Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (episode 1)

SPOILER ALERT: This prologue contains information about earlier tales. If you haven’t read them, and don’t want to know what happened in one or two of them (in a very brief summarised form, that is) look away now!

Before the tale proper can begin, Dear Reader, you must first be reminded of just how the planet Mars became the Mars that the curator of The Future Museum of Mars – Frisby Mumph – so adores, and for which he would gladly give his life; his generous pension benefits; or tear off his famous old pressure suit and show everyone his bare buttocks.  It goes like this: Mars…

…is dark, cold, foreboding, and miles from anywhere. A world that was seemingly lifeless. So, in their infinite wisdom, those beings from the future who gave us the Museum of Future Technology…

…that fabulous emporium of technological wonders from the future that have been sent back through time for safe-keeping in the past – decided to build a smaller version on Mars  (just in case Earth blew up or something) and awaited the successful terraforming of the red planet, before they delivered any artefacts worth paying good money to see. So, for many years, the Future Museum of Mars…

…sat quiescent – awaiting the lifetime’s work of the aforementioned Frisby Mumph to come to fruition.  Frisby…

…enjoyed the company of his huge robot – Tangerine – and an idiot assistant, named Badgerlilly, whom he kept in permanent suspended animation. He also enjoyed going to the toilet. But most of all he enjoyed trundling about the barren landscape aboard his terraforming machine…

…with which he hoped to transform the planet from a dead, barren landscape, into a thriving eco-system. Although most of Mars remained utterly lifeless, some areas began to show promise. Tough, wiry mosses began to take hold…

Although Frisby was unaware of the fact, he had been under surveillance from the day he’d landed upon the red planet. He continued to remain blissfully unaware until Magnuss Earplug and his protégé, Yabu Suchs, discovered the ‘Muffins’ in a buried city beneath the rusty sandstone surface…

Eventually the native beings became allies of Frisby – reactivating their advanced scientific laboratories (that had lain inactive for millennia following the destruction of the Martian civilisation by a cataclysmic accident when the combined gasses, produced during a global farting contest, had been ignited by a cooker’s gas ring, the owner of which had forgotten to turn off whilst boiling an egg ) and setting to work on realising some of the brilliant ideas they’d been dreaming up before being forced into uncounted centuries of suspended animation…

One particular device came in jolly handy -at a time when the staff of the Museum of Future Technology were battling robots from the future for control of that vast edifice. The significance of the device was so…ah…significant that the Earplug Brothers were sent to Mars to see it for themselves…

Long story short – the device allowed earplugs to transit between quantum realities. But, more significantly for Frisby and the ‘Muffins’, it was discovered that it could also shift worlds between quantum realities. So they chose a better, more suitable Mars, and swapped their knackered old version for a nicer one from a different reality…

And for five minutes the future looked rosy. For the first time the light outside shone blue through the museum control room’s translucent walls…

But, unfortunately, they’d randomly selected a world that was in the midst of an ice-age; and soon Mars began to freeze over…

Soon the museum became entombed in ice…

And recent arrivals from Earth found themselves up kaka creek without a paddle…

Of course, the locals had never before seen snow, and (as they slipped and slid down the ancient citadel steps) they didn’t much like it…

Frisby and Tangerine were aghast and mortified. They wandered about in the snow drifts, looking for their lost customers. But without success…

More fortunately Captain Sinclair Brooch, of the Worstworld star ship K T Woo, arrived and released a volley of well-aimed proton torpedoes…

…which exploded beneath the ice…

…and melted it – creating a dramatic climate shift…

…that brought forth great horticultural wonders. The areas in which Frisby had been working so hard for so long, bloomed with native growths…

And following a period of incessant rainfall…

…the sole curator was delighted to discover that his hardy Earth plants were doing okay as well…

So, all in all, it was a happy ending. Or was it? Mars, unlike Earth, lies outside the ‘Goldilocks Zone’. The Sun is much farther away. Mars, despite its new look, was still a cold world: and, with every passing year since ‘The Miracle’, winters seemed to be getting longer and starting sooner. Oh flip!

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2020

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 23A

Well I seem to have lost my way slightly regarding which book should supply the next excerpt. So, in an attempt to bring you some of the most wonderful Hamster-Sapiens work available, may I present you with a random extract from this book…

Yes, the divine ‘The Psychic Historian’. The best book ever written in the history of the world. You don’t believe me? Read on…

Now one of the major tenets of Betty was coined from the words of a popular religious song of that era, which had been miss-transcribed by a probationary nun during the earliest years of the order of Our Lady of the Tilted Cervix. No one knows what the true wording of the ancient song was, but in her miss-transcription the probationary nun scribbled ‘When I get that feelin’ – I want sex on the ceiling’ and the ways of Betty were set (if not in stone, then certainly) in bold black print. The result of this error meant that the nuns of Our Lady of the Tilted Cervix then had to live up to their name by indulging the locals in high-altitude sexual intercourse.

