Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Chapter 9 - The Kakapo Has Landed

England was colder than Boom Penguin remembered. As he stepped from the plane, he wished he'd taken Honeybun's advice and worn some sensible trousers,rather than his favourite pair of hot pants with the palm trees 'n' tiny-yachts-scudding-across-the-waves pattern. The muscle man vest wasn't doing much to keep him warm, either.

'Where's the limo?' he asked, scanning the expanse of damp, grey tarmac that greeted them at Heathwick Airport.
'There is no limo,' Honeybun informed him. 'Limos are for successful rock stars, not ex-successful rock stars. So until you regain your superstar status, it's through Customs, pick up the luggage from the carousel and hail a taxi with the rest of the plebs, I'm afraid.'

Boom snorted. 'Hail a taxi? Isn't this Pumphrey and Slocombe Associates at least sending a car for me?'
'They were,' sighed Honeybun, 'only I've just had a text saying that due to an unforeseen incident with a steam roller and a camel called Antoine on the M25, they might not be able to collect us after all.'
'A camel?' said Boom.
'Called Antoine. But we're to look out for someone called 7UP Rick...no, no, Tango Pete, as they are trying to arrange an emergency ride with him.'

This, thought Boom, was not the homecoming he'd been expecting. Where were the hordes of screaming fans, the flashing camera bulbs of the paparazzi? Hadn't he given Honeybun specific instructions to inform the main press agencies of the world that Boom Penguin was back and that rock was about to get hot once more? He hadn't even been recognised on the plane coming over from Singapore. It was like as soon as he'd hit the Northern hemisphere he'd become kakapo non grata.

Boom and Honeybun trouped across the tarmac and into Terminal 5. (The author would like to point out at this moment that she is air-phobic and has never, and will never board a plane as they scare her witless. Therefore, she has no experience of airports or terminals and doesn't know if, when one flies in from Singappore, one actually finishes their journey at Terminal 5 of Heathwick Airport, or GatRow, for that matter. It is pure guess work. If the author does ever become a world famous writer, she will travel the globe via boat. Either that, or her fan base will have to come to her. But don't worry, she will provide cake.)

'Excuse me,' says Boom, 'but can we refocus the plot? On to me. The star. And steer clear of your quite frankly ridiculous travel phobias?'
'Yes,'I say. 'Only I think you'll find the stars of 'Poulet Nous' are Misses Miggins, Pumphrey and Slocombe.'
'We'll see about that,' says Boom.

It took a while to gather the mass of luggage from the carousel, because despite Honeybun's suggestion that they could perhaps travel light and hit the shops for essentials when they arrived, Boom was insistent that he bring his entire 'Boom Meringue Tour '86' costume wardrobe with them.
'It's my lucky ensemble,' he pouted, when Honeybun tried to point out that puffball skirts and shoulder pads were no longer de rigeur fashion for the comeback rock star.

But eventually, with cases piled twelve feet high on a trolley, which Boom then refused to help push given his lack of stature in his complementary airline slipperettes, they made their way to the exit to find transport.

'Oi!' shouted a voice across the concourse. 'Oi! Boom Penguin, mate!'

Was this the voice of a fan assailing his ears? thought Boom. If so, the quality of his fan base had certainly gone down since he'd left the UK.
'Keep walking,' he hissed at Honeybun, 'fast.'
'Boom Penguin!' came the call once again, only closer this time and then Boom felt a sharp whack on the back of his head.
'Hey,' he said. 'Hands off the rock star, pal, or else...'
'Mrs Pumphrey sent me,' said the voice. 'I'm Tango Pete. I've got the Vee-Dub outside, only can we get a shift on 'coz I'm parked on a double yellow.'

Boom turned around. Before him stood a cockerel, of the common chicken variety, dressed in unnecessarily tight jeans and a puffer jacket. His comb was slicked back, restrained by half a pot at least of Brylcreem.
'Well, come on, mate,' said Tango Pete, for 'twas he, 'you are Boom Penguin, aren't you?' And he peered at the photo he was holding, to double check. And then he held it up against the side of Boom's face, for a better look at the profile.

Boom smacked Tango Pete's hand away, and the photo fluttered to the floor. It was a publicity shot, from the early days.
'Yes, yes, I am Boom Penguin,' said Boom. 'World famous 80's Rock Star, writer and singer of multi-million selling hits such as 'Sonic Boom','Ta-ra-ra Boom, D-Day,''Toucan Boom,'...'
'Sorry, mate, all wasted on me,' said Tango Pete. 'I'm a Showaddywaddy man, myself. This your gear?' he finished, eyeing up the pile of luggage.
'Yes,' said Boom. 'Perhaps you'd relieve my manager from her trolley-pushing duties. She's behind there somewhere...'
'Well, helloooooooo, sweet cheeks,' said Tango Pete, as Honeybun emerged, red-faced and puffing.
'Mr Pete,' said Honeybun.
'Call me Tango,' said Tango Pete. He lifted Honeybun's wing to his beak and gave it a gentle, if slightly slobbery, peck. 'Or Tang, to my special friends.'

Honeybun was pretty certain she would never attain the status of one of Tango Pete's 'special friends' - not if she could help it anyway.
'I believe we have rooms booked at Cluckinghen Palace,' she said, eager to get away from the airport.
''S right,' said Tango Pete, taking charge of the luggage trolley. 'Up at the Manor. Let's get you loaded up and we'll have you there in a jiffy.'
'Has the camel/traction engine contretemps been cleared from the motorway?' asked Boom.
'Dunno mate,' said Tango Pete. 'I came cross country. Don't like motorways, me. All these new fangled transport ideas will end in tears, you mark my words. Give me a good old-fashioned rough country lane any day. Don't mind the dog,' he finished, opening the back door of the Volkswagen Camper to reveal a huge Irish Wolfhound, 'he'll get out the way once we start shovelling these cases on top of him.'

* * * * * * * * * * *

Back at Cluckinghen Palace, Mrs Miggins was pacing the hall in a state of nervous agitation.
'I don't see why they have to stay here,' she said.
'Because,' said Mrs Pumphrey, 'although we have given the impression that Pumphrey and Slocombe Associates is a high-profile, high profit company, we have exactly sixteen pounds and fifty five pence in the expenses account at the moment, which won't even get us a B and B for the night. Besides, there's plenty of space here. I've put them in the North Wing, so you don't even have to see them if you don't want to.'
'What about the money from the tickets you've already sold?' said Miggins.
'All ready earmarked for other things,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'We've got to get a venue, for a start.'

Mrs Miggins sighed. It seemed that the race to save Much Malarkey Manor was already getting bigger than she could cope with.
'I'm going to bed,' she said. 'I don't want to be here when they arrive. I'm already fighting back the urge to peck out a few eyeballs as it is.'

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