Cooking Cockups: Even Chef Tooty Isn’t Beyond Reproach

Well here I am again – dressed to kill, thrill, and, more importantly, cook…

…except for the sandals, of course. Hot fluids on naked toes probably means a visit to Accident & Emergency. Today’s recipe could probably be titled Tooty’s Cauliflower Cockup, because, unusually, it didn’t go quite to plan – not that I really plan a meal: I just assemble thoughts, then act upon them. So, first up, slap some olive oil in the bottom of a roasting thing, and start layering some sliced bacon, from which you have already removed the excess fat. I mean, who likes fat? Yuk. It tastes nasty and it isn’t good for you…

Lots of bacon. In this case I was using it up, coz it had been laying about in the fridge for too long…

For fans of greenery, chuck in a handfull of frozen peas – preferably those loose ones that have fallen out of the bag and collected in the bottom of the freezer tray…

Now chop up a cauliflower and toss it into a microwavable bowl. Add a cup of water; cover with clingfilm, and microwave on full power for 8 mins…

Oh, I forgot. Cover the bacon with something to keep the dirty bastard flies off….

In my case I used some notes that I was making concerning my next Earplug Adventure. But you can use something slightly less creative. When the eight minutes are up, remove the ferociously hot cauliflower from the microwave oven…

As you have probably noted, a vacuum sucks the clingfilm down to encase the food in a plasticky embrace. This is not good – as I was to discover. What I should have done was tip the contents into a strainer and leave to drain. But those pesky flies I alluded to earlier continued to pester me, so the clingfilm stayed put. Mistake! Then it was time to dig out the Dolphin Nose…

I call it Dolphin Nose because I was thrown out of French class at school for being utterly, amazingly useless at French. In fact my teacher hit me with a gym shoe for being so utterly, amazingly useless at French. Now, if you can find this wondrous substance ready-made in a jar, do so. Here comes Tooty’s second cockup. Mix the powder with milk and bring to the boil…

Milk expands when it boils, so choose a large saucepan. If you don’t, it’ll mean a panic-stricken transfer of hot fluids from one pan to another…

What did I say about those sandals? Anyway, add the cauliflower to the bacon and peas…

…and pour over the Dolphin Nose…

…and chuck in  a hot oven for forty minutes…

Then pour yourself a drink comprising 40% California white wine and 60% 7Up…

Drink whilst watching a re-run of Judge Judy – or something like it that doesn’t require your rapt attention. After 30 mins check that the mess isn’t burning – and sprinkle with grated cheese. In my case, the cauliflower had absorbed the water from the microwaving and wasn’t so much roasting: more it was boiling. So I had to use a chopping board to hold in the food whilst I poured out the excess water. Very unprofessional. Anyway, when time is up it should look something like this…

Mine was way too salty, because of the boiling action, which drew salt out of the bacon and infused it into the cauliflower – big time. But I’m sure yours will be as delectable as mine should have been – which is very.

Age is Just a Number – Right?

Under normal circumstances, I’d like to answer “Yes” to that assertion/question. Surely we’re all as young as we feel; and if, on any given day, we’re feeling kinda young…then young we are. But, when truth be spoken, when I look at all those tablets that I take to maintain my eyesight, keep my feet on the end of my legs, and stop me degenerating into a basket case, I wonder. Then, when trying to push-start a stranger’s car, I fall to the ground and gash myself on the tarmac road surface; and when I slump onto the sofa following some strenuous pottering about with some seedlings in the garden; and when I stop regarding my poor old todger without rose-tinted glasses on, I begin to wonder. If I’m honest with myself, I am not the man I used to be. But then, recently, I discovered this book in a bottom drawer…

It is a collection of short stories, written in the 1960’s, by a brilliant science-fiction author, who was later to write the classic sci-fi novel ‘Ringworld‘. I bought it in the late 70’s aged 23. At the time I devoured it’s fabulous stories and snappy prose. I became an overnight Larry Niven fan, and read everything of his I could get my hands on. So, recently, forty years after reading it for the first time, I picked it up and began to read. Guess what: suddenly the decades fell away. I was 23 again – and I came to realise what age being a number really means. Our bodies may fail us miserably, but our souls don’t change. We may acquire knowledge, and probably forget a lot too; but the basic us; the indefinable something that makes us all individuals, remains unchanged – unspoiled. Thank you Larry Niven (even if your later books were all lazily-written with characters who spoke in the same voice, and whom you never bothered  to introduce before (or after) they spoke, so that your reader wondered who was saying what to whom, and in the end couldn’t give a shit – I’m thinking ‘Integral Trees’ here) you made me feel young again – which is what I’ve been all along, but just didn’t realise. Who needs a perfect cock anyway? Now which motorcycle shall I go buy myself? Gotta be a Yamaha, obviously.

 

Photography: In Praise of Tiny Compacts

When I go a wandering, with only one subject on my mind – that being photo-snapping – I take (at least) one hefty camera along for the ride. Usually my Sony DSC-HX400V. But I have a few others that I give an outing from time to time – which often includes compacts of various brands and ability. But if I’m just doing ‘other stuff’ – like shopping or walking the dogs – I pop a small compact in my top pocket. They vary in size from heavy and chunky (thinking Sony W15) – to others such as the one hiding here behind this credit card-sized travel card…

Sometimes they aren’t always totally wonderful. Some really need perfect photographic conditions to produce an acceptable result. Those, when my patience is exhausted, I tend to move on to charity shops. Others just hang in there because of (for example) their comparatively long zoom lenses. But some are just darned good – no matter what. And often it is the tiniest cameras in my collection that give the most pleasing results. In particular I refer to this little beaut, which I bought in a charity shop…

It is a 12 megapixel Canon Ixus 100is. Here is the result of a test shot taken just outside my front door…

Its a tricky shot for such a tiny camera. It demands that it handle extremes of light and shade, colour, and texture. And I think it did a good job. I have (supposedly) better cameras that wouldn’t produce this quality of photo. But, I was surprised to discover, I have (supposedly again) inferior cameras that make a pretty good fist of the task too. Look at this…

Not too shabby either, huh? This is the culprit…

Its a mid-2000s 7 megapixel Olympus FE230, which is maybe a couple of millimetres larger than my much-admired Canon – which means its SMALL. But the pictures it takes refute any ideas that small, aging cameras are a waste of a photo-snappers time. To prove this assertion of mine, check out this…

As good as the Canon?

