The Set: The Scene 4

If you are one of those brave folk who have persisted with the consumption of Earplug Adventures over a long period of time, it’s quite probable that you will recall pertinent scenes by your recognition of a set – or vice versa. But just to test that hypothesis, check out the following. Here’s a simple one to start with. Two yellow earplugs standing upon a tarpaulin that has sagged and filled with rain water…

What great potentiality did I notice in this? Yes, it’s…

…two of the dancing Greenhorn Girls (can’t remember which ones) by the beach in The Missing.

So what about this fabulously vague piece of cardboard that has been dirtied by the incessant rubbing against it by lengths of aluminium extrusion, and a sheet of translucent plastic stuff that wrapped the aforementioned?

Well, combined artistically they become…

…a snow scene and a distant wintery forest. Honestly they do. Look here’s those unemployed (and unemployable) couch potatoes, D’Neferious Berk, Freda Conk, Numpty Dingbat and Clem Borstal in a scene from Time Shard Museum

Getting the hang of it? Try this one…

If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, it’s two pieces of split 4 x 2 timber, set against a sheet of styrofoam. Now clearly this is supposed to be a rock formation and a blue/grey sky. No? Well it is. And the end result of my transformation of the original shot is…

…Patti Roularde and Nobby Hollister engaged on a Precipitous Ledge Walk in a snow storm in Haunted Mars. Ah, now you remember. So what about this one..?

There’s some giveaway signage on this piece of legendary prop. What does it say? Transfer Conduit Station Seven? Lordy, has this set been used a multitude of times – though not always as Transfer Conduit Station Seven…

Here it is as Lottery Central in Winning Numbers, and in the following shot as a desert fortress in Cometh the Earplug Vol 2…

Of course I couldn’t let this set pass without displaying it as it should be seen: as the previously mentioned Transfer Conduit Station –  this time witnessing the arrival of the Jaundice Family in Unity Vol 2…

So, try your hand at this set…

Ugh, it’s a nasty rust stain at the bottom of a brick wall that appears to be on the inside of a factory or warehouse. No it’s not. Not in my make-believe world it aint. It’s actually…

…a wonderful distant city, discovered (in The Grand Tour Vol 2) by sibling adventurers Dorkan and Dawlish Deathwish. And what an adventure they had. Of course you can view all of the Earplug Adventures by clicking HERE and reading (or downloading) the complete stories in PDF. Do it now – before the servers are overwhelmed by demand.

 

Making Light of Advancing Years

By the time I turned sixty (and everything went south rapidly) I’ve found it more and more difficult to ride my bicycle. Downhills became hard work: the flats felt like I was climbing Ben Nevis with an anvil on my back: and uphills…well uphills were impossible. Even pushing the bike up any gradient was hard work. In fact I was becoming concerned that I might be experiencing a heart problem. But a coincidental day in Accident & Emergency, on a heart monitor, soon put that fear to rest. So when I spotted a bike in fine fettle for sale at the side of the road at a very nice price, I was tempted. My daughter convinced me. “Nice colours.” She said. “Your favourites. And shiny mudguards too.”

I bought it…

 

And, oh my, what a transformation. It may have a steel frame (the older one is lightweight aluminium) and a weird seat that looks as though it will disappear up my rectum – taking my goolies along for the trip – but it’s so much more comfortable (if you discount the absense of suspension). And the effort to ride it…well there is no comparison: I now  ride up hill: on the flat I’ve yet to be overtaken by young boys on their back wheel, or ladies in lycra, or anyone else for that matter. And downhill is now limited by the effectiveness of the block brakes (not very). Journey times are now halved, and I don’t have to take a fifteen minute pulse-checking lie-down to recover after the ride. It’s like I’m 59 again! The reason for this? The previous owner kept it in a dry shed and actually performed maintenance (spit-spit, I hate maintenance) on it. So what have I learned?  Well I’ve learned this. I’m not too old and knackered to ride: I just need to look after the bike to stay young. So will someone kindly pass me the chain lube?

Rejoice: Good News, Earpluggers…

…principal photography has begun on the 42nd Earplug Adventure – or the Forty-Two’eth episode, as I prefer to call it. And just to prove that the camera hand is still firm and capable, here’s a trio of shots for the opening segment of the tale…

Yes, that last shot features Nigel the Golden One – leader of the Planet Scroton. He’s back! Can’t wait for more? Neither can I!

Tooty’s been a-fiddlin’

When I presented the model of the next Earplug Adventure’s space ship – namely the honeymoon barge of Magnuss and Hair-Trigger the Tankerville Norris…

…I pretty much admitted that it was no ‘looker’, but that it had an excellent name. I also stated that I would make the ship believable. Well here are a few shots of it ‘in action’. We’ll start with a beauty shot…

…which proves that even the stubbiest, ugliest ship in all creation can look good from one angle. Here’s one of it in an atmosphere under cover of night…

This one looks like it might have narrowly avoided a huge explosion or disaster…

And this one clearly had either Magnuss or Hair-Trigger hitting the ‘Go Faster’ button…

So, as you can clearly see, I haven’t been entirely idle. As regards the story: other than the couple becoming a…well…a couple, I don’t have much clue. But just to get my ageing creative juices flowing I’ve given it a non-sensical title that should stretch me somewhat, and hopefully the plot will reveal itself to me. And that title is ‘The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah‘. I wonder what it means? I do make life difficult for myself, don’t I! 

