All posts by Tooty Nolan

Writer of silly tales, taker of pictures, and all round good egg

Sorry Again Earpluggers…

…but the serialised version of Haunted Mars has had to be removed. Not enough room on this blog for it and anything new that I might create I’m afraid. Bit of a shit, I know: but the last thing I’m about to do is pay money for a space upgrade on a platform that is failing me miserably. For example, I thought I’d spend a quick half-hour doing a bit of site maintanance. I planned to clear out some really old stuff that no one looks at anymore. But could I navigate to it? Could I fuck! And slow? I’ve seen dog crap on the pavement move faster. It took me hours. But just to get access to the old stuff, I had to delete newer stuff: otherwise the system just ground to a halt and quit on me. Some stuff got deleted because the system couldn’t keep up with my fevered mouse clicking. I’d click on a particular photo or file: WordPress paused (to think about it?), then deleted an entirely different photo or file – or didn’t react at all. In the end I thought “Bollocks to this”, and deleted willy-nilly. I was just glad to rid the system of my stuff so that whatever program was trying to carry out my requests had a bit of wriggle room and maybe it’s best speed might better a moribund crawl – before stopping entirely of course. But, on the brighter side, space was created, so I can continue ranting on like a miserable old bastard in the future, and perhaps display a few pictures of my arse in the process. Also Haunted Mars hasn’t disappeared entirely: you can still read the whole thing by clicking on the book covers, which will bring up a PDF copy of the e-book version for you to either read or download – or both. The possibilities are endless! Rant over.

The Set: The Scene 2

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…

For this first example, we travel economy class to the Costa Blanca for some location work…

Yup, real Spanish earplugs playing Spanish characters – in the shape of Los Tapones Del España

…as they make their way to the Museum of Future Technology in Museum of Terror.

Right, that’s the easy one out of the way. What the heck is this..?

Well it wouldn’t surprise me none if nobody in the whole world got this one right. But wait a minute: isn’t that the starship, Chi-Z-Sox, lying nonchalantly upon that glazing pallet? Hmm, so what’s with the blue background and plastic tube? The answer is this…

It’s from Plunging Into Peril, in which the Chi-Z-Sox overheated upon entering a planet’s atmosphere, and dived into the sea to cool off – much like I used to do when I went metal detecting on the same beach where I set up the Museum of Terror shots. Here we see the space ship racing through the water as it attempts to flee angry locals who believe the crew are trying to steal their duterium.

Here’s another tricky one…

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “I recognise that pink rocket: that has appeared several times as the device that brought down the invading End Cap mother ship in The Invasion From Hyperspace and other alternate reality or time-travel stories, including Evil Empire!” And you’d be right. But this doesn’t come from either of those tales of derring-do. THIS is the shot that was…ah...shot here…

It’s the nuclear missile that the KT Woo fired at an ice packaging plant in Cold War. I then cheekily used it again as an on-screen shot aboard the Chi-Z-Sox, when Professor Hidious Gout fired an entirely different missile at the island of Dr Adolf Weil-Barrau in Mutant Island.

So, to the fourth and easiest puzzle. Where have you (more recently) seen this?

Look closely. Yes, it’s those adorable characters, Lillie Whitewater and William of Porridge…

…as he utilises his fine baritone to sing ‘What Becomes of the Broken Winded’ to her at the end of Haunted Mars.

Wasn’t that fun: we’ll have to convene here again.

P.S – Don’t forget that you can read or download any of the aforementioned stories by clicking the cover pictures on the sidebar.

Earplugs without Pictures 8

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 stupendous tale…

Click the cover pic for a FREE PDF file of the book

But before he completed the journey, the same force that had abducted Colin and Plankton, turned him into a side conduit, which was very long indeed, and only when he reached the extreme limit of the conduit, did he finally emerge into daylight…only to discover Gwen, Neezup, and Bob waiting for him in an area of mountainous wasteland.

“Hi, darling.” Gwen said. “What a relief: you’ve been possessed too!”

 At first the foursome were happy to wade through the peat and lichens of the wasteland, even if the squeeze, through the long conduit, did cause Cuthbert to become a little windy. But before long tiredness and boredom set in, and despite being under some form of mental control, they began to get a bit fed up. In fact Cuthbert and Neezup became so bored that they began singing extracts from an operetta, which didn’t please Gwen too much because she was more into classic soul/funk fusion. But Bob didn’t care: in his haste to comply with the demands put upon him by the unseen power that pulled him along, he’d forgotten to replace the batteries in his hearing aids, and so couldn’t hear a bloody thing. But he was almost thrilled when, eventually, they too discovered the secret wharf, and a nice sailing raft.

“Everybody blow really hard.” Neezup instructed the others. “We have to fill the sail with air.”

So they did, but by the time they had gained the open sea, night had fallen, and a squall had blown in from the north.

For Colin and Plankton ahead of them, the squall was quickly escalating into a storm.

“Flipping heck.” Plankton yelled above the roar of turbulent waters and lashing rain. “My underpants are soaked!”

“That’s nothing.” Colin replied. “My farts have dried up: we’re dead in the water!”

And it was in this moribund condition that the others caught up with the two friends.

“Isn’t it horrible!” Gwen shouted across the gap between the two vessels.

“It certainly is, Madam.” Colin replied hoarsely. “More horrible than you can imagine. My friend Plankton and I have been vomiting hugely for the past three hours. We have nothing left inside us, yet still we feel absolutely ghastly.”

“You think that’s bad.”  Neezup retorted. “This heavy swell forced my darling Bob to stumble and catch his knee against the mast. It’s all swollen up now.”

“Yes.” Cuthbert perked up from feeling rather unwell himself. “And the lovely Gwen slipped upon a length of storm-tossed seaweed and fell upon her arse. She’ll be pulling splinters from her shapely buttocks for hours to come!”

And so the conversation continued, whilst the rafts were buffeted hither and thither – their destination lost in the whorl of dark skies and unquenchable seas.

AND

Slomo should have been hurt by Daffney’s vicious usage of the earplug language. Mortified, even. But, because of her nervousness at meeting the unrequited love of her life, she didn’t hear her cruel words.

“Daffney De Mauritania, it’s me; your biggest fan: Slomo Chewings.” She said through her idiosyncratic lopsided smile. “I’ve disconnected the alarm system, so you can take your friends wherever you want.”

“Why would you do that?” Magnuss inquired.

“Because…” Slomo answered hesitantly. “Because, during my time here I feel I’ve come to know Daffney – if only from a distance. And, I’m not sorry to say, I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with her.”

Daffney coloured instantly.

“You’re in there, Daffney.” Magnuss joked.

“All I ask,” Slomo continued, whilst looking directly at the flushing Daffney, “is that when – whatever this is – is over, you allow me to buy you a coffee from the machine in the canteen and maybe chat awhile. Any subject: motorcycles, turnips, bras. Anything.”

“You’re on.” Hair-Trigger replied upon Daffney’s behalf. “Now keep an eye out for us whilst we visit the Sterile Area mutants. You’re now officially our look-out.”

From that moment on Daffney had been practically useless. So taken with her adoring admirer was she that she simply couldn’t think coherently. ‘She’s so cute.’ She would muse to herself. “And that lopsided smile is so endearing. And to think; she thinks I’m wonderful. Pretty, even. Oh, I’m all of a dither; I don’t know what to do!’ She didn’t either. It was pure instinct, muscle memory, and a few kicks up the arse that allowed her to lead Magnuss and Hair-Trigger back to the Sterile Area.

Naturally the two heroes left her at the door and proceeded to the habitat area alone.

It became quickly apparent that they had arrived during a sleep sequence. Speed was of the essence, so Hair-Trigger didn’t waste a moment. She began singing her favourite extract from an opera by Anton Twerp, very loudly indeed. The effect of this was a mob of mutated beings came barrelling out of their slumber pods – wondering what all the bloody racket was about.

“Line up.” Magnuss commanded them. “Come along, hurry, hurry. Line up. Line up. That’s a good band of…er… mutated anomalies. We have something very important to tell you. So perhaps we should consider telling each other our names. That’s always been a relatively good ice-breaker. I’m Magnuss Earplug. My beautiful partner, here, is Hair-Trigger Provost. She’s a bounty hunter, you know. Have you ever heard of a bounty hunter? They’re very good you know.”

Magnuss realised pretty quickly that he was running off at the mouth. So he slowed both his thought processes and his oral muscles. “Hello.” He said to a red-faced female with strange yellow eyes. “What’s your name?”

“Starry Knight.” The reply came in a pleasant contralto that reminded Magnuss of his grandmother – Granny Windbag.

“Most apt.” Magnuss said, almost condescendingly. ‘Cripes, at this rate,’ he thought, ‘this is going to take hours.’ “What about everybody else?” He asked no one in particular.

And so began an exchange of names.

The first to speak was a severely undersized rubber bung, who introduced himself as Cowpat Carlson. “Yeah,” he next said, “I used to be big and strong, but incredibly thick in the head. Now I’m tiny, but an intellectual giant. Ask me anything: I’ll give you an honest and immediate answer.”

“Can you tie your shoe laces?” Hair-Trigger inquired.

“Sorry.” Cowpat replied with a sigh. “We haven’t reached that level of development yet. But when I do…wow, my fingers will become a blur.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Mutant Island cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Tooty’s Rambling Art

Whilst out walking in the rain (with a water-proof camera, of course) I chanced upon a small gully that had been worn into the side of the road by Winter’s incessant rainfall. A steep hill meant that it flowed with sufficient pace to create a micro-waterfall; so, inspired by nature, I placed my camera into the water, facing up hill. I then left the resulting photo to fester in my computer for a few weeks. Eventually I decided to do something with it. I thought that perhaps I might bring into existence another world for my Earplug Adventures. So, without any plan, I started sodding about with a free photo manipulation program – Photoscape. The resulting cyber-doodle looks like this…

The Gravity Whelk arrives on the Ice World

Who knows, it might even appear in a story one day. Talking of which, so might this shot of Magnuss creeping into a missile launch facility…

Everyone knows that back doors are always left unguarded – don’t they?

