Friday, 20 November 2009

Chapter 24 - Cross Patch and Grumpy Boots

As with all creative,really clever people, the closer the day of the concert grew, the more tetchy became the associated members of Boom Penguin, and Pepe the Chiuhuahua, who was having trouble perfecting his 'Cut a Kakapo in Two' magic trick.

The problem, thought Pepe, as he took a break one morning, having slashed seven pumpkins to smithereens in his faux guillotine which was doing a remarkably good job at being very un-faux, is that kakapos are an endangered species. So I can't really afford any slip ups of the 'accidental decapitation' variety. But the success of a really good magic trick depends a lot on the risk taken in the performamce, and to Pepe, the risk of depleting the population of a rare breed of dumpy, mad parrot was about the biggest thrill he could come up with.

And then there was the problem of persuading either of the two available kakapos i.e Boom and Honeybun, to be his victim, oops sorry, assistant. Via the use of an etch-a-sketch, Pepe had asked them both if they would help him in his trick. But why, I hear you ask, did Pepe have to use an etch-a-sketch to make his request known? Why couldn't he just ask them? Well, he's a dog, isn't he? And dogs can't talk, for goodness sake. But they can turn their paws to a nice spot of copper-plate.

'You must be joking,' said Boom, holding the etch-a-sketch at arm's length, because he really should have gone to the opticians for an sight-test ages ago but didn't want to admit he might need reading glasses because he had reached 'a certain age.'
Honeybun had been even more succinct. Something like 'If you king think I'm king going to get involved in one of your king reckless tricks, you've got another king idea coming.'

Desperate, Pepe had e-mailed the kakapo breeding programme back in New Zealand, to see if one of the girls fancied a trip half way across the world to listen to a bit of music and risk a potentially bloody laceration to their person. The reply from the breeding programme manager, Doctor Jack Barrowboy, read thus - 'Dear Pepe, glad to hear you're enjoying your time in Blighty. The answer to your request is no. Regards Doc Jack.'

And there was no time for Boom and Honeybun to get their act together, produce an egg, hatch an egg, raise a chick to adult size and then offer it a career in showbiz. It was less than two weeks to the concert. I'll have to rethink my finale, thought Pepe, and went off to practise his 'Daring Escapade From the Tank of Doom' trick instead.

In the arena, rehearsals were growing in both tension and volume. And in the absence of any other pop and rock acts offering their services free of charge to the Saving Much Malarkey Manor cause, Boom Penguin and the Poulet Nous Chicks were having to expand their repertoire to fill the two hours themselves.

Not that they minded. In fact, the more they rehearsed, and the bigger and flashier the costumes and special effects became (or SFX for those of us who've been involved in productions of things like 'We Will Rock You' and 'Little Shop of Horrors' and thus know the lingo), the better they liked it.

'These moon boots are wicked,' said Stix, bouncing around in the latest slivery, shiny acquisition to the wardrobe department.'
'Yes,' said Bob Frapples, who always did his best to get down and wiv da kidz, despite his poetic sensibilities, 'they truly are phat.'
'That'll be the padding,' said Boom, who wasn't quite as happenin' as he liked to think. 'Because astronauts need a lot of protection. They have to deal with adverse conditions.'
'Including enormously sharp Martian rocks?' said Bob, raising an ironic (or some might say sarcastic) eyebrow.
'Of course,' said Boom, the irony lost on him, because of Bob's eyebrows being hidden beneath his shock of fluffy, silky plummage. 'I mean, Mars is an even more trepidatious terrain than the moon.'
'What are you wittering on about?' said Honeybun, who had a very low drivel-tolerance level. 'No-one's ever landed on Mars. It's way too hot. In fact, I have my suspicions that anyone has ever landed on the Moon.'

'Of course people have landed on the moon,' said Boom. He always got a bit indignant when Honeybun started arguing her conspiracy theories. 'I saw a programme about it on the telly a couple of Christmases ago. In fact,' he continued, 'not only have people landed on the moon, a dog has, too.'
'And tell me, Mr Boom Penguin, Scientist Extraordinaire, did this dog find cheese when he landed on the moon?' said Honeybun, knowing full well what was coming next, as does the author, who hopes her readers are well up in their cross-textual references.
'Yes!' said Boom. 'You see, you saw the programme, too. There was a follow up episode in the same series. About how full moons affect the rabbit population.'
'I think you need to go for a lie-down,' sighed Honeybun. 'Your brain appears to be over-heating.'
'Ho-ho,' said Boom, treating Honeybun to a massive wink. 'Do you mean a lie-down, or a 'lie-down'?'
'I mean, a lie-down,' said Honeybun, crossly. 'Go and play your meditation CD. That'll calm you down.'

As it was approaching elevenses and Boom could smell enticing aromas coming from the South Wing of Cluckinghen Palace, courtesy of Mrs Miggins' weekly Friday bake-in, Boom sloped off for a biscuit or two. He'd been hoping that the fresh surroundings of the English countryside would re-ignite the passion in his and Honeybun's relationship, but ever since they'd arrived she had done nothing but complain about the cold and rain and the close proximity of Boom's previous amour, Mrs Miggins.
He'd even suggested that Honeybun revive her burlesque act and perform in the concert, but Honeybun had baulked at the idea, muttering something about podgy thighs and forgetting to pack her three-foot high champagne glass.

'Ah well,' thought Boom. 'I'll get a bit of warmth and comfort from Laetita.'
He opened the back door to the South Wing and tromped into the kitchen.
'GET OUT OF HERE NOW!' yelled Mrs Miggins. 'TRAITOR!!'
And Boom ducked as a rolling pin flew his way, narrowly missing his Major Tom space helmet.
'AND STAY AWAY!' yelled Mrs Miggins again.

Boom waited a few seconds and then opened the door a crack.
'What have I done now?' he said.
'As if you don't know,' said Miggins.
'I don't,' said Boom.
'Offering to buy the Manor from Andy and Denise, that's what I'm talking about,' said Miggins. 'What are you and your kakapo strumpet playing at? And don't deny it. Denise told me all about the offer Honeybun made her and Andy for the Manor.'

Boom was bemused. 'I'm sorry, Tish, but I really haven't a clue what this is about. I don't want to buy the Manor. I mean, it's a lovely place, but my home is in New Zealand now. England holds too many (sob) memories for me.' And he leant against the back door with a wing flung in a distraught manner across his beak, just in case Mrs Miggins was watching him from the kitchen window.

'It would help,' said Mrs Miggins, 'that if you're playing for sympathy, for you to actually sob rather than say the word 'sob' as an aside.'
'Sorry,' said Boom, 'but honestly, I really don't know where the owners got this idea from. Tell you what, I'll talk to Honeybun, see what she's got to say about it.'

'Very well,' said Mrs Miggins. 'In that case, you may have a biscuit. 'And she posted one through under the door. It was chocolate chip and ginger. Boom's favourite.

He picked it up, and wiped off the dirt. 'Thank you,' he said, and wandered off happily.

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