Sunday, 28 September 2008

Treehouse Conundrums

As you know, I have been away for a while, with my brothers, making repairs to our ancestral home - 'Treetops'.

The troop of dwarfs that we took with us have made sterling efforts and have carted away skip loads of deceased and rotten wood.

We had a few problems with the neighbours. The giraffes and the monkeys were most put out about our activities - complaining that we were disturbing the peace of the jungle and that we had put our skips where they liked to park their cars.

But that is typical of jungle dwellers - very small minded and conservative.

But what to do with it now?

Modernise it and bring it in to the 21st Century or attempt to restore it to it's former glory?

Personally, I feel that we need to make use of some of the skyscraper technology we have developed here at Homeward - this is my design.

As you can see, the telescopic struts create a platform with expansive views over the trees, and the accommodation consists of three large open plan rooms.

My brother Rudolph, however, wishes to knock out all the walls and create a 'hide' from which our neighbours in the jungle can be observed in their natural environment. But I think that he is only thinking of his television career as a 'reality' documentary maker. I am sure that our neighbours would be incensed if they knew he intended to secretly film them.

My other brother, Bertram, insists that my ideas are typically expensive and over flamboyant. He insists it just needs a cheap makeover and has bought a lot of old boiler parts and pipes off Ebay. This is his design.

A right old mess if you ask me. I suppose that we could consider selling it, but it would be a wrench to see the old ancestral home go, and, of course, in the present property market I do not think we would get a very good price.

We had an estate agent come round. A gorilla in a very shiny suit. A bit of a spiv, if you ask me. He was most rude about my plans - claiming that jungle dwellers were not ready for that kind of modernist approach. Apparently, they like traditional wooden treehouses with a garage and dividing walls so that there are lots of small rooms. No imagination, these jungle creatures.

The gorilla said we should put it up for auction because it is in such a poor state and is not worth much. Then I caught him on his mobile phone talking to Beaver Hateman - it turns out they were in cahoots trying to get it for a knockdown price.

Talking about the present financial troubles - that President Bush is getting almost as bad as the King of the Badgers. He was on the phone begging for a loan again today.

I have said that I can stretch to $200 billion but not a penny more - they really have to try and sort out their own problems.

It has been such a busy year, my Bus Tour of Homeward, the Beaver Hateman Libel Trial, the Badgertown Mayoral Election, The Lost Clinkers Cooling Tower Expedition, the Lunar Return, The Homeward Olympics, being a 'Secret Trillionaire' and discovering the Higgs Boson.

I think that is quite enough, even for an elephant of my stature - it is too much to expect me to sort out trivial matters like the collapse of the International Banking System.

Sorting out the Ancestral Home can wait too.

I really am quite exhausted and in need of a holiday.

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Thursday, 25 September 2008

A Blog Award

I am back from my sojourn repairing the Ancestral Home - but more of that anon.

Mrs Slocombe has kindly granted me an award for the excellence of my blog.

It appears to be the interweb equivalent of a sort of chain letter - allowing us all to show our appreciation for our favourite bloggists.

The 2008 Premio Award Rules are:-

1. When received, you may post the Premio to your blog.
2. Link to the blogger you received it from.
3. Give it to 7 blogs.
4. Link to those 7 blogs.
5. Leave those 7 bloggers a comment about receiving the Brillante Premio

This gives me the opportunity to pick out my own favourites to bestow an award upon.

1: Mister Stevyn Colgan. A great fan of myself, he has a very interesting book coming out shortly about thinking in a joined up way. I have picked out an interesting blog that he made about a particular interest of mine - traction engines.
As you are aware they are my chosen means of transportation and I own a very fine example

2:Skyscrapers. I have selected this blog because it combines my great love of tall buildings with my philanphropic activities. This is something that Butterskin Mute and I are working on - we hope to feed the whole of Homeward with our 'Skyscraper' Farms.

