Sunday, 15 November 2009

Chapter 19 - A Sticky Honeybun Situation

Before arriving at Much Malarkey Manor, Honeybun Slingsby had wondered what it would be like to live once more in such close proximity to Laetitia Miggins. It had been many years since the two had crossed barbed wits and sharpened claws and as such, perhaps they had both matured into civilised poultry-hood. Their first meeting two days ago had been polite and guarded, perhaps aided a little by the egg-nog laced with vodka provided by Mrs Slocombe at the 'Welcome to Chez Nous' reception do. Rooms had been arranged for the Boom Penguin party well away from the main living quarters of Mrs Miggins and her two companions, and so far they had seen very little of each other.

But now there were planning meetings and rehearsals to be held, and decisions to be made about the style and content of the concert.
'I can behave myself if she can, 'said Honeybun, when Boom told her that everyone was required to attend a committee meeting that morning, followed by the first of many intense rehearsal periods, now that everyone had arrived.
'You'll be okay with us rehearsing together, then?' said Boom.
'Of course,' said Honeybun. 'Why shouldn't I be?'
'Because of mine and Laetitia's...well, you know...'
'Affaire that you had over twenty years ago?' finished Honeybun. 'The thought hasn't crossed my mind.'
'Oh,' said Boom, trying to sound not too disappointed at the apparent lack of Honeybun's jealous rage. 'Well, that's good then, isn't it?'
'Yes,' said Honeybun. 'Besides, I have another appointment this afternoon. So you can all rehearse away until your heart's content without fear of me leaping onto the stage and scratching that Jezebel's eyes out from her scrawny, ginger head.'

And here they were now, Honeybun Slingsby at one end of the table, Laetita Miggins at the other and Mrs Pumphrey sitting in between, with a strategically placed baseball bat to hand, just in case.
'As chair of the 'Race To Save Much Malarkey Manor' Benefit Concert Committee, I would like to bring this first full meeting to order,' announced Mrs Pumphrey.
'I love it when you're all forceful and commanding,' whispered Bob Frapples, who was sitting next to Mrs Pumphrey, doodling tiny eidelweiss on her minutes note pad.
Mrs Pumphrey giggled.
'Ahem. Item one on the agenda,' she said. 'Dates.'
'Can't stand them,' said Stix. 'Get stuck in my beak. And I broke a tooth on one of their little stones once.'
'I meant the date of the concert,' said Mrs Pumphrey.
'Right,' said Stix and winked at Mrs Slocombe, who winked back, which is never a good idea when you're wearing extra long, extra lush false eyelashes.
'Have you got something in your eye, Betty?' demanded Mrs Miggins.
'Only the arrow from Cupid's bow,' sighed Mrs Slocombe, unravelling her top lid from her bottom...lid.
'Bleuch,' said Mrs Miggins.
'So I thought that Bonfire Night would be a good date to aim for,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Especially as Tango Pete has offered us some discount fireworks for a display. His cousin, Wow-wow Wembley, has a store way.'
'Sounds good to me,' said Dave 'Shiplap' Chalet. 'What do you think, Tish? End the evening with a good bang?'
'Ooooh, Shiplap,' said Mrs Miggins, her temper immediately softening at Dave's cheeky, if obvious double entrendre. (Well, it is Sunday evening, and the twenty five thousand word half way mark is tantalisingly close.)

She called him 'Shiplap', thought Boom, indignantly. Why did she call him 'Shiplap?'

'Right,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Bonfire night it is. That gives us three weeks to rehearse. I'll get the date put on the tickets and we can get them printed and sent out to the thousands of fans who've already booked.'
'What if they can't make Bonfire Night?' asked Honeybun.
'There's a waiting list for return tickets,' said Mrs Pumphrey.
'Really?' said Honeybun. 'Well, you do surprise me. I didn't think Boom Penguin would be so popular after all these years in the wilderness.'

The table was stunned into silence at Honeybun's stinging comment.
'Oh yes,' said Mrs Pumphrey, airily, as she leapt in to break the atmosphere that was so cold it was in danger of freezing her bald pink bum to her seat. 'Ticket sales have been very brisk. In fact, I reckon we could fill the arena four times over.'
'Then why don't we?' said Boom. He couldn't believe that Honeybun had made such a detrimental comment about the band's popularity. She could be so harsh, so cruel sometimes. Well, quite a lot of the time, actually. New Zealand wasn't that much of a wilderness. 'Why don't we do a series of concerts?'

'Yeah, go on,' said Dave. 'I'm up for it. 'What about you guys?'
Both Stix and Bob nodded.
'Okay, then,' said Mrs Pumphrey, although she sounded a little tentative about the suggestion. 'I'll advertise two more dates.'
'Great!' said Boom. This was going to be fantastic. His future looked bright. His future looked Kakapo green.

They whistled through the remaining items on the agenda and then it was lunch-time.
'Straight back after food for rehearsals,' shouted Boom as they all disbanded.

Mrs Slocombe caught up with Mrs Pumphrey as she headed back to the North Wing of Cluckinghen Palace.
'You haven't told them, have you?' she said.
'I couldn't bear to,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'But it won't matter that much, will it? I mean, music is music after all. And it's for a good cause.'
Mrs Slocombe sighed. 'Well, I hope so for your sake,' she said. 'Because I'm not sure how everyone will take the news that the reason we've already sold so many tickets is that you kind of implied that the headline act is David Bowie.'
'It was a typing error,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'You know how clumsy my big fluffy wings can be sometimes. Besides, David Bowie, Boom Penguin...who's going to notice the difference?'
'Mrs Miggins, for a start,' said Mrs Slocombe.

Honeybun Slingsby has left the meeting with considerable urgency. A phone call from Rita Miassov had left her feeling weirdly unnerved.
'What kind of envelope?' she asked, when Rita had filled her in on her recent meeting with Cleverly Dangled.
'I don't know,' said Rita. 'An envelope. A big, stiff envelope. The kind you'd use to send photographs through the post, I guess. And he seemed very certain that the contents would encourage you to get Boom to buy the Manor.'
'I'll meet you in one hour,' said Honeybun. If she had to wait any longer, she might burst with curiosity.
She closed her mobile with a snap, and looked around for Pepe. He'd been busy practising his magic act for the concert and she spotted him now, submerged in his large water tank, surrounded by pirhanas.
'Pepe, will you get out of there, now please?' she said. 'We've got to go and meet Rita. Urgently. And depending on the contents of that envelope she's brought me from Cleverly Dangled, I may have an important mission for you.'

Pepe the Chihuahua sighed amd hauled himself reluctantly from his water tank. He didn't want to be distracted by a mission. If he was going to get his 'Escape From the Jaws of Death' trick down to a fine art, he had a lot more practising, and even more pirhanas, to get through yet.

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