The Set: The Scene

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 test yourself? Check out the following…

Here is an industrial adhesive applicator…

Any idea what this became? Yup, the much used Robot Freighter…

…that first appeared in Cold War, but has since turned up in all sorts of stories. But what about this?

Surely it could be only one thing: a mountain scene, where it’s probably snowing…

Well slap yourself on the forehead: of course it’s the four pissed-off monks fleeing Lemonstone in Return To The Museum Of Future Technology! Ah, but what about this making-of shot?

It’s a toughie, this one. Vague, to say the least. But could that be Hair-Trigger and Magnuss slightly separated from a group of unnamed earplugs? And might that be some form of communication panel on the wall? Yes, it is…

…which means that must be an excited Magnuss who has just learned that he and his beloved are trapped in the past – from the episode The Time Tamperer!

Finally, this time, take a dekko at this picture…

It’s a face mask. Now how on Earth could a face mask be considered a set? Well if you read The Missing, you might recognise a very similar face mask appear as…

…invading End Cap prison cells in which the populace of the museum were…er…imprisoned. In this case it’s two of the brave and resourceful Greenhorn Girls.

If you did pathetically badly, don’t worry: there’ll be another of these posts along in a short while. In between times, take advantage of the free PDF e-books that are easily available by clicking on the Earplug Adventures covers on the side bar. So you have no excuse: next time you’ll be better prepared. We’ll make an Earplugger out of you yet!

Earplugs without Pictures 7

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 remarkable tale…

A week was to pass before the K T Woo made its next encounter. This time it was a robotic interplanetary space freighter of unknown origin. As they watched the vessel upon the main viewer, Sinclair asked Hakking: “What do you think of that piece of out-dated space junk?”

“It’s an ugly sod – and make no mistake.” Hakking replied. Then added, with a chuckle: “But not as ugly as I once was, of course.”

“Does anyone have the first idea about what it’s doing here and where it came from?” Sinclair asked his bridge crew.

“Sensors suggest that it’s full of ice, Sir.” Poxy Pilkington chirped up. “Millions and millions of ice cubes. The sort that you’d drop into a rum and cola, Sir. Or perhaps down the back of your girlfriend’s knickers when it’s a hot summer’s day and you’re a bit bored.”

“How strange.” Sinclair said as he stroked his chin intelligently. “Why would anyone go to the unbelievably vast cost of transporting ice cubes across interplanetary space?”

Elsewhere other members of the crew were asking the same question as they watched through the panoramic window as the vessel plodded along at sub-light speed…

And those who, because of their lowly rank, had been reduced to peering through skanky little port holes didn’t give a fig what it had aboard or where it was going: they just wanted to see it explode spectacularly. But even they were surprised when the freighter initiated a sudden course change.

“Hey,” Sinclair complained. “What gives, man?”

“I know.” Hakking suggested keenly. “Let’s follow it. It might lead us to something…er…really interesting.”

Sinclair then displayed surprising insight. “You mean Ship Number Fifteen?” He replied. “The Earth ship that left Worstworld without you aboard it?”

“I might do.” Hakking said defensively – suddenly aware that the captain understood his motivation and the true reason for his creation of the project that culminated in the construction of the K T Woo.

“Okay.” Sinclair said as the freighter accelerated away in a blinding cascade of ion drive power, “Let’s see where it leads us. Ahead full!”

The ice cube-carrying space freighter wasn’t particularly fast, and soon the crew grew bored with the uniformity of space. In fact many of them became depressed and began skipping their duties. Sometimes Captain Sinclair Brooch was astonished to find himself alone on the bridge.

“Holy heck,” his voice would echo around the empty room, “do I have to do everything myself?”

And even in the engine room the lights were kept dimmed so that no one could see how properly cheesed-off everyone was becoming. Then one day – no one was quite sure what day it was, because they’d pretty much given up the will to breathe – a bright light appeared dead ahead. Some jaded crew members became trepidatious. But in the engine room the resilient former end cap space pirates brought the compartment back to full illumination, because they had detected a world surrounded by huge rings of water vapour. Soon the freighter was racing across its sky – making an approach for some distant landing-place. After so long in space, the K T Woo’s bridge crew stood and stared at the view on the main screen.

Somewhat surprisingly Sinclair was the first to regain his wits: “Quickly.” He snapped at the helms-plug. “Follow that freighter!”

So minutes later the K T Woo plunged into the watery world’s atmosphere – levelling off at thirty-seven thousand feet, and Sinclair and the others gazed in wonderment. But then Serendipity Mollusc’s sensors detected an in-coming object.

“Tactical!” The Captain boomed above the flurry of terrified farts that erupted from so many nervous crew members. A split second later Serendipity placed this image upon the main viewer.

“Explain to me what I’m looking at.” Sinclair instructed Serendipity.

“Er, that’s us flying over the sea.” The subordinate replied. “We’re headed for a sandy coastline.”

“It appears to be huge island.” Hakking observed. “But where’s this in-coming object?”

As Serendipity adjusted the scope of her sensors she said: “Actually there are two objects approaching. Helms-plug: take evasive action!”

“I don’t like the look of this.” Nancy Brooch said from her chair beside her husband, as she watched two fighter jets, in an attempt to make an intercept of the alien craft, thrash their engines to within microns of self-destruction.

“It might be a welcoming committee.” Poxy Pilkington said hopefully. But she didn’t really believe what she was saying.

AND

Well, to say that Clancy was thrilled at the turn of events would be an understatement. He was cock-a-hoop. He’d never met such a wonderful being before. Neither had he saved anyone’s life either. And, most definitely, he’d never been so enthusiastically kissed before. “Gosh, Wendy,” he said, once he’d learned her name, “would you like to warm up in my snow buggy?”   

Wendy found the offer tempting. In fact she found it so tempting that she said: “Yes please!”

So whilst Wendy’s soggy knickers dried in front of the heater grille, Clancy took the opportunity to show-off and duly raced the snow buggy around at break-neck speed.

It was during a barely controlled downhill slide that Clancy had a wonderful idea…

“Hey,” he shouted above the din of icicles breaking free from Wendy’s duffle coat, “why don’t I take you to see our wonderful city below the ice?”

Initially Wendy was hesitant to accept: visiting foreign cities sans winter coat could be considered a social faux pas. But when Clancy informed her that no one wore duffle coats in the pale earplug city, she relented instantly, and began to enjoy the sensation of a stiff breeze blowing around her ear holes. Naturally Clancy hit the after-burners, and before long they were almost in sight of the frontier defences. But such was Clancy’s speed that he was upon the border guards before anyone was ready to mount a meaningful challenge or dive for cover…

“Out of the way!” Clancy shouted above the whine of his buggy’s turbine.

“Does that blue female have a duffle coat on?” One of the incredulous border guards shouted back.

Clancy didn’t have enough time to respond. Instead he leapt the buggy into the air, and shouted, “See for yourself.” as they soared above the defences and then roared away – leaving the guards deeply bemused, because they’d had no idea that blue earplug knee caps looked very much like pale earplug knee caps – only bluer, of course. Of a snorkel there was no sign. And they began to doubt the propaganda they’d been force-fed their entire lives. Not that Wendy cared one jot; because, by the time the guards had collected their thoughts and placed them into some kind of order, Clancy’s snow buggy had carried her all the way into the city.

“It’s lovely.” She gushed as she looked around. “So mysterious and cloaked in elegant shadows.”

But later she discovered even more impressive sights.

“What are these strange, yet remarkable, machines?” She asked her vertically-challenged host.

At first Clancy was confused by Wendy’s question. It hadn’t occurred to him that another civilisation might not have municipal jukeboxes. Once he’d gathered his wits, he told her. “They’re free.” He said. “Choose a song; press the button; and you can listen for as long as you want.”

“Gosh.” Wendy responded enthusiastically. “Can I choose one? After all I am a blue earplug, and it might not be allowed.”

“Go ahead.” Clancy said with a smile.

“Pick one for me.” Wendy said coyly. “Make it a love song. A really smoochy one.”

“Don’t mind if I do.” Clancy replied with a big grin spreading across his youthful face. “How about ‘Hot Soup’ by Heavy Breathin’ Bertha’?”

Moments later…

“Oh that’s lovely.” Wendy said as they slow danced together. “I think I’d like to live here for the rest of my life.”

Clancy hid his surprise well. “Come with me.” He said as the repetitive chorus faded into silence.

Moments later they were scurrying along one of the seductively lit corridors. Then, abruptly they burst into a busy thoroughfare. Then it was onwards for a meeting with the Personal Secretary of the Prime Minister and his assistant and his assistant’s buddy.

“Yeah?” The Personal Secretary grunted when Clancy introduced himself. “Whadda ya want?”

“This is my friend, Wendy.” Clancy replied. “She’s a blue earplug!”

“Tell us something we don’t know.” The Prime Minister’s Personal Secretary’s assistant said acidly.

Clancy chose to ignore the mealy-mouthed git. Instead he spoke directly to the Personal Secretary: “Wendy wants to come here and live with us pale earplugs.” He said. “She thinks our city is lovely.”

The Personal Secretary eyed Wendy up and down. “I’ve heard some weird stuff about blue earplugs.”  He said. “Apparently the females hold their heads up with a trellis-like assembly that bolts on to their shoulders, and are given it on their fifteenth birthday.”

“And both genders hide their chocolate chip cookies inside their Wellington boots!” The assistant’s buddy almost spat the words.

“Oh dear.” Clancy said as he turned to Wendy. “I’m ever so sorry, but if you want to live here you’re going to have to refute a whole slew of ridiculous preconceptions.”

“Yeah.” The Personal Secretary growled. “Good, innit?”

Well Wendy wasn’t the sort to take offence easily, and her sister’s duffle coat didn’t fit her anyway: so a short while later she and Clancy were being guided towards the Prime Ministerial chamber, via a frighteningly precipitous walkway.

The journey to the Prime Ministerial Chamber also involved walking down a long corridor, towards a concrete-hardened atom-proof bunker, where important decisions were often made.

For a brief moment the young lovers paused. Were they really ready for this?

