Category Archives: Tooty Stuff

Nature Wallpaper: Why We Should Record the Images of the Natural World Around Us

In February of 2015 I took this photo of a rookery in my street…

For the next seven years I watched (unconsciously. I might add) as the trees grew taller and wider, and the rookery expanded – to become the birthplace and nightly roost of hundreds of huge black birds. Then, a few days ago, several light trucks and a huge crane rumbled into town. Hours later the mighty rookery was reduced to this…

and this…

We’re very good at destroying natural habitat. We keep saying “Oh, this must stop.” But in the past couple of years I’ve seen so many mature trees felled – and not all of them diseased Ash – that I wonder if there isn’t some sort of conspiracy at large. For every tree planted by well-meaning people, how many established habitats are pulled down by those who couldn’t care less about the future of this planet or who just want to make a fast buck? Way too many, I fear. After all, with so much arable land in the UK being turned over to house building at an alarming rate, more land for growing crops or keeping animals has to be found somewhere, doesn’t it? There’s no profit for anyone in ancient woodland. And who gives a shit about Badgers and Willow Warblers anyway! So I think it’s best that we record what we have, while we still have it. It won’t last. Then we can hold these pictures up and say “That’s what we rid ourselves of: how has that made this a better world?”

Tooty Nolan: 65 and Getting Stupider

Today (Friday 21/01/2022) has not been a good day. It started bright and frosty, and all I really wanted was to take a brisk walk in the perfect winter air – with a camera or five in my pocket, naturally. Then maybe wrap myself up in my best gear and take the Yamaha for a spin to the coast. But I couldn’t because I was waiting in for a man to visit and check out my hesitant water heater.  As the morning wore on, and the weather deteriorated -turning grey, miserable, and mild, I cursed the situation. Not as much as I cursed when I discovered that the Red Cab To Manhattan (by Stephen Bishop) CD that I’d bought on E-Bay was actually a vinyl LP (printed in 1980 no less), which forced me to rummage through the attic for my USB record player with which to convert the audio tracks into WAV and MP3 format so that I could burn them on to a CD – only to discover that, no matter what program I used to burn the CD, no CD player (or computer program on my laptop) could recognise or play the tracks. Clearly I’ve forgotten something very important about ripping tracks from vinyl – but I can’t remember what it is!

Nice (after years of MP3 or CDs) to handle a ‘proper’ record again.

Here’s the free program I downloaded that allowed me to copy the tracks.

Would you believe it when I told you that this was once a kitchen table, at which my family always sat for dinner? It’s now my ‘creative genius’ desk. Since losing my wife, I couldn’t stand the thought of the remaining family sitting at it together. We would always be aware of the empty fourth chair.

Whilst ruminating about my repeated failure at the laptop, my mind shifted back to the previous weekend, when I attempted to create a fabulous trifle – using inspirational ingredients that would make it the best trifle ever concocted. I won’t mention the seemingly endless list; but one of them was a frozen pineapple, mango, and orange mix (from the bottom of the freezer in true Tooty the Chef style).

Well whatever remnants of juice and water remained in the fruit after I drained it – they didn’t combine with the jelly at all when I poured it on top. Instead they formed a very nice lubricating layer beneath it, so that the entire trifle slipped and slid around the bowl like a quarterback’s brain inside his skull after having been body slammed by T J Watt…

Nice flavour, but lousy consistency.

So, returning to the problem  of the trackless CD, I tried burning MP3 tracks (that I’d bought and downloaded from the Internet – Blueprint, by Stephen Bishop {again}) onto the disc. Perfection itself. Even a cheap old portable CD player from Asda played it. But  the MP3 files from the Audacity reformat? Nada. Nothing. ‘No Disc’. it read. As did Windows Media Player. VLC recognised that twelve tracks existed on the disc, but it couldn’t decide what they were called and wouldn’t play them. AnyBurn just wanted to know what I intended to do with the ’empty’ disc.

One O’clock came and passed. The ‘Man’ was supposed to be here between 8 and 1. Better make a call, thought I. But just to make sure I had my facts right, I thought I’d check my wall calendar/ family planner first. Oops: it’s not this Friday that he’s due. It’s not even next Friday: but Friday the 4th of February. Like I said: 65 and getting stupider!

Spend Spend Spend – An Iddy-Biddy Bit More

It’s quite possible that I might have inferred that I had spent enough hard earned cash on extras for the Yamaha. Well sorry for that – but I lied. Whilst out and about down gnarly English country lanes, it occured to me that if I were to get a puncture – not only am I incapable of pushing the 250Kg leviathan, but I wouldn’t be able to summon help because most of the time I never know where I am. One English lane looks much like another. So, after careful consideration for about three seconds, I turned the machine around in a farm entrance (apt really, coz the Yam turns like a tractor) and set off for a motorcycle accessories emporium. I required a pump, tyre repair kit, and a top box to keep them in. And whilst I was in the mood, I fetched myself a brighter jacket, so that car drivers might be less likely to ignore my presence and pull out into the road in front of me at point-blank range. The result?

