Well the holidays passed peacefully (the Badfort Crowd have been surprisingly well behaved) - until news came of fisticuffs on the Homeward moonbase.
It appears that a some dwarfs had a few too many celebration drinks and it all ended up in a bit of a brawl.
I can see that one of my New Year's resolutions will have to be going up there to bang a few heads together. After all, next year will be the fortieth anniversary of my first trip. That is when the moon was claimed for Homeward by the planting of a flag.
I write this in the early hours of the morning. The sky is perfectly clear as midnight comes - not a creature is stirring. The only sound disturbing the peace around Homeward is an intermittent but loud droning sound - Beaver Hateman is snoring.
It is very difficult to concentrate on my literary efforts with that racket going on.
My Christmas Eve party was a huge success, if I say so myself, and all my guests are replete and fast asleep.
It was a great evening. The Great Fire around the Big Tree made the snow for yards around rose-coloured. The lights on the tree made a great pyramid of colour against the walls of Homeward. Even the Badfort Crowd, for once, added a picturesque touch, for they had made torches out of old rags wrapped around bits of wood and dipped them in scob-oil before lighting them.
Hateman was quite nice, for a change, and told me I had organised a good flare-up. He moaned a bit about having to drink Hot Joey but said he could lace it with Black Tom.
I made a short speech telling my guests that if they climbed the tree they would find presents. Surprisingly, the Badfort Crowd did not try to take more than one each.
We then had a mighty feast and followed it with songs.
Every Christmas Noddy Ninety likes to give a rendition of his action song 'At the Gates of Metz' also known as "On a Bitter Winter's Night". Ninety says he was educated in Germany, at Metz. Nobody is old enough to contradict him. For an old man Noddy Ninety has a piercing voice. Every word could be heard above the crackling of the great fire. On a bitter winter's night By the gates of METZ I waited in the fading light, In my torn VEST.
Only just across the way, Was a sausage SHOP But it was no good to me, Pfennigs I had NOT.
There are lots of verses to this song and when he has finished nothing satisfies him but to start all over again. He did so this time with the verse:
On a bitter winter's night By the gates of ULM I waited in the fading light, With my fingers NUMB.
Suddenly I heard a voice The night was black as PITCH 'Come up here, you hungry ones, And share my fish and CHIPS.'
Good old Burgomaster Griff Fills me up with OATS, Puddings, ham and bannocks grilled Slices of hot ROAST.
Yesterday I came this way Loaded down with ANGST Now I celebrate the day Full of joy and THANKS
The Badfort Crowd followed this with some dubious song of their own but at this point I decided to make sure the fireworks were all ready for the off and slipped away.
Once again, Cowgill had arranged a beautiful display that delighted my guests.
Must sign off now - I can hear the bells of Santa's sleigh above the roofs of Homeward. We always like to share a sherry and reminisce about Christmases past.
Preparations are well under way for my big party tonight.
Last night, we decided to do a spot of caroling with my great friends the Respectable Horses. They always look so neat and tidy, and it's wonderful to see how smooth and black their coats are. Near the throat they have a patch of white almost like a clergyman's collar, and they always have well-brushed hooves.
Our caroling was in aid of a Home for Retired Horses. The Respectable Horses singing, I must admit, is really painful. Horses cannot be said to have good voices, and theirs are particularly dull and heavy. Still, they manage a few good notes now and then - and I had brought my Bass Viol which I have to say, in all modesty, I think improved the tone.
We had just finished a rendition of "On a Bitter Winter's Night" when a roar of engines filled the cold night air. We were suddenly surrounded by, what appeared to be, a gang of bikers.
It was Beaver and the Badfort Crowd. It would appear that not all of Cheapman's goods had been returned for they were all astride his halfpenny motorcycles.
"Hi Unc - thanks for the invite. What do you think of our new motorised transport?" said Beaver.
I replied that I suspected that it would just enable them to ride around terrorising the countryside even more.
"That's the thanks we get for coming out on a cold winters night to help you caroling!" he replied. I felt quite sheepish - I must admit I tend to think the worst of them.
They agreed to help us along with the next song, and so we began. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us. They're green when summer days are bright; They're green when winter snow is white. O, Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us!
at which point Beaver and his gang cut in...
The people's flag is deepest red, It shrouded oft our martyr'd dead And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold, Their hearts' blood dyed its ev'ry fold. Then raise the scarlet standard high, Within its shade we'll live and die, Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, We'll keep the red flag flying here.
I should have known - a leopard never changes it's spots. I can't believe I have been suckered into inviting them to my Christmas Party.
For those of you who cannot make it to my party - here's a jazz version of "O Christmas Tree"
As always at this time of year at Homeward the weather is fierce. A series of spasmodic blizzards has set in but luckily they follow the same pattern - snow nearly all day but clear in the late afternoon and evening.
Because of the weather some guests, with far to travel, have already started to arrive for my Annual Christmas Eve Party.
Yesterday evening dark figures, some on skis, some with toboggans, could be seen moving down the white slopes from Badgertown. The moon was like a bright silver plate and the sky was full of glittering stars. Many of the guests were carrying lanterns and these made moving points of light.
Watching from the battlements of Badfort we could see Beaver Hateman getting more and more annoyed. He clearly could not cope with the sight of so many on their way to the biggest feast of the year - knowing he would be missing out on the 'nosh-up'.
Today I have had word of some truly miraculous events.
Dearman informs me that he has managed to sell the motorbike, that he paid an extortionate amount for, to a diminutive figure carrying a load of skewers.
Mister Cheapman says that his reputation has been restored. A strange man wearing a moth-eaten sack cloth 'Santa Costume' has been around to all the stores that had been sold Cheapman's goods to sell at inflated prices. He has bought any unsold goods back and returned the money to all customers that bought the goods!
