At the time of this post, ten months have passed since my wife died – and there are still (it seems) a million and one ‘things’ of hers that need to be moved on. She liked to collect all manner of ‘things’. Whatever they were, there were (are) always too many of them to fit into our small ‘modern cottage’. Not only were the common areas of the house full-to-bursting, so was the attic too. And only towards the end of her life did she finally stop, sometimes, to ask herself: “Do I really need this?” Or, more often: “Tooty says the loft is full; do I have anywhere to put this?”
I can’t imagine how many items I have passed on to charity since then – but it’s lots. Multiple car-loads. And still it keeps coming. Most of her books are now sitting on complete stranger’s shelves; but a few – the oldest tomes – are still here. This is one of them…
It’s a slim volume that was first published in 1937. This is a later copy from 1949. At 108 pages it’s hardly exhaustive, and wouldn’t really do as a proper reference book. But the flowers are beautifully drawn and painted, so really it’s an art book. On the inside cover this appears…
Clearly it was gift – from someone I will never meet, to someone else I will never meet (unless in the afterlife). In one of my often melancholy moods this made me feel a little sad. I wondered who these people were, and what happened to them. Then, as I turned the brittle pages – many of which are coming away from the dried-out spine – I found this…
One day, after receiving this gift, the recipient carried this book with (her?) and decided to collect specimens, which (she?) pressed between the relevant pages. Here is a sample of Chicory from rural Britain circa the early 1950s.
And here is some Corn-Cockle…
Lastly comes the Cuckoo Flower…
The absence of any more samples suggests that only one expedition was undertaken. But, perhaps for just one foray into the countryside, this book was precious to it’s owner. Precious enough for it to have survived and pass through any number of hands since that day. It certainly caught my wife’s eye and has survived her. So what do I do with it now? What we leave behind comes in many forms – not all of them with physical properties such as this book. They are little pieces of us: pieces that cannot die. For now I will keep this on my bookshelf. But it (the book) has nothing to do with my wife: she was only ever a custodian. Eventually (through charity shops or auction) I will probably pass it on to someone else that I will never meet: and they will wonder who the two names on the inside cover belonged to, and they will find the pressed flowers. And maybe they will add to them.
A mere hour and a half later, the millions of kilometres between the area that Rudi had designated Pongy Space, and the Museum of Future Technology, had been traversed…
“Cor,” Chester gushed characteristically, “these Hyper-space attack ships sure do shift. By the way – where are the brakes?”
But the younger of the twins needn’t have worried about crashing headlong into their beloved emporium: Valentine – skilled as he was at piloting vessels such as the Punting-Modesty XL5 Facepuncher…
… pulled the saucer up short with plenty of microns to spare. Within moments of disembarkation, the five-some stood upon hallowed ground…
“Ah, that’s better.” Miles said as his eyes ranged here, there, and everywhere. “Anyone fancy a ghastly coffee at Café Puke?”
Magnuss, now feeling better once upon terra firma, was about to reply, when they all heard the annoyingly metallic (and monstrously mono-tonal) voice of a Robot Security Guard – more commonly known as a RoboSecGua – as it called for their attention…
“Flip me sideways,” Magnuss whispered out of the side of his mouth to Rudi, “what have we done this time?”
“Hey, Val,” Rudi said in response, “did you pay the parking meter?”
But they need not have concerned themselves fiscally: the RoboSecGua was only there to accompany them in a mad dash through the museum…
…to a recently installed facility called ‘Decontamination’…
“Hey,” Chester squealed with delight, “I’m not affronted by this embarrassing situation at all: my bum has never been so pleasantly tickled before. What about you, Valentine?”
“Yeah, cool, man.” The second-eldest brother replied. “And regard the funky moisturising cream dispenser: I really dig it!”
But all good things must come to an end, and soon they were released…
Unsurprisingly the first person they encountered was their Auntie Doris, who had brought her beau, K’Plank the Space Wanderer, with her…
“Hello boys,” she called from the top of the Up ramp, “nice to see you back. Before you rush off on your new mission, K’Plank has some fatherly advice for you.”
“Indeed I do.” The former bad guy, but now totally reformed rotten egg, added. “I think you should take pause to consider those closest to you. Magnuss, Rudi, and Valentine: your girlfriends are undoubtedly pining for you: I think it best that you see them first – just in case something terrible were to happen to you in the new Age of Stone exhibit.”
Naturally the three brothers mentioned took on board these wise words, and before long Magnuss had invited Hair-Trigger for a quick snack at Mister Pong’s Exotic Food Restaurant…
…where he planned to tell her that he was off on another adventure without her. Naturally Pong’s daughters, Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey were there. And, whilst Mister Pong took Magnuss’ order, the girls tossed aside their waitress dresses and rushed off for a rendezvous with the eldest Earplug brothers…
“Hey girls,” Rudi said as the females appeared from a side corridor and matched velocity with them, “we were on our way to see you.”
“Sho’nuf were,” Valentine confirmed his brother’s words. “We got something to tell ya.”
“We know.” Yu-Wah replied. “Everyone does. It’s all over the museum.”
“When do you leave?” Wah-Hey added.
“We’re on our way there now.” Rudi answered unwisely. “We were just gonna stop off to say hello before we caught a travellator to the new exhibit.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t just give us a quick phone call, or maybe text us.” Wah-Hey added.
“And to think we left our posts to come see you.” Yu-Wah whined. “Magnuss took Hair-Trigger to Dad’s restaurant. He’s a proper boyfriend, he is: not like you two.”
