Revel in the Ribaldry 2

As a second extract from the Hamster-Sapiens series is called for, the most logical source of material would seem to be the second book. This book, to be exact…

So, with minimal preamble, let’s get down…

“Oh Roosevelt,” Felicity squealed with delight as she pressed her paws and forehead against the inner wall of Tybrow Mooney’s lock-up garage in Hamster Heath, “I can see people and everything!”

Roosevelt was busy counting the gold coins that Mooney had thrown at them in his haste to flee. As a consequence he wasn’t really paying a great deal of attention. “Is that right?” he said without looking up.

“Yes,” Felicity replied, unaware of her exciting new friend’s distraction, “There’s a whole bunch of armed ruffians in a bedroom. They seem to be milling about somewhat. If I had to guess I’d say they were drunk. Oh, now a huge female hamster’s entered. I think she’s drunk too: She keeps showing her knickers to the males. Oh dear– now she’s waving an exposed titty at them. They all seem a little bashful: Perhaps she’s their auntie or something. Oh no, that can’t be right: They’re not all hamsters.”

Roosevelt’s ears had pricked up at the word ‘Titty’. He now gave his full attention to Felicity.  “Maybe she’s the boss.” he suggested.

“Could be.” Felicity agreed, “She’s shouting at them now, and cuffing them about the ears and cheek pouches too. “I wonder why she’s doing that? Oh I wish I could hear what she’s saying.”

 

“What do you mean?” The Law Master, Perfidity Gallowsmith, slurred her words and swayed so alarmingly that Quentin Blackheart was forced to overcome his revulsion at the physical touch of female fur, and grab her, “There’s no one here? I’ve drained a tankard of rough ale, and spat out a tasty pasty – just to find an empty room? Mooney – I thought you said that you’d been followed by Stix: Where are they then – you total tonge?”

Tybrow Mooney stood on the landing outside. He would have liked nothing more than to slip away from the scene, and hope that the Law Master forgot everything the following morning. But several lawmen blocked his egress down the stair.

“Well…” he began.

 

“I can see Mooney!” Felicity shouted excitedly.

“Does he have any more gold coins about his person?” Roosevelt inquired through avaricious lips.

“I can’t tell.” Felicity replied, “I can’t get an angle on him from here.”

So Roosevelt suggested that Felicity shift along the wall, and look again. Unfortunately there was a large pile of beans where Felicity needed to stand, so she quickly clambered up them, and stood there awkwardly as she tried to gain her balance.

“Here, let me help you,” Roosevelt held out a steadying paw.

Now what happened next could not have been foreseen – even by the combined brains of doctor Rambling Bramble, his charming assistant, Primrose Pickles, or even Hamsterdom’s youngest national hero, Horatio Horseblanket: Certainly everyone understood that Roosevelt enjoyed the talent of Psychic Catalyst, and that anyone possessing psychic powers would find their abilities enhanced in his presence: What no one knew was that these powers would be enhanced a hundredfold if physical contact was made. And, naturally, this is what occurred.

“Gosh,” Felicity screamed in a virtual rapture as once more she pressed her fluffy forehead against the rough brickwork, “I’ve got colour vision. And audio too!”

Then she said “Urk!” and stumbled forward – disappearing through the wall.

This in itself could have constituted a disaster; but unfortunately her flailing paw grasped Roosevelt’s snout in a vice-like death grip, and dragged it through the wall – with its owner in close attendance.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2012

Yes, this story is about psychic powers and a medieval society. And hamsters, of course.

Like the other Hamster-Sapiens e-books, this one is available almost everywhere. See the sidebar or ‘Pages’ beneath the header for the more popular retailers.

P.S The hamster on the cover is Joan Bugler – the ‘star’ of the book.