Does Eight Seconds Really Make That Much Difference?

When I “do a selfie” I don’t hold the camera at arm’s length: I utilize the camera’s built-in timer. This makes it appear that it’s not a selfie at all, and that someone else took the picture. But sometimes, when I’m not paying close enough attention, I might possibly set it to the wrong time duration before it goes click. Most cameras have a 2 second delay and a 10 second  delay. If the light is bad – or if someone is approaching, and I don’t want to appear a complete narcissist to them – the tiny icons on-screen could look similar enough for a simple mistake to occur. Two could be confused with ten. But does this really matter? After all, it’s just a photo of little old me looking as good as he can, and hoping that he can fool the world into thinking that he might be cool and in full command of his corporeal existence. Well yes it does! This is what I look like after peering myopically into the camera’s sun-drenched LCD screen and selecting the wrong icon…

Then, to compound this error (and after moving to another site because someone became curious at my behaviour and started hanging around) I carelessly set the camera up facing into the Sun…

So, sorry, although I found the right icon this time, you’ll have to imagine how cool and in command of my corporeal existence I actually look.

I Expenda on a Fenda Extenda

Back in late 2020, when I was rediscovering the joys/pains of motorcycling, my boots often looked like this…

And the bike’s engine was even worse. So I trawled the Internet for an answer to my muddy problem. I found (and fitted) this…

My Fenda Extenda (terrible name, but very discriptive) was a Godsend, and it made the bike look nicer too…

So when I stepped up to its replacement, I was ahead of the curve. I didn’t wait until my header pipes and engine casings were all covered in shit: I bought another Fenda Extenda first…

Now if it’s any bloody good I have no idea: but it  certainly looks  nice…

Of course, on a machine this handsome, a rusty bucket would probably look fabulous.

P.S I am in no way affiliated with the Fenda Extenda’s manufacturers – Pyramid Plastics; I just like the product.

P.P.S The magnetic tank bag featured here is the same one on both bikes – made by Oxford (and really neat). It just shows the vast difference in the size of the bikes.

P.P.P.S It may be a coincidence, but don’t you think that the bikes (although very different) look rather similar in their stance and bearing? I must be a fan of modern retro.

 

Flipping Heck, It Must Be Some Kind of Earplugfest!

To whomever decided to download every Earplug Adventure ever written today (20/09/21)…all I can say is: “Wow!” Hope you enjoy them.

Of course anyone else who might fancy a giggle or two can emulate the mystery reader and either read them on-line, or download them for later by visiting the appropriate Page on this site. Anyone interested can take the shortcut to it right HERE.

Then you too can experience the…ah…Earplug Experience for yourself. Here’s a random representative e-book cover. Nice, isn’t it!

 

 

The Unexpected Result of 365 Days of Mourning

I am writing this at 9.00pm on the 15th Sept 2021. Exactly one year previous, though four hours earlier in the day, my wife’s body had been taken away to lay in a local funeral director’s establishment. I had become (and remain) a widower. I’ve been dreading the approaching anniverary for some while, as has my daughter, who took the day off from her day care centre to stay home with me. But I had already resolved to treat the day like any other. It is simply the 15th of September, just as the 14th was a regular day, and the 16th will be tomorrow. Just another day. And, by and large, both of us were successful. We spoke of her, of course; but we never dwelled upon the subject. That’s been done enough during the intervening twelve months. I also knew that I needed something to keep me occupied, lest my mind wander back through time. So I decided that I would make a model out of used household ‘stuff’.  ‘Stuff’ such as lavatory cleaners and anti-persperant containers. You know, quality ‘stuff’. I knew what sort of model I wanted to create. A space ship for the next Earplug Adventure. More specifically a honeymoon spaceship for Magnuss and Hair-Trigger.  So, having previously purchased a huge tube of contact adhesive, I set to work. Many hours later…

…the ship took on form. And what a nice colour it is too. Toyota Carina E metallic blue (which I found in the shed behind the windscreen washer fluid) and some nattily scissored pieces of yellow sticky-back plastic…

Okay it doesn’t really look much like a spaceship; but you wait until I’ve taken a few shots of this baby and played with them on my computer. Then you’ll be convinced. You will swear you can hear the hyperspace drive motors whine as it streaks across the screen. And it already has a name. Rather ironically I discovered it on an old gravestone. It belonged to a boy who died during infancy in the late Seventeen hundreds. It was a wonderful name – though not really for a little boy. Or any human being for that matter. I don’t know what his parents were thinking when they gave him that moniker: but it’ll make  a great name for an earplug spaceship. It’s called the Tankerville Norris. See, how silly is that? So I’m not going to  shed a single tear today: instead I’m going to smile. She won’t be upset, of course: I told her I was going to do it, when I woke up this morning. Of course I can’t be certain that she heard; but she knows  what a silly old Tooty I am, so she’ll figure it out. And she was always happy to help out with an Earplug Adventure. I believe I can feel her smiling wryly behind me as I type.