Very smart, and practical too. And, oh look, it’s one of those anonymous English country lanes. How fitting.

P.S here’s a moody film noir shot of the same thing, minus me…

The Ten Pound Titter

When I swapped my…

…in at the dealers to buy this…

…I foolishly forgot to remove the mounting point for this…

So, recently I trawled the internet for a cheap camera that I could mount upon either my bicycle, motorcycle, or even my head! I found this…

Inside, with a bunch of accessories, came this…

…which you see here ‘on charge’. More of that later. I then turned my attention to the packaging. The fact that it bore no manufacturers name and read Made in China should have prepared me for the worst. But I was too amused by the ‘sales’ bumph on the box to care…

Well the first one is obvious. After all the box does display the picture of a skier wearing the camera on his head. The second is a little contentious. In the accompanying booklet/instruction manual (in execrable English) I’m told that the camera must not be used in damp conditions. It also mentioned that the camera would not work in hot or cold conditions, which kind of made the cover picture invalid, and mocked the fireproof claim. However it went to great pains the explain that the camera was not shock proof – merely shock resistant (more of that later too). And it seemed very proud to announce that it was skid-proof. Now if my motorcycle tyres were listed as skid-proof, it would make some sense: but in what way can a camera be deemed so? If I attempted to slide it across my kitchen floor, would it grip with the tenacity of a limpet and refuse to move. I think it unlikely. Which brings me to Durable Press. Well if there’s one feature that I look for most in a camera, it’s Durable Press. What the fuck is Durable Press? It’s bloody nonsense, that’s what it is.  Sales shit. Which brings me to the camera itself. Where to start? First up it wouldn’t accept a charge – either from the charger in the box, my laptop, or my TV. But it would fire up if plugged in to either. It wouldn’t start on command though: only when it felt like it. And the one button that controlled all the functions (don’t know how it was supposed to) either didn’t respond at all, or stuck in the ‘down’ position. The camera did vibrate a lot though, which brings me back to the booklet, which claimed (and here’s a nice one for the ladies) “Includes built-in vibrator”. Well that bit was right: the camera might not be any good for taking pictures, but it could stimulate a clitoris with the best of them.  Noting that the camera included a micro memory card, I tried accessing the data on it via the associated cable – as per the instructions in the gobbledigook manual. Nada. So I slotted the card into a portable reader, which released ten mini-movies of the previous owner trying to get the camera to function properly. Well I have only one thing to say to him. Two things actually. Make that three. Your orange top is garish and lacks taste. Your sitting room decor – especially the huge gold coloured things on either side of your wall-mounted TV – is vomit inducing. You are an ass hole for selling me this non-functioning camera. But I did manage to get it going eventually, however briefly. Here’s a capture from the resulting footage…

Here I can be seen bemoaning my purchase. Unfortunately I was inaudible on the video: loud, buzzing audio interference drowned me out entirely. But that might have something to do with the means I used to get the camera to roll. I slammed it against the edge of my kitchen table. Probably one of my better moves. But since I only paid £10, and I still have the accessories and memory card, I don’t feel so bad about it. And, look, I’ve even got a post out of the fiasco!

 

Earth: Population: Six Billion Plus

I want to know: if there are over six billion potential readers of this blog in the world, why didn’t just one of them log in during the first ninety minutes of Jan 4th 2022?

Maybe they were washing their hair. Yes, that would be it.

Or maybe its one vast conspiracy. Perhaps there aren’t really six billion of us at all. Perhaps we’ve become almost extinct, and our lizard overlords are feeding us fake statistics.  Yes, I think that’s more likely!

If you are a lizard overlord – I didn’t write this. I’ve obviously been hacked by one of the remaining three hundred and fourteen humans left on Earth – if we really are on Earth, that is.

Gnashed Teeth: Another Digital Camera Sets Sail for Cyber Heaven

Off on one of my walking jaunts, recently, I chose three cameras at random. My best one – that being a x50 zoom Sony:  a trusty Kodak compact that I’ve had for yonks: and a very shiny Fujifilm I seldom use that I thought deserved a trip out of its box. The voyage of disaster began badly: the Kodak failed to fire up. Reason: the battery retaining clip had broken, thus breaking electrical contact. Arse – but not insurmountable. The Fuji proved more amenable. For example, it took this pleasant photo of some seed heads…

It went on to produce three more equally pleasant photos – before something made a silent click inside the works and it went doolally. Suddenly, for no obvious reason the video capture only worked on audio; and the still shots all contained interference. It had me looking somewhat like this…

Why doesn’t electronic stuff work properly after you pack it away for a while? You’d think it would be grateful for the rest!