 

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 1

When I published my early Hamster-Sapiens stories, they were always sub-titled Ribald Tales From a World Ruled by Hamsters. I don’t know why I dropped that description later, because it was (and remains) most apt. Interestingly (when I look back with the wisdom of hindsight) sales dipped from the moment I ceased to use it. So, here I am partially ressurrecting it in a number of extracts titled Revel in the Ribaldry. If they prove popular I may turn it into a glut. Afterall, the Hamster-Sapiens tales may be a few years old now; but that doesn’t make them any less…how shall I put it?…wonderful. How about fantastic? Okay, I’ll go with ‘entertaining’.

Since the original Horatio Horseblanket Chronicles books have been unavailable for several years, I’ll start proceedings with the book that is now considered Book One in the series, but which was written in the wake of the well-received aforementioned. It is this remarkable tome…

And here is the random extract…

If (just a few short weeks earlier) someone had suggested to Lionel that he would be leading the fight against an insane device that combined the organic remains of a squad of combat veteran hamsters, alien DNA, and several large (but essentially thick) robots, anyone who knew him would have scoffed: None more than Lionel himself: Lionel, after all, enjoyed making model armadillos, playing repetitive computer games, and watching inane daytime television. Indeed, until that rain-soaked day when his parents finally cried “enough”, and tossed him out of the family home, his idea of a good time was lying in bed with a sausage sandwich and a glass of aphid milk.

As things transpired, Lionel still hadn’t actually fashioned his ultimate plan to thwart the advancing menace that was The Overmind: But he’d formed the beginnings of an idea inside his fluffy little head that should, he hoped, free The Where House of its bio-electronic tyranny.

“So what shall we call this thing?” Lionel inquired as he held the artefact aloft for all to see. “It’s a bit dull to look at, isn’t it!” He added as he turned it over in his paws beneath a stuttering light in the lower latrine.

Indeed the artefact was a bit dull. In fact it was exceedingly dull. On a scale of visual languor it would have scored ten out of ten with consummate ease. So, as a consequence, not one single hamster present could summon up an idea for a suitable moniker.

All, that is, except Boney. “How about we call it ‘Arse Wipe’?” he half-suggested  – not thinking for one second that anyone would take him seriously.

Ten eyes – eight of them real: Two totally artificial, all swivelled to regard him. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw pity reflected in at least five of them.

“Well I mean,” He quickly realised that an explanation for his outrageous suggestion was required, “it’s gonna be about as useful as a bog roll in a hail storm when we confront The Overmind with it – aint it!”

Lionel continued to stare: ‘Could the ageing rodent be right?’ He thought to himself in that frozen moment, ‘Should this potential battle-winner be named ‘Arse Wipe’? If nothing else, it was original’.

“Oh, Boney,” Fanangy scolded, “How can you be so untrusting of Lionel’s abilities? Of course the Arse Wipe will be of more use than a bog roll in a hailstorm. Obviously Lionel’s plan is going to be ingenious: Success is certain. But Arse Wipe does have nice ring to it: I once had an Uncle named Arse Wipe – though of course he pronounced it Arssay Wippay. His wife was named Ringpiece. She had cruel parents. They were put to death for their crime – or so the legend goes.”

“So,” Colin felt duty-bound to step in and halt the pointless banter, “now that we’ve sorted that out – what are we going to do with it?”

Up until now Sergeant Tonks had remained quiet; and Major Hardcourt-Gymp appeared to be almost comatose with silence. But suddenly the Major’s aid spoke. She said, “Yeah – what are we going to do – like now? Emphasis on the now.”

This seemed to galvanise Gymp. “Indeed: Well put, Sergeant. We must cease this prevarication, and act. Hand me the Arse Wipe: I shall activate it once more; and we shall be about our business, which of course is my reinstatement as a sentient hamster that is fit to once again lead the Tadgerstone Rifles.”

“But you don’t know what to do with it.” Lionel whined as he realised that the situation was slipping from his tenuous control. Then a steeliness came over him, and he pulled the artefact to his puny chest, adding, “No – leave it alone: It’s mine.”