Naturally there was no shortage of volunteers from a country plagued by internal strife and external war. In fact the recruiting office was so overwhelmed with would-be nuns that its recruitment officers had to beat them off with a sharp tongue and a big stick. Eventually a select number were then handed their habits, and duly packed off to the island of Impetigo. And for a while all had gone swimmingly. Then one day a nasty case of Poor Sore Willy was discovered in Deepest Jungle Land, and blaming the nuns for this worsening condition as it ran riot through the population, the convent was placed out-of-bounds by the elders of the nearby villages.

With no income and nothing to do, the nuns began calling the outside world upon their huge radio set. They searched the ether for inspiration. After weeks and weeks of twiddling dials they finally discovered what they sought.

Hamster-Britain had a severe shortage of fondant icing. What little could be manufactured domestically exchange paws for quite incredible amounts of Rodentos. It was beyond the pocket of all but the very rich, and if the situation remained, it was quite likely that the poor would rise up in some sort of confectionery revolution, and possibly bring down the government and behead the royal head of state. It was immediately clear to the nuns where their duty lay. They must save their country by the only known means possible: They must produce copious amounts of fondant icing, and ship it, by whatever means, to Hamster-Britain.

The first part of the problem was easily solved. They turned their creative talents away from inventing news means of sexual gymnastics – to the production of fondant icing. Sugar bearing plants were multifarious and many-fold: And beating them into a fine white paste-like material merely took physical effort. But the problem of transporting the resulting product to Hamster-Britain confounded them utterly.

“Fluff and bollocks!” The Mother Superior was heard to shout loudly from the privacy of her window in frustrated despair, “Arse holes and piles!”

But then fortune fell upon them from the sky – in the form of a lost dirigible pilot who had been blown off course by a particularly nasty gust of wind. His name had been Pilot Officer Brandenberg Dangerpimple. For a share of the profits, and some ‘sex on the ceiling’, he was willing to transport the fondant icing for them until either he was caught and hanged as a profiteer; the war ended; or he grew too old to either fly a dirigible or indulge in sexual intercourse.

“Marvellous.” The Mother Superior exclaimed, and threw up both her paws and the hem of her habit in joy, “But what might we do if any of those three possibilities were to transpire?”

“I’ll teach my future son to fly as soon as his rear paws can reach the rudder pedals.” Dangerpimple had assured the chief nun. “And any other sons that I might acquire en route to an old age.” He added with a wink of his eye.

But that was all in the past. Now Brandenberg Dangerpimple was being taken upon a tour of the new fondant production facility.

“As you can see, Brandenberg, this line is entirely automated.” Sister Serendipity Clone waved an all-encompassing paw to include the interior of a huge bamboo shed, into which a considerable amount of modern production equipment had been recently installed.

Dangerpimple was impressed; but he also foresaw a problem. He smoothed back his head fur and released the air from his lungs in a single rush. “I think I’m gonna need a bigger airship.”

Serendipity looked concerned. “Is this a problem?”

“I’ll have to be promoted to Flight Lieutenant.” Dangerpimple replied. “That’s going to mean a lot of greased paws. I’m not sure I have sufficient funds…”

Serendipity smiled, then reached under her habit and brought forth a huge wad of Rodentos. “I was saving them up for something nice – but needs must and all that.”

Dangerpimple snatched the offered cash, and rammed it down the front of his flying trousers. “There.” He said, “All safe and sound. And in a secondary role they can protect my wanger from anti-dirigible fire as well!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

See? Did I not tell you the truth? Where have you read better than that? Naturally this book is available at most e-book stockists, and for the best eReaders – including the more famous Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Kobo. Wonderful tales; witty prose; and cheap as chips. What more can you ask for!

 

 

Tooty the Chef Passes a Personal Milestone

Since his wife passed away, Tooty hasn’t been able to enter a Waitrose store. It brings back too many memories of the countless times they shopped there together. But today he required a boneless chicken that could only be obtained from Waitrose. So, plucking up courage, he entered one of their emporiums. After months of shopping in inferior stores, it was like a breath of fresh air to our master chef. So he duly bought the chicken – and a whole bunch of other stuff too. And all without a tear. Look how happy it’s made him…

Just in case you wondered – he likes Waitrose.