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Cold War cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Revel in the Ribaldry 32

Methinks the time is right for a splash of rude, ribald, and disgustingly funny Hamster-Sapiens. On this occasion we delve into the last of the series -namely this magnificently naughty e-tome…

This e-book is available at most e-book retailers, including the publishers Lulu.com

To introduce this snippet I should explain that (as she was in the act of disembarking a submarine and boarding a cross-channel ferry mid-channel) Road Safety Technician Amy Crumpet has been cast into the waters of the English Channel. Thinking quickly she had struck out through the chill, dark waters towards the very object that had caused the accident – a surfacing turtle. As the last of her breath escaped her cheek pouches she managed to climb into (what she thought was) the sanctuary of the reptilian’s anus…

Before long the darkness and solitude began to affect Amy. Sitting alone upon cold unyielding flesh made her feel unwelcome and utterly alien. She tried talking to herself, and tried to compose a love sonnet to P C Gravy. But it was no good: She needed to be able to see her environment, and possibly explore it. So she stood as best she could in the low-ceilinged reptilian rectum, took out two freshly-minted seven Rodento coins from her waist band, and struck them together. She was rewarded with a shower of sparks that briefly illuminated the immediate area. And what she saw amazed her. It also informed her that she’d missed the turtle’s anus by some distance – for all about her she could see egg upon egg upon egg – stretching away into the staccato shadows. And the ceiling wasn’t half as low as she’d expected either.

“Cor.” She said gleefully, “I certainly won’t go hungry. And it also explains the total absence of excrement upon my silken fur.”

But then another thought intruded: “But I don’t know this turtle’s destination. If it’s about to lay its eggs, then no doubt it will seek a warm, sandy beach – and that could take weeks to find.”

For the second time Amy screamed shrilly.

“And there can’t be enough air in here to keep me alive indefinitely.” She added after calming herself once more, “My only chance to live comes with the vain hope that she surfaces regularly, rolls upon her back, and exposes her minge to the air. And what are the chances of that? ” It was a rhetorical question, but Amy answered it anyway. “None. Zero, Nada.”

So she screamed some more – until her voice went hoarse, and she was finally forced to stop by a burning desire to suck a lozenge – a small packet of which she fortunately carried in her waist band.

But it appeared that not all of her despairing screaming had been in vain. Water conducts sound extremely well, and when the slow-witted ocean-dweller heard unmistakably strange high-pitched mammalian sounds emanating from her private parts she became curious. Curious enough to stop swimming purposefully forward, and allow herself to bob to the surface.

Deep within the turtle Amy felt the floor heave as internal ballast shifted. Then she felt the undeniable sensation of ‘going uppy-ness’. She let out three rousing cheers.

The female turtle was surprised when her minge apparently gave forth with sounds of delight. In fact she was so surprised that she found it necessary to pass comment…

“I say, oh personal chasm.” She said in her best ocean-reptilian, “What gives in the vocal department?”

Amy heard this gargled utterance – not as comprehensible words, but as the sounds produced by a sentient creature.

“Hello out there.” She cried out as she struggled towards the exit. “I’m an air-breather – just like you!”

Had the turtle possessed eyebrows it is certain that they would have arched alarmingly.

“Is that an egg speaking?” She inquired.  “If so please remain quiescent until such time that I am able to bury you in some deep warm sand.”

Although Amy didn’t speak turtle, something in the turtle’s tone told her that the noises she could hear outside came as a form of admonishment.

“Oh, if only I was telepathic.” She wailed almost inconsolably, “Then this stupid language barrier wouldn’t be as impenetrable as a belch. Oh if only Joan Bugler had been swept away with me!”

Perhaps it was something in the way that Amy composed her thoughts at the moment, or even a stray neuron firing out of sequence inside her cold-blooded head; but the turtle comprehended the hamster’s meaning, and in a moment of epiphany she mentally squealed, “By the length of a Ragworm’ tadger – I can read the strange furry being’s mind!”

And indeed the turtle could. Deep within her body the small hamster received this thought. For a moment she suspected that she’d gone quite mad, but when the turtle’s subsequent message amounted to thrilled surprise combined with a powerful mothering instinct, Amy was certain that the thoughts couldn’t possibly have originated in her own brain: She hated pathetic mewling babies with a passion, and possessed the mothering instinct of a well-armed death squad.

Fortunately this latter thought had no turtle equivalent, so the huge creature had no reason to feel ill-will toward the parasite within her.

“I’m on my way to India.” She informed Amy directly.

“India?” Amy’s thought came to her like a distant, slightly panic-stricken voice upon a gentle breeze, “But that’s on the other side of the planet. It’ll take yonks to get there. And when you do you’ll just drop me into a big hole on the beach, and then bury me. And how would I get back home again afterwards? I’m just a hamster. No-no – this won’t do. This won’t do at all!”

The turtle was surprised at the vociferousness of Amy’s thoughts.

“Ooh-er.” She thought in response, “You have a powerful personality. I get the distinct impression that if you stay in there much longer you could eventually overwhelm my simple psyche, and take control of both my mind and my body. And that won’t do either.”

Amy was used to thinking on her hind paws. As a road safety technician she had to be: Early morning go-kart drivers could be unpredictable, and Amy had been forced to leap to the side of the road on many occasions since taking on the job at Hamster Heath high school. She thought now – like she had never thought before. In fact she thought so hard that the turtle began to swoon from the mental energy discharges that erupted invisibly from the rodent’s cranium.

“Please,” the turtle cried out both verbally and mentally, “you’re torturing me beyond reasonable tolerance. Stop please: I’ll do anything that you want. Do you wish me to eject you into these cold northerly waters?”

Amy wasn’t sure whether the last remark was meant as a threat, but she quickly realised that if the turtle wished it could be rid of its uninvited passenger with just a single spasm, and that she – Amy – would surely perish as a result. So she guarded her thoughts much as an evil pick-pocket guards its ill gotten gains.

“Oh, most certainly not.” She replied to the turtle’s inquiry. “But I do have suggestion that I think will satisfy both of our needs. But first – tell me: Can you swim upside down?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Ah, they don’t write ’em like that anymore!

Earplugs without Pictures 6

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 fantastic tale…

Click the cover image for the FREE complete e-book in PDF form

Meanwhile, in another part of the museum that was yet to be consumed by the terrible Zinc Machine, the four former monks of the Order of the Holey Vest from Lemon Stone, Pedro Agonista, Flaccidus Aroma, Augustus Belch, and Rodney Bunting, had rented a workshop. Now they set to work inside it. For hour upon hour they toiled – fabricating, checking stolen blueprints, hammering, welding, occasionally going to the toilet. That sort of thing. But when they reached the end of their labours, the four exhausted former monks wheeled out a ‘pirate copy’ of a genuine Punting-Modesty Sputum GT250A-Attack Cycle.

“This’ll knock ’em dead down at the cavalry stockade.” Pedro said confidently.

But he wasn’t entirely correct.

“It’s a bit big and heavy.” One of the troopers dared utter.

“Yeah, and it can’t carry passengers.” Another observed.

“Just give it a try.” Rodney pleaded. “You never know – you might find it most satisfactory. And the saddle is really easy on your bum – especially if you suffer from piles – a particular problem with cavalryplugs, or so I’ve been told. “

Joe Frayzer, who didn’t like to confess to having problems with his butt, replied gruffly: “Yeah, alright; we’ll give it a run ’round the block. It couldn’t hurt none.”

So he leapt aboard; made himself comfortable; and twisted the throttle as far back as the cable would allow. Initially the Staff Sergeant was highly impressed with the GT250A. “Cor,” he yelled above the whine of the lifting motor and the roar of the propulsion engine, “it goes like stink!”

But when he rode it over uneven ground his smile quickly transformed into a grimace.

“Sorry,” he said upon his return to the stockade, “but the machine gave my false teeth a really hard time. They were shaken so thoroughly that they’ve swapped sides inside my gob. And contrary to your verbal sales brochure, the seat gave my arse the worst pummelling since my troop was chased down the side of rocky gorge on Worstworld by a whirlwind that had sucked up a whole bunch of scorpions and tarantulas, and thrown them at us. You’ll have to build something that’s much more comfortable with better protection against wind, rain, ice storms, and high-velocity rifle bullets.”

An hour later the four former monks returned with a replica Punting-Modesty RD400F Command Buggy.

“Hmmm,” Joe hummed after giving the machine a thorough examination, “but it isn’t very offensive is it? And it comes up short on good looks, speed, and endurance. Close, but no banana.”

So ten minutes later…

“The XS360 has a ram-scoop engine.” Pedro explained. “It collects dust from the air, and burns it for fuel. Primarily it’s a long-range patrol vehicle.”

“Great,” Joe replied, “but the driver is a sitting duck in a roll-over situation.”

So a half-hour later…

“Fabulous – a TX500.” Joe said, after casting an engineer’s eye over the latest version of the war buggy. You’ve chucked out that poxy, gutless eco engine. That’s good: I always vote for a balanced combination of BHP and torque. But, ah, where’s the offensive capability?”

“Holy heck.” Augustus exploded in response. “All you had before were a few flea-ridden plugmutts and some dried-out saddles that were years old and as hard as rock. You should be grateful for anything!”

Despite this atypical outburst, the hermaphrodite chums went away again – to return a short while later with…

“There you go, you pedantic arse hole.” Flaccidus growled. “The cannon’s off the Nosepuncher XL5 by the way.”

This time the Staff Sergeant was more impressed. Turning to a surprised Fanny Skidmarx. He said, “Right, Private; you may have the honour of flight-testing the machine I hereby designate P1-5S Assault Buggy. Carry on.”