“Yes, that’s right, you big bully.” Fanangy instantly sided with her beloved Lionel, and snarled at the military officer in such a way that he blanched beneath his military-regulation facial fur, and began to wonder if being sentient was all it was cracked up to be.

“Will you lot stop all this yakking!” Boney roared as best he could with his age-clogged lungs, “All the time we’re stood about doin’ nothin’ – that thing upstairs is takin’ over more an’ more of my business.”

And of course he was right – and Lionel knew it. “Right then.” He said in his most authoritative voice, “To the elevator!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2012

Naturally the e-book version remains available at most e-book retailers. See the sidebar or ‘Pages’ beneath the header for the most popular ones.

P.S The sub-title of the original copy had a sub-title of it’s own. It was ‘Where All the Parts Are Private’. Why on Earth did I drop that? Because I’m creative; and creative people are allowed to be morons.

Chef Tooty’s Cooking Again

Hello, I’m Chef Tooty. Yes, that is a Waitrose Christmas apron. Its the only apron I have. Well actually I have several. Unfortunately they are all Waitrose Christmas aprons – so it doesn’t really matter which one I wear. You will see why an apron is so important, when you get to the end of this lesson.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I specialise in end-of-the-week-cooking that uses up old stuff. I cook for people who don’t really like cooking, but have to because, for whatever reason, the person in their life who has always  done the cooking, can’t (or won’t) anymore. My concoctions might not always sound that tasty on paper, but usually turn out extremely tasty on the dinner plate. 

Well today’s meal was to have been a long drawn out affair. I really intended to to the job to the best of my abilities. But an unexpected phone call meant that the time available to prepare and cook was reduced by thirty percent. So it was time to cut corners. It was also time for me to forget to take any pictures, despite the fact that four cameras lay upon the kitchen table. So, the first part of this lesson is of the literary kind. I will use words instead of pictures. I will mention, at this point, that I’m not afraid to use ready-made stuff in my creations. For this meal – should you decide to attempt your own version, you will need these…

…or something vaguely similar. Yes, its good old Dolphin Nose again. But because I didn’t bother weighing out the veggies, I quickly discovered that I would need a little extra sauce. The cupboard contained this…

So, adding a little Moroccan salt, I figured the result would be much the same. You see how professional I am?

First up, the roasting time needed to be cut from an hour and a half to half an hour, so some rapid boiling was required. I sliced some aging potatoes, carrots and parsnips – about a centimetre thick – and boiled them stupid. Using the steam from the boiling process, I steamed some cabbage that had seen better days. When they were done I hurled them into my regular roasting thing; then laid some thickly-sliced bacon on top. Cue first cooking picture…

 

Oh yeah, I forgot. In order to save time I microwaved the bacon for a minute before laying it on. Then came the tedious bit. I boiled the milk and Dolphin Nose mix…

Simmered it for something approaching eternity; then poured it over the bacon…

…which is when I discovered my shortfall in the sauce department and quickly boiled some water and mixed up some white sauce. That done, it was time to chuck the roasting thing into a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees and wait twenty minutes. The result came out of the oven looking like this…

Quite nice, I think. And like this on the plate…

“Ah,” I hear you say, “that looks quite edible: but what makes it so special that Tooty felt compelled to share it with us on the Internet?”

Well I’ll tell you. Its a sunny July day. Boiling and roasting makes my tiny kitchen grow awfully warm. I don’t do warm. I like cool. So, brave reader, what makes this meal so special…is the fact that I cooked it without a safety net!

And that is why an apron is so important.