Tooty the Chef Makes ‘Rattatuti!’

Before we begin, let me bring you up-to-date with some of Tooty the Chef’s latest brilliant ideas. Well one anyway. Autumn has been wet and mild in Tooty the Chef’s portion of reality; so mosquitos have been rather prevalent in his kitchen. Unwilling to use ozone-depleting sprays (and having actually caught one of the little bastards as it attempted to finagle it’s pointy bits through the tough hide of his hairy knuckles), the great chef decided to tackle the problem head on. Literally. With a Sainsbury’s reusable cotton vegetable bag…

Voila! Not just a pretty face, I think you’ll agree.  Anyway, enough of that load of old bollocks: on with the cooking. Now Tooty the Chef has never been one to turn his nose up at a bargain: so when his local M&S Food Hall offered him three packs of four breaded chicken breast steaks for only £10 he snatched their metaphorical hands off. The downside of this was the need to devour them before the use-by date expired; which meant that whatever he was about to create, it must compliment breaded chicken breast steaks. Four of them to be exact…

No probs: let’s see what’s in the cupboard…

And, oh look, there’s some ancient eggs (that can easily recall high Summer) in the fridge…

Naturally the fridge had other gifts to give…

…those being soft and floppy courgettes; a pair of measly spuds; a couple of almost-rotten toms; three skanky carrots; an old onion; and a withered pepper that couldn’t decide if it was red or yellow. All grist to Tooty the Chef’s mill, I assure you. But what kind of sauce should he use? All the regular stuff was just too boring for words; so he stuck his fingers up at them…

But, after getting down upon his hands and knees, he discovered just what he needed…

…a can of Waitrose Cream of Petit Pois and Bacon Soup. Inspired choice. This was all the impetus he required: for the next half-hour he would transform in Le Chef Tuti!

Having turned on the oven to get warm, it was  dice-dice-dice-and- dice-again time…

Preperations complete, it was the correct moment to slide the chicken into the hot oven…

Now the race was on. Would the chicken cook before Le Chef Tuti was ready for it? Or would it be another of his fantastically unlikely dead-heats? Only…um…time would tell. Don’t fret Tuti; get those eggs broken…

…and lobbed into a bowl with black pepper, Himalayan salt, and paprika…

Come on Chef, pour out that olive oil with all your might…

Once heated upon the hob, the oil was joined by the slowest-cooking ingredients – those being the  potato, carrot, and onion…

Having given it a few minutes to get it’s head start, he added the courgette and pepper…

Look how delighted he was to do so. Actually he was acting.  He’s very good at that you know. He’d give Tom Conte a run for his money, I can tell you. And Pauline Collins. But I digress. After a while, when there was about ten minutes to go, he tossed the tomato in…

And, after fielding several gastronomic questions from his offspring, he tipped in the Waitrose soup and set it simmering on a low heat…

Yes, Le Chef Tuti has heard of ‘low’ you know. He doesn’t use it often, but (as a remarkable chef) he is aware that you should never boil soup: it makes it nasty or something. Then it was a simple matter of pouring the egg mix into a frying pan with hot olive oil at the bottom: blasting it for a while; then flipping it over;  blasting it a bit more; and chopping it into pieces with the edge of the flipping tool…

…before serving it proudly and displaying it to the camera with a stupid face…

Not bad,  eh?

Then, naturally, it was time to uncork a bottle of Muscat de Rivesaltes. On this occasion he decided to aschew the usual complimentary Sprite, and instead selected some vaguely uninteresting Schweppes Slimline Lemonade…

Unfortunately someone forgot to hide the key to the wine cellar; and when that one ran out, Le Chef Tuti found another, which could, inevitably, only end in one way…

Oh, if only we’d stocked it with shandy and ginger beer!

Another Earplug Adventure Perhaps?

The last time I shot a new Earplug Adventure photo was probably early in 2020 – maybe late 2019. As chronicled on this blog on several occasions, the intervening period has seen difficult times for me. I haven’t really been in the mood for anything creative. But today is the three-month anniversary of my wife’s passing, and as I made breakfast this morning  I found my thoughts wandering to a what-happened-next scenario for two of the main characters in the last tale – A Tale of Three Museums – those being  Placebo Bison and Folie Krimp…

So I took a peek at my library of unused earplug shots that are currently available for the next story. Sorry to say the catalogue is woefully brief. But those that exist might just inspire me with some ideas. Here’s a few of them…

 

I can’t let those go to waste, can I? Time to put on my literary genius cap and charge up those camera batteries, methinks.