AND

Meanwhile, far away upon the dusty plain that stood at the foot of the mountain range upon which Lemon Stone stood proudly, hard-working pea farmer, Bucksome Whelk, was greeting the new day even before the sun had risen. He was a hyperactive workaholic, and there was nothing he enjoyed more than getting out of bed really early to do a long day’s hard labour in the pea fields. He kept a sign in his bedroom to remind him that he should never grow lax and become like his idle idols, Las Chicas De La Playas, a picture of whom he had pinned to his wall as a constant reminder. So no one else was around to see his porch light illuminate…

(A picture of a mud building appears here)

Neither was there anyone present to see him step out into the pre-dawn – in the full expectation of finding his beautiful crop of young pea plants. But what Bucksome Whelk actually saw, in that dim light, made him stare disbelievingly like a startled gazelle caught in the headlight of an approaching trans-continental locomotive; because, laid out in front of him like some terrible manifestation of a tortured mind, sat the largest, most humongous, pile of steaming manure that he had ever seen – or ever wanted to see. But if this wasn’t enough for the simple-minded pea farmer, the situation grew rapidly worse. As he finally circumnavigated the immense turd, Bucksome discovered that his pea seedlings had been swept away by some unimaginable force.

His work gang rushed from their quarters when they heard his scream of horror.They watched in disbelief as their employer stood so still among the ruination that he appeared to have been petrified. For Bucksome it became horror heaped upon horror as the lightening sky revealed that the entire crop had simply ceased to exist. Or, to be more precise, it had been transformed into excrement and deposited on the lawn of his farm-house.

“Right, that’s it.” He said as a grim determination swelled within his chest,”I’m gonna talk to the guys about this.”

So, after Bucksome had returned to the farm buildings his staff were expecting to hear that their services were no longer required, and that they could return to the bosom of their families in the former communist states from whence they had come to the dusty plain. They even conjectured upon the size of the severance cheque. But they were to be disappointed.

“Right then.” Bucksome said. “I want you to re-plant with seeds from the store. I intend to learn the identity of the miscreant who had attempted to destroy my life’s work. I’ll be back when I’m back. Now get to work.”

With that he strode off across the newly barren landscape.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Unity vol 1 cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Tooty the Chef in ‘Albondegas:The Rush Job’

Tooty the Chef had no idea that the hours of the days had slipped away unnoticed. One moment he was enjoying Moto GP Free Practice on TV: the next he was leaping to his feet, exclaiming: “Is that clock correct? Shit!” Naturally any idea of his planned meal was cast aside: speed was now the sole requisite. So, being an adapable kind of chef, Tooty grabbed the first item he could find in the cupboard…

This quite amused him because it was tomato and basil sauce – the very item with which he feared he would scald his winkle the previous day. Was he tempting fate? Was it about to step in? Was this a case of determinism versus free will? He hoped not – as he delved into the fridge…

Other than a couple of ageing eggs and an onion, he came up pretty empty. So it was into the freezer for inspiration…

This eventually provided a pack of minced pork. And after a quick thaw in the microwave, our favourite chef knew exactly what he was going to produce. Unfortunately it required that he grate the onion…

But, being the heroic type that he is, Tooty the Chef did just that – despite subsequent agonies in the ocular department. Then, after adding a bunch of spices, grated onion, and the eggs, then squishing them all together with his bare hands, he rolled out these albondegas de cerdo…

Note the Waitrose fetuccine. I mean, what else would you have to compliment pork meatballs? Note to Waitrose: look, more free advertising: when are you guys gonna offer some sponsorship here? Tooty’s not getting any younger you know! Anyway, he slipped the meatballs gently into some hot olive oil (which he might have bought from Sainsbury’s – you never know, it is possible – Waitrose, are you listening?) and began the cooking process…

…whilst simultaneously boiling the pasta. Gosh – what a multi-tasker he is…

This wasn’t as easy as it might have appeared…

…because although he had poured some olive oil into the boiling water, prior to dropping the dry fetuccine in it, he was still concerned that it might burn and stick to the bottom of the pot – which would be unforgivable for a chef of Tooty’s class and distinction. And, for obvious reasons, he didn’t want to tear the albondegas apart with his wooden spoon either. So a lot of slipping and shaking had to occur…

This effort was well worth the…ah…effort, because soon he was able to add the tomato and basil sauce – albeit nervously…

But then he realised that his apron was the right-way-round, so there was no danger to the dangly bits. And soon it looked exactly like this…

Not by coincidence the fetuccine chose that moment to appear properly cooked: that is soft, but not gooey. So, he concluded, it must be time to select the accompanying bebidas…

Disaronno and Waitrose sugar-free ginger beer seemed the obvious choice. Then it was just a matter of draining the pasta; slapping it onto the plates; piling on the albondegas; and presenting it to camera…

Some coleslaw on the side – to (at least) pretend that there is a healthy aspect to this meal – and (once again) victory!

Did anyone say the word ‘yum’?

Earplugs without Pictures 5

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 tantalising tale…

Click cover image for complete story in PDF format

So, whilst Magnuss and Benjamin began their sojourn in search of the museum’s inhabitants, the showgirls stumbled across the crashed time ship. Of course, being entertainers, they didn’t recognize it for what it was, and instead thought that it might possibly be either a crashed aircraft or an invasion from outer space. They preferred the former explanation, and duly set out to find the absent occupants. Naturally, to cover more ground quickly they elected to break up into three groups, each comprising two showgirls. Delia Stodge and Poki Kitchener set off in an easterly direction. Belle Ching and Wendy Rucksack headed north by northwest. And Ragi Half-Nelson and Nokaks Newbold dropped several floors to the basement and thence to the sub-strata upon which the original museum had been built. Upon reaching the rock bottom – literally – they were bemused when they discovered it utterly devoid of life.

“I’m bemused on at least seventeen levels of bemusability.” Nokaks informed her dancing co-worker. “I may only be an attractive young female who can step in time and kick her feet high above her head; but I really expected to find signs of a frightened populace cowering in the shadows from whatever it was that happened whilst we were in a drunken stupor. How about you, Ragi?”

Ragi didn’t reply immediately: she was too busy fretting about something that she’d just realised. Eventually she said: “Nokaks, you’re not going to believe this; but I got so drunk last night that I forgot to remove my sequined dancing knickers. Now they’re chafing the heck out of my thighs – and I’m not enjoying it!”

Meanwhile, out and about on their own earplug hunt, Belle and Wendy stumbled upon the Nul-Space Power Generator, which, they noted, whirred quietly in hibernation mode. Naturally they turned the dial up a few notches; then waited to see what would happen.

The effect of Belle and Wendy’s action wasn’t immediately obvious as Ragi and Nokaks quickly made their way back into the more modern regions of the museum. But the dancing duo nearly wet themselves when they were caught in the blinding glare of a security light.

“Oh Nokaks,” Ragi yelled only semi-coherently, “I really wish that dingbat Belle hadn’t woken us up so darned early this morning: we could be all tucked up nice and warm in our beds right now. When this terrible adventure concludes – hopefully with a happy ending – I’m going to join another ballet!”

But, in order to accomplish her ‘happy ending’ Ragi knew that standing around whilst wailing like an air raid siren would get her nowhere; so the two girls pressed on with their search. With no clear plan to follow, they soon found themselves upon a wide plain, where a small sign informed them it was intended that more exhibits from future eras would appear sometime in the…er…future. It was very wide and very flat, and both girls felt intimidated by its vastness. But although they hated the place with a vengeance, their feelings of loathing were put aside, and their quest for the truth continued – eventually leading them to a green impact splodge.

“Ugh?” Ragi said intelligently. “It looks as though something fell from the sky and went splat. What do you think it might be, Nokaks?”

Nokaks might have been an expert at wearing spectacular headdresses and performing the opening act and exciting finales in variety shows; but something falling from the sky and going splat existed in a mental environment to which she was an alien visitor. “Um,” she replied, “I’m not sure, but it looks to me like it might be evidence of some form of chemical attack. Something was dropped here, and it spread to other places…through the ventilation system, maybe? The result of which is what you see on the other levels.”

Ragi wasn’t sure what impressed her more: Nokak’s remarkable improvised theory, or the effect that sudden dread can have on a female earplugs’ ability to retain intestinal wind. “Gosh.” She said. “I wonder if the chemicals smelt as rotten as my gas.”

AND

Magnuss had been grateful for Benjamin Booger’s local knowledge. It was the green earplug who informed him that if they really needed to access the Wide Blue Yonder, they didn’t have to cross the Woven Expanse to get there. In the alternative universe the faux desert extended much farther, and with the use of a desert sled, which was powered by a mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motor, they could cross it in short order. Unfortunately mighty three cylinder air-cooled two-stroke motors consume fuel at a prodigious rate, and its tank showed empty just as the party arrived at the Wide Blue Yonder’s outer edge, which really cheesed-off Magnuss because he really liked two-strokes and was hoping to ride it all the way to the arboretum. So, stumbling through the last of the desert’s fake sand, Magnuss led the others to a vantage point that overlooked their next task. To say that the Wide Blue Yonder looked daunting was an understatement of seismic proportions.

“We’re doomed if we try to cross that.” K’Plank opined loudly. “We’ll stand out like a vicious sore on an otherwise pristine porcelain buttock. We’re sure to disappear without warning or trace. Give me back my Sheath of Unseeableness, you rotten swine!”

But then Poki had an idea. “Delia and I work in the theatre.” She said. “We know how all the wonders of show-biz work. It’s all the workings beneath the stage. That’s where the magic is made.”

“Of course.” Magnuss bellowed as hope surged within his silicon chest. “Maintenance access tunnels. They must criss-cross the Wide Blue Yonder at a thousand points. Poki, if I didn’t love Hair-Trigger Provost with every fibre of my being, I’d take you ’round the back of the nearest bike shed and give you a great big kiss. Well done: I think you’ve supplied the answer to our problem. Let’s go find an access hatch or something similar.”

Meanwhile Cabbaggio and Vortexia Di Bikini were receiving a lesson in Blue End Cap technical superiority.

“Yeah,” Flutter sneered, “when we decided that we wanted to control the Museum of Future Technology, we didn’t come in with all disruptor weapons firing. No; we were much too smart for that. We infiltrated a small combat party – complete with our patented Matter Transporter – and began our work from a hidden sanctuary. We’ve been slowly removing the population of the museum – and no one can do anything about it. First we took out the big guys: the curators, the agents of TWIT, and those pinky-orange bums – the Earplug Brothers: then we took out everyone else – except you two of course. But you don’t matter: you’re nobodies. Then, tomorrow afternoon, at about three-thirty, the invasion ships arrive. Then I will lower the defensive screens and the museum will be ours!”

