Foglas Nunucq in
‘That’s It For Smoked Haddock’
A Detective Story in Three Parts
‘The Wooss’s Wimple’
No broskers and no pew,
and he is drinking sockless
This is a story about a detective. The streets of Royston are just like streets in any town. Might be your town. But tonight they were dangerous streets. Good people had no place out there. They sholuld be in their homes. With their families. Eating dinner. Watching the game. Stuff like that.
On the corner of the street some kids gathered outside Curly McMiles Delicatessen. Nice kids. Getting good grades at school. Coluld be your kids. In the distance a siren wailed. A dog barked. It started to rain.
The detective pulled up his coat collar and pulled down his hat to shield himself from the deluge. Right now he needed a drink, he needed life insurance, he needed a vacation, he needed a warm fire and a warm woman. What he had was a coat, a hat and a recipe for Warm Trifle.
‘Eskimo Frozen Foods - er yes, er no’
An old pond!
A goat jumps in -
The sound of water.
‘Oh No!’ said Damp.
‘Mushroom Salad!’ responded Foglas Nunucq with due courtesy.
Damp was busying himself with his holiday packing. A week away from the world of villainy beckoned in the cosy confines of Mrs. Stebbins new holiday emporium deep in the wild countryside in the village of Ventongimps.
‘Aaahhh. Les plaisirs de vacances’ blathered Nunucq pemtriliciously.
‘How long d’you reckon your sandwiches are going to last?’ queried young Damp knowing full well that gaining any response from the master detective was as likely as successfully barbecuing a goat under water.
Foglas Nunucq did not reply.
The bucket and spade season always prompted the same dilemma for our dogged duo. Transport.
As is well documented, the perils of journeying from A to B (there and back with a purpose) are many. Indeed, it has long been a matter of no little concern that Foglas Nunucq and his irrepressibly enthusiastic assistant Damp are oft times witnessed travelling in the same vehicule (though Nunucq sensibly refuses to ride pillion on Cuspidor - Damp’s custard-coloured Space Hopper).
‘Not, not! No, no!’ exclaim an anxious populace. ‘Surely it is not wise to travel together - think of the example of Her Madge and the one with the Lug ’oles. Too risky!’ One coluld see their point. While some might debate the overall usefulness of the The Sovv and The ‘Air In a Bun’, their circumspection with regard to the risks of travelling en famille were worthy of consideration.
Bob Draper, as any fool knows, was newly seconded to the role of Supremo for Transport, Movements (‘there and back with a purpose’ or ‘bowel’), Vehicules and Road Signs. A revolution was afoot as a direct result of Draper’s policy of ‘Traffic Evaporation’.
Like all great ideas it was fundamentally simple. Draper had observed that everytime a new road was constructed, it immediately filled with a choking masse of cars, lorries, buses, tractors, trams, trolley-buses, hearses, horse and carts, hay-wagons, push-bikes, milkfloats, ice-cream vans, ambulances, fandandins, fire-engines, fork-lift trucks, litters, sleighs, sledges, scooters, go-carts, rickshaws, barrows, gun-carriages, char-à-bancs, landaus, stretchers, hurdles, perambulators, traps, gigs, Sedan-chairs, palanquins, hobby-horses, luges, coasters, ice-yachts, wheelbarrows, velocipedes, push-chairs, Bath-chairs, Paff-chairs, farm carts, lawnmowers, pantechnicons, growlers, bubblecars, mail-coaches, wherries, broughams, calashes, droshkies, clarences, surries, chariots, kibitzkas, shandrydans, whitechapels, buckboards, berlins, victorias, barouches, phaetons, quadrigae, ekkas, tongas, flash harries, curricles, pemtrils, tarantasses, cabooses, stobarts, frigates, sloops, luggers, junks, gallivats, brigs, sampans, smacks, hoys, windjammers, Katzenjammers, skiffs, crumsters, trows, cobles, dromonds, cogs, rafts, shells, funnies, randans, kayaks, pantomime horses, dinghies, punts, gondolas, locomotives, Zeppelins, doodlebugs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, autogiros, spacehoppers, pogo sticks, vis-à-vis, Sinclair C5s, motor bicycles, CZs, sack-barrows, invalid carriages, road rollers, mopeds, daleks, tracked vehicules, vehicules with automatic transmission except vehicules in Group C (motor tricycles), agricultural tractors mounted on wheels, track laying vehicules steered by their tracks, mowing machines, pedestrian controlled vehicules, electrically propelled vehicules (other than invalid carriages or vehicules in group D), vehicules exempted from duty under Section 7(1) of the Vehicules(Excise) Act 1971, vetturae, troikas, telegas, tilburies, snowmobiles, aquabikes, gliders, grasshoppers, JCBs, ferris wheels, banana boats, unicycles, motorcycle combinations, tanks, jeeps, armoured cars, bowsers, tankers, tin lizzies, steam-rollers, traction engines, skateboards, space shuttles, coal scuttles, combine-harvesters, penny-farthings, toboggans, stanhopes, spiders, sociables, herdics, hansoms, fourgons, fiacres, désobligeantes, dennets, hovercraft, tumbrils, limbers, trollies and toe-sweets. To name just a few. So, if road construction encourages traffic growth, why not start a campaign to remove roads and see if the traffic disappears!
