Scissors, Needle, Thread.

In an earlier post, titled Fashion For Fogeys 2, I told the fascinating tale of how I dyed some trousers bright yellow. Gosh, what fun it was. But looking back upon it, I couldn’t help but notice that (since retirement, and the subsequent reduction in physical activity) I’ve lost some meat on my thighs and arse – as seen in this pleasantly demure Tooty the Chef shot…

Well the resulting loss of bio mass means that I look less than a million dollars in my yellow Marks and Spencers trousers. This is unacceptable; so I thought the time was ripe to engage the imagination and put them to an alternative use. Naturally it took next to no time to formulate a plan. Note the blue, padded motorcycling jeans I’m wearing in this shot of me aboard the Back-Lane Behemoth…

They’re bloody awful. They’re badly made; too long in the leg (even for me); and too short in the torso. They make no provision at all for the existence of testicles. At best they are uncomfortable. More often they make my bollocks ache and ruin the ride. As they stand, the blue jeans are surplus to requirements, and have been stuffed into the bottom of my bedside ‘biker’s’ trunk for some while. But, thought I, what if I could remove the padded areas and insert them into the vastly more photogenic (and more observable in traffic) yellow trousers?  No sooner had the question been raised, when I was quickly delving into my late wife’s sewing kit. Shortly the blue jeans had been reduced thus…

Thereafter – many – many – hours later, and with fingers and thumbs aching to hitherto unimaginable levels of agony, the interior of the blue jeans had been transferred to the yellow trousers – from the knees up to the buttock area…

In a moment of inspired brilliance, I decided to leave the complete arse area of the blue jeans in place, so that now my dainty botty is protected from an initial impact with the road by two layers of jeans material, two sets of pockets, and the abrasion-resistant material of the original blue jeans liner. And the knees and hips get the pockets that are designed to hold soft armour. I didn’t have any yellow thread, and I can’t sew a decent stitch to save my life: so my handiwork can’t stand close scrutiny…

…but who is going to notice as I go whipping past upon my mighty steed?  Moreover, I no longer need to wear reflective vests and the suchlike, because I already appear as dazzling as the morning sun…

What a groove!

Where is the Back-Lane Behemoth?

Understandably, when people learn that I have obtained this…

…they assume that I swapped in the Back-Lane Behemoth as part exchange for something lighter, more manageable, and better suited to the predominantly rural type of riding I do. I mean, why would a retired gent, such as I, require one motorcycle – let alone two? But they would assume wrong – on both counts. One: why wouldn’t a retired gent want two – utterly disparate, chalk and cheese – motorcycles? Two: Nah, look, there it is…

After all, why would I want to deny myself this?

Nature Wallpaper: Remnant of Summer

The drought of 2022 in the UK effected the natural world in several ways – all of them negatively. But when a cold snap followed it’s watery ending, and subsequent seasonal temperatures soared shortly afterwards, the natural world was thrown out of kilter. For some plants, it appeared that summer had returned. For others the period called winter was skipped, and they went straight to Spring again. All very colourful for those who took the time to look. Who knows what will become of the Primroses etc when winter finally arrives – not to mention dumb-ass hedgehogs. It probably won’t go well for them. Here ‘s a shot of high-summer Clover in Autumn, which was lovely to see amongst all the dry brown hedgerow foliage and fresh green shoots emerging from the desiccated grasses at the field’s edge…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Reason…

…why progress on the next Earplug Adventure has stalled.

I must admit that (after getting off to a flying start on the follow-up to Climatic Calamity) recent work on the next, still-unnamed photo-story has been conspicuous by it’s near absence. Okay, a few shots of a hastily constructed set – the Star Chamber – sit quiescent upon my computer awaiting processing…

…but most of my time has been spent studying video after video – in many different languages – that all centre upon a single subject. I don’t mind admitting it, but I have become fixated. Everything else has taken a back seat. Then, on Monday  the 17th of October I drove from Portsmouth to Shoreham-by-Sea, where I visited a delightful waterfront motorcycle dealer, by the name of Spark Motorcycles, and conducted a test ride of their demonstration vehicle. Today, a week and a day later, they kindly delivered  a similar model in the back of a van. And here it is…

 

My first spanking, brand new, motorcycle since my Yamaha RD400 in 1979! Er, what is it, you ask? It’s a Fantic Caballero 500 Scrambler, that’s what it is. A cult machine in it’s homeland of Italy.  Now visit You Tube and punch in that name. You’ll see why I JUST HAD TO HAVE IT. There’s nothing else like it.

Photography: Esoteric Questions Answered

Everyday fans write in and ask esoteric questions of Tooty the Chef. On this occasion, Miss Boo-Boo Balonck, of Wiltshire Terrace, Twisted Wanger, Glamorgan inquired whether it would be best to photograph some apples she’d found at the side of the road, (which she had lain gently in her kitchen window to fester for several days) at nine o’clock in the morning, or at five past seven in the evening. Well, ever eager to assist Boo-Boo’s photographic efforts, Tooty the Chef conducted the necessary experiment. Here is the result…

Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t help thinking that natural daylight is the clear winner here. Tooty suggests that Miss Balonck also consider mid-afternoon, when the sun will be in a completely different position. Half past two would be nice – as would the substitution of conference pears or some good, old-fashioned British plums in place of wind-blown apples.

Has ‘Helping the Hedgehog’ Helped?

Well if the following picture is to be believed, someone has clearly moved into the Hedgehog Over-Wintering House at the bottom of my garden. Look, they’ve planted a nice flower outside the porch…

But since no one responded to a polite knock, I thought it best to spy on them – by installing a night-vision camera, I’m sorry to say, t’was not a spiky critter that emerged into the darkness; but one of these…

Oh, well, at least the property isn’t laying vacant. Some smart little rodent has spotted the potential. There, I told you hedgehogs were dumb-asses!