 

Tooty’s Pissed Off Again

I didn’t think it unreasonable of me to expect to add The Age of Stone to my list of free e-books on this blog’s sidebar. I mean, every other book is there: why not the latest? Well WordPress had other ideas. The ‘Classic’ posting system just wouldn’t  work. I mean, it wasn’t even there to try. And the new ‘Block’  system (which I loathe with an intensity usually reserved for recalcitrant ink jet printers and DVD players that can’t recognise that there is a DVD in the tray) just sat there and did nothing – for ten minutes – before I gave up; called it several names, none of which are printable here; cursed the designer of the ‘block’ system to perminent impotence, considered creating a voodoo doll; and decided on an alternative course of action. And this is the alternative course of action. All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! Yup, there’s a page beneath the header that now contains every Earplug Adventure file, which can be accessed by anyone and everyone absolutely free. And very nice they are too. Well worth a visit. Now, if WordPress would kindly allow me, I’d like to remove those free e-books from their fucking sidebar. But I’m not hopeful. Bunch of shits.

 

The Age of Stone – in it’s entirety – FREE!

You may have missed the odd episode of The Age of Stone along the way; but that doesn’t matter anymore because the free PDF version has arrived for you to either download and read at your leisure (and perhaps share with your friends), or to read in situ right here. Try to comprehend the magnitude of this wondrous offer: it is unequalled in the history of literature and photography. All those photos: all those words: all that creative genius – absolutely FREE! Just click on the book cover image, and it’s all yours, yours, yours!

Earlier Earplug Adventure books are also available too. Just click on the side bar images to access  them. Or, better still, visit the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page beneath the header.

Impetuosity isn’t reserved for the young 2: Driven by Necessity

When I bought my awesomely ridiculous Yamaha XJR1300 it came with a pair of expensive after-market exhausts (quite nice, but standard would have been better) and a pair of stupid little headlights, which looked like this…

But it wasn’t the aesthetics of the ‘streetfighter’ lights that really bothered me; it was the fact that the resulting beam of light was coloured brown and wasn’t even suitable for a bicycle, let alone a machine capable of 140mph (220kph). The first time I rode at night (in 22 years, I might add) it (to use a local regional vernacular) ‘properly shit me up’. I couldn’t see where I was going!  In an effort to correct the situation, my first port of call (the next day) was a bike breakers emporium, where I was told: “No we haven’t got one, but if we did, we’d have to ask a hundred pounds for a tatty used one.” And in answer to my questioning “Ugh, why so much?” the owner of said emporium informed me that: “You’ve got a cult classic there: prices are going up all the time.”

This news was both good and bad. Good that the bike is worth more than I paid for it. Bad that parts are hard to find and expensive. So, being impetuous I went on Ebay and chose a random 8″ motorcycle headlight and duly paid my £50 to buy it. Three days later this happened…

But, upon reading the label, my impetuosity appeared to have backfired on me. It was a replica headlight for a 1980 Yamaha RD350LC. Oops. So I (impetuously) set to work  stripping the brown pool devices from the XJR and setting about the replica headlight with a hacksaw and file. An hour later…

“Ta-dah!” as they say. And it works too – brightly.

But that isn’t all. When I first showed the ‘new’ bike to my  sister, she eyed my well-worn jeans and said: “Right, you’ve got to get some proper trousers now.” So, once more I cast my gaze to Ebay, but no one selling leather trousers seems to be the same shape as me. But, as desperation set in, impetuosity reared it’s handsome head once more. I spotted a pair of trousers with a 34″ waist. My size! But how long were the legs? Most sellers didn’t mention this, which I thought was extremely stupid. But in the description this seller stated that he was 6′ 5″ (tall – like very). I am six feet and half an inch (still, surprisingly).  But, I reasoned, a lot of my height is in my legs: this guy is probably tall in the body. Logic? No, not really. Impetuous? Yes, probably. I bought them. They arrived whilst I was wiring the Yamaha’s headlights. So, bouyed with success, I tried them on…

Now you could be forgiven to thinking that they are slightly baggy. And maybe they are, a little. But when I place my feet on the slightly rear-set footpegs of the bike, the trousers  fit exactly. They couldn’t be more perfect if a tailor had made them for me. I’m getting rather keen on the impetuosity stuff. I’m even beginning to wonder if I’m not being guided from beyond the veil. Actually I’m convinced I am. And I can’t wait to see what I do impetuously next!

Perfectly Imperfect

I figured that if I exhibited a sample of one of my Causality Merchant books, I would be remiss if I didn’t do the same for the sequel…

So please accept this extract from Present Imperfect.

Janice looked about her in wide-eyed wonderment. The interior of the Courtney’s home was like a living museum. Snatching a look into the kitchen from the sitting room in which she now stood, she caught sight of an open cupboard – complete with boxed food stuffs that included Bisto Gravy and Kellogg’s Cornflakes, and unbelievably a plunger-capped bottle of Corona Lemonade. Mavis removed a tea caddy from the cupboard, and closed the door.

Looking away Janice noticed a quiescent television set in the corner of the room. She hadn’t recognized it at first because of its apparent disguise – that being its construction of lacquered wood, and its subsequent vague resemblance to a piece of furniture. She was reminded of her earliest memories – of visiting her grandmother in her house of brown-on-brown décor and yellowing picture rails and dull whitewashed ceilings. Of wall paper that dated from before the Second World War.