“Yeah,” Wah-Hey snapped. “We hope you get lost in the Age of Stone – that’s what we do.”
“And we hope the toilets are blocked too.” Yu-Wah finished. “Goodbye.”
Well there wasn’t much either Earplug brother could think of to say, so they watched the waitresses disappear down the corridor from which they had emerged in a far better mood…
“They’ll get over it.” Rudi said in the resulting silence.
“Yeah, sure thing.” Valentine replied uncertainly. “But I hope that wasn’t some kind’a curse they just put on us: getting lost aint too bad; but the thought of blocked toilets just makes me quake in my funky disco boots.”
A half-hour elapsed before the quintet re-joined…
As he rallied his troops, Rudi made no mention of Yu-Wah and Wah-Hey’s displeasure. “Okay, guys,” he said, “let’s go kick some stone-age buttocks.”
With that, and with slightly trepidatious hearts, the five pinky-orange earplugs climbed the stainless steel ramp that led to the new exhibit…
I’m beginning to feel my age. Not only is my funny bone on hiatus – feeling lethargic in the humour department, you understand – but other things are becoming bothersome too. Woke up at 5am – feeling like shit. Tried to have shit: couldn’t. BIG PAIN. 7am finally faced the truth: not invincible: called National Health Service 111. 20 minutes later Ambulance arrives. Following an ECG and other stuff, taken here…
Following some anti-sickness stuff and a dash of morphine, it’s off to the land of nod. Miraculously (following the oft-interrupted, drug-induced, snooze) crippling pain gone. Spend rest of day being tested for everything under the sun. Eventually handed a cup of tea and a tuna sandwich and told: “If you can keep that down without it hurting, you can go home.” Went home. What was it? Who knows!
During the Summer of 2020 I was inspired to create a sort of reverse window box that I planned to attach to a wall that faced my sitting room window. I hoped that the flowers within it would brighten the view out through the window, and make the street look colourful and cheery too. I showed it to my (then ailing) wife, and she agreed that it would look very nice. Come Spring we planned to plant some seeds in it; but (if you’re a regular reader of this blog) you’ll know that she never saw the Spring. But I went ahead and did it anyway – as a Summer memorial to her. I selected Scabious and Cornflowers – coz they were her favourites. I added Calafornia Poppies as (what I considered) a perfect visual counterpoint. Well they all germinated – the Scabious and Cornflowers taking the lead role. But, to my horror, they were all destroyed overnight by a gang of marauding snails. Too late I applied the snail pellets. But then, as the endless rains of Summer gave way to a few days of sunshine, this happened…
Linzi’s reverse windowbox lives. And best still, those are late germinating Cornflowers at the far end of the box. Better late than never: success!
In my original Fashion For Fogeys I decried the fashion sense of men who are – how shall I put this? – past their prime. Men like me. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m not quite so able as I once was. Bits of me have expanded: others shrivelled horrendously. Of course, regarding the former, I refer to my waistline. For the latter, I refer to my brain. Well obviously the willy too; but we don’t want to talk about that. But (as a result of a withering cerebrum) I find myself digressing: back to fashion for fogeys. In the original FFF I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige gracefully. I also mentioned that one wasn’t neccessarilly forced to drive a tedious silver/grey car to Waitrose whilst wearing said beige apparel either, though in actuality I did, but that, in my case it wasn’t the regular choice of automobile made by fogeys, but something from the Volkswagon group and finely crafted in the Czech Republic. Or, to put it another way – it wasn’t a Honda Jazz (or any model of Hyundai). Well today was shopping day: the sun shone brightly; and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t bring myself to throw on a T-shirt; some jeans; and a pair of Jesus boots . Yes, I dressed to go shopping. Awful isn’t it? Worse still I discovered a linen shirt in the back of my warddrobe: and guess what – it was beige – though I like to call it off-white. So, being a fashion icon for the older generation, I sought something to go with it that was both practical and stylish. Something that didn’t cry “Fogey!” Naturally success came within seconds. I set off the linen shirt with a pair of plain combat-style trousers in olive green, with a camouflaged ‘bum bag’ by Ellesse, and an equally olive green pair of Sketchers…
Cool, for an old bastard – right?
But better still, not only did I not climb into a silver/grey Honda/Hyundai to visit Waitrose: I also visited Sainsburys (shock horror) in this…
So there you have it: the Guru plays by his own rules. And if you don’t want to become an old fogey, make sure you do the same.
