Wallpaper 430: Catkins Against a Blue Sky

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Junior Earplug Adventures: Winning Numbers (Part Forty-Two)

Having arrived in the wings via elevator, Chester and Onlie applauded quietly…

“Say, Onlie.” Chester whispered. “If this show is a success, that girl could have quite a career ahead of her. She could be the first-ever interstellar superstar.”

“I concur.” Onlie replied. “It would have been nice if she’d shown us her bum though, don’t you think?”

Although Chester agreed entirely, he didn’t get a chance to express his opinion. That is because Jed Perkins marched on to the stage in a most resolute manner. But when he took up his position, his confidence also evaporated…

…and panic very nearly set in. All his jokes just seemed to have dissipated into the air around him. For a moment an ugly silence filled the auditorium. Even Sinclair couldn’t help him this time: after all he could hardly suggest that Jed pull down his hiking shorts and show everyone his bum: it was so unoriginal. Fortunately Jed was able to fall back on the oldest and best joke in the whole world. It was a joke that would allow the captain to assist him too.

“I say, I say, I say.” He blurted. “My plugmutt has no nose.”

To which Sinclair responded with: “Your plugmutt has no nose? How does it smell?”

Jed then delivered the punchline that was guaranteed to win his audience over: “Terrible!” He bellowed.

From then on he had the audience metaphorically eating out of his hands. He told rude jokes about pitons, crampons, and other lesser-known climbing equipment. He made lewd remarks about water-proofing aerosols and bungie straps. He even added a few caustic jibes at cross-country runners; hot-air balloonists; glucose; and heather. But eventually he responded to the stage manager’s urgent hand waving and took his applause…

 

Then Wendy and Ragi entertained with a sparkly dress routine…

…whilst the next act plucked up enough courage to enter the fray. The dance did over-run slightly, but eventually Charles and Wolfgang were persuaded to come on to display their prowess with the screwdriver and torque wrench…

Unfortunately the buggy that they were supposedly fixing was actually brand new and pristine. Charles took this as an affront to his professionalism and Wolfgang duly kicked the machine on to its side…

…and, together, they stormed off.

Assuming that the multifarious expletives cast across the auditorium were part of the act, the crowd went wild. They always loved people getting angry and swearing a lot. But Captain Sinclair Brooch was paying more attention to his wrist communicator, which displayed the ship’s main viewer on a small LED screen. He was more concerned with the fact that the alien ship now hung motionless above his own vessel, whilst looking as menacing as ever…

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

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Wallpaper 429: Receding Hedgerows

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Junior Earplug Adventures: Winning Numbers (Part Forty-One)

Then it was to the Time Machine for the three members of the most secret of secret societies…

“You’re not really going to wear that stupid Guardian hat into the past, are you?” Arch Duke Ferdinand spoke sternly. “You look like a twonk. People will think you’ve escaped from the loony bin.”

“I’m very proud of my Guardian helmet.” Nobby retorted. “I wear it with…um…pride. You bestowed it upon me when I was knee-high to a plugmutt’s bottom; and I’ve never forgotten the solemnity of the occasion. I couldn’t wait to grow tall enough to wear it without getting my toenails torn off by the sharp metallic hem that, even today, still chafes. It means a lot to me. Nothing would ever make me discard it. It is who I am. Now it’s getting cold in here: I suggest we make tracks. Let’s go.”

Arch Duke Ferdinand had never heard his nephew so adamant about anything – and that included mint flavoured chocolate; lawn mowing; coarse, fibrous underpants; and Butch’s halitosis – about which Nobby had been commendably silent for his entire life. “Right then.” He said as he moved into position…

…”The motor’s running. Lets – as you say – go.”

He then stepped aside to allow his nephew and brother to enter the machine. His final act was to poke out his tongue…

…at the first few flakes of snow as they began falling through the ever-widening cracks in the ceiling.

“Huh.” He grunted in the penetrating chill. “Where I’m going there’s no place for the likes of you – you frozen freaks of nature. It’s sub-tropical beaches, grass skirts, and stunted palm trees for me from now on.”

