Thursday, 26 November 2009

Chapter 35 - Building Up A Head of Steam

There is a Japanese proverb, or possible Chinese, that says, 'Fall down seven times, stand up eight,' which in bog standard English means, I think, keep on trying and never give up.

I say this only because the benefit concert wasn't the first time Boom had tried to re-ignite his rock career. Oh no, this was the fourth or possibly fifth attempt, and Honeybun had been quite impressed with his tenacity in the face of persistent deferred success, aka 'failure', given he was so quick to give up other projects like new exercise regimes, for example, or making his nest every morning.

But his persistence had paid off. Despite the dismal 'New Age Revival and Nuts' concert in '95, and the even more dismal (if that was at all possible) appearance on 'Chickens in Need' in 2002, the phone had not stopped ringing since the success of the 'Race to Save Much Malarkey Manor Benefit Concert 2009.'

Now, you might think that a rock concert that ended halfway though its set with an out of control firework display, the destruction by blazing inferno of a Manor house and the near-death experience of a chihuahua/magician could not, strictly speaking, be classed as a success. But the rock music community are a strange breed and the fans who had come to see David Bowie were very happy that their intial disappointment had been far outweighed by the entertainment they'd been offered instead.

'What a night!' began one review. 'Excitement from start to finish. And the music was okay, too. 'Boom Penguin' are truly back in town. Better stock up on your fire extinguishers!'

The praise poured forth from a variety of magazines and newspapers with the exception of a couple of animal charity rags who raged about the inhumane treatment of a small and helpless dog being shot from a cannon. Suddenly, everyone wanted a piece of the band. Honeybun was inundated with request for television and radio interviews and product endorsements. Several tribute web sites had sprung up; 'Boom Penguin' were being blogged and twittered and social networked until the FaceBook page that Steve 'Stix' Stubbins set up for a laugh reached over two million members.

'This is great,' said Boom. It was the morning of the great Cleverly Dangled scam, but what Boom really wanted to do was spend every hour basking in the glory of his new found fame, even if that was a bit cliche.
'Don't get too carried away,' Honeybun warned. 'Not for a couple of days at least. We've got a job to finish, remember?'

Boom tried not to sulk. Which was a challenge in itself, because if there is one expression that comes naturally to a kakapo, it's sulking. Also, he was feeling slightly aggrieved that, being the innocent stolen-hat victim in all this, he was having to help make amends for a problem that he didn't actually cause.

'Can't you and Dave deal with this Cleverly Dangled thing?' he said. 'Only I've been asked to appear on 'Good Morning Sofa Huggers with Phil 'n' Holly.'
'Of course Dave and I can deal with it,' said Honeybun. 'But it would be rather nice if everyone pulled together in a big team effort, don't you think?'

No, Boom didn't think. But the look in Honeybun's eyes told him he'd have to grit his teeth and get on with it and that Phil 'n' Holly would have to wait. Besides, Boom had to keep on Honeybun's good side because he'd made a decision. He and Honeybun were over. Finished. Kaput. Seeing that photograph, that evidence of betrayal, had made Boom realise he could no longer trust Honeybun. Besides, they'd been together too long. They could finish each other's sentences. And the sweeter mood she was in when he told her, the more chance he had of getting away with his toupee intact.

'All right,' said Boom. 'Tell me what I've got to do again.'

* * * * * * * * *

Cleverly Dangled set off just after lunch for what remained of Much Malarkey Manor. He'd seen photos of the damage in the morning papers and felt more than slightly smug that it was he who had been responsible for the blaze with his bomb cunningly disguised as a Christmas pudding. But it wasn't the Manor he cared about. It was the seam of rare Italian marble that ran beneath the ground that lit the dollar signs in his eyes. And now he had a partner to share the cost of the excavations with, he was even happier.
'Mining all that marble will be a long job,' he muttered to himself, as his car left the jams of the city and the countryside opened up before him, 'which means I'll 'ave plenty of time to come up wiv a way of shaftin' this Tangoed geezer good an' proper an' keep all the spoils for meself.'

Honestly, some people never learn.

