When I lived in Spain, I drove a metallic purple Renault Twingo. It was a terrific car, which I enjoyed driving more than any car before or since. One factor of the day-to-day pleasure came in the form of selective parking. That is – deciding which car (in a car park or at the side of the road) to park my car beside. “Ugh?” I hear those readers less concerned with aesthetics (and more into practicality) say in consternation. “Surely it’s best to park closest to where I want to go.” Not so, say I. You should always consider how your car would look beside another. I mean, you wouldn’t want to park a green car beside a red one, would you? Gosh – wouldn’t that clash horribly! Or a black one beside a silver one. Of course you wouldn’t: at least not unless you were an Oakland Raiders fan. Take a look at this picture that I snapped recently in a supermarket car park…
Now that is considerate parking. Either the driver of the yellow car spotted the complimentary shade of the blue car, and duly pulled in beside it: or it was blind chance. I prefer the former theory. When I owned the aforementioned Twingo, I actively sought out parked yellow cars – just so that I could look back and admire the artistic merits of purple and yellow. Fortunately yellow cars are quite popular in Spain. Even more fortunately, orange cars are not. Imagine that: orange and purple: yuk! Sadly, these days, I drive a dull dark red car, which matches only with white cars – just; and a silver car which matches with nothing at all. When the time comes to replace one of them, I’m going for something more spectacular. A colour scheme that will have aesthetists going out of their way to park their car besides mine!
That was a reader’s quote, after his happy reading of this book…
And here’s an extract from the tale that he so enjoyed…
The first few days at Chunder Bellows School for Blistering Idiots were a total blur for Lancelot. Quite literally: The college nurse had filled his eyes with a solution that almost blinded him. It was a deliberate act: The college authorities didn’t want him identifying the persons responsible for trying to free his brain of the millstones of stupidity by beating some sense into him. But it was to no avail. All subsequent Intelligence Quotient tests came up woefully short.
Lancelot himself ached all over, and had there been a train back to Hamster Heath he would have gladly boarded it – even if he’d been forced to pedal solo for the entire journey. But as the days passed from his life – so did the bruises pass from his skin, and in next to no time at all he was well again. He even introduced the sport of Poo-Jumping to the college fitness administrator, and had a huge ramp built on the playing fields so that he could practice running down hills very fast indeed. But eventually he fell afoul of the college founder – Chunder Bellows himself. Lancelot sat nervously in the corridor as he waited to be invited into Chunder Bellows’ private suite high in the belfry. He wracked his brains as to how he’d managed to offend the legendary hamster. Was it possible that he’d accidentally failed to notice his eminence whilst shopping in the town? He didn’t think so: Chunder Bellows came from European hamster stock, and was almost twice the size of his fellows. He also wore his head fur in a turquoise Mohican cut, and swaggered so vainly that smaller creatures were often forced to dash into heavy traffic to avoid being bowled over by him. So that seemed unlikely.
Over the next hour Lancelot ran scenario after scenario through his head until he could think no more. Only when he was utterly spent mentally did the red light above Bellows’ door finally illuminate. Lancelot had been warned about this. It could mean one of three things. One: I’m free now, please enter. Two: An aerial attack is underway: Run for the shelters. Or Three: The lock on the lavatory door is broken again, and I can’t get out. It was dependent upon the number of flashes per second as to how someone should react to this visual stimulus.
The beat of the flashing light was slow and steady. To Lancelot’s mind this indicated a certain calmness of spirit. It fitted scenario One perfectly. So Lancelot knocked smartly upon the huge wooden door, and entered.
The interior of Chunder Bellows’ suite was hugely impressive – especially to a young hamster who had lived his entire life in a two-room apartment above the town cheese shop with his mother, her aunt, and someone who referred to herself as the Fairy Lesbian. It was huge, panelled throughout with dark wood, and enjoyed a view out over the grounds of the college. Lancelot couldn’t help but notice that it also enjoyed views directly into the girls changing room, showers, and unsightly nipple fur removal facility. But he said nothing.
Bellows stood, and almost filled the room with his bulk. He didn’t offer a paw of welcome. Instead he merely towered over Lancelot until the youngster began trembling. Only then did he re-seat himself, and offer Lancelot a cigar.
“Well, well – you’ve caused quite a stir.” He boomed – not angrily, but not in a friendly fashion either. But it wasn’t neutral either, and Lancelot was at a loss to describe his benefactor’s mood.
“Is it the Poo-Jumping, Sir?” Lancelot inquired nervously, “I know that several students have miss-timed their take-off, and have consequently soiled their uniforms. But I’m sure that with sufficient practice…”
Bellows cut him off with a wave of his meaty paw. “No – it’s not the Poo-Jumping.” He growled. “I only wish that it were. At least I could do something about it. No my problem is far worse. Tell me – how did you get here?”
Lancelot wondered how literal Bellows was being. Did he mean to inquire after the route that Lancelot had taken from where he’d been clandestinely urinating in the mosquito-breeding pool – to Bellow’s office? Or did he mean the college itself? Then in a moment that the young hamster would have considered an epiphany – had he been aware of the word – he realized that during his brief time at Chunder Bellows he’d learned to think in a slightly less linear mode, and could now see alternatives to his first, and usually only, thought. It had been a general question: Not specific to time and place. The grand master of the college was asking after Lancelot’s reasons for approaching the college in order to gain entry to its hallowed halls of learning.
“It was either this – or extermination.” He blurted. Then in a more calm manner explained that he’d actually failed the Right To Adult Existence examination during his last year at school, but was given a reprieve when the mysterious Fairy Lesbian put a spell upon the examination board members, and demanded that they allow him one more chance. If he could prove them all desperately wrong by maturing into a hamster of average intellect, he would be allowed to live beyond his tender years, and not consequently waste millions of Rodentos being housed, fed, and entertained courtesy of the public purse because he was too stupid or bone-idle to get a job.
Bellows nodded sagely at this. Then he leaned forward in his chair, and peered at Lancelot in a most disturbing fashion. “That’s all very interesting – but it’s not the answer I was looking for.”
He then explained that he’d meant ‘how did Lancelot get from Hamster Heath to Poxford’?
“The last train to Poxford.” Lancelot chirped gleefully – fully aware that such a journey would never again be made, and as a result his momentous journey would go down in history.
Bellows peered some more. “Do you recall any of the passengers?” He asked.
Lancelot thought back over the intervening months. Only one person stood out from the crowd. “There was a pretty girl with powerful thighs pedalling on the seat opposite.” He recalled. “She stood out a bit.”
Bellows had a weakness for pretty girls. “Really – in what way?”
“She wore crotch-less knickers. From where I was seated it looked like two sand eels wrestling in a thicket.”
For a moment Lancelot thought that Bellows was going to have a heart attack. And it was this simple act of Bellows clutching at his chest and fighting for breath that brought forth a second recollection of the journey for the young hamster. “Oh yes that reminds me – there was that lovely middle-aged female who might have been having a myocardial infarction!”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013