Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hurrumph and Good Cheer

A turkey dinner of sorts.

Fine yeomen, I’m afraid that I bring bad news. It seems that there is an expectation that I will respond to a ‘Tag’ and describe ten grocery essentials for any Christmas. Sadly, I’ve had very little time. I’m afraid I have been consoling Sid, the landlord of the ‘Rat & Ferret’ after one of the highlights of his year was reduced to a shambles.

One of the traditions of Christmas in the ‘Rat & Ferret’ is the annual seasonal message delivered by Chief Inspector McCrindle Barleymow Honeydew-Fforbes. Sid, the landlord, takes the honour of hosting the annual message very seriously. In the days running up to the event, he skulks around the local woodland to ensure the pub is full of pagan foliage. A large fir tree appears next to the fireplace and is soon creaking under the weight of cheap plastic tinsel, baubles and chocolate goodies. (Note 1) Christmas cards are strung across the ceiling along with colourful paper chains. There is even a little wooden stable with various Barbie dolls and Action Men figures dressed up to resemble a nativity scene (after about six pints if you have a very active imagination and squint through half closed eyes).

On the big night, Sid clears all the tables out of the lounge bar and brings in extra chairs from the function room. This year there was an additional buzz as Padstow had installed a camera to provide a podcast of the event.

A date silo in Northern Chad. Samurai of the Satsuma clan, during the Boshin War.

Still not sure what picture one and picture two are all about?

The regulars enter into the spirit of things too. Long before the start a small and occasionally orderly queue starts to form. (Note 2) Expectant noses press against the window panes trying to catch a glimpse of the preparations through a crack in the curtains. Yet Sid remains deaf to the pleas for early access coming through the letter box. Everything has to be just right before he pulls back the heavy bolts and opens the front door.

Sir Francis Bacon. An artefact of the Nefertiti era. It is supposed to depict the making of beer.

Still not sure what picture one and picture two are all about?

Having pulled the mulled wine duty in the kitchen, not only did I get to watch the pneumatic Mattress Madge work her magic on the mince pies and brandy butter, but I was there when the Chief Inspector arrived resplendent in his full dress uniform complete with medals. (Note 3).

The Chief Inspector and Padstow consulted in one corner of the kitchen while Mattress Madge and I worked on the refreshments. While I was distracted, the Chief inspector took a pull from the Brandy bottle and pinched Mattress Madge on her well upholstered posterior. Neither of us said anything, putting his behaviour down to nerves.

By now I hope that you are beginning to pick up that the pictures may not be all they seem.

Sid appeared in the doorway and gave a nervous cough. Mattress Madge and took the buffet through while Padstow touched up the Chief Inspectors make up.

The sight of the Chief Inspector taking his place at the lectern caused the room to fall silent. As the Chief Inspector opened his mouth to speak, the door opened to admit a latecomer, Yvette Munsderpiedder. Sid, Mattress Madge and myself instinctively moved to defend the buffet, but she went and sat down at the back of the room. The Chief Inspector ran a finger around the inside of his collar and gave a nervous cough.

The picturesque village of Stilton, Northamptonshire circa 1900. Felixstowe – a not very picturesque container port on the East coast of England.

Still not sure what picture one and picture two are all about? By now you should have got the clues so the fact that the second explanation isn’t really that helpful shouldn’t worry you.

Yvette sat at the back of the room and glared at the Chief Inspector. (Note 4) The Chief Inspector looked everywhere but at Yvette, cleared his throat and greeted his audience. His voice quivered slightly as he announced that his published topic, the success of the ASBO.

No, his kitten isn’t stuck up the tree.

This is just too easy. I don’t know if I should give an explanation to this picture.

Like in a scene from a spaghetti western, the door burst open. Those nearest the door dived for cover. Long, spiny fingers of fog drifted through the open door. Padstow started to whistle.

After a suitably theatrical pause, Evar came through the door utilising his best John Wayne walk. Chairs tumbled as the audience scattered.

All of us had expected Evar to be back in the old country, but the fog at Heathrow had caused his flight to be cancelled.

Evar kicked chairs aside as he moved slowly towards the Chief Inspector. Padstow hastily moved the camera, but kept filming. Evar stared at the Chief Inspector. The Chief Inspector stared back at Evar, a muscle twitching at the corner of his left eye.

Roses grow on you.

Perhaps it is a bit much to use brand names – it confuses Merkins, so I suppose I need an explanation for this picture.

Evar’s right hand flashed to his pocket. The Chief Inspector flinched and turned pale as Evar brandished the ASBO under his nose.

The Chief Inspector considered the situation. He looked at the court order, then at Evar, then at Yvette and then the door before looking again at the order which he had issued not two weeks before when he heard that Evar was going into training to break the world sprout eating record.

The Chief Inspector made a dash for the door.

Yvette may have made a move to intercept. Or her resolve may have broke and she made her move on the buffet. I’m not at all sure as events became a bit of a blur once Yvette jumped onto the buffet table. The trestle table acted like a catapult. The brandy butter arched towards the fireplace

When the brandy butter got closer to the log fire there was a “WHOOMF”. The sweet yellow mass hit the nativity scene like napalm. Both Sid and Mattress Madge rushed towards their beloved figures but they were consumed in the flambé.

So you’ll have to understand that I have had no chance to respond to frivolous tags – what with trying to convince Sid that things could be worse. After all his entire collection of Barbies had been transformed into hairy Frisbees. At least Mattress Madge’s Action Men figures had the training to jump clear, drop and roll – most of them seem to be barely singed.

As soon as the Chief Inspector extricated himself from his hiding place, he issued a warrant for Yvette and Evar. He has little hope. They disguised themselves as Mexicans and fled to Germany, well, hopefully to Germany, it all depends if the satnav is fixed.

Oh and if anyone does get the idea that I might find a tag fun, all I can say is “Hurrumph! Bah! Humbug!!.”

From 14th June, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: In most cases, the chocolate decorations on a Christmas tree mysteriously vanish in the run up to Christmas. Not in the ‘Rat & Ferret’. Being so close to the fire, chocolate ornaments tend to buckle and deform in the heat. The chocolate angels soon resemble silver gargoyles and Zoltan, the pub guard dog, feasts on little puddles of chocolate under the tree that was once chocolate money. Click to return

NOTE 2: Some years back the queue was over a mile and a half long, but that was due to some prankster telling people that Sid had a supply of Thunderbirds action figures. Click to return

NOTE 3: The Chief Inspector has 4 medals, The Duke of Edinburgh bronze award, elementary life saving, the long service medal and the cycling proficiency badge. Apparently, all of medals for valour were away at the cleaners. Click to return

NOTE 4: This in itself should have been a warning. For Yvette to be in a room with a buffet and be glaring at anything other than the buffet was highly unusual. In hindsight we should have ejected her and bolted the door. The trouble is that it is very easy to have 20/20 hindsight. Click to return

This is Mr Benn again. I’ve done enough photo searching for now!

Add to Technorati Favorites!

TECHNORATI TAGS : ; ; ; ; ;.

No comments: