A Desperate Dedication

I mentioned in a post (at the time) that this comedic trilogy was written whilst laying upon the bed beside my ailing wife in her final weeks. She lived long enough for me to finish the task, but not long enough to see it published. Although the content is extremely silly, it was all that I had with which I could dedicate in her memory. I wish it was a worthy tome of some significance; but it isn’t. Hopefully it is funny and entertaining. I think she would have liked that. She was, after all, unpretentious – to a fault. The dedication reads thus…

This trilogy is dedicated to my late wife, Linzi, who (for years) not only put up with me shooting the pictures and writing the manuscripts; but actively participated – finding props and earplugs for me.

She thought I was completely daft – shooting pictures of “your little men”, as she called them: but she would always lend a hand when required, or surprise me with some ‘widget’ that she’d found that I might use as a ‘prop’, or a packet of unusually-coloured earplugs that she’d found whilst out shopping. “Ooh,” she’d say to herself, “my Toots could use them.”  It’s not much of dedication, but I’d feel so good knowing that someone had finished the tale on their e-reader and discovered it beneath ‘The End’. If you were thinking of buying an Earplug Adventure, please consider these first. They are available at my publishers, Lulu – for a very reasonable price too!

Wallpapers 578 & 579: More Truthful Autumn & Light Relief

Autumn is a glorious season in the northern hemisphere – foliage full of browns, golds, reds, etc. And brilliant sunshine too, of course. Well actually that’s not always true. In fact, in some years, it’s more than a little rare. So after snapping away during the fair weather, I thought I’d put on my mack and disport in soggier climes. This is the more truthful Autumn…

But when the sun does shine…

…it is a joy to hold a camera.

Revel in the Ribaldry 17

Up to 17 already: gosh how time flies. So it’s time for an excerpt from this fair e-tome…

I can’t think of a better choice. Talking of choice, let’s allow random chance another go at selecting the excerpt this time – after all it’s worked pretty well so far, with the possible exception of Revel in the Ribaldry 16.  And here it is…

Algy Timber  had been waiting patiently outside Tybrow Mooney’s lock-up garage for longer than he cared to recall. His bladder was sending urgent messages to his brain, but fortunately his conscious mind had found a way to override this information – if only temporarily. This new-found skill had allowed him to remain seated in the passenger seat of Fabian Strangefellow’s fabulous sporting go-kart, and watch the small brick-built construction with an intensity rapidly approaching that of a Garden Cross spider as it awaited the arrival of a myopic fly.

Fabian Strangefellow shifted in the driver’s seat. Like Algy he too had spent many hours watching for any sign of either Felicity or Roosevelt’s emergence. But an important difference between the two hamsters made his experience so much more bearable. He was vastly more experienced in ‘stake outs’, and had chosen to wear voluminous trousers that allowed him to keep a large plastic bag fastened to the end of his willy without anyone seeing it. Consequently his comfort levels were several pegs higher than those of Algy, and he hummed a pleasant, if repetitive, little tune.

Algy butted in on the forty-second chorus. “Are you sure this is the right garage?” He demanded – not for the first time in the many hours of the youngster’s mysterious absence from Hamster Heath.

“My dear chap,” Fabian replied – apparently unable to show any sign of irritation, “I assure you that this is the very spot to which I tailed my dear, dear, assistant, and the lovely Felicity. They went in: They never came out: And they’re not inside there now. Now why don’t you pop around the rear of the vehicle, and relieve your tormented internals. You know that you’ll regret this stoicism in later life if you don’t. Have you never heard of enlarged prostate glands? They play merry hell with your water works.”

Algy was about to take his new-found associate’s advice, when to his utmost joy he watched as the up-and-over door of the garage began shaking. In fact so taken with this was he that he failed entirely to notice something about Strangefellow – but the strange hamster’s superior air seemed to dissipate for a moment, and his expression betrayed concern. Then Algy’s bladder kicked in, and he creased up with agony. In that moment his gaze fell, and locked, upon Strangefellow’s visage.

“You look like someone’s just cloned your bank details.” He squeaked to ward off the pain, “What’s wrong?”

Of course Strangefellow couldn’t admit that his secret desire was that neither Felicity nor Joan return from the parallel universe – at least not until he was ready to ‘courageously brave the void between worlds, and save them from certain doom’. Then he thought of the adulation that he would receive: And the television interviews that were bound to follow of course: Along with the book deal and personal appearances.                                                                                                                        

“Wrong, my dear Mister Timber? Wrong? Why nothing at all.” He lied.

Then the garage door opened, and Joan appeared – squinting in the day light.

“Bollocks!” the strange hamster bellowed – his wide-brimmed hat billowing gaily in the morning sunshine, “Fluff and bloody bollocks!”

But Algy wasn’t listening: He was already out of the car, and running towards his portly young employee. But, as he approached upon legs so desperately crossed that he feared he might stumble, fall to the ground, and accidentally urinate copiously inside his Kool Kustard company-jodhpurs, he noticed that Felicity was there too – with Roosevelt Teabiscuit holding her paw. And then a whole bunch of others as well – including someone with chocolate all down the front of their jacket.

‘Or is that blood?’ He thought.

Of all those standing in the doorway of Tybrow Mooney’s garage, it was Joan who spotted Algy first.

 “Cooie.” She called, and waved theatrically, “You look like you need a wee. How did you know we’d be here?”

Algy was about to reply, when his bladder got the better of him, and he was forced to dash behind a huge dandelion.

Naturally Fabian Strangefellow stepped into the hurriedly vacated breech.                                 

 “Logical deduction, my dear Miss Bugler.” He offered a limp paw and a half-curtsy, “It comes from a life-time of experience.”

He then cast several ethereal daggers in Roosevelt’s direction.

Roosevelt’s response came in the form of body language. It was a form of body language that Fabian had learned many yonks previously when he was captured by a tribe of Pygmy Shrews whilst on a caravan holiday in The Republic of Darkest Pongo, and almost eaten. Only the sight of his shaven, and heavily tattooed genitals had saved him from certain death at the time: But their language was forever burnt into his consciousness.

“Things got out of control.” Roosevelt had also learned the subtle moves well, “Our plan was skuppered from the beginning: It’s far more dangerous in Prannick than we’d assumed. I barely got out alive. If it hadn’t been for the skills and knowledge of Stubby Collet – chances are we’d all be pin cushions by now. Talking of which – Mister Collett desperately needs a doctor.”

In the few fleeting moments to took for Roosevelt to impart this information, both he and Strangefellow had fallen silent. It came to the attention of Felicity, but she assumed that the great private detective was having a hamstery fugue, and that Roosevelt was experiencing some sort of ‘episode’ caused, no doubt, by the trauma of his experiences in Prannick.

The others merely stood and waited patiently, which suited them just fine because it gave them the chance to regain their breath, their composure, and their dignity – the latter of which being very important to a hamster – especially one from a semi-medieval society, and particularly one with royal blood coursing through his veins, and who has mislaid his favourite cavy.

“Ah,” Strangefellow suddenly reanimated, “this must be Stubby Collett: My word, Stubby, you look like someone threw you into the path of an omnibus. Perhaps we should convey you to a hospital. I have a fine example of the go-kart builder’s art: If you would care to…”

“No hospital.” Stubby interrupted rudely, “Too many questions asked. Get me to an experienced military surgeon who just happens to have left the forces, and is readily available within close proximity to Hamster Heath. But do it quickly: My life ebbs away.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

There, wasn’t that nice! Of course the e-book is even better. Were you interested, you could purchase it, for a very reasonable sum, at most e-book retailers. Or you could click on the cover pictures on the sidebar. You could, if you felt particularly daring, click on the Lulu logo on the sidebar and be transported to my publishers directly. It’s all good fun. It’s worth it just to have a look at all my pretty book covers.

 

Chef Tooty Makes Spaghetti Bollock Nose!

Chef Tooty – with recipies and techniques for people who hate cooking, but, for whatever reason, have to.

In much the same way that Chef Tooty is unable to pronounce Dauphinoise, so he is also useless at saying Bolognese. So, where the former became Dolphin Nose, the latter is now pronounced Bollock Nose. When you stop and think about it, it all makes perfect sense.

Naturally, as is the way of things, before he began preparing the meal, Chef Tooty went in search of ingredients…

One of the first to be given the old heave-ho was the spaghetti…

Everyone knows that you don’t use spaghetti to make Bollock Nose: it’s too thin. Use tagliatelli. On this occaision Chef Tooty also selected the following ingredients…

Olive oil,  a mixture of grated Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese, the aforementioned pasta, a courgette, carrots, a pepper, an onion, and some minced beef. He would have added tomatoes, but he didn’t spot them on the top shelf of the fridge door until it was too late. Of course he could have used an alternative to the beef that’s based upon beans or fungus. It wouldn’t have tasted the same, of course; but it’s use would be helped to save the planet. Cow fart is a greenhouse gas after all. And a nasty one at that!

Now Chef Tooty doesn’t like to hang about. If his meal takes three quarters of an hour to prepare and cook it’s apt to get him riled. So it’s Shortcutsville for him whenever possible. First up  – he doesn’t bother boiling the water in a saucepan: he uses a bloody kettle. But first he likes to splash some olive oil in the pasta pan…

…to stop the pasta sticking to the bottom, which really annoys him and wastes his time. Then it’s chuck the tagliatelli into the pan and pour over the boiling water…

Notice he’s already boiling a second load of water. You never know when you’re gonna need some more. It’s always handy to have it hot and ready to go. What did Don Covay say in his 1975 hit record ‘It’s Better to Have‘? Yeah – it’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have. Very wise man that Don Covay: should have had more hits.  Anyway, on with the show…

Whilst the water comes back to the boil, Chef Tooty has whizzed through dicing the veggies. Note that he has removed some cheese from the pack. This is to allow it to gain room temperature prior to being sprinkled upon the gloriously wonderful finished product. Then he chucked the carrot into some pre-heated olive oil. Carrots, like all root vegetables, are bastards and don’t like being cooked. Consequently they take longer to soften up than more reasonable veggies. After a couple of minutes he added the onion…

A couple more minutes and in went the beef…

Naturally he had to keep stirring the mess like buggery. Because beef releases it’s own juices, it was important that he not use too much oil at the beginning. So – remember this everybody – stirring stops burning on the bottom. No one likes a burnt bottom – least of all Chef Tooty…

Meanwhile Chef Tooty has placed a lid upon the pasta pan and turned the heat down. This saves energy, which is good for his wallet and the planet. It does result in spillages…

…but if incessantly cleaning them up, as you go along, can be considered an enjoyable challenge, it’s almost fun. Almost – but not quite. Plus there’s the added bonus of reducing steam within the kitchen, which might cause black mould to form on the ceiling, or stop the inevitable laundry on the clothes horse in the corner of the room…

…from drying properly. 

Once the beef was browned and clearly no longer raw, Chef Tooty added the courgette and the pepper. This was the first of two ingenious acts. Because the courgette cooks slightly quicker than the pepper, when the courgette is ‘done’, the pepper still retains a degree of delightfully fresh crispiness. Is there a real  word called ‘crispiness’? It doesn’t look right written down like that. Who cares: carry on.

He fried this concoction for several minutes – stirring and turning it over most attentively. Then the second act of genius occurred.  As you probably know, Chef Tooty doesn’t like pissing about with spices and pastes and supposedly clever stuff: he likes things out of packets and jars. So he pulled this out of the cupboard…

It said ‘pasta sauce’ on the label – and surely that’s all a decent chef needs to know. So he slopped it into the pan: sploshed  some water about in the jar to get out the dregs, and added that too. Then it was simmer-time until the firm white flesh of the courgette became dull and slightly less opaque – bordering upon vaguely transparent at the edges – rather like his buttocks. But that’s being pedantic. Then came a moment of simple, inspired logic: if the courgette looked cooked, everything else must be!

By now the pasta had boiled itself into submission and was drained. It was then slopped on to the pre-warmed plates – microwaved naturally –  quickly followed by the bollock nose, and a topping of cheese…

Then, after delivering the meals to their intended victims, and quickly remembering to feed the dogs, it was time for Chef Tooty to pour himself a congratulatory half-glass of ginger beer and tuck into what was left…

Bon…uh…thingy!

 

Earplug Adventures Wallpaper 70: A Ghastly Communication.

In this scene from ‘The Time Tamperer volume 2‘, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger receive a video call from the future. Unfortunately it’s not good news from Cushions Smethwyke:  apparently time travel has become impossible, and they’re now stuck in their own past. “Oh shit,” or words to that affect, springs to mind.

Torn!

I have a terrible decision to make. Do I clamber into my loft ‘studio’ and add a few hundred shots to those you see on the left of picture; then write the sequel to ‘A Tale of Three Museums’?

Or do I lean to the right; attempt to decypher my unintelligible scrawl from about four or five years past; then write the sequel to ‘Present Imperfect‘? Both are worthy projects of a literary genius like wot I is. Or do I chuck a camera or two in the top-box of my Yamaha and go snapping photos of whatever takes my fancy? Oh decisions, decisions. I’m so torn! Of course I could do some housework and watch TV. But bollocks to that: where’s the creativity? Gotta keep this aging brain active. If you have an opinion, I’d like to hear it.

 

Chef Tooty in ‘Chef In Boots’

He tried a Waitrose Christmas apron. He tried naked buttocks. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. Yes, it’s Chef In Boots!

‘Wonderful’ I hear you say. ‘Almost perfect, in fact. But there is still some room for improvement.’

Well I’ve pre-empted you. Regardez vous, por favor: Beam Me Up Chef Tooty…

Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

Top: Paramount Pictures

Boots: Frank Thomas

Trousers: Errrr…um…Primark?

 

Aesthetics: The Art of Considerate Parking 3

In the original Aesthetics: The Art of Considerate Parking, I mentioned that is was impossible to park a silver car beside any other hue – unless it was black and you happened to be an Oakland Raiders fan –  and remain aesthetically pleasing. Well I have to pick myself up on that subject. Two subjects actually. The first is that I was wrong. The second is that the Raiders have moved to Las Vegas. Would you believe it, but I have discovered a colour that silver contrasts nicely with. It’s metallic sea blue/green – with a touch of autumnal foliage thrown in to frame the scene. And this is it – right outside my bedroom window…

Well I thought they looked nice anyway. Subtle. Nothing garish. Can’t beat bright red and yellow though.

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 15

Since this series of excerpts from my wondrously fabulous Hamster-Sapiens e-books appears to be fulfilling a desperate need deep within the bosom of so many, here’s another one. Of course, numerically at least (if not artistically) it must come from the majestic…

Yes, Danglydong Dell Diaries – not only a sequel to Fanfare for the Common Hamster, but to The Psychic Historian too. I mean, what else could you want from a book? And here is that random extract…

Wendy Nuthatch knew better than to return to the dais. Like Horatio before her, she had read the program. In fact she’d written it, so was well aware that to step upon the dais now would invite disaster. Instead she merely checked her watch, folded her arms against the increasingly chill winter breeze, and sat back to watch.