Earplug News 24/7: Under Neptune’s Gaze

Despite the God of the Sea, Neptune’s disapproving stare; the deafening roar of a passing space submarine freighter; and an erupting volcano on the horizon, Iceworld scientist, Uda Spritzer took her paddle board to the aid of two drowning morons who forgot to tether their houseboat properly and were attempting to swim to shore in search of a public lavatory…

She was commended for her bravery by the local coastguard, but then cuffed around both ears and poked in the eye for contravening Health and Safety rules by failing to wear a life preserver vest or a lanyard to her paddle board. In response, spinster, Ms Spritzer was reported to have said: “Sod this: next time I’ll let the bastards drown.”

THIS FABULOUS WALLPAPER IS DOWNLOADABLE.

Gnashed Teeth: A Little Respect Would Be Appreciated

Recently the relevant authority erected a sign at the entrance to the village that I call home. It designates the furthest point west of the South Downs National Park…

I don’t know why, but for some naive reason I formed the idea in my stupid head that people might treat the area with a little more reverence than they do the surrounding towns. Ten paces into the park I discovered this…

Stella Artois: stronger than average: the chosen beer of British yobs: almost certainly tossed from the passenger window of a lowered VW Golf with a loud exhaust: it wasn’t alone: I should have known better.

Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys 4

In the previous iteration of TFFF, Tooty displayed an uncanny talent for looking good whilst shopping at Waitrose during the Summer months. Now, rather belatedly, it’s Autumn fashion for old sods who don’t want to follow the norm. Well first up – if you own or drive a Hyundai, Kia, or a Honda Jazz, you’ve no fucking chance, so look away now. For those others still with a bit of pizzazz in their driving, read on. Well autumn colours come in many hues – not just shades of brown (leaves) with a touch of grey (skies). No, autumn trees come in so many varieties: your clothes should reflect this. So to Tooty himself: what is he wearing during the weeks that lead up to Christmas? Regarde…

   

Okay, the coat is brown. Well brown is good for coats: it hides all the shit that’s bound to get on it whilst out and about – especially in grubby underground carparks and the like. But elsewhere upon the lithe, almost youthful body (at a distance, with your eyes shut), you will discover a rainbow of autumnal colours. Is that plum you detect upon the stylish fabric shoes from Spain? Are there reds and oranges in that checkered shirt? Are those Marks & Spencers trousers really apricot? And did he actually choose that bright yellow belt during the hours of daylight? You bet your ass he did: how else are the blinkered old fogeys that clog the Waitrose aisles supposed to see him coming? Yes – follow his example, you old fogey: stand out like a beacon of style – and don’t get in his bloody way: he has a patience deficit you know!

Earplug News 24/7: UFO Ditches in Popular Winter Vacation Lake

We bring you the news that other news outlets can’t!

Crowds of pissed-off would-be skaters railed against a trio of aliens who had crashed their UFO into a much-beloved frozen lake and thawed it with their super-heated drive plasma. Local hostillery owners insisted that the aliens remain partially submerged until either the lake refroze or they drowned. Tudor Porks – a local government official – was despatched aboard his sky scooter to reconnoiter and assess the situation, but was too traumatised to look, and flew home immediately for a cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake with his new boyfriend…

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Triple Amenaza (parte 1)

As with previous tales, Triple Threat has been badly translated on-line for Spanish-speakers around the world. If you don’t find the story funny, you will probably enjoy the translation errors.

Y en Español…

Al igual que con los cuentos anteriores, Triple Threat se ha traducido mal en línea para los hispanohablantes de todo el mundo. Si no encuentra la historia divertida, probablemente disfrutará de los errores de traducción.

Aventuras con tapones para los oídos: Triple Amenaza

Por Tooty Nolan

Prólogo

La luna de miel de Magnuss y Hair-Trigger Earplug había sido larga y ardua; pero ahora, mientras su barcaza de luna de miel, el Tankerville Norris , pasaba por la Luna de una manera bastante espectacular…

… adentro, mirando a través de un conveniente puerto de observación, la feliz pareja fue testigo de su fallecimiento del compañero celestial de la Tierra…

“Ah”, dijo Hair-Trigger con un suspiro, “por mucho que disfruté de nuestra última aventura, es bueno estar en casa”.

“Estoy totalmente de acuerdo”, respondió su cónyuge, “No puedo esperar para mostrarles a los chicos nuestras fotos de vacaciones”.

Pasarían solo unos minutos antes de que el Tankerville Norris cerrara la brecha entre la Luna y la Tierra, por lo que los únicos tapones para los oídos a bordo regresaban casualmente al puente…

… justo a tiempo para ver cómo su confiable nave atravesó la atmósfera del planeta y se precipitó hacia las nubes de abajo…

“Sabes, Hairy”, comenzó Magnuss…

Pero nunca completó su línea: Hair-Trigger pronunció las palabras por él:

“No hay lugar como el hogar”.