The Earplug Brothers had only ever used their Hyperspace Pirate-look-alike-spaceship once previously; but following the discovery of a nasty pong in a region of space that wasn’t desperately far from Earth, they had re-boarded their under-used vessel and set off immediately to investigate…
Although the aforementioned region of space came within the boundaries of the Solar System, to the occupants of the saucer, it felt awfully far away from home…
But after studying for gaseous emissions for two days, they were getting decidedly bored. Well Miles and Chester were. Rudi and Valentine were both far too busy checking read-outs and analysing samples of vacuum to notice. And Magnuss just felt space sick…
But between bouts of nausea and rushing to the toilet, the middle brother had managed to concoct a theory. The pong to which reports referred was of a very individual design. In fact Magnuss knew it well. He was certain that he had smelt it once before – when a false Supreme Being had supplanted the true Supreme Being, whom the Earplug Brothers had freed from inside a huge wooden crate…
…who then did battle with the interloper, soon to be known as the Wonky Supreme Being…
…and with the brother’s help, the real Supreme Being was able to blow the underpants clean off the Wonky Supreme Being and thereby defeat him…
Now, yonks later, Magnuss was certain that the current pong was utterly redolent of the smell that had erupted from the Wonky Supreme Being’s pants as they flew haphazardly across the battlefield, all that time ago. But, until he felt better and was able to speak without gagging, he chose to keep his thoughts to himself. Chester, on the other hand, was thinking how much more fun the saviours of Mars – Folie Krimp and Placebo Bison – were certain to be having, right now, aboard the Gravity Whelk…
And Miles was recalling a happier time when the five siblings performed Los Caballeros Stupido a cappella whilst standing on a dangerously minuscule stage with their distinctive Cossack hats perched upon their heroic heads…
But whatever the subject on each Earplug Brother’s particular mind, it was certain that (after several days in the depths of space) they all longed to return to The Museum of Future Technology…
An hour or two later – no one is certain quite how long, because boredom makes seconds seem to last forever – Rudi and Valentine concluded their study…
…and became aware of their sibling’s discomfort. Being the eldest, and therefore the wisest brother, Rudi invited them all into the presence of the Ship’s Oracle…
“Hey, Man,” he said to the fountain of knowledge, “we aint sure what we should do next – know what I mean? We’re getting nowhere fast, and my bros are getting real cheesed-off: any ideas?”
To which the Oracle replied: “You pop off to the lavatory for a few minutes: I’ll contact the museum.”
Of course it was exactly what the boys wanted to hear, and five minutes later they were on their way back to the control room…
…feeling much better in themselves, their bladders, and hopeful for the immediate future. And as they re-entered the control room, they couldn’t help but notice that the video link to Earth was in the act of warming up…
Much to their surprise, the Museum of Future Technology’s toothy chief curator – Cushions Smethwyke – had been joined by their Auntie Doris.
Rudi spoke for all of them: “Hello, Cushions.” He said “Hi, Auntie: How’s tricks?”
“Hello, boys.” Auntie Doris replied cheerfully, as was her way. “Miss Smethwyke has some good news for you.” Then to Cushions she said: “Go on, Cushions: tell them.”
“Good news indeed.” Cushions spoke across the vast divide between the museum and the flying saucer. “We’ve got a more important job for you, back here in the museum.”
“Hey,” Valentine spoke for the first time since swearing at the recalcitrant computer terminal at his Gaseous Anomaly Work Station, “right on, mama. Smells aint no groove, you dig? Specially space-smells. Whatta you got in mind?”
Doris couldn’t restrain her enthusiasm: she spoke straight over the curator: “We’ve had another exhibit arrive from the future.” She squealed with ill-disguised delight. “It’s a bloody great big one. The biggest since Eyewash Station was destroyed.”
“Yes,” Cushions added as she pushed herself in front of Doris, “it’s from an era when all technology was based on a single material: stone.”
This confused the heck out of the brothers. “But,” Chester said on their behalf, “the Stone Age isn’t in the future: it’s in the past!”
“No,” Cushions replied adamantly, “not the Stone Age: but The Age of Stone. It will be an era when everything is constructed out of stone. And I mean everything: even stethoscopes, windmills, micro-circuitry, and lavatory seats!”
Whilst the boys absorbed this stunning information, Doris finagled her way centre stage once more. “And they want you to test drive it – so-to-speak. So get yourselves back here as quick as poss: Cushions wants to open it to the public, but she wants to make sure it’s safe first.”
Three seconds later…
…they were on their way. And Magnuss wondered if this was the right moment to mention his fears that the gaseous anomalies were the result of the return of the Wonky Supreme Being. That they weren’t space-smells – as Valentine had assumed incorrectly: but God-farts – infiltrating and permeating regular space/time from within another quantum realm entirely!
Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this tremendous tale…
So to it. Here it is…
It was later in the day, with a plunging ambient temperature, that Dawlish decided to place his new hat upon his head and start a fire in a handy brazier. He’d fully expected the fire to keep him warm. What he didn’t expect was for the flickering flame to speak.
“I am the Flame of Knowledge.” The Brazier spoke with a surprisingly pleasant contralto. “Whoever wears the wizard hat is welcome to access my data.”
“Oh, good.” Dawlish said. “Um, give me a pocket history of this planet.”
“Once there were small furry things that scurried along predetermined paths.” The Brazier began. “They continued to scurry along predetermined paths for millions of years. In fact these predetermined paths became worn so deep that very often the braver small furry things became adept at running along the steep sides without slowing down or falling off. Then, one day, hundreds of thousands of years ago, earplugs that had evolved in the sea waded ashore and began to live upon the land. They evolved rapidly – quickly shedding their nasty gills and horrible webbed feet, and began eating the small furry things, until they became extinct. Eventually the earplugs created a wonderful city. Then, not long ago, something with vast power removed them. Took them all away. Relocated them somewhere else, I guess. Don’t know what it was; but the earplugs were powerless against it. But the city’s still there: wanna see it?”
The Brazier then indicated the direction that Dawlish should follow. “It’s over thattaway. Or maybe slightly thattaway. Off you go. Good luck.”
“Um, thank you.” A surprised Dawlish managed. “I’ll fetch my sister. Maybe there’ll be a working shower there. This is a strange planet: if you don’t mind, I’ll probably be calling upon your services again.”