Maybe. But can it (or many other cameras) equal this Canon shot?

Probably not. So now its time to dig out another mini-compact. My bright pink Canon Ixus 130…

Let’s see how this little 14 megapixel bugger makes out!

Liberation! Vol Two – Too!

Hot on the metaphorical tail of the Liberation! Volume One re-write comes…

Yes, the 17th Child-Friendly Photo-Novel has been made near perfect and has been re-published for all to marvel at. What, before, was merely fabulous, is now…um…even better. Yes, buy the e-book at your favourite e-book seller at the first opportunity. Don’t wait until pay day: put yourself in debt straight away. You know it makes sense. Here’s a montage to make you salivate – metaphysically anyway…

Liberation Liberated From Mediocrity

Hot on the heels of…

…comes the fabulously wonderful re-write of this e-book…

…which lifts the product out of the realms of mediocrity, and catapaults it into the artistic stratosphere – which, in laymans terms, means that its a bit better than the original, and well worth a look. I like it anyway. Here’s a montage…

Fridge Nearly Empty Cooking – With Your Chef, Tooty Nolan!

The kids say: “What’s for dinner?” – to which you reply: “Dunno – I’ll take a look in the fridge.” Then, as the near-empty shelves stare back at you, you add: “No worries: dinner will be ready in forty-five minutes. I think you’re gonna like it.”

Yes – it’s tail-end of the week cooking time, when any self-respecting Dad finds himself challenged to conjure up something decent from the remains of last week’s shopping. Step up Tooty Nolan: Wonder Chef…

So what did he have to work with this time around? Take a look…

Well there are some frozen peas – always a good standby: some floppy carrots that have been diced conservatively: some equally limp onions that have received the same treatment: some slightly freezer-burnt chicken breast fillets that have been smeared with a paste that comprise garlic puree, chopped parsley, black pepper, and rapeseed oil. Of course this alone is not sufficient to feed four fully-grown adults. So Tooty fetched the rice cooker from the bottom of the cupboard and placed, within it’s steep-sided cauldron, four cups of rice and the requisite amount of water…

Then, in a moment of inspired timing, he switched the cooker on…

…which coincided almost exactly with him placing the chicken breasts into a pre-heated oven set to 190 degrees C…

Then, after making an inevitable visit to the toilet – and washing his hands thoroughly – he poured a small quantity of olive oil into a frying pan; heated it for thirty seconds; then added the carrot…

Naturally he wanted to avoid burning the carrot, so he decided not to wander off to feed the wild birds or watch television or up-date his computer’s drivers: instead he stood over his great work and stirred the contents of the frying pan. A couple of minutes later he added the onion…

…which he also stirred, whilst watching the rice cooker going ‘blub-blub-blub’…

Aware that the chicken would take 25 minutes to cook, Tooty waited until 12 minutes before delivery time to add some boiling water and a chicken stock cube to the veggies…

Also aware that in cooking – like comedy – timing is everything, Tooty stirred the simmering mess for another five minutes before adding the slowly-thawing peas…

…at which point the rice cooker went ‘ding’ and shifted into WARM mode. At almost the same moment Tooty extracted the bubbling chicken from the oven and checked that it looked fabulous…

He also checked that it was cooked throughout – which of course it was…

He then returned it to the oven, whilst microwaving the plates for 90 seconds…

Then the lid came off the rice cooker…

…a small tumbler of white wine was filled pleasantly…

A bed of rice was gently laid across each plate, followed by the vegetable mix, and finally the chicken…

…which just goes to show that you don’t have to be a great chef to knock something tasty up for your family: just someone who can read a clock and possesses the confidence to handle a wooden spoon like they know what they’re doing!

Where’s Chef Tooty?

Every day millions of fans write in and complain that they haven’t seen a cooking blog here in yonks and yonks. “Has Tooty hung up his ladle?” They ask. Well that is a fair question, because there hasn’t been a cooking blog here in…er…yonks and yonks. You see this is the result of Tooty trying to wear too many hats. He’s so busy doing so many things that (at his age) he’s becoming forgetful. He finds that he is usually half-way through a meal before he remembers that he’s supposed to be taking pictures. So, just to assure all those who enjoy the cookery bits on HamsterBritain dot com, here is an especially taken snap of a genius at work. Yes, he is still cooking…

Master Chef at work

And, other than his feet, he can still fit inside the edges of a photograph too!

Stepladder Steps Up

It has taken a while, but finally the re-write of this e-book…

…is complete. Not only that, but it has been re-published too. So, if (on the unlikely off-chance) you were considering buying an e-copy of the 14th child-friendly photonovel in the Junior Earplug Adventures series – well carry on; because now it’s much nicer than it was before – with improved quality in the photo department, and some grammatically better and more entertaining script: which just goes to show the fallacy in that famous old axiom: clearly you can polish a turd after all! Here’s a montage…

…and a tiny (cut and pasted) extract…

Product Placement – Again?

Well, obviously, no one took the slightest notice of my suggestion that they advertise on this blog. Well, I mean, why should they? It was only a joke, after all. But, more seriously, my readership has been steadily falling for yonks and yonks. I thought that, maybe, things would improve when Covid 19 placed everyone indoors and bored them stupid; but sadly I was wrong. My stats continue to disappoint. And now that WordPress seem to have it in their heads that I want the Premium Plan and are asking for real money from me, I’m considering walking away from good old HamsterBritain dot com. But before I do, I thought I might have some more fun with product placement. In this case it is a product that I actually use. And here it is…

When Magnuss Earplug and Hair-Trigger Provost find their energy reserves sapped by endless heroic acts – made in the preservation of the sanctity and liberty of The Museum of Future Technology…

…they whip out a tube of Berocca from inside their novelty sporrans; tear off the…er…tear-off bit , and up-end the contents upon their tongues. A short while later…

…they’re feeling perky as heck and ready to go kick some ass.

