Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Domesea



Over Christmas, Cowgill has been very busy. We have encased Homesea in a giant plastic dome.

Our purpose is to dedicate a facility that will help us push back the boundaries of the unknown - Homesea is know an Antarctic Research Station!

I think that, even if I say so myself, it is another one of my brilliant ideas!

I have renamed it Domesea and will soon be offering package holidays to this unique destination!

Though high levels of physical exertion or fitness are not required, this is certainly not a passive destination. Remote, pristine and still little visited, Antarctica by its very nature means that people will experience a hands-on exploration with a group of curious, energetic, like-minded fellow passengers, led by veteran lecturer (Noddy Ninety) on expeditions that bring this incredible environment within reach.

But do not fear, these holidays won't all be about dry scientific stuff. They will still include all the paraphernalia of a traditional seaside vacation, but unaffected by vagaries of the weather!- by virtue of the protective dome.

There will be sunbathing and sandcastle building on the beach, Punch and Judy Shows and Cream Teas (available at Chez Oncle)

Beaver Hateman is absolutely furious. "I would never have left if I knew that Fat Dictator was going to work out some way of making money out of the place! I urge all listeners to boycott this vile enterprise!" he declared on Badfort Radio last night.


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Friday, 26 December 2008

No Trouble for Elephants

As a tribute to Oliver Postgate I thought that you might like to see this episode of Ivor the Engine.

As you know winter at Homeward can be quite fierce and I rather like this episode because it reminds me of the trouble we had one year with snowdrifts and the Badfort Crowd.

It is also a reminder of how civically minded elephants can solve any problem.





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Thursday, 25 December 2008

Homeward for Christmas



Last night we left Homesea - now a frozen village forever destined to be part of the Antarctic wastes.

Cowgill landed the helicopter, for the last time, on my tower and whisked Beaver, Hitmouse, the Old Monkey and I back to Homeward.

I must say that my brother Rudolph has made an excellent job of organising the traditional Christmas celebrations at Homeward - despite the inclement economic climate.

As usual, the big tree stood outside Homeward.

We all gathered around the tree to celebrate the season, and our safe return.

We sang all the usual Christmas songs, Noddy Ninety did his famous rendition of "On a Bitter Winter's Night".

To commemorate my return we also sang that great paean to Homeward:

"I was walking one day in the streets of the city
When I thought of my home so far, far away.
Oh, why am I here in this place! What a pity!
When I could be home at the close of the day."


Now the chorus all together!" I said, waving my trunk to keep time:

"Homeward, Homeward, there in the sunset,
Waiting for me with each window aglow.
Homeward, Homeward, there in the twilight
Waiting for me who has so far to go!"


Several of the party, relieved at my return, were sobbing.

At which point Beaver interrupted. "Don't you think that line 'Waiting for me with each window aglow' is a bit over the top - when you consider how many bloomin' towers you own!"

We chose to ignore this acid comment.

For the most part, The Badfort Crowd had all been most well behaved.

I remarked to the Old Monkey how I felt that our experiences on Homesea had proved to be a salutary lesson for Beaver Hateman. I felt that he clearly understood, now, that rather than exercising one-elephant rule over Homeward for my own self-aggrandisement I carry the burden from a sense of civic duty.

It was then that we heard a raucous tune drift across the winter landscape.

"Welcome home to great big Unc.
Home he comes, and brings his trunk.
Blow the whistle, beat the drum!


So far, for the Badfort Crowd, the song seemed quite polite.
But then Beaver began to sing the insulting end of the verse.

"When Bully is here things start to hum!
Yah! Yah!
You and all your doped half-wits!
Soon we'll blow you all to nits!"


"You were saying, Sir?" said the Old Monkey pointedly.

Yes, well it seems that there is little chance to an end of my conflict with Beaver in the New Year.

At least Rob Bourassa, the Badfort Crowd's resident guitar player gave us a fine rendition of "Christmas Time is Here"




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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Southern Lights

Christmas Eve.

Beyond the farthest point inhabited by man, Homesea is still moving South.

Deep down below the surface of the sea, the current bearing against the bottom of the floating village is driving us towards the long Antarctic night.

The albatrosses have deserted the churchyard, and as the ice floes have thickened around the quaysides the penguins have taken over.