It truly is a Christmas miracle and shows how even the most fallen amongst us can turn over a new leaf at this special time of year!
My heart warmed by these good deeds, I actually felt a tear in my eye as I wrote out the invite to my party for Beaver and his gang. Who would have believed that I would ever have felt pleasure at welcoming my nemesis to Homeward?
Cheapman arrived with a present for me - an extra special thank you for my help he said.
Socks! - I ask you ? how unimaginative.
Then the Old Monkey pointed out the fact that they were actually made from gold thread.
I received an invite, yesterday, to Doctor Lyre's Christmas Party for the Children of his School.
It had the usual groveling tone.
Dear Chairman and Friend,
I have decided this year to give a Christmas party. We all want you to come and grace the occasion. It will just be an afternoon affair, so won't take up too much of your valuable time. I will be providing tea, but of course any little additions you would like to bring would be welcome, and if you felt like giving a silver scramble I would not object. And if your regal mind felt that the headmaster, who is usually forgotten on these occasions, should have some small token, then I would welcome it. But these are trivial matters. The great thing is to have you, you, you. Do please come.
A LYRE, M.A., B.SC., M.O.U.S.E.
I did not much like the letter, but decided, for the sake of the children, to attend.
I took plenty of food because knowing Lyre he wouldn't be getting them much for Christmas tea.
There was a big crowd of children and parents. Dr Lyre led me onto the stage and made an announcement. "Now that the Chairman of our Governors has arrived our festivities can begin. I would just like to say it has been a splendid year. Quite a number of boys have learned to read and write, but most importantly everybody has learned the importance of respect and obedience."
"Rubbish!" came a cry from the back. Dr Lyre went puce. "Which boy said that!" he demanded. A skewer thudded into hid mortar board. We all looked in the direction it had come from and there was Hitmouse dressed as a schoolboy standing on a desk!
"Yeah do as you are told or no invites to Christmas Parties - that's the way it goes ain't it UNC!" he shouted. "Rise Up, Rise Up before you are turned into mindless zombies by the Capitalist hierarchy !" he continued... before throwing one last skewer at me and jumping out of the window. Luckily, I was able to fend it off with a copy of Dr Lyre's History of Lion Tower which some unfortunate child was due to receive as a prize for good behaviour. A singularly tediously boring book.
After this little fracas the day improved. I had brought a large sack of toys for the children - containing mechanical models of all kinds, tool kits, games, bows and arrows, books, and chemistry sets. Perhaps the children would take Hitmouse's advice and blow the school up. One could not condone such behaviour but with a Headmaster like Dr Lyre one also could not blame them.
We then sat down for tea. As I suspected Dr Lyre had made scant provision - a bun and a cup of tea for each child. He claimed that it was all the school funds would allow but I could not help noticing that his study had been recently lavishly redecorated and a new portrait of him was displayed in the hall.
Luckily, I had brought mince pies, iced cakes, sausage rolls, ginger nuts and chocolate biscuits. So we had quite a feast in the end.
As for Hitmouse - I say again, I will not be brow-beaten into giving them invitations to my Christmas Eve Party !
I was going to send out my usual Christmas card - a picture of me at one of the many charitable events I attend. You know the sort of thing - me surrounded by young dwarfs from the orphanage or poor homeless beavers. All smiling up at me, full of warm and friendly feelings toward their benefactor. But I do find all this gratitude somewhat overwhelming and embarrassing.
I am so pleased with the photos taken at last nights performance of my annual Christmas Play that I have decided to use one of them instead.
For this year's play I decided to do my own version of "It's a Wonderful Life" based on my own humble beginnings.
It is the story of a poor student elephant cast into despair one Christmas Eve. He has been falsely accused of stealing and crushing a bicycle that, in reality, he only borrowed.
He is about to throw himself into the river when a punt passes beneath him carrying an angel. The angel looks fearful at the thought of being crushed. He turns out to be the elephant's guardian angel who attempts to dissuade him from taking his own life by showing him what will happen in the world if it is not blessed by his presence.
Firstly he sees a sad monkey scavenging for scraps amongst the trees - his full potential never realised. Then he is shown a poor white cat, working for a pittance, wrapping up parcels for Wizard Blenkinsop. Next he sees visions of a detective fox reduced to working on divorce cases, and a fine engineer having to fix vending machines for a living.
The Guardian Angel also shows him a mangy beaver, once a well respected King, lying in a gutter. Deposed by his subjects for his poor financial management.
The final nightmarish prophecy is the worst. Wizard Blenkinsop is forced to sell the great Castle of Homeward to a disreputable looking character called Beaver Hateman.
It soon becomes a debauched house of sin, where every night is party night. Before long this, once glorious, stately home is a shambling run-down shanty town.
The Guardian Angel has made the young elephant realise that he will touch many people in a positive way and that his life will be truly wonderful.
He decides not to jump - determined, once more, that he will rise from his humble beginnings and make a difference to the world !
On returning to his student digs he discovers that all the other students have rallied around to pay for the broken bicycle. He gives them all I.O.U.'s.
We are then transported to the future where Uncle (for it is he that is revealed to be the poor student) is surrounded by his grateful followers and the many beneficiaries of his largesse.
As you can imagine - there was not a dry eye in the theatre.
I dread to think what kind of propaganda Beaver Hateman is promulgating with his Christmas Card this year.
Every Christmas I like to sit down in the fireplace of the Great Hall of Homeward and watch a videotape recording of one of his masterpieces.
Last night we watched his great tragedy Antony and Cleopatra. I must say I was moved to tears by the tragic grandeur of their infatuation.
Is their relationship one of love or lust? Is their passion wholly destructive, or does it also show elements of transcendence?