Berocca: makes you go-go-go when you feel totally shit! 

Product Placement?

If there’s one thing missing from the Earplug Adventures that has probably gone unnoticed, it’s product placement. Yup, you can search through 30+ volumes and you will fail, miserably, to discover any product placement. This isn’t because I’m virtuous to the point of sainthood, but because no one has ever offered me money to place their product in one of my tales – the bastards.But, just to give would-be advertisers the idea, here is a couple of product placements that wouldn’t go entirely without comment, were they to appear in the next serial / e-book…

Before they start their day – defeating would-be dictatorships and alien threats to the Museum of Future Technology and what-not, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger always enjoy a huge bowl of Scotts Porage Oats – even if it does make Magnuss delightfully windy.

And…

When Dr Gideon Snoot and Flaxwell Maltings break from their heavy schedule whilst shooting the Earplug Adventures, they pass on Cafe Puke and march straight to Starbucks. Coffee that’s guaranteed to keep them awake at the controls of the Scroton Five – and tastes quite nice too!

Okay, advertisers: I leave the ball in your court.

Photography/Story-Telling: Inspiration Can Come From the Stangest Sources.

Many are the  times that I have related prosaic sources for my Earplug Adventure’s photographs: – from peeling paint to polystyrene packing pieces: cornflake boxes to drainpipes. But the latest must be the least inspiring of all. A badly-taken photo of the sun through the branches of a tree. See, even my bad photographs can be turned into something worthwhile. At least they can, if you’re a self-professed genius like me! I was about to delete the picture, when the aforementioned inspiration struck, and I asked myself: “How would this look as a negative?” Always a good place to start when you’re looking to create something all science-fictional and other-worldly.The results of this silent, rhetorical question are five pictures in sequence – which will, most certainly, absolutely, no-chance-of-being-omitted, be included in A Tale of Three Museums. I just don’t know how pertinant they’ll be. And here they are. Imagine, if you will, that you’ve  wandered from your cabin into the control room of a Scroton Five…

 

…as it travels through hyperspace. An alarm sounds, and you turn sluggishly to regard the forward screen…

“Ugh – what’s that?” You ask intelligently. Then a form begins to resolve…

Fortunately the ship’s defense system is automatic…

You’ve read Earplug Adventures before: you know what a bunch of shits End Cap Hyperspace Pirates are. There can be only one action. “Fire!” You yell semi-coherently, as you rush for the space toilet. “Now – for flip’s sake!”

And because the ship was built on Scroton, you know the weaponry is of the irrisistable kind. Moments later…blam!

The final shot is the original photographic balls-up. It’s not the sun shining through a tree: it’s a spaceship exploding. It’s obvious really – if you’re me. And because of that, you can re-enter normal space in complete safety, and go upon your interplanetary way…

 

Photography: Girth – the Great Debate

In my earlier post, Photography; Zoom Wars, I discussed the merits of greater length. In this post I propose to debate the significance of girth. Simply put, is fat better than thin? Is dumpy better than lithe? I refer, of course, to the camera lens. Little weedy things like this Samsung ES74…

…take quite nice pictures (though it can’t handle the colour yellow very well)…

Note it has (what is technically known as) a thin lens. Now compare that with this chunky lensed Ricoh CX2…

Almost as wide as a London bus, which lets in lots of light. The same clematis taken with the Ricoh looks like this…

Er…I think they call that a ‘no contest’. Clearly a fat one is better than a thin one, which I think we probably already suspected.  But look back at the photo of the Samsung. It was taken with the Ricoh. And the photo of the Ricoh was taken with the Samsung. Now the latter was uploaded with zero adjustment to the exposure. But the former needed brightening and a tweak in the contrast – just to allow you to see the much-maligned ‘thin’ lens at all. So which camera is better now? Oh, photography: it’s all so confusing. Fat – thin? Long – short? It’s almost as bad as a penis.

Don’t Buy This Book….Yet!

It has been a while since I completed the re-write of this tremendous tome…

…but I’ve been loathe to advertise the fact. The reason for this uncharacteristic behaviour is because my publisher has recently revamped its operation, which included dropping several on-line author facilities and migrating all the files from the old system to the new…and things didn’t go…well let’s just say they didn’t go well.  From my point of view, they didn’t go well at all. They didn’t go well so utterly absolutely that – according to my account information – I’ve never sold a book, and they owe me zilch. Worrying, to say the least. They’re working on it – or so the auto-response to my e-mail said. I hope they’re working on pricing too. For some reason some of my books, in certain geographical regions, are selling for less than cost price, which means I owe the publisher if any of the books sell in those regions. Worse still is the fact that the system won’t accept my imput and let me alter the book price. Also worrying. So – for now – I’m pointing no one in the direction of my publisher. I’ve even removed the link on the side bar and the Tooty’s Books page beneath the header. But, because I can’t wait any longer to show off the new and improved photos from Worstworld Vol 2, I’ve decided to show you little montage from the book, which should show up on all the usual e-book retailers very soon…

 

Read Tooty’s Work in Any Language You Want!

That’s right; thanks to a wonderful little widget from Google Translate – over there on the right-hand side bar →, you can now select which lingo in which you’d like to read my wondrous works. Could be fun.

Look, here’s this post in French.

C’est vrai; grâce à un merveilleux petit widget de Google Translate – là-bas sur la barre de droite →, vous pouvez maintenant sélectionner le jargon dans lequel vous souhaitez lire mes merveilleuses œuvres. Pourrait être amusant.