At the Manor, everyone was ready for 'Operation Make Cleverly Dangled Look Like a Prize Turnip.' Honeybun had arranged for the Chief Executive Officer of the local planning council to be in attendance and was currently keeping him happy with a pot of very strong coffee and a banoffee muffin. Tango Pete and Cha-Cha Lil were dressed to the nines as rich Texan business tycoons. Dave and Boom were ready with sound and recording equipment, and Mrs Miggins, Mrs Pumphrey, Stix and Bob were hiding out, up, in and behind various trees and bushes in case Cleverly tried to escape again. Mrs Slocombe had been charged with look-out duties and was ensconced up the biggest oak with binoculars, walkie talkie and a flask of tea. Rita patted her shoulder bag, where the fake mining report was safely stashed.

'Has anyone seen Pepe?' said Honeybun. 'I've just had walkie-talkie contact from Mrs Slocombe up her tree saying that Dangled's car has turned into the lane leading to the Manor. I don't want Pepe anywhere near that...that...chihuahuacidal maniac.'
'He's still in bed,' said Mrs Pumphrey, who had earlier taken Pepe a bowl of hot chocolate and some crumpets, but didn't like to disturb him because he was sleeping so soundly, so she'd eaten them herself.
'Good,' said Honeybun. 'Poor thing. He's been through such a trauma. Now, are we sure the money that Cleverly Dangled sent into our account has cleared?'
'Yes,' said Mrs Miggins, who had been in charge of checking all financial transactions. 'My broker dealt with it and has transferred the money to another account in Switzerland, or Jersey, or somewhere. The money is now officially 'lost.'

(The author would like to point out that, along with her poor knowledge vis a vis airports and wine, she has very little sophisticated fiscal awareness beyond the fact she in not over drawn, has no outstanding loans apart from the mortgage which
is nearly half equity, pays her credit card bill off every month and has some savings. Oh, and a pension. But shares? Portfolios? Off shore accounts? No idea. But will try to sound as if she knows what she is talking about for the sake of the integrity of this novel...haha!!)

'Excellent,' said Honeybun.
'Isn't that fraud?' said Andy, who was waiting on the periphery of the conversation with Denise.
'Didn't I tell you to stay in the caravan until it was all over?' said Honeybun, who really didn't need people going all ethical and moral on her right now. 'Or go into town. Go to 'Under Ground' and get a cup of tea and a bun.' And she handed over a twenty pound note.

'Come on,' I said. 'Let's get away for the afternoon. We could go into Puddlepebbles and find a book about self-build Manors.'

'Here he comes!' came a cry from Mrs Slocombe, who was still up her tree with her binoculars, walkie talkie and a buster collar she'd cunningly fashioned into a megaphone.
'Right,' said Honeybun. 'Everyone ready?'
'Ready!' agreed everyone.

Cleverly got out of his car. Tango Pete and Cha-Cha Lil were standing by Dave's limousine, looking as if they, too, had just arrived. Cha-Cha Lil was toying with what looked like a huge diamond pendant on the end of a chunky gold chain. It glinted enticingly in the sun and caught Cleverly's greedy little eye.
'Mr Dangled!' called Tango Pete. 'G'day, sir. How are you this fine and sunny morning?'
'Good, Peter, good,' said Cleverly. 'I've brought the contract ready for you to sign, to get our partnership under way.'
'Fantastic,' said Peter. 'I'll just get my advisor to check it over, if that's okay with you, Mr Dangled sir.'

The back door of the limousine swung open, and Honeybun Slingsby stepped out.

'You!' stuttered Cleverly Dangled. 'Wot are you doin' 'ere? I didn't fink you'd dare show your face round 'ere, not after wot you did.'
'Are you threatening me, Mr Dangled?' said Honeybun, smoothly.
'Course I am,' said Cleverly. 'You set me up. You broke our contract.'
'This contract, you mean, Mr Dangled?' said the Chief Executive Officer of the planning committee, emerging from the car behind Honeybun. 'Because if it is, then I think you should know that the county council does not take very kindly to acts of bribery and corruption.'

'You ain't got a fing on me,' snapped Cleverly. 'You pompous windbag. You council types fink you know it all, don't ya? Well, let me tell you, one of your planners would 'ave bin more than 'appy to accept my bribe from Miss Parrot-face Slingsby 'ere, if she'd kept to 'er part ov the bargain.'
'Rubbish!' said the Chief Executive Officer, who admittedly had a very rose coloured view of the intergrity of his staff. 'The point is, Mr Dangled, that you attempted to gain planning permission for a major development by going through some very shonky channels. And it is now my job to see that you never gain planning permission to build in this county ever again!'