 

Tooty the Chef in ‘The Dog’s Dinner’

Now there’s a strange thing about the colloquial English language spoken in Tooty the Chef’s neck of the woods: If something is described as being ‘the dog’s bollocks’ it usually means that it is very good indeed. To use a motorcycling metaphor: a Yamaha Tracer 700 is considered ‘the dog’s bollocks’, whereas a Linfan 125 is  a ‘dog’s dinner’.  That is – not well put together. And so thought Tooty the Chef of the dinner he was about to produce. It was an end-of-the-week-use-up-whatever-is-left kinda meal. He was certain that the result would be a dog’s dinner, so he didn’t bother to take any photos of the preparation or the cooking. In fact, so certain was he of miserable failure, that he put aside some of the ingredients to actually produce a dinner for his dogs. Yes, a genuine dogs dinner. So he didn’t feel particularly inclined to place his chef’s hat upon his shapely head. In fact he wore this instead…

Oh yes, I forgot to mention: he was also really busy doing the weekly wash at the same time. And yes those are his underpants, freshly laundered and smelling sweet. But then, as the meal progressed he began to have doubts concerning the ineffectualness of his cheffing: the dog’s dinner was actually looking rather appetising…

So appetising that he decided to fire up his Canon Ixus and present the mixture to it…

Then to one of the recipients…

…which, because it contained minced turkey, minced beef, minced pork, sea bass, steamed carrot, sweet potato, and parsnip, with sweetcorn and peas, sent the little guy into a frenzy…

…and only too keen to get stuck in…

…unlike his pal, who wasn’t sure about something in the bowl…

…but because she’d been told to eat it by Tooty the Chef, complied anyway…

Meanwhile the human meal had finished cooking, and Tooty the Chef began to believe that (once more) victory was his…

A look through the transparent roasting thing confirmed this hypothesis…

And when he shoved the big spoon in, he became elated…

Sea bass, bream, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, peas, sweetcorn, and prawns – immersed in a parsely and onion sauce and topped with grilled mashed potato. Shit it was nice…

But then the celebration was ruined utterly  when he discovered that (whilst in his negative mental state) he’d swigged back the remaining wine, leaving nothing behind…

Bollocks! And not the dog’s ones either!

Revel in the Ribaldry 22

For R.i.t.R 22  we visit, once again, that great well of ribaldry – Fanfare For The Common Hamster. This is what the e-book looks like…

And this is what a tiny portion of the script looks like…

Joan was surprised to find Stubby Collett alone upon the path that led away from Far Kinell by the most circuitous route possible. Of the Abbot there was no sign, despite the fact that he’d promised to tend Stubby’s wounds in their absence.

The others – Darkwood, Rootley, and Brother Alfonso, weren’t though, and nodded sagely as Stubby explained that the Abbot’s nerves had become frayed to within one micron of total mental collapse, and that, in an effort to free the poor hamster from his inner religious turmoil, he had pretended that they were being stalked by a wild mutant weasel, and in an effort to dissuade the beast from consuming them Stubby had apparently transformed into a mythological homo sapien once again, and frightened the imaginary monster away.

Naturally the Abbot had sought, and found, solace in his beliefs, which ran counter to the sights that his eyes beheld, and so, in an almost catatonic state, the former Farley Dunnock had taken the only course left to him (other than madness) and had returned to the town – presumably to reassume the role that he believed he was born to do – that being The Abbot of The Wheel.

“I didn’t like him anyway.” Stubby concluded, “He smelt funny.”

Then his eyes alighted upon Felicity, and despite his grievous injury, his trousers flapped alarmingly. “Cripes,” his voice half-said/half-trilled, as he surveyed the dormouse’s non-curvaceous hips, “there’s a sight for sore eyes, and make no mistake.”

He then introduced himself to the two newcomers.

“I’ve always wanted to meet a brilliant illusionist.” Felicity informed him, “A really crappy one visited our school once, and appeared to turn into a bowl of pitted cherries. He looked delicious; but I saw right through his visual subterfuge: It was quite obviously a hologram.”

Stubby bristled, “It was no such thing!” He bellowed his best – which with his chest seeping blood all over the place was really quite impressive.

For some mysterious reason no one seemed to notice the incongruity of the small harvest mouse’s outburst – except Roosevelt. And he spoke in a manner that greatly impressed Rootley Farnham.

“Excuse me,” he said, “How the fluff would you know? Were you there?”