Whilst Arch Duke Ferdinand was making his farewells to the present, in the most distant of all possible places…

…the audio tapes were slotted into the tape player, and the ‘Go’ button was pushed. As music blared from the overhead speakers, Margret Greenhorn strode on to the stage.

“Ladies, gentlemen, and – most importantly – any advanced alien beings watching this on their sensors: welcome to the Save the K T Woo Show.”

As Margret slipped surreptitiously from the stage, she was replaced by her dancing girls…

…who immediately broke into one of their winningest numbers: some Irish dancing that comprised the best bits from the classic Irish dance shows, Puddledance and Dunce of the Dance. Naturally it went down a storm. There was nothing an earplug enjoyed more than repetitive fiddle music and people jumping up and down whilst holding their arms tightly to their sides. Though Corn Flakes came a close second. 

The musical thread remained when the girls were replaced by Vera Glovebox…

Vera had a lovely contralto voice that she wasn’t afraid to use in anger whilst taking a shower: but now that she stood in front of a real audience, her confidence deserted her.

“Urgh.” She squeaked out of time to the rhythm.

Captain Brooch may not have been the sharpest captain in a fleet containing only one ship; but he knew when someone was dying on stage. Vera needed a diversion; and she needed it quickly: “Drop your knickers.” He shouted as the music tape was rewound and started again. “And show us your bum!”

This was all the confidence-building that Vera required. Recognising the silliness of her nervousness, she began again…

And, by God, couldn’t she belt it out! She sang song after song – from classical arias to swing standards – to very rude sea shanties that included songs about naughty bits. When, finally, her voice gave out, she received demands for an encore…

But the crowd had to be content with her coming forward and blowing them kisses…

And, despite the captain’s suggestion, she refrained from showing them her bum.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

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Junior Earplug Adventures: Winning Numbers (Part Forty)

Neither Chester nor Onlie had any experience with star ship control panels…

But some judicious clambering soon had the correct button accidentally pushed.

“Thrudsday, the forty-too’eth of Plinth.” They heard Sinclair Brooch’s voice issue forth from the tinny speakers in the back of the captain’s chair. “The ship has encountered an alien vessel capable of withstanding our weaponry. But worse, the ‘enemy’ craft has disabled the K T Woo, which lies dead in space and at their mercy. To avoid provoking them further I have abandoned the bridge and plan to prove our worthiness to remain alive and well by staging a variety show, in the hope of that it will display the better attributes of our earplug civilisation. It’s a long-shot, but what the flip: no one has a better idea.”

As the recording ended, Chester spotted that the cassette rack was empty. “Flipping heck.” He exploded. “They’re planning to use taped music. Please tell me it isn’t so and that I’m having a terrible nightmare. What if the tape jams, or the voltage drops? The music might go all wibbly wobbly woo. It could end in disaster!”

But Onlie was not so concerned: “This is a modern ship.” She replied calmly. “I’m sure the cassette player is almost brand new. So stop worrying. Let’s go see if we can find the auditorium.”

Chester was grateful for Onlie’s soothing words. He felt slightly embarrassed by his sudden bout of panic. He also felt sure that his elder brother, Magnuss, wouldn’t have behaved so badly. So he smiled, and in the process finally noticed how lovely Onlie’s eyelashes were.

“Phwoar.” He said under his breath.

So, moments later, having rejoined the patiently waiting Boppy, they set out in search of a show…

…which, they felt reasonably certain, lay somewhere deep inside the vast vessel…

…along a plethora of labyrinthine corridors and dead ends.

Meanwhile, outside in the darkness of space, the powerful assailant moved closer still – it’s sensors probing every nook and cranny of the K T Woo…

Also meanwhile, Hamish was in the act of showing the Greenhorn Girls the shortest route from their dressing room to the auditorium stage…

…which was a bloody long way.

“What gibbering moron designed this ship?” Delia complained, as they passed an exterior view port. “Did he draw the blueprints with his nose? Any intelligent being who was even vaguely interested in the business we call ‘show’, knows that the dressing room should always be ensconced deep beneath the stage – usually in a basement with no windows or access to a fire escape.”