“Oh, I see you have a television.” Janice tried to sound impressed at the presence of a piece of ancient technology.

“What’s that, dear?” Mavis popped her head around the doorframe as the kettle began to whistle.

Janice nodded towards the TV. “I don’t suppose everyone in the village has one of those?” She said.

“Oh, the telly.” Mavis all but dismissed the device. “That’s George’s pride and joy, that is – though I don’t know why: there’s hardly anything on it, and when there is you can’t see much of what’s going on. Me – I like the cinema. Those Technicolor pictures are wonderful. I can’t see telly ever catching on.”

Any further discussion on the merits of cinema verses television was interrupted by the sound of child coughing upon the floor above. Janice automatically looked heavenward.

“Oh that’ll be Wallace.” Mavis answered Janice’s unspoken question. “Poor little mite – he’s had that cough all day and all last night. If he’s not showing signs of getting better by morning I’ll take him to see that lovely new doctor at the surgery. He’s quite a dish. Have you met him? I think his name’s Doctor Traynor.”

For a moment Janice forgot herself, and lowered her guard.

“Doctor Traynor?” She blurted. “He’ll still be here in forty years time!”

Janice couldn’t quite describe the look she received from Mavis. But after a moment she said, “Oh-no, I shouldn’t think so: he intends going places. He wants to be one of them Harley Street specialists.”

Janice felt that she should try to explain her outburst.

“What I meant was – I expect he’ll fall in love with the village, and decide to spend the rest of his life here. I’m sure I would: it’s a lovely place. So tranquil.”

“Some would call it a bit boring.” Mavis returned to the kitchen to pour the tea. “I know George wouldn’t mind leaving if the right job came along. Take sugar, do you?”

Mavis wasn’t aware that Janice had risen and followed her into the kitchen, so she was startled when Janice spoke from directly behind her.

“Two please. Is that a new gas cooker?”

Quickly recovering, Mavis replied proudly, “Isn’t it smart? It arrived this morning. George had it fitted before he went out. Bob Langtry did it in a bit of a rush: George’s the treasurer of the Ancient Order of something-or-other, and had to be off a bit sharpish. I’m not really supposed to use it until he’s a had a proper check – but with the old electric stove unplugged, and sitting in the garden, I couldn’t boil the water for Wallace’s hot water bottle and our cup of tea any other way. I’m sure it’ll be alright.”

Janice thought back to her childhood. She tried to recall the distinct aroma of the gas used during that era. She couldn’t, but she was certain that she’d recognise it when she smelt it. As surreptitiously as possible she scented the air.

“Would I be right in thinking that they use piped town gas here?” She inquired. “It doesn’t come in a steel bottle or anything like that?”

“We’ve just been connected to the mains.” Mavis informed her knowledgably, “They spent a fortune extending the pipe up from Crampton. Funny, isn’t it – us country-folk using town gas? Don’t seem right somehow.”

“Perhaps they should re-name it. They could call it Coal Gas.” Janice pretended to agree with the young mother. “But aren’t you worried that it might be dangerous?”

“What – compared to electricity? No of course not.” Mavis exclaimed. “And it’s a sight better to cook with too, I can tell you. My sister swears by it. Instant heat – instantly off. No more milk boiling over. Now that has to be a safety feature.”

Janice nodded, but she looked about as convinced as she felt.

“Well doesn’t the thought of suffocation worry you?”

This was obviously a subject upon which Mavis had conversed before.

“George says that as long as the equipment’s working fine and there’s no blocked flue, there’s no chance of that happening. Next you’ll be suggesting that it might explode in the middle of the night!”

This thought was foremost upon Janice’s mind. She bit her lip with indecision.

Mavis noticed this.

“You do think it’s going to explode, don’t you?” She spoke in a puzzled tone. “Now why on earth would you think that?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

One of these days I’ll write the sequel to the sequel. It’s not like I don’t have time or anything. But for now both Causality Merchant e-books are still available. You can access the better-known suppliers by clicking on the images on the side bar.

 

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 27)

Shortly after everyone had re-integrated themselves with the disco groove, Chester met  with Susan’s primary sub-unit, and Magnuss with Hair-Trigger.

Susan suggested that Chester and she should “Adjourn to the open air”, which Chester pretended to think about for half a nanosecond…

And Magnuss asked Hair-Trigger if she would marry him…

Fortunately the music volume was just low enough to let him hear her reply.

“Yes!” She yelled. “Yes. It’s about bloody time: I thought you’d never ask!”

Of course, standing so nearby, Chester and Susan heard everything. So it was with a cosy glow around them that they abandoned the crowded dance floor…

…and strolled into the open air of the Age of Stone exhibit…

“Up you go, Chester.” Susan said as she changed shape and slipped her ‘head’ beneath her earplug chum…

…“Let’s go somewhere quiet. Let’s get lost in the Age of Stone.”

So they did, and they had a bloody good frolic in the moonlight through the castle’s giant buttercup garden…

“Whee,” they cried in unison, “this is the best day of my life!”