 

Photographic Art: Making Something Out of Bugger All 1

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to present….The Space Testicle!

And just to prove that I created this wondrous inter-planetary gonad out of bugger all…here is the original shot of post-meal gravy boat dregs…

I’ll take a picture of anything and everything, me.

It’s Better to Know.

Yes it’s better to know – than not – that the delightfully rehashed version of this fantabulous e-book…

…has been published by Lulu.com – finally! Yes, I have been extremely slow regarding this re-work. Also, a few days from this post date, the new version  will replace the original at iBooks. It always take them a while to catch up – as it does at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. So, if you’re a Nook, iPad or Kindle user, give them a week, at least, before you, very sensibly try to download the new and improved version.

Of course, there follows a pleasant montage and a titchy sample of the tale…

Charm itself, I think you’ll agree.

 

Aesthetics: The Art of Considerate Parking

When I lived in Spain, I drove a metallic purple Renault Twingo. It was a terrific car, which I enjoyed driving more than any car before or since. One factor of the day-to-day pleasure came in the form of selective parking. That is – deciding which car (in a car park or at the side of the road) to park my car beside. “Ugh?” I hear those readers less concerned with aesthetics (and more into practicality) say in consternation. “Surely it’s best to park closest to where I want to go.” Not so, say I. You should always consider how your car would look beside another. I mean, you wouldn’t want to park a green car beside a red one, would you? Gosh – wouldn’t that clash horribly! Or a black one beside a silver one. Of course you wouldn’t: at least not unless you were an Oakland Raiders fan. Take a look at this picture that I snapped recently in a supermarket car park…

Now that is considerate parking. Either the driver of the yellow car spotted the complimentary shade of the blue car, and duly pulled in beside it: or it was blind chance. I prefer the former theory. When I owned the aforementioned Twingo, I actively sought out parked yellow cars – just so that I could look back and admire the artistic merits of purple and yellow. Fortunately yellow cars are quite popular in Spain. Even more fortunately,  orange cars are not. Imagine that: orange and purple: yuk! Sadly, these days, I drive a dull dark red car, which matches only with white cars – just; and a silver car which matches with nothing at all. When the time comes to replace one of them, I’m going for something more spectacular. A colour scheme that will have aesthetists going out of their way to park their car besides mine!

Any Writer Who Can Think Up the Name ‘Chunder Bellows’ Is Alright With Me

That was a reader’s quote, after his happy reading of this book…

And here’s an extract from the tale that he so enjoyed…

The first few days at Chunder Bellows School for Blistering Idiots were a total blur for Lancelot. Quite literally: The college nurse had filled his eyes with a solution that almost blinded him. It was a deliberate act: The college authorities didn’t want him identifying the persons responsible for trying to free his brain of the millstones of stupidity by beating some sense into him. But it was to no avail. All subsequent Intelligence Quotient tests came up woefully short.

Lancelot himself ached all over, and had there been a train back to Hamster Heath he would have gladly boarded it – even if he’d been forced to pedal solo for the entire journey. But as the days passed from his life – so did the bruises pass from his skin, and in next to no time at all he was well again. He even introduced the sport of Poo-Jumping to the college fitness administrator, and had a huge ramp built on the playing fields so that he could practice running down hills very fast indeed. But eventually he fell afoul of the college founder – Chunder Bellows himself.  Lancelot sat nervously in the corridor as he waited to be invited into Chunder Bellows’ private suite high in the belfry. He wracked his brains as to how he’d managed to offend the legendary hamster. Was it possible that he’d accidentally failed to notice his eminence whilst shopping in the town? He didn’t think so: Chunder Bellows came from European hamster stock, and was almost twice the size of his fellows. He also wore his head fur in a turquoise Mohican cut, and swaggered so vainly that smaller creatures were often forced to dash into heavy traffic to avoid being bowled over by him. So that seemed unlikely.

Over the next hour Lancelot ran scenario after scenario through his head until he could think no more. Only when he was utterly spent mentally did the red light above Bellows’ door finally illuminate. Lancelot had been warned about this. It could mean one of three things. One: I’m free now, please enter. Two: An aerial attack is underway: Run for the shelters. Or Three: The lock on the lavatory door is broken again, and I can’t get out. It was dependent upon the number of flashes per second as to how someone should react to this visual stimulus.

The beat of the flashing light was slow and steady. To Lancelot’s mind this indicated a certain calmness of spirit. It fitted scenario One perfectly. So Lancelot knocked smartly upon the huge wooden door, and entered.

The interior of Chunder Bellows’ suite was hugely impressive – especially to a young hamster who had lived his entire life in a two-room apartment above the town cheese shop with his mother, her aunt, and someone who referred to herself as the Fairy Lesbian. It was huge, panelled throughout with dark wood, and enjoyed a view out over the grounds of the college. Lancelot couldn’t help but notice that it also enjoyed views directly into the girls changing room, showers, and unsightly nipple fur removal facility. But he said nothing.

Bellows stood, and almost filled the room with his bulk. He didn’t offer a paw of welcome. Instead he merely towered over Lancelot until the youngster began trembling. Only then did he re-seat himself, and offer Lancelot a cigar.

“Well, well – you’ve caused quite a stir.” He boomed – not angrily, but not in a friendly fashion either. But it wasn’t neutral either, and Lancelot was at a loss to describe his benefactor’s mood.

“Is it the Poo-Jumping, Sir?” Lancelot inquired nervously, “I know that several students have miss-timed their take-off, and have consequently soiled their uniforms. But I’m sure that with sufficient practice…”

Bellows cut him off with a wave of his meaty paw. “No – it’s not the Poo-Jumping.” He growled. “I only wish that it were. At least I could do something about it. No my problem is far worse. Tell me – how did you get here?”

