Mr Point’n’Shoot?

Mr Point’n’Shoot is the photographs-only blog that I’ve decided to start. It’s in the early stages, but I’ve thrown a few pictures on it – just to get it out there in the blogosphere. So there is something to see – including an About page. If you fancy a look, just click Mr Point’n’Shoot now!

Revel in the Ribaldry 25

More ribald tales from the Hamster-Sapiens now. Well an excerpt anyway. And this one comes from none other than this e-book…

As is my way, Mr Complete Random once more selected the excerpt. Let’s hope the non-existent devil has chosen well…

Joan, Darkwood, Rootley, and the gargantuan Brother Alfonso Dos Fresas had emerged from the sewer outlet that overhung Weasels Pit’s Lake Effluence like some evil giant urethra. They’d closely resembled an army of frozen zombies. Only when they gained the sanctuary of Rootley’s disgusting hovel atop the hill that over looked the putridly medieval village, and were embraced by the considerable bulk of Margarita Hummingbird, did they finally thaw sufficiently to converse in words of more than one syllable.

Finally, as evening drew on, they settled about the smoky fire and discussed a possible constitution for Prannick – once the power of The Wheel had been overthrown, of course.

“So tell me, Joan,” Darkwood spoke between draughts of a foul ale that they’d purchased from an inebriated chipmunk whom they encountered on the road that led towards Knackered Dobbin, and who was selling hot baked beans and treacle tarts to passers-by, “since you know Sponx is ruled by an absolute monarchy, and Prannick is a religious mono-culture, how well do you imagine that your land’s concept of democracy would fare in this obviously more culturally-primitive dimension?”

Joan’s reply was short and sweet. It was also a question.  “Capitalism, or Socialism?”

Darkwood pondered this subject for a moment. He then asked the obvious question, “Is there any real difference?”

Now if anyone had asked Joan this question just a paw-full of days previous, then it’s likely that she would have responded with, “You what? Socialism? Duh…” But the new Joan now used parts of her brain that hadn’t been dulled by an upbringing in the company of a moronic gerbil, and the ever-present aroma of custard. Just as Darkwood had done moments earlier, Joan too pondered the subject. When she spoke is was with precision and clarity…

“In ideology and theory – a difference so vast that it could lead to war:” She informed him, “But in practice – they are barely discernible. They’re both highly proficient in the art of corruption, but only one of them is capable of running a country long-term without bankrupting it or causing civil unrest. Well that’s if Hamster Britain’s government is anything to judge by. The same goes for dictatorships and police states: In the end you can’t tell one from the other. Except for cornflakes, of course: There’s always a greater choice of cornflakes and cereal-based products in states where free speech is the norm. Otherwise they’re much the same. Even the pornography looks remarkably similar. So I’ve been told: I’ve never actually indulged…”

She turned away to cover the brightening of skin beneath her youthful hamstery fur.

“Not doing well, are we Darkwood?” Rootley returned from prodding the smouldering fire, “In any case – aren’t we being a tad premature? We have the fluffin’ Wheel to overthrow first.”

“And I have a trabajo to find, if you recall.” Brother Alfonso spoke from inside a hammock that he’d fashioned from a huge sheet of muslin that was usually used for containing the village pudding, but had been washed and left outside to dry overnight by the village pudding maker, and which had been subsequently stolen by Brother Alfonso as he sauntered past en route from Lake Effluence to Rootley’s hovel, “As a monk my professional days are over.”

It was late at the Institute of Hugely Important Studies, and Flotti Pañuelo had only just put on her hat and coat, and departed the establishment on her ex-Horatio Horseblanket race-prepped motocross foldaway scooter that she’d won in the last year’s Hamster Heath Annual Winter Farting Contest, when Fabian Strangefellow’s rare and expensive go-kart rolled onto the grounds with its pedals feathered for complete silence.

The machine didn’t stop; it just merely slowed sufficiently to allow a black-clad Roosevelt Teabiscuit the opportunity to leap from the passenger seat, roll spectacularly across the pavement, then spring, like an over-eager flea, up onto the flat roof of the foyer, shinny up a drainpipe, then dive through an open window upon the fourth floor.

Elsewhere upon the fourth floor, the three members of The Royal Institute for Psychic Rodent Research were once more putting Felicity Bugler through her paces. And once more she was failing like a talentless tart.

“You know, I’m at a total loss: She was fine earlier.” Doctor Rambling Bramble spoke in his most frustrated tone of voice as he stood behind impervious plate glass beside his assistant, Primrose Pickles. “If I had my way I’d have her put out of her misery. Lethal injection ought to do it.”

Primrose was feeling more charitable. “Perhaps if I gave her really good spanking…” She suggested.

Bramble’s whiskers twanged like an ill-tuned banjo. “Do you really think so?” He said, suddenly breathless, “Can I watch?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

I don’t need to tell you that this book is available at most e-book stockists: you already know.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part ten)

Whilst all this Marsy stuff was happening, far, far away upon Scroton, Vice Chancellor Donny Woolbadger and Chancellor Tojo Winterborn summoned Folie and Placebo to Government House…

“Boys,” Tojo opened in Scrotonic, “we’re not entirely sure what it is you want: would you care to pop back aboard your ratty old bucket of junk and scribble notes on the wall in felt-tip pen? It would be ever so helpful.”

Naturally Donny translated his instruction verbatim, before departing for areas unknown. Equally naturally Folie and Placebo were thrilled that they were, effectively, being given a blank cheque…

“Whoo-hoo,” Folie cried as they returned to the shipyard, “this is gonna be fun!”

And equally, equally naturally, they had to enter their ship during the night, when the roof had been closed and all the workers had gone home…

But, as a result of the lateness of the hour, and after a long day, both Earthlings were a little tired. Placebo found that he couldn’t concentrate and kept thinking he heard strange noises echoing, ‘spookily’, down the multifarious corridors…

And Folie wandered around feeling foolish because he couldn’t figure out how to remove the pen lid…

Luckily the Automatic Pilot was still active and suggested that they tell the cable ends to check out the ship’s log. So, the next morning, Folie and Placebo did just that…

They were a little surprised to be admonished for their tardiness and were told that they were lucky that the ship came equipped with such an excellent Automatic Pilot.

“So does that mean that Autopilot stays?” Placebo inquired after Chancellor Winterborn had finally run out of breath.

“Oh, undoubtedly.” Donny Woolbadger concluded the meeting. “Without it you two would be dead within hours. Immediately after lift-off, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Well actually he did have one more thing to say. He said: “Now sod off to Scroton Prime for some sight-seeing; and leave the ship to our engineers, designers, and delightfully talented whizz-kids.”

A short while after that a team of cable ends entered the ship and were now accessing the ship’s log, which told the vessel’s tale from its original launch – to the moment it set down in the dry dock…

“Jeepers,” orange engineer, Bertie Bumbledope cried out as the information passed before his eyes, “this log is a treasure trove of celestial and technological data. This is gonna bring our tech forward in a quantum leap.”

“I’m just glad that I live in an era when this happened.” The green engineer, Humper Humpington gushed as he studied the information matrix globe. “I’ll be able to write in my memoirs.”

“And look at this.” A grey-hued designer named Borgoise Johanson marvelled at the door mat, which rang a bell every time someone entered the room. “The red chevrons: they’re so exquisite. And they light up too!”

“This information matrix globe is so soft and comfy.” A paler grey designer, named Woolston Skipyard remarked. “I wonder if it was designed that way, or just a happy accident.”

“That’s nothing,” a brown engineer who enjoyed the moniker Deuce Wayne, spoke from inside the colon evacuation unit, “I feel several kilos lighter already – and I’ve only just switched this thing on!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Tooty’s Techno-Mashup 2: And Tooty Shall Have Music Wherever He Goes!

Now Tooty’s never been at the forefront of technological change: he’s one of those who believe in the maxim “If it aint broke don’t fix it”. But once something new has been proven beneficial to him, he will embrace it like a long-lost legionnaire embraces a desert fort’s water butt. That is – he goes for it wholeheartedly. But, despite his adoption of technological advancement, he doesn’t abandon the old tech willy-nilly. No: it goes into his attic – collecting dust, cob-webs, spider shit, and (if he’s unlucky) moisture. And it is because of this reticence of his that recently, whilst searching his attic (for something entirely unrelated) he discovered a plastic box containing a bunch of these…

They are, of course, compact cassette audio tapes – still in their original cellophane wrappers and, consequently immaculate.

“Now what would Tooty want with those old slabs of plastic crap?” I hear you muse, “Why, they’re even older than video tapes – and they went out with the Ark!”