“Gee-whizz.” Vortexia said as she apparently swooned. “That must be one heck of a hidden sanctuary. Where did you say it’s located?”

“In the arboretum, of course.” Flutter replied without thinking. “No one would think of looking for us there.”

“I guess you’re right.” Cabbaggio said with an admiring lilt to his slurred voice. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we need a drink.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Missing cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Punishment for Age Diminished Tooty the Chef!

Look at poor old Tooty the Chef…

Look how sad he is. So sad, in fact that he has even replaced his chef’s hat with a novelty Mexican sombrero, intended for a small dog. So miserable and dispondent is he, that he has taken to wandering around his pleasant (Spanish-inspired) yellow kitchen with the aforementioned novelty sombrero balanced precariously upon his dainty bonce…

“Shit,” I hear you wail, “what awful circumstance has befallen our favourite on-line chef?” Or words to that effect.

Well, I’ll tell you: it’s his stupid memory. No matter what, he can’t remember to fire up his digital camera until he is at least a quarter-way through creating yet another fabulous culinery masterpiece. As a result of his woefulness (is that a real word?) he has failed (time and again) to bring you entertaining tales of how he managed to throw together meals such as these…

But it was only when he sat down to this concoction of wonderfulness and fantabulicity…

…and his Son had returned with his empty plate, saying: “That was the best yet: I hope you took some Le Chef Tuti photographs.” that he cried enough. Clearly some form of punishment for his recalcitrance was required. He considered punching himself in the face, or accidentally throwing himself down the stairs. But, after some contemplation, he decided to wear his apron back-to-front – rather like a superhero’s cape…

And if some scalding tomato and basil sauce should spit from the frying pan and land upon the end of his shrivelled winkle – then so be it: He’ll remember the camera then – on the way to Accident & Emergency!

Earplugs Without Pictures 4

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 terrific tale…

Click cover image for complete e-book in PDF

So, with trepidation evident, the threesome ventured out of the superfluous alcove. Naturally they followed the convenient signage, which, unsurprisingly, led them into a pleasantly lit corridor. Then, having traversed the aforementioned pleasantly lit corridor, Magnuss, Nennigross, and Lucian discovered the desperate occupants of the flying saucer assembled in the engine room, trying desperately to metaphorically kick-start the fuel pumps. But before anyone spotted them standing there like a bunch of lemons, the reality of the situation struck the three galactic travellers.

“The situation couldn’t be worse.” Nennigross whispered to Magnuss. “With the ship out of gas, it’ll float onwards through space unimpeded – until the wheel of eternity grinds to a halt. Death will hold dominion over all of us.”

But Lucian had more immediate concerns. He’d picked up a urinary infection in the Upper Realm, and desperately wanted to piddle.

Despite his personal fears, Magnuss plucked up the courage to ignore Nennigross, and forced himself to be positive.

“Guys.” He said loudly, “Quit all that panic-stricken arsing about: fate has a task lined up for you.”

This bold statement caused all activity to cease abruptly. Of course (being aliens from far away) not one of the prospectors recognised Magnuss: but Catford and Julian did. Their confident smiles proved that they had never doubted that their friends would return, following their unexpected disappearance. The appearance of Magnuss Earplug was a bonus, and both felt certain that an incredible adventure was bound to follow his arrival. Questions flowed like raging white water rapids, and filled the air with so much mental viscosity that anyone other than Magnuss would have sagged with brain-exhaustion beneath its intellectual weight.

“It’s like this,” Magnuss began his explanation for his opening statement. “We’re stuck up in outer space, and we’re whooshing away into deep space at huge velocity. It seems to me that the only course of action open to us is to embrace the situation and turn it to our advantage.”

This confused the heck out of his audience, but Magnuss’ apparent confidence filled them with some of their own.

“Tell us more.” Julian and Catford demanded.

“Well,” Magnuss replied, “not many people know this fact, but I once read some of the technical logs from the Museum of Future Technology’s sole star ship, Spaceship Number Fifteen – before it was destroyed in the Battle of the Museum, of course…”

“And?” Buddy Napalm demanded.

“And,” Magnuss replied, “what I discovered was,” Magnuss paused – less for dramatic effect; but more to draw breath – before continuing: “that when the ship was returning to Earth, the crew discovered a wormhole in space – exactly half-way between Earth and the Moon. They considered it so important that they left a warning beacon orbiting the event horizon. All we need to do is use our communication equipment to locate it, and then blast in its direction by using the manoeuvring thrusters. Then we enter the wormhole; travel through it; and end up somewhere else completely – possibly somewhere nice and safe – like a planet. We can worry about getting back to the museum later.”

It was a brilliant plan, and everyone who heard it said so. Except Wilhelm Von Schnottgobbling: “We don’t have no fuel for the thrusters either. We can’t steer.”

Magnuss was horrified at the news. “But, but,” he stammered, “without thruster fuel my plan won’t work! Whatta we gonna do?”

AND

Plopper and Benjamin looked at each other – the same thought passing through both silicon brains at the same time: Holy heck – they’re gonna steal a flying saucer: what are we gonna do about it? Well what they did was call the T.W.I.T headquarters, Swotten Hetty. Just a few minutes later Major Flaccid called several operatives into his office. Unfortunately he’d been at a sherry sampling seminar, and as a result of this his memory failed him. He could remember who his operatives needed to find, but couldn’t recall what Plopper and Benjamin had told him that the prospectors intended to do.

“Look everywhere.” He said with a slurred voice. “All at the same time – twice. Leave no stone unturned, and no…things un…er…thingy.” Then he burped very loudly, and produced an enormous fart that stopped his agents in their tracks.

Naturally the operatives didn’t have a bloody clue what their leader required of them, except that they find, and presumably arrest, eight aliens in silver suits. So without enquiring further, they turned about and began their search.

By chance the prospectors had called into a public urinal for a pee, and watched as the agents of T.W.I.T passed by the window.

“Oops,” Brock said quietly to himself. “Looks like we’ll have to step carefully. It’s time to go into extreme stealth mode.”

This reaction was to save their endeavour, because RoboSecGuas were also on their trail. And Brock’s extreme stealth mode paid dividends when EvilRoboSecGua led a squad into the grand hall. But Brock was ready for them, and had already hidden around the corner.

“Right then,” he said, following the RoboSecGuas departure, “Let’s have a look at that map Mister Plop drew for us. I feel it in my bowels; we’re getting close.”

But little did any of them know, but Nennigross and her friends were following museum protocols strictly, and were in hot pursuit.

It was Galve Mullion and Torsten Gobbfist who took the lead as the prospectors made their way through a labyrinth of corridors through which the map guided them towards their goal. And they continued to lead, even when the museum security decided to go the emerald alert.

“Holy carp,” Galve exclaimed, “that nearly made me have an accident in my boxer shorts!”

Torsten would have been equally startled, but the thought of Galve experiencing a lavatorial accident in his company took his mind off the subject of the emerald alert like an unexpected kick in the groin or being hurled from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Natural Selection cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Earplugs Without Pictures 3

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 magnificent tale…

Click cover image for complete story in PDF

Waiting until another law enforcement patrol had passed by, Erroneous and Hellfire sidled up to the door, where they duplicated the coded knock that the burglars had given only minutes earlier. A half-second later they had disappeared from the street. Not surprisingly they found themselves inside the burglar’s den – where the night’s paltry booty was being shared out over mugs of coarse ale and out-of-date Cornish Pasties, served to them by a pair of disgruntled end caps.

“Ho, ho, ho.” One of them erupted. “We’ll feast tonight, and make no mistake.”

Another concurred: “Aye, we’ll all have two pasties tonight. And maybe we could stretch to a celebratory flagon of ginger beer. Or maybe a half carafe of the house lemonade!”

This was more than Erroneous could stand. “Enough idle banter!” He roared.

Everyone turned to look at him – except the end caps, of course: they couldn’t give a hoot what he had to say: they had Cornish pasties that needed de-furring.

“Yes, enough!” Hellfire supported his friend ably.

“As burglars,” Erroneous continued, “you’d all make excellent bus drivers. In other words…you’re all complete…” He paused before adding a very rude word indeed.

To say that the burglars were shocked would be like saying that the enormous poop that blocked the Museum of Future Technology’s sewage system, and thereby saved it from an iron-fisted dictatorship, was…er…enormous. They were also stunned: no one had ever slipped past their security and called them crap before. This was new ground.

“Oh yeah?” One of them replied belligerently. “Who sez?”

Hellfire quickly selected a driving rock theme upon the juke box, before following Erroneous’ lead as he leapt upon a table.

“Erroneous Bosche, that’s who.” Erroneous growled.

“And Hellfire McWilliams.” Hellfire added. “Just out of Sloshed Antlers Mountain Penitentiary: we’ve been professional burglars for our entire lives. There is no place safe from us. We know a lousy burglar when we see one”

“That’s right.” Erroneous fired off those two syllables like bullets from a twin barrelled gun of some description – though he wasn’t sure that such a weapon actually existed. “We got past your security like phantoms in the night. So when we say you’re rubbish burglars, you’d better listen.”

“Especially,” Hellfire delivered the punch line, “since we can do something about it. How’d you like to be the first intake of The Whatever This Town is Called Academy of Burgling?”

Naturally the incompetent burglars were keen to join such an organization – though most of them thought that they could have authored a better name for it. But that didn’t matter: they were all ears.

“Well,” Erroneous said, once he knew he’d snared his audience, “we’ll brush quickly over the rudiments of burglary; then it’ll be on to the refinements – like lock picking; drain pipe shinning; glass breaking; how to help yourself to the contents of an alarmed fridge; and, of course, using a victim’s lavatory without them knowing about it, or leaving your DNA behind.”

“Sound’s great.” The previously doubtful oik who had spoken last yelled in joy. “When do we start?”

“Just as soon as you’ve signed up to the course; made a blood oath; and promise to give us – that’s Hellfire and me – twenty-five per cent of your booty.”

“Where do I sign?” The useless burglar said through a broad smile. “And whose blood?”