Lancelot wondered how literal Bellows was being. Did he mean to inquire after the route that Lancelot had taken from where he’d been clandestinely urinating in the mosquito-breeding pool – to Bellow’s office? Or did he mean the college itself? Then in a moment that the young hamster would have considered an epiphany – had he been aware of the word – he realized that during his brief time at Chunder Bellows he’d learned to think in a slightly less linear mode, and could now see alternatives to his first, and usually only, thought. It had been a general question: Not specific to time and place. The grand master of the college was asking after Lancelot’s reasons for approaching the college in order to gain entry to its hallowed halls of learning.

“It was either this – or extermination.” He blurted. Then in a more calm manner explained that he’d actually failed the Right To Adult Existence examination during his last year at school, but was given a reprieve when the mysterious Fairy Lesbian put a spell upon the examination board members, and demanded that they allow him one more chance. If he could prove them all desperately wrong by maturing into a hamster of average intellect, he would be allowed to live beyond his tender years, and not consequently waste millions of Rodentos being housed, fed, and entertained courtesy of the public purse because he was too stupid or bone-idle to get a job.

Bellows nodded sagely at this. Then he leaned forward in his chair, and peered at Lancelot in a most disturbing fashion. “That’s all very interesting – but it’s not the answer I was looking for.”

He then explained that he’d meant ‘how did Lancelot get from Hamster Heath to Poxford’?

“The last train to Poxford.” Lancelot chirped gleefully – fully aware that such a journey would never again be made, and as a result his momentous journey would go down in history.

Bellows peered some more. “Do you recall any of the passengers?” He asked.

Lancelot thought back over the intervening months. Only one person stood out from the crowd. “There was a pretty girl with powerful thighs pedalling on the seat opposite.” He recalled. “She stood out a bit.”

Bellows had a weakness for pretty girls. “Really – in what way?”

“She wore crotch-less knickers. From where I was seated it looked like two sand eels wrestling in a thicket.”

For a moment Lancelot thought that Bellows was going to have a heart attack. And it was this simple act of Bellows clutching at his chest and fighting for breath that brought forth a second recollection of the journey for the young hamster. “Oh yes that reminds me – there was that lovely middle-aged female who might have been having a myocardial infarction!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

 

My Apologies, Earpluggers…

…but recent times have not been kind to your favourite author of silicone-based stories. It has proven difficult, in the extreme, to produce a ‘new’ Earplug Adventure. I have the story sketched out in my mind; but finding the time to shoot sufficient pictures is proving impossible. But I have managed to cobble together a montage of possible inclusions in A Tale of Three Museums, and I’d like to share them with you. Perhaps you’d care to comment on them. That would be nice. Give me a little pep-up and all that…

Not bad – right?

Tooty.

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 3: Venerable Swiss Sweetener Dispensers

In the original Everyday Earplug Inspiration, I mentioned a popular coffee sweetener dispenser. In this edition, another rears its familar head. It is, probably, the first artificial sweetener available in Europe, and has been in production for eons. It is, of course, this…

Now, if you read the first post, you might be wondering just how I managed to find similar inspiration from this tiddly little transparent box – with no apparent removable parts that could be utilised as Earplug modes of transport. But look closer. Imagine that blue plastic cover torn apart and cast into the nearest litter receptical. What would you be left with? I’ll tell you: it’s this…

I’m talking about the white bit, upon which all those other plastic parts have been glued. In this case Valentine and Rudi are discussing the merits of the Punting-Modesty Facepuncher XL5 Attack Craft. Here it is in action during the Battle of the Museum of Future Technology – in the story….er…actually I can’t remember which book that was. It might have been Liberation. Yes, that would make sense…

With no ancillary parts for a second Punting-Modesty, the next Hermesetas box yeilded a Taxi-sled, which carried a group of T.W.I.T recruits to the museum in The Time Tamperer

And soon the third will appear as a sports version of the sled in A Tale of Three Museums…

And who knows what other uses it might be put to. Can you think of anything? I’m all ears – metaphorically that is. 

Just How Famous Am I?

When you’re a self-proclaimed literary genius, international author, and master chef, it’s monumentally important to discover just how famous you are. Or in the case of me – how famous I am. To this end I ‘Googled’ Tooty Nolan. Of course, strictly speaking, I should have punched in my parentally-given name. But, heck, I’m Tooty Nolan: I’ll do as I damned well please. But, anyway, I was reasonably pleased to discover that I’m averagely omnipresent. More importantly, so are my books. And even more importantly, it proves one of my assertions: I AM an international author. Look, the people of France can buy my books…

Not to mention India and Brazil…

Of course I’m well catered for in my homeland too…

And not just on Amazon either. Why, even Polish book retailers carry my titles…

Now, tell me, did you notice something peculiar about these screen-shots? Yes, none of them feature any Tooty Nolan books. Instead they display my best work. My ‘Silent’ Books – which is probably as it should be – because they really are rather good – in an old fashioned, very English sort of way. Well I think so anyway. Look, they even prefer them in Norway…

In most cases this pair of books sell through Barnes and Noble. So it came as a pleasant surprise that even that respectable retailer is willing to stretch it’s street cred by including Earplug Adventures…

And why not: wonderful prose and stunning photography rolled into one genre. It’s a no-brainer. Talking of no brains: oh dear – look at this…

Oh no – even Walmartians can read my books. The operative word being ‘can’. Maybe they have that right: unfortunately they don’t choose to exercise it. So far Walmart have sold exactly none of my books. Why aren’t I upset? 

So there you have it: clearly I am famous. Just not famous enough to keep the Bank Manager happy.

P.S This is how my daughter sees her famous Dad. Er…not exactly flattering, is it!