3:Ernest Wiseman.
I have chosen this blog because it features my favourite playwright -Sir Ernest Wiseman. It is not well known but Mister Wiseman was not only a great writer but also, like myself, very appreciative of the musical arts. Here he can be seen with the well known conductor Andre Preview.

4:Sheffield. As you know I am a great lover of industrial landscapes. This site is all about the industrial metropolis of Sheffield and the sad demise of its cooling towers.
Hopefully they will be replaced by some large skyscraper shopping centres.

5:Young Entrepreneurs.
I am always keen to assist young people in the arts of money making. I have given an award to this site for its sterling efforts in this direction.

6:Quentin Blake.
I have picked this site for a fadcinating blog about the illustrator of my biographies - Mister Quentin Blake. Waldovenison Smeare was most put out that he did not get the job.

7:NYRB.My final award goes to Ms Sara who blogs for the publishers of by biographies. I must say I have a bit of a soft spot for her - the Old Monkey says that it is just the foolish infatuation of a middle aged elephant. I am certain, however, that I detect a certain frisson in our correspondence. It may just be the infatuation of a young girl with a rich older gentleman, though.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Market Maelstrom

Beaver Hateman is relishing it. From every angle capitalism is taking a battering. Late yesterday one of Badgertown's biggest investment banks, Badger Brothers, filed for bankruptcy.

I have had to put off the trip to my old ancestral home, for a day, to deal with the problem.

But, I have decided that tough love is the answer. I told the King of the Badgers that it is one thing to bail him out - but I am tired of having to prop up the 'casino capitalism' of the Badger Brothers and their ilk.

These problems have all come about due to the mind-boggling complexity of their hedge funds. I knew that this would lead to trouble - how many hedges does one need?

Already Badgertown is covered in them - all because the badgers have become so obsessed with owning their own burrows and wanting to put up a wall of greenery around them. Everyone wants to be a hedge owner. It has got totally out of hand. Not only that - but these banks have come up with obscure financial instruments that have enabled badgers, who really can't afford them, to buy hedges without any concept of how they might be paid for. I good hedge costs money, you know, and you have to save for it -many a mickle makes a muckle.

I have been inundated with begging letters from the redundant employees of Badger Brothers. I am not heartless - I am writing to them all to tell them that it is time for them to go back to using their basic manufacturing skills - digging tunnels.

I am offering them all jobs, working alongside the dwarfs, in my gold mines beneath Homeward.

I think that it will do them the power of good - to experience the toil of a good days physical labour. They have spent far too longing just thinking about money - and look where that has got them.

I am sure that, in time, they will show their gratitude for my generosity.

I shall write again on my return from the jungle - let us hope that by then the world will be a saner place.

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Monday, 15 September 2008

My Ancestral Home

Dear Readers,

I am afraid I shall not be able to 'blog' over the next couple of weeks.

My brother Rudolph has come to stay bearing some rather bad news. It appears that our ancestral home - 'Treetops' - is in a state of terrible disrepair.

Apparently, for many years it has lain neglected - visited only by those wishing to see my birthplace.

If I had but known. I had always assumed that the good citizens of the jungle were keeping it in good repair in case I ever decided to return. But much of the wooden structure is now rotten and weather damaged.

My other brother, Bertram, Rudolph and I have decided to mount an expedition, with a troop of dwarfs, in order to affect a 'makeover'.

As the house is in the deepest darkest part of the jungle - we shall be cut off from any of the technological accoutrements of the modern world.

I shall report on our progress on my return.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The "Oh my Gawd!" Particle

Well, Thank Goodness we are all still here!

The day has not passed without incident, however.

Just as I feared, when Cowgill switched on my Big Bang Machine it did create mini black holes.

He was right in guessing that they would dissipate immediately, though not in time to prevent the escape of a number of Large Hadrons.

As you can imagine, they were absolutely furious at being made to collide together.

They vent their fury by giving chase to the dwarf operatives of the machine.

Eventually Cowgill and Gubbins, with the aid of some large nets, were able to round them all up and push them back through the Black Holes. This required precision timing as we only had a fraction of a second before they dissipated again. They were not happy at being squeezed into them, either, and let out a lot of squeals.