And even more ‘meanwhile’, far away upon the ultra-distant alternative Earth, the Masters of Chronos were preparing to leave their native era behind them…

“I’ve packed your suitcase, Uncle Arch Duke Ferdinand.” Nobby informed his superior. “And the chronological co-ordinates have been punched into the Time Machine’s master control. It’s time to get the heck out of here, before the ice-age reaches down to take us into its deadly embrace.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

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Junior Earplug Adventures: Winning Numbers (Part Thirty-Nine)

The entertainment centre of the K T Woo had seldom been used. When Sinclair and Nancy visited it, they found the backdrop in disarray and several electrical fittings in need of repair. But that didn’t douse their passion or dampen their enthusiasm…

“Oh, Sinclair,” Nancy gushed, “it’s going to be wonderful. And to think; we have all the musical backing tracks in our library that Margret Greenhorn has asked for. With a professional dance act on board we can’t fail.”

It was just at that moment that it was fortunate that the entire crew had volunteered to prepare the show and that no one had remained behind on the bridge,because the inhabitants of the alien ship decided to take a closer look at the inert K T Woo…

But even without the problem of an enemy closing upon them, the earplugs aboard the ship managed to create enough for themselves to worry about…

Margret rushed up to the captain, his wife, and the First Officer.

“Captain Brooch.” She said in a most reproachful voice. “I’ve just been taking a look at the talent aboard your ship. Sadly I have to report there is none. There’s no one left to take auditions. My girls can dance and have some real winning numbers in their repertoire; but they can’t sing. If we don’t find some more acts in the next five minutes, we won’t have a show.”

“Oh, Sinclair,” Nancy stammered, “if we don’t have a show, we won’t have a ship left to carry us home. Be a captain: do something!”

For once Sinclair Brooch was ahead of the game. “I’ve been spying on the locker rooms and shower units.” He confided. “For several months actually. And I’ve drawn the conclusion that my crew are tone-deaf; useless jugglers; and wouldn’t know a joke if it kicked them up the arse. But worry not; the crew are not the only people aboard the K T Woo.”

He then snapped his fingers. A moment later a door opened and in walked…

…the lottery winners. Hamish was their spokesperson:

“Captain,” he said, “I’ve done as you said. I’ve auditioned the lottery winners; and I can tell you this: Vera Glovebox has a lovely contralto and can bellow her way through an aria or two with the best of ’em. Jed Perkins is natural comedian: he’d have to be – walking about in the wilds, like he does, all by himself, with nothing but the grass and sky to entertain him. Don Quibonki is a fantasist and a teller of tall tales – some of which might actually be true. His sidekick, Panta Lonez, has a charming smile. Charles and Wolfgang are magicians at fixing machinery: I’m sure they can put on a show of manual dexterity. And talking of manual dexterity: Erroneous Bosche and Hellfire McWilliams have agreed to show us all how to be great pick-pockets. Whadda ya think?”

“I think,” Margret said, as she cast an appraising eye over the performers, “that I wish we had some rehearsal time. But we don’t. Okay, everyone down to costumes and make-up.”

At that time no one within the vast ship of space had realised that they had been boarded…

So no one witnessed the passing of two interlopers and a pet plugmutt. They certainly weren’t aware that those same two interlopers had entered the bridge…

“Crikey.” Chester exclaimed. “Look at the dust in here. This bridge appears to have been abandoned.” Then he noticed the bridge toilet. “It’s been a long time since breakfast.” He said. “And I haven’t ‘been’ yet today. Would you mind awfully looking the other way?”

Naturally Onlie didn’t mind one bit. In fact she insisted…

Then she had an idea. “Hey,” she cried as she fought the impulse to turn around, “let’s see if we can access the captain’s log.”

“Yeah, good idea.” Chester grunted. “Just as soon as I’ve accessed mine.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2018

 

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Sawn Wood Art: The Planet Sucker

Take a length of cast-off wood. Saw the end off of it. Regard the result. Colour part of it with a felt-tip pen…

Then let your imagination and a free photo-editing program, downloaded from the Internet, loose on it…

Ladies and gentlemen; I present The Planet Sucker!

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