Foglas Nunucq Meets The Moral Fireman



I


Foglas Nunucq, the super-sleuth of the modern age, and Damp his annoying assistant, struggled up endless flights of stairs like Sredmund Hilaarrr and Shirley Singsong until they attained their goal-the palatial pied-à-terre of the aforementioned gumshoes. Damp, face reddened like a skin-diver's crimplene smoking-jacket, panted under the body-buckling weight of Foglas' new supply of Winfield vol-au-vents. These were delicacies which he would consume voraciously while puzzling over some fiendish riddle or some vile crime perpetrated by one of the earth's dastardly cads.


II


Foglas dropped into the well-defined contours of his long-suffering armchair, sniffed porkily like a No. 49 bus conductor and grabbed a well-thumbed copy of Verse From The Glorious Struggles Of The Slav Industrial Workers by famed Czech poet Stanislav Dukla-Bluhurg.

"A little light reading," maintained Foglas frequently, "clears out the sinuses, unclouds the brain and unclogs the bowels." He proceeded to entertain Damp with a passage from Workers From The Iron Foundry Challenge Workers From The Collective Farm To A Spelling Bee. It was turgid stuff.

"Very stirring," ventured Damp unconvincingly, "didactically recalcitrant but gaseously grandiloquent." Damp had obviously been reading his breakfast cereal packets again. They were currently serialising Travels With Towser-The Canine Chronicles by Algernon Cake, a fellow of the Bodkin Bloater.

"Quite so," retorted Foglas who was awkwardly feigning comprehension, "now hand me a vol-au-vent-I've got some thinking to do..."


III


Foglas studied the address at length. Mr. Fontainebleu Cough, 10 Riviera Tripe, London S.W. "What sort of chappie lives in such luxurious, bevelvet-curtained, fat of the land auspiciousness?" he thought in mock-Tudor fashion. "Perhaps I'll send this young Dachshund Damp round. That should irritate the toffee-nosed gobbler into some positive response." Foglas stopped studying the address and nodded off.

breakfast cereal packets


The crinkled, blotchy contours of Foglas Nunucq's bulbous and unmistakable nose projected far and wide into the stale evening air like several sailing ships in bottles in smart Wimbledon residences. This prolific protuberance revelled in dual orifices of truly Olympic standard. The suction potential of the Nunucq nostrils had terrified a generation of ne'er-do-wells, criminals and assorted general riff-raff. A virual pletora or indeed a virtual plethora of unlikely anecdotes surrounds this gargantuan proboscis. Gecc Workman, fabled crime reporter of the Ipswich Fishing Bloater, claims that he once witnessed an innocent inhalation root a double-decker bus to the spot-thus enabling the master detective to board an otherwise missed No. 49. Naturally there were less desirable consequences. It had been found necessary for surgeons to perform intricate operations to install a satisfactory netting system, discreetly concealed within the nostrils to obviate the risk of inhaling excess quantities of debris, flies, wasps, guppies, okapis, telephone boxes, social-workers, Eastern European objects, zgk, Welsh male voice choirs, visiting Czech maestros of the scintillating stanza etc. etc. Not only this but the devastation and havoc threatened by a single sneeze had necessitated considerable structural alterations to his Pimlico residence, not to mention the dwellings of the other wretched inhabitants of this particular portion of the seething metropolis.

The evening's minutes and seconds staggered by in some approximate semblance of order. The sounds of a rather poorly played saxophone issued from somewhere without and crept morosely nearer and nearer until immediately outside Foglas Nunucq's front door.

"Gartons sehciwdnas!!" puffed Foglas like a disgruntled old windsock, "some blighter's playing the saxophone!"

"Hello" said the saxophone player introductorily. "I've called to sell you some insurance". Foglas beckoned him in cheerily. After all, the conversational possibilities of the insurance salesman would inevitably outweigh those there would be with young Damp, Foglas' spotty assistant, who was unable to play the saxophone.

a virual pletora


Foglas Nunucq peered from behind unwashed curtains at the rain-washed thoroughfare below, which glinted under the amber street lights like an ugly woman with a beautiful body.

"Stop doing that and come and look at this, Damp," he grunted ploffily, "I don't like the look of it at all." Damp gambolled with his usual Larry the Lamb enthusiasm and stood adjacent to his steaming mentor, his anticipation exuding like pus from a boil on the bum. "It's raining again Damp," sighed Foglas at length, 'and it's making me feel like grabbing a swift forty winks." It was a dismal, bloody awful sight. In the drizzly distance lines of sodden kamikaze knickers sagged helplessly on grimy Pimlico washing lines. Foglas recalled a poem by that Czech maestro of the scintillating stanza, Stanislav Dukla-Bluhurg, about the spirit and engineering skills of the heroic factory workers-it was uncanny how totally unrelated the two scenes were, and Foglas was clearly puzzled. Soon Foglas found himself standing at the Lounge Bar of his local hostelry, The Bofors Gun And Giblets. To his surprise he then found himself trying to attract the attention of the licensee, a certain Mr. Bursley. Before he could say "pxmhjerpotl" he was ordering a pint of Old Pecker and beginning to feel uncomfortably jolly.