Meanwhile the Rhubarb Crumble had received a summons from Mars, and so had returned to its home planet under the command of the autopilot…

The timing was impeccable because, in the rest room the entire engineering staff was watching the credits roll on the last episode of Season Two of Destination: the Stars…

“I think that was excellent. Perfect, in fact.” Budgitte Wilgoss opined.

To which Lawrence Endocarp responded: “I concur wholeheartedly.”

And Douglas Dungipon added: “And the TV show wasn’t bad either. But it’s not a patch on real life. I wonder what those Earplug Brothers will think of doing next.”

“Whatever it is,” his supervisor replied, “I hope they don’t invite us along. One adventure is quite enough for me.”

The End

©Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Captive Audience

I can’t recall the last time that I posted an extract from this e-book…

…but suffice to say it’s been a bloody long time. Too long: people will forget that I ever wrote serious sc-ifi mysteries. So, in an effort to re-set the creative balance of nature, here’s a smidgin of Captive Echo…

Wozniak’s bank account was still far from overflowing, but the future appeared rosier for him than it had in a very long time. His new secretary may have had a great deal to do with the resurrection of his self-confidence, and many of his friends had taken to Janice Gale in a big way – none less than his agent, Wallace Courtney, who was speaking with Janice over the telephone.

Janice was perched upon the end of a sofa in Wozniak’s small flat overlooking London’s Docklands. From her vantage point she could look out over Old Father Thames, and much of the city beyond. She was a country girl born and bred, and at first she’d found it difficult to adapt to the hustle and bustle of the capital of England. But with Wozniak’s help, and more surprisingly – her mothers’ blessing, Janice had done so, and was enjoying life more than at any time that she could remember since leaving behind the innocence of childhood.

Her laughter was light and gentle as she conversed with Wallace.

“Are you kidding?” She was saying. “I couldn’t hold him back. He wants to get started on another script as soon as he can. But first he wants to complete the tie-in novel that will accompany the show.”

She listened to Wallace’s cheerful questioning for a few seconds before replying, “No, he doesn’t have any firm ideas on future stories at the moment: but he knows that they’re bound to come. It’s all about location, location, location – or so he says.”

Once more she paused to listen.

“No – he’s gone on ahead. I have a few details to go over with Tommy down at Clarridge Productions – you know about the interview with Peter for the special edition DVD re-release of Clash of Symbols. Then I’m going home too. You realize that it’s almost a year to the day that Peter and I got together. Yes, we’re going to have a quiet celebration: Then with luck he’ll have my drawers down quicker than you can say ‘alternate reality’, and we can commemorate the occasion in the time-honoured manner that any two horny bastards should.”

Laughing loudly at Janice’s lewdness, Wallace signed off, and Janice replaced the receiver. She considered calling Wozniak, then looked at the time. She chose to wait until later: she had business to conclude.

Wozniak strolled into the grocery store in Brambledown’s main street as though he was the prodigal son returning home. He rubbed his newly grown beard absentmindedly before picking up a shopping basket. It looked so strange in his huge hands, and he wondered what he’d been doing the last time he’d carry one. Certainly life hadn’t been half as good as it was now.

Miss Witherspoon appeared from out the back. Wozniak’s beard was no suitable disguise against one of his greatest fans…

“Why if it isn’t Mister Wozniak! Oh I’m so glad to see you again.” She cried out gleefully

“Hello, Miss Witherspoon.” Wozniak responded – giving the older woman a smile that was guaranteed to melt her heart. “How’re things in the great rural metropolis?”

Things’ seldom changed much in the sleepy village of Brambledown –usually for decades. One year was much like another. People grew older, and new children were born into the village. It was all perfectly reciprocal – that is until the year previous…

“They never did find out what happened up at that scientific place, you know.” Miss Witherspoon informed Wozniak as he approached the cash register.

“Thank goodness for that.” He replied. “I’ve just written a make-believe story about what happened there: I’d be ruined if they found out the truth.”

“Oh, so you’re writing again? That is good.” Miss Witherspoon tried to reach across her cash register to hug Wozniak. “I s’pect that lovely Janice Gale has a lot to do with that. I always wondered if some lucky man was going to find her out one day. I’m so pleased it was you.”

Wozniak winked at her.

“You and me both.” He said. “I’m in The Peaks for a few days: I just need the basics. You know – caviar, champagne…”

“Ooh, I don’t know about them.” Miss Witherspoon responded. “How about milk, tea, butter: that sort of thing?”

“Sounds like heaven to me.” Wozniak replied – his smile widening as he felt his heart go out to the women standing before him.

At that Miss Witherspoon began scurrying around, filling Wozniak’s basket with the necessities of life.

“Janice with you, is she?” She asked.

“Still up in London. She should be along tomorrow.” He told her.

“That’s good.” Miss Witherspoon grinned cheerfully. “Send her round when she arrives, won’t you: I want to know all about life in The Smoke. Do you want this on your tab?

Wozniak opened his wallet. He was about to say “No Need,” but, as usual, it was lighter than he’d hoped. “Ah, yes,” He replied – his smile falling. “Perhaps that might be a good idea. Jan will put you right tomorrow.”

With that he made his farewell, and climbed into his large estate car.