Into the same chill winter breeze stepped Joan Bugler. As was usual for the young, if plump, female – she appeared out of thin air. She then reached back into the invisible realm from which she had just arrived, and yanked through a prissy-looking fellow in bright red tights, a huge floppy hat, and a colourful, gold braided, jerkin. He carried with him a long dull-metal trumpet.

Once the brightly-bedecked apparition had recovered from the transition from one reality to another, he promptly put the trumpet to his mouth and blew a pleasant little ditty that had the first five rows tapping their toes in time with it. Those further back lacked natural rhythm, but appreciated the melody nevertheless.

The tune only lasted a few moments. Joan then stepped to the microphone.

“Did anyone recognise the tune?” She inquired.

Naturally no one did, but Horatio was excellent at putting two and two together, and correctly guessed that it was the recently rearranged, funked-up, version of Fanfare for the Common Hamster.

Joan pointed at Horatio and grinned. “I thought you’d figure it out. Can you guess what happens next?”

Horatio didn’t just want to guess; he wanted to be an active participant. Leaping from his seat, and dashing forward, he reached out to Joan’s paw, and said, “May I?”

Joan had once experienced non-reproductive sexual intercourse with Horatio. They now enjoyed a near-telepathic talent for understanding each other’s needs. “Of course.” She replied, and helped Horatio on to the dais.

To Horatio alone she said, “Reach into Prannick Horatio.”

Naturally Horatio didn’t need further prompts. He lunged with his free paw into the undetectable portal, grabbed hold of the first thing that he found there, and yanked as hard as he could. His paw returned clutching a spectacular plume that had been fashioned from the feathers of some exotic bird. The plume came attached to a huge brass helmet. And attached to the brass helmet was the heir to the throne of Sponx – Darkwood Dunce – and he didn’t look best pleased.

“I say!” He bellowed in a disturbingly effeminate voice that he quickly brought under control, and duly continued in a more testosterone-enriched tenor, “Have a care, cur; don’t you know who I am?”

It was a great show, and the people of Hamster Heath applauded loudly, which gave Horatio time to regain his seat.

Abruptly aware that he and Joan were not alone, Darkwood immediately doffed his helmet; made a sweeping gesture that might have been a bow; winked at Joan; and then called, “Greetings good people of Hamster Heath. I’m just so thrilled to be here. Really I am.”

“We’re thrilled that you’ve agreed to appear.” Nurse Growler, from the local surgery, called out in response. “It’s not every day that we get to meet the heir to a kingdom in our dinky little town.”

“Why thank you, fair maid.” Darkwood nodded in satisfaction. “It is not every day that I am so privileged to stand before an audience of such class and breeding.”

“Breeding?” Huck Ballesteroid’s startled tones filled the dell. “Is that big poofter suggesting that we start breeding? Well I’m all for it: I’ve always had an eye for Nurse Growler. She’s a right miserable-looking sod, but I bet she goes like a race-prepped go-kart.”

Nurse Growler might not have been the most friendly and caring of nurses, but she had always been extremely professional, and was never short of medical equipment should the need arise. She could usually lay a paw upon some important implement – night and day – becalmed or tempest – sober or totally rat-arsed. And so she did that night in Danglydong Dell. From somewhere (no one could honestly say that they witnessed its appearance) Nurse Growler produced a heavy cast iron enamelled bed pan.

Upon the dais Darkwood flinched. He’d never seen a bedpan before, and feared that it was some terrible advanced form of weaponry. And he was right. Nurse Growler stood up, pushed Doctor Growbag’s head between his knees so that she had room to swing, and proceeded to revolve upon the spot – building up speed with every turn – until she launched the bedpan with all the skill and fury of a rodentolympic hammer thrower. The bedpan then sliced through the air in a rising arc like a startled sparrow with a veterinarian’s thermometer up its jacksey.

In his bath chair Huck Ballesteroid had a terrible sense of foreboding. Ever since childhood he’d been certain that one day this moment would come. And now it had arrived – not on the battlefield as he’d hoped – but in Danglydong Dell; on a winter’s night; with everyone watching. He sighed in the face of dreadful inevitability and made his peace with his chosen deity.

The bedpan, when it arrived, came out of the dark night sky like a silent meteorite, or an avenging dirigible passenger’s frozen turd. It caught Huck directly between the eyes – knocking him senseless, and pitching him backwards into the lukewarm water of his bath chair.

For a moment utter silence reigned. Then Horatio (who had history with Huck) cheered like a hamster possessed, and within a heartbeat the entire dell had erupted with a cheerful chorus of hoorahs.

Darkwood didn’t know what to make of it. So he leant forward and spoke into the microphone, and said, “I say, do you want to hear my tale, or not?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Fantasy? The writers of Game of Thrones should have read this book before they wrote that series. Imagine how much better it would have been – especially the ending! But that’s by-the-by: they didn’t, and the world’s a sorrier place for their omission. But you can still buy this tale of derring-do at most e-book retailers – some of which are mentioned on the sidebar or in Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header. Also check out the Lulu logo on the sidebar.

 

Casual Causality 2

Since I posted an excerpt from the first of my Causality Merchant science-fiction mysteries, I see no reason why I shouldn’t do the same thing with the second. Namely this piece of wonderfulness…

…which features the same central characters. It too remains available as an e-book (but no longer a paperback) at Lulu.com and most other outlets – see the sidebar Lulu logo and book covers, or the Tooty’s Books Available Here page beneath the header to access the better known ones. Right, enough of that mercenary stuff: on with the excerpt…

Wozniak greeted the Brownings in the hallway, and invited them to follow him to the study where they could make themselves comfortable.

They chatted for a while. Wozniak reminded them of how he came to know them, and they in turn related the tale of how they became friends of his brother.

“You know,” Connor said twenty minutes later, from behind a large glass of brandy, the contents of which he swirled admiringly, “we joked that you could be Tom’s double – that time when we watched you win on the coconut shy during the summer fete. Of course we had no idea that you were brothers at the time: We knew you only as Peter.”

“Well that’s fair enough.” Wozniak smiled. “I’m hardly on the electoral role, and I wasn’t sporting a beard at the time. You’d no reason to know my identity. I don’t exactly bandy it about. Of course if you’d spoken with Miss Witherspoon at the general store, you might have put two and two together. I’m known as ‘That Nice Mister Wozniak’ to her and her friends. I know – I should be embarrassed; but I’m not.”

Janice had paused in her preparations for dinner to meet Connor and Amanda, but once the preliminaries were completed she had made her excuses and returned to the

kitchen. Now she returned – shucking off an apron as she did so, and tossing it upon the telephone stand in the hallway before anyone noticed her arrival.

“Ladies and gentlemen.” She announced. “Luncheon is served.”

“Oh goodie.” Amanda was upon her feet first. “I’m absolutely starving.”

No one had turned up their noses at the sight of a hurriedly prepared Prawn Cocktail. It may have been old-fashioned, but under the circumstances – once Tom had explained them to the Brownings  – their guests were most complimentary.

Gwen, Dave, and Judith had joined them. Fortunately the dining room table was huge, and they were all able to fit around it with ease.

An hour later, with Judith’s help, Janice was in the process of removing the last of the empty plates to the kitchen counter when a clap of thunder made both women jump. Judith took a look out through the kitchen window.

“Strange.” She said. “It looks like a perfectly clear evening out there. There’s not a cloud to be seen.”