Here is an excerpt for your delectation - the only element that mars this presentation is the fact that, for some reason, the audience keep laughing all the way through ? - the hoi-polloi often misunderstand the great playwrights - or perhaps it is nervous laughter ?, the audience falling into Wiseman's ingenious trap: the playwright has devilishly induced the audience into involuntarily laughing at the drama of the events.
Some followers of Beaver Hateman have set up some sort of Appreciation Society for the ne'er do well on the interweb.
Luckily, and somewhat foolishly, they have posted pictures of themselves on what can only be described as a wall of shame.
The Old Monkey has dispatched posters of them to go up around all the entrances to Homeward. The inhabitants have been told to be on their guard. These anarchists shall not be allowed to disrupt the festivities.
Every year at Homeward I like to have a really big tree outside Homeward so that everyone can climb amongst the branches for presents.
Yesterday we were up early so that the great work of decoration could begin.
The Old Monkey is very good at hanging the decorations and presents. He skims up and down the tree. I can hang a lot of the heavier presents just by curling my trunk around a bundle and lifting it among the branches. Then the Old Monkey can fasten them.
All was going well until we noticed that the star on top of the tree had been replaced with an entirely different form of decoration.
In it's place Beaver stood precariously on a branch shouting through a megaphone. Some nonsense about the fat old tyrant banning the workers from his Christmas party. He accused me of being a humbug and a scrooge.
I say again, I will not be brow-beaten into giving him an invitation to my Christmas Eve Party !
The musical soiree in the Great Hall of Homeward was a great success - marred only by an incident with the Badfort Crowd.
I had just began my performance on the Bass Viol when a curious noise began on the other side of the moat. It came steadily nearer drowning out my virtuosity.
"It's the Badfort crowd, Sir" said the Old Monkey, peering out of the window. "They've got a sort of band. Most of them are there, Beaver Hateman, Sigismund Hateman, Jellytussle and several others!"
The noise was absolutely vile. The instruments on which they were playing were mainly old pans with bits of wire strung across them. There was a trumpet made of old water pipes. Beaver Hateman was banging a big drum.
They were all shouting "We want our invite!... We want our invite!"
When Beaver saw me he took off his broken top hat and waved it at me. "A serenade to the Master of Homeward!" he shouted and then they all began to sing the most vile song.
"Listen to great big Unc. Screeching like a cat. He thinks he can play but fools himself. It's just another racket. Lying, swindling and boasting, Onward through life he goes; Each morning sees some crime begun, Each evening sees its close; Somebody bullied, somebody done...
Luckily at that point the Little Lion, who's musical sensitivity had clearly reached breaking point, had had enough and decided to sit on Beaver. That shut him up and by the time they had got Beaver free they were exhausted and just skulked off home.
I was then able to carry on with my recital, which was much praised. For some reason they kept the Little Lion locked in the kitchen? I suppose that they were rewarding him with some special culinary treat but it does seem a shame that he missed my fine playing.
As for Beaver - I will not be brow-beaten into giving him an invitation to my Christmas Eve Party !
All the invites for my annual Christmas Eve party have gone out... with the exception of one. There is a long-standing custom that we have a truce at Christmas and Hateman and his tribe are invited to Homeward for the Christmas festivities, but, unless they make good on the dodgy deals they perpetrated with the goods from Cheapman's, I have made it clear that there will be no invite this year.
Tonight is the night of my Christmas Musical Soiree. I had one last lesson with my music teacher to hone my skills on the Bass Viol. He is a little man called Gordono. His real name is Thomaso Elsicar Gordono. He's an Italian, and everyone calls him the Maestro. The worst of it is he has such a dreadful temper. He gets into a passion over his music, and tries to throw himself out of the window because he can't bear to hear things played badly. He is always accompanied by a small lion, called the Little Lion. No one knows his real name.
Although he is grown up, the lion is hardly larger than an Airedale dog, but he's fearfully tough and compact. He also has one curious power. He can make himself heavy beyond all reason. He does it in a moment. Try to get him out of a room. You might think it easy enough but the moment you try to move him you find your mistake. He doesn't resist you. He simply makes himself heavy, and though you'd hardly believe it, he must weigh about a ton!
He seems to like music for he listens attentively to the Maestro.
I know that I can be a bit heavy on the bow occasionally, and I may have hit one or two false notes - but the Maestro's reaction was ridiculous. He threw himself on the ground in a passion, grinding his teeth.
Then he got up and rushed to the window. He was about to throw himself out when he realised that he was on the ground floor.
He looked rather sheepish, and contented himself with screaming a bit. After that he cooled down and the lesson proceeded. I ask you - talk about temperamental!
It seems that my detective A.B.Fox has gotten to the bottom of the mysterious business of Cheapman's goods being sold at inflated prices at other outlets.
He has organised a surveillance operation at Cheapman's and asked us all to go to a meeting at the store to discuss his findings.
A.B.Fox asked us to come to the back entrance to avoid being detected. We met him and Mr Cheapman at the Goods Entrance - a huge yard full of lorries and bales of goods and packing cases all labelled with the name of Cheapman. From there Cheapman led us to his office, a large room furnished with gold-painted chairs and tables, and a magnificent gold desk with a chair behind it as big as a throne. I must admit it annoyed me slightly that his office was better appointed than even my own.
I asked A.B. what he had discovered but he informed us that it was best for us to see for ourselves. He hurried us along a broad passage to a where a sort of glass elevator-cage on wheels was waiting - Cheapman's air-car.
Cheapman's store is circular, and there are no steps but a kind of spiral walk rising gently from floor to floor. There is a great hollow space in the middle, with one gigantic pillar supporting the roof, and adorned with coloured lanterns. Round the edge of the galleries runs the rails on which the air-car travels. In this Cheapman can go from top to bottom of his store, stop anywhere and keep a general eye on things.
I must admit I was greatly taken with the air-car, and resolved to discuss with Cowgill the possibility of having such a car in one of the towers at Homeward.