Well I’ll tell you. Tooty normally drives a very pleasant modern 21st century car, featuring a turbo-charged, three cylinder petrol engine that is frugal, reasonably clean, bloody quick, and sounds really nice when he floors the accelerator in any of the six gears available to him. But in his garden he keeps one of these…

Yes, it’s an old car. It goes (rather well), is taxed and insured, and can be driven any time he wants. He doesn’t need it: it’s a drain on resources: and it takes up room that could be better used. But he likes it. He likes the slow, lazy steering: the even slower, even lazier automatic gearbox; and the smooth quiet four-cylinder engine that originated in Japan and couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding. It also comes equipped with one of these…

For those of you born on or near the time of the millennium, that is an FM/AM radio with compact cassette player. Once big news. Groovy even. Something that (if Tooty wants to listen to music of his choice, and not some noise selected by a ‘right-on’ self-important ‘presenter’ who wouldn’t know good music if it chewed on his/her privates) requires compact cassettes. Cue the recent discoveries.

“Ah,” I hear your finger raised questioningly, “but how does he get his preferred digitised music from his laptop/MP3 player onto the cassette?”

Well it wasn’t just the cassettes he found up there on the top floor: he also found this…

Yes, it’s an ancient twin-deck ‘boom box’ – designed and fabricated decades before the very idea of DAB radio. But here’s the thing: Panasonic inadvertently future-proofed this delightfully analogue device. They saw that people might want to record from their Compact Discs, (Hah – remember them?) which of course they did because their cars weren’t fitted with CD players (also which his modern car isn’t either: it’s all multi-media and Bluetooth stuff). But what they couldn’t have imagined is that their ‘CD In Line’ sockets could carry the yet to be developed digital information that comes from the Internet.

“Great,” you could be excused for uttering in a doubtful tone, “but how does Tooty get the aforementioned digital information to the boom box?”

Every single electrical item that Tooty has bought over the years came equipped with connecting cables. He didn’t throw them away either. So, after a half-hour’s rummage he surfaced with this…

One end into his laptop’s headphone socket: the other two into the stereo CD In Line sockets on the boom box…

Then it’s simply a matter of pressing RECORD on the Panasonic, and PLAY on the Toshiba laptop. Of course he has to listen to every song: but if you’re doing the ironing, or knocking up dinner, where’s the pain in that? And now he can listen to modern songs in his old car, without having to listen to a load of over-exuberant drivel. Did I hear the word ‘genius’ mentioned?

Tooty’s Been Thinking

Look at the following picture…

There goes Tooty, out in the frosty morning air, with two of his bridge cameras nestling together in his camera bag. See the lengths he goes to to bring you lovely pictures of stuff. Then, having digested that, look at this…

Well bugger me there he goes again – braving terrible winter conditions with his pockets crammed with waterproof compact cameras. What a guy. Which brought him to thinking about this blog. As much as readers swoon over his fabulous scripts and wondrous tales of derring do – not to mention Tooty the Chef of course; he couldn’t help but notice that it’s this sort of thing…

…that float reader’s boats as much as this sort of thing…

…or, dare I say it, this sort of thing…

So, he thought, how would it be for you – the reader of this blog – if he were to start a second blog that featured only the results of his photo-snapping exploits out in the real world? Stuff like this…

Sounds okay? Want him to do it? If so, he’ll take your positive comments and clicks on the Like button as approval, and looks forward to delving through his ENORMOUS back-catalogue. It’s about the only thing of his that is enormous*, except perhaps his over-inflated opinion of his talents. Comment and click at your leisure.

*Actually there is his prostate gland; but he doesn’t liked to boast; just dribble.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part nine)

A half-hour then passed in which Mulleon had taken a bite to eat; gone to the lavatory; changed his underwear; and managed to lose Rufus. Of course the first three acts had been necessary; the fourth less so, and he cursed himself for not keeping his big gob shut when he’d hatched his plan to use the plugmutt in such an underhand manner. So it was alone that Mulleon followed the blueprints of the museum that Maverick had paid a fortune for to a pair of dubious underworld characters called Wilton Carpetti and Vinki Vinkleton. Now he entered the lowest foundations of the futuristic abode…

A single light illuminated the way, and soon he spotted the hatch that led to the supposed caverns below…

…and, in a trice, was through it…

Looking around him, Mulleon wondered at the sheer volume of the cavern. He’d expected to find it damp and cramped. Instead it was dry and spacious.

“Huh, not bad.” He said begrudgingly. “Now I know why they use the term ‘cavernous’.”

He then set himself to address his immediate concern: which way to go?

Several storeys above Mulleon, William of Porridge congratulated himself on a job well done…

“Will you look at that!” He said to no one but himself. “All packed away in Bays Six and Seven: and you’d never know it to look at it. Pristine. Will, baby: you are the cork!”

But when he dropped from the platform, onto the delivery buggy track…

…he noticed the luggage service platform arriving unexpectedly. Even more surprising was the fact that it was carrying a passenger…

Of course William couldn’t possibly have known that Maverick had followed Mulleon into the bowels of the building – to make certain that the yellow earplug hadn’t reneged on their deal; pocketed the money; and ‘done a runner’. Now he’d made the mistake of being lazy. If he’d bothered to take the stairs, no one need ever know that he’d been anywhere but the public areas. Now that big lump of a luggage cork was calling out to him. Moments later he was joined upon the luggage service platform…

“Hi,” the new arrival said chirpily, “my name’s William of Porridge: what’s yours?”

Maverick had expected admonishment; not a warm welcome. He was caught off-guard by William’s approach: “Errrr.” He said. “Um…” Then he thought that honestly would be the best tactic. “Maverick.” He replied. “Maverick Fossil-Hunter.”

William nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah – thought so.” He said – which surprised Maverick even further. “You believe in ancient astronauts and all that guff. Yes, I saw your interview with Rupert Piles. You maintain that Mars was colonised by an early earplug civilisation that was aquatic in nature. You suggest that the Muffins are the result of an artificially altered genome that allowed later generations of those colonists to live on a planet that was rapidly drying up.”

“Oh cripes.” Maverick said sotto voce. Then more loudly he added: “Well, essentially, you’re right. I do. May I say – thank you for actually listening to my half of the interview. Most people agree with that camera-wielding oaf, Rupert Piles. His open guffawing at my statements almost ruined me, you know.”

“So now you’re here to prove him wrong, huh?” William urged.

“Oh yes indeed.” Maverick said as he turned his gaze away from his thoughts, and in the direction of William…

“I’m going to humble him. I’m going to make him eat every one of his words. I’m going to make him choke on his guffaws. I’m going to bestride the academic world like an earplugologist colossus. Everyone who ever said I was a kook and nutter is going to regret their foolish tongues ever spoke those words. I’m going to kick several scientists and academics right up the metaphysical arse. Then I’m going to kick them up the real arse too!”

Maverick hadn’t noticed, but his tenor had quickly shifted in an upwards direction towards falsetto. William had.

“Oh, right. Yeah, great.” He said as he took a backward step. “Be careful on this lift: it isn’t really for people. See ya.”

With that he was gone, and Maverick could continue on his way – his recently pent-up stress levels magically salved.

Below, and unobserved, Mulleon was continuing onwards; but his thoughts were of turning back. If he could just think up some sneaky excuse…

William of Porridge had, until encountering Maverick Fossil-Hunter, been relatively unconcerned with day-to-day problems of the Future Museum of Mars. But a mad cork on the premises made him nervous…

He could well remember the tales of Ballington Cork’s attempts to take control of the Museum of Future Technology. And he wasn’t too impressed with the disco cork king – Hambledon Bohannon – either…

He would need to speak to someone about it. And straight away!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Tooty’s Techno Mash-Up 1: And The Word Is…

It might appear, from his fabulously fluid writing style, characterful grammar, and flawless spelling, that Tooty enjoys a vast literary talent. He has, after all, mentioned it many times before on this blog. But that isn’t actually the case. Okay he can throw a few words at you with a cunning turn of phrase that gives the impression of genius; but most of the time he’s scratching his head – trying to think up (not just the right word, but any) words. And then, after he’s thought of one, he has to remember how to spell it. Is it ‘i’ before the ‘e’? And how can the word Porridge also be spelled ‘Porrige’? He doesn’t know. So he is always delving into his 1956 edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary. That, in itself wouldn’t necessarily be a ‘bad thing’; but a lot of words have come into use since the year of his birth. So, recently he had the wonderful idea of combining word searching with a fitness regime. Instead of walking from the kitchen (where he does most of his writing) into the hall (where he keeps his dictionary on a book shelf), he thought he would go the extra two steps into the TV room, in which his Echo Dot resides upon an antique chest of drawers just inside the door. It seemed like a fabulous idea – especially when Alexa reminded him that ‘custard’ in Spanish is ‘natillas’.  But this early success quickly soured – as seen in this re-enactment…

…when Alexa informed him that the word ‘reign’ is spelt RAIN. No amount of explanation from him helped. Rain it was; and rain it would remain. So it was back to the dictionary for Tooty. But then, following a long arduous day of Earplug Adventure creating, his addled mind couldn’t think of a decent synonym for ‘problem’. Alexa suggested ‘trouble’. And that’s all she would suggest – even after Tooty asked her to give him three synonyms of ‘problem’. So he sneakily asked her for a synonym of ‘problem’ AND ‘trouble’. Alexa’s answer? “Oh, I don’t know that one.”