Luego llegó el momento de hacer un recorrido por las torres de la ciudad más cercana al Museo de Tecnología del Futuro, Ciudad de Droxford, donde los habitantes subieron a las azoteas para dar la bienvenida colectiva…

Luego, habiendo lucido lo suficiente, la nave se curvó en un amplio arco parabólico, para revelar el museo en sí sobre la holopantalla del puente…

“Quién hubiera pensado”, dijo Magnuss mientras contemplaba la vista, “qué habría sido del Museo de Tecnología del Futuro si mis hermanos y yo no lo hubiéramos visitado en esa fatídica mañana, hace tantos años”.

“Dos cosas, con toda probabilidad”. Hair-Trigger respondió en un instante. “El museo habría caído en manos de los primeros invasores: y nunca te habría conocido”.

Magnuss sonrió ante esto. Entonces, será mejor que no retrocedas en el tiempo y cambies nada. Él dijo.

Y continuó sonriendo mientras el barco se acercaba a su destino…

… porque estaba ansioso por la fiesta en la piscina que sus hermanos habían planeado para la tarde de su llegada…

Y especialmente quería probar el nuevo servicio de entrega de drones Café Puke. El se preguntó; ¿Llegó el café en una taza de plástico o el dron arrojó el vil lío marrón en la taza del cliente desde un depósito interno?

“O tal vez”, dijo en voz alta, “lo arrojan directamente a la boca del cliente”.

Hair-Trigger habría cuestionado la extraña e inesperada línea de diálogo de Magnuss, pero no tuvo tiempo: el Tankerville Norris se estaba instalando en una torre de aterrizaje…

Habían vuelto: la luna de miel era tiempo pasado: era hora de seguir adelante con la vida matrimonial con el héroe más grande del museo. Y, mientras se desabrochaba el cinturón de seguridad, no pudo evitar preguntarse qué terrible amenaza pondría a prueba el temple de los habitantes del Museo de Tecnología del Futuro.

“Algo bastante fuera de lo común, probablemente”. Ella dijo.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

The Magnum Opus Rolls On

Never one to sit back on his heels and contemplate his scrotum, Tooty Nolan has gone straight to work upon the sequel to The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah. Some shots have already been…ugh…shot: and a few  words written too! So stand by for the first instalment of Triple Threat:  the 43rd volume of the eight-year (so far) story. Here’s a handful of taster-photos… 

Lookin’ good!

Gas Giants – Near & Far!

Recently I spotted this planet shining brightly from the comfort of my bedroom window…

Winding out the zoom to max, I resolved this…

“Venus?” I mused. “Mars maybe?” But checking it out on-line, I discovered that it was one of three possible gas giants – those being Jupiter, Saturn, or Uranus. It’s probably Jupiter or Saturn, but I do so hope that it’s Uranus: because if that is the light from Uranus; then this is the light from Myanus…

There, you learn something useful every day. Gas giants: they come in all shapes and sizes.

 

Galactic Newsletter: Earth Becomes a Battleground

Consternation abounded, and the security forces of the Museum of Future Technology were alerted, when two warring alien species dipped into the atmosphere of Earth to fight their final battle.  Fortunately for all concerned, the silver ships were out of ammunition, and the red ship’s gunners were all trainees who couldn’t shoot straight…

Rather Nice Wallpapers

It’s a shame that so few of my ‘wallpapers’ are downloaded by my readers: they really are quite nice. Look, this is how a couple of them appear on my laptop…

So, if this sort of thing floats your boat, so-to-speak, simply visit any of my ‘wallpaper’ posts; click on the picture; and download it.

Here’s the Gravity Whelk at full throttle picture (above). It’s titled ‘Hot Exhaust’…

An Empty Shampoo Bottle and a 20 Second Giff

Remember Triple Threat: Hell Unleashed? The awful 20 second giff that featured a trio of earplugs destroying something with a laser cannon? Here’s a shot from it…

Well I rather fancied writing an Earplug Adventure that featured them…

A story about a bunch of accident-prone idiots getting into deep shit trouble, then finding redemption by saving the day (of course). But I couldn’t think of a story line – until I finished an interestingly-shaped bottle of shampoo. After drying (what remains of) my hair, I took the top and the bottom off the bottle. I then delved into my many boxes of plastic bits and pieces, which included other shampoo bottle tops, catheter nozzles and a wind-up flashlight. Shortly I introduced the separate parts to a tube of superglue. The result – after adding a coat of black paint – was this…

 

Too matt to see clearly? Check this out…

It’s a submarine/space ship freighter. Yes, a space ship that can travel under the sea. What could three accident-prone idiots do with that if they stowed away, then managed to lose the crew, and had to take control themselves? Well the sky – and the depths – are the limit…

The story will be titled Triple Threat. The principal  character names are Bunty Bridgewater, Ginger Slack, and Daisy Woodnut. The ship/sub, at present, remains unnamed. But I’m confident something suitably ridiculous will pop into my mind when the need arises. Watch this space!

 

 

Fun? What’s That Then?