As a result of this huge success, Erroneous and Hellfire soon had the burglar gang  fully trained and back to work. But they knew that efficiency in burgling wasn’t enough: they had to get the local law enforcement officers ‘on side’ as it were. So after several successful burglaries that netted the couple a considerable hoard, they led the gang to the nearest Cop Shop, where they left one gang member to keep watch.

The police officers were surprised when several known villains entered their establishment.

“What’s this,” they said, “come to hand yourselves in, have you?”  

The remand prisoners in the cells were surprised too – particularly when the ‘look out’ entered as well.

“Not exactly.” Erroneous replied. “We’ve dragged ourselves all the way here so that we – that’s you and us – can come to some sort of accommodation.”

The police officers weren’t particularly well educated: the meaning of Erroneous’s words eluded them. So Hellfire handed them their recent takings.

“Does this explain better?” He said.

At this the Chief of Police replied, “Who said that?”, as he pocketed the booty and gave Hellfire a knowing wink.

And

By chance, the ‘new boss’, Mister Zinc, was taking the evening air with his biological android girlfriend, Blue.

“What’s wrong, darling Zincipoo?” Blue enquired when her delusional beau became silent, slightly moody, and reticent to elucidate his inner turmoil.

“This Father Superior stuff isn’t half as satisfying as I thought it would be.” Zinc confessed. “And it’s a bit boring too.”

Blue was about to author some banal and pathetic response, when this happened.

“Ye Gods.”  Zinc blurted uncharacteristically. “You’ve been targeted by the Angelic Targeting Laser that sits atop the Holy Sniper Rifle!”

Mister Zinc wasn’t particularly surprised when the targeting laser shifted its aim. He tried to remain philosophical.

“I think someone is dropping an enormous hint, Blue. I also think I should react accordingly.”

So when Chester, Miles, and all the others arrived, they found Mister Zinc open to persuasion.

“Yeah, of course you can stay here until morning. Stay here as long as you like.” He responded to their request for lodgings. “You can join the order, for all I care. Find your way to the kitchens, why don’t you. Just don’t expect Blue to do the cooking: We’ve got bigger concerns to worry about right now.”

He then informed the attentive earplugs of the recent incident with the Angelic Laser Light, which Zak and Bolah both knew was utterly bogus, and who whispered this information to the heroic duo. Zinc then called all the monks of the Order of the Holey Vest to listen to his words.

Of course Dilbert and Gilman were among the crowd. They’d only just arrived in time, after hiding the Holy Sniper Rifle behind a low stone wall in the cemetery. They smirked because they had a pretty good idea what was coming.

“Monk guys.” Zinc called out. “I got a call from a higher order. Ya know what I mean? It’s time I took a hike. I just aint quite figured out the direction I should go yet.”

Naturally Dilbert and Gilman couldn’t help themselves: They offered to show him. Equally naturally everyone was thrilled, especially Chester and Miles, who knew what a lousy git and a silicone turd Zinc was.

“Off you go, then.” Chester said, unable to disguise his broad smile. “I’m sure they have somewhere lovely in mind for you.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2017

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Those Magnificent Earplugs cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

Earplugs Without Pictures: Extract 2

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 fabulous tale…

Click cover image for complete e-book in PDF format

Like a soggy blanket, time hung heavily upon Hakking Chestikov’s shoulders whilst he waited alone on the fringes of the mystical mountain kingdom of Kah-Ki-Pu. But as dusk finally arrived, Hakking knew that he must do exactly as the Advice Shop computer had instructed him. That instruction was that he should stand directly beneath the huge vent pipe that protruded from the very bowels of the mountain upon which Kah-Ki-Pu stood. Once in position he must empty his mind of all thoughts bar his greatest wish. So, as deep impenetrable shadows slipped across the mountain like an approaching swarm of quiescent locusts, Hakking felt a strange sensation in the end of his nose. It quickly spread throughout his body, and he began to sparkle. Then the world seemed to spin out of control like a gigantic un-balanced ceiling fan, and he became disoriented. Although he had no mirror to hand, he felt absolutely certain that a great physical change had occurred. And he wasn’t wrong. So five minutes later he arrived back at Lilac’s – out of breath and sweating like an aging boar in a duffle coat.

“Look, Glenda,” he cried as Glenda Bootstrap emerged from the bar, “it’s me: Hakking Chestikov!”

Glenda was nothing short of amazed. “I’m nothing short of amazed.” She squealed with delight. “You’re so devilishly handsome; if you hadn’t spoken I’d never have recognised you. Not sure about the vaguely excremental hue though: that could take some getting used to. But at least you don’t smell.”

Hakking was very pleased with Glenda’s reaction. It allowed an idea to form inside his curator’s head: “I wonder,” he began nervously, “since I’m no longer the most repulsive male earplug on the planet…”

His request trailed off into silence; but Glenda knew what he wanted to say: “You’d like me to take you inside for a nice cup of tea and a round of crumpets, wouldn’t you?” She said.

Hakking nodded. “Please.” He said. “If you don’t think I’m being too bold.”

“Not at all.” Glenda assured her new-found chum. “It’ll give me the chance to use my new gingham table cloth.”

And…

“I don’t know,” Findlay said with a sigh, “it’s almost as if they don’t want to be found.”

“I think you’re right.” John-Douglas grunted as he pulled himself through a roughly hewn hatchway that led to another level. “This place is deserted.”

But as they crept around in the subdued lighting, neither prospector was aware that any number of eyes were secretly trained upon them.

As they entered a vast hall, John-Douglas said: “I vote we go back and tell the sheriff that he’s a face-ache.”

Although John-Douglas was keen to quit, Findlay wanted to continue the search. “Sheriff Brooch swears that he saw movement and heard voices.” He replied. “In any case, what would the girls think of us if we just gave up?”

John-Douglas agreed regretfully, and so only half-noticed that the great hall was carpeted. Instead he was more concerned with the opinions of their girlfriends, Lillie Whitewater and Kirsten Sponduli. “If we return empty-handed, so-to-speak,” He squeaked, “do you think they might spurn us?”

Findlay nodded. “Lunch would be off the menu, that’s for certain.”

John-Douglas took a second to digest this. “Oh, right.” He said as he stepped forward. “Let’s get at it then. Leave no stone unturned and that sort of thing.”

So they did, and after only a short while they discovered a modernised section that included pre-stressed concrete as a major construction material. Then John-Douglas thought he heard voices accompanying a rather funky rhythm. So it came as no surprise when they turned the next corner to find a disco in full flow.

Some girls called to them: “Coo-ee,” they shouted above the insistent bass line of ‘Everybody Wear a Disco Hump’, by Hambledon Bohannon, “why don’t you join us? You can dance around our handbags if you want to. Let’s get down – huh!”

But, as it happened, neither Findlay nor John-Douglas really enjoyed disco music: and prancing around a dance floor in platform shoes was an absolute anathema to them. They preferred traditional folk, barn dances, and sensible sneakers. So they made their farewells – despite the fact that the girls were in imminent danger of falling off their high heels and showing their knickers as they sprawled gracelessly across the disco floor – and departed with the news that the catacombs contained a thriving and intellectually advanced society.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2016

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the Stepladder to the Stars cover image (above) to bring up the full PDF file.

The Garden Welcomes the Family

I don’t use it often, but I have one of those trail / hunter cameras that take pictures all by themselves. The other day I placed some bird food in a hanging basket thing and set the camera up upon my even-less-often-used tripod; then awaited developments. I wasn’t surprised when the first ‘guest’ was a resident Robin…

It took him/her about a half-second to make the decision to enter the store…

The camera took rather longer to react – which (for once) was a good thing…

…otherwise all we would have to view is the Robin’s arse hole. He/she was so impressed with the fare that he/she came back later to feast with his/her wife/husband and three kids. Here’s one of them…

All three have grown very tame, and I think it’s a shame that before long they will be driven off to find territories of their own by their parents. Guess I’ll have to content myself with Mr and Mrs Mouse who live in the shed…

…which my pet chug (chihuahua/pug cross) loves to chase all around the shrubbery – along with the lonesome vole…

And, of course, terrorise visiting squirells…

For a tiny postage stamp garden, it certainly is wildlife-friendly. Or at least it would be, if it wasn’t for this monster…

Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys 2

In my first Fashion for Fogeys I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige stylishly. On this occasion I take it a step further by dispensing with beige all together. What I must stress here is that it isn’t neccessary for old fogey’s to wear dull colours at all. This is never truer than when the sun is shining. Bright colours are not only for winter, young people or laplanders: anyone can wear them at any time of year in whatever weather. Take me for example: I like Spain. I like the Spanish flag too. Both are bright and cheerful. I cheer for their national football team and their riders in Moto GP and international motocross because they make me happy. Bright colours are happy colours. So I am not ashamed, in any way, to appear in public places dressed like this…

So I do. And you can do the same. It just doesn’t have to be red and yellow. Wear whatever colours you bloody like: South Africa’s are rather strident. Just make it bright and cheerful. And what’s more – as a bonus – you’re less likely to get knocked down by a bus too!

Earplugs Without Pictures: Extract 1

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 wonderous tale…

Click cover image for complete story in PDF format

Extract One

Elsewhere – that is aboard the X1 – Magnuss and Nigel decided that it was probably a good idea to practice some emergency procedures.

“There’s a hypothetical space pirate vessel approaching.” Magnuss suggested. “What do we do?”

“Open hypothetical fire?” Nigel replied.

“No weapons – remember?”

“Oh, yeah, no time to fit them. Okay…swerve.”

“Correct. Now we’re about to encounter space turbulence: our seatbelts are in the wash: What do we do?”

“Easy.” Nigel answered, “We don our see-through helmets.”

Magnuss was most pleased with his colleague’s grasp of procedures. “Very good.” He said. “But what should we do if the landing engine fails?”

“Other than poop in our pants, you mean?” Nigel responded. But before Magnuss could speak, Nigel had flicked a few switches. “Inflate the giant transparent air bag.” He answered.

Extract Two

At much the same time, the Joyfulettes were finally having their audition with Ootis Wolliums. Much to their surprise Ootis had invited the other Trumptations – those being Dunnis Idwards, Cory Valentine, and Shat and Beeki Spitoon – along to the museum’s Grand Hall. After a relatively formal greeting, Ootis had some technicians wheel out the stage upon which the three girls would perform.