But then Tooty’s genius re-surfaced: he remembered that (in a drawer somewhere) he had one of these…

It’s an electronic pocket thesaurus. Smarter than a sixty-five year old collection of out-dated words: less stupid than a small box that sits in the corner of the room and listens to your every word. Happy again and able to continue the pretence.

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part eight)

So, as everything seemed to be falling into place for the two young MOFT employees – out on a ‘jolly’ in their own personal space craft – back at the Future Museum of Mars the two mining company representatives – Doubry Furkins and Jenson Prong – felt a tad apprehensive upon the neighbouring plain…

“I know that I agreed that this time of year is probably the best time to visit Mars – what with tourist numbers down because of the approaching winter: “Doubry said through chattering teeth, “but, flipping heck, this ground is so darned cold.”

“You’re telling me.” Jenson retorted. “It must be locked-in frozen carbon dioxide. My rock-testing chisel is so cold I’m afraid to use it, just in case it shatters.”

At that moment, but further away, in an unnamed desert, Marty Friedpants was leading his fellow sewage union reps on their first hike…

“Come on, boys,” he called enthusiastically, “keep up.”

“That’s easy for you to say;” Tail-end Charlie – Tandoe Crimplehorn – gasped his reply, “but your oxygen suppository fits you better than mine: my bottom is feeling seriously oxygen-depleted.”

Marty, being an unusually fair-minded trade union earplug, was about to stop and offer to swap oxy-suppositories, when he was accosted by none other than the MOFT curator, Sir Dodger Muir…

“Dodge,” he said with surprise evident, “what the bloody hell are you doing all the way out here? I know you’ve got some new knees and all that: but you’re no spring plugmutt. You could keel over at any moment, and no one would be any the wiser.”

Sir Dodger was well aware of his advancing years, and was only present because he felt an absolute need to be there. But that didn’t stop him raising a characteristic eyebrow…

“Well here’s the thing, old chap.” He began. “It’s the new knees that have sent me out here. Not literally, you understand: they didn’t just waltz off with me an unwilling passenger. No; what I mean is…well all this metalwork inside me is reacting to the changing climatic conditions. If I read the sensations correctly – which, because I’m intelligent enough to have enjoyed a long successful acting career, and then became a curator at the planets’ most famous and most envied museum, I believe I am: we’re in for snow. Probably lots of it too. So, Marty, if I were you, I’d think about making plans for an early return to the museum. I’m off there now: you can follow in my footsteps, should you care to.”

Meanwhile, even further distant from the museum, the Scrotonite, whose name was Bo Smidgin, was conducting a reconnoitre of a suitable spot for his planned holiday-housing development…

And he too felt a chill wind blow up his metaphorical kilt that sent a shudder down his spine and gave him cause to wonder if he might have the talent of prescience.

“Hmmm,” he mused to himself in near silence, “if Venus wasn’t so damned hot, with an ammonia-rich atmosphere, I think, on balance, I might prefer to knock up some (fundamentally balsa wood and fabric) shacks there. Somehow this doesn’t feel right.”

But not everyone was out and about. Others chose (at least for the while) to remain inside the museum. Others like the huge cork, to whom William of Porridge had spoken in the reception area, whose name was Maverick Fossil-Hunter. Also a yellow earplug named Mulleon Cleets; and Mulleon’s pet plugmutt – Rufus…

As they stood beside a Cafe Puke coffee vending machine they discussed the matter that had brought them to Mars.

“It is clear,” Mulleon said, as he looked up at the cork that towered above him, “that the remnants of any oceans that Mars ever possessed would now be far below the surface.”

“I’m certain of it.” Maverick replied. “I would stake my reputation upon it. And here, beneath the Future Museum of Mars, marks the likely entry point to any access tunnels that might still exist.”

“Yeah- yeah, I get that.” Mulleon groaned. “But what makes you so sure that these tunnels lead to the ancient city of the Muffins?”

“Proximity, Mulleon,” Maverick answered. “They wouldn’t build their homes far from the water supply. Only really stupid people do that.”

Mulleon thought about that for about a nanosecond, before replying with: “But they are stupid: they destroyed their entire world by igniting a massive fart. A global fart, no less. I mean, what kind of intelligence does it take to ignite so much methane that it strips away most of the breathable atmosphere?”

Maverick ground his teeth together: this was an argument he’d heard many times before – mostly from his peers, tutors, and TV interviewers – especially that pesky Rupert Piles…

The answer came easily to his lips: “They were smarter in the olden times. They hadn’t invented daytime TV. If it hadn’t been for the development of social media, Mars would probably still have a vibrant society and a healthy planet. They wouldn’t have felt the need for a world-wide farting contest. So my idea is right.”

Although Mulleon agreed with Maverick, at least on a basic level, he didn’t much like the cork’s initial plan of action. Maverick was to go to the old citadel of the Muffins, whilst he found his way there via the subterranean tunnels and passageways beneath the museum.  He was about to offer an argument, just for the sake of it, when he had an idea of his own: he’d send Rufus in first: if he didn’t get eaten by anything, it was probably safe for him to proceed…

 

So he agreed financial terms, and Maverick departed…

…whilst he dragged Rufus in the opposite direction…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part seven)

Well it was just as the Automatic Pilot had suggested: there was no need to fire off their remaining pair of proton torpedoes: Scroton’s gravity was sufficiently powerful to pull the ship towards it.

Although the nova had ruined the star drive, the Gravity Whelk’s uncomplicated atmospheric-flight pulse drive had been unaffected by the solar convulsion: so, after obtaining permission to enter Scroton’s atmosphere, the boys took their positions in the forward window and watched the air rush past…

“I like air.” Folie informed his best friend. “I like the way it makes lots of noise as it rubs on the ship’s hull. And buffeting too: it really makes me feel euphoric. I think it’s a visceral thing.”

“I like it because it’s breathable.” Placebo replied. “Even at this altitude it’s a lot better than outer space.”

But it wasn’t long before the ship was rushing across the landscape towards its final destination…

Of course the boys had been so busy talking inanities that neither of them noticed that permission to land had been granted. Fortunately for them the Automatic Pilot was more professional. So soon the Gravity Whelk had nestled into a dry dock that overlooked  the city of Scroton Prime, and before you could say ‘Magnuss Earplug: what a guy‘ personnel transfer conduits had attached themselves to the airlocks on the lower hull…

“Straighten your ties, boys.” The Automatic Pilot bellowed, “we’re down.”

Then the summons came. Five minutes later Folie and Placebo stood at the ceremonial gate to the city.

“Hello, brave young earplugs.” A brown cable end said in a pleasant baritone. “I’m Vice Chancellor Donny Woolbadger. This is Chancellor Tojo Winterborn: he doesn’t speak any earplug language I’m afraid: so I’m here to interpret. Your Automatic Pilot informs us that you need a re-fit.”

“A rather extensive one, I believe?” Tojo Winterborn added – though, of course neither Folie nor Placebo were aware of that.

But Placebo – being a non-earplug – had learned to read body language very well. “Yes.” He guessed correctly and replied directly to the chancellor. “A bloody great big one – with all the bells and whistles you can muster.”

When Donny had translated this, the chancellor appeared very impressed. “Now I can see why our great and glorious leader is so enamoured with these Earth beings: they’re a clever bunch of bleeders. I’m not so sure about the little yellow one though. Looks a bit thick to me. But he’s cute, so we’ll let my reservations pass on this occasion. Tell them to follow us.”

“Walk this way.” Donny invited the new-comers. “From this relatively low vantage point you can see your tatty old ship in dry dock.”

He was right too. And just to impress the two space-farers further, sparkling cutting torches could already been seen in action…

“Oh, good.” Folie said appreciatively. “The first thing to go is that useless sodding excuse for a bridge.”

But Folie and Placebo were soon to be impressed even further, because, at that moment, Nigel – The Golden One – proceeded through ranks of his security forces…

…for a meeting with his visitors from far away across the void of interstellar space. He elected to meet them in the industrial zone immediately adjacent to the dry dock…

“Do either of you know Magnuss Earplug?” He inquired once introductions had been made. “I’m a big fan.”

Folie would have liked nothing more than to have answered in the affirmative; but sadly he’d never met the Museum of Future Technology’s greatest hero. “Sorry, but no.” He said. “But I do have a framed pair of his underpants – under glass and hermetically sealed.”

“Yes, and we have met Cushions Smethwyke.” Placebo blurted.