No Need to Apologize

When Covid 19 made its less-than-merry way into our global consciousness, I thought it best that I stop promoting this pair of rather entertaining books…

The reason: both tales are set in the wake of a global pandemic. It didn’t feel right to keep promoting them. So I didn’t. But a fellow scribe has told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should make no apologies for the books, and continue to promote them. It is advice that I’ve chosen to take. So, if you don’t mind, here is a brief extract from the original and its sequel…

Silent Apocalypse:

Only Donald wanted to know about the ‘nuts ‘n’ bolts’ of the operation; but that would also have to come later. It was quite possible that in time Cosgrove may have laid all the facts out for him to peruse; but he had information to impart to all of us, that although it wasn’t vital we know, would make it much easier to accept what would later happen to us. He explained that the ‘Intake Centres’ were the first point of contact between the organization that employed him – and the survivors of the virus. He apologized for the apparent elitism within their system of selection, but, because of the physical restraints upon them – time, space, logistics, etceteras – that it was incumbent upon them to select only those who proved themselves most capable. In short – only those who could discover, and then decipher, ‘The Whispers’, and act accordingly.

The organization that he worked for turned out to be a special branch of the United Nations. This information took me back to pre-virus days, and my father bitterly complaining about the inability of the U.N to deal with trouble spots anywhere in the world, whilst trying to solve all of its ills everywhere. At best he accused them of dithering. At other times he called them toothless dogs, or spineless jellyfish – which always amused me. Jellyfish really are spineless.

Cosgrove must have had a similar disposition toward that vast organization, because he added, “But we are a special branch of the U.N: We actually do what we say we’ll do. I think that makes us pretty unique.”

Katherine had replied, “Oh joy unconstrained: Civilization has fallen, and mankind is all but extinct: But we’re still being pushed around by governmental organizations. You truly are unique: There are no others like you. For that, at least, we should thank the plague. You know, I’m not sure that I didn’t prefer a roving existence.”

I was quite shocked. How could Katherine be so rude to a man who was so clearly our benefactor? I think Cosgrove was surprised too. He went to reply, but Katherine forestalled him; or thought she had.

“And don’t show me the door. Don’t say ‘well if that’s what you want…’ We all know that now we’ve seen your little operation, none of us will ever see the sunlight again. We might talk to someone: Let something slip over tea and biscuits: You might be discovered.”

Cosgrove gave her outburst several seconds of thought. He first stroked his lightly-stubbled jaw and then rubbed the back of his neck. Turning his attention back to her he said, “You know – you’re right – about everything. I hadn’t looked at that way before: I’ve been so wrapped up with this place since its inception that perhaps I’ve failed to really notice some of the more draconian measures we’ve been forced to adopt. You are so right. But if you perceive us in the negative…if your perception of us is of a top-heavy bureaucracy full of control freaks, then you are absolutely wrong. We’re not here to control the remnants of mankind: We’re here to, firstly save it; then reorganize it; then set it to the task of retaking our planet.”

Clearly Katherine wasn’t convinced by his words; though I was ready to don the blue beret that very moment:

“You make it sound like a war.”

Cosgrove’s passion cooled. “I was coming to that; but you’ve pre-empted me.”

“Oh – no,” Lee’s voice had taken on the tone of the totally dispirited.

We all looked at him. “What’s that?” Donald asked.

Lee shifted in his seat, “Don’t you see? We are at war: The virus wasn’t no accident, or a terrorist strike gone wonky: It was…what do you call it when someone means to do something in advance?”

“Premeditated?” I suggested.

“It was a premeditated attack.” He continued, “Someone tried to wipe us out. Everything on the whole flamin’ planet!”

Katherine looked at him as if he’d lost his mind, “You’re joking, right? Who would do that? That’s ridiculous. I mean – who would have anything to gain from it?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Silent Resistance:

I hadn’t been counting the seconds, but I assumed that Tasman would have reached the shattered fire escape door by now. I could only guess how torn he must be now: If he fired upon the dogs our presence would be proven. At best the Espeeg would come out shooting – with weapons that would reload an infinite number of times if necessary: At worst they would call for help or fly away to fetch it.

‘Don’t you just love a worst case scenario!’

My fraught nerves were then pushed beyond their design parameters when our captive began squirming violently – apparently able to slip out of his bonds with ridiculous ease. Worst still he opened his visor and started shouting.