So, by following the course indicated by the Flame of Knowledge, Dawlish and Dorkan soon stood together upon a barren plain. In the distance the towers of a magnificent city stood proud against an afternoon sky. For the Deathwishes the question of whether to visit it, or not, was clearly a no-brainer.
“Have you got your hiking boots on?” Dawlish asked.
“Ah, that would be an affirmative.” Dorkan replied. “What about your jogging pants?”
“Yep.” Dawlish answered. “With my vest nicely tucked into it. Right then; let’s go.”
Everyone looked at the view screen, which showed open space – and safety.
“You know we can’t flee.” Magnuss said. “We’re here for a reason. Below us is the planet that houses the Galactic Court of Justice, which, currently, is in the clutches of a deranged god. Only this ship and its crew stand between freedom and galactic chaos.”
“Well said, Magnuss. Most rousing and all that.” Captain Hydious Gout spoke into the following silence. “Okay, you’ve convinced me. Helmsplug: light her up.”
A moment later the Chi-Z-Sox began blasting towards the planet. Very soon the forward screen displayed strange rock formations on the planet’s surface.
Magnuss thought back to the last earplug encounter with the Court of Galactic Justice, when one Throgennis Frote had been abducted and held accountable for the behaviour of all Earplugdom. With help he had convinced the court that earplugs should continue to exist; and in doing so had made the Supreme Being understand that earplugs were really quite nice – even if they weren’t all the time.
“So,” Magnuss asked himself, “what has made S B change his ways? Why has he gone all wonky?”
Of course he received no reply. But, as he was about to shrug his shoulders, this happened…
“I don’t know who you are.” The Wonky Supreme Being growled through the view screen. “But if you’ve got half a silicone brain between the lot of you, you’ll sod off now, while you still can.”
This threat might, or might not, have influenced the Chi-Z-Sox’s captain, but it was way too late to reverse direction, because the ship had already begun entry into the planet’s atmosphere. And it was getting so hot inside the ship that no one noticed that the Wonky Supreme Being hadn’t stopped making terrifying threats, which concluded with: “And your tender rubberized botties will feel sore until the end of time!”
Then it was time for the boys to act. In a perfect moment of impetuous timing, Magnuss had them relocated to the planet’s surface via matter transmission. And as they made their way towards the Galactic Court, Magnuss couldn’t help looking back at the alien panorama and wondered if he would ever see Earth and the Museum of Future Technology again.
Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can seewhat’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Grand Tour vol 2 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file. By the way, in addition, and also – you can access all the Earplug Adventure files (including Vol 1 of this exciting tome) on the sidebar by clicking the cover images.
Time for some more rude Hamster-Sapiens book extracts. Well one anyway. Today we delve into the intellectual abyss that is this e-book…
And the extract that has been selected by random chance is this one…
“Tell me.” Dung roared as he dragged Algy to his feet, “Why are the Stix so frightened of Brother Alfonso’s willy?”
“Coz it’s scary, I guess.” The puzzled monk replied.
“And custard.” Dung continued, “Does it affect everyone like it affects you?”
“It’s banned by The Wheel.” Brother Algy gave a whimsical smile, “Guess they banned it for a good reason.”
“Hmmm.” Dung went.
“Hmmm?” Brother Algy queried.
Dung decided to explain his thought processes – not so much for Algy’s benefit, but to confirm in his own mind that his sudden inspirational plan was devoid of errors.
“Joan Bugler’s plan was to bring this load of frozen custard into Prannick, where she hoped to engage the talent of a powerful psychic that would mentally convince the Stix bandits that we were the Hamster Heath Heathens Sod-ball team. They were to be convinced that those huge roustabouts were about to attack them with shovel-loads of rock-hard confectionery – just as they did to the forces of The Wheel during the Battle of Weasels Pit. Theoretically the mere threat of the infamous Heathens would make any band of recalcitrant Stix bandits turn tail and run. But the custard has thawed horrendously: No amount of psychic fooling around will convince them now. What we need is a completely new plan: And I’m the one to supply it. Me – Arthur Dung – the most despised rodent in Hamster Heath – except that insolent little shit Freddy Ringworm down at the Institute of Highly Important Studies, that is. This is my one chance at populist immortality, and I’m gonna grab it with both paws, my dumpy little tail, and my skinny cleft buttocks!”
“Oh.” Algy almost seemed interested,” You’d better be along then, and tell ‘em all. But be quick about it: I wanna have a wee, and I don’t like someone looking.”
But Brother Algy was talking to thin air: Arthur Dung was already slithering his way towards the exit – and his destiny.
Joan had just finished apprising everyone in the Abbot’s quarters of her plan to fool the Stix into fleeing, when in staggered Arthur Dung. He was exhausted – not only from the long climb from the lower latrines, but also because he’d been forced to keep taking side trips to ask the way. Consequently he was too out of breath to speak immediately. But he didn’t really need to: Everyone could see the tell-tale stains of liquidised chocolate custard that had adhered to the hem of his trousers, and they all recognised the fact that Joan’s plan lay in ruins.
Joan wailed almost inconsolably for perhaps five or six seconds before pulling herself together, and facing the problem by quickly trying to conjure up an alternative plan from inside her fertile young mind. Unfortunately she came up empty.
By then Dung had recovered sufficiently to say, “Don’t worry, Miss Bugler: I think I have the very alternative plan that you’re desperately wracking your brains to find.”
He then explained it.