Nigel appeared a little confused. “Cushions…urr…Smethwyke?”

“She’s the boss of the MOFT.” Folie explained. “I guess you could say she’s Magnuss’ boss.”

Had Nigel possessed an eyebrow he would have raised it.

“My,” he said, “she must be quite a gal. Magnuss Earplug’s boss, eh? Perhaps I should take the time for a royal visit. Thank you, lads: you’ve given me food for thought. Well I’ll leave you in the Chancellor’s capable hands. Whatever you need…ah…it’s yours. I’ll see you again when the job’s complete. Bye-ee.”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part six)

Meanwhile, so far across the gulfs of space that numbers become incomprehensible, the Gravity Whelk was well into its long journey to Scroton…

Although the ancient vessel was travelling at full speed, Folie and Placebo found that they had lots of time on their hands. And since the Automatic Pilot…um…piloted the ship, they chose to watch the view through the front window of the nominal ‘bridge’. And it was whilst they were positioned thus, that a distant star exploded…

“Cripes,” Folie yelped, “I hope that was farther away than it looked!”

Placebo would have responded, but his thoughts were interrupted by the Automatic Pilot: “Immediate course change required. Initiating.”

“Obviously it wasn’t farther away than it looked.” Placebo said finally. “I guess exploding stars are pretty dangerous to old tubs like this one.”

“They’re also extremely rare.” Folie said confidently. “Cams Layne, aboard the Brian Talbot, told me that his crew had flown for loads of light years and had never seen a single one. Same goes for the crews of the Chi-Z-Sox and the K T Woo.”

“That’s comforting to know.” A relieved Placebo replied. “I hope we got it on the dash cam: I’d like to play it back for Mister Layne, when we see him next.”

Folie then suggested that they might witness the star’s final throws from one of the side windows; so they quickly made their way to an observation point…

“Nice.” Folie opined after five minutes of scouring all visible space with his sharp eye sight. “But hardly spectacular.”

“Yeah.” Placebo sighed. “I guess the show’s over. Fancy some spaghetti on toast?”

Naturally Folie would have said: “Sho’nuf, big fella: lead me to the galley.” But his reply was quenched when, without warning, another star exploded…

“I’ll take a rain check on that right now.” He said as he buckled on his seat belt. “That is definitely much closer than the first one.”

The Automatic Pilot had just enough time to plot an evasive manoeuvre, when the ship was struck by an energy wave cast out by the nova…

“Aargh!” It managed as electrical conduits sparked and fizzled. “Flipping heck – we’ve lost the main star drive. You two: get aft. We have to know how badly hurt we are before I can try a re-start.”

Under normal circumstances, the young owners of the Gravity Whelk would have welcomed something useful to do: but these weren’t normal circumstances.

“Ooh, blimey,” Placebo said as he studied a set of really important read-outs, “this panel is completely dead.”

Folie wasn’t doing any better in his section of the ship…

“Ditto.” He reported. “I’m on emergency lighting down here too.”

But as they checked other compartments, the situation seemed slightly improved…

“Ah, there’s a  bit of luck,” Placebo noted. “The outer hatch on the toilet tissue store hasn’t opened to space.”

Folie too had good news…

“And the pumpkin farm is fine as well.” He said. Then, after a moment’s consideration: “Hey; how about we microwave a pie?”

But then the ship began to yaw and the artificial gravity became unreliable – alternating between Earth standard and Luna standard. This fluctuation made Placebo feel quite nauseous…

“Flipping heck, Autopilot,” he mumbled between bouts of gagging, “can’t you get us underway somehow? Isn’t thrust a good alternative to fluctuating artificial gravity?”

“Very good, Placebo,” the Automatic Pilot’s stentorian voice echoed down the (now silent) corridors, “you appear to have studied basic space faring stuff. Unfortunately the only way your wish can come true is if I release a proton torpedo into the rear expansion chamber of the main drive, and ignite it.”

“It’s either that,” Placebo groaned testily, “or I throw up all over your shiny bulkheads.”

“Initiating proton torpedo release.” The Automatic Pilot said with a trace of panic in its cyber voice. “And igniting it.”

A split second later…

…the ship began to move.

“Another one.” Folie shouted above the noise of a ship trying to shove its blunt-end through its pointy-end.

Given an explicit command, the Autopilot did as it was bid – and continued in that way for several days until the Gravity Whelk blew itself all the way to Weird Space…

“Are we nearly there yet?” Placebo inquired from the galley.

“Kind’a.” Folie replied. “But space is awfully big.”

But, just of a handful of days later, the Gravity Whelk nosed into semi-familiar territory…

“Well whadda ya know?” The Automatic Pilot spoke over the general address system.” We’ve only gone and done it. And with only a couple of proton torpedoes remaining on the inventory. It’s all downhill from here. Guys; welcome to Scroton.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Tooty the Chef: Where’s He At?

You may have noticed a dearth of Tooty the Chef posts in recent times. Millions have. Well there is an explanation. Of course the good cook would have liked nothing more than to blame the month of January and its scrotum-puckering chill that rises through the concrete floor of his kitchen and freezes his ass off. But, annoyingly he can’t. Not because it isn’t cold: it is. In fact he has been hard at work. Regard the following four pictures…

Nice, eh? Unfortunately poor old Tooty’s head isn’t in a good place right now. At the time of this report, it has been four months since he lost his wife to cancer, and, quite frankly, he’s having a hard time being funny. To use a colloquial term: he just can’t be arsed – which is quite ironic really, because  it’s his arse that he usually reveals at some point during the cooking of his meals. What little mirth he possesses is kept in reserve for the Earplug Adventure story. But he will be back: I’m sure of it. You can’t keep a good chef down – unlike his pants. And just as a reminder of  how brilliant he can be: here’s a picture of his trim buttocks as he selects a bottle of wine to mix with his sugar-free Sprite…

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part five)

Soon both Mars Shuttles had disgorged their loads and set metaphorical sail for Earth – leaving behind them a milling mass of silicon life forms…

Frisby – quickly realising that the dull light of the Martian sky was permeating the museum’s shell with its depressing lustre – decided to switch on the artificial lighting. He selected the blue of Earth…

“Well it’s not like its going to raise the electricity bill.” He explained to Tangerine. “We have a nul-space generator. Power isn’t a problem.”

Soon guests were swarming all over the museum – despite the fact that it still held no exhibits, or seemed likely too in the short-term…

“Don’t you just love this lower gravity on Mars?” Sir Dodger inquired of an attractive female guest on one of the main walkways. “I do believe I feel thirty years younger – if you catch my drift.”

“Oh I do, Sir Dodger.” She replied. “When my elastic snapped just now, my pants refused to fall down. I was very grateful to be here, and not Saturn or one of those large planets.”

“Oh, absolutely.” Sir Dodger sympathised. “I’d hate to think what might have happened on one of those gas giants. I’ve heard their moons are very pleasant though.”

Several months earlier  the Museum of Future Technology had dispatched a team of engineers to assist the native Martians – or ‘Muffins’ as they preferred to be known – with their attempts to resurrect thier  civilisation. They were easily identified by their orange colouring. Although most were on assignment upon the plains, others remained inside the museum. Some of them were delighted to see an influx of new people…

But they were not always best pleased when the aforementioned ‘new people’ brought their bad habits along with them…

But at least the engineers weren’t expected to guide them when they became hopelessly lost in the vast edifice…

There were just so many levels…

…that guests quickly tired and had to be taken to the dispensary for a pick-me-up. But other engineers managed to find fault with certain guests who failed to read the signage properly…

“What?” They would cry in despair. “You did what in the Tinkle Point? Don’t you realise the problems you’ve caused? It’s gonna take a team of eight to unblock this properly.” And: “No, Tinkle Point does not mean Toilet: it’s Martian for urinal!”

But out upon the Martian plains, engineers who lived in temporary shelters began to grow nervous…

There was a decidedly nippy breeze blowing in from both poles…

…and one or two of the gangs wondered if they should think about packing their haversacks and head back to the museum.

But new arrivals were unaware of the subtle shifts in the climate. They were just so glad to be able to get outside and experience the real Mars. People like the Museum of Future Technology’s sewerage workers union representatives who were enjoying a hiking holiday paid for by their union member’s union dues…

And former M.O.F.T visitors, Las Chicas De La Playas…

…who were fans of El Custardo y Los Natillas, and who believed with all their hearts that it was possible to get a tan from the Martian sun.

And amongst the shuttles manifest a small mineral prospecting company had dispatched representatives to discover what mineral wealth Mars still possessed…

 

But, perhaps, the most striking passenger, and therefore museum customer, was a property developer who had fallen foul of the  authorities on his home world, so pulled up his roots; put on his hard hat; and now sought to make his fortune at the expense of the natives of a different world entirely…

He was an Ethernet Cable End, and his home world was none other than Scroton!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part four)

Naturally it took a while for the transfer buggy to deliver the customers to the reception point inside the museum. It gave Frisby just enough time to persuade Charles De Glop to join himself, Lillie, and Tangerine in welcoming them…

Already they had fixed their smiles, and it wasn’t long before they could hear the hissing and grinding of the airlock as it allowed ingress to the travellers…

…one of which almost tripped on the ageing red carpet that wouldn’t lay flat.