The air-car stopped above Santa's Grotto in the centre of the store. A.B.Fox pointed below and it soon became apparent that all was not well. It seems that the Old Monkey had been right in describing the behaviour of Santa as somewhat strange. At the back of the grotto various inhabitants of Badfort, dressed up as elves, were loading goods onto sledges and taking them out of a secluded side entrance to the store. They were being directed by Santa who, without the big fluffy beard, could clearly be seen to be none other than Beaver Hateman !
We immediately called the Badgertown police who managed to arrest Beaver. Sadly the rest of his motley crew managed to scarper down a hidden tunnel in the Grotto.
As Beaver struggled in the arms of the constabulary he merely looked contemptuous. "You've got nothing on me big shot!" he snarled at Cheapman. "You Sir, are fired and can expect to spend Christmas in Chokey!" said Cheapman. "I don't think so," said Beaver "I think you will find that I have receipts for all the items I have purchased from you!" he added smarmily producing a wad of papers from his pocket.
A.B.Fox inspected them. "I am afraid he is correct Mister Cheapman," he said dejectedly "he has receipts for it all - look." and A.B. handed the papers to Cheapman.
"See, don't like it when you are caught out at your own Capitalist game do you?" cackled Beaver. "We were just doing some honest trading - not our fault if people are willing to pay over the odds for stuff we have bought from you is it?."
The Badgertown police had no choice but to release Beaver without charge.
"This is outrageous !" declared Cheapman "I don't understand how they managed to snap up all the bargains?...why was no-one else interested in buying them?."
"I think I can answer that question, Sir" interjected A.B. "Look at this secret video tape recording I made of Santa at work."
A.B. started the tape deck and we could see Beaver attempting, but failing badly, to behave like jolly old Santa. He had a small dwarf child on his knee. "Well hello there you orrible little urchin - wot you want for Crimble then?" he said. The little child piped up "I would love one of the halfpenny motorbikes please Mister Santa!".
"Oh no," said Beaver "That's not a good idea - they are a veritable death trap."... then in a clear aside to the mother he said "Rubbishy foreign imports - why do you think they is so cheap?". "What about one of these?" said Beaver holding up a horrible looking doll. "It's a fully working Hitmouse doll with it's own pen, hating book, and set of six skewers - only £40!" exclaimed Beaver.
The mother looked aghast but the child became ecstatic "Oh yes, can I have one...please Mum...purleeeeeese!" it cried. Looking extremely unhappy, but clearly anxious to please the child, the mother handed over a wad of cash.
"Outrageous ! " cried Cheapman "this sort of thing will ruin my reputation.....is there nothing to be done?"
"Technically they have not really committed any crime, I'm afraid." said A.B. "at least, Beaver has been sacked and can cause no more damage." he added.
I have an idea, however, on how to bring pressure to bear on the miscreants to make good their bad deeds in time for the season of goodwill.
I have asked my detective A.B.Fox to investigate the confidence tricks that have been inflicted upon Mr Brashbag and Mr Dearman.
I shall report on his discoveries in due course.
In the meantime, as you know I shall be playing my new gold Bass Viol at my Christmas Musical Soiree - and many of you have asked what this old instrument sounds like. So here for your enjoyment is some Viol Consort Music by Christopher Tye (1505-1573).
I really have had enough of Christmas shopping - and I have all the gifts I need now. However, I felt I had to make my usual seasonal visit to Duncan Dearman's Shop.
Dearman's is a little shop in a side street opposite Cheapman's huge store. All his goods are frightfully dear, so you can guess he has very little business; in fact I am the only customer he has. Beaver Hateman says that if I wasn't so fond of showing off I would not go there either. That is the thanks you get for trying to help local businesses.
As we arrived Dearman was changing a ticket on a thin, battered, tin milk jug. The ticket said YESTERDAY'S PRICE £21 TODAY'S PRICE £25. He was weeping loudly, and bemoaning his lack of customers. Honestly, the man has no understanding of commerce. As soon as he saw me he rushed up and lead me into the shop. It is so small that with me in it, it was full.
Dearman had to stand on the counter. He tried to sell me an alarm clock with one leg off for £93 7s 6d. I was desperately looking around to see if there was something I could buy, if only to show my largesse during the festive season, when I spotted a familiar looking motorbike on sale for £3,000 6s 6d.
You do realise, I explained to Dearman, that Cheapman has the very same motorbikes on sale for a halfpenny!
He was astounded - he had been told that they were an exclusive item that no other shops would have and that he would be able to purchase them at a fraction of the retail price - £2,050.4s 2d !
My ears pricked up when he started moaning that the seller was the one person you would have thought you could most trust at this time of year. I inquired what he meant by this remark. Why Santa, of course....I bought them from Santa !
Christmas shopping never seems to end. One is expected to give so many gifts when one is the owner of a castle.
I decided to make a visit to Steiner Brashbag's Antique Shop in Ironside Tower near the Treacle Tunnel - he always has the most interesting curios, eighteenth-century crabtree cudgels, medieval boaster's stools and the like.
Brashbag is a thin anxious-looking man. He has few customers and is always pleased to see me. "Oh sir, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a visit from you." he greeted me "Word gets around when you've been, you know, and others come. 'If the Master of Homeward shops at Brashbag's Antique Shop. I must try it too!' That's the way it goes!" he said.
It is true - the paparazzi had been following me on all my Christmas shopping trips. The celebrity magazines would soon be full of details of all my purchases.
I asked him if he had any new interesting items. He had a first edition of The History of Lion Tower, a Cavalier horse-shoe scraper, a Spanish spider trap. I already have all those, however. He tried to interest me in Robin Hood's tooth-brush but I doubted it's provenance.
Brashbag is not quite the expert he claims. He once tried to sell me an old biscuit tin painted brown that he claimed was a log-box given to Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII during their courtship.