Wozniak felt an intense blast of wellbeing as he drove through the village. Several people recognized his car. He felt quite like royalty as he returned their waves.

Turning into Pikes Lane he was half-afraid he might spot a small sports car sliding toward him. Although a year had passed, but now that he’d returned to the scene of the crime, events suddenly seemed all too fresh. Perhaps writing about it time after time – honing his work – had kept it very much alive in his mind, even if most of the people involved in the incident were now dead. With a spine-chilling sense of déjà vu, he caught sight of Tom, the now ex-postman, pushing his bicycle. He had no choice but to pull over.

Tom responded to his hail with, “Blow me down – if it aint Mister Wozniak. You aint got one of them manuscript thingies for the missus to send off by any chance, have you?”

Wozniak recalled the last time the older man had asked that question.

“Well you never know, Tom.” He said cheerily. “There’s always a chance.”

“Hope it’s better than that one they showed on telly the other day.” Tom said – climbing aboard his bicycle.

“One of my old shows was on television?” Wozniak was thinking of the royalty cheque he could expect in the post. “Terrestrial was it?”

“Nah – on me satellite dish.” Tom seemed almost dismissive. “Detective show, it was.”

Wozniak’s shoulders slumped. His one foray into police drama had not gone well for him. The results hadn’t been quite what he – or the production company – had hoped for. The story had been weak, and the director inept.

“That was an old one.” He said. Unable to avoid a critique – even when he knew it would be bad, he added, “What did you think of it?”

“Honestly, Mister Wozniak?” Tom responded sadly, “I thought it was one of the biggest load of bollocks that I’d seen in years. I hope yer next one’s gonna be better.”

Wozniak gave him a sickly grin. “I think we can safely assume that. See you later, Tom.”

With that he drove on.

The action of steering his vehicle into the grounds of The Peaks brought back his sense of well-being. It was only when he parked, and the gravel of the driveway crunched beneath his feet, that the memory of Katherine Marcus’ strange little sports car came back to haunt him once again – dismissing his lightening mood in an instant.

‘Is it really a year since that unbelievable night?’ he asked himself silently.

He began to wonder if somehow he’d managed to blur the line between fact and fiction in his final script: Could it all have been true? Really? Wasn’t there a chance that he’d allowed his imagination to run away with him? That his script lay somewhere between fact and fiction? An amalgam of both perhaps? He shook his head: he knew the truth.

The Peaks was just as he remembered it. Mrs. Wilkins had changed nothing – not that she needed to: the house came as close to perfection as it is possible for any edifice to come. His step was jaunty as he entered it.

After stocking the fridge, he went for shower. The water heater was still giving trouble.

Even paradise isn’t perfect’, he thought.

By the time he’d dried himself off and dressed, he was surprised to find that the time was well past six o’clock.

Too late to call Jan now,’ he considered, ‘she’ll be over at Connies’.

“I’ll catch her later.” He spoke aloud to the room.

The sun was far from setting, so Wozniak treated himself to a walk about the garden. This killed perhaps a half-hour. A year in London had altered him. He could no longer lounge about doing nothing: he needed to entertain, or be entertained. Normally his word processor would prove sufficient for his needs – but that required unpacking – and he remained as inept with wires and sockets as he’d always been. He sought solace elsewhere.

Entering the Muck and Bullets public house, Wozniak was disappointed to find it devoid of clientele. Claude, the landlord, stood alone behind the bar watching the television news. He jumped when Wozniak asked for a pineapple juice.

“Well if you aint a sight for sore eyes, Mr. Wozniak.” Claude grinned “Wait ‘til I tell the wife: she’ll be over the moon. You sure a pineapple juice is strong enough? I seem to remember you’re a brandy man.”

Wozniak couldn’t remember which one of his many middle-aged-to-elderly female admirers was married to Claude; so he said, “I’m here for a short break, Claude: she’ll probably catch me in the street sometime. And yes – the fruit juice is fine. Whichever one you have to hand: I kind of went off brandy.”

Claude rattled some ice cubes into a glass, and handed it to him. He opened a bottle of pineapple juice, and emptied half of it into the glass – placing the half-empty bottle beside it.

“Well you won’t go making my fortune with that.” He half-stated – half-complained.

Wozniak looked about the empty bar.

“Quiet tonight.” He observed.

“Like the blinking grave.” Claude nodded toward the television, “Footie’s on tonight: England against somebody. These days blokes like to stay at home with a few cans from the supermarket. Times have changed: it aint so much fun runnin’ pubs no more.” He lamented. “If you aint got satellite TV and a full-time restaurant, you’re well and truly buggered.”

“I suppose you are.” Wozniak responded – casting his gaze about the dark half-lit room.

‘Cutting down on electricity consumption?’

He had no wish to sit alone; but neither did he want to spend his free time lamenting the end of civilization with a morose bartender.

“Still,” he continued, “being the only surviving pub in the village, I suppose you have something of a captive audience.”

Then he noticed a pair of well-worn steel toe-capped boots protruded from within a snug. He indicated the direction to Claude.

“So I’m not entirely alone, then?”

“That’ll be Len. Len Peters.” Claude replied, “Funny bugger he can be sometimes. Believe anything – he will. Reckon he’s a bit keen on them flying’ saucers and stuff like that. Don’t talk to him much, m’self.”