They are the most sedate visitors that Homesea has known on its travels - toddling up and down the cobbled streets in their neat black and white suits and peering with polite interest into the bow windows, still showing notices like 'Home made Homesea fudge'.

They even pop in, occasionally, to my tea shop - where I feed them sardine sandwiches.

The snow is piling higher and higher over the cobbles and against the old brick walls - a snow that will never melt.

The streets and houses are becoming encased in solid ice.

At last, frozen immovably into the great southern ice-cap, Homesea has reached the end of its journey.

This evening Beaver, Hitmouse, the Old Monkey and I sat by the quay and watched the mysterious Southern Lights play across the sky.

It was a magnificent sight to behold.

"Well, Beaver, time to go home - don't you think?" I remarked as we watched in awe.

"I suppose so Unc, not much point in being the boss of this ice-bound dump!" muttered Beaver in reply.

"What an ungrateful bunch those villagers were. When I think of all the effort I put into running this place - and then they just all upped and left!" he moaned.

I replied "Well, Beaver, I do believe you are beginning to learn the truth of leadership. It is a thankless burden that one has to carry - the responsibilities are great..."

"Can it Unc!...so we getting an invite to your Xmas bash, or what!" retorted Beaver.





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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Anarchy

It has been an eventful week.

Beaver has been furious - most of his followers have deserted him. Fed up with the freezing cold weather they have jumped ship, picking up lifts from passing cargo vessels heading back to Badfort.

Even the last of the old families of Homesea have disappeared, unable to live in their freezing homes.

Even Captain Walrus have pleaded prior Christmas engagements and have gone back to Homeward.

And, so much for the remaining pirates claims to have turned over a new leaf.

They have been inviting there friends to stay in the empty houses.

Allsorts of disreputable looking people have been turning up in various sea-going vessels. Smugglers of one kind and another have been using Homesea as their headquarters. And worse than smugglers. It was like the old times for Homesea - the very old times.

Being the only remaining people who started out on the long journey from the coast of Homeward, Beaver, Hitmouse, the Old Monkey and I have formed a uneasy truce.

One moonless night we strolled up Mermaid Street together surveying the sad state of affairs the village had descended into.

A babble of oaths and arguments came from the Mermaid Inn, then the sounds of tables being overturned and glasses breaking. A bottle came hurtling through one of the windows and splintered on the cobbles. Then a man came running out followed by a figure with a knife that gleamed in the lamplight.

There was a woman's voice wailing a strange eastern chant from Elder House, and a rattle of dice from the opium den now located in Mermaid Cottage.

"Honestly," declared Beaver "this is the kind of behaviour that gives anarchism a bad name!"

"I'm not even getting my cut - it should be 20% of all proceeds at least!" he added.

"So are you in agreement that something needs to be done? are you prepared to serve under me in the Homesea Guard?" I asked him.

Beaver looked dubious.

"I'll let you wear an officers cap?" I offered.

Beaver beamed "Right you are Unc - lead the way. Lets get at 'em!"

There was soon a running battle up and down the cobbled streets, in and out of the hidden passages and alleyways, over the jumbled roofs and even from cellar to cellar of the oldest houses.

One after another, amid cries and curses in several languages, the vessels of the smugglers and pirates put to sea, and quiet returned to the streets of the village.

"Excellent, kicking up Unc!" cried Beaver.

"I must admit you were very handy with the cudgel, Beaver" I replied.

"Well aimed skewers, Mister Hitmouse!" said the Old Monkey.

"Yeah, I've had a lot of practise," sniggered Hitmouse "must say, those monkey martial arts is pretty impressive." he added more respectfully.

"So, the village is ours, again!" declared Beaver and Hitmouse.

"Yes, ours again!" the Old Monkey and I added in unison.

Beaver and Hitmouse looked askance at us. "Yeah, but don't forget I'm the boss. I was democritically elected by the people of Homesea!" said Beaver.

The Old Monkey and I looked around the deserted streets.

Here we go again, I thought.



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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Iceberg Ahoy!



It is a good job that Captain Walrus has not deserted us. "Don't worry, Sir, I would never leave a sinking ship!" he declared. Whilst I am not keen on the analogy of a sinking ship it is true that the village is in a parlous state. I have had to ration the customers in my tea shop to not more than one cream bun a day.

Captain Walrus keeps watch from the church tower day and night. It was he that spotted the iceberg approaching the village.