“They’re almost here.” Frisby said quietly to Lillie. “You can do it. Just move a little closer to the door.”

“Okay.” Lillie replied in a tiny voice that belied her real capabilities.

Frisby could never forget that his assistant had seen real space combat experience. She had done things that most earplugs couldn’t even dream of. He was also aware that she had her frailties – perhaps as a result of those experiences. “Have you remembered to put your space knickers on this morning?” He inquired.

But it was too late for Lillie to reply: the first of their guests had arrived…

“Hello everyone.” Lillie began her welcoming speech. “We’re ever so pleased that you’ve managed to cross the vacuum of interplanetary space without suffocating or anything like that.”

But no one was listening: they’d spotted Tangerine…

…and, as anyone who knows anything about the history of the Museum of Future Technology, futuristic robots are often looked upon as potential threats and considered very scary indeed!

“Don’t worry about Tangerine.” William of Porridge spoke to the huge cork standing beside him. “He’s one of the good guys. He’s been with Frisby Mumph since the Future Museum of Mars was sent back in time from the future. He has no  ulterior plans for domination or anything.”

Lillie picked up on this. “That’s right.” She almost squealed with delight. “Tangerine is just a big cuddly lovey-dovey!”

“Well said, Lillie.” Frisby whispered to her. “You have great improvisational skills. Have you ever considered un-scripted stand-up comedy? I think you’d be wonderful at it.”

Lillie was too embarrassed to reply; so it was a timely moment that M.O.F.T curator, Sir Dodger Muir, chose to introduce himself…

“My, what a charming greeting.” He said in his beautifully cultured thespian voice. “I’m Sir Dodger Muir, by the way. I’m here to see how things are getting along. You can call me Dodge.”

Lillie was too young, and originated upon a distant world, so she didn’t have a clue regarding the famous Sir Dodger: but his demeanour and the tonal qualities of his aged, but still powerful voice made her knees tremble. And even Charles De Glop seemed pleased to meet the former matinee idol and TV thriller star…

“Great….Dodge.” Frisby said with a stupid smile upon his face. “No doubt you have a master key to the museum; make yourself at home.

By now others were beginning to crowd the narrow entrance…

“Indeed I have.” Sir Dodger replied. “I also have a full set of new artificial knees, so I’m not slow and creaky like I once was. As a result I like to show off a bit. How would you like me to show your guests to their quarters? I’m sure William of Porridge wouldn’t mind.”

“Thank you…ah…Dodge.” William spoke from amongst the group. “That’ll give me more time to stow everyone’s luggage properly.”

“Jolly good.” Sir Dodger replied, then had a thought: “Oh there’s one more thing: I don’t know if you’re in the know; but a second shuttle took off just after us…

…It should be landing any time now.”

And so it came to be. Once more the welcoming committee took up their positions – this time facing the eastern entry point…

“You know, Mister Mumph,” Lillie said as she composed herself following Sir Dodger’s departure, “I’m rather enjoying this. It’s so much more rewarding than raising defensive electro-magnetic screens, making evasive manoeuvres, and firing proton torpedoes.”

Then it was on with the task at hand: the airlock had opened again…

But it wasn’t the sight of some uncertain and hesitant customers that that made the museum staff smile…

It was the arrival of Frisby’s favourite mariachi band…

…El Custardo y Los Natillas!

Now, for the first time, Frisby Mumph was glad to have paying guests. He just prayed that William of Porridge didn’t damage either their guitars or their trumpets. He adored ethnic Latino music!

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (part three)

Meanwhile, upon Mars, the brief cold Summer was coming to a close. As is usual for the planet, Autumn was certain to be skipped, and the world would soon be plunged into a long, stunningly ultra-arctic winter. But, for the moment, the temperature at the equator hovered at zero degrees…

Inside the communications room of the Future Museum of Mars, its sole curator – Frisby Mumph – received an anticipated call from the Museum of Future Technology…

…informing him that more paying guests were en route from Earth aboard a Mars Shuttle.

His assistant, former bridge crew member of the K T Woo – Lillie Whitewater – was quietly going about her work in the hydroponics bay, where she experimented with Earth plants and Martian chemicals…

As usual she was disappointed with developments.

“Oh bum.” She snarled daintily. “Nada. I knew Frisby was wrong when he said that I needed neither air nor water. Next time I’ll listen to my inner voice.”

Frisby’s other assistant – that being the robot named Tangerine…

…was making its ’rounds’ – searching for leaks, blockages, and other annoying structural abnormalities.

“Check.” It would say. “Check. Lovely.”

And in the subterranean storage facility, the giant cork – William of Porridge – was making sure that he had sufficient room for their in-coming guest’s luggage…

“Hmm,” he muttered to himself, “might have to open up Bays Eight and Nine. One can never be too careful. Don’t want to get pinched for space. Best to avoid a panic. Yes, I’ll open Bays Eight and Nine. Oh yes; and I’ll keep Bay Ten as an over-spill area.”

Shortly, the radio message completed, Frisby turned away from the panel…

“A second Mars Shuttle is due as well. Oh, that’s going to stretch us thin. Guess it’s all those thrill seekers – hoping to catch the beginning of our murderous Winter, and hoping they’ll have a tale or two to tell for their friends, work colleagues, loved ones, and anyone who will listen to them yammer on incessantly about how they almost got frost bite and how parts could have fallen off, but actually didn’t.  If I’m honest with myself, I’m not really cut out for this touristy stuff: I liked it when I was terraforming a dead world. It was a worthwhile job that I enjoyed. Now it’s all…oh I don’t know…different. In a way I’m quite grateful for these mini ice-ages: it keeps the riff-raff out.”

But he’d managed to pull on his smiley face by the time he encountered Tangerine…

“A second shuttle, Sir?” A surprised robot responded to the news. “Methinks the Museum of Future Technology is running short of funds: they wouldn’t normally pack in two vessels this late in the Martian year. Have you had words with Cushions Smethwyke upon the subject?”

“I have, Tange.” Frisby replied cheerfully. “I told her where to shove the third shuttle. I think she took my displeasure on-board.”

Lillie – ever the professional – had listened in on the inter-museum com-chat, so had already been apprised of the situation. She decided to go do something else. Origami sounded quite appealing…

And in the storage bay, William of Porridge had similar thoughts. But he was more realistic…

“Oh, I suppose I’ll have to play the role of of doorman again.” He said with a sigh. “How very tedious. Perhaps I’d better visit the lavatory first: as much as I detest our guests, I don’t want to offend them with violent gaseous outpourings.”

It was about this time that Frisby encountered Lillie upon her balcony…

“Good news, Lillie.” He said without preamble, “You’re promoted to the role of Welcome Plug. It’ll mean a raise of pay and the key to the executive toilet. Starting today – with the very next shuttle in!”

Lillie didn’t know what to say. She’d paid her way out of the Worstworld military because she didn’t like responsibility: now she was going to have to smile and say meaningful things to complete strangers.

“Crumbs.” She managed. “What an honour.”

Then it was on the Charles De Glop – the museum’s chef…

“Hey, Chuck, baby.” Frisby cried out as he entered the super-futuristic kitchen from the…ah…future…

…”you’re going to need a bigger ladle.”

Charles De Glop was a fastidious chef: he didn’t like non-gastronomes in his facility. He didn’t much like Frisby either. He hated the smell than often escaped from his superior’s ancient (and superfluous) pressure suit…

“Impossible!” He snapped. “I do not have the herbs I need. Lillie has failed to supply me any from her hydroponics bay. And I will not open a single can of baked beans.  It is beneath me. I would rather perish on an open plain!”

“I wouldn’t ask you to.” Frisby replied. “But whatever you do decide on, make up your mind: I can feel a ship landing upon the landing mound as we speak.”

And he was right too.  Mars Shuttle One had landed…

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

 

Photography: Don’t Be Fooled by Big Numbers and Fancy Paint Jobs

Very often, as I peruse the ‘used’ cameras upon EBAY, I pause when confronted by low prices, big spec, or natty colour schemes. But seldom do I bite. Last week was an exception. I’d first noticed the very attractive and well specified Samsung WB30F a couple of years past; but it was always too expensive to warrant spending money on a camera that I didn’t need. So when no one else seemed interested in said camera, I bought it at rock bottom price. Today it arrived, and so I rushed outside to give it a try. But, just as a comparison test, I grabbed another camera (at random) and took a picture of the same subject within seconds of the Samsung shot. Below is a group photo…

Top  right is the WiFi able, 16 megapixel Samsung with its x10 zoom. Top left the rather lower spec 7 megapixel, x7 zoom Ricoh Caplio R5. Below each camera is the photo taken with it. Now you tell me how the Samsung is more desirable and worth so much more than the Ricoh. And (rhetorically) why does the older camera out-perform the newer? Answer: the lens. Look at the pissy little opening on the Samsung.  How’s that supposed to let enough light in? Then regard the Olympic swimming pool sized one on the Ricoh. Nuff sed. So when browsing for a camera, forget the spec and the colour: just let your eye measure the lens.

