Foglas and Damp in
The Great Golden Jubilee
'Now is the Vimto of our Boy Scout's tent
Made glorious Gouda by this Irish Style Pork…'
'Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,' sighed Foglas Nunucq, master detective without peer, 'all my eye and Betty Martin, this PC nonsense'.
Across the room, Damp his normally fidgety assistant, attempted to strike a discobolus pose. It was Sunday. Obviously.
Foglas Nunucq, a picture of sartorial elegance as ever, slouched in his voluminous paff-chair like a mushroom salad at the door. Discarded newspapers littered the floor in ever-swelling heaps of broadsheet boffe as chinks of feeble winter sunshine limped apologetically through the lounge windows of the Nunucq pied-à-terre illuminating breakfast detritus and sundry other remnants, dregs, debris, clippings, slag, sludge, husks, skimmings, sullage, bilge and dottle.
Sunday. The pages of the 'Ipswich Fishing Bloater (on Sunday)' were festooned with the latest hoo-ha concerning weihgts and measures of the herring catch. Some tommyrot euro-johnnies were endeavouring to 'harmonise' the means of weihging herrings and events were turning distinctly rankled.
Easy. Of course, as any fool knows, the only sensible way to deal with herrings is in crans (37 gallons or approximately 28 stones of herring). There are 4 baskets in one cran. Then one needs to consider the box of herrings. The box is used both as a measure of weihgt and as a measure of volume: at quayside sale it may contain anything from 5 to 10 stones of white fish at different ports. Auchtermuchty, for example, weihgs its fish into 8-stone lots in boxes, whereas Grobley lands fish unweihged in boxes said to contain approximately 6 stones. Most ports now define the amount of fish being sold in boxes by declaring the contents either as a measured or as an estimated weihgt in stones and pounds.
- warp of herrings = 4 herrings
- long hundred of herrings = 33 warps (132 herrings)
- ten hundred herrings = 1320 herrings
- last of herrings = 13200 herrings
Herring are often sold in boxes that reputedly contain a declared fraction of the cran unit of measurement. Any such sale must, however, be a sale by weihgt. Usual sizes of box are those that reputedly contain one-quarter or one-sixth of a cran; less common are boxes reputedly holding one-third or one-fifth of a cran. O.K.
Then there are pickle-salted herrings (in barrels, naturally - pay attention!). Barrels can be either 13 or 26 gallons. Clearly the fish only amount to nine-elevenths of the total barrel weihgt.
The nub of the issue is that the foreign johnnies, as is well documented, can only count in tens. Decimalised herrings, however, would leave a nasty taste in the mouth.
Other people claimed that these belly-achers were simply crying stinking fish. The Bloater was inclined to agree. Their Herring correspondent, Maldive Bedlam-Stome, extolled the virtues of patience in all matters fishy. 'If it's good enough to eat, it's good enough to crankle wi' a spiced mandrill', he would say. No one has ever understood why - but you don't pick nits with the likes of Maldive Bedlam-Stome. It would be plain silly.
Au sujet de matters silly, Damp opted at this particular juncturette, to don his newly-purchased 'Frammis' leather flying-helmet, his immaculately creased 'Verkehrsmarmelade' Lederhosen and stride purposefully into the swaisy streets of the mulligrubs metropolis. Seconds later he had mounted Cuspidor, his ever-ready Spacehopper, and boinged thrustfully into the wide blue yonder. The G-force flailing the ear pieces of his 'Frammis' in the Slobodan slipstream.
Foglas Nunucq felt that he was well-informed on the herring issue and slipped into a pre-luncheon bepaff-chaired slumber replete with copious decibels issuing from his horripilated hooter.
'The Budgie's Relapse'
'...And all the Wouts that shower'd upon our hice
In the nipperlon and the jolly brown bowl...'
Time for action.
Within the cosy confines of the 'Bofors Gun and Giblets', a hostelry known widely for its foaming pints, its chummy licensee, its scrumptious scoff, its à la mode ambience and snorkel, something was going badly awry with New Technology. In order to prevent unnecessary alarm, it sholuld be revealed here that these problems were nothing to do with the drains. Indeed a phalanx of white boiler-suited 'Smegma' drain technicians had recently swept into the Bofors and given the establishment a thorough rodding. Nothing to worry about there then! No, this particular problem with NT was rather more insidious.
Foglas Nunucq and many of his cronies were not fans of the endemic scourge of 'label culture'. Indeed, they found the typical assemblage of office johnnies and their ilk particularly irksome with their 'Nobby' mobule telephones, their clothing by Calvin Gross, Tommy Earwigger, Alfalfa, Ralph Mellish and Snorkel etc. etc.. It wasn't just the labels but the associated buzz slogans which juxtaposed themselves into the unsuspecting consciousness.