 Naturally Beeki had a few words of wisdom to impart: “Don’t whine or shriek.” She told them. “And don’t sing in a higher key than Cory because he’s the group’s falsetto lead, and in his deluded mind no one on the planet can sing a higher note than Cory. Oh, and try to keep in step with each other: Ootis can’t stand elephantine dancers.”

And so their chance at the big time – a permanent act at the Museum of Future Technology – commenced. Initially all went well for Blinky, Piper, and Swetti. Piper and Swetti, in particular were admired for their ability to keep up with Blinky’s gyrations whilst delivering pitch-perfect Doo-Waps and Ooh, Baby-Baby. And any reservations Ootis might have harboured for Blinky’s vocal talents were extinguished when the act slipped down from the stage and Blinky fluttered her huge eyelashes at the ageing soul group leader. After clearing his throat several times, Ootis was finally able to deliver his opinion.

“Piper,” he addressed the smallest girl in the group, “you’re a short-arse and you don’t match so well with the taller girls – but it’s nothing some boosters in your high heels won’t fix. Blinky; you can’t sing for toffee, but we have machines in the studio to put that right. You look great, so any shortfall in the talent department can be disguised by fish net tights and a girdle. Swetti, with you I have a problem. You got a great voice – we all recognise that, girl; but you’re a little…how can I say it, Dunnis?”

Dunnis looked awkward when he answered in his rich, gravelly voice: “Homely?”

“Yeah,” Ootis continued. “Homely. Not so much the girl-next-door: but more the girl locked up in next door’s basement.”

“What he means,” the blind performer, Cory Valentine, interjected, “is that you should be seen and not heard. Well let me tell you, Ootis: I can’t see the girl, but I sure can hear her good. You know where I’m coming from, man? She’s best singer here today – and that includes Beeki – or you, for that matter, ya mealy-mouthed tonge. So if you pass on her, you can pass on me too – butt-wipe: the Trumps can perform without the best falsetto the world has ever heard.”

Cory had been one of the founding members of the Trumptations. Ootis had found, throughout their career together, that it was wise to heed the pink-ish earplug’s council.

“Yeah, alright then.” He said brightly to the girls. “You can all join us in the show tonight. Anyone who falls short gets shown the back door. Okay?”

Of course it was ‘okay’: Blinky might be no singer: Piper might be a little short: and Swetti might look like a barn door; but in show business any shortcoming could be hidden behind a half-decent backing band, ladled-on make-up, and subtle lighting. For the Joyfulettes the show was on. And they couldn’t wait!

Of course it’s much better with the pictures: after all you can see what’s going on! To read or download the book in its entirety – pictures and all – click on the The Masters of Scroton cover image above to bring up the full PDF file.

If Patience is a Virtue…

….then I must be some kind of bloody saint. It has taken me (what feels like) forever to strip out sufficient megabytes from this blog – to make room for that mass of book covers (and their contents) on the sidebar, to your left. But the task is done. From this moment forward any Earplugger can access and download all forty volumes of the Earplug Adventures. In fact some already have! These…

…wondrous works of literary brilliance, boundary-pushing photographic techniques, inspired model-making, and vast artistic merit are available ABSOLUTELY FREE AND GRATIS! The early volumes are a bit, you know, ho-hum – I was, after all, finding my feet, so-to-speak – not really knowing what I was doing, so’s best avoid them, at least initially: you can always go back to them later and giggle at my inepitude. But, whatever you choose, enjoy this load of ridiculousness. I had fun creating them: you enjoy reading them.

Tooty.

Spoiled Illusions 8: Shoot it While U Can!

Sometimes a location for an Earplug Adventure photo-shoot can disappear with little notice or warning; so it’s very important that I grab the opportunity to gather some story material before the opportunity is lost. This was especially so in my former workplace – often because the prop or set was due to be loaded upon a truck and despatched to far away places. Louvres were often a big deal, so if I chanced upon one that stood out a little – that could maybe become something else entirely in the Earplug realm – I’d shoot as many pictures as possible, irrespective of any story line. Just get them in the can, so-to-speak, and worry about the continuity later – often MUCH LATER, like months or even years. Here’s such a louvre…

This looks like two zombies – Clux and Grimnax – from The Time Tamperer

In the absence of the original Main Thoroughfare that featured in so many Museum of Future Technology interior shots, I used this shelf and a perforated louvre as an alternative. A sort of secondary thoroughfare. The following picture features some cardboard packing-out pieces, upon which I stuck some little bits of yellow paper. It was to simulate apartment buildings. The length of grey/green insulation material is a grassy bank. Yeah – honest. Both are hidden beneath a sheet of plastic that served two purposes: One: to mask the area behind from the camera. Two: to hide the set from prying eyes. Even the boss couldn’t mistake the yellow paper for anything other than windows, right?

I can’t count how many times this ‘set’ was used. It’s not that it was a product that would likely disappear; but it could have come in very handy if the Despatch Department had required some packing-out material. So it was never secure. I was lucky to keep it. Here’s a couple of scenes in which it appeared…

I think they call this a scene setter. This time from Return To The Museum of Future Technology

And here is the same set in ‘action’…

Don Quibonki and Panta Lonez arrive at Lemonstone. From the same story

Not in any danger of being carried off in a truck, but certainly likely to be placed where it belonged, this plastic light tube cover was also used extensively. There had been some trouble with the light fitting; so whilst the cover was off, I hid it in plain site on this shelf – and no one seemed to notice it – for three years!

Well what a perfect corridor / tunnel it has made…

Here it appears in the story The Grand Tour

And I was still using it in Haunted Mars

There were other soon-to-disappear props that would…er…disappear for entirely different reasons. This shot from The Missing featured a hole that had been drilled through a concrete floor…

Clearly something has punched clean through the roof of the Museum of Future Technology!

which would soon be filled with concrete. And as regards this next shot from The Grand Tour

Well soon that set would be powder coated in matt black and travelling along at 120mph. Yes, inspiration comes in many shapes: even engine casings of a 1979 Kawasaki Z1000!

Make Room!

Sadly to say, with space needed on this blog for newer stuff, three Earplug Adventures have been excized. Yes, I know it’s terrible, but The Time Tamperer, Distant Land, and A Tale of Three Museums are surplus to requirements. Everyone say: “Bum!”

Who Has Been a Busy Boy Then?

It may have escaped your notice, but Tooty has been rather quiet of late. Some of this is due to his dislike of the cumbersome new system at WordPress; but much of his slowness to post is down to something else entirely. Yup, he’s been working on all his Earplug Adventure stories in preparation to post them as FREE PDF copies on HamsterBritain.com. In the process he has dropped the ‘Junior’ from the group title, and, in doing so has been forced to create new ‘covers’ for the PDF files. So he aint had a whole bunch of time to do much else. Oh, how he suffers for his art! Here’s a collection of pictures that display how the ‘new’ versions look…

Now all he has to figure out is how to make them available for you to download and read at your leisure. It can’t be difficult: just give him time.

Tooty the Chef in ‘Parsliotto!’

Tooty the Chef – when it comes to creating dishes – has been known to push the boundries of both his experience and his luck. Recently he decided that since everything else he has attempted ended in triumph and culinery glory, and also that the cupboard contained three packets of out-of-date arborio rice and the dregs of some Polish dried onions, he’d give Risotto a bash…

But when he looked in a cookery book for some rough guidence, he didn’t like what he saw…

So he put the book back from whence he discovered it…

…and decided to do it ‘his way’. In an aside, does anyone recognise this cupboard? If you’ve been reading Haunted Mars, you should. Look, it’s…

…part of Chef, Charles Du Glop’s Martian kitchen! But that’s by-the-by: on with the show. Well that self-same cupboard also contained this…

A rice cooker. Tooty the Chef is a big fan of rice cookers. He likes them so much that he keeps a spare in the attic. Never be without a rice cooker, that’s what he says. But before he set the wonder-device into operation, he sliced some chicken breast and peppers…

Then he proceeded to make some chicken stock by adding some ancient Spanish stock cubes (no Italian in the cupboard) to some boiling water…

After that he found time to turn his attention to the much-adored rice cooker, into which he poured sufficient water for three cups of rice…

Now Tooty the Chef is well-known for his stodgy meals; but on this occaision he thought it best to create something light and attractive that would linger in the memory for years to come. So, using his precisely measured Cafe au Lait cup, he poured in three cups of Waitrose Arborio rice…

Then – being an old and infinitely wise chef – he poured the remaining rice, from the packet, into a sealed jar – and didn’t forget to place a sliver of the packaging in with the rice for future identification. Good tip…

…even if the label was upside down. Well, no sooner had he done this, when it was time to start cooking the chicken and peppers together in olive oil…

But, of course, cooked chicken and peppers does not a risotto make. He knew he needed more. So he rooted through his supply of multifarious herbs and spices for something to add to the Polish dried onion. He found this three quarters-full container of parsley…

The onion was old, so it was a given that it would all go into the mix. Parsley is a bit of an unknown to our favourite chef, so he took no chances – or prisoners – and tipped the lot in. The result looked awfully like this…

So, whilst the rice steamed, blubbed and burst spectacularly in the direction of the kitchen sink…

…the parsley-stained stuff did much the same on the gas stove…

When he thought that it had bubbled like a looney for long enough, he reduced the heat – yes, you read that right: he REDUCED the heat – and let it simmer. This allowed him time to take out some plastic and cardboard packaging for recycling…

…and surrender to his prostate gland’s demands for him to visit the toilet…

Then, following a thorough washing of the chef’s hands (of course), it was back in the metaphorical saddle…

Which meant taking the cooked rice from the rice cooker and folding it into the chicken/peppers/Polish dried onions/parsley mush. It still turned out to be a complete stodge-fest…

But, boy, was it yummy! To call it a success would be to demean it. It was historic!

P.S This was written using WordPress’s fucking horrible Block Editing system. I anticipate that it took me twice as long compared to using their original system. If it was designed to reduce the amount of posts on WordPress, I imagine it has been a huge success: I’ve certainly cut back. Hmmm, I’ll have to try one of these Tooty the Chef tales on Wix.