 

First Glimpse of the Next Earplug Adventure

Early days yet. Very early days in fact. But work is underway with props. Look…

Yes, some land vehicles that have appeared in various Earplug Adventures through the years, have been pulled out of mothballs and given a coat of paint – along with some cheap soft orange earplugs who managed to get themselves all messy with transferred ink and other nasty stuff. Here’s what the finished articles look like…

Since I mentioned – in an earlier post – that the central characters would be visiting Worstworld again, following a long period (and loads of adventures) without setting on eyes on the place (if you don’t count that passing shot in Surprise Visit), I thought I should up-date the remnants of the 7th Cavalry – those that remained  behind after most of their officers and enlisted ‘men’ absconded aboard Ship Number 15 when it returned to the Museum of Future Technology in Worstworld Vol 2. Yes, they’ve gone all mechanized. Regarding the second character – to partner with Bubbles Gloor: meet Barclay Scrimmage…

He’s the orange one, by the way. If you’re wondering why Bubbles Gloor looks familiar, it’s because I’m re-using the Daffney De Mauritania figure from Mutant Island – not because I don’t have any more blank earplugs in stock, but because I like it, and I think ‘she’ will do very well. This is a test shot, by the way. It’s a bit too good to leave unsued, so this will definitely appear in the (so far unnamed) story as in interior of the new and improved Fort Dunderhead.  Watch this space.

 

Climatic Calamity – in it’s entirety – COMPLETELY FREE!

You may have missed the odd episode of Climatic Calamity 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 almost unequaled in the history of literature and photography – exceptions being all the other Earplug Adventures. Imagine, all those photos: all those words: all that creative genius – absolutely FREE! Just click on the book cover image, and it’s all yours – to hug to your breast and covet like a…urr…covetable thing!

Earlier Earplug Adventure books are also available too. Visit the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page beneath the header, and click away to your heart’s content. There has to be one there you’ll enjoy.

Flipping heck – forty-six e-books in little over eight years: I’m a veritable mass production machine. And the quality just keeps on getting higher!

P.S I know there’s no such word as covetable – but you know what I mean. Covetable: something worth coveting.

Climatic Calamity (part 29)

A story of 29 parts: how uneven. Still, not the end of the world, is it? Now feast your eyes upon the EPILOGUE…

Epilogue

After a brief meeting with the museum’s curators, it was straight to the Grand Hall for an impromptu award ceremony…

Naturally Cushions Smethwyke performed the role of Medal-Pinner in Chief. With the Earplug Brothers watching, and Rupert Piles recording, she stepped forward and said very loudly:

“I hereby designate you all as Heroes of the Museum of Future Technology. With that honour comes a pitiful pension, a life-time pass into the museum, a diploma stating that you’re something special, and a cuddly toy – of which…ah…we seem to have run out of. Logistical problems, obviously.”

Of course she could have left it at that, but she then picked out Celestino in particular.

“Celestino Candalabra,” she said in a surprisingly strident voice that carried to the crowds in the corridors beyond the hall, “your talent, I believe has also been your burden. So heavy was it that you took yourself away to live alone in the mountains. Well the curators and I have searched through some of the less well known artefacts from the future, and we have discovered a special bra that when worn by such as person as yourself, renders them immune from the thoughts and…and…and…the ‘truths’ that accompany them. We are proud to offer this to you. Or, if you’re not overly enthused by the thought of wearing female’s underwear, we can tart up your secret cave, add air-con, and maybe install cable TV. Whatta ya think?”

“I think,” Celestino said quietly and hesitatingly, “that I need time to think about that. What I’d really like though, is to hear El Custardo and Los Natillas perform Ode to Joy. Could you do that for me?”

Well no sooner had he spoken those words, when El Custardo’s nasally voice filled the hall…

“Seńor,” he said, “it would be our honour. A one, two, three, four…”

With that everyone was treated to a mariachi version of Ode to Joy that (had the Grand Hall been built by shopping mall builders) almost brought the ceiling down.

Then it was outside to have fun in the snow before it all melted away…

A bemused pair of robots stood in the centre of the frolicking earplugs and wondered what the flipping heck was going on.

“Fifth Officer,” the Captain pleaded, “please explain to me what is happening.”

The Fifth Officer was about to inform its Captain that it had no idea, when it’s thought processes were interrupted by the sound of a mighty engine directly above the area upon which they stood. The hatted robot looked upwards…

…in time to see another Submarine Space Freighter heading for the Space Port…

And it knew, with a certainty that was usually reserved for Celestino Candalabra that more followed in its wake…

Normal business was about to resume at the Museum of Future Technology!

The End

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Ah, a deep sigh of satisfaction: another masterpiece complete. The magnum opus rolls on.

Climatic Calamity (part 28)

And so to the penultimate episode. Yes, I know it hurts, but you must face facts: there is only one more episode to follow this one. Gird yourself: enjoy it while you can. Read on…

Inside the Museum of Future Technology, and despite the subdued lighting and snow covered skylights, inhabitants and visitors alike, swarmed into the Grand Hall in search of information and a back door out of the place. In fact so frenetic were their efforts that a ‘goon squad’ of RoboSecGuas had to intercede in affairs…

In El Ciudad de Droxford, shell-shocked shoppers emerged into the streets of the retail area, unable to believe that their enforced stay in unpopular department stores was finally at an end…

“I never want to go near the bed linen section again – as long as I live.” One particularly disgruntled husband was heard to say above the general hub-bub.”

“For me it was the fishing tackle section that most offended.” His wife countered. “Wherever I sat, I kept getting those damned fishing rods poked up my bum!”

With its mission completed, the freighter flew directly above the museum and performed a victory roll…

Those watching below waved and cheered. Further away, the Ice-Worlder rescue teams began entering outlying areas in search of survivors…

“Oh look,” one of them cried out, “it’s an out-of-town shopping mall. And look at the state of it. Shoddily built out of second rate materials, I’d wager. That would never do on our home world!”