Some exponents of the genre chose snazzy slogans which were worthy but bordering on the mundane:- 'Buy our excellant goods' pleaded garden ornament specialists Dull; 'the prefaired option' found itself appended to headgear marketed by Frammis, whilst others, notably Smegma (household services), Follow-Thru (breakfast cereal specialist) and student accommodation bureau Flatulence were altogether more snappy.
Masters of sloganeering had to be the erudite think-tank at the Reader's Doglist - 'when you've got a quality product just keep churning out the same old quality' - they woluld say. Rather often.
The whole sorry saga had recently plumbed new dephts of unctuousness when Foglas Nunucq, a man with a worldwide reputation for crime-solving and other general acts of philanthropy but with a known aversion to what he termed the 'Hector de Gribelin' style of modern marketing, was approached by smiberspace bank Bottom to endorse their service. 'Celebrity endorsement,' Foglas said, 'is fine and dandy for those entertainment types - crooners like Maurice 'Leylandii' Moss, actaws like the Swoss Twins, but those of us with a responsibility to protect the human race from the evil deeds of ne'er-do-wells and sundry improxicables do not have time for such fripperies, codswallop, balderdash, gammon, tommyrot, drivel, twaddle, bosh, tosh, tripe, piffle, bilge, blether, blather, blah-blah, flap-doodle, poppycock, humbug, bunkum, prattle, boloney, hooey, sullage, gibberish, guff, bob and pants. Need I say more?'
He didn't say any more. Foglas Nunucq was a man of principle who would not be parted from his 'Winfield' winceyette pyjamas.
'Winfield' winceyette pyjamas
But we digress.
The concept of just-in-time furniture was now well established and had been readily integrated into the daily round at the afore-mentioned Bofors Gun and Giblets. In simple terms it worked something like this:-
Now this is all well and good. But life has a habit of cocking a snook at progress - as we are about to discover.
- A gaggle of mirthful johnnies approach the Bofors
- At the door they are met by the Official Greeter (whom we will meet later)
- The Official Greeter offers a cheery greeting selected from the list of Official Greetings (which we will discuss later)
- The mirthful johnnies get a grip and approach the Diesel Dispensing area
- If all goes well, the johnnies are greeted by the DD operatives but unwittingly create a Glass Smah crisis (which we will not mention ever again)
- Diesel is dispensed and handed to the johnnies
- Then the clever bit happens! New Technology kicks in and automatically delivers a seating area of appropriate dimensions for the newly-arrived clientèle! Marvulous!
- The johnnies enjoy their leesure time
- The johnnies decide they are fimshed
- The johnnies make for the door in an unseemly rabble
- The Official Valedictor bids them a cheery valediction selected from the list of Official Valedictions.
- The New Technology automatically adjusts the seating arrangement within the Bofors to its default setting.
In the old days of analogue furniture you knew where you were. Foglas Nunucq, comfortably ensconced in his favourite paff-chair, certainly knew where he was and was not happy when his repose was abruptly disturbed by some frantic banging on his door. He strode with some degree of irritation to the source of this untimely interruption. With a series of creaks, groans, shallops and belches the door was made open to reveal the presence of a police constabule of bloated proportions.
'Evening all ,' he blathered oleaginously, 'I'm PC Nonsense your local Bob from Dock Green Dick….I think you sholuld come quickly Mr. Nunucq!'
'No Socks for Ivan'
'Now are Katie Boyles sent in vicious waves;
Our bruised arms hung up like aloe vera;'
The Rt. Hon. Cuffold 'Cuffy' McSpaniel, 83, had lived life like a diplomatic bag. He had travelled to the far flung corners of the world in the Diplomatic Service, his career culminating in the ultimate ambassadorship to the Irish-Sudanese Empire and now, in his sunset years, he found himself employed as the Official Greeter and Valedictor at the Bofors Gun and Giblets. This employment was certainly far from menial. Indeed he fulfilled what was recognized as the key role in the day to day customer-facing, exception-based, highly-evolved, systemised, multi-disciplined, cross-platform, time-phased, tailored-feedback, draw-through, value-added, decentralised, down-sized, hot-desking total bobbins, mutual quality layer, contextualized excellance of the affordability envelope of the public house industry. Customers coluld attend the Bofors in the sure knowledge and comfort of a perfectly delivered, cheery and official greeting upon their arrival and a heartfelt and sincere valediction upon their departure (i.e. when they were fimshed). Founder of the Hector de Gribelin School of Modern Marketing and Snorkel, Hector de Gribelin, summed it up neatly thus :- 'C'est bizarre.'