"Iceberg Ahoy!" he shouted and rang the church bells as warning.

It scraped alongside the railway line severely damaging the level crossing and the platform of the railway station. Noddy Ninety was distraught. "What will the railway company say!" he sobbed "They left me in charge and look whats happened!".

I pointed out to him that as no trains could travel to Homesea anymore they were hardly likely to care much. To appease him, however, I organised a repair crew to try and make good the mess.

The Old Monkey and I decided to have our picture taken with the iceberg, on the viewing platform at Strand Quay, as a souvenir.

It was quite exhilarating - for a brief moment I felt like the King of the World.



The Old Monkey and I then went back to open up the teashop. A strange groaning and shuffling could be heard coming from the refrigerator. I swung open the the heavy door and a horrible sight met my gaze.

There, feebly propped against the wall was the wretched dwarf Hitmouse. He was completely blue and looked pretty ill. At his feet stood a bag stuffed full of tins and glass jars.

"This is abominable. I'll have no thieves lurking in my fridge!" I cried.

We put him him by the hot pipes to thaw.

"You rotten bunch of butchers!" shivered Hitmouse, between chattering teeth. "Freezing, a h-honest citizen to d-death!"

"Extraordinary!" I remarked to the Old Monkey "Even when iced-up Hitmouse can spit venom!"

"You came to steal," I told him "The door of the refrigerator is self-closing and shut you in, as you deserved! You only have your own greed to blame for your predicament!"

"I was not stealing! I had orders to keep an eye on you from Mister Hateman. He knows that you are just using this teashop as a front for organising dissent. You're up to no good and don't think we don't know it. I just popped in here in order to eavesdrop on your plans for a coup d'état!" screamed Hitmouse.

"We were talking about a recipe for a cup tart not a coup d'état you fool! - Beaver is just obsessed with power and plots against him!" I declared "and the bare fact is that no one cares who is in charge anymore!"

I then picked up the sack that had been at Hitmouse's feet.

"Stingo Steak, Juba Jelly, Whooshmeat and Mince Pies - I am deeply shocked. Juba Jelly alone is £1 17s 6d a quarter-pound tin. You were not spying you were stealing! Begone you revolting food-snatcher!" I shouted.

"Food hoarder!" screamed Hitmouse as he ran away leaving a trail of skewers behind.

The Old Monkey and I consoled ourselves with a slap-up meal of turkey, roast potatoes and parsnips washed down with a fine Madeira.





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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Chez Oncle



It is getting colder and colder. The village is drifting further and further south.

Food is getting short as boats no longer stop and drop of supplies, because we have been declared an 'unsafe country'.

Luckily, Cowgill is making regular runs, with comestibles for my tea shop, by helicopter.

Although there are few villagers left, the teashop is always crowded as they huddle around the wood stove to get warm. The Old Monkey and I are run off our feet, everyday, serving them with winter comfort foods.

But I am feeling disconsolate, I let out such a deep sigh that everyone in the shop turned to look at me. "Well, how would you feel?" I declared "the greatest entrepreneur in the world reduced to running a teashop!"


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Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Island



Homesea is drifting past Christmas Island.

It has made me rather homesick, for normally at this time of year I would be making preparations for the Great Homeward Christmas Eve Party. I feel that I cannot leave, however, until the village is out of the clutches of Beaver Hateman.

Christmas Island has an administrative body which basically governs the island, of which the head Administrator and his wife are known in some circles as the King and Queen.

Chief amongst the old ladies of Church Square is Miss Fitzbuller, and it turns out that forty years ago she went to school with the Queen of Christmas Island.

They have been having a good old chinwag about hockey teams, school chums, the old times and looking at old faded photographs.



It did not surprise me when she told me that she and the other ladies of Church Square had decided that they would stay on the island. The climate is delightful, there are strong young men to do things and she tells me that they intend to celebrate Christmas Day everyday from now on.

It does, of course, mean that there is no longer anyone to run the teashops. So the Old Monkey and I have decided to rename one of them Chez Oncle and run it ourselves.

We are doing a brisk trade - the remaining old Homesears, and the pirates in particular, do really like a nice cream tea.

Beaver Hateman still insists that he is in charge, but as I keep reminding him - of what does he think he is in charge?

