Friday, 13 November 2009

Chapter 15 - Argu 'mental'

'Space travel!'
'Space travel!!'

(The author thought, 'hmmmmm, could I get away with typing this repetitive piece of dialogue for another 10,000 words, to give myself a bit of a boost to the fifty thousand word target?' 'Not if you want to maintain any credibility as a writer, you can't,' said her moral angel who doesn't give her name but is probably called something like 'Honesty' or 'Patience' or 'Holier-than-Thou.' 'But Martine Macutcheon got herself published by writing drivel,' I said. 'That's because she's famous and can do a passable impression of Eliza Dolittle,' said the angel. 'So can I,'I said. 'Ere, I'm a good girl, I am. Just you wait 'Enry 'Iggins, just you wait,' and I pranced around the kitchen, pausing briefly to smudge me face wiv sum soot from the range. 'I could 'ave daaaaaaaaaaaaaaanced allllllll night...I could 'ave dance, dance, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanced.....alllllllllllllllllll niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!!!!!'

'You see,' whispered Mrs Slocombe, who was peering through the kitchen window. 'She's getting hysterical with worry over losing Much Malarkey Manor. She's only one short step from catching the coconut boat, you mark my words.'
Mrs Miggins nodded. It was, indeed, a sad sight. And if anyone knew about mental breakdown, it was Mrs Slocombe,whose family had owned their own dedicated bed in the local asylum since 1732.
'Right,' she said. 'The sooner we get this concert underway, the quicker we can save the Manor from being turned into a 600 unit two and three bed des-res affordable housing estate.'
'Have you been reading Cleverly Dangled's planning application, perchance?' said Mrs Slocombe.
'Yes, I have,' said Mrs Miggins. 'Oddly enough, a copy arrived in the post this morning. It was addressed to Honeybun Slingsby but I always used to open her post in the old days, and don't see why I should change my ways now.'
'Why would she want a copy of Dangled's planning application?' said Mrs Slocombe.
'I don't know,' said Mrs Miggins. 'But I've slipped a teeny tiny microphone and recorder into the envelope and resealed it. If there's anything fishy going on, the recorder wil pick it up. I've got Tango Pete monitoring the situation on his broadband radio.'
'Won't she notice a microphone and recorder?' asked Mrs Slocombe who had already come to the conclusion that Honeybun Slingsby was the kind of person who never let anything slip 'neath her beady radar.
'They're cunningly disguised as a free pen. Everyone likes a free pen,' said Mrs Miggins.

The hens were interrupted in their fascinating, technical conversation by Mrs Pumphrey bursting forth from the performance arena, looking decidely hot, and puffing like the runaway train.
'Couldn't happen to two nicer people,' muttered Mrs Miggins.
'He is our headline act,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'I think we should do our best to preserve his life at least until after the concert date, don't you?'
'I suppose,' sighed Miggins. 'But after that, can we watch them kill each other?'
'If you like,' said Mrs Pumphrey, who didn't condone any form of violence, but felt Miggo needed bribing in order to come and sort out the arguing that was going on in the performance arena.

Mrs Pumphrey turned and ran back into the marquee, with Mrs Slocombe in hot pursuit and Mrs Miggins in a sort of tepid some-one-forgot-to-turn-on-the-emersion-tank-for-a-bath saunter.

'But we could put a rocket there,' Boom was saying, waving his wing in the direction of downstage right. 'And turn the rest of the stage into a huge replica of the, better still, Mars. Yes, Mars. Planet of War. The Red Planet. Ggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! Yes, I can see it now. Fire and larva, flashing lights, Darth Vader...'
'Darth Vader has nothing to do with either the moon or Mars,' said Honeybun.
'I bet he went to Mars at some point during the Star Wars trilogy/prequels/sequels,' said Boom. 'If only to get away from Ewan McGregor for a while.'
'I wouldn't want to get away from Ewan McGregor,' sighed Honeybun. 'Anyway, I think you should go for a Rennaissance theme. A big frilly shirt wil cover up your middle aged spread far better than a baco-foil space suit. Space suits are very unforgiving of a dumpy figure.'

'Space travel,' said Boom, stubbornly.
'Rennaissance,' said Honeybun.
'SHUT UP!!!!!!' yelled Mrs Miggins. 'Does it really matter? Who is going to care? Your fans have been buying tickets in their droves. You could dress as a giant pineapple and they wouldn't care, so long as you play the music and make an effort to sing in tune. You have learned to sing in tune, haven't you?' And Mrs Miggins fixed Boom with a quizzical stare.
'I have ALWAYS sung in tune,' said Boom, hotly.
'Normally, I would beg to argue that point,' said Miggins. 'But I really can't be bothered. And now I've got your attention, perhaps you'd like to know that Dave is arriving at lunchtime.' And with that news, Mrs Miggins turned and marched smartly from the arena, pausing only to give Pepe, Honeybun's Chihuahua, a swift kick in his scuba breathing apparatus as she passed.
Boom looked at Honeybun, who, at the mention of Dave's name, was now blushing deeply. Puce really wasn't her colour, thought Mrs Pumphrey. She made a note to lend Honeybun her colour corrective moisturiser, to help tone down her rosy cheeks.