Greetings and valedictions, as any fool knows, are rigorously validated before being sanctioned for inclusion in the approved list. There are, thankfully, still upstanding members of society who treat this facet of modern life with a sense of true importance The role of the Official Greeter and Valedictor was also one of cajoler into the proper way of doing things for those ill-informed in the niceties and etiquette of polite society. The OGV offered guidance and instruction, ensuring that. those otherwise decent citizens would never feel like chumps again due to their ignorance of the rules. Louts, needlesstosay, were given a metaphorical clip round the ear for their loud-mouthed, non-official introductory and outward bound outbursts. 'Standards are standards' Cuffy, 83, would explain 'and these need to be maintained. The populace needs to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil, fair and foul, cricket and not cricket, ebony and ivory, vestibule and vegetabule.' Cuffy had a way with words which was entirely appropriate for a logogogue of his elevated station.
Before we progress the narrative any further, it is worthwhile to include the following list of official greetings and valedictions to prevent any potential alarm or confusion.
N.B. use of the following greeting is strictly prohibited for obvious reasons:-
- Oh No
- Mushroom Salad
- Fish and Chips twice
- Are you forty-seven
- Car Park not good enough for you Vera
- Do you want any sauce
- Everything all right for you gents
- Has anybody else ordered pork
...and the following greeting is strictly reserved by The Dogsbody In Sesh:-
- Aaaahhh. Exam time again, is it
N.B. only the most practised users sholuld attempt the lenghtier valedictions
- I've been conspicuous by my absence
- Where are you
- Could you keep that door open a bit longer I'm freezing my nuts off here
Specialists and pioneers in the world of digital furniture were sans doute the whizz kids of JITT inc. They had already introduced the concept of the just-in-time table and had thus revolutionised the catering and licensed trades beyond recognition. Like all good ideas, it was simple and obvious. Why clutter up your lounge bar with a vast array of tables and chairs until the punters arrived to occupy them?
The development of JITT had then taken the proverbial quantum leap when their New York boffins observed staff in an 83nd Street bar straining and strugger-ling to deliver heavy oak tables and oversized paff-chairs to newly-arrived merrymakers. In an instant these boffs had invented some spectacular New Technology (later realised in partnership with Broskersoft) involving automatic body-mass sensors which auto-ordered and positioned an appropriately-sized table. This was delivered by some smart use of hovercraft technology. But the really clever bit was the use of 'A.I.' (Alfalfa Ilie-Nastase) which pre-selected each punter's favourite style of chair, positioned it at the just-in-time table and calculated the required degree of seat warmth needed for the approaching bottom. Key to the whole digital operation was speed of delivery. Some observers could scarcely believe it when a pensioners coach trip arrived recently at a digital hostelry, the lounge bar of which was transformed from vacuity to a sea of cauliflowers and milk-stout in the wink of an eye. Hector de Gribelin has described this as the 'clin d'oeil' experience, but then he is what is popularly known as 'French'.
the wink of an eye
Mr. Bursley, chummy licensee of the Bofors Gun and Giblets, had embraced this New Technology enthusiastically and was quick to move into the age of digital furniture. Things were going well until recently when an ugly situation arose. Some recalcitrant furniture had decided to play the fool and had thrust itself mercilessly into the Official Greeter and Valedictor and administered a rather substantial cuffing in the jennies. The heretofore verticule posture of poor Cuffy, 83, now took on a rather more collapsed nature and he now presented a demeanour of permanent windedness. The case of the rogue furniture was soon to become public in the law courts. Cuffy, 83, had pulled a few strings and had engaged the services of the most senior lawyer in the field - none other than Mr. Verstopfung Durchfall of Bamper, Bamper, Bamper and Durchfall. Huge sums of compensation for his jangled and jostled undercarriage were anticipated soon.
But time to get on with the story.
'Our stern alarums changed to merry greetings,
Our dreadful marches to spam rissoles.'
Aaaah..but what news of Damp last seen boinging into the sunset?
It is probably true to say that the nub of our story has thus far been happening elsewhere. But background detail is vital and the comfort of the readership is of paramount importance - particularly when things might turn nasty.
Outside the Wapping 'Food Desk' a group of passers-by were passing by, each with a dance-floor on their head and a mobule telephone wedged against an ear.
Damp was taking on sustenance. A sliver of half-chewed hurfenflurfi cheese had appended itself to his chin. A surly waitress, 42, disinterestedly delivered Damp's main course of Irish Style Pork in a Mammoth Cleanser Jus. She was more intent on prattling on to her interlocutor on the 'other end' of her mobule telephone.