“Sounds like my sort of man.” Wozniak grinned – taking his purchase, and making for the snug.

It took little more than a handful of paces for his long legs to carry Wozniak to his destination – a semi-enclosed area featuring a central rectangular table, with high-backed benches to either side.

From Claude’s description he had expected a man of few years – slightly spotty, wearing spectacles and an anorak; so he was surprised when a bearded septuagenarian looked up from his beer.

“Hello.” Len said gruffly. “Thought you’d turn up again. Figured you couldn’t stay away.”

“And a good day to you.” Wozniak remained unruffled. He responded with, “Have we met?”

“Not so much that you’d notice.” Len’s cryptic reply came.

Wozniak didn’t like being manoeuvred into asking questions. Nevertheless he was instantly intrigued.

“You’re right there.” He said, turning away – hoping that Len Peters wouldn’t let him leave without finishing what he’d started.

“But you will.” Len stressed the last word.

Wozniak couldn’t help himself:

“Will?  As in a future tense? I thought we just did.”

“Depends,” Len took a sip from his glass, “on what came first: the chicken or the egg.”

Wozniak allowed his eyes to narrow. Len looked straight into them. The big man chose to sit.

“Okay,” he said – lowering his large frame onto the bench that faced the mysterious elderly man, “you’ve got me snared. I don’t know a damned thing about you; but you obviously know something about me.”

“Do you believe in dreams?” Len asked obliquely.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

I really should get back to ‘proper’ writing. Naturally this book remains active in the market place. Should you be interested, some of the better known retailers are mentioned behind the book covers on the side bar. Just click on the image.

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 26)

At that moment, in the dance hall, Hambledon Bohannon hit the lights and wound the sound system up to eleven…

It was time to party…

Late-comers raced down corridors when they heard Bohannon’s own monster hit, ‘Everybody Slap Your Disco Thighs’ resonate through the thick stone walls…

 

…ever hopeful of having their eyes assaulted by a kaleidoscopic light show…

Of course, they were not disappointed. Already many earplugs were getting down to the insistent bass and driving rhythm…

None less so than Cushions Smethwyke, who was dancing with a new nurse from the museum’s dispensary. “I like your white uniform,” she said. “Didn’t you have time to go home and change?”

To which the new nurse replied: “Oh-no, I’m on duty – I’m here just in case someone gets over-excited and faints or something equally catastrophic.”

And Simon Knights-Templar was so mesmerised by the light show that he merely wandered around in a daze. Of course, Rupert Piles attended. No disco could be held without the event being recorded for posterity on his huge 3D TV camera…

Of course, Rudi, Miles, Chester, Valentine and Magnuss attended. Naturally Hair-Trigger was at Magnuss’ side…

And Susan was there – with her constituent parts independent of the whole…

“Okay, girls,” she effectively said to herself. “Go mingle with the masses. Like that lovely Hambledon Bohannon said: It’s time to party. Let’s get down. Huh!”

But after a brief foray on the dance floor, she had another idea. Moments later she did this…

…which almost brought the house down. That’s metaphorically of course: it was, after all, actually constructed from huge chunks of stone, which had been built to last a thousand years.

Five minutes later Magnuss was still feeling the effects of motion sickness. It was all he could do to fight off attacks of nausea…

But then Hair-Trigger dropped a bombshell in his lap: “Hambledon Bohannon,” she shouted above the din of excited disco-goers and the Trumptations’ mega-hit of yester year, ‘Aint too Proud to Fart’  “has re-mixed the backing track to Los Caballeros Stupido into a jazz funk fusion version of your classic party piece. You and the boys are expected to perform it – like now.”

It wasn’t a request: it was a command. So a few minutes later the lights came up – to reveal The Earplug Brothers live!

Sadly neither of them was familiar with jazz, funk, or fusions of any kind; so their performance was less than stellar. But no one really cared: they were, after all, heroes of the Museum of Future Technology. And soon Hambledon had the turntables whirling nicely again…

©  Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

 

 

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 25)

“I think that went very well.” Miles said as the five heroic earplugs watched the ship attain orbit…

 …“I think things could have worked out rather worse. A pat on the back all ‘round?”

Rudi smiled at this. “At the very least, man.” He replied.

Susan, in her many parts, was feeling much the same way. Every sub-unit had something to say, even if all the others knew exactly the words it would use…

“You know,” the primary sub-unit said to the others, “I’m feeling like I’m in some sort of girlie gang. It’s fun, isn’t it? Girl power!”

But as fun as it was, Susan reintegrated for her role of Captain. And she wasn’t surprised to find the engineering staff had returned to their DVD box set…

Also she was less than surprised when Chester sought her out, and they stood at an observation window and watched asteroids pass by on their way to a collision with the planet below…

“Poor little asteroids,” she said with a smile that – if she didn’t straighten her face soon – she feared might become perpetual, “of all the planets to pick on, they chose the Supreme Being’s. I can see him getting quite annoyed.”