“It’s a bit of a long-shot, isn’t it?” Stubby seemed unconvinced a few moments later. “Your plan relies entirely upon some pretty spectacular physiological differences between the people of Prannick, and the people of Hamster Heath, which, quite frankly, I think are rather unlikely. Take the two Algys for example: They are so identical that we don’t dare let them touch each other in case they explode.”
“Ah, but there’s a good case in point.” Dung counter-argued by grabbing Algy, and dragging him to the centre of the room. “Are they so identical?”
It was a rhetorical question, so no one responded. Dung continued by addressing Algy directly…
“Mister Timber,” His tone was quizzical, “Do you like custard?”
A shudder ran through Algy as though someone had just slipped a large slug into his underpants.
“Can’t stand the stuff.” He said. “It’s bad enough that I have to work with the muck five days of the week: Eating it would be like adding insult to injury. I’m a porridge person myself.”
“Hmmm,” Dung nodded sagely. “But if someone put a gun to your head, and shouted, ‘eat it – you snivelling cretin, or die’ could you, in fact, eat it?”
It was a ridiculous question, and Dung knew it – yet he shook Algy several times in order to force a response.
“Yes of course I could it eat it, you stupid hamster.” Algy retorted, “And I wouldn’t need a gun to my head to do so either. A twenty Rodento note would be enough.”
“Could you keep it down?” Dung urged.
“Of course.” Algy retorted again.
“How much could you eat?” Dung pressed, “A cup full? A bowl? A flagon? A family tub?”
Algy was becoming weary of what he considered a pointless interrogation, but Joan must have had an inkling of where Dung was going with his questioning, and duly urged Algy to answer.
“All of them.” He replied. “One after the other. Or all together if they were different flavours, and one of them was dandelion and lemongrass sorbet.”
There appeared a definite light of passion in Dung’s eyes when he then asked, “Would it make you drunk?”
“It might make me vomit uncontrollably,” Algy sniggered as he adjusted his Kool Kustard company tie, “but I think I can hold my dairy products with the best of them.”
“By the Rim!” The Abbott cried out in revelation. “The big-nosed hamster makes perfect sense: The reason that custard never became popular in Prannick was because of its pseudo-alcoholic effect upon the population.”
“That’s right.” Joan began bouncing with enthusiasm. “Don’t you remember, Mister Timber – how we tried to open a custard store in Weasels Pit just after we’d helped free it from the tyranny of The Wheel, but…”
Quentin Blackheart took up the line…
“…I had to close it because of all the bad behaviour it was causing with the youth of the town. And many of the patrons of the Stoat and Wanger public house were too drunk to walk there, and the landlord almost became bankrupt overnight.”
“Of course.” Darkwood threw up his paws. “That’s why I get so giggly and show complete strangers my shaven buttocks when I eat custard in Joan’s realm: I’m always pissed as a fart!”
Then everyone began relating tales of how they’d seen custard have detrimental effects upon the cognitive powers of Prannick-folk. Only Stubby and Dung remained silent. Stubby indicated to Dung that they should speak alone.
Moments later they stood together in the corridor.
“You realise what you’re suggesting?” Stubby began. The warning tone in his voice was clear – even to an insensitive bastard such as Arthur Dung.
“What – does getting drunk infringe upon the monk’s religious beliefs, or something equally trivial?” Dung sneered.
“It strikes directly at the heart of their beliefs.” Stubby replied. “These monks are the spokes of The Wheel. They keep separate the evil that is at The Hub, and devote their lives to assisting the ordinary rodent of Prannick to attain a higher state of being – that being ascension to The Rim.”
Dung shrugged his shoulders. “So they fall off the wagon every so often: They’ll get over it. Besides – would they prefer being gutted by a bunch of mad-hamsters instead?”
Naturally this stroke of literary genius remains available to purchase. Just check out the side bar to access some of the retailers with the wisdom to list it – including my publishers (hah!) Lulu.com.
Once again, if you’ve been exposed to the Earplug Adventures for long enough, it’s likely that you can recognise a scene by it’s set. Want to prove that you really know your Earplugs? Check out the following…
First up we kick off with an easy example of earplug derring-do. This set should be very familiar to you…
Yup, it’s the bridge set of the starship Chi-Z-Sox / Brian Talbot. But what does a predominantly yellow bridge crew tell us? Again yup – it’s the Brian Talbot. And isn’t that Placebo Bison I see standing at the front? Thrice yup: it can only be this scene…
Which, I’m sure you’ll recall, appeared in Distant Land: a story so wonderful that these characters returned in A Tale of Three Museums.
So, with the easy introductory question out of the way, it’s on to the second one. Recognise this?
It’s an early set, when I still had my fabulous ‘studio’ that was later demolished. Two silver earplugs on a see-through disc. Lit from above and behind in front of a sheet of something styrofoamish. Ugh, I guess it must be…
Yes, it’s the android earplugs aboard their flying disc – en route to a fortuitous encounter with the time-manipulator, Gobby – in Earplug Aftermath.
So who is this?
Silly question: Obviously it’s the world’s pre-eminent Earplug author, Tooty Nolan, in the act of shooting a scene in Fort Balderdash. And how numerous those scenes were. I liked Fort Balderdash: it was yellow. But do you recall any scenes set there? Well here’s one of them…
In this scene a Robot Guide…ugh…guides a rather miserable looking Plopper O’Hooligan and his girlfriend Belinda Noseguard somewhere to do something in Those Magnificent Earplugs. Moving on, what on Earth is this?