In the dining room a puzzled Wozniak had made the same observation.

Gwen remembered the dog.

“Oh Tom, I’d completely forgotten Wolfie. I left him in the orchard. You know how he hates thunder.”

Tom was dismissive. “He’s a big boy. He can’t run off. He’ll find his way back here if he’s desperate enough.”

Gwen was less certain. “Perhaps I should go fetch him.”

Abruptly the sky lit up for a brief moment – illuminating the interior of the dining room like a thousand flash bulbs going off simultaneously. A deafening clap of thunder followed a split second later.

Gwen’s keenness dissipated. “On the other hand…” She said nervously.

Again Wozniak scrutinized the empty sky. To confirm his observation he opened the French doors, and stepped out onto the patio. Turning through three hundred and sixty degrees he scanned the heavens.

“Not a cloud in the sky.” He said in a puzzled voice. “Tom, you’re more into meteorology than I am: Is it possible to have thunder and lightning without clouds?”

Tom was amused by this. “Since when have I shown the slightest interest in meteorology? I run a small chain of gay bars: I don’t forecast the weather. But in answer to your question – no I don’t think it can.”

Connor Browning spoke up. “I’m no expert, but surely cloud formation is an absolute prerequisite for electrical activity in the atmosphere.”

Janice and Judith chose that moment to enter from the hallway.

“This is a strange to-do.” Janice said. “What peculiar weather we’re having.”

“Unless it isn’t the weather at all.” Dave’s tone sounded ominous.

Judith shot him a warning look.

Wozniak too wasn’t ready to share their secrets with their guests, and quickly made light of the situation.

“Of course – it’s probably the RAF flying low, and trying out some new gizmo. Let’s not worry ourselves about it any more.”

“I’ll second that.” Tom clapped his hands together. “Right – who’s for coffee?”

Seven hands, including Tom’s own, responded by thrusting skywards.

“Excellent.” He smiled warmly, and made for the door. “Amanda – you can assist me.”

Amanda immediately fell into line with him.

“I am at your command, oh master.” She said cheekily.

Then, to the surprise of Janice, she ran a finger down his spine. And as they stepped from the room the same hand completed its journey by gently squeezing a well-toned buttock.

Janice looked to Wozniak. Her message was clear. I thought your brother was homosexual?

Wozniak merely shrugged his reply. You can never be sure of anything with Tom.

No one else seemed to have noticed, or if they had they were playing dumb.

“Oh I do worry about Wolfie.” Gwen fretted by the window. “He could come over all catatonic.”

“Tell you what,” Connor chirped up, “let’s go take a look shall we. If there’s another ungodly bang we can always come scurrying back inside.”

Gwen was most grateful for this support, and readily agreed to venture outside through the French windows.

“See you soon.” Connor waved cheerily to those who remained. “Send out a search party if we don’t return by dawn won’t you.”

Wozniak, Janice, Dave, and Judith all responded with a wave and a smile, but Wozniak felt a chill run down his spine, and his smile fell away.

The others noticed this.

“Causality Merchant alert, Peter?” Dave surmised.

“Maybe.” Wozniak’s expression grew grim. “Two claps of thunder – without a cloud in the sky? It doesn’t feel right.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Ooh-err, what could this all mean? Sounds ominous. And what about Wolfie – the Rottwieller/Doberman cross? Where has he disappeared to? Could he be….dead? Killed in a most grisly manner? Or am I giving too much away? Buy the (inexpensive) e-book to find out!

Casual Causality 1

Since I posted excerpts from my pair of ‘Silent’ books recently, I thought, “Bugger it: I’ll give ’em a taste of my ‘Causality Merchant‘ books too!” So here I am, hoping you’ll spare a few seconds to peruse a snippet from this book…

Oh yes, if you didn’t know: I also write under the pen name of Clive Thunderbolt. Well I did: I might again too. It all depends on whether I can bother to get my arse into gear and write the third book that I started in 2016 or whenever it was. Unlike the ‘Silent’ books, this pair of e-books have third person narratives, which (in hindsight) might have been a mistake. I think it’s so much better if the character is telling the tale in his or her own words. But it’s too bloody late now: I wrote this (and it’s sequel) years ago. Here’s the excerpt…

Later that evening, in the drawing room, Wozniak and Marcus reclined together upon a large, sumptuous sofa. Soft music played; and because the evening had become a little chill, Wozniak had a small fire crackling in the hearth.

Marcus was sipping at her whiskey and soda. She stared into the dancing flames. Upon the nearby coffee table an almost empty whisky bottle perched. Wozniak, one arm around Marcus, lay against the arm of the sofa, with her head reclining upon his shoulder. In his hand he also held a glass of whiskey. But his was full, and had remained so for most of the evening. Though he appeared to Marcus to be at complete ease and at peace with the world, this was an entirely false impression – just as Wozniak had planned it. Where Marcus had drunk freely, Wozniak had been more circumspect. Where Marcus’ cognitive abilities were being impaired by ingestion of alcohol; Wozniak’s remained fully intact. He had quickly realized that if he was to discover anything about the activities at Carstairs Research & Development, it would require every advantage he could think of, and then some. She was smart and as sharp as a razor, and he wondered if alcohol could truly blunt it.

He broke the silence:

“Work must be really agreeing with you lately: that’s two days on the trot that you’ve come here full of the joys of spring. What gives?”

If he’d expected her to open up to such a gambit, he was to be sorely disappointed.

Marcus waved an admonishing finger at him, “Ah-ah-ah; remember the old war-time maxim: Walls have ears.”

Wozniak remained good-natured about the setback. It was still reasonably early: the situation wasn’t irredeemable.

“Hey,” he seemingly complained affably, “I’m not talking shop here: I’m just…well maybe I was just a little.”

“Of course you were.” Marcus slapped his free hand playfully.

Under normal circumstances Wozniak would have backed off at this point: but today he needed to press on. He had nothing to lose after all.

He took up the mantle again. “Hell, Kate, can you blame me? Look at me. I sit here all day dreaming up stories that just don’t come – whilst you go gallivanting about doing who-knows-what, and having a hell of a time doing it. I’m going stir-crazy, Kate: tell me something I don’t already know. Tell me something of your life. If I can’t experience it first-hand, at least let me enjoy you recounting it to me. Let me get involved in some way. Tell you what – I’m a pretty smart fellow: bounce some ideas off me.”

Marcus pulled herself upright. She placed her drink upon the coffee table.

“Peter Wozniak,” she began sternly, “anyone who knows anything about you – knows that you are a fantasy and S.F writer. Since I’m someone who knows something about something, I know exactly what you’re up to – and that’s looking for inspiration: and you don’t care where you find it.”

Wozniak couldn’t find argument with this summation. So he said, “Is that such a bad thing? It is my stock in trade, you know.”

“Yes it is.” Marcus responded adamantly. “Exactly. And what happens when the powers that run Carstairs Research and Development see one of your shows on TV? They’ll say, ‘Hello, hello, hello – now where did he get that idea from? I wonder who might have told him about that little project. Might it possibly have been that lovely Doctor Marcus?  We know he’s been slipping her a length or two. And he did ‘phone the office that time…’ Am I right?”

Wozniak adopted his most indignant pose. “No, you’re not: It’s not like that at all!”

Marcus laughed out loud at his hurt expression.

“Come on, Peter, please – let’s have a little honesty here: you’re like a Nineteen Seventies reporter from the Washington Post: what wouldn’t you give for a good story? I’m sure shagging the arse off me wouldn’t be deemed above and beyond the call of duty…”

Wozniak’s face showed amazement. But it wasn’t Marcus’ words that caused it: it was the inference.