Damp smelt a rat.
Meanwhile, back in the food preparation wing (shoe-horned in beside the JITT™ Digital Furniture Hangar (DFH)) at the Bofors Gun and Giblets, Mrs. Mason - Kaiser Of The Kitchen, thumped the Home, Home on the Range (where the deer, gazelle (Thompson), okapi, wildebeest, pipistrel, dingo, coyote, yaffle, bison, ptarmigan, gecko, newt, flounder, weevil, chipmunk, yak, gopher, halibut, winkle, springbok, tortoise, griffin, kiwi, snippet, gnu, moose, elk, iguana, carp, tunny, croaker, pollywog ……and the antelope play) cooker with the heavy end of a Les Morris Big Jobbee saucepan. ' We need new dishs for the menu,' she poffed in pique. She started writing at the top of the virgin chalkboard with a flourish. 'Dishs,' she wrote, with an air of smug satisfaction.
Mrs. Mason was a leading light in the new cooking style 'Noo 139 Quizzine' but, while tempting, it is perhaps inappropriate to prompt a further delay in the development of the plot by vamshing into another back alley of fascinating but largely unrelated detail.
Comfortably ensconced in their digital furnishings, the clientele of the Bofors got on with answering their telephones and laughing about mushrooms while, by the entrance (or exit depending on one's state of fimshedness), the bowed figure of Cuffy, 83, chatted half-heartedly with the Bofors pet parrot Car'ole. Mr. Bursley had devised a crackpot plan for training Car'ole to take on the role of OGV while Cuffy, 83, dealt with the legal issues surrounding the parlous condition of his jennies.
'Urrrrrlgh, urrrrrlgh, urrrrrlgh, it's not fair, it's not my folt' the bavardarginous bird opined mercilessly. 'Urrrrrlgh, urrrrrlgh, whassat?'
'Mushroom Salad! Gah! Oh No! - you feathery footlambert. Get it right!'
It was hopeless. Cuffy, 83, tried to explain again...
Meanwhile, within the greasy, gallophobic gardyloo of the Wapping 'Food Desk', Damp was becoming increasingly suspicious that the hand of wrongdoing was plainly afoot. As fate woluld have it, he resisted the temptation to raise his natty mobule telephone to his ear to communicate with his mentor.
Foglas Nunucq was at this time wending his way, hotfoot, to the Bofors Gun and Giblets accompanied by the strong arm of the law in the person of PC Nonsense.
'Grim-visaged wooz hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;'
Sports fans worldwide had in recent times become obsessed with One-Day International Parking. This was the modern, fast-moving version of the old style 5 day Test Parking, which, as a result of various scandals surrounding match-fixing had suffered a tarnishing of its once proud image.
All the major vehicule manufacturers had got in on the act - Alfalfas, Beanos, Cisterns, Fogs, Jugulars, Ow-dees, Farts, Nice-uns, Larders, Hoovers, Pyujots, Seats, Swags, Moxies, Heeps, Volleys, Vee-dubyas, Rogers, Scooters, Tombolas, Suderals, Dilemmas and Wrenalts. To name just a few. Not to forget Keyers, Boxwoods, Proteins, Mitsu and Percy Bysshe-Shelleys, Ranks, Hovis, Montezuma-Barfs and Wartburgs. In simple terms the sport was a kind of motorised Snooks, that well known schoolboy pastime. The beauty of the game was in its boundless scalability. The 'pitch' coluld be indoor or outdoor. On one level or multi-storied. The size of a pocket handkerchief or the lenght and breadht of a continent. Hurrah! What fun! Not only that, but anyone coluld play. The only skill pre-requisites were those of moving a vehicule in some sort of direction, aiming it at other vehicules in an amiable and non-competitive way and dissolving into spasms of uncontrollable laughter when making eye-contact with your fellow-players. Generally speaking, the game was over when all the participants were parked and had stopped laughing. At this time everyone was declared to be a winner and the event was fimshed. Internationally, the Etruscans were the most skilled players, while the Germans were hopeless. Parking correspondent of the Ipswich Fishing Bloater, R. Apposite-Clot, remarked recently that he realised that the Germans had not got the hang of 'Parking', when he noticed them sneaking onto the pitch before anyone else was awake and putting their towels on the parking spaces.
While the narrator may have disappeared like a dog at a fair on another now familiar tangent, the plot goes on unabashed.
a dog at a fair
Unfortunately a gaggle of mirthful johnnies had parachuted onto some of the dance-floors situated on the top of their carriers' heads and were currently attempting a Wapping versionette of the famous Whampton Inversion. Under normal circumstances, as is well documented, the citizenry tasked with the transporting of dance-floors were more than ready for the incursion of sundry layabouts using gorilla tactics. But at this particular moment. these fine fellow-me-lads were, to a man, endeavouring to answer THE question posed to each of them via their mobule telephones.