I’ll tell you. At the back stands a sheet of stiff corrugated plastic material in white. In front a sheet of similarly white flexible plastic lays across some empty boxes – to simulate topography. Centre sits a piece of polystyrene packing material. This is obviously a building. It’s quite a large set, and (at the time) it caught the attention of several passers-by. And it was used for one throw-away scene. This one…
…in which the leadership of the Ice World go outside, for whatever reason, in Those Magnificent Earplugs.
So, finally, to this charming shot of a fork-lift truck’s battery charger…
Sadly this is a set that I can never again use. It still exists, but since retirement, I no longer have access to it – though I’m sure they’d allow it, if I asked nicely. It is also a ‘set’ that has appeared in many stories – over and over – as the control panel in the Maintenance Department. It oversees the workings of the Museum of Future Technology’s Nul Space Power Generator ( and The Future Museum of Mars too). In this case I’ve selected this example of it in action…
Green lights across the board: all is well for Nennigross Numbwinkle and Catford Greene in Natural Selection. Of course it’s just as likely to be showing red lights, with all kind of warning signs on the panel above Catford’s head. I needed to be careful about the time of day that I shot my scenes here. During most of the day the machine was switched off, with no lights illuminated. At night, when the fork-lift was plugged in, they would shine red. In the morning, after a night charging, the lights would shine green. I had to make sure that I took my pictures within those brief windows of opportunity. Honestly, the trouble I go to in order to bring you The Earplug Adventures!
P.S all the aforementioned e-books are available as free PDF copies by simply clicking their images on the sidebar.
It has been yonks since I posted RitR32, so I thought it was well past time for the next excerpt. So, today I’ve opted for a sample of my favourite Hamster-Sapiens book: this one…
Picked entirely at random, this is it!
Well, it transpired, during a most pleasant afternoon beneath Chunder Bellows’ belfry, that not only had Mahogany been blessed by a vision of the Great Angler Herself, but that the same deity had actually imparted news from the future, and that Mahogany (having acted upon this information, and visited every betting shop in the county) had become very rich indeed. Even more astounding was the news that the Great Angler Herself had suggested Lancelot for the role of Dean.
“Did she explain why, dear?” Bellows inquired.
“Not exactly, darling.” Mahogany replied. “She went on a bit about causality loops and altered time-lines, but I’m afraid that my frail female mind just couldn’t keep up.”
“Not to worry, dearest,” Bellows patted the top of her head, “I expect my powerful male ego would have endured some discomfort too.”
“Anyway,” Mahogany continued, “it seems that it’s vitally important that in order to end the vile practice of euthanizing our mentally less well-endowed – we find somewhere for them to go after their normal school years have ended. Obviously our inept and spiritually bankrupt socialist government couldn’t possibly come up with prescription for continued existence for dim-shits: And any ultra-right wing organization would probably have thickos put to death just for fun. Of course, what with so many moderate hamsters having skeletons (both physical and metaphysical) in their cupboards, any politician that tried to tread the middle ground would be hounded out of office before his feet hit the carpet beneath his shiny new desk. So divine intervention seemed the only real alternative.”
“Hmmm.” Bellows stroked his hugely furry chin, “Tell me, Mahogany dearest, were you enjoying a state of unconsciousness when the Great Angler Herself appeared to you in a vision?”
“My life was hanging by a thread.” Mahogany smiled broadly at the recollection, “And that rolling down the embankment that I got from the galley staff really whizzed my brain around something rotten.”
Bellows repeated his long, drawn out, “Hmmm.” He then backed this up with, “Now what I’m trying to say, dear – and I don’t mean to be disrespectful – but do you think that it’s possible that you might possibly have imagined it all? I mean – you always wanted to do something desperately altruistic, but you never had the ready cash available before: Is it possible that this is nothing more than pure wish-fulfilment?”
Mahogany took her brother’s huge paw in hers. “Oh Chunder, I know you mean well when you try to psychoanalyze me. So please don’t feel insulted when I tell you to stick your stupid ideas up your huge fluffy arse hole. Would you do that for me?”
Then with a grittiness in her voice that Bellows had never before heard she added, “How’d ya think I won all that money, ya great fat oaf? Luck? I’ve bet on every sporting event in the country since Thrudsday, the forty-tenth of Plinth until this morning. I’m a super-millionaire with more money that pubic fur follicles. I didn’t imagine anything, you twat: I’m blessed.”
Well in the face of such a verbal onslaught Bellows quickly made his excuses and left the room to Mahogany and the somewhat shell-shocked Lancelot.
Mahogany turned her attention to the young hamster seated across the desk from her. “Right we need a name: Any suggestions?”
Lancelot didn’t waste any time cogitating: He’d long dreamed of such a moment. “Saint Dunces.” He said emphatically.
“Good name.” Mahogany nodded. “Why?”
Lancelot then explained that for the entirety of his life he’d been the school dunce, and that he had the heavily-inked private parts to prove it. So any college that was founded specifically for dunces should also be called dunces.
It was logic of the soundest kind, but Mahogany thought that she spotted flaw in it.
“Ah but Lancelot, darling, is there, or has there ever been a Saint Dunce?”
It was a telling question, and under normal circumstances the young hamster’s dreams might have been thwarted. But these were anything but normal circumstances.
He was now the Dean of a hypothetical university.
“We’ll invent one.” He said.
“Can one simply invent a saint?” Mahogany asked reasonably enough.
“Of course.” Lancelot smiled, “I do it all the time.”