In addition, those ‘more responsible’ earplugs amongst the population were using their hover chariots and sky scooters to search the plain for lost nuclear missile scientists…

Moreover, the farther the freighter flew, the faster the climatic change became apparent. Already some low mountain peaks were showing black against the brightening sky…

But once it was satisfied that the reversal of the ice-age was truly underway, the Captain turned away from the view screen…

…and said:

“Right: let’s get ourselves back to the Museum of Future Technology!”

So, within moments, those same crowds that waved and cheered as the freighter had passed overhead earlier now watched it descend and settle upon a landing tower…

“Now comes the bit that I haven’t been looking forward to.” The Captain said as the engines wound down into silence. “We have to meet our adoring public.”

No one was keen, but they knew it was an absolute necessity – none less than Hellfire, who quickly spotted a sign that pointed towards the sole lavatory…

“You go ahead,” he said. “I’ll catch up. There’s something I need to do first.”

“Lucky you.” Shortarse commented. “As a robot I have no such excuse for delaying in inevitable.”

“True,” Erronious said with a faint smile, “but you don’t have any underpants in which to have an accident either.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Return, for the final time, to witness the obligatory EPILOGUE!

 

Helping The Hedgehog

When I was a young man. I would often dismount from my motorcycle to aid a hedgehog across the rural road down which I was returning home, before he or she got himself or herself flattened by nocturnal traffic. In those days Britain was awash with the little spiky critters. But, as the decades passed, car numbers increased, hedgehog territories reduced, and with predator numbers increasing, it meant that times were difficult for Erinaceus Europaeus. In fact, it was a full eight years after I moved back into the country, before I saw one – and then only the once. Then, during the drought of 2022, I heard my dogs going bananas in the back garden. Upon investigation I discovered a rather pissed-off ball of spikes blinking in the light of my torch. Naturally I chased the dogs off and gave it a slice of ham. My garden then became part of the hedgehog’s territory, and it returned every night from then on. A while later, whilst channel surfing, I chanced upon a small segment on a local news program concerning the less-than-common hedgehog. Because of their decreasing numbers, the ‘Expert’ was imploring people to help them by supplying water during dry times (doing that already, thank you) and building overwintering habitats for their resident animal. “Ah-ha,” cried I, “time to get the tool box out: it’s ‘project’ time!”

Two days later…

How could ‘my’ hedgehog not give this more than a passing glance?

Inside, beyond the porch, and behind the hay, there is a vestibule –  an inner wall to deflect the winter winds. Beyond that is the hibernation chamber, which comprises three layers of insulation – wood, corrugated plastic, and finally waterproof roofing felt – all kept from the wet or frozen ground by a metal frame, and topped with a plastic roof made from the floor of a dog cage. How can it resist? But if it does – coz they are kinda dumb-asses – I’m confident the mice, voles, or whatever will find a cozy home there.

Climatic Calamity (part 27)

It’s the beginning of the end in episode 27…sob, sob, sob…

Chapter 11

Several hours into the flight, the Drunkard’s Vomit Captain entered the bridge…

…whereupon it informed the current Captain that it would accept its kind offer of command.

“Now you do everything the Captain tells you to, okay?” The ship’s Captain spoke to its bridge officer. “I’m leaving you on the bridge as my representative. I only want to hear from you when the mission is complete, or if the temporary Captain issues a command that sounds suspiciously like Self-Destruct.”

“Got it Sir.” The subordinate replied. “It’s the boss: I’m good with that. Right on.” 

With that the ship’s Captain departed with its other bridge officers following. The Captain took this as its cue to bring on its own crew and former passengers…

“We’re very nearly there.” It informed the listeners, whose auditory devices – more commonly known as ‘ears’ – were tuned for maximum sensitivity. They didn’t want to miss a word. “Now we’ve been through our plan of action, once we arrived in Earth’s atmosphere: does anyone have any doubts or questions before we proceed into the Solar System?”

Of course, no one did – well perhaps with the exception of Hellfire, whose technical expertise tended towards the operation of toasters and microwave ovens: but he kept his gob shut; he didn’t want to embarrass Erronious.

“Excellent,” the Captain summed up, “everything is fabulous.” Then, to his First Officer, he said: “Take the helm. Point us towards the Sun: we’ve received no replies to our hails: time could be of the essence: pour on the metaphorical coals.”

A couple of hours later, the Sun shone brightly behind a shimmering globe of ice…

As the ship closed upon its destination, everyone had reconvened upon the bridge in time to witness an image of the planet’s surface taken from orbit…

“I’m afraid that your worst fears have been proven correct.” The Captain spoke to the three terrestrial earplugs. “The entire surface of your planet is iced-in. I fear we may have arrived too late.”

However Celestino wasn’t so certain of the veracity of the robot’s assertion. As he studied the image of white-topped rocky outcrops, he had the distinct feeling that the situation below wasn’t quite as bad as the Captain painted it. In fact he knew it wasn’t. “No, Captain,” he said, “you underestimate earplugs. They’ve battened down the hatches and withdrawn the drawbridge, so-to-speak: but they’re not down and out. They haven’t surrendered to the inevitable. They’ve been following us on their sensors. The only reason they haven’t contacted us is because the weather is buggering up the radio reception. We’re not too late at all. In fact I sense some are actually enjoying this. They like sitting around candles in their duffle coats – telling tales, cracking jokes, and holding very limited farting contests. Moreover – the lack of an Internet has given them the opportunity to actually communicate with each other again – properly, as in face-to-face.”

“Oh, good.” The Captain replied. “That’s what I like to hear: never was a fan of social media. Well let’s get this job started, shall we? Time to spoil their fun.”

Shortly the submarine space freighter dipped into the atmosphere directly above the Museum of Future Technology. Then, maintaining an altitude that kept them high above the clouds that blanketed the view below, they ejected the Seeds of Change into the sky, where they burst in a small biological explosion of black spores…

Far below, and fifteen minutes later, three members of El Custardo Y Los Natillas were out searching the snow banks for their lost sombreros…

“Hey,” the Second Tenor erupted in surprise, “the snow has gone all sparkly!”