"Ah, exam time again is it?" quizzed the barman in a futile attempt to engage Foglas in trivial conversation.

"No. No. Not as such" retorted Foglas brusquely.

"Seventy-two pence please".

A not insignificant quantity of foaming Old Pecker found its way unwillingly past the Nunucq tonsils to the murky, barnacled depths below. The liquid's anguish, however, was tempered with an air of relief as it had now escaped the dreadful electronic pinging sounds emitted from the unrelenting, computerised Shopping At Tesco game which had recently been installed at 'The Bofors'. Foglas was slipping into oblivion when, quite suddenly-over the next few minutes or so-Damp, Foglas' enthusiastic and very irritating assistant, smashed through the swing doors disturbing the otherwise Tbilisi tranquility of the Lounge Bar.

computerised Shopping At Tesco game


Meanwhile, from a dusty and almost totally depressing corner of the Lounge Bar, occasional sounds were being emitted. They were of an ear-splitting, squawking nature and emanated from The Bofors' pet parrot Car'Ole.

"Urrrrrlgh, urrrrrlgh, urrrrrlgh, it's not fair, it's not my folt" it opined mercilessly. "Urrrrrlgh, urrrrrlgh, whassat?"

Licensee of the Bofors Gun and Giblets, Mr. Bursley, would periodically direct a weary gaze at this miserable thing and reply simply to the bird's raucous rattlings, "thank you dear...now was that another pint of Old Pecker, maestro?"

Nearby a sinister group of ne'er-do-wells lurked in the penumbra on the outer rim of the Public Bar. Mr. Bursley was reportedly 'proud' of this seedy clientèle, and indeed even super-sleuth Foglas Nununq would occasionally frequent these murky regions in the hope of gleaning some useful snippets of gossip.

At this precise moment a balding bespectacled gentleman in a business-suit, overpowering after shave and alarming digital watch strode purposefully through the room, closely followed by an under-nourished and totally out of place sherpa who was dragging a weighty trailer filled with mounds and mounds of briefcases.

"Ah, have you come to use the telephone, maestro?" quizzed the buoyant Mr. Bursley from behind a haze of second-hand cigarette-smoke.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaah....yuh. Yuh," replied the man of a thousand briefcases like a neutered okapi just back from at weekend chez Mrs. Stebbins in Blackpool.

Donning a natty pair of see-through rubber gloves, Foglas Nunucq began dismantling the recalcitrant remains of an over-roasted Tasmanian Dingo. "Hell's kidneys," he cussed typically as a piece of charred carcass embedded itself in his left nostril, "this is a job for that young whipper-snapper Damp."

"Damp! Damp!" He summoned the oily urchin in vain. Damp, it transpired, had slipped out for the evening to go and see the new sensation in so-called "extrorse rock", Wycombe And The All Night Wasp-who were playing at the Pimlico haunt of young degenerates The Barfer's Uncle.

Blackpool


At this very moment all and sundry, improxicables and general riffraff were having a rollicking good time at 'The Barfer's.' Even Damp, kitted out in knitted Biggles flying helmet, boiled shirt and loopy boots, hopped around the floor without much regard to the music, doing his own version of The Benson-which bore more resemblance to the Oky Koky. The near-unintelligible lyrics of Wycombe's songs assaulted the nicotined ceilings and lava-flowed down the walls. There was much mention of "Flan, Copenhagen, tendril, enclave, pew, snuff, profile, broskers etc."


VII


Morning did not exactly break over Pimlico-it more sort of collapsed under a blanket of uninspiring and largely incredulous grey clouds. Foglas dozed like a disused railway line, his lips flapping with each reluctant exhalation and making noises like a poorly-manufactured outboard motor. Pimlico's answer to the Singing Postman was about to call.

The excruciating clanking and wheezing sounds expelled by the Nunucq doorbell roused our haughty hero from his unkempt and unruly repose. His disgruntled, beslippered steps propelled the ace detective to the front door of his palatial pied-à-terre. Despite the obvious signs of life from within the Nunucq residence-locks unlocking, yawning, foul language etc. etc.-Mr. Morecombe continued to operate the infernal bell with cretinous glee.

