Friday, 13 November 2009

Chapter 16 - Those Were the Days, My Friends

Lunch began as a pretty tense affair. It had been twenty years since Boom Penguin. the Greatest Rock Band In The World had shared the same room. A lot of water had flowed beneath a very wide bridge since they'd split, but, as Dave so eloquently put it, any water flowing anywhere is bound to have a certain level of sewage in it. Only he didn't use the word 'sewage.' What he really said was 'sh..'
'Quite true,' said Bob Frapples, who, having downed several gallons of Mrs Pumphrey's mint tea and homemade ginger biscuits, was feeling a lot less nauseous than he had when he and Steve had arrived the previous evening. Now he felt more than able to tackle the rather sophisticated lunch before him.
'This is a lovely spread,' he said to Mrs Pumphrey, who was sitting to his right.
'Thank you,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Just something I whisked up this morning.'

In truth, she'd been up all night, slaving over a hot stove. As soon as she had clapped eyes on Bob Frapples, with his romantic poet sensibilities and pale, ethereal looks, she knew he was the one for her. And she was going to do her best to hook him, by fair means or fowl, I mean, foul.

Mrs Slocombe was equally enamoured of Steve 'Stix' Stubbins. Where Bob was a Nestle Milky Bar, Stix was a Jumbo Mars - chunky, sturdy, manly, but sweet enough inside to make your teeth stand on edge. If he turned out to be as mad as she, he would be perfect.

(N.B In case anyone from Nestle or Mars happens to be reading this, and is thinking, 'oooh, nice bit of free publicity, we'll send the kindly author some chocolate as a thank you, I would like to point out my choice of chocolate bars in this instance are purely for creative and metaphorical purposes. I don't actually like Milky Bars or Mars Bars because they make my teeth feel fuzzy - but should you still feel the urge to make some sort of appreciative recompense, my chocolate preferences lie with Maltesers, Dairy Milk, Fruit 'n' Nut and anything containing over 65% cocoa solids in the dark chocolate arena. Thank you.)

Now, where was I? Oh yes, Lunch. A tense affair. Although Bob and Stix had kept in touch over the years, mainly via postcards from whichever world locations they happened to be frequenting at the time, Dave and Boom, best pals, worst enemies, hadn't shared a word since the day of the split. All communications thereafter had gone through the channels of their respective legal representatives until Boom's lawyer, Hunter Bliss, had won the case and then all contact had ceased once and for all with the termination of the partnership.

But despite their differences, the genius of the partnership between Boom and Dave could not be denied, and the frisson of excitement at the band being back together was tangible in the air.
'What's the plan?' said Dave, when lunch was finished and coffee and petite fours were on the table. 'For this concert?'
Mrs Pumphrey placed her planning folder on the table.
'Well,' she said, 'so far we've got three acts. Yourselves, of course, and a Magician. And me, Miggins and Mrs Slocombe are going to perform as well.'
'Really?' said Dave, sitting forward and folding his pink wings together. 'I didn't know you were performance artistes.'
'Oh yes,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'We've got an Abba tribute act. Called Poulet Nous.'
'Sounds great,' said Dave. 'Now, whilst I don't want to ruin a very nice meal, I think we need to talk about fees. You know, get the formalities over and done with so we can enjoy the rest of the ride.'
'Fees?' said Mrs Pumphrey, weakly.
'Yes,' said Dave. 'You know, appearance fees. For services rendered.'
'Er...' began Mrs Pumphrey.
'It's a benefit concert, Dave,' said Bob, tapping his teaspoon against the side of his coffee cup. 'There is no fee.'
'No fee?' said Dave.
'No,' said Bob. 'We are performing for free, via the goodness in our hearts.'

Dave sat back in his chair. This was a novel experience. Perform for free?

'You mean, no money will change hands?' he said. 'We will go on stage, perform a set before thousands of fans and we won't get anything for it?'
'Nothing save a warm glowing feeling in your tummy that you are helping save a piece of our English countryside from some mad property developer,' said Stix.

Dave pondered the notion again.

'Well, I don't know...' he began.

Boom had held his beak up to this point. But, as he watched the look on Mrs Miggins' face turn from excited hope to dismal gloom, he found he could contain himself no longer.

'Now look here, Dave,' he snapped. 'It's not like you need the money, is it? That car you arrived in must have cost a few quid, and you got an extremely good settlement from our dissolved partnership, despite the best efforts of Hunter Bliss to settle it otherwise. One benefit concert is not going to break your bank balance, is it?'

Dave stared at Boom.

'And besides,' continued Boom, 'this concert could be the kick start of a whole new career for us. Look on it as a solid investment for our future.'
'I didn't know you cared,' said Dave.
'Shut it,' said Boom.
'Both of you shut it,' said Mrs Miggins, who'd remained silent until this point, mostly because the corset Mrs Pumphrey had heaved her into was digging her in the ribs and impeding her lungs from fully infalting. 'Dave, if you don't want to perform for free, then...then you're not the flamingo I thought you were and I'm sure the rest of the band can manage without you if you want to leave.'
'Tango Pete can play bass,' said Mrs Pumphrey, who felt she'd already invested too much effort and emotion into this project already to see it fail because of a prima donna rock star spitting his dummy out over pay.
'Yeah,' said Mrs Slocombe, 'and he looks pretty good in sequins and Spandex, too.'

Dave laughed and held up his wings. 'Okay, okay,' he said. 'I'll do the concert, of course I will. C'mon, guys, let's not fall out over this. In fact let's rock!' and he jumped up from the table, grabbed Mrs Miggins around the waist and twirled her around the table until she was giggling like a school girl.

'Boom Penguin' were back in town!


  1. Your comment on "OWL" much appreciated. Can;t quite believe you think it's better than an effort by a former Laueate! I'm off to Google "The Eagle", a poem I'm not familiar with.
    I'm not counting - but you must be well into the 50,000?

    Bess Twishes

  2. A bit later, having found "The Eagle" via Google.
    Well . . . a few neat lines with appropriate imagery. Perhaps Tennyson never suffered from Owls In The Attic. Bu they . . . you get a whole new take on the poem if you imagine it retitled "The Unroped Rock Climber"