The Lead Trumpet tried to focus upon a snowflake directly in front of him. “Sí, usted es correcto.” He blurted with delight. “Es no frio, tambien!”

“We are blessed.” The Flamenco Guitarist spoke sagely. “Let us fall to our knees and thank the Saint of All Earplugs.”

To which the Second Tenor responded:

“You can do what you bloody like: I’m going inside again. I’m opening that bottle of vintage tequila that El Custardo keeps under his camp bed: it’s time to celebrate!”

Aboard the freighter, everyone watched as the sun broke through, and the sky became a dazzling blue…

“Ah, look at that.” Erronious said poetically, “it’s like a picture postcard.”

Far below, earplugs began emerging from either their submerged homes or snow caves…

Pea-farmers, George and Edie were particularly happy to see the brightening sky once more: they both suffered terribly from Seasonal Affected Disorder. Moreover, they were glad to see the backs of the pair of rowdy couples that they’d been forced to share their snow cave with…

…especially the green one with a sneaky smile and aromatic gut.

Standing high upon a mountain top, Lemon Stone was the first to benefit from the improved climatic conditions. People strove to free themselves of their frozen homes in their droves – using whatever means they could to stand in the open air once more…

Naturally Rupert Piles was there to record the occasion with his huge 3D TV camera.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Okay, that episode was a tad short, but I couldn’t help it. I just couldn’t finish the story too quickly: I’ve only just started new models and sets for the next tale!

P.S I’m rather pleased with that final shot; there’s a whole bunch of elements in it. But I do wonder why the pink earplug on the left has an arrow through it. I don’t remember doing that. Spooky!

 

Making the Earplug Adventures: Inspired by Toothpaste

When I bought a particularly expensive  tube of toothpaste, some while back, it was done – not for the quality of the contents – but for the inspirational shape of the tube. I could see, in an instant, as it resided silently upon the supermarket shelf, a new vessel for my collection of futuristic Earplug Adventure props. The result – once I’d added some miscellaneous vacuum cleaner parts that I found in the garden shed: painted with correction fluid; then reversed the negative, to make it appear dark – was the life-boat from Climatic Calamity…

Well, after that tale was complete, I didn’t really want to put the model aside: it had too much potential. So I stuck my thinking cap on my bonce and got a bit creative. In what form would the next Earplug Adventure manifest itself, I asked.  Who would the central characters be? Well there was a throw-away name mentioned in Climatic Calamity that was too good to miss. Ardent reader, Jayne noticed it. Bubbles Gloor. But who might Bubbles be? What was her reason to visit the Museum of Future Technology? Then it came to me: to steal the specs of the vessel that belonged to the strange triangular alien, Peggy. And why might Bubbles require those specs? Because she is an industrial spy who works for the Punting-Modesty Munitions Company of Lemon Stone – oft mentioned in the stories, and builders of military vehicles such as Valentine Earplug’s XL5 Facepuncher…

So I set to work adding a few more plastic bits from my parts bin; painting it vermilion and matt black; and making it look a whole bunch more ‘dangerous’…

…and The Prowler was born. I then created a couple of images that included it…

…like this flypast of Lemon Stone. And this shot of two prowlers in  high orbit above a brown planet…

But it wasn’t until I made this shot…

…that I had the idea for the next tale. Bubbles (and a so-far unnamed co-lead character) will fly the Prowler to a place that hasn’t been visited since Volume Two of Worstworld

That is a heck of a long time. It’ll be good to revisit the doomed planet. Will it still harbour life? Might the blue star that threatens it finally have done its evil work? Well we’ll see, won’t we? And it’s all thanks to a tube of toothpaste – the name of which eludes me. Funny how one thing leads to another.

Climatic Calamity (part 26)

In episode 25 we saw the Supreme Being sans lingerie: what might happen in part 26? Stay tuned to find out…

However, just a few short hours later, a horrible discovery was…um…discovered

When the ablative armour had been stripped from the life-boat’s hull, it had taken several fuel cells and their sensors with it. Suddenly the ship was out of fuel, and now continued forward upon momentum alone. Once again the brave souls of the Drunkard’s Vomit faced oblivion. The Catering Assistant thought the moment opportune to invite Peggy and the Terrestrials for a ghastly coffee at the ship’s Café Puke…

“I had no idea you transferred your coffee shop over to the life-boat.” Erronious said with a chuckle. “Talk about a complete lack of priorities.”

“An accident, I assure you.” The Catering Assistant replied. “Now, if I recall correctly, you once asked me for a Café Disgusto. And you, Hellfire suggested a Defecated. Well today might not be your lucky day, but you are going to get the coffee of your choice.”

Under the circumstances it would be quite reasonable for everyone present to find no humour in the situation; but after what everyone had been through, a slow death in the depths of space didn’t worry them one jot. Celestino also chose a Café Disgusto; and Peggy asked for some virgin olive oil for a squeaky pressure switch that had been nagging it since they’d departed Vacuum City.

In fact they returned to the Café Puke every day for the next week…

During that time they managed to sample every single vile coffee on the menu. However, on the eighth day, Celestino was doing his ‘star-gazing’ when three ships suddenly dropped out of hyperspace beside them. For a moment he was too surprised to allow his talent to show him the ‘truth’. He’d already convinced himself that they were about to be boarded by hyper-space pirates…

He uttered a plaintive “Aargh” before fainting on the floor.

Of course, if he’d looked closely, he would have recognised the three ships as robotic submarine space freighters. The closest came alongside…

The crew didn’t need a second bidding, and soon they had the life-boat nosing up to the freighter’s main hold…

The Captain then took its First Officer and presented them to the rescue ship’s captain…

“My gratitude to you.” The Captain said. “My crew and passengers are what remain of the Drunkard’s Vomit. We are engaged upon a mission of vast importance for the Museum of Future Technology. We have the means with us to cure the world-wide malady that threatens Earth. We must proceed there immediately.”