The day has not entirely been unsuccessful. We have discovered the elusive Higgs Boson. Although only there for a trillionth of a second we managed to photograph it, cowering in a corner and clutching a large number of coloured strings.

It let out a squeak and immediately disappeared. I had the bright idea of slowing down the squeak a trillion times and this is what we heard it say.

"Oh my Gawd!!! - How did you find me? You are not having my string! - it's all mine! I'm off to another dimension - so there! You won't catch me again!"

Cowgill became greatly excited by the string - claiming it was an enormous discovery that would set the world of particle physics afire!

Apparently he believes that it may be proof of something called String theory.

He explained that String theory strongly suggests that spacetime has eleven dimensions.

Of course, I already know this to be the case - but, as before, I felt it best not to mention this. I think that our one universe is complicated enough to keep order in.

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Monday, 8 September 2008

My Big Bang Machine

We are all extremely excited here at Homeward because on Wednesday my Big Bang Machine will be switched on.

It has taken Cowgill 20 years to build it, in his spare time, far below Homeward and encircling it.

He has had the assistance of a large number of dwarfs who are, of course, very skilled at digging and tunneling.

The technical term for it is a Large Hadron Collider
and it will smash together matter at speeds never before seen.

Enough energy will be produced to recreate the conditions that existed one trillionth of a second after the big bang.

13.7 billion years after it all began we are about to go back in time.

Mine is the largest particle accelerator in the world - many times the size of the little one the Europeans have built at Cern.

Cowgill is hoping to glimpse exotic objects like Higgs bosons that have a profound role to play in the structure of our everyday world by giving everything mass. Thats what he says anyway.

But I am a little uneasy - will the world end on Wednesday?

What if this atom-smasher creates mini unstable black holes that grow exponentially and swallow up Homeward and eventually the planet?

This would be extremely annoying as I have only had one holiday this year.

Cowgill assures me that the chances of us producing black holes are minuscule and even if we did, they could not swallow up the earth - they would disintegrate immediately.

Are we about to answer the most profound questions about the universe? Hopefully, I shall be able to tell you the results of our experiment on Wednesday - if we are all still here.

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Saturday, 6 September 2008

Secret Trillionaire Day 6

It is my final day undercover - today I reveal my true identity and will give large cheques to the chosen ones.

I have invited Butterskin Mute, The Maestro and his choir to a party (ostensibly to celebrate the last day of filming of the documentary about me - a lowly volunteer)

They were all completely flabbergasted, when I pulled off my false beard and glasses to reveal myself, and burst into tears as I handed over the money.

"Please, Please," I begged "No need for crying - this is a day of rejoicing!"

The Crookball people were beside themselves with delight, and yelled their special call of VANDOO, only used on occasions of national rejoicing.

I felt truly humbled by their display of affection.

They had all learnt the tune ‘Glorious Uncle’ and this they played with great enthusiasm.

A large crowd had assembled curious to see this grand charitable act. At this moment I revealed that a large number of trucks were also on there way to this deprived area of Badgertown laden with such comestibles as six hundred casks of herrings, a thousand kegs of Turkish Delight, and fifty thousand first grade cheeses.

There were loud cheers from the crowd!

Of course the Badfort News put there own, cynical, spin on events.

We had a feast of Crookballs - and at this point I spotted a number of the Crookball people at the Black Tom stand run by Mister Matehan. 'He is trying to persuade them to swop their Crookballs for Black Tom" whispered the Old Monkey.

"Up with this I will not put!" I cried and went over to remonstrate with him.

"Huh!," shouted Matehan " So, all is revealed - so much for your sob story about being a poor volunteer - your old moneybags, himself ! I suppose you want to ruin the peoples celebrations now - stop them having a jar of Black Tom or two. You miserable..."

At this point one of the dwarf children from the choir pulled on Matehan's beard...and it came off!

"HATEMAN!!!!"I cried - for it was revealed to be my arch enemy behind the disguise.