She continued to smile all the way back to the bridge, which left Chester free to join his brothers…

“Flipping heck,” Magnuss exploded, “look at the distance we’ve covered in just fifteen minutes. That’s Sirius that we’re sweeping majestically by. Worstworld is just around the corner. It’s half way to Earth. Another fifteen minutes and we’ll be landing at the good old Museum of Future Technology…

Of course it was a fifty-fifty chance that the museum’s location on the planet’s surface would have it smothered in the cloak of night, which meant that the Age of Stone was too…

Already the castle’s grand hall had been made ready for the celebratory discotheque. As the ship landed and its crew disembarked, Hambledon Bohannon was warming up his futuristic, but wonderfully 1970s retro, turntables…

And earplugs from the museum proper were making their way to the Age of Stone exhibit…

But many were already standing in line in corridors bedecked with fabulous drapes…

Even the Graveyard Avatar had managed to drag itself and a number of acolytes along…

“Oh, isn’t this lovely?”  She cried with glee. “This stone is so cold and foreboding: it’s like being at home.”

Further inside the castle, huge light screens had been erected…

…which looked really neat and bathed the stony interior in a chill blue light.

“Like it.” Doctor Snippentuck, the resident incompetent plastic surgeon was heard to utter. “When I can afford it, I’m going to get my surgery decorated like this. It’ll be the talk of the town.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

Two-Wheeled Tooty: Confidence Regained

Once upon a time, five years before he was named Tooty (in 1981), a young country bumpkin was talked into switching from Honda motorcycles to Yamaha. Here he is posing  with his mighty steed – a Yamaha RD125DX…

He and the Yamaha gelled instantly and he would become a life-long fan of the brand. But life being life – that is unknowable and often incomprehensible – in time his situation changed, and motorcycling  became a thing of the past. Then, in 2020 (21 years after quitting bikes), he took the plunge and returned to the fold…

Of course his mount was a Yamaha. A YBR125 to be exact. But it wasn’t the best that ever escaped that manufacturers stable. It wasn’t Japanese for a start! But he didn’t know that when he bought it. And he never really forgave the machine, despite the fact that it was totally reliable and never let him down. But he never felt entirely confident upon it – especially in traffic. Poor suspension: lack lustre brakes: feeble single cylinder engine were its major bug-bears – though Tooty had hoots of fun rushing down gravel-strewn, muddy-as-heck, and cow shit-ridden back lanes on it. Look at the picture above: does that really say “Confident rider”? Nah. What he really needed was something that would give him back the two-wheeled exuberance of his long-lost youth. Something with a bit of oomph. Another Yamaha obviously. But one built in Japan.  Regardez vous por favor…

Ten months later. Yup, I’m back – and on a cult classic too! But I think I might pass on the gravel-strewn, muddy-as-heck, cow shit-ridden back lanes for now. Maybe an off-road bike for those. Might have to get some motocross boots though. Hmm, sounds fun…

DDW: Downloads Doing Well

Have to say, it’s nice to see downloads of the free PDF copies of my Earplug Adventures moving along nicely. I like to imagine people are actually enjoying what they find there. For the seven days covering 25th August 2021 to the 31st, an average of 4.6 downloads were made every day. Not setting the world alight, I know; but someone’s taking the time and trouble. So well done. Anyone interested in repeating this act can do so by accessing the files via the Free Earplug Adventure Ebook page beneath the header at the top of this post. And you don’t have to download them: if you like you can read them in situ. Do so and enjoy those exciting tales featuring this bunch of wassocks…

 

Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 24)

But still the situation worsened for the Wonky SB. Not content of stripping him of his atomic boiler suit, Miles and Chester let rip on his god-like underpants…

…and the would-be avenger was forced to hide his nether-regions by squatting in a most undignified manner…

“No,” he wailed, “I surrender. No more. Leave me alone.”

“Go,” Magnuss bellowed in reply, “before we destroy you completely.”

“I’m going. I’m going.” The Wonky SB said hurriedly as a strange red portal opened behind him…

Then, with defeat etched in every step he took, the Wonky SB collected up the remains of his boxer shorts and wandered, unsteadily back into his unknowable realm…

But as he turned back to regard his nemesis…

…a force grabbed him and swept him away into a roiling cauldron of energy…

…which might have been a black hole.

For a moment the boys merely stood there in shock. Then a cascade of pretty energy particles descended upon them…

Of course, it was the Supreme Being in celebratory mode…

“Well done, boys. What a brilliant job. Now get yourselves back here.”

A heartbeat later they and Susan’s primary sub-unit stood at an observation window in the Rhubarb Crumble

“We couldn’t have done it without your powers.” Magnuss informed the Supreme Being. But he was being polite: obviously the Supreme Being knew that already. “And Susan too.” He added.

“Indeed,” the Supreme Being said as he regarded Susan’s primary sub-unit, “if she hadn’t stepped in at the appropriate moment, all might have been lost. Well done to you too, little green blob. Now I expect you’d all like to get back to the Museum of Future Technology for a celebratory discotheque. Well, be on your way: I think you’ll find the journey back somewhat shorter than the one here.”

But, of course, before the Rhubarb Crumble could go anywhere, there was the matter of returning the Weevil Trunnion to its place in the storeroom…

Then, the task complete, the first ship to come off the new Martian production line swept across the strange, ever-changing landscape…

…and blasted skyward…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021