“Captain,” the rescue ship’s Captain replied, “My ship is yours.”

So, after the difficult integration of two almost identical crews…

…the Submarine Space Freighter disengaged from the convoy; and blasted for Earth…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

I hate to say this, but it looks awfully like the end approaches. Isn’t it sad that the tale must reach a conclusion? I don’t know about you, but it makes me sick!

Climatic Calamity (part 25)

In episode 25 you get even bigger bangs for your buck. And…ah-hem…a touch of nudity. Read on…

Far away, aboard the life-boat, the next explosion shone brightly upon the view screen…

Of course no one, with the exception of Peggy, wanted to witness the destruction of their ship and crewmate, so they looked away.

As the craft began to accelerate under its own power, the distant explosion grew in size and intensity…

“Uh-oh,” some unnamed crew member groaned as the explosion exceeded expectations by a thousand fold…

… “Something on the planetoid must have blown up too. Hold on to your hats!”

The next second that distant explosion became a very personal event. The blast wave threw the life-boat across parsecs of space, and stripped it clean of ablative armour…

But it survived – a testament to the skills of its builders.

Chapter 10

In the following days, Peggy taught the crew to maintain the vessel’s systems, whilst Celestino looked out upon an uncaring cosmos and revelled in the fact that nothing out there sold him the ‘truth’ about anything. Moreover, in maintaining his ignorance of internal affairs aboard ship, he was unaware that Erronious and Hellfire spent most of their time doing sod-all and mooching about the ship whilst picking their noses and scratching their bums…

Following necessary repairs, the battle-scarred life-boat finally got underway and quickly moved to supra-light speed…

However, just a few hours into their faster-than-light journey, a horrifying image appeared on-screen…

“By the Cyber-Saint of All Robots,” the Captain squawked, “It’s a huge hooded figure!”

The superbly-designed ship made an automatic avoidance manoeuvre…

“Oh-no,” Hellfire wailed, “we failed. It’s the Wonky Supreme Being. That’s it: we’re stuffed: he’s gonna be really miffed!”

But Celestino fretted not one bit. He already knew the true identity of the god-like being that appeared to thwart their passage. “No, Hellfire,” he said, “It’s…

…the real Supreme Being!”

“Hiya, Guys.” The Supreme Being’s massive voice rattled from the ships audio system, “Okay if I come aboard?”

Naturally the creator of Earplugdom didn’t wait for permission. A split second later he was amongst them – and he wasn’t alone…

“Ta-da,” he yelled. “I figured you’d miss this little guy; so I pulled it out of the explosion before it became part of it. Hey, what do you think about my miniaturisation? Look, I’m almost a tiny as you. Of course I’m not commensurately puny too: I’m still big-bad-me.”

Of course everyone was surprised and thrilled to have the Catering Assistant back with them. But the Captain openly questioned the Supreme Being’s motivation.

“I’ve had minor gods scouring all of space and time looking for my evil doppelganger.” S B replied. “Couldn’t get a sniff of him. Then everything went arse-about-face at the Museum of Future Technology, and I thought, ‘Ah-ha, could this be the work of Wonky?’, so I hung around and kept watch. You guys led me to him.”

Celestino laughed. “And it wasn’t the planetoid exploding or sub-atomically unstable space tearing itself into constituent quarks and bosons that threw us across space.” He cried. “It was something you did.”

S B looked at his (truly) non-existent fingernails. “Me?” He replied. “As if… Actually I took advantage of the moment. As Wonky fought to stop the explosion with his pseudo-god-like powers, I nipped in and shoved a hydrogen bomb down the back of his underpants. When he broke wind in surprise – blammo – no more false god.”

The Supreme Being then began his farewells, but Erronious interrupted him:

“Say, S B,” he said, “when I was trying to annoy your doppelganger, I told him that his buttocks weren’t as meaty as yours. Was I right?”

Hellfire was about to apologise upon Erronious’ behalf, but the Supreme Being forestalled him: “Wanna see my bum, huh?” He roared. “Well check this out.”

This earned him a round of applause and cries of ‘encore’. Moreover, his brazen act proved that the real S B had far meatier buttocks than his pretender. He had other things too, but no one felt sufficiently qualified to comment upon them.

“Well I must dash,” his voice boomed as he disappeared, “I have a galaxy to run.”

So, as S B disco danced at supra-light speed on-screen, Celestino, the former burglars, and Peggy welcomed the Catering Assistant aboard – whilst the Captain informed the Second Officer that it would soon be taking over duties in the Café Puke on the next voyage.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

There, wasn’t that nice! But things go awry pretty soon in the next episode, so you’d better be there to see it.

P.S I’m very grateful to the Captain and it’s glowing brain: otherwise I couldn’t have used the naked Supreme Being shot at all!

Earplug Adventure Wallpaper: A Clandestine Midnight Coffee Perhaps?

Discovering a carelessly unlocked branch of the Cafe Puke, whilst out and about enjoying a night stroll through the residential area of the Museum of Future Technology, Edith and Ferdinand Arcwelder question their morals when tempted by the possibility of a freebie mug of ghastly coffee.

Yes, in answer to the more eagle-eyed amongst you, that isn’t the original Cafe Puke set. It’s another one entirely – complete with disco glitter ball!

Earplug Adventures © Paul Trevor Nolan

 

Climatic Calamity (part 24)

Rarely does pathos rear its head in the Earplug Adventures; but episode 24 gives it a go. Read on…

The Captain had raced to the auto-destruct compartment: the return journey took more than three times as long to complete…

“Guests,” the Captain used an all-encompassing term for the four beings that stood before it, “I have the sad duty to inform you that the Catering Assistant won’t be accompanying us on our journey back to Earth.”

Celestino’s talent meant that the robot need not have uttered another word through its cheap plastic forward speaker: he already knew the truth. But Erronious, Hellfire, and Peggy required further information.