This provocation was too great.

I stepped back, ran forward and gave him the biggest kicking up ever.

We watched as he flew into the air and fell back....right into Mute's manure heap.

A fitting end to this great day of giving!

One must appreciate that being generous to ones fellows is the antidote to the darkness that some have seen in our Darwinian heritage. A society run on Darwinian lines would, indeed, be a a cruel and merciless place. Altruism is the pinnacle of our civilisation and I am sure it is my good deeds that have made me the elephant I am today.

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Friday, 5 September 2008

Secret Trillionaire Day 5

The Maestro – Thomaso Elsicar Gordono, gives up a lot of his spare time running a choir for the children and vulnerable of Badgertown.

He offers a free meal and singing lessons.

Today we went to see them, on the pretext that I was interested in joining the choir.

The choir is composed of the offspring of needy dwarfs and some of the Crookball people.

For the most part, the Crookball people live on the grassy plain at the top of Lonely Tower.

It is laid out in plots and they live in little wooden huts around the edge.

The Crookballs are pretty strange. All very shabby. Dressed in sack suits and with leaves and flowers in their hair. They are named after a vegetable that grows there and nowhere else and they make themselves a drink called Cowcup.

Because they were an undiscovered tribe, for many years they lived for free on my property.

I could not treat them any differently to my other tenants, of whom there are thousands, so I now charge them a farthing a week rent. I generously foregoed charging them any back rent.

They live very solitary lives, on Lonely Tower, and unfortunately their contact with the wider world has led many of the youngsters to seek out the bright lights of Badgertown - hoping for a more exciting lifestyle.

Sadly, being such innocents, many of them end up being totally overwhelmed by the modern world.

The Maestro has a dreadful temper which often gets the better of him. He gets into a passion over music, because he can’t bear to hear things played badly.

Luckily the dwarf children and the Crookball just find this extremely amusing. I noticed that sometimes they deliberately sang out of tune just to see his reaction.

The first number we performed was the favourite ballad of the Crookball people, Stingshanks. It has a stirring tune, and we were soon all singing gaily.

They all laughed uproariously, however, when The Maestro flew into a rage at my attempts to hit the high notes.

"Really, that is an awful trumpeting," he cried "You may look like the great and noble Uncle - but you sound nothing like him!"

The Old Monkey kicked me in the shins before I could set the fellow straight.

"Remember - undercover!" he whispered.

We had Steaming crookballs straight from the cauldron for lunch.

They tasted something like celery and I thought I might have a talk with Butterskin Mute about growing them on his farm.

I thought that the choir was excellent! - another good cause worthy of my largesse.

This evening we had crookball pate on toast.

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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Secret Trillionaire Day 4

Today we went to work on Butterskin Mute's farm.

He lets some of the poorer inhabitants of Badgertown come on day trips to 'work the land'.

They are allowed to keep the produce they pick which provides a very nutritious supplement to their diet.

More importantly, the opportunity to become at one with nature has healing, meditative properties providing an absolutely transformative moment and a long term positive impact on their lives.

The only problem, says Butterskin, is that they keep swapping what they pick for Black Tom.

I noticed that Mister Matehan, the bearded gentleman that I keep running into, has a stall set up by the farm gate - he was doing a thriving trade exchanging his noxious brew for vegetables and fruit.

At last I have found a worthy cause deserving of my largesse.

But something will have to be done about Matehan's dubious activities.

I spent the whole day meditating on the good fortunes of my life whilst picking Red-Blue fruits. They are hairy and not very attractive but my friend Claudius the Camel is very fond of them so the Old Monkey is going to make him a pie.

We had some on toast for our evening meal.

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Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Secret Trillionaire Day 3

This morning the bearded gentleman from the market called.

He had heard that I was volunteering for charitable works and wondered if I would like to work in an Art Therapy group today.

I was most enthusiastic - I am a great believer in the holistic healing powers of art.