I purchased a few elastic photo frames (you can make them round or square, large or small, to fit the size of picture you wish to frame) as gifts - and then suddenly spotted the most glorious gold Bass Viol.
"Oh Sir, yes that is a delightful item" said Brashbag "once played by Mozart himself, but I'm afraid it is rather expensive - £5,000." I'll take it I said and he promptly fainted. I think I had made his Christmas.
I know one should not really buy for oneself when Christmas shopping, but it had a lovely tone and would make the perfect impression at my Christmas Musical Soiree.
The Old Monkey then spotted some bags of flour. Brashbag admitted that they were not the sort of thing he usually stocks but had felt sorry for the rather dissolute man he had bought them from and had been assured that they were the actual bags of flour used by King Alfred when baking the famous burnt cakes. He was rather pleased that he had managed to purchase the items for the knock-down price of £3000.
The Old Monkey whispered in my ear. He said that he had removed the old parchment label and underneath it was a Cheapman's Store label.
I thought it best not to say anything to Brashbag and spoil his happy mood - clearly, however, someone was up to some yuletide criminality.
Yesterday I decided to make a start on my Christmas shopping. As always my first port of call was Cheapman's Store. It's a really delightful place. A huge building in the middle of Badgertown. You can get things for next to nothing. Nearly all the badgers shop there. Of course there are other shops, but they have a struggle. They get what they can by weeping at their doors and entreating people to come in.
Cheapman had some special lines for Christmas - Motor-bikes at only a halfpenny each and flour at four sacks a penny. It's a mystery to me how he makes his profits but make them he does - he is almost as rich as me and far richer than the King of the Badgers. It was quite exhausting trying to decide between all the bargains, so we decided to have an early lunch.
I ordered a halfpenny lunch for myself, the Old Monkey and Cowgill. It consisted of twenty-five courses and took us three hours to get through. At the end the waiter tipped us with a parcel containing a games console, eight pounds of chocolate and a very nice brass trombone. I gave the console to the Old Monkey which pleased him greatly.
The day was somewhat marred by an unfortunate incident in Santa's Grotto. The Old Monkey had excitedly insisted on going in - but came out looking decidedly put out. Father Christmas had been quite miserable and rather rude - accusing the Old Monkey of pretending to be a child to get a freebie. The Old Monkey said that his costume was quite dirty and he looked very dishevelled. There was a strong odour of Black Tom about the place as well.
I'm sure that is not the sort of Christmas spirit Mr Cheapman had in mind, but one has to admire his philanthropy in employing a down and out.
I come here to escape the administrative burdens involved in the ownership of Homeward - and to indulge my creative muse.
There is no telephonic communication here and the Old Monkey knows that he must only disturb my peace if faced by another outrage from the Badfort Crowd.
Here I am unassailable.
I'm usually at my desk by 8.30am.
I have finished a number of novels and plays in this room. Now and then I sit back, look around at it and at the things it's gathered over the years and think: this is a nice room to be in.
The room is fitted out with two desks. One is of fine oak and has brass handles and all the necessary drawers and pull-out trays. This I write at. The other is a small occasional table that contains a big bunch of bananas. Behind my ergonomically designed chair (for the larger figure) I also have a large well stocked fridge. These are there in case I get peckish whilst ruminating. If food be the music of literature, eat on, ....as, I think, the Bard of Avon once said. I must say, a nice snack usually gets my creative juices flowing.
Talking of music - I always listen to music when I'm writing. I have a gramophone on the desk - usually playing some stirring brass band music. I have a great fondness for music and am attempting to learn the bass viol. If I am having difficulty in my literary efforts I'll have a little practice on the bow.
I write in longhand in notebooks using only a quill. The Old Monkey then computes them for me. I do not understand how people can arrive at even a flicker of creativity by means of a computer.
On the desk is a bronze badger that holds my writing quill - this was a gift from the King of the Badgers in gratitude for my great charitable works.
Also on the desk are all seven volumes of my biography. If I am feeling down I need only read a few passages about my lowly beginnings, rise to fame, and great triumphs to cheer myself up.
Under the desk is a 13-volume dictionary. All the words I'll ever need are here; as the Old Monkey often says, on reading one of my plays, "You have all the right words, sir, but not necessarily in the right order.”
Beside the desk is a wooden tub full of letters from fans and admirers. Goodman deals with these - sending out signed photographs.
When writing goes badly, I am often to be found gazing at my ceiling thinking what a priceless harvest great literature is, but sometimes so difficult to reap.
It is at times like this that Lucy, my parrot, is invaluable with her outspoken advice. Many is the time when she has suggested a useful plot development.
The room is full of pictures; a lithograph by Van Gogh, wood engravings by my Aunt Maidy, but my favourite is the portrait of the Old Monkey and I by Waldovenison Smeare. It brings back such happy memories.
Even though I don't spend much time looking at all the treasures in this room, I like knowing they are there - part of the vague sensual information that comes and goes as I mull over the next sentence.
I work with the window wide open. It's a beautiful urban view of the skyscrapers of Homeward - often enhanced by a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
I stop at lunchtime, have a large meal and a drink and then fall asleep.
The King of the Badgers was on the phone to me again yesterday practically in tears. He really must pull himself together. Not only has he been getting flak about me taking over Badgertown Rock but now people are claiming that I am trying to buy the Mayoral election.
I admit I got Cowgill and Gubbins to take over a bag full of cash to help Noddy Ninety with his campaign - whats wrong with that?. Honestly - that's the thanks you get for trying to help out the democratic process. Noddy did say he would help me out with a couple of planning applications - but that's just greasing the wheels of industry.
Now Boris Badger is moaning that I am just a moneybags trying to fix the election. Cheek!...never heard him complaining when I got him that job at the Badgertown Broadcasting Corporation.