Recently I was out and about on the…

…Back-Lane Behemoth, when I chanced upon an amateur…

…motocross meeting. It contained an eclectic mix of machines and rider talent levels. The old bikes were loud and not very fast: whereas the newer machines were incredibly quiet, and fairly flew. The vast crowd…

…was…er…vaguely interested: and the riders so cold that some of them wore body warmers, complete with flapping hoods (see above). whilst others pulled their Dad’s old jumpers on over their race kit…

…and looked a bit daft. As you can see, the track was something less than demanding. I could have ridden it fairly quickly – even at my age, and despite the fact that I last rode off-road (at speed anyway) forty-one years ago. Actually I would have jumped at the chance: it certainly looked fun, even if no budding Toni Cairoli’s or Romain Febvre’s made their presence felt. All good, clean fun – and several hikers who passed by on a nearby trail were clearly amused by the (often inept) goings on. But, as I was leaving, this arrived…

…to carry a fallen rider off to hospital. Which just goes to show that anyone can get hurt doing what they most enjoy at any time and anywhere. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my sixty-five years, it’s that Human’s aren’t supposed to have fun: they always have to pay for it, one way or the other. So, instead of giving the Yamaha a huge blast down some country roads, I did the sensible ‘thing’, and went home to create a very nice Chicken Hoi Sin…

Boring, but reasonably safe. Well no one choked on it anyway. And, who knows, maybe it saved me from a nasty accident. I’m well into omens, me.

Unsuited to the Task

I first bought a motorcycle so that I could go farther afield ( and more quickly) in my pursuit of nice photographs. My little Yamaha YBR125 was almost right, except that it took forever to get anywhere – especially against a headwind – and it hurt my bum with its thin saddle and limited suspension. But if ever there was a motorcycle unsuited to the task of carrying me along rural lanes and gravelly tracks, it’s the YBR’s replacement…

A back-lane behemoth. The Yamaha XJR1300 in its unnatural habitat. But flipping heck, isn’t it handsome! So who cares?

Never Quite Willing to Walk Away

I may have mentioned this before – in fact I’m sure I have – but sales of my e-books have, for several years, been located somewhere south of Shitville. Of course the fact that I don’t really promote them hasn’t helped. But I’m used to this situation, and kind’a content with it. No taxes – other than the few cents I pay the U.S Government. It is a very rare occasion that I bother logging on to Lulu.com to find out how my published magnum opuses are faring, because, well, it’s not worth the bother and time it takes. Well today, in a moment of madness I did; and the situation remains grim. But there have been some sales. Namely of these…

And all were purchased by users of the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader. So, like the times previous to this, I thank all you Nookers who have taken the time to read the above tomes, and hope you enjoyed them. They were written so long ago that it feels like someone else wrote them. How could such decent yarns have emerged from my fevered imagination? But, because I’m never quite willing to walk away from my literary efforts, and because there are people who like my ‘better’ stuff, I thought it might be a good idea to display a couple of extracts here, right now. To strike while the iron is (if not hot – then) slightly luke-warm. And here they are – chosen entirely at random…

Silent Apocalypse

We reached the flint-built Methodist Hall without incident. It was, as we expected, thoroughly locked. From her childhood Candice knew of a roof light through which she and her friends would gain access ‘just for fun’. Wayne had been one of those friends. She shinnied up a drainpipe. Then, upon all-fours, she climbed a steep slate roof; disappearing over a low façade. Moments later she reappeared; gave us a thumbs-up; and then beckoned us to join her.

As I struggled up the drainpipe behind Lee I considered the chosen victims of the virus: What if it had attacked the young, leaving only octogenarians? How long would they have survived?  It began a train of thought in my head:

Why were we spared? Who would design such a weapon? Either it should kill your enemy, or not: Why be so selective?’

My thoughts were interrupted: Lee, whose hand was held out to help me up the last metre or so, whispered, “Shush, we think there’s someone inside.”

When I joined them on the opposite side of the façade, I too heard the muted sound of synthesized music emanating through the glass of the roof light before us.

“I wonder what he uses for electricity.” Lee echoed my own thoughts.

“I said he’s a nerd: Not an imbecile.” Candice whispered as she set about opening the roof light. “He always finds a way of getting what he wants.”

I swung from the roof light edge. Candice and Lee were already on the floor below me. It wasn’t far to drop, but I must be careful: My landing must be as silent as possible. In the event I didn’t need to: Lee found a chair onto which I could lower myself. From there we crept about the building like thieves. Eventually we found ourselves outside of a door, through which a rather repetitive form of music could be plainly heard emanating.

Candice stepped back and threw herself at the door, which succumbed to the first blow, and she went tumbling into a room full to the rafters with music sheets and   electronic equipment. But of Wayne there was no sign. Candice screamed in anger. Then we both saw what she’d seen already: multiple TV monitors showing views of both inside and outside the building. They included views of our route of ingress.

“He saw us coming, and he’s done a runner.” She growled.