'HURRAH!' came a cheer from up and behind and beneath the various shrubs, trees and bushes in the vicinity.
'Well, I've done wiv 'ouse buildin',' said Cleverly. 'So I don't care about your plannin' embargo. I've got bigger fings up me sleeve. Sign that business contract, Tangoed. Don't listen to these losers. You won't regret it.'
'I'm not sure,' said Tango Pete. 'I mean, how do I know for certain that this place is full of rare Italian marble?'
'Because of this mining report!' said Cleverly, pulling the document triumphantly from his briefcase. He thrust the papers at Tango Pete who let his eyes slide across them in the manner of someone who really cared about what he was reading.

'Mr Dangled, sir,' he began. 'This isn't a mining report. This is a list entitled 'The Top One Hundred Shonky Business Dealings of Cleverly Dangled, Evil Property Developer.' Look, it says so at the top.' And he handed the papers back to Cleverley.

Well, you've never seen a pair of eyes pop so far from their sockets without actually falling out and landing on the ground in a pile of sheep droppings.

'What???' spluttered Cleverly, as he scanned the document, which did indeed list every single illegal transaction he'd ever made through his various business dealings. 'Ow did you git 'old of this information?'

'Quite simply,' said Mrs Dangled, who'd been biding her time behind a holly bush and felt now was a good time to reveal herself. 'I told them. I'm fed up with you, Cleverly. I am fed up with the way you treat people, and I am fed up with the way you treat me. You're nothing more than a red-faced, pigeon-fancing, arrogant bully. And you smell. I want a divorce. I am leaving you forever, and don't expect me to come and visit you in prison either. Trying to kill a chihuahua indeed. That is the lowest of the low. Oh, and the rare Italian marble doesn't exist. It's never existed. It was all a dead herring.'
'Red herring,' whispered Rita.
'That too,' said Mrs Dangled.

'Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!' laughed Cleverly, somewhat hysterically. 'And what exactly do you fink you're goin' to do wiv your life? You're nuffink wivout me, do you 'ear, nuffink.'

'I'm going to be a groupie,' declared Mrs Dangled, standing tall and proud. 'I was here at the concert and saw everything that happened. I've always been a fan of 'Boom Penguin' and I've always wanted to travel, so I'm going to follow them on tour.'

'You're bleedin' mental, you are,' said Cleverly. 'Oose ever 'eard ov a middle-aged tatty-arsed bird like you bein' a groupie? You're 'ardly 'ot tottie stuff, are ya?'

'She's good enough for me,' said Dave 'Shiplap' Chalet, appearing from behind the same holly bush behind which Mrs Dangled had been hiding (but I don't think we'll go into detail about what they'd been up to, do you? Some things are best left unsaid.)
'You?' laughed Cleverly. 'You're a flamingo!'
'Very well observed,' said Dave.
'He might be pink, he might be feathery, and he might have knees that bend in a peculiar way, but he loves me,' said Mrs Dangled. 'And I intend to follow him to the ends of the earth, if need be.'
'I think Japan is the furthest venue we've got planned,' said Dave. 'But thanks for the sentiment.'

At that point, Cleverly Dangled knew he was scuppered. In the distance, a police siren wailed across the countryside. Desperation had been building up inside him, and now it was spilling over.
'It was Dave wot split up 'Boom Penguin' in the first place,' he shouted. ''Im and 'Uneybun. They stole the 'at.'
'We know,' said everyone in chorus.
'I bet ya don't know 'oo really betrayed you all,' Cleverly shouted again. 'Oo is the real traitor in your midst, eh? Oo took the photo and put it in my 'ands in the first place? Bet ya don't know that, do ya? Do ya?? DO YA???'

'Shut up, Cleverly,' snapped Mrs Dangled and slapped him smartly across his face. 'Just tell them, will you?'

'It woz 'im!' said Cleverly. And he pointed to the horizon where a small chihuahua shaped chihuahua could be seen running for all his little legs were worth into the distance.

No comments:

Post a Comment