Not surprisingly the Badfort Crowd have got in on the act and have put up Hootman as a candidate on an anti-sleaze ticket. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
The King of the Badgers came to see me today to inform me that the missing discs have been found.
It turns out that Bill Bodger had not sent the data files to his friend Old Mankey after all. He had, mistakenly, been using the CD's as coasters for his mugs of tea and that is why no one could find them.
I am very cross with the King of the Badgers - as you all know he is always strapped for cash so he has agreed to release Jellytussle in return for the money that the Badfort crowd made out of their fake pictures scam.
Perhaps the people who bought the fakes deserve to suffer for their greed but I am not sure if the Badfort Crowd should be allowed to profit by their acts - still, at least the Badgers will benefit.
Everyday I receive a pile of post. Most of them are begging letters. As we were going through them, this morning, the Old Monkey found one for him.
It contained 2 CD's and a letter.
One could see where the confusion had arisen. The letter was addressed to Old Mankey at the Badger Audit Office. The Old Monkey runs the Badfort Audit Office (it catalogues all the known misdeeds of the miscreants) from my office and the postman had obviously got them muddled up.
I thought I better give the King of the Badgers a ring as they might be important.
He was so relieved to find out where they were. Apparently they contain a lot of sensitive information, held by Badger Revenue and Customs, on the recipients of my banana allowance.
They had been looking for them everywhere, behind cupboards, under desks - they had turned over the whole office trying to find them. He said he had been accused of incompetence and could lose his job over it.
I told him not to worry - Goodman would parcel them up and bring them around personally. He would also give them some advice on how to run a reliable office.
The Old Monkey let it be known that he was interested in purchasing the famous portrait of the two of us by the renowned artist Waldovenison Smeare.
The portrait hangs in my office so we knew that anyone claiming to have it would be a charlatan.
Before long the Old Monkey received a scrawled letter inviting him to a meeting at a secluded ramshackle hut on the outskirts of Badfort.
Myself, A.B.Fox, Cloutman, Gubbins and members of the Badgertown constabulary hid ourselves in the environs of the hut whilst the meeting took place. The Old Monkey wore a wire.
Before long Jellytussle turned up and attempted to sell the portrait to him for $10 million dollars! He even had the cheek to try and persuade him to buy a copy of one of his own paintings, Sunrise over Badfort !
The painting hangs in Homeward Art Gallery! - it is a truly awful abstract. One can only assume that the curator must have been bribed into buying it.
As the money was about to change hands we swooped. The constables carted Jellytussle off for what, I hope, will be a long sojourn at the King of the Badgers pleasure.
Cowgill came up with another ingenious gadget to help me retrieve the gold bullion stolen from me by the Badfort gang.
A giant ballista.
Yesterday we launched our attack. I was catapulted into Badfort Castle and took the villains completely by surprise.
I was astounded to see in the central courtyard that they had piled up, not only my gold, but also what looked like millions and millions of dollars. Beaver and his gang were still all fast asleep so I kicked open the gates and my followers burst in.
Hitmouse gave a cry and soon Beaver and his gang came streaming into battle. A furious fight ensued. Although they put up a determined resistance we were like a mighty avalanche and events had soon turned in our favour. I was about to give Beaver a mighty kick up when he suddenly shouted "Look it's Kenny Hogan!"
Was this some kind of trick? I thought. What would the famous television personality and professional Irishman be doing here?
Holding Beaver tight I looked around and saw the celebrity getting out of his stretch limousine with a whole gang of precocious children.
He thanked us profusely for all our good work and proceeded to supervise the children whilst they loaded his car with my gold and Beaver's dollars!!!
What could we say?...after all I had my image as a philanthropist to consider and Beaver could hardly complain given all his rantings about stealing from the rich to give to the poor (which we all know is nonsense).
With a wave as he drove away Kenny once again thanked us for doubling the amount raised this year.
Beaver and I looked at each other disconsolately. "Ever feel you have been mugged?" whispered Beaver. We both looked up at a banner over our heads...written on it in large letters were the words "Children in Need - Sponsored Fight". "Who put that there ?" Beaver and I shouted in unison. Nobody came forward but I noticed the Old Monkey was conspicuous by his absence.
As you can imagine, using a mobile phone is problematic for an elephant.
I'm all fingers and thumbs when it comes to their operation. They have got such fiddly little buttons.
Luckily, Cowgill has come up with a brilliant high tech solution. It is a phone with a trunk sensitive screen which he calls the ephone (e standing for elephant, of course). It is a very clever device that can take pictures, receive television and connect to the interweb. All at the brush of a trunk.
Also it is clockwork so one never needs to worry about battery life.
It is quite bulky because my trunk is quite large but it provides gainful employment for Whitebeard who transports it everywhere I go in a wheelbarrow and keeps it wound up.
You may be wondering how I can allow myself to be distracted by this new electronic toy when I should be planning a counter strike against the Badfort Crowd to retrieve my gold.
Well, Cowgill has another ingenious device that may well provide a solution to the Hateman problem.
As I suspected it has not taken long for Beaver Hateman to take his revenge for his incarceration.
Over the weekend we decided to take a consignment of gold to Badgertown to help the King of the Badgers honour his rash promises regarding flexible working hours.
The route took us directly past Badfort so I took along the strongmen Cloutman and Gubbins to provide security.
On the way we came across a lady in distress. She told us she was a Marchioness and had been robbed of her jewels by some louts who ignored her non-domicile tax status and insisted on "redistributing wealth from fat cats like her".
Typically outrageous behaviour from that gang of thugs.
I told Cloutman and Gubbins to escort the distressed lady home. We steamed at full speed past Badfort. Suddenly - Whoosh - the roof of the traction engine disappeared. We gazed up to see it making a jerky progress towards the roof of Badfort, held by a large rusty hook. Sack-suited figures could be seen wildly turning a wheel at the bottom of a primitive crane on the top of a large tower.