I turned my gun upon him. “Shut up!” I screamed.

But of course he didn’t. I suppose, in his way, he was really rather heroic. In a moment of unforgivable anger I put a single sliver through his open face plate. He stopped shouting, and crashed forward onto what remained of his face.

“Next time do as I say!” I yelled at his still form, “You stupid – stupid – boy!”

Then as good sense reasserted itself I turned my attention to the flying machine and the dogs. The machine remained quiescent, but two of the dogs had begun an investigation of the noise, and were approaching the door. Despite my rising panic I maintained enough self-control to remember that I had a very finite number of slivers in the butt of my hand gun. It took me two seconds to have the MP7 off of my shoulder; into my hands; and ready for action. It took another to step into view. But I never pulled the trigger because from high upon the hillside five eight point nine five millimetre bullets were streaking downwards at supersonic speed. The first two careened wildly off the imperfect concrete surface; the second two entered the body of the leading animal at neck and abdomen; the last crashed into the following dog’s brain through the eye socket. Both stumbled – momentarily unaware that they were already dead – then flopped to the ground.

The courage of the remaining four dogs was undeniable because as one they ran at the door – their intentions perfectly clear. Again Jason opened up from the hillside, but this time the animals were more widely spaced and moving faster. Only one bullet struck home, and that did no more than slow down the powerful beast. It was up to me and Tasman now. The game was up: the battle lost: we’d go down fighting.

The Heckler and Koch MP7 hadn’t been designed as an assault rifle; it was intended for use as a personal defence weapon. And in that I role I doubt it has ever been surpassed. When finally I used it as its designers had intended it didn’t let me down. Its accuracy and rate of fire – not to mention its large calibre munitions – astonished me. The slightest hint of a tug upon the trigger – and a dog went down. Shift, aim, tug, fire: shift, aim, tug, fire. Three dogs were taken out of the fight in as many seconds. But three seconds is a long time in a fight – especially when your targets are fast-moving and headed in your direction. The fourth was almost upon me; I had no time to aim, and nowhere to run. So in desperation I slipped the gun down to my hip and pulled hard upon the trigger. For a brief moment I was blinded by the air in front of me as it seemed to erupt with flame, lead, and white-hot tracer rounds. Taking an involuntary step backwards I realised that less than a second had elapsed and my magazine was empty; but the last dog standing wasn’t anymore. It thrashed about upon the concrete at my feet – blood spurting from wounds to both shoulders – its jaws snapping at me as if hell bent upon revenge.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

If you’re thinking: “He wrote both books in one year? Jeez, they must be crap!” please don’t. I wrote the first one in 2004. I then re-wrote it in 2014 after completing the sequel earlier in the same year, which, hopefully, brought it up to that book’s standard. Anyway, they’re both very readable – if violent at times. I’ve discontinued the paperbacks, but the e-books remain on sale at most e-book retailers. Take your pick. The most popular ones are accessed via the ‘Tooty’s Books Available Here’ page beneath the header of this blog.

 

Cooking Cockups: Even Chef Tooty Isn’t Beyond Reproach

Well here I am again – dressed to kill, thrill, and, more importantly, cook…

…except for the sandals, of course. Hot fluids on naked toes probably means a visit to Accident & Emergency. Today’s recipe could probably be titled Tooty’s Cauliflower Cockup, because, unusually, it didn’t go quite to plan – not that I really plan a meal: I just assemble thoughts, then act upon them. So, first up, slap some olive oil in the bottom of a roasting thing, and start layering some sliced bacon, from which you have already removed the excess fat. I mean, who likes fat? Yuk. It tastes nasty and it isn’t good for you…

Lots of bacon. In this case I was using it up, coz it had been laying about in the fridge for too long…

For fans of greenery, chuck in a handfull of frozen peas – preferably those loose ones that have fallen out of the bag and collected in the bottom of the freezer tray…

Now chop up a cauliflower and toss it into a microwavable bowl. Add a cup of water; cover with clingfilm, and microwave on full power for 8 mins…

Oh, I forgot. Cover the bacon with something to keep the dirty bastard flies off….