Arse-End of the Week Cooking (With Your Chef, Tooty Nolan)

If you’re anything like me, you hate shopping, so you’ll have bought the majority of your commestibles in one go – and hope that it’ll last you the week. As a result you’re probably left with a bunch of aging, disparate food stuffs with which you have no idea how to make a half decent meal  – and consequently end up stuffing it in the freezer, where it’ll sit until such time that either inspiration strikes or you throw it away. Hence the need for a recipe which uses up week-ending food. Step up your favourite Earplug author…

Note rice cooker and glass jar of ancient risotto rice. When I call this Arse-End of the Week Cooking, I’m including a degree of  Arse-End of Last Year Cooking too. You see I like to have the kitchen pulses on show…

Unfortunately, because they are just sitting there, doing nothing 24/7, I tend not to see them any more. So they seldom get used. Well today that situation is about to be rectified. Take a small, fancy coffee cup and fill it with rice. One per person…

And add to the rice cooker…

Cook rice; clean up the starchy crap that the rice cooker blows out of it’s steam vent; recall that it really only works well with long grain or bismati rice; leave to cool…

Whilst the rice gives up it’s heat to the immediate environment, thus increasing global warming to cataclysmic proportions, take a bag of minced pork – and slam it into a frying pan…

Cook it really quickly in it’s own juices. It doesn’t matter how badly it smells…

…or if it looks totally unappetising: it’s for your dog/cat, so isn’t going into the meal. Then, with that safely tucked away in a container, take a few examples of this sort of thing…

…and chop them into little pieces…

Chuck some chopped regular onion into some hot olive oil…

Then, after a minute or two, add in the other veg – in this case carrot, spring onion, and sweet corn…

…with some vegetable stock dissolved in boiling water. Continue to boil until its stupid..

While the veg ruminates upon the terrible injustices perpitrated against it, take the remains of Monday’s pulled ham roast out of the freezer…

…tear off a few chunks and chop ’em into bits. Then grab yourself a wok or deep frying pan…

…and transfer the cooked veg and ham to it…

Fold in the cool rice, heat for a while until it steams pleasantly – if steaming could ever be described as pleasant…

…add some black pepper…

…and YUMMY it’s ready. Remarkably, this time at least, the result doesn’t look like cat sick…

Tooty Nolan: an international author, literary genius, and master chef – all rolled into one. It’s just a shame about the hair!

 

Writing: Continuity is Everything.

I’ve been watching some 1970’s cop shows of late, in which, I’ve noticed, continuity is often a little wanting. Relationships between characters seem to change from episode to episode – depending, it seems, upon the needs and whims of the scriptwriters. In one episode a Sergeant took an exam and was promoted to Lieutenant and, at the show’s denoument, lamented that from now on he would have to call his (former) superior by his first name. The following show saw him once more cast as the brow-beaten sergeant – without so much as an attempt at explanation. Also the central character’s distinctive two-door coupe appeared as a four headlight model in active scenes, but, oddly, resorted to the earlier two headlight model for library-supplied establishing shots. This, as a viewer, annoys me beyond endurance. I’ve bothered to invest my time and cerebral energy to the show: the least the show’s makers should do is not insult me by assuming I wouldn’t notice the glaring errors. And so it is with the Earplug Adventures. Okay, maybe only three or four people read these tales avidly, and might notice; but I try my best to keep accurate continuity for them, their kin, and future generations, who, one day might discover this silicone world of wonder – despite my inability to remember stories I’ve written, or their character’s names. Take this as a case in point. When I decided to start preparing to shoot some scenes for the next photo-book, I had to read back through The Time Tamperer Vols 1&2 to find out what some of the lesser characters looked like; what their names were; what they did; and what they said. In the majority of cases the latter amounted to a single line or two of dialogue. Here’s a shot that features several of them…

No, not that one. That’s disgusting! I mean this one…

Trapped inside a force field, by the look of it. Or maybe this one…

Because it will be necessary for these characters to appear in A Tale of Three Museums, however briefly, I was required to search through the (literally) hundreds of characters that are stowed away in compartmented plastic display boxes in my attic ‘studio’. A long and exhausting task, I can tell you. Well check out the little golden-eyed guy third from the left. His name, I discovered, is Nobby De Aranquez. Why, I have no idea – but it’s a distinctive enough nomenclature, you’d think I would have remembered it. In The Time Tamperer he did sod-all but wander around in the past with all these other characters. He barely said a word. He was, effectively, little more than an extra. But because I believe in continuity, I couldn’t let it rest when (despite an extensive search that resulted in loud and extensive cursing) I failed to find him. I went back the following evening and left no prop, set, or light unturned in my efforts to return him to the fold. The result was this…

Step up Nobby De Aranquez. He who was lost is found! And this time I’m gonna have him say something significant. Heck, he might even try to chat up Hair-Trigger Provost! 

Okay, Time For Some Rude Hamster Fiction!

As per usual, when I’m struggling to think of anything new to bring you, I step back in time – to an era when I wrote books. Books with words alone, that is. No pictures. No earplugs. But, hopefully, books that include a giggle or two. Step up Hamster-Fiction. Welcome to a random extract of this wondrous e-book…

Joan and Lucas crouched in the shadows of the forest immediately opposite the great wooden gate that barred entrance to the abbey. Joan now wore Lucas’ trousers, whilst Lucas himself stooped self-consciously in his underpants, and prayed that he wouldn’t snag his scrotum upon one of the many thistles that grew thereabouts.

“You want my jacket too?” He complained.

“If I am to crush my generous mammalian mounds flat enough to convince the door-hamster that I am male, I am going to need something tight and sturdy.” Joan replied matter-of-factly.

“And what about your face?” Lucas took a moment to scrutinize his captive, “You may not be the fairest of face, but you don’t look like the arse end of a hay cart either. Where do you propose to hide your head:  inside my underpants?”

It was a facetious remark, but Joan couldn’t ignore it. “Faeces of the forest.” She replied. “We spread it about my facial fur, and in moments I’ll appear to be a slightly well-rounded urchin in need of a bath and a bed.”

“Cunning.” Lucas clearly approved. “Then once you are inside the wall you can wait until mid-morning prayer, and then open the gate to let us in. They won’t even begin to suspect until I sink my blade between their ribs. But by then it will be too late.”

Joan gulped. “Hmmm.” She managed.