It seems to me that Homesea could drift forever, about the oceans of the world, no longer serving any useful purpose in his hands.




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Sunday, 14 December 2008

No need to be Sarky

The Barclay brothers may feel that they have troubles on the Island of Sark, but they are as nothing compared to the state that the island village of Homesea has got itself into.

The tourist trade has collapsed, Beaver's Casino is bust, and all the offshore companies that located on Homesea, as a tax haven, have withdrawn their funds.

It seems that due to the invasion of the pirates the United Nations have declared Homesea to be an unstable state.

I decided the time had come to confront Beaver Hateman.

A meeting was arranged at the Town Hall to discuss the future of the village.

Before discussions could even begin, Beaver and I began arguing.

"You fat dictator!," cried Beaver "We all know what you want - a return to feudalism where lord high and mighty elephant bosses everyone around and rakes in the money!"

"You're a right one to talk!" I declared "Trying to buy off the villagers with no rent or taxes - whilst you fleece them in your casino, destroying the sleepy charm of the village with your modernist ideas!"

"Hypocrite!" retorted Beaver "What about you with your giant big tower, with the heliport on top, and driving all over the place in your steaming great traction engine!"

"So what's your next big plan to build a socialist utopia for you and your gang?" I spluttered.

"There ain't no need to ask sarky questions!" blustered Beaver.

"Well, we shall see what the people want, when the villagers are all here we shall..." I began, before being interrupted by the Old Monkey.

"Ahem, excuse me, Sir, but they are." he said

"Are what?" I said impatiently.

"They are all here." he murmured.

Beaver and I looked around the hall.

There were a small number of pirates (those that had decided that a life of crime was no longer for them), the old ladies of Church Square, and a few of the real Homesears, descendants of the families who had lived there since the village had been the haunt of fierce seamen and wild marsh-dwellers.

"Is this it? is this all that remains of Homesea's population?" I murmured.

"Afraid so, Sir" said the Old Monkey.

"We're supposed to build a glorious people's republic with this shower?" sobbed Beaver.

"Fraid so, Boss" said Hitmouse.

"You'll have to speak up, young men," said an old lady in the front row "I'm afraid we are a little hard of hearing."




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Friday, 12 December 2008

Exploiting Greed



The pirates are furious over the desertion of Captain Wilson.

Long John Splinter has been literally hopping mad. He has been stomping around the village on his peg leg moaning about "That lily livered scum of an over-educated toff!"

It was time to put the second stage of my plan into action. Today, the Old Monkey and I went to dig in the piece of waste ground by the Railway Station.

We put on a great act of trying to do this surreptitiously, whilst making sure that we dropped our picks and spades a number of times and made as much noise as possible.

Just as I had hoped, Long John Splinter and his gang were soon on our tail. We made a big show of of our digging, and discovery of a small wooden casket. We then 'sneaked' away to the Toby Jug Tea Rooms on Mermaid Street, and indulged in a secretive conversation as we perused the contents of the casket - a parchment map.

Long John Splinter and his gang burst in and surrounded us.

Pointing to the blunderbus stuffed in his belt he cried "Hand over that document you scurvy knave or I'll blow you to kingdom come!"

"Oh no!" I cried "Forsooth we has been discovered in our trickery!"



"Aha!" shouted Splinter "So, just as I suspected, a treasure map!...and you sought to keep it hidden from us - a flagrant breach of the pirate code! Share and share alike and no secrets kept from the company."

"Oh no! Don't tell me you are going to maroon me here on this godforsaken floating island" I sobbed. I gave a fine performance, I believe, up to the standard that has so often been praised, by the cognoscenti, in Homeward theatrical productions.

"I'm afraid so - your piratical days are over, Black Uncle. Whats more, you are now officially black listed from the Royal Registry of Pirates!" screamed a red-faced Splinter.

At this I burst into tears. This is easy, I used the old actors trick of concealing a raw onion up my sleeve.

Splinter bade me a scornful farewell and ordered his crew to prepare for sail.

By the afternoon they were gone. Unfortunately, a number of the villagers, who were not happy unless they were making money, or getting famous, decided to leave with them.

"Well done, Lucy!" I declared "Those writing lessons with Benskin have certainly paid off. Your draughtsmanship is exemplary - a most convincing map. Well done, Old Monkey too. Ingenious, the way you aged it with the tea and by burning the edges."