“Yeah?” Erronious spoke into the brief silence that followed the Captain’s opening gambit, “why’s that then?”

“Because,” the mauve robot replied, “the Catering Assistant will replace the auto-destruct trigger. It will blow up the ship manually.”

Naturally the reluctant pea farmers complained bitterly. They said lots of rude words. One of them was ‘bum’. And another one was ‘carp’, or a word that looks very similar when written down. But it was to no avail, and soon the black robot departed upon its final mission.

After Celestino had urged Erronious and Hellfire to follow the Catering Assistant with the words: “I think it has something it would like to discuss with you before committing suicide,” the Captain and First Officer looked at each other.

“There goes a brave robot.” The Captain said quietly.

“Not sure I could do it Sir.” The First Officer replied. “Not in my specifications, I’m sorry to say. Will you be mentioning it in despatches, Sir?”

“Oh absolutely.” The Captain replied in an instant. “If one existed, I’d demand that the Catering Assistant – stroke Fifth Officer – received a medal posthumously. But, rightly or wrongly, that is not the robotic way.”

A short while later the two earplugs joined the Catering Assistant as it prepared to insert a widget into a thingamabob…

They didn’t try to dissuade the black robot: but they did suggest that it express its feelings. So it did:

“You know that belief that earplugs have about a life after physical oblivion?”

“Silicon Valley?” Hellfire suggested.

“That’s the one.” The Catering Assistant replied. “That belief has the dead crossing a vast bridge from this life into the next.”

“That’s right.” Erronious said. “It’s supposed to be very beautiful.”

“Well,” the robot continued as though Erronious had not spoken, “there is a faction of robot-kind that has a similar belief. They believe that a huge, lumpy, yellow bridge separates here from there…

…and that we see the ghosts of lost ships on the way across it. Further, once we have completed the passage, we are taken into the embrace of cyber-heaven.”

“Are you one of those who believe?” Hellfire asked gently – almost hopefully…

The Catering Assistant’s ocular devices shifted to the ceiling. “I’d like to imagine it’s true.” It said. “But I have no proof: nothing tangible: any empirical data.”

“Bah,” Erronious scoffed. “You don’t need them: you just need faith. If you can imagine it – that makes it possible. Anything that’s possible is certainly probable. If you – and others like you – can imagine the huge, lumpy, yellow bridge; the ghosts of lost ships; and cyber-heaven, it’s probably because it’s real. Just believe in it enough, and you can make it happen. Bon voyage, Fifth Officer of the Drunkard’s Vomit: may you watch her sweep silently by as you cross the bridge.”

As the two earplugs made their farewells, the bridge crew had lifted the Drunkard’s Vomit so that it hung above the brightly-lit towers of Vacuum City…

Then, pushing the forward thrusters to the max, the submarine space freighter blasted free from the planetoid’s feeble gravitonic attraction…

Thereafter, having gained sufficient distance from the planetoid, the life-boat, containing the crew and passengers of the Drunkard’s Vomit, departed the main hold at high speed…

Then, as the submarine space freighter slid back towards the planetoid, the Catering Assistant hit the destruct button…

Green lights indicated that the device had activated. The ship was only seconds away from total destruction. But then something completely unexpected happened…

“Ugh?” the Catering Assistant managed before dissolution, “I feel myself being disassembled and taken…where…?”

However any potential thoughts were circumvented when the ship’s hull exploded spectacularly in several directions…

This exposed the engine core to cosmic radiation, to which it was sub-atomically allergic. The result was the Wonky Supreme Being suddenly becoming aware that the gig was up – permanently…

…and shouting, “Arrrrrse!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What just happened? Surely it can’t be true? Flipping heck! Return for the next episode, and find out…uh…what happened next.

Climatic Calamity (part 23)

If you’re reading this tale for the first time…where the heck have you been? Do you realize how much you’ve missed? Now go back to the beginning – there’s only 22 episodes before this one: you know you’ll like it. For those readers who are up-to-date – read on…

Meanwhile, a heck of a long way away, the Captain and three of its robotic bridge officers watched as Celestino Candalabra led the unexpectedly triangular Peggy through Vacuum City towards the Drunkard’s Vomit

“Strange alien en route Sir.” The Second Officer informed its commanding officer unnecessarily.

“I can see that.” The mauve robot replied coldly. “In case you hadn’t noticed, I do possess functioning ocular apparatus.”

“No Brownie Points for the Second Officer Sir?” The Third Officer both inquired and suggested in one brief sentence.

“Indeed.” The Captain replied. “Open a hatch and let them in.”

Moments later Celestino had arrived with Peggy in tow. He noted absentmindedly the arrival of the Catering Assistant: gave a brief account of Vacuum City’s history; explained that the creators of the weather weapon that had struck Earth had always been smart enough to build a countermeasure before releasing the weapon to any potential buyers; and presented the Captain with the contents of his back pocket…

Whilst the First, Second, and Third Officers re-ran a CCTV video of Erronious and Hellfire in their silly hats, the Captain scanned the five black objects.

“I don’t understand.” It said. “My sensors detect biological material. They appear to be nothing more than simple seeds.

“They are the Seeds of Change,” Peggy informed the robot whilst it’s single eye studied the antics of the two former criminals. “They reverse the situation into which they are introduced. An analogy might be…um…perhaps…Well I can’t think of one right now; but, rest assured they will work.”

“A broad spectrum antibiotic.” Celestino said cheerfully. “That’s the analogy Peggy sought. Only much more complicated, talented, and complex.”

“So what do we do with them?” The suddenly attentive Second Officer inquired.

“We fly them back to Earth.” Celestino explained. “Then, after we’ve entered the atmosphere, we fly over the original contamination point and seed the sky above it with these. Apparently they burst on contact with oxygen, and send their spores everywhere. These, in turn, act upon the original contaminant and reverse its DNA – making it reverse its effect upon the environment. It’s all very clever. If they hadn’t buggered off across the Galaxy yonks ago, I’d tip my metaphorical hat to the creators of this.”