Five minutes later found Joan tip-toeing towards the main gate of the abbey. She was being true to her word: She’d promised that she would finagle her way inside: and finagle her way inside she most certainly would. But any subsequent actions remained a mystery to her.

Joan raised her fist with which she planned to pound noisily upon the gate, but before the opportunity presented itself a small hatch opened upon the gate’s mighty flank. A huge dark-furred face filled it.

“Hola, buenas noches.” It said in a distinctly Spanish accent. “Como estais?”

Joan merely stood there with her arm raised – as if about to ask the teacher if she could go to the toilet.

The face then seemed to stiffen, and a look of questioning wonderment crossed it.

“Is that Joan Bugler hiding beneath a disguise of faeces of the forest that I see before me?” The face continued in an equally distinctly Spanish accent.

It was all that Joan could do to stop herself whooping with joy. “Alfonso Dos Fresas,” she whispered gleefully, “What are you doing here? I thought you’d given up the church, and were planning to return to your homeland and start a family.”

“Sí, that was my plan, Joan.” The huge shaggy head dropped so that the eyes disappeared momentarily. Then they reappeared. “But my heart was not in it. I could not leave this land whilst two situations remained unresolved. The Wheel still rules much of Prannick: And you were gone.”

For the second time in just a few minutes Joan gulped, and was lost for words. But before she could begin to search her memory banks for some profound response, Joan heard a key rattling in the lock.

“To be here at night, and dressed thus, your immediate situation must be dire.” Alfonso whispered, “Enter, Joan, but let no one see or hear you: Your disguise is weak at best: Even woodland shit can not disguise your maturing feminine beauty.”

Then the gate was opened, and a huge paw grabbed Joan by the ears; yanked her off of her hind paws; and dragged her inside.

She was still recovering as the gate swung closed once more, and the key rattled for a second time.

“Would you care to take a bath?” Alfonso inquired. “I have a spare habit that might possibly hide your physical charms. It is only slightly soiled from potato peeling.”

Joan was still feeling rather shell-shocked – both from the speed at which she’d been brought into the sanctuary of the abbey, and the revelation of Alfonso’s feelings towards her. She’d always assumed that if Alfonso Dos Fresas had any leanings at all it was towards big hunky sod-ball players. A split second later her thoughts were placed further into a whirl as Alfonso swept her into his arms, and ran upon sandaled feet – into the main building and up the wide flight of stairs; along a corridor; and finally into the self-same, stone-cold, bathroom that she’d first visited all those many yonks ago.

“I will leave you alone now, Joan.” Alfonso said as he lowered the shaken female hamster onto her wobbly legs, and set fire to some kindling beneath a huge cauldron of water. “I do not imagine that you would care to have me witness your stark nakedness by lamplight. A towel is on the back of the door. There is wood for the fire in the cupboard. I will leave my spare habit outside the door.”

Then, like a sudden summer thunderstorm, he was gone.

“Blimey.” Joan said to the empty room. “Events certainly move apace in Prannick these days. I hope Alfonso doesn’t think that I’m still a virgin: I’d hate to disappoint him.”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

As you’ve probably gathered, these hamster books aren’t suitable for children. Only big ones. Ones who have left school. If you fit this category, this book is available for you at most e-book outlets. Check out the Tooty’s Books Available Here! page for a few of the obvious ones.

Sorry, Earpluggers – Once Again.

Not for the first time do I find it necessary to apologise to my readers for the dearth of material upon this site – especially the lack of new Earplug Adventures. Although I’m loathe to give precise reasons for my inactivity, I will say that they are health-based; and until such time that I discover the state-of-play regarding the aforementioned, I can’t really find the time and enthusiasm for, what is, a prolonged creative effort. BUT, now and again, I do shoot the odd picture here and there, so (although incremental in the extreme) some progress towards A Tale of Three Museums is being made. What I can say, is that Magnuss and Hair-Trigger will return…

And Folie, Placebo, and the crew of the Brian Talbot will continue their mission from the last tale…

So it’s not all bad. It’ll just take time.

Thanks for hanging in there.

Tooty

Sources of Everyday Earplug Inspiration 2: Lavatory Fresheners

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that my camera and I seem to hang around toilets rather a lot. A strange place to find inspiration, I’m sure  you’ll agree. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t change anything. On this particular occasion I’d like to draw your attention to a little toiletry object that, perhaps, most loo-users might over-look – quite literally, if you stand up to pee. I refer, of course, to this…

You know, the simple device that does this…

They come in or sorts of shapes and…er…well…shapes…

But, boy, are they useful! Look at these natty habitat modules for use in distant places and inclement conditions…

Or maybe military outposts…

Or scientific facilities…

On all sorts of worlds…

And there’s the out-spill too, of course. The sweet-smelling stuff that the dispenser…um…dispenses. The coloured chemicals that adhere to the bowl on the way down to the water. Play with a shot of that for long enough and one can create a lava explosion…

Or, thinking bigger, a solar flare…

“Yeah, great, Tooty.” I hear you complain. “You’re an artistic genius, okay? I get that. But what the heck does any of this have to do with Earplug inspiration? I don’t see any of these bog cleaners in the Earplug Adventures!”

And you’d be right. But not for much longer. Look…

And look again…

And again…

Believe me, when I say: “Toilet fresheners are the future!”

Getting Back to My Roots 2

Prior to those pesky Earplug Adventures, I spent my free time writing my somewhat-less-than-epic (but nonetheless fabulous) Hamster-Sapiens stories. They involved proper writing. That is, writing without photos inbetween the paragraphs. Here’s a sample from one of them…

In this extract, an unpopular local hostorian has accidentally fallen through a trans-dimensional portal, into an alternative, more primitive reality…

It took a few moments for Adjusterming Boficals to make the mental adjustment required to comprehend that he was no longer in Hamster-Britain. He stared in wonderment at the shattered remains of the abbey gate. He then stared with revulsion at all the thawed custard that lay slopped all over the tops of a number of wooden trestle tables. And he goggled with disbelief when he noticed a monk nailing a hurriedly-made plaque to the gatehouse roof gutter.

