I’m beginning to feel my age. Not only is my funny bone on hiatus – feeling lethargic in the humour department, you understand – but other things are becoming bothersome too. Woke up at 5am – feeling like shit. Tried to have shit: couldn’t. BIG PAIN. 7am finally faced the truth: not invincible: called National Health Service 111. 20 minutes later Ambulance arrives. Following an ECG and other stuff, taken here…
Following some anti-sickness stuff and a dash of morphine, it’s off to the land of nod. Miraculously (following the oft-interrupted, drug-induced, snooze) crippling pain gone. Spend rest of day being tested for everything under the sun. Eventually handed a cup of tea and a tuna sandwich and told: “If you can keep that down without it hurting, you can go home.” Went home. What was it? Who knows!
During the Summer of 2020 I was inspired to create a sort of reverse window box that I planned to attach to a wall that faced my sitting room window. I hoped that the flowers within it would brighten the view out through the window, and make the street look colourful and cheery too. I showed it to my (then ailing) wife, and she agreed that it would look very nice. Come Spring we planned to plant some seeds in it; but (if you’re a regular reader of this blog) you’ll know that she never saw the Spring. But I went ahead and did it anyway – as a Summer memorial to her. I selected Scabious and Cornflowers – coz they were her favourites. I added Calafornia Poppies as (what I considered) a perfect visual counterpoint. Well they all germinated – the Scabious and Cornflowers taking the lead role. But, to my horror, they were all destroyed overnight by a gang of marauding snails. Too late I applied the snail pellets. But then, as the endless rains of Summer gave way to a few days of sunshine, this happened…
Linzi’s reverse windowbox lives. And best still, those are late germinating Cornflowers at the far end of the box. Better late than never: success!
In my original Fashion For Fogeys I decried the fashion sense of men who are – how shall I put this? – past their prime. Men like me. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m not quite so able as I once was. Bits of me have expanded: others shrivelled horrendously. Of course, regarding the former, I refer to my waistline. For the latter, I refer to my brain. Well obviously the willy too; but we don’t want to talk about that. But (as a result of a withering cerebrum) I find myself digressing: back to fashion for fogeys. In the original FFF I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige gracefully. I also mentioned that one wasn’t neccessarilly forced to drive a tedious silver/grey car to Waitrose whilst wearing said beige apparel either, though in actuality I did, but that, in my case it wasn’t the regular choice of automobile made by fogeys, but something from the Volkswagon group and finely crafted in the Czech Republic. Or, to put it another way – it wasn’t a Honda Jazz (or any model of Hyundai). Well today was shopping day: the sun shone brightly; and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t bring myself to throw on a T-shirt; some jeans; and a pair of Jesus boots . Yes, I dressed to go shopping. Awful isn’t it? Worse still I discovered a linen shirt in the back of my warddrobe: and guess what – it was beige – though I like to call it off-white. So, being a fashion icon for the older generation, I sought something to go with it that was both practical and stylish. Something that didn’t cry “Fogey!” Naturally success came within seconds. I set off the linen shirt with a pair of plain combat-style trousers in olive green, with a camouflaged ‘bum bag’ by Ellesse, and an equally olive green pair of Sketchers…
Cool, for an old bastard – right?
But better still, not only did I not climb into a silver/grey Honda/Hyundai to visit Waitrose: I also visited Sainsburys (shock horror) in this…
So there you have it: the Guru plays by his own rules. And if you don’t want to become an old fogey, make sure you do the same.
Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this tremendous tale…
So to it. Here it is…
It was later in the day, with a plunging ambient temperature, that Dawlish decided to place his new hat upon his head and start a fire in a handy brazier. He’d fully expected the fire to keep him warm. What he didn’t expect was for the flickering flame to speak.
“I am the Flame of Knowledge.” The Brazier spoke with a surprisingly pleasant contralto. “Whoever wears the wizard hat is welcome to access my data.”
“Oh, good.” Dawlish said. “Um, give me a pocket history of this planet.”
“Once there were small furry things that scurried along predetermined paths.” The Brazier began. “They continued to scurry along predetermined paths for millions of years. In fact these predetermined paths became worn so deep that very often the braver small furry things became adept at running along the steep sides without slowing down or falling off. Then, one day, hundreds of thousands of years ago, earplugs that had evolved in the sea waded ashore and began to live upon the land. They evolved rapidly – quickly shedding their nasty gills and horrible webbed feet, and began eating the small furry things, until they became extinct. Eventually the earplugs created a wonderful city. Then, not long ago, something with vast power removed them. Took them all away. Relocated them somewhere else, I guess. Don’t know what it was; but the earplugs were powerless against it. But the city’s still there: wanna see it?”
The Brazier then indicated the direction that Dawlish should follow. “It’s over thattaway. Or maybe slightly thattaway. Off you go. Good luck.”