In my case I used some notes that I was making concerning my next Earplug Adventure. But you can use something slightly less creative. When the eight minutes are up, remove the ferociously hot cauliflower from the microwave oven…

As you have probably noted, a vacuum sucks the clingfilm down to encase the food in a plasticky embrace. This is not good – as I was to discover. What I should have done was tip the contents into a strainer and leave to drain. But those pesky flies I alluded to earlier continued to pester me, so the clingfilm stayed put. Mistake! Then it was time to dig out the Dolphin Nose…

I call it Dolphin Nose because I was thrown out of French class at school for being utterly, amazingly useless at French. In fact my teacher hit me with a gym shoe for being so utterly, amazingly useless at French. Now, if you can find this wondrous substance ready-made in a jar, do so. Here comes Tooty’s second cockup. Mix the powder with milk and bring to the boil…

Milk expands when it boils, so choose a large saucepan. If you don’t, it’ll mean a panic-stricken transfer of hot fluids from one pan to another…

What did I say about those sandals? Anyway, add the cauliflower to the bacon and peas…

…and pour over the Dolphin Nose…

…and chuck in  a hot oven for forty minutes…

Then pour yourself a drink comprising 40% California white wine and 60% 7Up…

Drink whilst watching a re-run of Judge Judy – or something like it that doesn’t require your rapt attention. After 30 mins check that the mess isn’t burning – and sprinkle with grated cheese. In my case, the cauliflower had absorbed the water from the microwaving and wasn’t so much roasting: more it was boiling. So I had to use a chopping board to hold in the food whilst I poured out the excess water. Very unprofessional. Anyway, when time is up it should look something like this…

Mine was way too salty, because of the boiling action, which drew salt out of the bacon and infused it into the cauliflower – big time. But I’m sure yours will be as delectable as mine should have been – which is very.

Age is Just a Number – Right?

Under normal circumstances, I’d like to answer “Yes” to that assertion/question. Surely we’re all as young as we feel; and if, on any given day, we’re feeling kinda young…then young we are. But, when truth be spoken, when I look at all those tablets that I take to maintain my eyesight, keep my feet on the end of my legs, and stop me degenerating into a basket case, I wonder. Then, when trying to push-start a stranger’s car, I fall to the ground and gash myself on the tarmac road surface; and when I slump onto the sofa following some strenuous pottering about with some seedlings in the garden; and when I stop regarding my poor old todger without rose-tinted glasses on, I begin to wonder. If I’m honest with myself, I am not the man I used to be. But then, recently, I discovered this book in a bottom drawer…

It is a collection of short stories, written in the 1960’s, by a brilliant science-fiction author, who was later to write the classic sci-fi novel ‘Ringworld‘. I bought it in the late 70’s aged 23. At the time I devoured it’s fabulous stories and snappy prose. I became an overnight Larry Niven fan, and read everything of his I could get my hands on. So, recently, forty years after reading it for the first time, I picked it up and began to read. Guess what: suddenly the decades fell away. I was 23 again – and I came to realise what age being a number really means. Our bodies may fail us miserably, but our souls don’t change. We may acquire knowledge, and probably forget a lot too; but the basic us; the indefinable something that makes us all individuals, remains unchanged – unspoiled. Thank you Larry Niven (even if your later books were all lazily-written with characters who spoke in the same voice, and whom you never bothered  to introduce before (or after) they spoke, so that your reader wondered who was saying what to whom, and in the end couldn’t give a shit – I’m thinking ‘Integral Trees’ here) you made me feel young again – which is what I’ve been all along, but just didn’t realise. Who needs a perfect cock anyway? Now which motorcycle shall I go buy myself? Gotta be a Yamaha, obviously.