“Lucas Cleats caught his knackers here?” He exclaimed to himself. “What sort of memorial is that?”

“Oh, they like to celebrate even the most insignificant victories here.” Roosevelt Teabiscuit informed him as he stepped into view from beneath the remains of the gate.

“Do I know you?” Boficals inquired – his mind still not entirely in sync with the new reality in which he found himself.

Roosevelt introduced himself. He concluded with, “I work for Fabian Strangefellow.”

Boficals shook the dormouse’s paw. “Pleased to meet you.” He responded. “Have I travelled in time? Is this the town of Bristly Bottom?”

Roosevelt put him right as regards his location in both time and space.

“Such a shame.” Boficals looked disappointed, “I’d so wanted to steal a march over Horatio Horseblanket. Now I suppose he’ll find the lost village instead of me.”

“I didn’t know he was looking for it.” Roosevelt told him.

“He isn’t – but you know how lucky that jammy bastard is.” Boficals complained. “He’ll probably trip over it whilst out exercising his pet caterpillar one day, and all the glory will be his again.”

Roosevelt quickly changed the subject. “So what brings you to Prannick?” He inquired.

“An accident, I assure you.” Boficals looked down his considerable snout at Roosevelt. “Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to go back to Hamster-Britain thank you. No one in their right mind would willingly visit a semi-medieval alternate reality: And I am most certainly compos mentis!”

Roosevelt sucked air in through his teeth, and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well there we have a little problem: The only two people capable of opening a transfer point willy-nilly are away sorting out a serious problem. Felicity and I have remained behind purely because we’re short-legged dormice, and the consensus is that we might slow them down.”

Adjusterming clearly didn’t believe a word that Roosevelt said. Just to prove this point he said, “I don’t believe a word you’ve said.” Then to add clarity to the reasoning behind such a bold and inflammatory statement he added, “Someone opened that transfer point through which I just tumbled: I don’t see anyone else around: Ergo it must have been you.”

Roosevelt sighed, but he was most impressed: The local historian’s logic was irrefutable. So Roosevelt made the decision to confess all…

“We couldn’t sleep – Felicity and I – after such a wonderful victory over the Stix bandits. We wanted to dance and celebrate, but Primrose Pickles forbade us: She said that we would need all of our energy for the next day. In any case we couldn’t find any alcohol or musical instruments, and they haven’t invented the record player yet. So we did the next best thing.”

“You decided to have rampant non-reproductive sexual intercourse.”

Roosevelt looked at Adjusterming with new respect. “Yes we did.” He replied slowly. “We did it all over the place. And it was just as dawn was breaking that we decided to be extra daring, and do it in the open.”

“You decided to have rampant non-reproductive sexual intercourse upon the trestle tables.”

Roosevelt’s respect for Adjusterming grew exponentially. “Wow.” He said, “How did you know?”

“The buttock-prints in the spilt custard.” Adjusterming replied as his paw swept around to encompass the trestle tables. “They are clearly extremely feminine.”

“Incredible.” Roosevelt said breathlessly. “Why I do believe that your powers of deductive reasoning exceed those of my employer, Fabian Strangefellow. Tell me – what do you anticipate my next piece of information to be?”

Adjusterming stroked his chin intelligently, and withdrew a clay pipe from his back pocket, which he proceeded to light with a match that he kept in his ear for just this sort of occasion. “I am Hamster Heath’s foremost historian: It’s my duty to know all about the people of the town – just in case one or two of them do something noteworthy. For example I know that a certain dormouse by the name of Roosevelt Teabiscuit is well known as a psychic catalyst. I must confess that up until this moment I had decided to withhold judgement upon that claim, and refrain from labelling you a charlatan. But now that I have learned that you have been experiencing Felicity Bugler’s rude portions, I am now forming the opinion that the ‘word on the street’ is correct. Further I would now wager that at the height of her ecstasy, whilst slithering about upon the top of that trestle table over there, she opened a part of her brain that had previously been closed, and involuntarily opened the trans-dimensional portal through which I arrived.”

Adjusterming hadn’t noticed, but Roosevelt’s mouth had fallen open with astonishment. “Cor.” The dormouse whispered, “You aught to be a private detective. Everything you’ve said has been accurate to at least three decimal places.”

As was his wont, Adjusterming came over all snooty. “Naturally. Now can you make the intuitive leap necessary to estimate my next request?”

Now had Adjusterming been talking so rudely to…say…Horatio Horseblanket (or his mother, Molly, or even the town’s retired police constable – Bootsie) then perhaps he could have expected a blank expression and a gaping maw: But he wasn’t: he was talking rudely to Roosevelt Teabiscuit – and if there was one thing that Roosevelt had learned throughout his adventures with his girlfriend, Felicity, it was to make intuitive leaps. “Sorry, no-can-do.” He replied firmly.

“Sorry, no-can-do?” Adjusterming queried.

“You want me to give her one.” Roosevelt stated it simply enough. “Slip her a length, as it were.” He added for clarity’s sake.

“If, by that, you mean that I require you to engage Felicity Bugler in some sordid sex-act – yes you are entirely correct. I want you to give her ‘one’ just like the ‘one’ that you gave her earlier. I want her orgasmic crescendo to recreate that portal again. I want to go home!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2013

Gosh, that was ruder than I remembered it. Naturally the e-book remains available at most e-book stockists. Check out the sidebar book covers on the sidebar, or the Tooty’s Books page beneath the header, for easy access to the better known ones.

The Evil Act is Done!

Of course the evil act to which I refer is the removal from this blog of the wondrous serialised version of…

Now it can only be obtained as an e-book from almost every e-book retailer in the known universe. For easy access to Lulu, iBooks, Nook, and Kindle see the sidebar book covers, or the pertinent page beneath the header. You will have never made a better decision – of this you can be assured.