“Um, thank you.” A surprised Dawlish managed. “I’ll fetch my sister. Maybe there’ll be a working shower there. This is a strange planet: if you don’t mind, I’ll probably be calling upon your services again.”
So, by following the course indicated by the Flame of Knowledge, Dawlish and Dorkan soon stood together upon a barren plain. In the distance the towers of a magnificent city stood proud against an afternoon sky. For the Deathwishes the question of whether to visit it, or not, was clearly a no-brainer.
“Have you got your hiking boots on?” Dawlish asked.
“Ah, that would be an affirmative.” Dorkan replied. “What about your jogging pants?”
“Yep.” Dawlish answered. “With my vest nicely tucked into it. Right then; let’s go.”
Everyone looked at the view screen, which showed open space – and safety.
“You know we can’t flee.” Magnuss said. “We’re here for a reason. Below us is the planet that houses the Galactic Court of Justice, which, currently, is in the clutches of a deranged god. Only this ship and its crew stand between freedom and galactic chaos.”
“Well said, Magnuss. Most rousing and all that.” Captain Hydious Gout spoke into the following silence. “Okay, you’ve convinced me. Helmsplug: light her up.”
A moment later the Chi-Z-Sox began blasting towards the planet. Very soon the forward screen displayed strange rock formations on the planet’s surface.
Magnuss thought back to the last earplug encounter with the Court of Galactic Justice, when one Throgennis Frote had been abducted and held accountable for the behaviour of all Earplugdom. With help he had convinced the court that earplugs should continue to exist; and in doing so had made the Supreme Being understand that earplugs were really quite nice – even if they weren’t all the time.
“So,” Magnuss asked himself, “what has made S B change his ways? Why has he gone all wonky?”
Of course he received no reply. But, as he was about to shrug his shoulders, this happened…
“I don’t know who you are.” The Wonky Supreme Being growled through the view screen. “But if you’ve got half a silicone brain between the lot of you, you’ll sod off now, while you still can.”
This threat might, or might not, have influenced the Chi-Z-Sox’s captain, but it was way too late to reverse direction, because the ship had already begun entry into the planet’s atmosphere. And it was getting so hot inside the ship that no one noticed that the Wonky Supreme Being hadn’t stopped making terrifying threats, which concluded with: “And your tender rubberized botties will feel sore until the end of time!”
Then it was time for the boys to act. In a perfect moment of impetuous timing, Magnuss had them relocated to the planet’s surface via matter transmission. And as they made their way towards the Galactic Court, Magnuss couldn’t help looking back at the alien panorama and wondered if he would ever see Earth and the Museum of Future Technology again.
Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can seewhat’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Grand Tour vol 2 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file. By the way, in addition, and also – you can access all the Earplug Adventure files (including Vol 1 of this exciting tome) on the sidebar by clicking the cover images.
Time for some more rude Hamster-Sapiens book extracts. Well one anyway. Today we delve into the intellectual abyss that is this e-book…
And the extract that has been selected by random chance is this one…
“Tell me.” Dung roared as he dragged Algy to his feet, “Why are the Stix so frightened of Brother Alfonso’s willy?”
“Coz it’s scary, I guess.” The puzzled monk replied.
“And custard.” Dung continued, “Does it affect everyone like it affects you?”
“It’s banned by The Wheel.” Brother Algy gave a whimsical smile, “Guess they banned it for a good reason.”
“Hmmm.” Dung went.
“Hmmm?” Brother Algy queried.
Dung decided to explain his thought processes – not so much for Algy’s benefit, but to confirm in his own mind that his sudden inspirational plan was devoid of errors.
“Joan Bugler’s plan was to bring this load of frozen custard into Prannick, where she hoped to engage the talent of a powerful psychic that would mentally convince the Stix bandits that we were the Hamster Heath Heathens Sod-ball team. They were to be convinced that those huge roustabouts were about to attack them with shovel-loads of rock-hard confectionery – just as they did to the forces of The Wheel during the Battle of Weasels Pit. Theoretically the mere threat of the infamous Heathens would make any band of recalcitrant Stix bandits turn tail and run. But the custard has thawed horrendously: No amount of psychic fooling around will convince them now. What we need is a completely new plan: And I’m the one to supply it. Me – Arthur Dung – the most despised rodent in Hamster Heath – except that insolent little shit Freddy Ringworm down at the Institute of Highly Important Studies, that is. This is my one chance at populist immortality, and I’m gonna grab it with both paws, my dumpy little tail, and my skinny cleft buttocks!”
“Oh.” Algy almost seemed interested,” You’d better be along then, and tell ‘em all. But be quick about it: I wanna have a wee, and I don’t like someone looking.”
But Brother Algy was talking to thin air: Arthur Dung was already slithering his way towards the exit – and his destiny.