Now under normal circumstances it is certain that Stubby would have denied ever having been anywhere near a school for girl rodents, let alone within Joan, Felicity, and Roosevelt’s continuum: But these weren’t normal circumstances: He was grievously hurt, and he was also in the company of a psychic catalyst. So he said, “Yes. I’ll have you know that appearing to turn into a bowl of pitted cherries in front of several hundred young females taxed me enormously, and I had to have a lay down afterwards.” Then in a more aggrieved tone he added, “And to think that they believed that it was nothing more than smoke, mirrors, and advanced laser technology: Well it offends me greatly.”

“I’m sorry.” Felicity whispered as she reached out to comfort Stubby, “But why were you giving an exhibition of advanced illusionism to a bunch of girl hamsters and one dormouse?”

Stubby sighed. He then informed them that prior to becoming a psi-cop field agent; he was a talent scout for them. He’d hoped to promote an interest in psychic abilities amongst the young persons of several alternate realities.

“Sadly with scant reward.” He sighed again. “We met with little success. Except for Joan, of course.”  Then he coughed a bit, and everyone knew that the interview was over.

                                                                 ***

The timely arrival of the Abbot – Farley Dunnock – at The Rancid Maggot Inn might have saved Perfidity Gallowsmith from a lynching by outraged ‘Wheelists’, but The Law Master quickly realised that she must regain their trust and loathing by being seen to act as a Law Master should, and stop behaving like the drunken, exhibitionist, trollop that she was.

The primary reason for this sober summation of her current situation was that only moments after having made his grand entrance, the Abbot had strolled to the bar, downed a flagon of ale, touched up the barkeeper, and then slumped to the floor – where he began speaking gibberish, and attempting to unravel the coarse raffia mat that Mooney kept for soaking up his customer’s sweat and vomit. Clearly something had happened to the Abbot, Perfidity reasoned well enough: Now she must grasp the nettle: This was just the opportunity that she’d spent the last thirty seconds praying for…

“Right then,” she announced, whilst slipping into her best chainmail knickers, and strapping on Jock, her favourite dagger, “who’s feeling ready for a punch-up? I’m looking to form a posse.”

                                                                         ***

The small group of rodents had been prevaricating over a decision concerning Stubby’s immediate future for some time, and were no closer to a solution regarding his welfare, when Rootley gasped, and hissed, “A posse departs the Rancid Maggot Inn. We must act – in haste if possible.”

Stubby forced his trembling eyelids to flutter open. “You have a talent too, I see.” He then added, “Do you have more details concerning this posse?”

Rootley shook his furry little head, “ ‘Fraid not.” He said.

Stubby then shook a wavering finger in the approximate direction of Roosevelt. “Touch the puny hamster, young dormouse: He has need of your energy and ministrations.”

Everyone’s expressions asked the same question: What energy’s that then?

“He’s a psychic catalyst.” Stubby explained as quickly as his trembling lips would allow, “I sensed it the moment he arrived. He resonates with such power that my buttocks haven’t stopped clenching for more than ten seconds at a time.”

Feeling rather embarrassed by the attention, Roosevelt coloured beneath his fine mantle of fur. He then straightened his tie, and did as he was bid.

Immediately Rootley’s buttocks constricted so violently that he squeaked in alarm. But then his pinched expression was replaced by a look of serenity. “I can see them.” he breathed, “Not my spasmodic buttock muscles, you understand: The whole posse. They’re on their way to the Hoopla Hall. The Law Master leads them. She’s carrying her favourite dagger – Jock. And her knickers…they’re her best chainmail ones. Fluff it – the bastards’ll be passing straight through here in just a few moments!”

Then a nearby horn could be heard blaring into the night. It sounded like a cavy giving birth to a weasel inside a tin bath.

“Cripes.” Roosevelt squeaked as he jumped and released his grip upon Rootley.

Darkwood began to panic. “What are we going to do?” he said, casting his gaze first one way, then the other. “I can’t get caught hanging about outside a gent’s bog-hole again! Not so soon anyway.”

“Run, muy rápido.” Alfonso suggested.