Now wasn’t that lovely! If you fancy purchasing this wondrous e-book, easy access to the publisher or well-known e-book retailers is available on the side bar. Should you elect to do so, you are guaranteed several hours of delighted sniggering at the rather rude humour.
Normally my photos struggle to gain ten ‘likes’ on Flickr (after all the standard is terribly high, and there’s some very fancy cameras out there). This one seemed to follow the usual path – until I’d sat myself down to breakfast – to discover that, over night, fifty people had found this nice enough to let me know. Captured the essence of Summertime perhaps?
Long ago I gave up worrying about the sales figures for my ‘Silent’, Causality Merchant’, and ‘Hamster-Sapiens’ books. The extra money may have been welcome – had there been much – but it has only ever been a very minor source of income. But as the years have passed, and my promotion of the books decreased, revenues have fallen to humourous levels. So low, in fact that (because of the cost and bureaucracy) I can no longer be bothered to cash the cheques. Here’s my latest royalty payment…
After charges I might clear $7.00 US. Not worth a trip to the bank. Still, if you fancy purchasing one of my stupendous works, be my guest: it’s nice to know that people want to read them. They’re all mentioned on the sidebar. Access to the major outlets is as easy as a simple click on the cover image.
Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this tempestuous tale…
Whilst all this had been occurring, a great motor race had been organised inside the Museum of Future Technology. The protagonists now posed for publicity shots. The race car drivers comprised a veritable who’s who of Museum celebrities. Driving for Team Liver was the butcher’s favourite – Cyrus Buttcleft (the real Cyrus Buttcleft, that is: not the illusory one last seen in the imaginary reality created by the mind of artist Anton Twerp): Sullen the Perp – a recent arrival from the alternative ‘Evil’ reality – drove for Fenster: Naturally Magnuss Earplug was involved. Equally naturally he drove for Team Turd: Mister Pong ran his own team, which, because he was a restaurateur, he wanted to call Date and Fig – after his pet plugmutts; but unfortunately someone miss-translated the name into Chinese, and so his team was now known as Date of Manufacture: Cray-Zee was asked to drive for his friend Jeremy – and jumped at the chance of racing glory: And after exhaustive testing, Team Achtung selected Benjamin Booger – not so much for his skills with the steering string; but more for the delightful contrast between his green face and the car’s striking yellow paint work. Of course Rupert Piles was on hand to film the event…
But these were mere illusory sightings. For others, experiences were only too real. Others like Captain Sinclair Brooch; his wife Nancy; and the curator, Hakking Chestikov who were in the act of stepping on to the Woven Expanse, when the very fabric of the Expanse seemed to disintegrate before their eyes and rise up like some devastating sand storm.
“This is your museum, Hak: whatta ya think?” Sinclair enquired of Hakking Chestikov.
But Hakking found that he had insufficient time to author a reply. Instead, Nancy yelled: “Run, in the name of all that’s holy heck; run!”
So they did – as did Huget and Betty Johnson, who were standing upon the opposite side of the expanse, and now ran from a sand storm that roiled like a volcanic pyroclastic flow that advanced towards them threateningly. In fact the sandstorm was consuming the entire expanse – and Vic, Bob, Mandy, and Candy felt ever so slightly threatened. In fact the two former zombies and their ex-weightlifting girlfriends felt so threatened that they rushed to the first place of relative safety that presented itself. And that place was the legendary Fallout Shelter Seven – an edifice made famous when several customers took shelter in it when the hyperspace end cap invasion force landed the year previous, and scared the pants off everyone.
By chance Magnuss and Hair-Trigger had also sought sanctuary in the same shelter. In an effort to raise morale they quickly erected some lighting rigs; built a makeshift stage: placed their novelty sombreros upon their dainty heads; and performed a two-handed version of Los Caballeros Stupido…
This went down very well with the captive audience, and almost everyone joined it with the chorus; “Ooh, we’re the Caballeros Stupido, and we like to shave our hairy legs”.
Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can seewhat’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Return to the Museum of Future Technology cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.
As I stood, stock-still, in the middle of a sun-drenched meadow – framing this shot…
…a movement at the periphery of my vision made me pause a moment longer. I was then able to watch as a lone Hare loped towards me in a stop-start fashion – eventually arriving before me and totally unaware of my presence…
Unfortunately my autofocus chose that moment to ‘beep’.
In England many farmers are paid to leave parts of their land fallow for several years, and turn it over to nature. Some go so far as to sow seeds of plants known to be of benefit to endangered species. The results have been very heart-warming to those who give a damn about the creatures that share this land with us. And areas that would otherwise be an uninteresting mono-culture, look like this…
If we keep this up, who knows, we may yet save the world from ourselves.