I checked the monitors. Several doors were on view. None of them were open, and appeared to be locked.

“Maybe not.” I said.

Five minutes later we found Wayne hiding in a broom cupboard. He positively quaked at the sight of his former girlfriend.

“Scratch what I said about him earlier.” She said to us. “He’s a nerd, and an imbecile.”

To Wayne she sneered, “You’re bright enough to set up surveillance, but too stupid to plan your escape? What did I see in a no-brain like you?”

Wayne slowly emerged from the cupboard. He was less than cordial. “What do you want?”

He still had eyes only for Candice: As far as he was concerned Lee and I were mere peripherals. It was almost as though we didn’t exist.

“Your expertise.” She replied. “Electronics. Sonics. Computer wrestling. I don’t know exactly. You know – your line of work.”

“Are you gonna use it against Nige Hawley? If so, you can forget it: I don’t care what you threaten me with – I’m not going up against Nige Hawley.” Wayne appeared adamant.

“Who is Nige Hawley?” I enquired.

“You been living under a stone?” He looked at me for the first time.

“No, we’ve been fighting to survive, thank you.” I took an instant dislike to Wayne Fairgrove, “And don’t answer a question with a question.”

“He only runs the town, that’s all” Wayne almost spat out the words, “The only reason he hasn’t grabbed me yet is ‘cause I’ve hidden myself away too well for him to find me.”

“I’ve got news for you, lover-boy: The only reason he hasn’t found you is because he has no use for you yet.” Candice pushed him in the direction of his electronics room. “Guess who suggested this place to us.”

On the way to his room we explained how Steve had guided us to the former church. Wayne must have realized that his hidey-hole was now compromised because by the time we arrived at our destination his skin had paled and he’d turned into a nervous wreck.

“Pull yourself together.” Candice snapped at him, taking a cassette tape from her pocket. “We want you to find out what this is all about. Stick it on your computer: poke it through some filters, or whatever it is you do.”

After Wayne accepted the tape from Candice’s outstretched hand, Lee spoke: “What are you doing for power?”

Wayne slipped into his nerd role instantly. Once in possession of the tape, he set about his task with relish. He immediately began transferring the data from tape onto computer disc. He replied whilst working, “Got a genny down in the basement. Run the exhaust up the stink pipe. No one’s noticed it yet.”

Lee was suitably impressed.

To our collective amazement, it took a mere half-hour to find the buried information on the tape. He transferred it back onto the tape so that we could play it back without the need for power or extensive equipment. Lee and I were grateful for his help, and even Candice softened her approach slightly…

“So,” she asked him, “what are you going to do now your lair’s been flagged up?

“Don’t know. I haven’t thought ahead that far.” He replied.

“Well you’d better think fast, mate,” Lee told him, “When we let your mate loose, chances are he’ll pay you a visit.”

“Steve wouldn’t do that.” Wayne argued. “He’s an old mate.”

“Yeah, but that was before you helped us.” Lee argued in turn.

“But he wouldn’t have to know.” Wayne was looking desperate, “You could tell him that I wasn’t here.”

Candice stepped in. “We could, and maybe we will: but we can’t make him believe us. Do you really want to take the chance that Nige Hawley won’t come calling himself? We found the broom cupboard easily enough; I hardly think he’s likely to miss it.”

I took, what I considered, the kinder approach: “Perhaps you should come with us. Until you can find another permanent home at least…”

“Yeah, good idea.” Lee agreed, and injected a little urgency; “We tied that Steve bloke up; but there’s no knowing if his mates aint found him by now. We’d better get a move on.”

“But my stuff:” Wayne complained. “It isn’t exactly portable.”

Candice took him by the collar. “No – but you are. Come on.” Then she dragged him from the room.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

Silent Resistance

Five minutes later Tasman and I sat in front of the monitor that showed the images that the camcorder had most recently recorded. Unsurprisingly the opening scene reflected the room in which we now sat. In the blink of an eye it was replaced by the wooden panelled interior of what looked to me like a fine English country house. In many ways it reminded me of my lost home.

Tasman must have picked up on a surge in my emotions because he slipped a hand into mine and squeezed gently. But those emotions were swept aside by what we saw next. From left of camera a tall, broad-shouldered man sporting a greying beard walked into view. He spotted the camera and made straight for it – stopping short and giving us a smile so fabulous that it must have warmed the heart of many a woman in its time.

“Janice.” He called to someone out of view, “We have a visitor.”

A heavy oak door opened from another room and a tall, willowy woman entered what I took to be a drawing room. She followed the man’s gaze. “Oh,” she said, “that wasn’t there earlier.”

“No.” The man replied. “I just watched it arrive. It just appeared out of nowhere. There was the faintest pop of displaced air. What do you reckon – dimensional relocation or time travel?”

Janice placed a finger upon her lower lip and pouted in thought.

“Peter.” She said almost admonishingly, “Do you really have to ask? Was it accompanied by a clap of thunder?”