P.S I still like the Samsung though. I mean, look at it: it’s so pretty!

Revel in the Ribaldry 24

It’s  no good; when it comes to selecting which book supplies the next extract, I’ve completely lost the plot. But, rather than adopting my default position, which always results in me choosing The Psychic Historian, this time I’m going to plump for this slightly underrated e-book…

Okay – VERY underrated e-book. Maybe this extract, whatever it is (because its always random), will make people think again. Let’s hope so: I worked hard on this (all those years ago) and I really would like to sell a few copies.

“You miserable failure.” Wetpatch thought he heard someone say as he rematerialized beneath the emergency raffia mat.

“I’m no such thing.” He responded in his most indignant tone, which was very indignant indeed because he’d been studying Indignancy as part of the school curriculum, and had been practising upon the village green with his pal Algy Piecrust for weeks.

“Oh Wetpatch.” Amy squealed with delight as she whipped back the covering, and then quickly averted her eyes in case time travel did nasty things to people, “You’re back!”

Immediately everyone began fussing around the young hamster – asking all sorts of questions, and checking to see if he retained most of his more obvious body parts.

Naturally, after learning from Desmond that time travel can sometimes be disorientating, and can often lead people to hear things that weren’t actually said, and were usually the product of their sub-conscious, Wetpatch made his report.

Everyone was delighted, though slightly appalled by the news that both the crew and passengers were due for a pasting by the volcano’s shockwave, and that vomiting would be commonplace.

Desmond was particularly thrilled that Tutu would be safe, and was probably half way to Chunderland by now: But was slightly disconcerted when Wetpatch informed him that Tutu was a brilliant navigator, and that the lanky creature possessed a natural flair for the science, and could actually wipe his bottom with the bathroom light off.

So now, it seemed, it was just a matter of trying to survive the shockwave when it hit. And Wetpatch knew exactly where he intended to ride it out…

After securing Kevin to the wall with a pair of extremely large bolts and a length of braid from the lounge drapes, Wetpatch settled himself into a harness that swung lazily from a spring that was attached to the ceiling.

“It won’t matter how much the ship bucks about.” The youngster informed the education computer, “I’ll be cushioned from its effects by this. Of course I’ll probably empty my stomach all over the place, but I’ll remain fundamentally unharmed.”

Kevin, despite being a machine, was less than enthralled at the thought of being puked over.

“Hey, dumb-ass hamster,” it spoke as eloquently as it could, “How’s about stuffing me in a cupboard or up the extractor fan? I can’t stand no thoughts of messy stuff getting in my innards. What you wanna have me ‘round for anyways?”

Actually Wetpatch had a very good reason for having Kevin around when the shockwave hit. Amongst its many talents, Kevin could double as a DVD player, and it just so happened that during the rapid descent into the deeps, several box sets of Rat Trek had fallen from the hold of the Disemboweller into the Bargebutt, and Wetpatch had collected them, cleaned all the filth and bodily wastes from them, and now intended to spend his time on a sci-fi fest to end all sci-fi fests: Hour upon endless hour of Rat Trek re-runs – with popcorn. He simply couldn’t wait

“It’ll take my mind off my recalcitrant balance mechanism.” He explained after Kevin demanded an explanation for the inclusion of audio-visual stimulation during a period of extreme physical and mental stress. “And if I position a mirror on the opposite wall – you can watch too!”

And so it came to pass. Almost exactly three hours, sixty-two minutes, and ninety seconds later, the S.S Bargebutt found itself in the grasp of an invisible monster. Joints creaked, bulkheads bristled, and transfer hoses wobbled horrendously as the vessel was dragged across a sizable portion of the globe by the racing volcanic shockwave. Up became down, left became right, and somewhere in the middle seemed like it might end up on the outside. All in all the mighty sub was tested far beyond its builder’s design expectations, and was not found wanting. Regrettably the same couldn’t quite be said of its crew however. As promised by the earlier form of Tutu – vomiting abounded, and a great gnashing of teeth could be heard throughout its endless corridors. Recriminations were commonplace, and many a rodent said things that they feared they might later regret.

In his cabin, Wetpatch was riding the storm quite well. Although he was bouncing around the room on the end of his spring like an expiring house fly, his brain remained active, and his stomach surprisingly calm.

Kevin was doing less well. The two bolts turned out to be made of inferior shit-metal, and the braid had been manufactured in a country where quantity was generally preferred over quality, and had duly snapped at the first serious tug. The education computer now lay in the corner with both its display unit and solitary ‘eye’ camera facing the ceiling. Its tracked wheels spun helplessly, and oil was leaking from places that Wetpatch never imagined Kevin possessed. But like the obedient automaton that it was, Kevin continued to play Rat Trek, Episode Seven of Season One, ‘With Winter Comes a Nose Warmer’. And Wetpatch was doing his best to watch it even though Kevin couldn’t help itself from rolling from side to side as the vessel bucked and weaved like a conquistador’s cavy.

It was just as (on screen) Mister Splatt had finished explaining some complicated science stuff to an uncomprehending Captain Perp that a thought suddenly intruded upon Wetpatch’s enjoyment of the action adventure television show.

“Hang on a minute.” The adolescent hamster cried out over the general cacophony made by a ship that was being pounded to within microns of tolerance, “That can’t be right!”

And he wasn’t talking about Mister Splatt’s pseudo-science either. But it was to be another hour before the storm had passed, and he could put his resulting inspirational theory to Professor Desmond…

“Fluff and bollocks!” The wild-furred scientist bellowed moments after listening with great intensity to Wetpatch’s worrying tale and his most recently posited theorem.

“Fluff and bollocks?” Inquired Sally as she strode into the control room, paw in paw with Mister Ho, and with Amy in tow. “It’s not like you to swear gratuitously.”

Desmond apologised and then explained exactly what it was that had brought out the beast in him.

“I don’t think that Tutu was really Tutu.” He began, which confused the heck out of all three listening hamsters.

“What Professor Squealch means is…” Wetpatch decided to explain upon Desmond’s behalf, “…due to some unexplained interference from either the high pressures experienced in the depths. Or possibly somebody using an illegal cell ‘phone. Or perhaps electromagnetic activity from deep within the planet’s crust – his time machine didn’t send me back to the right time and place.”

“But…” Sally began; but she quickly realised that she knew next to nothing about temporal translocation, and duly shut her gob.

“But…” Amy tried more successfully, “…if it wasn’t the proper Tutu, in the proper place, at the proper time: Who was he, where was he, and when?”

The question had been succinctly put, and Roman, who had been snoozing beneath a pile of laundry, openly applauded her before joining the group.

“We think,” Wetpatch continued, “that I was diverted through a sub-atomic maelstrom into an alternative dimension in which everything appeared to be exactly the same as this one. But we can’t be sure that it actually was the same – so now Professor Squealch is all worried about Tutu again. He thinks he might be dead!”

“Fluff and bollocks!” Ho verbally ejaculated. “Some real bad shit!”

Indeed it was ‘some real bad shit’. “If our conjecture transpires to be proven,” Desmond came close to wailing, “then we can’t even be certain that Wetpatch is the same Wetpatch that we sent through time. And he can’t be certain that we’re the same bunch of miserable rodents who sent him. Oh this is unbearable: I’ve never felt more out of my depth – even when compared to that time when I went potholing with Tutu and Horatio Horseblanket, and there was a cave-in, and the river began rising, and we had to grasp the tunnel roof with our incisors, and converse through our nostrils!”

For several moments the situation looked extremely grim. Then Wetpatch had an idea…

“Send me back again.” He suggested chirpily, “Only this time I’ll take a camera. We can check the resulting photos for anomalies after I get back.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Well what a load of sci-fi cliches and quasi-scientific bollocks that was. But it was fun too, wasn’t it? Unbelievably this book is still for sale at most e-book retailers. They don’t give up, do they! And neither should you. Visit the sidebar or Tooty’s Books Available Here beneath the header, and buy it now. Like straight away. Immediately. This instant. You know it’ll be little money spent well. Bargain of the week.