'So,' said Boom. 'Dave's arriving at lunch time, is he?'
'Apparently,' said Honeybun, who appeared to be holding back some kind of swooning fit.
'It'll be good to see Dave again, won't it?' said Boom.
'Yes,' squeaked Honeybun.
'Because not only is 'Boom Penguin' nothing without Dave 'Shiplap' Chalet,' said Boom, 'we also have a little unfinished business to deal with, don't we Honeybun?'
'Can't we just let it go?' said Honeybun. 'I mean, it was years and years ago. Let's forgive and forget, eh?'

Boom glared at Honeybun. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard.
'That's all very well for you to say,' he said, frostily. 'But it was MY hat he stole.'
Honeybun stared. She seemed to be grappling with an inner dilemma. Her face contorted in deep-thought.
'Maybe Space Travel would be a good theme for your comeback concert,' she said, tentatively.
'Thank you!' said Boom primly.
'And the hat?' said Honeybun.
'What hat?'said Boom, and Honeybun breathed a sigh of relief and offered a small prayer to the god of diplomacy.

At 12 noon precisely, a car swung gloriously into the driveway of Much Malarkey Manor. A large shiny black car. A solid, German car, with blacked out windows, the kind of car that you had to listen to really carefully to work out if its engine was really running. It purred like a cat as it approached, and then the purred stopped and a beefy chauffeur, in slate grey suit and with dark glasses pressed tightly against his eyeballs, stepped from the driving seat and opened the back door.
'Thank you, Sid,' said the figure who emerged.

Dave 'Shiplap' Chalet, for it was he, stood and surveyed the scene before him. For a moment he thought he'd come to the wrong place. Wembley Arena this was not.
'DAVE!!!!' called a familiar voice. 'DAVE!!!!'

'Here we go,' muttered Dave under his breath. 'Big smile, now. Big smile.'

And he turned to face Boom Penguin, best pal, and worst enemy, standing before him.

'Boom,' said Dave.
'Dave,' said Boom.
'Looking good, Boom,' lied Dave.
'You too,' lied Boom back.

Dave turned at the sound of another voice, a familiar voice,a voice whose tone and timbre had remained etched within him for years, a voice he thought he'd never experience the joy of hearing ever again. And his heart gave a jolt and a thud, which doubled in passion and longing when he turned and saw the vision that was Laetitia Miggins standing before him.

He gasped. Boom gasped. The two pigeons who'd been circling Dave's shiny black limo and assessing it for toilet potential, gasped.
'Tish,' said Dave. 'Looking good, babe, looking good.'

And she was. Gone were the dungarees and lumberjack shirts, the heavy work boots and the toenails ingrained with dirt. In their place was a slinky cocktail dress in soft purple satin, with matching elbow length gloves. A pair of diamante trimmed sandals caressed her feet and her ginger feathers shone a new vibrant auburn. And was that a hint of mascara fluttering on her eyelashes? Ye, it was. Laetitia Miggins had been Pumphried!

Dave stepped forward and put out his manly flamingo wings. He bent down and scooped Mrs Miggins up into a powerful embrace, squeezing and squeezing her as if he never wanted to let her go, ever again.
'Rio missed you,' he whispered in her ear. 'I missed you.'

He released her gently (which was a relief to Miggins, as it had been a long time since she'd had her gently squeezed) and they gazed into each other's eyes for a few more tense seconds. Boom was livid to the point of spitting. What was Dave playing at? Laetitia Miggins was his bird, not Dave's. And then Boom remembered Honeybun, and the whole sorry mess that led to the break up of the band, and for the first time in twenty years he felt a pang of guilt twist his heart.

'Er, right, 'said Boom, 'd'you want to come and meet the others, Dave? They arrived last night.'
'Yeah, if you like,' said Dave, his eyes still fixed on Mrs Miggins.
'Steve and Bob are up at the Manor,' said Mrs Miggins. 'Having lunch on the terrace. They're waiting for you to join them. And you, if you like,' she added, turning briefly to Boom.
'Oh, thanks,' said Boom.
Dave held out his arm to Mrs Miggins. 'Shall we?' he said.
'Oh yes,' breathed Mrs Miggins, who waltzed along beside Dave, feeling like a young chick again.

Boom was left standing by Dave's limo.
'Hurt's doesn't it?' said Honeybun, appearing at his side. 'When someone you love loves someone else.'
'I wouldn't know,' said Boom. 'Are you coming for some lunch, or what?'
'I think 'or what' is my prefered option of the two,' said Honeybun.

And not for the first time in his life, Boom Penguin was left standing alone.

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