Revel in the Ribaldry 31

The time is due for another excerpt from one of my…er…fabulous...Hamster-Sapiens books. It has been a while since I last entertained you with a snippet from this book...

…so it seems logical to do that right now. And here it is – and chosen entirely at random by pure chance…

Horatio became aware that Beryl was tugging at his sleeve, but tried to ignore it. So Beryl was left with no alternative but to knock off his novelty fedora if she wanted to gain his attention. So she did, and it worked wonderfully.

“I’m not native.” She whispered, “Who is that pompous ass-hole from which distain drips from every pore?”

Acknowledging the indisputable truth that Beryl wasn’t going to remain quiet unless Horatio gave her the information she required, the trepidatious young hamster decided to acquiesce to her demands.

“His name is Henderson Dangerpimple.” He spoke as quickly as he thought Beryl’s brain could assimilate the information, “He is a professor of Pox and Pustules at Chunderford University. He was the owner of the seafront fondant shop in the same town. Unfortunately his shop was destroyed by a mini-tsunami caused by a huge propeller that fell into the sea from the airship Dragon Slayer.”

Beryl was confused. “And he blames you for it?

“I was one of the passengers.” Horatio shrugged his shoulders, but instantly regretted the act lest the subtle movement reveal his location to the ethereal sniper.

“But still,” Beryl persisted, “that seems a little unreasonable.”

“Well I stole his wife too.” Horatio added slightly shamefaced. “They’d only been married a few hours. They hadn’t even consummated the union. But it wasn’t my fault: I had a really snotty allergy: An allergy to life without Colleen Slapper it turned out. So I told her that I loved her, begged her to leave Henderson, and she did. Now he hates me. I guess I can understand his motivation.”

“Is that tale in your autobiography?” Beryl inquired. “If it isn’t it should be.”

“Yes.” Horatio turned to regard the female beside him, “Haven’t you read it properly?”

“Not everything.” It was Beryl’s turn to look shamefaced, “Only the rude bits when you talk about your massive scrotum and suchlike. I just like to browse when I read.”

Horatio nodded. Once again he found himself capable of understanding the motivation of someone else – and it made him feel good. The Horatio Horseblanket Chronicles did run to three volumes after all. And there was the illustrated version too of course: That even included the famous photograph of his personal area that appeared on the cover of The Bucktooth Times. “Yes.” He said, “So I imagine that you’ve read all about how the President of Europe had a Particularly Popular Peoples Party pamphlet inserted into my anus and then set alight?”

“Oh yes.” Beryl assured Horatio, “It’s one of my favourite bits. And the episode where the famous Hamster-French three-wheeled go-kart race, Norbert Disentangle bit you in the…”

But Horatio was no longer listening: Instead he was regarding the TV monitor as a

cascade of whooshes and fizzles gave way to an actual picture…

“Yeah.” An unknown pilot yelled as he struggled with the controls of a recalcitrant military dirigible, “He’s my first-born. I named him after the first thing that I saw when I entered the delivery room in the hospital. His name is Legsakimbo.”

Further conversation with an unseen comrade was interrupted as the airship bucked and yawed in the turbulent night air.

Below searchlights scanned the heavens – sweeping across the night sky like photonic brooms. Every so often anti-dirigible explosives would be sent hurtling into the air from gigantic catapults – to cause mayhem and consternation amongst the crews that flew high above enemy territory.

“Legsakimbo Dangerpimple?” the comrade struggled from somewhere aft in the gondola with a huge cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake for the pilot. “That sounds almost exotic – like something from Deepest Jungle Land or somewhere similar.”

“Totally accidental I assure you, old chap.” The pilot gratefully accepted the gift of delicious comestibles, and began stuffing his face.

The comrade checked his fob watch. “Hmmm.” He muttered, “I think I’ll check with Marius: We should be just about there by now.”

But he didn’t need to. Instead a voice crackled over the intercom…

“This is Marius Moonvictim, Skipper: Time that we said ‘bye-bye’.”

“Roger that.” The pilot responded into a huge brass microphone that hung above his pilot’s seat. He then clicked on a radio transceiver. “This is Pilot Officer Brandenberg Dangerpimple to base. We’re having some difficulty with our navigator. Request permission to break off the attack, over.”

“Your navigator?” A distant voice floated in and out of audible range, “What the fluff’s wrong with Moonvictim this time? Over.”

Dangerpimple didn’t hesitate to lie. “Bad case of the shits, I’m afraid, over.”

It took a few seconds for the distant voice to become audible again, but when it did, the owner sounded exasperated.

“Tell him to hold it in, and get on plotting your course. The target for this bombing raid was chosen by the Prince himself personally.”

“Too late, base.” Dangerpimple couldn’t help but smile wickedly as he spoke, “I’m afraid that he’s soiled the navigation equipment. When we get back it’ll need a complete overhaul. We’re virtually flying blind up here. I think we can just about make it to the emergency landing tower at Mollusk by dead-reckoning if we turn back now. If we try to continue – then I think that we’d probably get horrendously lost, and fly right off the edge of the world. Over”

He knew that this last line was a certain winner. He needed only wait a paw-full of seconds before a radio acknowledgement was received.

“Right’o, Marius.” He shouted, “Plot us a course for you-know-where.”

He heard a laugh in response. “Already plotted and on the board, Skipper.”

And Brandenberg Dangerpimple’s response to that was a sharp twist of the wheel to starboard, and the instruction to his nearby comrade, “Okay, Flight Sergeant Binge Tanning: You know the ropes: Prepare for borders.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

 

Tooty The Chef in ‘cauliflower cheese cottage pie anyone?’

Tooty the Chef would have liked nothing more than to have replicated the original Cauliflower Cheese Cottage Pie he alluded to recently, but unfortunately there was a problem. Two problems actually. One: he couldn’t remember what he did last time. Two: there was a distinct lack of ingredients in the fridge. So, with this Mark Two version, he laid his mits upon this stuff…

Left to right: minced pork (couldn’t find any beef), packet cheese sauce and some Delmio pasta bake sauce (Chef forgot to buy any ready-made cheese sauce in a jar), packet cottage pie mix (why piss about making sauces when you can get it like this?), cauliflower (of course), an expensive pointy pepper (Waitrose had sold out of the usual kind), a courgette, and an onion. He later delved into the fridge again for some grated cheddar and mozarella cheese.

So then it was straight into prioritising mode. Time was tight: barely a moment to lose. Clearly he would require the Roasting Thing: but what else? Ah-ha – a big frying pan and the Microwaving Thing…

Decisions made, it was time to chop up the cauliflower, which was so huge that his microwaving thing was only half big enough…

So he had to cook the cauliflower twice. Here’s the first load going into the microwave for seven minutes…

With the first load heating up nicely, it was time for Tooty the Chef to start dicing. Within seconds this had happened…

When I say ‘seconds’, actually, by the time that he’d tossed it all into some hot olive oil in the frying pan, the microwave had gone ‘ding’, and Tooty was fighting with some super-heated cauliflower…

But no sooner had the second load of cauliflower begun its journey into culinery hell, when the meat-veggie amalgam demanded Tooty’s attention…

Now it was at this point that our wonder chef displayed his multi-tasking skills. The ones that have him swearing like a trooper. Yes, he had to mix up the cottage pie mix whilst boiling and stirring the cheese sauce mix (which drives him insane) and keeping the meat-veggie amalgam on the move so that it cooked evenly and didn’t create any nasty burnt bits…

As is normal, the cheese sauce took an eternity to cook. When he was half-satisfied he added the pasta bake sauce with a generous helping of grated cheese…

…which gave Tooty the opportunity to display his remarkable talent for thespianism that has had thoroughly employable actors crying into their beer – and shows just how much he enjoys using Waitrose products. Waitrose, please note this free advertising: perhaps you would like to get in contact? Whilst that mess bubbled nicely for a few seconds, Tooty upended the frying pan into the Roasting Thing and poured in the cottage pie mix…

Of course the second load of cauliflower had long-since cooked, so it, and the first load, were gently laid upon the first layer of the cauliflower cheese cottage pie…

Then it was simple matter of using a spatula to spread the cheese sauce all over it in a most generous manner, and stuff it into the very hot oven for fifteen minutes…

Now you might have noticed at this juncture that Tooty the Chef has revealed a slender buttock: should Waitrose be wise enough to sponsor HamsterBritain.com, he may have to cook with his underpants on. It’s sad, I know: but Waitrose and buttocks are probably mutually exclusive. Of course, should the John Lewis Partnership elect to go it alone into an uncertain future, Tooty can continue to show his arse willy-nilly. But that’s by-the-by. With fifteen minutes to spare, it was off to the toilet (of course) and a quick watch of the local news on TV…

So, shortly, it was check-the-dinner time…

It was bubbling insanely, and was clearly cooked; but it just didn’t look properly cooked. Our favourite chef decided that it needed a few minutes under the grill. So, whilst Tooty selected some sugar-free Sprite and Mulled Wine…

… and warmed up the plates in the microwave, the cauliflower cheese was getting somewhat blasted by the grill, which left it looking slightly worse for wear…

But, being a seasoned kitchen campaigner, he quickly stirred the nasty burnt bits into the meal. And when he slopped it onto the waiting plates…

…it was, of course, glorious. It tasted quite nice too – with a good texture. And only one person noticed the burnt bits. All-in-all a vast success. You should try it.

WIX?

I had a spat about how WordPress had been utterly ruined by their new system recently. I think I might have sworn a couple of times. Well I stand by what I said: the ‘new’ WordPress is bollocks: but I’ve just spent a couple of hours tearing out what remains of my hair as I’ve tried to make something meaningful happen at a WordPress competitor – Wix. I don’t think I’ve ever said the word ‘fuck’ so many times before in my life. And arse holes too. Mostly it was: “No – you fucking arse holes!” It was a torrid affair. But you might (and I stress the word ‘might’) be able to take a look at the result of my labours by clicking HERE. You won’t be impressed. Oh God, please don’t tell me I’m stuck with WordPress? I don’t think I could stand that. Where are those sleeping tablets?