worse still, Beaufort thought he could see dust on the near horizon…

So he intervened…

“No, you complete Plugmutt.” He growled. “Mother was born on the Forty-Second of Plinth!”

This was all the information the more svelte brother required to complete the difficult task of opening the door. So moments later…

…he watched as Beaufort, in a near panic, pushed through the widening aperture. Then, in the blink of an eye, they were both inside – with the door slammed closed behind them with a resounding ‘clunk’…

Then, and only then, could Beaufort finally relax and release the ultimate fart with which he was certain he would win the contest with his brother…

It was ghastly and left a nasty black smear upon both the floor and the walls.

“Autopilot.” Richter said with a sigh. “Get us the hell out of here. Maximum speed. No need to batten down the hatches or seal the lavatory seat. Just go.”

Minutes later…

…the Gravity Whelk was, once more, in its natural element: the stark vacuum of interplanetary space.

On the rudimentary bridge, the brothers discussed their recent adventure…

“Do you think there really was a secret energy source on the Plain of Shadows?” Beaufort asked.

“Nah.” Richter dismissed the notion. “That Knobby was a con-artist. He wasn’t the king of anything. That was an End Cap world. He was probably their court jester.”

They continued ruminating upon the subject for several minutes before they noticed that the ship was getting nowhere…

“It’s this damned Galactic Lens.” Beaufort complained. “It’s holding us in place by its mighty gravitational whatsit.”

Richter looked out of an emergency evacuation hatch window…

He spotted a lone star in the vastness of space. A thought occurred: “Beaufort.” He said. “It’s no good blasting away for ever and a day: we need to winch ourselves free of the Galactic Lens’ power. Turn the ship through ninety degrees.”

Beaufort would have argued, but he couldn’t think of anything significant to say. So he said: “Right on, Bro!”

“That star, dead ahead.” Richter said as he re-joined his brother. “If it has a rocky planet circling it we could latch on to it with our tractor beam and pull the ship free.”

Well, to call Richter’s idea inspirational, verging upon genius was an understatement; but Beaufort called it that anyway. Then he aimed the device, which usually grappled objects like asteroids and derelict space vessels out of the Gravity Whelk’s path, at the target star. He then waggled it about infinitesimally, until it connected with a medium-sized planet.

“Got one.” He informed Richter. Then he switched it on.

No one could honestly say that the forward tractor beam light grew more intensely pink as the ship began its long, but inexorable climb from the Galactic Lens’ influence, but both earplugs certainly felt it did… 

The escape was so slow, and took so long, that there were times when the siblings forgot where they were, what they were doing, or why they were aboard an otherwise empty star ship. But eventually, after three months subjective time (but two years objective time beyond the Galactic Lens), the invisible elastic band that had held the Gravity Whelk against its will, snapped. And in an instant the ship leaped free…

“Whee!” It’s occupants cried in joy. “Yippie! Now let’s try to contact the Museum of Future Technology. We need an update.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2019