“Bog-hole?” Stubby’s tremulous voice cut through the type of mass-apprehension that is so taught that it almost audibly twangs like the whiskers of a champion weightlifter, “We’re in close proximity to Far Kinell’s almost-famous public bog-hole? By The Saint of All Hamsters – salvation stands before us upon cast iron feet and rough wooden shingles: There’s an inter-dimensional cross-over portal inside it. I’ve used it several times before. Quickly now, despite the agony – get me inside.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

This magnificent example of hamster fiction is published by Lulu.com, and is also available at most e-book retailers, including the one that best suits your e-reader, tablet, or whatever

 

Tooty the Chef: Kitchen Commando

Welcome to the kitchen of Tooty the Chef: the only chef in Britain who cooks whilst going commando – at least publicly. The same chef who only cooks for people who don’t want to cook, but (through no fault of their own) have to…

Well  on this particular day, Tooty the Chef had been out of the kitchen doing other fascinating and often thrilling stuff – like walking the dogs, riding his motorcycle, or raking leaves from the lawn. Unfortunately not only had he forgotten to turn the heating on (December after all), but he’d also left the kitchen door open to the elements. But, true to his credo ‘the bum must always be bared’, he began as he always does. Only this time he turned on the oven early so that he could defrost his buttocks…

Then it was on to a grub hunt. Quickly he found some soft cauliflower. But before it had a chance to decompose in his hands he chopped it up…

Then he discovered a packet of bacon that still had a couple of days life in it…

It was smoked, which Tooty the Chef abhors almost as much as an astronaut abhors a vacuum, but the label said Great Taste 2020, so he went with it. But first he placed the cauliflower in his plastic microwave cooking thing; added some boiling water…

…and set it to cook in the microwave for nine minutes. Then he did what any chef worth his or her silver collander award would do; he trimmed the nasty fatty bits off the bacon…

…then splashed a whole bunch of olive oil (Spanish naturally) into the oval roasting thing…

…and laid the bacon in it. To this he added some frozen peppers…

…before returning to the freezer for a handful of peas and sweetcorn. After all you gotta have colour in your meal: otherwise it’s just oatmeal…

On cue the microwave went ‘Ding’, so it was a tentative tipping of the scalding cauliflower into a sieve…

…before slopping it on top of the other stuff in the roasting thing, and covering it with a jar of white wine sauce…

Tooty the Chef selected a white wine sauce by Morrisons. He reasoned that if the label was accurate, and that the company had been established in 1899, it was fair to assume that they knew a thing or two about sauce…

Anyway, then it was into the (already hot) oven…

Did you notice the tray on the lower shelf? Tooty the Chef didn’t. This would come back to bite him on the ass later – at least metaphorically. So, with the grub in the oven, it was time for some meditation…

A quarter of an hour later the roasting thing was removed from the oven and coated with the last of Tooty’s grated cheese…

Then back into the propane furnace, which released the great chef to watch a bit of TV and make himself a nice cafe au lait…

A further quarter of hour passed, and Tooty the Chef judged that the meal was cooked…

But when he poked around in the bottom of the roasting thing, he found – to his professional horror – that the bacon wasn’t quite done. He also discovered the hitherto unnoticed baking tray that had absorbed much of the oven’s heat. So it was out with the tray, and in with the meal. Then, as the oven door closed, he realised that his nether regions were once again chilled mightily. Fortunately he had the wit to plug in a fan heater with which he brought the general area back to life…

Ten minutes on and, not only were his comfort levels returned to factory specifications, but  the meal was cooked…

…to perfection…

So it was off with the jumper and hat; and time to select a complimentary drink. Naturally he chose a 2016 Muscat de Rivesaltes and 2020 sugar-free Sprite. A perfect combination, I think you’ll agree…

If One Was Great: Two Must Be Fabulous

Remember how much you enjoyed those serialised Earplug Adventures? Weren’t they…ah…great? Of course they were. But sometimes the episodes could be a bit short. Just as you were getting your metaphorical teeth into them, they were over. Well today is your lucky day, coz here’s two episodes of The Time Tamperer placed back to back – for extra length and emotional comfort. Episodes 12 & 13 to be exact. Read on…

But Gregor wasn’t finished. There was far more interesting news for him to impart. “Yeah, right on. What a groove.” He said. “And there’s far more interesting news for me to impart too.”

With that he called in Police Constable Salisbury Wilts as a witness and led the curators to an adjacent room, where he introduced them to…

…Runt and Twinkles, who, in turn, presented a new piece of hardware.

“Ladies, Gentlemen, and P.C Wilts,” Runt spoke clearly above the building excitement that ran like a raspberry ripple through the assembled V.I.Ps, “may I present to you the Tubo Di Tempo. It’s a new, mini version of the Tunnel Temporal – designed by the brilliant Italian scientist, Piggies Du Pong.”

“If you don’t mind me saying,” the charming (if ancient) former movie star, Sir Dodger Muir…

…interrupted, “Piggies Du Pong doesn’t sound overtly Italian. Rather, I’d wager the fellow hails from either Belgium or France.”