 

Junior Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars (episode two)

Meanwhile, in a place that was inconceivably distant from that beleaguered planet, the ageing space vessel, Gravity Whelk, illuminated by the nuclear fires of a nearby star, hung relatively motionless in deep space…

And aboard it, sitting at an observation window, Folie Krimp – co-owner of the vessel…

…recalled how that situation came to be. How he and his friend, Placebo Bison, were gifted the unwanted ship by the Captain of the Brian Talbot, for their sterling work in reuniting the people of Earth’s ruined identical twin planet with their ruler, Princess Cake of Potwell…

But that had been almost three weeks ago; and now Folie wasn’t quite so sure that he should have accepted the gift. At that moment Placebo joined him upon his seat…

He dared voice his concerns to his huge polystyrene pal.

“Yes, I know what you mean.” Placebo replied. “It’s like this ship isn’t really suited to us. It’s as if we’re merely temporary caretakers. Why, only last night, I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open…

…but when I went to lay upon the bed that you designated as mine, I was suddenly aware that it had never been designed for me; and that I was not its first occupant.”

“Oh.” A surprised Folie responded. “I always sleep like a log.”

“Hmmm,” Placebo said as he nodded, “I’d noticed that. I can hear your incessant snoring through the partition wall – or ‘bulkhead’ as it’s known aboard ship. But then you’re an earplug. Actually you’re a yellow earplug. The bed was designed specifically for a yellow earplug – namely Beaufort Skail, who happens to look remarkably like you. And, very sensibly, you tore down the posters too: that probably de-personalised the room for you. But for me that is a step too far. My room belongs to Richter Skail: and I can’t forget that…

   

So I spend my nights standing at the porthole, looking into the depths of infinity, until I’m so whacked out that I collapse on the deck and fall asleep.”

“Oh dear, Placebo.” Folie commiserated with his friend. “How absolutely sodding ghastly for you. But your bedroom isn’t the cause of my doubts regarding the suitability of this vessel. No; for me the perfunctory ‘bridge’ is what rattles my cage…

“I know exactly what you mean.” Placebo hurriedly agreed. “Even when we’re rushing through a dense, foggy atmosphere on some uncharted planet, it never feels like we’re really involved. That we’re just passengers. But that’s what comes with having an auto-pilot that flies the ship for us.”

This time it was Folie who ‘hummed’. He followed it with: “Well that might have suited the Skail Brothers: but it doesn’t suit me. Let’s go there now: I wanna show you something.”

It took several minutes for the two young would-be adventurers to shuffle along a couple of corridors and down two flights of stairs to the forward observation window – or ‘bridge’…

“What do you see?” Folie asked.

“Uh…space; stars; um…” Placebo answered

“And what don’t you see?” Folie inquired…

Placebo’s silence told Folie that his friend recognised a rhetorical question when he heard one. “Controls.” He said. “Read-outs, screens, buttons, levers, knobs, interfaces of any kind. That’s what you don’t see.”

“We have the verbal interface with the Automatic Pilot.” Placebo argued. “We say ‘go in that direction really fast’ and that’s what the ship does.”

“Is that piloting?” Folie asked.

Again Placebo didn’t answer. Well actually he did; but it came after a long period of deep thought. So deep that Folie feared that the sleep-deprived polystyrene blob might have slipped into a coma. “The ship is old.” He said finally. “It needs a re-fit. It needs to be adjusted to suit our collective psyche. And I’d like a bed that fitted my huge frame. And a couple more toilets of course. An ‘en suite‘ would be nice.”

This was just the response that Folie had been praying to the Saint of All Earplugs for…

Daring a sideways glance he asked: “And where do we get an entire ship re-fitted –  bearing in mind that we have no swollen coffers to raid?”

Placebo’s deep thought bore more fruit: “There is only one place that I’m aware of that might perform this great act of kindness for us. A place that is ruled by a brave and wise leader, who happens to like earplugs more than a bit.”

Folie tried to mask the excitement building inside him: “Does this brave and wise leader sometimes wear a huge plume on the top of his lustrous golden head?”

“He does.” Placebo replied as he turned around…

He then added: “Autopilot: start the engines and set us a direct course.”

“Sure thing.” The disembodied voice of the Autopilot boomed. “But where do I set a course for?”

“Scroton.” The friends said as one. “Maximum speed!”

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Now The Real Work Begins

The opening episode of Earplug Adventures: Haunted Mars used re-worked stock-shots. Today I began shooting originals and generic stock-shots with serious intent. It’s slow and sometimes frustrating. And, as you can see, a little cramped too…

It has been four months since my wife, Linzi died, and (as you can probably imagine) I haven’t really been in the mood (Tooty the Chef aside); but the bug is finally biting again. And, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to create the time to do it. If I feel like it, I just clamber up into that attic and get going. Here’s a shot from today’s work – as seen in the making-of shot (above). It features an (as yet un-named) engineering robot that has  been discovered by Folie just staring out at space from a view port set into the side of the Gravity Whelk…

As regards the Gravity Whelk: I can’t wait to start telling tales featuring that old tub again…

So hopefully you won’t need to wait too long for Episode Two!

After the Debacle

Following the gastronomic catastrophe of his Omeletty Thing, Tooty the Chef took a day off cooking to lick his wounds. When he did dare re-enter the kitchen he chose to step upon safer culinery ground. A Dolphin Nose with Pork. You know how he did it; so here’s the result…

Yep, he’s back on all three cylinders, and with the turbo kicking in too.

P.S as a footnote, the omeletty thing didn’t taste half as bad as it looked. In fact, he was assured, it tasted rather nice – just as long as you kept your eyes shut. One hat eaten in vain.

Tooty the Chef Eats His Hat (part 2)

And now for the concluding episode…

Although daringly bare-buttocked, our favourite chef quickly re-stocked the frying pan with oil, heated it, and tipped in the shaved potato…

At this point he was so sure of success that he moved aside to allow the camera to witness the cooking of the shaved potato…

…which actually proved far more difficult than he had imagined. Being thin and starchy, the spud shavings stuck to each other like procreating foxes: they just didn’t seem able to let go. So some were barely cooked, whilst others were browned to within microns of destruction.

It was at this juncture that doubts began to make themselves unwelcome. Especially so when he added the ingredients to the egg mix – which needed the addition of a further two eggs…

So it was with waning confidence that Tooty the Chef took up his flipping tool…

Gonna need another frying pan, Chef. I think he realised that. But, not entirely blind to the inevitable, he carried on…

And for a few minutes all appeared well. But that omelette looked awfully thick and disturbingly runny. In such a tiny frying pan his flipping tool was utterly useless. So, being an adaptive kinda guy, Tooty the Chef decided to up-end the omelette into a second frying pan – thereby cooking both sides equally. Genius – or what? But…

…he wasn’t desperately good at it, and when the sloppy mess fell from one pan into the other, it folded and broke in the middle. So he had to beat it reasonably flat with his flipping tool…

This enraged him greatly…

Following a further two attempts, the omelette was sufficiently cooked to remain in one piece and to flip correctly. This brought him great joy…

…and demonstrated his remarkable acting skills. But despite this, the centre  remained uncooked. The omelette looked fine until it was pressed, when, disturbingly ghastly coloured goo and lumps of half-cooked vegetable leaked out in various directions in a most emetic manner… 

It was beginning to look a lot like shit…

And it didn’t smell too clever either. So Tooty the Chef did what any self-respecting cook would do. No, he didn’t chuck in the bin: he’d promised his Son ‘something omeletty’ and ‘something omeletty’ he would get. So, in a desperate effort to cook the centre, he re-used the second frying pan and chopped the omelette in two – then, ultimately, four…

But still the centre-goo refused to play ball. So Chef cast off his apron; put aside his regular sugar-free Sprite; and took to the Moscato…

When he’d recovered his decorum, the omelette looked like this…

Here you see it placed beside his dog’s dinner. Can you tell which is which. Also, it transpired, there was insufficient to feed three people. So poor Tooty the Chef was reduced to eating his hat…

So he never got to find out what it tasted like. But, 24 hours later, neither off-spring had been admitted to hospital, so perhaps it wasn’t quite as bad as it looked.

 

 

Tooty the Chef Eats His Hat (part 1)

Recipes don’t always go to plan. We all know that. Of course Tooty the Chef doesn’t even have a plan, so it’s odds-on that eventually he will crash and burn – at least in a culinery sense. This is the story of his first total gastronomic cock-up. And it all started so promisingly – when his Son suggested something ‘omeletty’ – to use up the eggs. Unfortunately he also suggested using potatoes. But even then, had the wonder chef possessed a wide-enough frying pan, maybe it could have worked. Let’s see how it went, huh?