Whilst out walking recently, I discovered a location that gave me a previously unseen perspective on a section of road that I’ve travelled many times upon a motorcycle since the first time in 1973 aboard my dinky little (and dog-slow) Honda SS50Z. I took a photo of it…
Back in the day, when driven quickly, this was a section of road that could be quite challenging. As the decades have progressed it has become more so. In fact it now has a reputation for being an accident black-spot. Oddly it is easier to negotiate it faster on a motorcycle than in a car. Car drivers, it seems (judging from marks left behind on the bank of the preceding downhill adverse-cambered corner [right of picture] ), lose the rear end in a slide; hit the bank; and are catapaulted across the road – usually to crash into a drainage ditch (or through the hedgerow) just before the gate in the picture. Despite an uneven surface that includes ripples, cracks, potholes, and surface repairs, motorcycles move swiftly without incident (unless they meet an unexpected horse / cyclist / tractor / hedge trimmer of course). Although I must consider myself advancing in years, I still enjoy a quick squirt along this stretch. In fact I wind my Yamaha YBR125 flat out in top gear, which requires some serious leaning to stay on the apex. This is called fun. But then I looked at a second picture…
…and thought: “Flipping heck, there isn’t a whole bunch of room for error! Maybe flat out in top isn’t a good idea – even on a diddy bike like mine: a rider could travel quite a distance through the air at 60 mph.” So, dear reader, you can rest easy in the knowledge that, from now on, the world’s pre-eminent author of earplug stories will take it a little easier. If a bigger bike passes me, I’ll just let it go. Aah…such maturity.
Ever wondered what the Earplug Adventures would look like minus the photos? Might their absence highlight the shortcomings of the writing? Well let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a couple of brief extracts. In this case from this rumbustious tale…
Throgennis could not have imagined that he would ever have travelled to the Over-Realm. In fact he’d never heard of it. So he had no idea that he now stood upon a planet so distant from Earth; the Museum of Future Technology; and Lemon Stone, that it might easily have been infinitely far away. But he did know one thing with utter certainty: that he wasn’t happy. And he wasn’t frightened of letting people know. It was on his third outrageous bellow of anger and frustration that a huge apparition became apparent to him.
“Cripes.” He said when he spotted it. “That looks a bit scary: I’d better watch my tongue.”
“You,” the apparition boomed so loudly that Throgennis felt certain plaster would flake from the invisibly distant ceiling and tumble down to settle upon his shoulders, “are of the species Earplug.”
It was a statement. Throgennis realised this when the image of an incredibly average earplug glowed warmly beneath a spotlight.
“As such,” the vast being continued, “you are a proverbial pain in the ass. All earplugs are. In fact earplugs are such a galactic nuisance that we higher life-forms have decided that you might have to be made extinct.”
This last line gained Throgennis’s attention like no line before – even ones such as: “Look out, it’s a naked biker gang!”, “My mum’s farts are louder than your mum’s.” and “Your lavatory is unsavoury and has been condemned!”
“Yeah?” He responded insolently.
“Yeah.” The vast being replied. “Like they’ll cease to be – everywhere – forever!”
Throgennis hadn’t got where he was in life by missing inferences. He said: “I sense a ‘but’ looming.”
“I’m sure you do.” The vast being’s voice almost smiled. “But you, and your kind can survive this. You need only be found ‘not guilty‘.”
Throgennis looked up.
“Which can mean only one thing.” He said grimly. “We stand accused of being galactic butt-wipes. And I have to answer for our crimes. Okay, bring it on. Do your worse. I’m wearing my lucky underpants today.”
“Very well,” the vast being replied, “let proceedings…er…proceed.”
At the controls of the K T Woo, Hakking Chestikov sat indecisively and stared at the main viewer. But little did he know that Bottoms Barkingwell, whose tasks demanded that she work within the bowels of the huge vessel, and required rubber gloves and a large lavatory brush to complete to a satisfactory standard, spotted something that made her smile. And that something was none other than Captain Sinclair Brooch and his wife, Nancy as they scurried along on their way towards the cabin, in which resided the Cyber Oracle. So, after bringing the electronic fountain of knowledge up to date, Nancy said: “Oh Oracle, what the sodding hell are we supposed to do?”
In reply, the shocked Cyber Oracle said, “Flipping heck; that’s the most difficult question that I’ve ever been asked. It’s going to tax me to the very limits of my design parameters – perhaps beyond them. In fact so far beyond my design parameters is this question taxing me that it’s quite possible I might either make the final evolutionary step and thereby gain true artificial sentience; or I might explode.”
“We don’t have time for this nonsense.” Sinclair snapped. “Pull yourself together: you’re the most advanced computer that ever existed on our doomed world, so aptly named, by an Earplug Brother, as Worstworld. Give me the blinking answer!”
Under such pressure, the logic circuits inside the Cyber Oracle shifted into overdrive. Three seconds later the response came:
“Yeah, I think I got it. The answer is…”
Well the next anyone saw of the Captain and his wife was scant moments later, and they would never have guessed that anything was wrong aboard ship. In fact those who witnessed their passing took great comfort from their leader’s contented smile. And, if they’d seen him stop off at an internal communication panel they might have wondered who he was calling up in such a genial manner in the midst of such a terrible crisis in orbit above the Galactic Court planet.
It was Adam Binsmell (at Coms) that took the call. Adam listened intently for several seconds, before turning to the latest occupant of the Captain’s chair – Daisy Pong.
Daisy looked across at Adam. She had only just arrived at her duty station, and the replacement Helmsplug and Executive Officer were yet to arrive.
“Yeah?” She spoke bluntly and used only mono-syllables. “What you want?”
Being a talented Communication Officer, Adam relayed the Captain’s message word for word and nuance for nuance.
“Oh.” Daisy responded,”That good – innit!”
Daisy Pong’s speech pattern was abrupt; missing those joiny-uppy words that most people use; and often abrasive: but on this occasion she was utterly correct. It was good. It was very good. It was so good that Sinclair and Nancy didn’t bother to do or say anything more on the subject. Instead they simply held hands and stared at the cosmos through their favourite window on Deck Three.
Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can seewhat’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the We Stand Accused cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.