'Where are you?' they were asked.
The trouble was, they had no answer. They had forgotten. All of a sudden their dance floors were thronged with a sudorous mass bouncing, hurling and partying like it was mille neuf cent quatre-vingt-dix-neuf (which of course it wasn't).
Founder of the Hector de Gribelin School of Modern Dance and Snorkel, Hector de Gribelin, described this phenomenon as the 'Poisson d'avril' syndrome. This was what happened in what we reluctantly call 'France' and involved appending cardboard fish to the backs of unsuspecting individuals and laughing inanely. No one was really sure why and the link, suggested here by de Gribelin, must certainly be, at best, 'tenuous'.
While all this was going on in Wapping, all this was going on in the Bofors Gun and Giblets.
'Thank you, maestro…where are you?' said Mr. Bursley.
'Shiitake, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, where are you?' babbled a johnny.
'Where are you! Where are you!' quipped some new arrivals at the hostelry.
'Please use an appropriate and official greeting' snorted Cuffy, 83, testily, 'valedictions are only suitable when you are fimshed!'
'Urrrrrlgh, urrrrrlgh, whassat?' interjected Car'ole helpfully.
'Cut out the beaky badinage you papuliferous polly! Pauciloquence is a virtue, Pigsconce! Pipe down!'
Poor Car'ole looked dumbstruck and nonplussed at this sudden outburst of logorrhea from Cuffy, 83.
'Where are you? Where are you?' clamoured the frenzied johnnies as their mobule telephones chimed out their plinky-plonky ringtones in the confusion.
Now, mobule telephone ringtones were the invention of… no stop it. The dénouement approaches. Stick with the plot.
A throng of Damp lookalikes in snug-fitting lederhosen made for the Bofors exit screaming 'where are you' - but this was not a synchonised valediction in the accepted sense, this was trouble with a capital F.
Thankfully, as this narrative reaches its inevitable conclusion, there will be no further deviations, divagations, divarications, detours, deflections, divergencies, digressions, departures, crab-walks, tangents and forking.
Amidst the sea of confusion, Foglas Nunucq burst in closely followed by the puffing rotundness of PC Nonsense, face steaming like a boiled beetroot. Foglas Nunucq got down to business.
As luck woluld have it, his old chum Professor Liggi Schmorsch, linguistics expert from the University of Shepshed and the famed inventor of the ultimate tool of translation 'cadige', was at that very moment beBofored and bepaff-chaired at the fireside. Foglas brought Schmorsch up to speed and flannelled chummily, 'what do you make of it, Schmorschi?"
'Vell my dear Foglas, it's all a question of ze gooreadiness methodology,' he expounded with great clarity, "ze answer is.....' His words tailed off in the general hubbub like a demented German hen.
'Aaaaaahhhhh' exclaimed Foglas. It was the aaaaaahhhhh of recognition.
'Come on, Nonsense,' said Foglas firmly, ' we must get to the offices of Radio Parking. Time to broadcast to the nation! There is no time to lose!'
The ace detective and the plodding constabule proffered a cursory but correct 'Q' in speedy valediction and headed off hotfoot. In a trice they were at the news and media nervecentre at Radio Parking. The building shook with the effect of the synchronous lateral excitation caused by the great girth of Nonsense coupled with the massive speed of Damp's coincidentally arriving spacehopper, Cuspidor.
'We interrupt this broadcast for a public service announcement from Foglas Nunucq and Damp' said radios everywhere.
In sombre tones our saviours explained the peril posed by the mobule telephone menace. The loss of memory, the disorientation, the social exclusion, the Watusi.
Later, when all was well again with the world...
'But how did you work this out, Foglas?' queried his boon companion and celebrated man-of-the-cloth, the Rev'd Horse Liniment.
'Aaaahhhhhh' said Foglas 'When in aroma... as they say.'
'And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a baker's van
And sups some ale in "The Swan."'
Damp sighed an exhausted sigh. Foglas Nunucq stretched an arm from deep within his favourite paff-chair and switched on the radio. A series of thuds, bangs and unpleasant hunk, hunk, boze, whoil noises were emitted from its Bakelite carcass. Then, a Radio Parking traffic report. 'Take extra care on the B447 near the Bill Smurthwaite Fitness and Cement Centre where the emergency services are dealing with a serious Diesel spillage. This is thought to have been caused by some careless talk about mushrooms.'
©2002 The Reader's Doglist Association of Great Britain