“You mean there’s actually a story to be had?” He grinned and narrowed his eyes.

He then joined in with Marcus as her laughter increased. He wasn’t even put off when he received a playful slap around the face – with the line, “Peter Wozniak – you are incorrigible!”

She then punched him on the shoulder – spilling his whisky down the front of his trousers.

“Oh deary me!” She exclaimed through a fit of giggles, “I’ve gone and made your nice clothes all wet.” Her hands delved into his moistened groin, and started tugging at his zipper. “We’ll have to find a place in the washing machine for them. Now let’s see – how do we get them off?”

But her inebriation made her fingers fumble, and Wozniak was able to fend her off with ease. He took her hands in his:

“Oh no you don’t, Doctor Marcus.” He scolded. “Not until you tell me what’s made you so damned cheerful. Come on, you: spill the beans, or you’ll go home tonight a spinster.”

“You do realize that your ghastly threat constitutes emotional blackmail, I hope?” Marcus replied as she regarded the tall man through narrowed eyes. “I could have you shot, or something equally unpleasant.”

“Oh yes.” He grinned, “But when needs must, even the perfect gentleman must lower his standards.”

Marcus regained her whisky – all the better to ruminate over Wozniak’s words. After a few moments she winked.

“Well as long as it’s not only the aforementioned gentleman’s standards he’s lowering.” She whispered.

And with that Wozniak was certain he had won the day.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

As with many of my books, this one was originally published several years previous to the copyright date, but was updated that year and re-published to coincide with the sequel. I can’t say that it’s nice: a lot of people get killed. But that Peter Wozniak is a good guy: you’ll like him. Naturally the e-book remains available (though I’ve discontinued the paperback) at Lulu.com and other outlets both major and minor.

And….Action!

In my post ‘The Book That Will Never Be Written‘ I mentioned the surprise of many of my wife’s friends and colleagues who, until hearing the eulogy at her funeral, knew nothing of her show-biz past. What I failed to mention to her Celebrant, as we discussed the impending funeral, was her time working in the Spanish movie industry. Linzi probably wouldn’t have thanked me for letting on: she was rather embarrassed by her (perceived waste of) time at Roma Studios, which were located a few kilometres outside of Madrid. She appeared in many crummy, careless, god-awful films that she was happy to forget. But, one day, whilst perusing the DVD shelves in the Alicante branch of El Court Inglese, she began to search for the DVD version of what was probably the worst film she appeared in. It was so carelessly put together that when she pointed out to the set designer that an Arab sheik would, under no circumstances, have the Star of David perched above his ‘throne’, she was told that  the film’s viewers wouldn’t know that, and that it looked good – so it stayed. Unfortunately she couldn’t remember the title of the film, so instead she sought out an equally dreadful film titled The Rebellious Nun, in which she played a ghost. Unfortunately this particular ‘Nun’ had been imbibing from a bottle of vodka between ‘takes’ and could be heard giggling throughout all of her scenes. She assumed that her scenes would either end up on the cutting room floor, or be over-dubbed. Neither happened, and she was dismayed to discover that her inebriation had been recorded for posterity and now appeared on-screen in movie theatres across the Iberian Peninsula.  Sadly we couldn’t find a copy of that movie; but we did find this one…

…which is actually rather a nice film – if you speak Spanish. It’s a musical, which introduced the world to the song ‘Y Viva España’, and starred the very popular actor/singer…

Unfortunately Linzi’s appearence in the film was brief; but she did get to use her dancing skills. Also unfortunately the quality of the DVD was such that screen captures of moving objects are a little blurred. Okay, a lot blurred. Linzi is the dancer in pale green on the left…

Don’t you just hate cheap DVDs?

Her ‘movie’ career came to a close in 1973 when she declined an offer to appear in a version of The Three Musketeers – much to her chagrine. After turning up her nose at the offer (assuming that it was another cheap domestic product of dubious quality) she soon discovered that it was the definitive 70’s version of the film starring Raquel Welch, Michael York, Oliver Reed – and her childhood heart-throb actor, Richard (Doctor Kildair) Chamberlain! But it was too late to back-track: someone else had the job. From then on she decided that the movies weren’t for her, and stuck to treading the boards for a living.

More Time For Silence

Now you didn’t think I was going to post an excerpt from Silent Apocalypse without following it up with the same from Silent Resistance? Surely not? And you’d be right…

By the way, do you think that little girl who appears beneath the letter N in the word Resistance looks a tad dangerous? It was that look that made me choose this image as the cover. I even wrote a passage to include the scene. Any way – on with the excerpt…

As the Land Rover pulled alongside us, we could barely hear the driver’s cheerful hail above the din of its clattering diesel engine.

“Hello, you two.” He shouted from the side window of the two-seat cabin, “You’re from yon farm along the way, aint ya?”

I raised an eyebrow at this; I was somewhat surprised that the young man of (I estimated) eighteen or nineteen was aware of us. We’d chosen a well-hidden spot in a shallow valley that was all but invisible from the road.

He must have read my mind because he tapped the side of his nose, winked, and said, “Spent all me life ‘round these parts: pays to know who the competition are – ‘specially during times of plague and pestilence.”

“Yes, I imagine so.” I said as I extended a hand towards him. “Felicity Goldsmith.”

“Graham Perkins.” He replied – cutting the engine, and taking my fingers in his huge, calloused hands. “It’s nice to meet someone’s what’s civilised for a change.”

I was surprised at the coarseness of his hands. They felt like those of a man three times his age that had spent a lifetime tilling the land.

‘A farmer’s son. I think I can trust this man.’

Tasman then introduced himself as Brian Wilkins. I was glad that Tasman had slipped in a pair of his contact lenses; explaining his oblong pupils would have been problematical.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Graham spoke to both of us, “but I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on your farm. I figured everybody’d be here when I found Soverton empty a few months back.”

I nodded; it was from the village of Soverton that we’d recruited the members of our co-operative.

“If you don’t mind me saying,” Graham was continuing, “you could use a bit of expertise down there.”

Although I bristled inside, I said nothing to the older boy. I merely looked at him with what I hoped was an inquiring expression.

“Them winter crops in the lower field.” He went on, “You need to sow ‘em further up the slope.”

Tasman threw me a glance. I could read nothing into it, and so wished that he could have used his telepathy upon me.

“Would you be interested in joining our co-operative?” He asked the young farmer.

Graham pretended to pause for thought.

“Well I wasn’t exactly planning on something quite so bold.” He replied eventually.

Tasman continued as though the other boy hadn’t spoken, “It’s just that Felicity and I have business elsewhere, and it’s…you know…”

It let his words trail off into nothingness.

Graham grinned. “And you’d like someone what knows what he’s doing to take over?” He said hopefully.

“Pretty much.” Tasman replied.

I was surprised at the sudden turn of events.

‘Hey, this isn’t part of the master plan!’

I was concerned that we were in the process of giving away the fruits of many week’s labour to a complete stranger.

‘But wait a moment, Fel: Tasman might be too polite to read your mind, but you can bet your last…whatever…that he’s read Graham’s. Now would be the perfect time for two-way silent communication between us.’

I tried ‘sending’ Tasman a thought, but I expected him to be too busy concentrating his attention upon Graham to even begin to ‘hear’ me.

“Is this boy the real deal?”

Tasman’s eyes flicked in my direction: I detected the minutest of nods.

Graham appeared to be prevaricating, though I was certain it was just an act.