“In your era, perhaps.” Runt replied. “But in Piggies’ era he’s Italian; so shut it, okay?”

Sir Dodger was about to author a dazzlingly witty riposte, when his train of thought was interrupted by the activation of the Tubo Di Tempo and the arrival of two bug-eyed weirdos from another time zone…

Instantly the newcomers addressed Cushions Smethwyke. With a curt bow the smaller-nosed of the couple introduced itself as Glumb Kimball and it’s huge-hootered associate as Hombolt Whale. “Greetings from the future.” It added. “What do you think of the Tubo Di Tempo?”

Cushions wasn’t sure how to respond: and P.C Wilts’ expression betrayed his instant dislike of the pretentious twerps from a clearly technologically superior era.

“Er…very nice.” She managed. Then growing in confidence she added: “A lovely shade of blue. My favourite. Well my second favorite actually. I’m rather partial to a warm orange glow.”

“How wonderful.” Hombolt Whale squeaked through it’s huge, but obviously restricted, snozzle. “Because when it’s turned on at this end it glows orange. Regarde s’il vous plaît.”

Moments later the Tubo Di Tempo did just as Hombolt had promised.

“There.” Sir Dodger grumbled. “Told you it was French.”

But even as the ageing thespian was speaking, so too was Glumb Kimball: “Well we’ve left a copy of the owners’ manual with your Time Techs, so, if its alright with you, we’ll be on our way to our own era. It’s much nicer there, by the way. By-ee.”

With that the time-travelling duo stepped into the tiny maw of the machine and disappeared in an instant…

Naturally Cushions rushed forward to deliver a blistering farewell insult, but she was too late and needed to be consoled by the former bounty hunter and part-time curator, Hunting Provost: “Don’t concern yourself, my delightful love interest.” He whispered into Cushions’ ear. “They were ugly sods with big bulgey eyes: the future’s welcome to them. And they’ve left us with something really valuable.”

 

“They have?” Cushions inquired as everyone crowded around to take a look at the wonder from the future…

“Of course.” Hunting spoke in a conspiratorial hush. “Now we can start charging visitors for trips into the Museum of Future Technology twice. Once in this era; and again when they go into the past. I bet, if we take a look at our bank accounts, we’ll find that we’ve already begun amassing a vast wealth before we’ve actually begun sending anyone through. All we need to do is actually set the metaphorical ball rolling. We need to find new-arrivals with no prior knowledge of our earlier time travelling problems.”

“Yeah.” Cushions replied as she let her gaze wander past Hunting. “People who aren’t scared of visiting the past and run the risk of getting stuck there. And I think I know the very people.”

Naturally Cushions had the security forces round-up a number of the morning’s intake of visitors. Fellow curator, Winston Gloryhole appeared uncomfortable when he and Cushions were required to answer some searching questions…

“How do we know it’s safe?” The white female named Dina Havoc demanded.

“That’s right,” the vaguely brownish-purple Edie Chalice threw in her two penny-worth. “This is a new and un-tested technology.”

“Yeah.” The helmet-wearing Peter Crushing added as he gazed upon P.C Wilts shiny police helmet with avarice in his eyes. “Just coz it works in the future, it don’t mean it’ll work in this era.”

“We’re not stupid.” The yellow-headed Noodie Bumsho snapped angrily. “We know what you’re up to. We’re just a bunch of unpaid test dummies.”

Several times the turquoise android curator, Montagu, tried to interrupt the tide of accusations. But despite his best attempts, which consisted mostly of “Excuse me,” and “Oh for flip’s sake!”, the barrage continued:

“You ought to be taken out and shot.” the small mauve guest, Bungay Jumpur snarled from behind Edie Chalice. “We’ve spent our hard earned cash to come here today; and all you want to do is get us killed in an experimental time machine.”

“It’s not good enough.” The tall yellow earplug with blazing red eyes, named Randy Blueprint, bellowed as he stood beside the inactive Tubo Di Tempo. “We demand an immediate apology.”

“And our money back too.” The immeasurably sad-looking blue earplug named Porceen Pillock suggested in a manner that couldn’t be ignored. “With an ice cream cone from Cafe Puke thrown in for good measure.”

Cushions cast a quick glance at Hunting Provost. At first his grin appeared to be fixed, much like that of a cheerful manikin. But when Cushions looked a little closer she noticed that his lips moved almost imperceptibly: “Tell them that we’re sending them to an era when custard wasn’t outlawed and that the Cafe Puke of that time was named Cafe Blancmange.” They said.