Initially Tooty the Chef was pleased as punch to find a use for his ageing eggs…

But he wasn ‘t quite so sure about wasting some nice fresh bacon on an experimental meal…

And when he was presented with tubs of strange stuff intended for North African style meals his uncertainty increased to alarming levels…

But never one to stand around pissing about, he set to work on some spuds – shaving them into…ah…potato shavings…

Other veggies would be required, so he tried on this charming comedy nose…

…but decided to dice the pepper instead, and added it to the pile that included some onion…

Then, of course, we had the inevitable rigmarole of removing the ‘nasty fatty bits’ from the bacon…

I don’t know why he can’t get a grip: a little fat isn’t going to cause instantaneous rigor mortis. Anyway, on with the cookery. In order to make the eggs nice, Tooty the Chef added some black pepper and oregano. See how he carefully measures it into the palm of his slender artiste’s hands. Ever the professional – even when he doesn’t really know what he’s doing…

Then it was time to tip it into the eggs…

…and annihilate it with this wonderfully tactile whisk…

What – you thought he’s use a rotary whisk? Or perhaps an electric one? Shame on you: this is Tooty the Chef we’re talking about here!

Well having done the deed, it was time for the usual…

Yep, extra virgin olive oil. Only the best for Tooty the Chef. Then the moment came to hurl in the pre-chopped bacon. Oh yes, did I mention that? When he sliced off all the nasty fatty bits, he also chopped the bacon up into smaller (but not very small) bits…

Then, having given it a very quick fry, he separately did likewise with the onion and the peppers…

Attention to detail: that’s the thing. Talking of which: please note that the good chef isn’t slacking in the apparel department either. It may be January; but he’s still cooking sans lingerie

Which is where we must leave the great chef for now – wearing yet another Waitrose apron (that he found in the attic) and with his bum showing. Come back later for part two of Tooty the Chef Eats His Hat. You won’t be disappointed. Well you might; but your level of disappointment will fall well short of Tooty the Chef’s!

Tooty the Shame-Faced Chef

Oh dear, look at Tooty the Chef…

Doesn’t he look sorry for himself? What could he have done to cause such shame-faceness? Shame-faceness? Is that a real word? It doesn’t look right. But then that’s the beauty of the English language: you can say or write something that’s completely wrong, but people still know exactly what you mean. But I digress: back to the shame-faced chef. Look what he created recently…

Doesn’t it look yummy? It even featured red cabbage and lemon sauce. I mean, by God, it must have been some wonder recipe! But there’s the point of his misery. He was so busy in the Attic Studio (fabricating some interiors of the re-fitted Gravity Whelk for the ‘Haunted Mars‘ photo-novel) that he didn’t realise how late it was. So he had no time or inclination to pause for photos of his wondrous gastronomic delight. Instead he could only spare enough time to actually snap this single shot of the finished product. And he’s so ever so ever so sorry about it. But, looking on the bright side; he did actually get something done on the third floor: look…

…a green deck,  sparkly gold wall, blue inter-compartmental air-lock, and a very nice lavatory with a pink light to show that someone is inside having a poop! Clearly it was worth all the misery.

 

Revel in the Ribaldry 23B

For this fabulously random extract from the world of the Hamster-Sapiens series I have delved into the hallowed cyber-pages of this magnificent e-book…

And very nice it is too – as you will now discover…

Felicity Bugler, Joan Bugler’s diminutive dormouse adopted sister, stretched hugely beneath her cosy duvet atop the bunk bed that she shared with the slightly rotund hamster. She listened minutely as tendons popped into their allotted slots, and joints nestled together in the time honoured way that young joints generally do. Then she sniffed the air, and came to the instant conclusion that her sister was absent.

Perhaps in any other household this situation wouldn’t have raised more than a slightly inquiring eyebrow; but this was the Bugler girl’s bedroom, and there had been no recorded instance of Joan ever rising from her bed before the trim and nimble Felicity did. Not one eyebrow even so much as quivered upon the pretty forehead of the female dormouse: No: – alarm bells rang loud and clear inside her head, and inaudible klaxons all but deafened her. She was off of the top bunk quicker than you could say ‘Horatio Indigo Transvestite Horseblanket’. A second later she was in the corridor calling Joan’s name in her most frantic manner.

Felicity’s immigrant gerbil mother, Brenda, appeared at her bedroom door.

“Felicity.” She bellowed in her strange accent that no one had ever been able to place, as she entered the corridor whilst rubbing sleep-filled eyes, “What’s you doing girl? You’s gonna wake them neighbours, and make ‘em all mad as heck. What you shoutin’ Joan’s name for anyway – aint she layin’ in that bunk of hers like some lazy tart kind’a thing?”

It took a few nanoseconds for Felicity’s reply to penetrate the gerbil’s sleepy brain.

“What?” She shrieked in alarm, “She aint in no bed? Her day-clothes aint been took outta the closet? She’s done gone outside with no knickers coverin’ her shapely hamster ass? Where’d she go?”

It wasn’t a rhetorical question, but Felicity’s expression told the middle-aged gerbil that it should have been.

“She been kidnapped?” Brenda offered.

Again the look from her adopted dormouse daughter.

“You mean she gone to that weirdo place in that other dimension kind’a stuff?” She suggested less hopefully.

“Can you think of any other plausible explanation?” Felicity asked – more in desperation than hope. “Or even a whimsical one?”

“But her knickers, girl.” Brenda tried to argue. “She don’t go nowhere without her sturdy cold-store kind’a pants on. Nowhere!”

“I know.” Felicity suddenly wailed, and tears began to form in her eyes. “It must have been some sort of terrible trans-dimensional accident.”

Then a thought struck. She spoke as the thoughts grew in both numbers and intensity…

“Let’s think – this is a socially rented apartment that belongs to the local socialist government: What could be different about this particular edifice that might cause Joan to have a trans-dimensional accident?”

Both rodents placed their metaphorical thinking caps firmly upon their metaphysical craniums; but after fifteen minutes of intense thinking, Felicity came up empty.

“Nada.” She said dejectedly, “I’m calling Police Constable Gravy: Perhaps he can shed some light upon the situation.”

“You just hold your stag beetles.” Brenda held up a paw to thwart Felicity as she reached for the wall ‘phone. “I just thunk of something.”

Moments later both rodents were hammering on the toilet door, and calling Joan’s name. Felicity tried picking the lock with the end of her tail, but it was too furry. So Brenda set about the hinges with her powerful incisors. Within moments the door fell outwards into the corridor, and they raced each other to be first inside. Naturally, being small and nimble, Felicity won, and duly tripped upon the new mat, and, with a wail of dismay, disappeared out of the open window.

“Felicity, girl,” Brenda called down to her adopted daughter as she struggled amongst the briars below, “You gone done forgot your own knickers too. Ya just gave the post-hamster a heart attack. But ya done good: Ya found where Joan went. Now ya can call that P C Chest guy to come find her.”

But Felicity wasn’t so sure. As she struggled to regain her modesty by tucking her nightdress between her knees whilst giving the aging post-hamster the kiss of life, she called back, “I don’t think so. I’ll tell you all about it after you’ve ‘phoned for an ambulance.”

Felicity didn’t actually explain anything to her mother until she’d called her boyfriend, Roosevelt Teabiscuit. Naturally the equally diminutive dormouse had rushed around to Brenda’s apartment, and was already unbuckling his novelty sporran as he walked in.

“Sorry, Roosevelt,” Felicity had said moments after Brenda had screamed in horror, “I should have told you that mum was here, and that I needed you – not for your amazing powers in the rampant non-reproductive sexual intercourse department – but for your equally amazing talent as a psychic catalyst.”

Roosevelt had duly apologized for being presumptive, and now they all sat around the dining table to discuss Felicity’s remarkable discovery.

“As I fell through the window I remember distinctly hearing the words – ‘Honestly, if you spent a little more of the church’s coffers on constructing roads, we wouldn’t be having this difficulty’, which in itself isn’t proof positive that Joan has crossed over into Prannick, but the reply – ‘Never mind that, just keep pushing: It makes your powerful buttocks go all shapely’ – kind of tears it. Those voices belonged to Darkwood Dunce and Quentin Blackheart. I’d recognise them anywhere.”

“You heard all this while you was fallin’?” Brenda squealed with disbelief, “But it only took one of them seconds. That kind’a thing don’t sound right to me. I’m tellin’ ya – you’s took a nasty knock on your noggin, girl, that’s what you’s done. You’s aint heard nothing but the post-hamster droppin’ to his knees and praisin’ The Saint of All Hamsters for the sight of your wotsit.”

As theories went Brenda’s was a very good one. Unfortunately it was also entirely incorrect.

“Mummy, dearest,” Felicity responded kindly, “shut the fluff up, and listen.”

She then made her proposal to prove that she had really heard what she thought she’d heard.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

There, didn’t I tell you it was nice! This book remains available at most e-book stockists. Some are mentioned on the sidebar and beneath the header in Tooty’s Books Available Here. But you can get it at all sorts of places in many countries of the world. If you liked the extract, you’ll adore the book. Oh yes: it’s also a bit rude – so no children to see it, okay?