The class was being run by the great artist Waldovenison Smeare. He was most pleased to see us. He looked at me and said to the bearded gentleman "Excellent,... Mr?..."
"Er, Mister Matehan," he replied. "Well, Mister Matehan you are right - he does not quite have the fine muscle tone of our great patron but apart from that he is the spitting image!" said Smeare.

It turned out that they wished to use me as an artists model for the group.

It was quite hard keeping still all day but I consoled myself with the thought of the good work I was doing.

I have to say that I was not particularly impressed by the artwork produced - it was quite awful.

This one is apparently futurist!

I think I look quite unwell in this one.

I have seen a five year old do better than this.

In this one I seem to have one ear bigger than the other


What concerned me the most, however, was the fact that I recognised the style of some of these pieces. They were remarkably similar to some artworks that Smeare has sold to me claiming that they were by 'new' artists and that they would be worth a fortune in the future.

I do not think this project is deserving of additional funding.

I was also somewhat perturbed to see Smeare handing over a large amount of cash to Mister Matehan. "Well done, Matehan" he said "Unc can't get enough of pictures of himself"

I was about to give them a piece of my mind when the Old Monkey dragged me off muttering about not blowing my cover.

At least we did not to eat something on toast, again, for dinner. The Old Monkey made a lovely meal of something called Pot Noodles. He is so good to me - he must have spent hours slaving over a hot stove to create this culinary delight.

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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

On being an entrepreneur

Mrs Slocombe said...

Worked hard doing what exactly sir? There seems to be, if not dissimulation, an elision between borrowing a bicycle and being a gazillionaire......

Entrepreneurship is often difficult and tricky, and extremely hard work. My passion for successful outcomes leads me to spending much time organising the available resources (mainly the dwarfs and my many properties) in new and more valuable ways.

If it were not for my huge abilities in this field I would never have been able to pay back the owner of the bicycle, which, I once, in my callow youth, appropriated for my own temporary use.

I think that a cheque for £2,000, six hundred casks of herrings, a thousand kegs of Turkish Delight, and fifty thousand first grade cheeses are hardly to be sneezed at.

In fact, he is constantly trying to persuade me to borrow his bike again.

Of all my great works I am most proud of the architectural projects I have sponsored.

Below you can see how this rather dreary Art Deco building has been tastefully modernised from a debauched place for the excessive consumption of alcohol into a branch of the Uncle chain of teashops.

Secret Trillionaire Day 2

Marmite on toast for breakfast - I fear that it is an acquired taste and not one I wish to acquire.

Today we were working in the Soup Kitchen that Noddy Ninety has set up for destitute dwarfs.

I have always admired Noddy Ninety's spirit so I thought that this would be an obviously deserving case for my donation.

But, I have to say that I was appalled by the menu - Turkey Twizzler Soup!

I threw the whole lot away and sent the Old Monkey down to the market to get some special ingredients so that I could concoct one of my own favourite recipes for soup.

He was somewhat reluctant - arguing that we were supposed to be blending in with the community not trying to alter its eating habits. I, of course, countered that one could hardly be expected to hand over money without educating the populace as to how it should be spent.

I prepared a wonderful Chilled Spanish Gazpacho - a culinary masterpiece, if I say so myself. I used a rare Homeward herb called Fennelwort - expensive but with a spectacular tangy flavour - and I served it ice-cold.

I have to say that I cannot believe how ungrateful the dwarfs were. They actually spat it out!...demanding to know why we couldn't be bothered to cook it!

They only people who seemed to enjoy it were the two bearded chaps that we met at the market yesterday. Mind you, I spotted them lacing it with Black Tom.

They kept on going on about how I looked like "that Fat Dictator, Uncle" again!

The Old Monkey dragged me off before I lost my temper and revealed myself.

Then, to cap it all, Noddy Ninety sacked us!

Apparently we had spent the whole week's food budget in one day.

Once again, the Old Monkey was furious this evening - as he plonked a plate of unheated beans on toast in front of me he said "See how you like a cold dinner!".

I think all this equality business has gone to his head.

