We have finally arrived at Goldfish Lodge!
The inhabitants had no warning of our arrival at the railway terminus, but I was most gratified when they put on an impromptu welcome dance.
My rent collector, Oliver Hoot, rushed to greet me. "Such an honour, Sir, to finally meet our noble benefactor in person!" he declared profusely.
"Well, that is all very well - bit I am afraid that we are not here to indulge in the normal pleasantries associated with one of my visits," I warned him "We are here to investigate the non-payment of rent, a serious default and a dereliction of civic duty!"
"But, I assure you, Sir, the rents are being sent as normal - come with me, you will see that the machinery for the sending of payments is working as normal." he stressed, almost moved to tears.
He took us to a staircase that led all around the perspex tower of Goldfish Lodge. The cavity between the inner and outer walls was filled with beautiful translucent blue water.
But where were the Goldfish? in their stead swam the ugliest fish imaginable - the infamous Scob fish.
A large sign at the base of the stairs had 'Gold' scribbled out and replaced with the word 'Scob' - clearly hastily hand written.
"As you can see, Sir, we are in the process of renaming as per your instructions. Soon, the tower will be known as 'Scobfish Lodge' as you wished. Although, I have to say the name change has not been greeted by all the inhabitants as an improvement. The Scob Fish are very violent creatures and we have had to move all the Goldfish into Central Lake - so that they are not harmed by the newcomers. It has to be said, as well, that the Scob Fish are not the most attractive piscis." explained Hoot.
"I don't know what you are talking about!" I said angrily "I gave no such orders!"
"But, Sir, we had a visit from your Minister of Fisheries. He informed us that, due to the economic climate, you had decided that keeping fish for purely decorative purposes was no longer viable. Your new edict was that Goldfish Lodge was to become a fish farm. We have been sending train loads back to your fish processing plant!" he blustered.
"Describe this 'Minister of Fisheries' to me!" I demanded.
"Well, he was a rather uncouth diminutive chap, dressed in sack cloth. He had a number of skewers for catching fish with - he said" replied Hoot.
"Hitmouse!" exclaimed the Old Monkey.
"I fear so, I fear so," I responded "Tell me, Hoot, where is this fish processing plant?"
"Somewhere called Badfort? - a grand castle in your domain, we were told by your Minister" he replied.
"Enough - you have been mislead. I fear that there is no end to the Badfort Crowd's infamy - take us to see the rent collection machine." I declared.
At the top of the tower we entered a large domed room, where many dwarfs were busy carrying large sacks of shillings and in a constant procession poured them into a network of tubes.
It was clear that Hoot took his duties most seriously, almost officiously, and was very proud of the work that he oversaw.
"Here we are, Sir, as you can see, all is in order. The shillings pass down the tubes and a compressed air system, created by the bubbles from the fish, forces them all the way to the tap contained in your silver cupboard!" he declaimed.
"I am afraid, Hoot, that all is not in order - the shillings are not arriving!" I told him as gently as possible.
He burst into tears. "I have no choice, then, Sir, but to offer my resignation. I have failed in my duties to you and to the people of Goldfish Lodge!" he sobbed.
"Now, now, there is no need for that - you have clearly been the victim of a dastardly criminal act. Tell me, did this Minister of Fisheries take a particular interest in the rent collection process?" I asked.
"Why, yes, Sir, he was particularly interested - he thought it might be a faster method of transporting the Scob Fish. He was most interested in the route the tubes took to get to Homeward. Oh. I have been a bit silly haven't I?" stuttered Hoot, as realisation dawned on him.
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Front Page Apology
5 years ago