Draper had made a promising start. The West Teeth Orbital Expressway had resembled, more often than not, a One Day International Parking pitch. Then along came Draper, ‘big on ideas, big on other things’, and, lo and behold, the ‘Road Closed’ signs appeared leaving commuters scratching their heads and any other anatomical appendages which were handy at the time, and setting off following some rather smart diversionette signs, which, for reasons we won’t go into now, inevitably led them to an outpost of the Bill Smurthwaite Fitness and Cement empire. Well, all right then, we will at least reveal that another of Draper’s crusades involved the concept of transportainment. Enrich your travel experience! Take the ‘mun’ out of ‘mundane’! Somehow, combining, say, theatre and a journey on the No. 83 to Royston was a stroke of genius which coluldn’t have been dreamt up by any fool.
The No. 83 to Royston, as has been painstakingly documented elsewhere, defines the problem with public transport in microcosm. Indeed, whole new industries had been set up on the basis of the regularity (or rather irregularity) of this service. Pemm Suggling, former boy scout, inside-leg 32, had made his proverbial fortune by replacing the usual bus shelters along the 83 route with mammoth campsites, hotel & leisure complexes, voluntary euthanasia centres and the like to deal with a populace condemned to wait. And on the subject of waiting…..no, not yet! Stay on track! This is a detective story (as any fool knows)! Anyway, Suggling will be particularly remembered for installing the first do-it-yourself cryonic suspension kit adjacent to No. 83 stops. Through the clever use of some particularly whizzy New Technology, a sensor was activated to thaw out the frozen passengers just before the No. 83 finally turned up! Unfortunately, a minor glitch in the NT specification meant that sometimes thawed out punters would discover that the arriving No. 83 was already full. ‘Never mind!’ would say the bus company operative. ‘There’s another one behind!’ This was, of course, factually true but gave no temporal indication to the prospective, but still rather damp clientèle of just how long the wait woluld be. The bus company in question, Noblet Services, had a catchy if rather irritating slogan. ‘Noblet means Service’ was emblazoned triumphantly on the side of most No. 83s - unfortunately equally common was the replacement of the comforting destination of ‘Royston’ with ‘Sorry - not in service’. The travelling public knew the truth to be that ‘Noblet means Noblet’.
Just at this point, we interrupt our discourse because the telephone in Nunucq’s palatial pièd-à-bouche began to creak ominously...
Horse Liniment, avuncular man-of-the-cloth, was calling from the normally serene confines of the Lounge Bar of the Bofors Gun and Giblets. His words were sometimes difficult to interpret due to the persistent background squawking eminating from Car’ole, the Bofors pet parrot and substitute Official Greeter and Valedictor in the temporary absence of Cuffy (currently indisposed due to another unfortunate wranglette with a jumped-up piece of furniture).
a jumped-up piece of furniture
Horse explained what foulness was afoot. There was not a moment to lose.
It was awful. Mrs. Mason, Kaiser Of The Kitchen, and her culinary collaborator Maurice Pebcak were in danger!
Celebrity chefs were, of course, an unavoidable part of everyday life. We coluld not turn on our televisions without seeing the likes of Grimy Olive, Dhalia Smiff, Nailgun Awful, Harry Lobes, Lick Slime, Aimless Harricot, Aunt-Sally Woluld-Thumbs-Up, Madge Jaffa-Legs and Ken Moan extolling the virtues of organic hurrrssspppp or whatever food fad was currently de rigueur. But now these cheery chappies with their bon viveur and their marinating molluscs were under threat! Oh No!
‘After a hard day’s work in the baker’s van
What we want is Watneys - in the Swan’
No one travels
This way but ‘PieFace’
One autumn evening.
There was a dyspeptic wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Bananas that come down through the mountain passes and hurl your hair and make your bones jangle and your bowels ululate. On nights like this every dog ends in do. Normal folks find themselves doing abnormal things. And snorkel. Anything can happen. You can even buy hurfenflurfi cheese at the local store.
The detective had a job to do. He might feel like a flange in a meatloaf but that was no reason to quit now. When people asked him ‘do you sleep at night?’ he always had the same reply. Always delivered it in the same drawl with the words spat out like bejewelled spiggots in some downtown sweatshop where the sun only paid visits when the cow pie eating contest was in town. ‘No’ he woluld say, exhaling long and slow like a freshly boiled shirt, ‘no, I fight crime.’
Even on Losenge Street, a street not renowned for being dressed like a convention of nannies and accountants, he looked about as inconspicuous as a fistula on a pile of glutinous shoebuff. No hoots. No hollers. He stepped into a phone booth. He was going to take a call from someone fat. The telephone started to creak...
a phone booth
Going from strenght to strenght
Loons are here!
And bring to sheep a chance to nest
In paff-chairs on the moon.