We were exposed to a crowd of sordid yelling figures who crowded the upper windows of Badfort. There was Beaver, with Filljug, Hitmouse, Nailrod, Sigismund, Flabskin, the Wooden-Legged Donkey and all the rest of the nasty crew.
I told the Old Monkey to keep his head down but with a horrible raucous yell of "Take that, Unc!" Beaver threw a duck-bomb at us. Luckily it fell short, but the dangerous fluid splashed against the flywheel of the traction engine. It soon lost speed because of the clogging coat of leathery jelly. We were then assailed by egg-bombs and we were blinded by the loathsome mixture of ink, glue and tin tacks.
The hook swung down again and this time grabbed hold of the chest of gold in the trailer. I tried to make a grab for it but found myself stuck fast. The crane whirred into action carrying the chest high into the air, then swinging round to deposit it on the ramparts of Badfort.
I don't think that we could have stood the assault much longer, but at that point Cloutman and Gubbins returned. We have been tricked they cried - and breathlessly told us how, once they had reached a safe distance from Badfort, the 'lady' had revealed herself to be none other than Hitmouse in another fiendish disguise.
They managed to push start the engine and we got near enough to Homeward to be out of range of further missiles from Badfort.
Wickedness of this magnitude shall not go unpunished. I shall retrieve my gold.
Well that was a short lived respite. Last night, as we sat down for our evening feast, a hideous laugh shattered the tranquility of the evening. It was Beaver. He shouted up to us. "Ha, ha! You thought you could keep me in prison, did you! But I'm here, you fat old humbug! and my revenge will be sweet - just you wait and see!"
Once more, difficulties start. We are mounting a 24 hour watch.
This morning he had the whole of his crew lined up outside Badfort. He was haranguing them. We need to be ever vigilant.
All's well that ends well. The badgers managed to catch the Badfort gang before they got home with their ill-gotten gains. They all managed to scarper but I'd knocked Beaver out - so their leader is no languishing in Badgertown Prison.
I don't want to be overly optimistic but it finally looks like we shall have some peace and quiet around here for a change.
Yesterday, I was invited to hear the King of the Badgers speech opening the new session at Badgertown Town Hall.
This address, delivered amid great pomp and ceremony, is a chance for the government to set out its new legislative agenda.
As my retinue and I arrived there was a loud explosion from the bowels of the Town Hall. The King of the Badgers ran up looking very dishevelled. "It's Beaver," he cried "he stole some explosives from your fireworks party and has used them to blow off the doors of the Treasury safe. He says he will give all the rates money back to the people. Hundreds of badgers are listening to him."
We rushed into the Council Chamber which was awash with badgers. Beaver sat upon the throne shouting a speech. He spotted us and cried out "Look at the great bloated bladder of lard who has just rolled up from his castle! Look at him, citizens, but don't despair! One step at a time! Badgertown today! Homeward tomorrow! Forward! Forward! Join me in manning the Town Hall. Don't be afraid! You're in the money! No more tuition fees! Free degrees for all! You can all be a B.A. and M.A. without effort! That's your right! Down with the bloated tyrants and the silly old King of the Badgers! Join me and rule the place sanely! Up slaves and crush the monster! Share in the share-out!
Hateman's speech was having a great influence on the simple badgers - they were rallying to his side. You are going to have to promise them something really good I whispered to the King. "Oooh I know, I've got a great idea!," he said. He turned to his people and shouted "Flexible working rights!"
The badgers all looked slightly baffled. "What does that mean?" cried one young badger. "Eeerm.." said the King, struggling for an answer "It means....you can work when you like for as long as you like..." he stuttered.
This made the badgers smile and Beaver looked worried and confused. I'm not surprised...it sounded like one of the half baked ideas he would come up with.
What finally clinched the change in events, though, was when one of the badgers spotted a cart filled with gold being driven at a furious pace by Hitmouse towards Badfort. "Oi! they are nicking our taxes!" he cried, and suddenly a stampede of badgers made a rush for the doors to give chase.
Taking advantage of the kerfuffle I seized the Great Town Mace and with a trumpet of rage brought it down on Hateman's head.
My sense of triumph was short-lived as I suspected that I would end up having to bail the King of the Badgers out, yet again, in order for him to fulfil his rash promise to the citizens of Badgertown.
The evenings festivities, last night, were marred by a slightly unfortunate event.
One of Cowgill's rockets veered off course and landed right in the middle of Badfort.
A deputation from Badfort soon arrived.
"All right!" yelled Hateman. "So that's what it's come to: Magnate Bombards Badfort with Rockets! That's going to look well in the Badfort News tomorrow! It's bad enough that you celebrate the loss of our largest ever Black Tom dump every year, now you are attempting to destroy our home. We demand compensation!"
Feeling magnanimous I assured Beaver that it was a pure accident but now he was here why not join the party?
As for compensation, I offered him a few barrels of Cowgill's home brew. His eyes lit up - Cowgill's distillation is renowned as a heady spirit.
I even turned a blind eye when they sang their libelous songs around the fire and scoffed all the sausages.
A recent poll of the inhabitants of Homeward has shown, sadly, that my domain is still deeply divided by social status.
I feel quite hurt that, despite all my attempts to create a land of aspiration and social mobility, many of the dwarves still insist on calling themselves Working Class.
Of course, I have every right to call myself Working Class. Certainly, I have progressed from lowly origins to the position of authority and wealth I have now, however, regular readers will know the long hours that are involved in running my vast domain.
The truth, though, is that I am Upper Class now - the inevitable result of becoming a celebrity. Never let it be said that I have forgotten my humble past, but, I now know the correct time for tea-time. It is when I ring the bell for the Old Monkey to fetch it.