"They'll be furious when they discover they have been duped, won't they Sir?" asked the Old Monkey.

"Yes, and I feel sorry for anyone in the vicinity of Splinter when he vents his fury - but we'll be long gone by then!" I replied.

We decided that we had to let Beaver and his gang out of the jail. But not before exacting a promise that all charges against me would be dropped.

"Well," said Beaver "I suppose that you are expecting thanks from us, Unc!"

"I was merely doing my civic duty, if you wish to express your gratitude with a small token..." I began before Beaver interrupted.

"Humbug! we were ready for a fight! we could have taken on those pirates, easily, if they had not surprised us, but as usual you did all you could to avoid fisticuffs..."

He droned on like this for some time - I could not help but notice, however, the doubtful looks on his comrades faces every time he mentioned how ready they were to engage in combat with the fiercesome pirates.




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Thursday, 11 December 2008

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of



It has been an eventful few days here at Homesea or, as it has been renamed by Long John Splinter, Pirasea.

The pirates are in jubilant mood, having found the treasure stolen from them by the Mayor of Homesea, Admiral Poindexter.

All that is except Captain Wilson. I came upon him sitting despondently on a bench in the village square.

"You seem an educated elephant," he remarked "Did they recruit you at University too?"

"Well, I do have a B.A." I replied.

"A B.A.? Splendid! I do rather wish I had finished my education..."he murmured "but, you know what it was like in those days, the tutors were always on the look out for likely lads to join the piracy service. That's how Splinter found me. It was the time of the new romantics - I was always getting the mickey taken out of me for my mode of dress and Splinter knew just the right things to say to encourage me...'ridicule is nothing to be scared of' he used to say...'throw your safety overboard and join our pirate nation'. Before I really knew what was happening I found myself the dandy pirate who everyone was too scared to mention. Stand and deliver your money or your life! I would cry and none of my old University chums wanted anything to do with me."

"If you don't mind me mentioning it, I have noticed that your eyepatch seems to move from one eye to the other and sometimes you seem to have two good legs!" I remarked.

"Oh, thats Splinter - he insists on the traditional pirate accoutrements. There is nothing wrong with my eyes and its awfully painful, I can tell you, to have to bend your leg up and strap on a peg leg. He wanted me to chop off my hand and have a claw stuck on but I drew the line at that! He was quite cross about it!" replied Wilson.

"Sometimes, I do find all this piracy nonsense a bit noisy and well, to put it bluntly, a bit impolite. I wonder sometimes what kind of life I would have had if I had finished my degree in Sociology. But every time I mention it, Splinter ridicules me. " he said sadly.

"To be honest, Wilson, I don't think that you are really cut out for the pirate life," I said "It does not seem to suit your temperament. It's never too late you know - there would always be a place for you at my University in Homeward" I said in an encouraging voice.

"Homeward?" he said quizzically...then realisation dawned on him.

"You are the world famous entrepreneur Uncle!...you are not a pirate at all!"

"Yes, you are correct...I am afraid I have had to indulge in a small act of deception" I replied.

"Golly! well there you are see! look what education has done for you!" at this he jumped up and fired of his gun in excitement.

"I'm decided! I will take up your offer of a place at University and finish my degree!"

That night he, and a group of other pirates interested in pursuing further education, left in my yacht for Homeward.

Now, that just leaves Long John Splinter to deal with.




I was very sad, this week, to hear of the death of that great storyteller Oliver Postgate. I have always felt that if my life story were ever to be told in televisual form that it would have some common elements with the output of this wonderful man.

For, I would hope that my tales provide a lesson in morality for young children - although I have to say that I do consider the episode of The Clangers broadcast on the night of the second U.K. election in 1974 to be somewhat critical of those of us who have to carry the burden of leadership.




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Saturday, 6 December 2008

X Marks the Spot



The Jolly Roger flies over Homesea.

It would appear that the pirates, who have taken over the village, did not do so on a random whim.

It transpires that that have long planned an assault on Homesea and the fact that it had drifted into their home waters provided a fortuitous opportunity for revenge.

For, it has been revealed that the Mayor of Homesea, Admiral Poindexter, is not who he has claimed to be. Whilst giving the appearance of of being an upright citizen and ex-serviceman, he was in fact an ex-comrade-in-arms of the pirates - the infamous Captain Flint, the bloodthirstiest buccaneer that ever lived.