Peter thought about it. “Not that I recall.” He replied with a slight grin that strongly suggested that he was thoroughly enjoying the situation.

“Then you have your answer.” Janice said as she apparently dismissed the mystery and made for the door, “It’s obviously from another quantum reality.”

After watching the door close behind Janice, Peter looked directly into the camera lens. He then used a colourful expletive and told us what we could do with our ‘LDD’ machine, that had we done as he instructed we would have required medical aid. A large hand then reached out and switched the camera off.

Tasman turned to me. “Wow.” He said. “People: ordinary people: in an ordinary house; who are apparently familiar with inter-dimensional travel. Did you notice that he was so matter-of-fact about it too?”

I didn’t think that the man named Peter was too enamoured with inter-dimensional travel. I said as much to Tasman.

“An Earth with more advanced technology perhaps?” Tasman surmised.

“Did you notice that they referred to time-travel as though it was commonplace too.” I said. “I wonder what LDD means.”

“Linear Dimensional Displacement, I expect.” Tasman answered. “I almost gave our machine that moniker, but Shane changed my mind for me; she said it sounded like an insecticide.”

“Perhaps we should place that reality off-limits too.” I suggested.

“I agree.” Tasman replied as he ran a pencil through the dimensional coordinates, “I’m not sure I want them knowing where we are.”   

 It’s a shame though.” I said slightly wistfully, “It was lovely seeing human adults again. I would love to have spoken to them. They may have been annoying at times, but I miss having adults around – telling us what to do and when to do it. That couple looked so comfortable together too. I wonder who they were.”

Tasman could have only imagined my feelings at that moment. Even if he’d read my mind I don’t think he could really have understood.

“Peter and Janice.” He said as he gave me a kiss upon the forehead. “Later we’ll propose a toast to them over dinner. Want to try some more?”

Naturally I agreed, and the second attempt to access an alternate Brambledown took the camera to an old country dwelling. This one was perhaps a little less ostentatious, but the decor suggested that the owner had both good taste and the money to go with it – even if most of the flat surfaces were laden down a little too heavily with what Kylie would have termed ‘expensive knick-knacks’. Clocks, glass, and porcelain antiques abounded. The loud ‘tick-tock’ of a huge grandfather clock filled the room. Between beats of the clockwork mechanism I thought I heard the sounds of doors closing in other parts of the edifice. It was late in the day, and the lowering sun blazed amber through two tall west facing windows. Footsteps could be heard approaching, and for some ridiculous reason I felt myself becoming nervous – as though we were about to be caught stealing about someone else’s home. I jumped when a door opened abruptly and a teen-aged girl in a pair of rather grown-up slacks, a cardigan, and a pair of flat slip-on shoes walked past the camera without noticing it, and descended a flight of stairs into a basement.

Tasman turned to see me in a state of confusion.

“That girl.” I shouted as I pointed towards the monitor. “I know her. She’s dead!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2014

It’s strange that I chose that particular extract at random, because it links these two books with the central characters of these two books…

…and was little more than a throw away scene. But, I remember, I was so enjoying writing Silent Resistance, that I couldn’t help but include a smidgin of important elements from books that were also a joy to create. Hubris? No, I just love my characters too much.

 

 

PPP: Proton Product Placement

When Magnuss and Hair-Trigger want to explore the surface of cold, sub-zero, and thoroughly uninviting alien worlds, they inevitably choose a used Proton 1.5 Iswara in which to do it…

Only two-wheel-drive, but it’ll take you anywhere. Mine did. Brilliant in the snow. Conversely it was a very popular choice for taxi drivers in it’s  more tropical homeland, Malaysia. Pity Proton went broke – the Jumbuck was the prettiest pick-up ever built. I liked my 1.5 – even if the family hated it and didn’t like to be seen in it. After receiving more than it’s fair share of vandalism, the already vile styling looked even worse;  and when we moved into a more affluent area, the family were unamimous: the Proton had to go! Obviously Magnuss and Hair-Trigger bought it from the scrap dealer and carted it off across the Galaxy.

Spend Spend Spend – One More Time…

Okay, yes I know I said I’d bought enough ‘goodies’ for the Yamaha – but really, at speed, the aerodynamics leave something to be desired. Windblast shoots straight off the raised ‘clocks’ and tries to lift my helmet from my head. A small screen is clearly in order. So I put one ON ORDER. And lo, verily it hath arrived…

Spanish too. Can’t be bad. Then, following a half-hour’s ham-fisted tinkering by Tooty the Wrench-Wielder – and another three-quarters of an hour test riding it (why not, it was dry and sunny), this is the result…

Spot-on. Looks nice: does the job required of it. And it was cheap too. Happy days again.

P.S you’d think I’d have put on something rather more fetching for the photograph. Aargh, you’ve seen me in my Slob Gear!