“There we have a problem.” The Captain said gravely. “We can’t fly home in this ship: it’s been rigged to self-destruct. It’s the only way that we can guarantee that we destroy the planet’s worst-ever enemy – the Wonky False Supreme Being.”

In an instant Celestino was struck dumb with distraught emotions as he ‘saw’ the truth in the robot’s complete lack of expression. Peggy, on the other hand, didn’t give a toss:

“Hey,” it said, “no problem: we can use my ship. Strictly speaking it’s a life-boat. My creators left it for me, just in case I needed to escape Vacuum City. Well fancy that: I do. It’s pretty big. Too big for one. Wanna see it?”

Thirty seconds later a squad of robots departed their vessel…

But they were already fifteen seconds behind their Captain and its guests…

“Strange architecture,” the robot opined as it quickly scrutinised the life-boat’s ‘bridge’. It then added: “Nothing a lick of colourant wouldn’t put right anyway.”

Moments later the squad of robots arrived…

…along with Hellfire, Erronious, the Catering Assistant, and Shortarse.

“Looks bigger on the inside than it does on the outside.” Hellfire observed. “Of course it’s an optical illusion; but it’s very good. Does it come in a variety of shades? This one reminds me of a drunken weekend I once had in a seafront boarding house. The wallpaper was this colour, and so were the contents of my stomach.”

Chapter 9

Naturally plans were quickly hatched to transfer to the life boat everything of importance in the Drunkard’s Vomit. But as a crew member double-checked the auto-destruct mechanism, an alarm sounded and the ship went to magenta alert…

It wasted no more than a nanosecond before informing the bridge…

As the crew member made its report over the intercom, both the Captain and the First Officer were forced to tear their gaze from the main screen, which displayed the image of their preferred medium beyond the city walls, and think quickly.

“The auto-destruct has a glitch.” The Captain repeated the unfortunate news to his immediate subordinate. “What’s the protocol for such a failure?”

The First Officer searched its memory banks. “There isn’t one Sir. It’s never happened before. The system is fool-proof.”

“Curses,” the Captain…ah…cursed. “It must be that meddling Wonky Supreme Being. He’s obviously put a non-existential spanner in the works. What are we going to do? How do we blow up the ship?”

All the while that the superior officers threw ideas about, the Catering Assistant made its way to the auto-destruct cabinet…

“Oh yes,” it said to itself, “this will never work. A key component has ceased to exist: there is no trigger mechanism. Arse!”

Thereafter it contacted the Captain. Shortly the same Captain joined it at the auto-destruct cabinet…

“Were my auditory receivers playing silly-buggers with my brain?” the Captain cyber-blurted. “Do you really have the solution to our conundrum? And is it really as desperately personal as you suggested via the intercom?”

Calmly the Catering Assistant replied, “It is Sir – I’m sorry to say: but needs must, and all that. But first, I wonder if I might visit the bridge before I carry out my duty, Sir?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What’s this? Could cyber-heroics be the order of the day? Return for episode 24 to find out!

P.S Did anyone recognize the auto-destruct compartment? It’s one of the Gravity Whelk sets turned on its side. I never build a new set, if an old set will do. They did it on Star Trek: The Next Generation: why shouldn’t I?

 

Climatic Calamity (part 22)

PADDING ALERT! PADDING ALERT!

The following episode comprises photos and story line that fails to move the tale forward one iota. Nevertheless its very charming and includes lots of characters and places that you would not have seen had the story remained aboard the Drunkard’s Vomit. So its well worth the visit. In fact you would be committing an injustice against yourself, should  you pass on it. Read on…

Meanwhile, far away in the tortured land that contained the Museum of Future Technology…

…the immigrant workforce of blue Ice-Worlders were being put to use doing…ah…stuff outside, where terrestrial earplugs would quickly succumb to the vicious cold…

Had Magnuss known about their efforts he would have congratulated himself for his foresight, many years previous, when he rescued them from their planet as the crust de-stabilised and broke up. He might not have been quite so comfortable if he’d known that they had also been assigned the task of operating the Earplug-Powered Generator…

“Honestly,” the pillion earplug said to the other, “it’s not enough that we have to contend with the worst coffee in the Galaxy; but now they’ve locked us in this freezing generator room and expect us to pedal like loonies from the planet Gagh!”

“Keep talking.” The other replied. “It’ll take my mind off the motion sickness. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m feeling a little queasy.”

Despite being inside the main building, whiteout conditions now applied in the Age of Stone exhibit…

Even the blessed and wonderful Angel with a Huge Nose was compelled to find shelter from the storm…

As she unfurled her angel’s wings in preparation for wrapping them around her torso to keep warm, her mind wandered to the main courtyard. She wondered if the Mariachi Bands were still trying to hold their outdoor convention there…

Of course she had no idea that Magnuss and Hair-Trigger had ushered them into an old blockhouse. The Heroes of the Museum now stood at the entrance as they kept an eye open for stragglers…

“No, I think that’s about it, Hairy.” Magnuss said with a sense of professional satisfaction. “Let’s take the underground maintenance tunnel back into the building proper.”

Gobby – bless him – the strange creature with a limited control of the passage of time, stood in the snow outside his apartment block and tried to turn the tide of time…

As was usual for him, he managed fifteen minutes; but then gave up.

“Not worth the sodding effort.” He grumbled to himself – before going inside to wrap himself in his favourite Aquaplug duvet.

Chester and Miles were on the balcony of the apartment they shared…

The shattered debris of their neighbour’s façade lay all about.

Chester was feeling sorry for himself. Several small palm tree seedlings had been horribly crushed by great lengths of cabling. Miles might have said something comforting to his twin, but he didn’t because he thought he was behaving like a ‘cissy’.