Furthermore, it seems that he tricked his fellows and ran off with all their treasure.

Beaver is absolutely furious and denounced the Mayor - "You just cannot trust anyone these days!" he proclaimed.

The pirates have been digging beneath the Town Hall - they have not found their treasure yet, but have discovered the cauldron full of gold coins that Beaver had hidden in one of the chimneys.

Now, Beaver is practically in tears - this trove represents all the proceeds of his casino operation.

"Robbed! we been robbed!" he wept "When are you going to do something about this you stupid fat elephant!"

Honestly, I do not see how he can blame me for his poor skills of concealment.



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Friday, 5 December 2008

24 Hour Party People



Beaver Hateman and the Badfort Crowd are locked up in jail and I have a very sore head today.

A band of pirates have taken over the village and are under the delusion that I am a member of their fraternity.

In order to maintain the illusion I have had to drink copious amounts of Black Tom with them.

They discovered the cache of casks of the noxious brew, and barrels of fine wines, that Beaver had hidden in the cellars of the Town Hall.

There has been a great pirate party in full swing ever since. Music flows like Black Tom and Black Tom flows like music. Like a great whirlpool of noise and brightness it has sucked in all the villagers. They have changed hats with the pirates and it is almost impossible, unless you look closely, to tell one from the other.

As you can see, if you click on the picture above, it is a wild party.

"Give us a song, Black Uncle!" cried Long John Splinter.

I wracked my brains to remember some tune from the many pirate films I had watched as a calf, and started to sing...

"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of Black Tom
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of Black Tom.
Beaver was fixed by Hitmouses's skewer
Hitmouse brained with a marlinspike
And Sigismund's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of Black Tom."


"Oh well done, Uncle, that was really rather good" said Captain Wilson.

The Old Monkey and I sneaked off to see Beaver by his cell window.

"I heard that song!" he screamed "Stop larkin' about and get us a supply of duck bombs, so that we can break out of here! We're going to give those pirates such a pasting..."

"Calm down!" I responded "This is a tricky situation, the villagers seem to rather like these piratical parties. We must attempt to seek a peaceful solution. Captain Wilson seems a jolly reasonable chap - I'm sure that he has just been led astray by that rogue Long John Splinter. This is where diplomacy and skills in negotiation, which I believe, I am blessed..."

"Shut up! you old humbug," interrupted Beaver "You're just enjoying the opportunity to show off again!"

Honestly, the ingratitude of some people!



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Thursday, 4 December 2008

Hijacked !



Yesterday, Lucy the parrot came to visit me in my cell. She had flown all the way from Homeward on a very important matter of state. She had brought with her a legal document that I needed to sign - a proclamation enacting a reduction in purchase tax.

It will greatly reduce the coffers in my Treasury but I feel it is a necessary aid in the kick-starting of the Homeward economy.

She was extremely proud of the fact that she had written this herself. Not many parrots can write, and since she has started taking lessons from Benskin the writing master, she has become most proficient.

She was so excited to see me, however, that she flew up to me and accidentally scratched my eye. I have been having to wear an eye-patch whilst it heals.

We had a nice chat about the goings on back at Homeward and found ourselves still talking as the evening drew in.

Suddenly, there was a great commotion out in the village.

I looked out of my window and saw an extraordinary sight.

A band of pirates were running amok through the cobbled streets!



Lucy flew out to investigate and soon reported back.

"Its a band of brigands, Sir !, they came ashore at The Strand Quay and took the Badfort Crowd completely by surprise. They are taking control of the village by force!" she squawked.

All of a sudden the cell door was flung open and Beaver Hateman was frog marched in by two swarthy men dressed in the finery of piratical costumery.

They both sported wooden legs and eye patches - one brandished a cutlass and the other, much the eviler of the two, had a steel claw and a bottle of Black Tom in his pocket.

The nasty one proclaimed to his fellow "I vote we string em' all up by the yardarm, Cap'n Wilson, Sir!"

"Oh do you think we ought to, Splinter?...it seems a bit extreme..." said the other in a diffident voice.

"It is what we pirates do!" said the one called Splinter in a frustrated voice.

Then he spotted me.

"Look, my hearties - if it ain't one of our own!...incarcerated in here by these milksop village folk, I'll be bound!" he declared.