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Monday, 1 September 2008

Secret Trillionaire Day 1

Today was my first day undercover as the Secret Trillionaire.

I am living in a one room tin shack in one of the most deprived areas of Badgertown!

The Old Monkey has insisted on coming with me. My faithful servant declared that he could not imagine what he would do if we were apart.

It would completely undermine the subterfuge, however, for a poor elephant to have a butler so I have made it absolutely clear to him that during the making of the programme we are to be equals.

Last night he made me a splendid dinner of a local delicacy called Beans on Toast.

I must say it was delicious and reminded me of those far off days when I was an impoverished student. Oh those halcyon days when I had not a care in the world!

This morning we were given lowly jobs as street sweepers on Badgertown Market.

A.B.Fox has given us excellent disguise kits. With my glasses and false beard I was able to pass totally unrecognised.

Everyone has been told, by the camera crew following us, that we are being filmed for a documentary about animals, fresh from the jungle, making their way in the world.

Whatever I do, I try to do to the best of my abilities. I like to make a go of things. If I say so myself I set to work with gusto - sweeping away.

I also, however, am conscious of the fact that being charitable is a competitive business - and one that I intend to succeed at.

I soon got talking to some of the local entrepreneurs on their stalls.

Two bearded chaps with glasses were selling 'Black Tom' from a ramshackle stall.

I had a long chat with them regarding their business and gave them a few pointers.
One of them suggested that without the beard and glasses I bore a remarkable resemblance to that 'old tyrant Uncle'!

I was about to give him a piece of my mind - but the Old Monkey kicked me in the shins.

"You are going puce, Sir, remember we are supposed to be undercover!"

"You could make a fortune as a celebrity look-a-like, mate" piped up the little beardy chap sitting on the barrels of 'Black Tom'.

I am afraid that, much as I admire their entrepreneurial spirit, these gentlemen would not be receiving a cheque from me. I could hardly countenance the sale of hooch. In fact I felt sure that its sale is prohibited and had a quiet word with a member of the local Badgertown constabulary.

Shortly thereafter the two bearded gentleman were escorted away. One of them cried out
"You making a big mistake - The Chief Constable was expecting a barrel y'know!"

An outrageous claim.

I then got talking to a badger running a stall selling bric a brac. Apart from his beard and glasses he looked the spitting image of the King of the Badgers.

It was then that I noticed a number of articles, he was selling, that bore a remarkable similarity to gifts that I had given the King of the Badgers!

This made me somewhat suspicious. I surreptitiously quizzed him about there provenance.

"Oh yes, that sceptre is a prominent item of royal regalia - straight out of one of Uncle's workshops - a gift to me, er, to the King of the Badgers I mean." he claimed.

"You said a gift to you?" I countered.

"Well, er, I meant that the King of the Badgers gave it to me for....faithful service...listen its a good price do you want it?"he stuttered.

It was indeed a good price - far less than I had paid for it.

I was, of course, suspicious that the item was, as I believe is the colloquial term, knock off.

I had a word with the police again. They felt that it was more likely that these were counterfeit goods. Apparently anything with my name on is highly sort after.

They arrested the Old Badger who cried out "It's me you fools - your King - I pay your wages you idiots!"

Another outrageous claim.

I chatted to quite a few more stall holders, but felt that, to be honest, none of them were particularly deserving. In fact I discovered a number of irregularities, weights and measures, health code infringements and such like. By the end of the day quite a number of stalls had been forced to close.

It was not really a very successful day, however. I had not found any worthy recipients of my largesse and the Market Inspector sacked us!

He claimed that I spent too much time talking and not enough time sweeping - and accused me of denuding the market!

I was bemoaning his attitude to the Old Monkey this evening. I am not exaggerating when I say that he slammed my meal on the table and said "Some of us did our fair share of sweeping!!" and stormed off in a sulk.

I wonder what has upset him?

Cheese on Toast. I am getting a little tired of things on toast.

There is a silver lining, though. I feel that I have really been accepted by the local community.

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