Cushions could see their potential wealth draining away before her eyes. “Custard.” She shouted. “It’s really tasty in the past.Vanilla. Chocolate. Rum and raisin. Turron, Honeycomb. Cinnamon. You name it; they’ve got it. And it’s free too.”

Moments later…

“Have fun.” Twinkles Forgetmenot called as the visitors moved by him into the Tubo Di Tempo. “Yum yum!”

And after the last visitor had disappeared into the past; and the curators had gone for a celebratory run across the Woven Expanse, Gregor, Twinkles, and Runt…

…congratulated themselves on a job well done. But, as they turned away…

…their smiles felt a little forced. Although not one of them would admit it to the others, they all shared the same nagging doubt: what if they had tightened one bolt too loosely? What if one of them had stripped back a length of insulation by one millimetre too much? What if one of them had crossed-polarised the jim-jam waffle valve? What might the result be? It didn’t bear thinking about. So they didn’t.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

Of course the best way to view this story is by purchasing the e-book of the same name…

It’s available at almost all e-book sellers. One of them must be right for your device.

 

Tooty the Chef Returns to the Crock Pot

Tooty the Chef’s last foray into slow cooking was so successful that he’s decided  against waiting for the next millennium to arrive before his second attempt: he’s gonna do it now!

Of course the preparation for any meal must begin with the discovery of the ingredients. I say ‘discovery’ because that’s what Tooty the Chef does. He discovers what he has hidden away in cupboards and freezers and whatnot; then goes with them. On this occaision he discovered some frozen stir-fry veggies that he’d tossed in the freezer some time previous when their sell-by-date had expired…

Unfortunately this time the sauce mix shelf came up horribly short…

There were no casserole mixes, or anything that could be turned to that role. “Oh bum.” He cried, “This is gonna taste bloody awful!” So he had to get inventive. And if there’s one that Tooty the Chef is good at (apart from rushing to the lavatory) it’s being inventive. So he followed up the stir fry veg with some regular root veg, along with…

…a lump of pork loin, some mystery cereals and pulses in an unmarked jar, and a packet of Spanish rice and mushrooms that had lost their label, and which he hoped contained some spices and flavouring. Hope is a neccessary prerequisite for any meal. Every cook ‘hopes’ their creation is going to be wonderful. He also hoped that the out-of-date stock tubs (pictured to the right) weren’t actually poisonous. That’s another thing that cooks do: try not to poison anyone. They don’t always succeed; but they do try. Anyway, Tooty set to work on the root vegetables with verve and elan…

He was equally vervish when it came to  stripping the pork loin of any nasty fatty bits…

You know how much he hates fatty bits. Then he chopped up the meat and veggies; chucked them in the slow cooker; and stirred like a cement mixer on steroids…

The result was this…

…to which he added the stir-fry veggies…

Then it was a matter of introducing some flavour – in the shape of black pepper and paprika…

In an aside, let me tell you that he fell in love with paprika when, at age twenty, he stayed a while in Zurich, Switzerland, with his girlfriend, who introduced him to paprika flavoured crisps. He was heart-broken when, upon his return to Britain, he discovered that such things did not exist in his homeland, and probably never would.

Anyway, on with the show. Of course kitchen steam had been hard at work ruining anything powdered, so he was forced to stab his way into the paprika…

But, having done so, the resulting ingredients looked an awful lot like this…

Yummy already. Then is was time to mix the stock with boiling water and pour on…

The result? This…

So he then set the dial to LOW and went off to do lots of other things – one of which was to take a well-earned, and relaxing, bath…

Only it wasn’t really relaxing because he spotted the camera…

And fearful that his willy might protrude above the level of the water, he sat up…

…and was mortified that anyone would be so underhand as to place a camera in the bathroom with him…

Fortunately the great chef’s ruffled feathers were smoothed down in time for his return to the kitchen – some hours later – where the under-cooked meal was looking decidedly…ah…undercooked – with the veggies succeeding where his willy had not…

Time to add some more water. But just to be sure that the flavour wasn’t weakened and made wimpy and putrid, he grabbed one of those Spanish stock cubes for lentils that he so likes…

…and mixed it with the boiling water…

…and poured it on top…

Looking yummy again. But an hour later all those cereals, pulses and rice had sucked up all the water…

It looked arid, but rich. So this time he just added hot water…

…which also got sucked up. But it didn’t really matter because an hour later the meal was cooked. And since his speciality is stodge, this is what he served up…

And, not only was it excellent in every way possible (as long as you don’t mind stodge), but there was some left over for a mid-day snack the day after…

Two meals for the price of one. Well almost.