“It’s not every day that a lad your age gets offered the manager’s job on a working farm, complete with live-in staff.” I pointed out to him.

Graham’s head tipped to one side slightly in agreement. He then added, “No, and it isn’t every day that world ends either.”

I wasn’t absolutely certain what he meant by that remark. Perhaps he had more work on his hands than he could deal with. Maybe running our farm as well as his own would be too much for him.

“Could you give me a tour?” He inquired.

Had he asked the question twenty-four hours earlier, Tasman would undoubtedly have agreed to his request: But today wasn’t yesterday. Although no one at the farm knew it yet, Tasman and I were Absent Without Leave. Or in Lee’s parlance, we’d ‘done a runner’. We couldn’t go back; it would require that we explain the reason for our departure, and then face all the arguments that would no doubt be intended to keep us there.

“Tell you what.” Tasman said, “You know where the turning to the farm is: If I write a quick note of introduction, you can find your own way there. Ask for Carl, and show it to him. He’ll gladly show you around. He knows the farm isn’t nearly as efficient as it should be, and could use some pointers. And if truth be known – we’re a little over-manned: Perhaps you could take a few kids back to your place?”

‘Brilliant!’

This must have been exactly what Graham had wanted to hear.

“I accept your kind offer.” He said whilst shaking Tasman’s hand.

He then produced a dog-eared note pad and an almost blunt pencil from a cubby-hole in the dashboard of his Land Rover.

I watched as Tasman used the wing of the vehicle as a writing desk.

Dear Carl,

This is Graham Perkins. He is a professional farmer. We have invited him to tour the farm with view to taking a managerial role there. If favourable he would like volunteers to help him at his farm too. It would definitely benefit both farms, and widen our co-operative. I can vouch for his authenticity.

Regarding Felicity and myself; please do not be alarmed by our absence. We both have very important tasks to perform elsewhere that are not connected with the co-operative. I think you can guess what they might be, but please keep the truth from the younger ones. Rest assured we both intend to return one day.

With love,

Tasman.

I then added my signature to it, and handed it to Graham, who ran a cursory eye over it.

“Tasman?” He enquired. “I thought you said your name…”

“A nick-name.” I blurted. “Everyone knows him as Tasman.”

Quickly changing the subject, I added, “You know the way: Down the lane a while; then down the dirt track on the left.”

Graham nodded as he folded the note into a tight wad, and placed it in the breast pocket of his waxed cotton body warmer.

“So where are you two off to know, then?” He asked.

“We’d…um…We’d rather not say.” I replied.

Graham tapped the side of his nose for a second time. Winking, he said, “Don’t want me letting the cat out of the bag to Carl and the kids’ eh? Well that’s fine by me: We all got agendas what need seeing to. Now I aint exactly overflowing with the stuff, but I’m willing to spare a little diesel if you’re a needing a lift somewhere.”

 

It had been a kind offer, but we politely declined, and made our farewells. We watched as the Land Rover trundled away along the lane towards our former sanctuary. I felt buoyed by the encounter. It gave me hope for the future success of the farm. I also took it as an omen for what we were about to do.

“He’s not even considering turning down our offer, you know.” Tasman said as at last the vehicle disappeared from view, “He may not have mentioned the fact, but he and Carl went to school together. There was two years difference between them, but they knew each other well.”

I smiled at Graham’s ineffectual subterfuge. I stopped when Tasman added, “What’s an omen?”

“Hey!” I complained, “I thought you said that you wouldn’t read my thoughts?”

Tasman laughed. “I didn’t: You were leaking all over the place. I had to fight to keep your thoughts out. And yes, despite the terrible hair-do, you really are quite pretty.”

With that he ran off along the lane. With mock indignation I went in pursuit.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

The problem with this story is that, very often, the random extract gives too much away. A spoiler, if you will. Fortunatley this is not one of those. I think it’s rather nice, and makes no hint of the blood-letting that is to follow. Oh, was that a spoiler in itself?

Anyway, this excellent tale of plucky youths fighting insurmountable odds is available at most e-book outlets. Check out the sidebar book covers or Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header

 

 

Time For Some Silence

Since I do a bit of writing – and I once wrote a couple of books, the titles of which both began with the word ‘Silent’, I expect you’ve figured out what comes next. Yes, it’s a snippet from the venerable (and vaguely YA) Silent Apocalypse…

  …which was my best book, until I wrote the sequel, Silent Resistance. Of course that doesn’t include The Psychic  Historian: but how could it? Nothing compares with The Psychic Historian! Anyway, that’s by-the-by: on with the excerpt. Naturally random chance did the selection…

That evening we’d resumed our places at the table. From our vantage point we watched the sun dip below the horizon. It was an elegant but desolate place now. Nothing much appeared different, especially in the failing light.

What was it that told the eye that things had been altered forever?’

Lee was watching me, although I wasn’t aware of it. He must have been thinking along the same lines.

“Vapour trails.” He said, and I knew he was right. “The day we see a vapour trail again is the day we wake up from this nightmare.”

Katherine had been paying attention too:

“Until then the sky is the province of the clouds alone.”

We said no more and watched darkness march across the land.

Kevin broke the silence:

“I don’t want to hear The Whispers, Flissery: Can I go to bed now?”

I told him that he could, but he insisted that I take him upstairs.

Donald warned me, “Be quick: They’re coming on soon.”

Having tucked Kevin in I was barely back in time to catch the first ethereal sounds. There were indeed voices, buried by other voices, submerged beneath static or something else we couldn’t identify.

Lee put words to my thoughts; “Ya know – it’s like we’re supposed to understand it, but someone won’t let us.”

“It’s almost musical.” I opined. “Though I agree with Donald – it is spooky.”

“Lousy rhythm section.” Katherine added.

“It’s always the same, far as I can tell.” Donald informed us.

“Like its set on an automatic loop, you mean?” Lee asked.

Donald remained noncommittal.

“We need to record this.” Lee said, looking about the room, “I don’t suppose..?”

Donald answered Lee’s incomplete question, “What would I want with a tape recorder: Keep a Captains’ Log?”

“Then we’d better find one.”  Lee urged. “Where’s the nearest town?”

“Not now, Lee.” I scolded him for his impetuosity. “It can wait until morning.”

“If it’s really that important.” Katherine added doubtfully. “I thought we were avoiding towns. Remember – gangs, violence, and disease?”

I tried to curb Lee’s enthusiasm. “Let’s not rush into anything: it’s not like we’re desperately short of time: we’ll probably find a village store somewhere…”

Lee recognized the good sense in this. He changed tack:

“Here, Don, mate – so what’s so special about this lake that we’re not looking for?”

Don gave him a long appraising look. “You’re really not looking for our island?”

“Cross my heart, and hope to fall in a bucket of pig muck.”

Donald wasn’t particularly forthcoming. He simply said, “It’s protected.”

“What – by razor wire? Dobermans? Machine guns?” Lee demanded.

“A snake pit?” Katherine chirped. Then she added, “Crocodiles?”

“Dunno.” was Donald’s even briefer reply. Then, “I haven’t actually seen it. I know where it is – roughly: But I haven’t been there. I don’t know what protects it. Maybe it’s God. Maybe it’s a psychic bubble. Gaia. I dunno. I just know that all my family’s people have gone there, and they reckon they’re gonna be safe.”

I could see that Donald was becoming upset; but I thought the subject might be too important to drop. I eased the conversation in a slightly different direction:

“You said that you’ve lost contact with them…”

“Yeah, that’s right. It’s been a while.”