 

Aesthetics: The Art of Considerate Parking 5

In my original Art of Considerate Parking I mentioned that, whilst living in Spain, I would endeavour to park my metallic purple Renault Twingo beside bright yellow cars because I liked the aesthetics of the colourful juxtapositioning. I also mentioned that (at the time of the post) I had a tedious silver car, and that I didn’t bother these days because nothing looked good with silver. Well that car is gone – replaced with something much more visually interesting. And, finally I’ve found a yellow car to park it with…

Yes, now I can park considerately too! And if the manufacturers would produce more yellow cars (not…yawn…an ocean of grey, silver, and black), I’d do this more often.

 

It Must Be In The Genes

I have a daughter with special educational needs. She has more than her fair share of disabilities – not least the inability to communicate properly. We’ve been together for twenty-nine years, and (even with all my experience) often I have no idea what she is trying to tell me. But she isn’t stupid, and can find ways and means of getting the message home. One of these is the use of her little Sony Cybershot. They say a picture is worth a thousand words:  well since she doesn’t have a thousand words, that’s doubly true for her. So, recently, as she sat at her bedroom window, she spotted an aircraft flying at high altitude. Instantly she knew she’d seen something I could use in one of my Earplug Adventures. A couple of minutes later I was presented with this…

…and told that it would look great with a spaceship on the end of it – though not quite in those words. I duly obliged…

…and the Gravity Whelk had launched. I then took it a step further…

By the time I’d finished, some clouds had blown in and the vapour trail had dissipated. Noting that the clouds appeared as if they were being viewed from above – as though from an aircraft…

…my daughter had another creative idea: the wispy vapour trail was obviously caused by a falling aircraft or space ship. She brought the picture to me immediately. This is the result of our co-operation…

I placed the Gravity Whelk in exactly the position she indicated it should be.

 I rather think this is a case of (what they used to call) ‘a chip off the old block’. I couldn’t be more pleased.

 

Spend Spend Spend…A Little Bit More.

I said – or at least I think I said – that I’d spent as much as I was going to spend on fripperies for my Yamaha. But as I rode along, recently, I found myself getting more and more annoyed with the need to crane my neck  and twist my arms out of the way, just to see what was behind me in the rear view mirrors. So, having perused the Internet, I settled on the cheapest set  available. I chose them because I didn’t think they were going to fit, work, or be any good at all, and I didn’t want to waste too much money proving it. I spent an almighty £15 with free post & packing. Gotta be shit – right? Well here they are…

Yep, they’re plastic. They wont take  a knock, so I’d best be careful with them. But wow, what a transformation. Its like having blinkers removed. The whole  quality of the ride has been increased by…ooh…lots of percent. In fact my last ride was so enjoyable, this happened…

New mirrors: the answer to my dreams.

What Happens When…

…you give a creative genius a camera: a light wand; half a cereal box with an asymmetric ‘window’ cut-out…

…and set said creative genius loose on a laptop?

No…we’ve had that picture already, dumb-ass. You get…

…Hair-Trigger’s stylish new winter hat!

P.S Nice apartment. Perhaps a tad minimalist.

P.P.S Thank  Amazon Echo’s Alexa for correctly spelling ‘asymmetric’ and ‘minimalist’. It’s a well-known fact that creative genii can’t spell for toffee.

Succinct Cover Art

Unusually, for an Earplug Adventure, the story (and cover art) for The Lines of Tah-Di-Tah were all complete, spell-checked, listened to (using Natural Reader), and ready for conversion to PDF format long before the final few episodes appear on-line. But, since the tale is an on-line serial, I shall refrain from publishing the finished e-book/file until the penultimate episode appears – which is the usual way of things in Tootyland. But just as a taster for anyone who is planning to download the great masterpiece of silicon life – to share with friends, family, total strangers, and anyone who looks like they might be into strange stuff – here is the cover art. It isn’t flashy. It doesn’t display an exciting moment from the story. Instead I thought it should show the two stars – looking slightly puzzled. After all  they are earplugs, and this is an earplug mystery.

So now you know what to look for when it appears on the All Earplug Adventures in PDF Format Unexpurgated & FREE! page.

P.S You don’t need to wait to visit the page: there are 41 other Earplug Adventures there, gagging to be read.

Avoid Eye Contact!

When I’m out and about my home village and its environs, I tend to encounter rather a lot of other people – walking their dogs, taking the air, riding horses or bicycles, that sort of thing. I always greet them with a cheery ‘hello’ or pass the time of day with the chattier types. But (generally) young women shy clear of me. They prefer not to respond – often avoiding eye contact entirely. They tend to stare at the ground; mumble something meaningless, and hurry by as quickly as possible.  I am not entirely happy with this situation because I’m a jolly sort of chap who wouldn’t say boo to a goose. I am the epitome of ‘safe’. So, in an effort to understand their fears and revulsion, I took a picture of myself in my natural environment and tried to discern what it was that scared people. Here is the result. Tell me – does this look intimidating or dangerous?

I certainly don’t feel dangerous.