"Oi, who are you calling milksops!" shouted Beaver.

"Be quiet! or I'll blow you to smithereens!" screamed Splinter brandishing a pistol.

Beaver clearly decided that discretion was the better part of valour and kept schtum.

"Well Mister Elephant, today is your lucky day - your fellow seafaring brigands are here to release you. We always have a warm welcome for a new member of the gang!" said Splinter.

Clearly, wearing the eye patch and with Lucy on my shoulder, I had been mistaken for a fellow pirate!

"Ahem, ah yes my hearties, that is, er, shiver my timbers, its a pirates life for me!" I declared in what I hoped would pass as the correct piratical vernacular that I remembered from watching the B movies of my youth.

"Oh jolly good, it's always so nice to meet new fellows! - this is Long John Splinter, my second in command, so to speak, and my name is Captain Arthur Wilson. So very nice to meet you Mister?..." declared the meeker of the two.

"Black Uncle, er, be my name, and I will be most pleased to, er, join your gang" I replied.

"Black Uncle? - he's no bloomin' pirate..." whinged Beaver, but the Old Monkey gave him a kick and a meaningful look.

Realising the advantage of having, at least, one of us free, Beaver thought quickly and continued "er...no ordinary bloomin' pirate he is the most fearsome pirate elephant in the world, um, it took a whole army of us to subdue him and lock him up!"

"Oh, splendid, he sounds just the sort of chap we need...doesn't he Splinter?" said Wilson.

"If you say so, Sir," said Splinter in a dubious voice looking skyward "...another poncey educated prat" he mumbled to himself.

At that, they led me off to the tavern where I had to down a large quantity of Black Tom.




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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

In the Far Southern Seas



The village has suddenly sped up on its journey. We have become caught in the West Wind Drift, have rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and now find ourselves in the Indian Ocean.

As we drift through the tropical seas, the people who are left carry on a dream-like way of life - not caring where we are going or what is to become of us.

Tourists still bring in a bountiful revenue, as do the offshore registered companies, so the villagers are still wealthy. But they no longer seem interested in money - they are happy to sit watching the long blue ocean swell past giving the whole mass of the place a slow, sleepy, gentle rocking motion.

Only Beaver is still scheming away with money-making ventures.

The one thing that I have missed on our journey is bananas - I do like my bananas.

So, I was most pleased today when Beaver paid a visit to my cell with a big bunch of them.

"Thank you very much, Beaver, but why the despondent air?" I inquired of him.

"Them damn yellow fings - thats wot" he bellowed "You know its the Brits favrite fruit? I thought I would corner the market in the fings! make a killing. So I met up with some plantation workers and done a deal with them for some knock-off fruit. Only I found out I paid the same wot Tesco do!"

"Hmmm, I see - well look at it this way Beaver. For every £1 worth of the fruit, the retailer takes 40p, the international trading company gets 31p, the distributor gets 17p, the plantation owner 10p and the worker picking them 2p. By buying them direct from the workers you have just exponentially increased their wages. It is a huge publicity coup!" I replied.

"Cor, strike a light you're right, mate! Beaver Hateman - Hero of the Working Classes!, I can see the headline now!" marveled Beaver.

"So, how about releasing me - in return for that sage advice?" I asked him.

"You must be joking - after that kicking up you gave me?" laughed Beaver. "Not on you Nellie!".

I remarked that his attitude merely confirmed my belief that he had turned the village into a banana republic - but he did not seem to get the joke.



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Monday, 1 December 2008

Deserters




The Old Monkey came for another chat at my cell window, today.

Beaver Hateman is absolutely furious.

The village has drifted further and further from the island of Annobón and it has taken longer and longer for the canoes of the islanders to reach us.

Some of the villagers, realising that Homesea could drift forever about the oceans of the world, have grabbed the last chance to settle for a happy, sunny life on Annobón. For they have no interest in Beaver's obsessions with making money or 'improving' society.

"Deserters!" screamed Beaver when he discovered a number of the villagers had disappeared.

He took a boat and chased after them shouting through a megaphone "Ingrates! Come back at once ! - after all I have done for you, this is how you repay me!" he ranted, as they disappeared over the horizon.

I think he is finally beginning to understand the great burden that us leaders of men have to carry.

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