We had an enchanting evening in the Haunted Tower.
From a distance it's enormous black hulk looms over you. You enter through a passage that leads to a kind of Hotel lounge. The walls are mildewed and hung with spiders' webs and the carpet is rat-eaten. At the reception desk a tall cadaverous man welcomed us.
The party took place in an old medieval hall with an enormous fire burning in a fireplace that filled a whole wall. The high point of the evening was when Wizard Blenkinsop brought the suits of armour, that lined the walls, to life and the witches, in return, turned an army of frogs into knights. The two armies then put on a display of mock fighting.
At the end of the evening we retired to bed for a good haunting.
I chose this room, because I remembered that Hitmouse had found it particularly scary.
Once in the room, I could see nothing at first and so was somewhat disappointed. The bed was very comfortable, though, and I was just nodding off when I heard a low groan. Suddenly a very small ghost appeared, made of something like thick fog, standing on the bedside table.
It stood there muttering "I did it! I took the strawberry jam!"
To be polite I pretended to tremble with fear, but I think that he could see through my act. "You are not scared at all are you ?" he moaned "I am such a failure as a ghost just like I was in real life."
I reminded him that he had managed to put the wind up Hitmouse....but had to admit that this was not especially difficult given his cowardly nature.
I ended up having to give the ghost a good pep-talk. It was clear that he had never managed to overcome the incident in his childhood when he had stolen preservatives from his mothers larder. Clearly there were issues here that needed to be dealt with and I recommended a psychoanalyst. I felt sure a good Freudian or Jungian would have the answers to his lack of haunting skills. I suspect he has a mother fixation.
In the end I had a very interesting evening in discussion with the diminutive sprite about understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy.
I told him he had a very important job as modern humans rely too heavily on science and logic and benefit greatly from integrating spirituality and an appreciation of the unconscious realm by being scared witless.
Just as I thought I was getting somewhere sorting out the dispute between Wizard Blenkinsop and the coven of witches, events have taken a turn for the worse.
The manager of the Haunted Tower has been on the phone threatening to shut the place on Halloween. It appears that their bookings from tourists, who like a good scare, have all dried up. The Tower has a duck pond that is used for re-enactments of Witch dunking. Hootman has been jumping out of it as guests arrive and scaring them off before they have even crossed the threshold.
The ghosts look on Hootman as partly one of themselves and they detest him so much that not one of them will go near him. This was clearly his way of getting revenge on them.
The ghosts have been forced to drastically reduce their room rates and the only people who have been making bookings are the Badfort Crowd.
This is no fun for the ghosts as, apart from the coward Hitmouse, Beaver and his gang just ignore their hauntings or, worse still, laugh at them.
I decided to solve both problems with one cunning plan. I would book out all the rooms in the tower for a big party at Halloween and employ Wizard Blenkinsop and the witches to provide magical entertainment. News of their feats of prestigitation will soon spread around the world guaranteeing enough jobs for all.
A dispute has arisen between Wizard Blenkinsop and a coven of witches. This means that the traditional Halloween celebrations may have to be called off.
The wizard has complained that his trade has really dropped off recently and is convinced that the witches are undercutting him.
I explained to him that everybody has to face competition in business - but he argues that whilst he is providing a public service (he says he charges no more for fiddly bits of magic like drying out flooded houses than he does for the easier spells) the witches are siphoning off only the more lucrative work such as love potions.
I decided that for the sake of the children of Homeward and Badgertown I would see if I could broker some kind of deal.
The Witch leader argued that they are only herbalists providing medicinal cures. This made the Wizard furious. He accused them of being mere dabblers in unscientific quackery. The Witch retorted that if that wasn't the cauldron calling the kettle black she would burn her broomstick. Then she turned him into a frog. The Wizard responded by turning her into a rabbit.
I fear this dispute may take all night to sort out. I asked the Old Monkey to bring beer and sandwiches...and some lettuce and bugs.
When I was in Hollywood, meeting all those celebrities and film stars, I made the mistake of indulging in the usual pleasantries. With my trademark generosity, I invited people to come and stay at Homeward.
I did not expect, however, for them to all turn up on my doorstep at the same time.
One has to do one's bit for fellow celebrities in times of crisis but, honestly, they are starting to outstay their welcome.
Sting keeps on putting on impromptu musical evenings. Last night he insisted that we all sing along to some dreary song of his about the rainforests. He says that the forest fires have made him feel at one with the people of Amazonia - contemplating the loss of his multi-million pound mansion as helped him to appreciate how it must feel for the hut dwellers to lose their abodes to the burning forests.
As for Jennifer Aniston - she just keeps bursting into tears every time she looks over at Badfort. I think she still thinks of Beaver Hateman as the love of her life, and her bank balance certainly suffered from the way he treated her.
To be honest, I suspect that word has got around that it is open house at Homeward. Johnny Depp turned up yesterday and I know for a fact that he lives in Paris not California. I confronted him about this and he admitted that he had the decorators in and it was cheaper to come here than put up in a hotel!
Now people are accusing me of faking it in my cookery programme for the Badgertown Broadcasting Corporation.
Let me assure you that it really is the actual Kitchen and Great Hall of Homeward that you see me working in. It would require the budget of a Hollywood movie to recreate them in a studio.
Nor do we fake the guests that drop in to see me and sample my fine foods.
Gordon really did throw a bit of a strop when I (perhaps somewhat insensitively) mentioned that I had dined at his restaurant on my trip to New York and had not been terribly impressed.
I did have to tell Jamie to take his feet off the table.
The spat between Simon and Alan was absolutely genuine. Alan made the mistake of saying that Simon's programme was trash and then Simon made some retort about the nodding dogs you see in the back of cars.
When it came to fisticuffs, A.B.Fox really did have to throw them out. There was no fakery.