Joan had just finished apprising everyone in the Abbot’s quarters of her plan to fool the Stix into fleeing, when in staggered Arthur Dung. He was exhausted – not only from the long climb from the lower latrines, but also because he’d been forced to keep taking side trips to ask the way. Consequently he was too out of breath to speak immediately. But he didn’t really need to: Everyone could see the tell-tale stains of liquidised chocolate custard that had adhered to the hem of his trousers, and they all recognised the fact that Joan’s plan lay in ruins.
Joan wailed almost inconsolably for perhaps five or six seconds before pulling herself together, and facing the problem by quickly trying to conjure up an alternative plan from inside her fertile young mind. Unfortunately she came up empty.
By then Dung had recovered sufficiently to say, “Don’t worry, Miss Bugler: I think I have the very alternative plan that you’re desperately wracking your brains to find.”
He then explained it.
“It’s a bit of a long-shot, isn’t it?” Stubby seemed unconvinced a few moments later. “Your plan relies entirely upon some pretty spectacular physiological differences between the people of Prannick, and the people of Hamster Heath, which, quite frankly, I think are rather unlikely. Take the two Algys for example: They are so identical that we don’t dare let them touch each other in case they explode.”
“Ah, but there’s a good case in point.” Dung counter-argued by grabbing Algy, and dragging him to the centre of the room. “Are they so identical?”
It was a rhetorical question, so no one responded. Dung continued by addressing Algy directly…
“Mister Timber,” His tone was quizzical, “Do you like custard?”
A shudder ran through Algy as though someone had just slipped a large slug into his underpants.
“Can’t stand the stuff.” He said. “It’s bad enough that I have to work with the muck five days of the week: Eating it would be like adding insult to injury. I’m a porridge person myself.”
“Hmmm,” Dung nodded sagely. “But if someone put a gun to your head, and shouted, ‘eat it – you snivelling cretin, or die’ could you, in fact, eat it?”
It was a ridiculous question, and Dung knew it – yet he shook Algy several times in order to force a response.
“Yes of course I could it eat it, you stupid hamster.” Algy retorted, “And I wouldn’t need a gun to my head to do so either. A twenty Rodento note would be enough.”
“Could you keep it down?” Dung urged.
“Of course.” Algy retorted again.
“How much could you eat?” Dung pressed, “A cup full? A bowl? A flagon? A family tub?”
Algy was becoming weary of what he considered a pointless interrogation, but Joan must have had an inkling of where Dung was going with his questioning, and duly urged Algy to answer.
“All of them.” He replied. “One after the other. Or all together if they were different flavours, and one of them was dandelion and lemongrass sorbet.”
There appeared a definite light of passion in Dung’s eyes when he then asked, “Would it make you drunk?”
“It might make me vomit uncontrollably,” Algy sniggered as he adjusted his Kool Kustard company tie, “but I think I can hold my dairy products with the best of them.”
“By the Rim!” The Abbott cried out in revelation. “The big-nosed hamster makes perfect sense: The reason that custard never became popular in Prannick was because of its pseudo-alcoholic effect upon the population.”
“That’s right.” Joan began bouncing with enthusiasm. “Don’t you remember, Mister Timber – how we tried to open a custard store in Weasels Pit just after we’d helped free it from the tyranny of The Wheel, but…”
Quentin Blackheart took up the line…
“…I had to close it because of all the bad behaviour it was causing with the youth of the town. And many of the patrons of the Stoat and Wanger public house were too drunk to walk there, and the landlord almost became bankrupt overnight.”
“Of course.” Darkwood threw up his paws. “That’s why I get so giggly and show complete strangers my shaven buttocks when I eat custard in Joan’s realm: I’m always pissed as a fart!”
Then everyone began relating tales of how they’d seen custard have detrimental effects upon the cognitive powers of Prannick-folk. Only Stubby and Dung remained silent. Stubby indicated to Dung that they should speak alone.
Moments later they stood together in the corridor.
“You realise what you’re suggesting?” Stubby began. The warning tone in his voice was clear – even to an insensitive bastard such as Arthur Dung.
“What – does getting drunk infringe upon the monk’s religious beliefs, or something equally trivial?” Dung sneered.
“It strikes directly at the heart of their beliefs.” Stubby replied. “These monks are the spokes of The Wheel. They keep separate the evil that is at The Hub, and devote their lives to assisting the ordinary rodent of Prannick to attain a higher state of being – that being ascension to The Rim.”
Dung shrugged his shoulders. “So they fall off the wagon every so often: They’ll get over it. Besides – would they prefer being gutted by a bunch of mad-hamsters instead?”
Naturally this stroke of literary genius remains available to purchase. Just check out the side bar to access some of the retailers with the wisdom to list it – including my publishers (hah!) Lulu.com.