“And that concerns you…”

“Yes it does.” He took a deep breath and dared to utter the words to us that he might never have said to himself, “I don’t reckon they made it.”

‘Reality check’.

I took his hand. “Donald, I’m sorry, but I think you’re right. You would’ve heard…”

He nodded without speaking.

“Would you like to know – I mean for absolute certain?” I asked.

He shook his head.

Katherine stood and placed a hand upon each of his shoulders.

“I think you need to. You can’t go on in vain hope. It’ll drive you quite potty eventually, you know.”

Donald brushed Katherine’s hands aside, and blurted angrily:

 “You want me to take you to the island: I knew it all along!”

“No.” I assured him. “Not at all. We want to take you.”

Lee shrugged his shoulders at Donald’s enquiring look.

“There’s no such thing as grown-ups, these days, Don.” He said quietly. “Not anymore. Not even the Chosen Ones. Sorry.”

Donald nodded minutely. We left it at that. He’d come around.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

This book was actually written in 2004, when I was much younger and considerably more handsome and virile, with a good head of hair and firm buttocks. In fact it was whilst writing this book that they went all flabby. Clearly sitting around on your arse in front of a computer screen isn’t good for one’s backside. But it’s too late now. This is the tidied up version that I produced to accompany the release of Silent Resistance.

Naturally both books are available at most e-book stockists. See Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header – or click on the cover photos on the sidebar.

Revel in the Ribaldry 14

Fourteenth excerpt means it must be from the fourth book. In a world gone mad, it’s the only logical thing thing to do…

Yes, the book that everyone ignores. Well please don’t ignore this extract: it’s rather nice – in a vile sort of way. And here it is – entirely chosen by our best chum, random chance…

Tutu, meanwhile, had not been visited by the time-travelling Wetpatch. He was still under the illusion that he had until eternity to reach Hamster-Britain aboard Droop’s private submarine. In fact he was rather pleased at the prospect of a long ocean journey because he believed it would take that long for him to comprehend the rudiments of the euphonium. It wasn’t enough that he should learn to play the instrument: In order to become a virtuoso he must understand its inner workings, and merge his soul with it. Fortunately for the cross-eyed twit, the ship’s computer enjoyed the luxury of an artificial intelligence component. It was just this that saved Tutu from a dreadful demise…

“Hey, Honey.” The computer whispered in its seductive female voice, “I have some disturbing facts lined up for y’all.”

Tutu didn’t enjoy being in receipt of disturbing facts. In fact he hated them worse than penile thrush – especially when it interfered with a really unimportant task.

Looking up from the rear inspection panel of the euphonium, he snapped, “What is it? Can’t you see I’m busy!”

“I’m sorry, Sugar.” The A.I replied, “But I don’t have any conception of the word ‘busy’. I understand it’s meaning in the literal sense – that being how it’s described in the National Dictionary of Hamster-Britain: But its relationship to you, Honey, is lost to me.”

“The facts! The facts!” Tutu uncharacteristically lost his cool. “I have a flange weeble to adjust you know!

“Well here it is, Tutu, honey: You’d best be strapping your masculine rodent body into something real soft, and get this vessel out of here real quick, baby – coz the volcano at Perineum is going to explode, and y’all well within the blast radius.”

Tutu was well acquainted with blast radii: He’d been in too many of them during his years of servitude to Professor Desmond Squealch.

“Fluff!” He yelled, and jabbed frantically at the High Velocity Button that stood proud from the dashboard, with flashing L E Ds highlighting it in a most spectacular fashion. “Is this ship warp-capable?”

It was a foolish question, and Tutu knew it; but he hoped for the best anyway.

“Well, Honey,” the computer’s seductive voice said after several seconds of cyber-cogitation, “there is the experimental Z-Drive. Y’all could give that a try.”

Tutu had never heard of a Z-Drive. In fact he wondered if the computer wasn’t playing some ghastly trick upon him, and had made it up on the spur of the moment.

“Z-Drive?” He heard himself query. “Is that some sort of experimental propulsion system that Professor Squealch included in this vessel by accident?”

“Well, Tutu, sugar, you get five out of ten for logical deduction from scant data: But you aint entirely right.” The computer’s sultry tone hadn’t moderated despite the seriousness of the situation, and Tutu found it hard to concentrate: And his trousers kept flapping uncontrollably too. “It’s a means to tap into the underwater equivalent of hyperspace:” It continued. “It’s called Moister-Space – and if you want to live to an old age, you should open the hidden panel above your head; pull down the cord you find dangling in there; then hang on for dear life. The Z-Drive is experimental, unproven, barely out of the theoretical stage, and highly intoxicating.”

“That may be the case,” Tutu managed to reply coolly, “but will it get my furry rear end out of here?”

The computer’s response was equally chilly. “Yes, but I have no idea where we’ll find ourselves afterward. It could mean instantaneous loosening of the bowels.”

Tutu mulled this over for perhaps fifteen nanoseconds. Then a warning klaxon nearly made him burst from his seat like gerbil with a scalded rectum.

“Warning.” A defence mechanism overrode the hamster/computer companion interface. “Unimaginably vast shock-wave approaching. Batten down the hatches. Put away the best crockery. Collision imminent.”

Tutu didn’t waste a second more prevaricating. There really was no other decision that he could make. Circumstances minimized his options to one.

“Operate the Z-Drive now.” He yelled above the tumult, and yanked on the cord.

“Initiating primary use of the Z-Drive in ten seconds.” The computer became terribly professional now that it had been given a clear and concise instruction. “Ten, nine, eight…”

Such dire straits brought out the worst in Tutu, and instantly his fine veneer of civilisation was torn away by the abrasive nature of the situation. “I said now – you cybernetic asshole!” He roared in his most inelegant tone.

Naturally the computer did what any well-designed computer would do in such a situation. It hurried through the remaining digits in triple-quick time, and the Z-Drive was duly initiated.

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Now does that strike you as the sort of book that people gleefully overlook? I can’t understand it. Anyway, whatever, it remains available at most e-book outlets. So, if you’ve chosen not to ignore this amazing literary piece, some of the better-known ones are mentioned on the Tooty’s Books Available Here page beneath the header.

 

Oh, Tooty: What Have You Done?

Back in the mists of time – or 2001 as it was known then – I won a competition. Actually I won two competions in the same magazine at the same time. One prize was used over and over until I was sick of it. It was a computer game, which I (much) later gave away to charity. The other prize has never been used. But so enamoured with it was I that I kept it and took it with me wherever I lived – where it simply took up space, and in one case went slightly mouldy. It was a genuine Kawasaki motorcycle jacket. Now bear in mind that I had given up motorcycling two years previously, and had promised my wife that those two-wheeled days were in the past. And they were. But I couldn’t let that jacket go. Then today a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi arrived outside my house. It was pulling a trailer. And upon that trailer….

Here’s a clue to the identity of the item that was on the trailer…

Now I finally get to use that jacket. It now has a purpose. It is no longer a waste of space. But I didn’t buy a Kawasaki. Of course I didn’t. I was once (long ago) known as The Yamaha Kid, you know. I couldn’t let the side down, now – could I! Now all I have to do is remember how to ride my Yamaha. It’s been a while. I don’t think muscle memory is gonna cut it this time. As my daughter put it to me: “I was seven when you crashed your yellow bike.” (the day I quit) “Now I’m twenty-eight!”

This is going to be horrible.  I can imagine my wife looking down at me from wherever she is now. “Oh, Tooty,” she’ll say, “what have you done? You silly old bugger.”