Shortly after that they both received a telepathic message from their brothers. Quickly they joined them at the entrance of an emergency shelter…

…as they followed Hair-Trigger into the assumed safety of an atom-proof bunker.

Elsewhere, members of the Sewage Workers Union rushed to get themselves through the closing bulkhead doors on the main thoroughfare…

They had heard that their hardened concrete meeting room had been reassigned to Civil Protection, and they didn’t want anyone taking their seats…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S The wording that accompanied the third-from-last photo made mention of an atom-proof bunker. I invented the term as a fourteen year-old. I’ve used it repeatedly during the intervening five decades – and no one has ever asked me the obvious question:

“What the heck is an atom-proof bunker?”

Climatic Calamity (part 21)

For anyone joining the series here, this isn’t a serious piece about climate change. I don’t do ‘serious’. This is a fantasy set in an alternative reality wherein life is silicon-based. The central characters are…wait for it…EARPLUGS. Yeah! Read on…

Chapter 8

It took a while, but both Erronious and Hellfire finally gathered their wits and decorum…

Sadly they were less successful when attempting to remove the Wonky Supreme Being’s silly hats. In fact they still wore them when they eventually found the airlocks into the hangar area…

Whether it was the dry ship’s air, or perhaps the glue that held the hats to their craniums had a short half-life, no one will ever know; but once aboard the Drunkard’s Vomit again, the hats simply fell off. As a result both earplugs could make their way towards the bridge with a degree of pride in their appearance…

“We have to tell the Captain everything we know.” Hellfire said. “This is a disaster far worse than I’d imagined – and I certainly didn’t imagine meeting the false Supreme Being. He’s really got it in for earplugs.”

“Yeah,” Erronious agreed, “but we’ll leave out the bit about hanging upside down over Vacuum City and the silly hats, okay? Neither are important in the grand scheme of things.”

Hellfire was only too pleased to acquiesce to his partner’s suggestion. “Right on!” he said in a fair imitation of Valentine Earplug.

Moments later they encountered a crew member…

“You appear to have returned intact.” It said. Then scrutinizing them closely, it added, “and you appear to have a glue-like residue upon your heads. Have you been wearing silly hats?”

To which Erronious replied:

“None of your flipping business, Big Nose. Now take us to the captain: we’ve got some really urgent information.”

The robot, if nothing else, was of the rapid response kind. It took off like a supercharged zombie in search of living flesh. Erronious and Hellfire had to greatly accelerate their metabolisms in order to keep up…

So they felt a little light-headed when they arrived at the Robot Recharge Unit…

“The Captain will be done momentarily.” The Catering Assistant informed them. “Were you successful? You don’t look successful. You look…hassled.”

Erronious was about to reply in a defensive manner, when it became obvious that the recharge was complete…

“What?” The Captain said when the earplugs related their tale to it. “This is the worst kind of news that I’ve ever heard of. It stretches my mental capacity to the very boundaries of my design and construction. Are you certain that the False Supreme Being is responsible for the ice-age? I mean – you couldn’t have misunderstood him, or anything? Might he not be taking credit for someone else’s work?”

“You’re sounding desperate, Captain.” The Catering Assistant whispered loudly enough to make sure that everyone upon the deck could hear. “It’s time to face facts, whether you like them or not.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” the Captain said as it quickly recovered from both the surprisingly awful news and the rushed re-charge. Stepping from the machine it added, “I think we should plan for a worst case scenario.”

Hellfire was relieved that the Captain hadn’t inquired about the traces of adhesive upon their heads. He smiled faintly at the thought. Erronious had other thoughts though. He was wondering what a worst case scenario might involve – but he didn’t want to ask, just in case it was something really scary. So, instead of saying anything, he followed the Captain, the First Officer, and the Catering Assistant into a compartment that hitherto had been hidden from them…

“This looks terribly important, Erronious.” Hellfire said in a small voice that belied his confident criminal past, “what do you suppose it does?”

“Don’t know.” Erronious replied more confidently. “Let’s check out what the First Officer is doing.”

But, of course, the robot’s actions taught them exactly nothing. It didn’t answer their questions either. So they returned their attention to the others…

 

However it quickly became apparent that both robots were communing with the ship’s main computer. Verbal questions were out of the…uh…question.

Erronious spoke quietly, so not to disturb the robots:

“I wish Celestino was here. He knows tech stuff better than us. He might hazard a guess.”

“We’ll just have to wait until they’ve finished.” Hellfire whispered. “Where is Celestino anyway – wasn’t he supposed to be following us? You don’t suppose he’s lost, do you?”

“Unless he’s got the antidote in his back pocket,” Erronious said half-way indifferently, “I don’t care where he is or what he’s doing.”

Then, without a word from either servomechanism, the task appeared complete…

 

“All done?” Erronious inquired.

“Indeed it is, Mister Bosche.” The Captain replied. “I can now enact the Drunkard’s Vomit’s self-destruct sequence from anywhere aboard ship – or elsewhere using my cell phone.”

“A job well-done Sir.” The Catering Assistant congratulated its superior. “I assume my assistance was of value to you?”

“It was indeed.” The Captain replied. “Rest assured, should this mission be completed successfully, I will be looking for a new Catering Assistant.”

“Excuse me.” Erronious broke in on the robotic conversation. “Did I hear you correctly? Did you say something about the self-destruct – like in blowing us all to Silicon Valley?”

“Worst case scenario, Mister Bosche.” The Catering Assistant replied. “It would be reprehensible for any captain to ignore the possibility and act accordingly. If it proves necessary to blow this ship to…as you suggest humorously… Silicon Valley – that is what we will do.”   

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

What’s this, the Drunkard’s Vomit going the same way as the USS Enterprise in Star Trek 3: The Search For Spock? Surely not – the bloody thing has only appeared in two stories. What a waste. Oh, but we haven’t reached that point yet, have we: maybe it can yet be saved. Return for later episodes – like the next one, for example – to find out if our beloved shampoo bottle-derived vessel will survive the tale.