"Morning Mr. Nunoop," he stammered cheerily like a bowl of soggy breakfast cereal as Foglas revealed his puffy and rather battered face to the outside world. "You've got a postcard here from Blackpool. I went there for a holiday last year...." His words were curtailed abruptly as Foglas slammed the door decisively. Without changing his vacant expression, Mr. Morecombe disappeared down the stairs singing tunelessly. "Ul-lul-lul-lul-lul-la. Ul-lul-lul-lul-la."

"Banal old fart," muttered Foglas as he fell asleep in his favourite armchair.

Upon leaving the building, Ken Morecombe announced to a passer-by who was just passing by with a dance floor on his head, "I think I'll buy some bananas."

flan, Copenhagen, tendril, enclave, pew, snuff, profile...


After the trivia of the Morecombe chappie, Foglas' next caller turned out to be the insurance salesman.

"What brings you and your saxophone out on a day like this, Cough, what did you have for breakfast?" quizzed the prima donna of private eyes-whose gender was never to be doubted by the casual use of some wop-derived description. The dyspeptic Nunucq fixed his bloodshot eyes on his insipid interlocutor-his awe-inspiring stare bloffed in the cavities behind his voluminous beak like a Christmas hamster.

The saxophone-playing insurance salesman looked at first nonplussed, then he chuckled like a box of under-weight frogs, cleared his throat and proffered this bold reply-"Aha Mr. Nunucq, so my little ruse did not fool you. How did you guess I was travelling incognito?"

"Simple asymmetric ergonomics, Cough."

"You mean...."

"Yes... a fortuitous assumption based on all the known facts. A normal day. Everywhere chaps are going about their normal everyday affairs-spitting into South Harrow, doing The Benson, hurling, visiting Mrs. Stebbins etc. etc. etc. Then a saxophone player arrives wearing a striped blazer, white polo trousers, Winfield plastic sandals and a lapel badge bearing the inscription Riviera Tripe Basket Weavers. You sir, are without a shadow of doubt the one and only Mr. Fontainebleu Cough. You are nought but an oily cad of the first magnitude."

"Astonishing, Nunucq," whortled Cough, "would you care for a tune?"

Foglas Nunucq was not so easily swayed when some vile villain slivered within his grasp. He knew only too well that this Cough chappie was up to no good and he had a good idea he would soon have his switzy fingers on whatever was afoot. He circled the room in heavy, thoughtful silence. Only the pusillanimous prattlings of his royal blue carpet slippers could be heard in the room.

a lapel badge bearing the inscription Riviera Tripe Basket Weavers


The foetid air wheezed in its own staleness. After a seemingly endless impasse, Foglas cleared his throat, ceased his petulant pacings, inhaled purposefully and pivoted decisively to face the saxophonist Cough.

"Do you know that merry little chanson by Marcel Losenge, As I Bought Some Stamps In The Post Office, I Met Margaret Carruthers? It's an old favourite."

Cough began to play. It was terrible. Absolutely and abjectly awful.

Meanwhile in the stomped-on tin-can street, a gang of scruffy urchins were aimlessly throwing stones, bottles and pieces of broken paving slab at an unattended two-wheeled article of Eastern European origins. It could be speculated that the owner of this objet d'art had dragged it to this location in a forlorn, despairing attempt to lose it and claim what he could from the insurance company. He could then use this paltry sum as a down payment on a real motor-cycle. This, of course, was a ludicrous proposition. The insurance companies knew very well that no one in their right mind would actually steal one of these contraptions-'joy-pushers' and 'joy-draggers' being unknown in these parts. Foglas Nunucq, ace private eye and partly-inflated party whizzer, claims that he has evidence from an extrorse source that a group of sophisticated and totally dedicated trouble-makers are spreading nuisance throughout the land by performing totally illogical stunts-often involving Iron Curtain products of dubious quality and reliability.

"It all fits together," suggested Foglas, inflating himself like a redundant Sunday School puff-adder, "like boiled sweets."


LXXXIII


At last the whole gang was rounded up. The Old Bill had done his job-closely watched by a topless observer. Foglas had baited the trap and Cough had fallen for it lock, stock and barrel. It only goes to show that all's well that ends well, every dog has his day, there's no fool like an old fool and that no dastardly cad is a match for Foglas Nunucq, super hero and saviour of the human race.

"But Foglas," queried Damp, irritatingly inquisitive to the end, "how did you know about this gang of bogus insurance salesmen?"

"Ah Damp, P.C. Plod's a good drink to a herj berb. I have a nose for these things."

Something unusual fell from the coal scuttle. It was at this moment that Foglas met the Moral Fireman.

...a match for Foglas Nunucq





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