 

Surprise, Surprise.

One Summer in the 1960s, when I was a kid, Kelloggs’ Cornflakes gave away a clip-together toy plastic airliner with every packet. It was what they did in those days: small plastic objects mixed in with foodstuffs aimed at children. How did we ever survive childhood? Like many boys, I loved aeroplanes. But after the fifth or sixth Boeing 707, I was becoming rather jaded – and also sick of cornflakes. What I really wanted was the British equivalent of the 707 – the Vickers VC10, which was an aircraft that (as an airliner at least) had a short career. It was later adopted by the R.A.F as a transport and tanker aircraft, and so lived on for decades. For whatever reason young boys fall in love with one particular type of anything, I fell in love with the VC10. Strangely, in all my years, I have never actually seen one in the flesh, as it were. I accidentally took a photo of one from the window of  a Dash 8 as I flew between the English towns of Southampton and Newcastle once. But I didn’t realise I had until later when I blew up the picture on my computer. So, imagine my surprise when, recently, my daughter and I had reason to visit an establishment deep in the wilds of Surrey – to discover this…

“I don’t believe it.” I said as I slowed the car to a crawl. “A VC10!”

“A VC what?” My daughter inquired. Then, when her eyes fell upon it: “Oh, a plane.”

“That’s not any old plane.” I informed her. “That’s the lovliest airliner that ever flew.”

She wasn’t impressed. Only 747s and A380s float her metaphorical boat. So, having concluded my brief business there, I paused on the way out for some  more shots, and cursed that I hadn’t brought a long-lensed camera with me. If I’d have known, of course, I would have brought two or three. But this is the best I could do, under the circumstances…

Just imagine how graceful it would have looked during the era when it flew in dark blue and white B.O.A.C livery. The last of the all-British jet airliners. But persistance paid off: I did finally get that plastic VC10. And now I’ve seen one in the flesh too!

The Book That Will Never Be Written

During the eulogy at my wife’s funeral, the celebrant let slip some information concerning a period in her life that many there knew nothing of. Afterwards, in the garden of remembrance, her former boss said:

“I don’t know how many hours we must have spent chatting about this and that together; but she never mentioned a word of that other life. I’m gob-smacked.”

The ‘other life’ to which he referred was her dancing career, which was cut short after only ten years by injury. As a dancer she travelled the world, and had many a tale to tell afterwards. A few years ago, a fellow dancer (who wrote to me following her death, and told me that Linzi was the most talented dancer she ever worked with – not that I would have known; Linzi ALWAYS played down her acheivements) suggested that Linzi write a book about her adventures behind the greasepaint. Linzi wasn’t keen: she doubted her ability. But she did come up with a title. If she were ever to write it, it would be called Three Brothels and a Monkey House. I, who was privvy to her stories, understood the meaning, and urged her to write it. But she didn’t. She just let the idea slip away. But yesterday, as I was tearfully sorting through the mountain of her ‘stuff’ I discovered a sheet of lined writing paper. There were only a few lines of her immaculate printed hand writing upon it. I think it might have been an experiment of hers – just to see if she really could write the book. Nothing else has come to light, so I must conclude that this tiny scribble is the totality of her autobiography. And this is it…

We’d travelled to Dusseldorf by train from Paris to appear in what turned out to be a small club looking rather like someone’s front room, very dark and decidedly on the dodgey side. On requesting the directions to our dressing room, we were met with ‘What do you need a dressing room for?’ We discovered that it was intended for us to appear nude. After a hurried call to our boss in Paris we all left the club and headed back to our cramped flat to discuss the situation.

And that was that. There are no more words. What actually happened afterwards was an unusual gig at the local zoo. Yes, you’ve guessed it: in the Monkey House  – in which one of Linzi’s dancing troupe swore blind that the large male orangutan there was really  a man in a suit.

Linzi always said to me: “You’re not putting any pictures of me on the Internet!” She did not enjoy any kind of limelight. But just to back up what I’ve just written, here are a couple of pics from that era…

Home (Madrid) from Argentina, where she enjoyed a relationship with a famous pop singer of that time. Last year she discovered a picture of herself with him on the Internet. Someone was selling it for $150.

And here she is, modelling for a perfume sales campaign in Spain. She never saw the resulting hoardings that sprang up across Madrid, because she had already moved on to her final gig before enforced retirement. Apparently, someone later told her, they looked fantastic. And, you know, people don’t believe me when I tell them that I DIDN’T marry her for her looks. Those were just a bonus…

For almost forty years, I was the luckiest man in the world.

Chef Tooty Returns!

You may recall this little item…

Well Chef Tooty  – he who gives tips to people who hate cooking, but have to – decided that it was just too darned small to bother with his usual sequential photos. So, for the Mark Two he’s decided to go large…

No, not like a gastronomic collossus bestriding the kitchen of eternity: just using a bigger Roasting Thing. Oh yeah, did you notice the new Waitrose Christmas apron?

Groovy, isn’t it? He discovered that his late wife had used it as a liner for her knicker drawer. He makes light of it now, but it reduced him to tears when he first found it. Anyway, enough of the sad stuff: on with the cooking. To make his Potato and Rooty Chums bake you need to do this to a handful of carrots…

And this to a couple of sweet potatoes…

And this to a whole bunch of regular potatoes…

Then pre-boil some water in a kettle (for speed: Tooty doesn’t like to hang about waiting for stuff – he’s a busy man you know). Then chuck ’em all in a saucepan with the boiling water  and turn up the metaphorical wick…

Now, in the original (pictured) version of this, he used bacon. But he didn’t have any. So, following a root through the bottom of the freezer, he discovered some ancient slices of pork…

, ..

…which he thawed in the microwave and then laid gently upon a bed of olive oil in his biggest Roasting Thing…

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: he sliced off all the nasty fatty bits first. Very important: nasty fatty bits are not healthy. And furthermore they’re just plain…nasty. Cast them aside.

So, whilst you’ve been pissing about slicing off all the nasty, fatty bits, the veg should have been boiling for approx ten minutes. So, drain and hurl them into the Roasting Thing. Then coat liberally with cheese sauce…

As you can see, Chef Tooty bought the same size jar of Sainsbury’s cheese sauce as last time. This was probably a mistake. In the smaller Roasting Thing the amount of cheese sauce inside the jar was perfection itself: in the larger Roasting Thing…well, you can see for yourself. But it was too late to do anything about it, so it was into the oven, on max, on the top shelf. Did I mention Tooty is a tad impatient? How he doesn’t burn things to a frazzle, I don’t know. Sheer talent, I guess. Anyway, after a half-hour’s roasting, he took the Roasting Thing out of the oven and sprinkled grated cheese all over it. Such fun was had…

Then it was back into the oven for another fifteen minutes. Ten would have probably been better: the pork ended up slightly stuck to the bottom; but it wasn’t burnt – naturally.

Not quite as delectable as the original, you think? Hmmm – you’re probably right. But Chef Tooty couldn’t risk destroying the underlying pork for any minimal improvement in the meal’s aesthetic value, so he left it at that…

And, as you can see, it was still yummy. Just not quite as yummy as the Mark One version. Which just goes to show that bigger isn’t always better. He should know: you’ve seen his buttocks often enough!

Another ‘oh yeah’ moment. I think he had a little help with this meal  – from the Other Side. How else could you explain how such a cavalier cook can get away with creating such nice meals and not have clouds of black smoke billowing about in the kitchen? Proof? None really, except…

…he was wearing his wife’s wedding ring besides his own. “Til Death Do Us Part?” No chance!