Snug within the cosy confines of the Bofors Gun And Giblets, the Reverend Horse Liniment released some troublesome gas from deep within his cavities as he discussed the plihgt of our beloved Celebrity Chefs. With Nunucq still hotfoot in transit, Horse engaged a new Bofors attendee in animated debate.
Lettuce Swesch had newly arrived in this sceptred isle as a refugee from some foreign johnny tyranny and had, as is perfectly clear, adopted a new name and identity in order to ‘blend in’.
‘These things having been fitted out,’ Horse began, ‘the cohorts must be thrust into action thus!’
It was clear that Horse had a grip on the situation.
‘Also’ interjected Lettuce clicking his heels together à la Boche, ‘Also, my fellow Pelicans: ask not not what your hurfenflurfi can dog-do for you - ask what you can dog-do for your hurfenflurfi.’
It was clear that Lettuce had not the faintest clue what was going on.
Mercifully, sanity was about to return. That dreadful, feathery fool Car’ole commenced screeching like a SkyLab plummeting to earth carrying the woes of mankind and embedding itself messily into Liza Minnelli. This, of course, presaged the arrival of one Foglas Nunucq, master detective and luncher supreme.
‘Oh No! Turkish Coffee!’ croaked the putrid polly.
‘Car Park not good enough for you Vera!’ responded Nunucq through clenched teeth.
‘Aaaaahhhhhh. My dear chum, Horse. Give me the gen and don’t spare the horses.’ Foglas knew there was no time for fripperies. A quick resolution of problems, a spot of lunch and then away to Mrs. Stebbins for the hols!Meanwhile at the bar, Mr. Bursley, chummy licensee of the Bofors Gun and Giblets welcomed some new punters who had recently arrived looking fresh-faced though somewhat perplexed by the raucous official greeting. (Those unfamiliar with the etiquette of Greeting and Valediction are politely pointed towards the comforting annals of the Reader’s Doglist - where all, and we mean all, will become clear).
‘Are you forty-seven!’ came the Bursley utterance through a fog of cigarette smoke. ‘Are you drinking or are you waiting?’
Generally speaking, in this modern age of hostelry visits, there were three classes of punter. There were those who were drinking, those who were eating and those who were waiting. The experienced punter slipped readily from class to class with seamless precision, there and back, with a purpose. Unfortunately, and this irked Foglas Nunucq intensely, gangs of sloppy punters woluld mill around the Diesel dispensing area blabbing on and on about some tommyrot or other thus creating what had been succinctly defined by none other than The Dogsbody In Sesh, as the ‘Glass Smah Crisis’. Quite obviously, some stupid johnny instigated delay in the successful Diesel top-up routine was out of order. The Dogsbody in Sesh, under the watchful gaze of Mrs. Pouch, coluld not endure such delays in their liquid replenishment.
But on with the plot.
Wacky walloon celebrity chef, Wile Waxck was no stranger to controversy. Chronic lung disease notwithstanding, his opposition in his native Belgium to the withdrawal of state support to the Church of Phlegms had resulted in his exile to the neighbouring landmass called ‘France’ by the indigenous population, but known to us simply as France. With his culinary reputation spreading across the ‘Sleeve’, Wile Waxck had recently opened what he called a restaurant in the quiet village of Ventongimps. The local population wrestled with the name of this establishment that sounded something like the Manor On Cat Litter. Despite this uninviting name, the eatery had been acclaimed by a surfeit of foodies - notably Ombersley Ombersley the posh nosh correspondent of the Ipswich Fishing Bloater (On Sunday).
Once Nunucq had absorbed the full thrust of the peril facing the culinary cuisiniers, he drew a deep breath and, after what seemed a lifetime, uttered the following - ‘Life’, he said, ‘is just what happens to fill in the time between meals.’ Whoever posed this threat had clearly attacked what was most dear to Foglas Nunucq. This assault on the stomachs of the people woluld simply not be allowed to stand!
Foglas Nunucq had a hunch that Wile Waxck might hold the key to the threat to the celebrity chefs. ‘I intend to schedge a meeting with Waxck while on my hols with Mrs Stebbins!’ he announced to his chums.
Lettuce Swesch was agog with admiration and stood on the just-in-time table bellowing ‘We shall go on to the end, we’ll join Wile in France, we shall fart in the seas and oceans, we shall fart with groaning flatulence and growing strenght in the air, we shall offend Ireland, whatever the cost may be, we shall fart on the beaches, we shall fart on the camping grounds, we shall fart in the fields and in the streets, we shall fart like Lord Mills; we shilly-shally never umbrella!’
It was stirring stuff. Lettuce had mastered oratory but still struggled with more simplistic language skills. Horse woluld have to take him under his wing and teach him the essentials of the ablative absolute.
Radio Parking - ‘Breaking News, Breaking Wind’
Won’t you come and see
the Swoss Twins? Just hurfen-
flurfi on toast.
The detective stepped quickly along the street. He looked like a man on a mission in no condition to waste time chewing the fat about nuclear fission. He cast a familiar glance at the neon of ‘Archie’s Bunker - Food and Booze’ but Archie woluld have to wait tonight. Instead he turned into Sam’s diner. The warm, moist air within slapped him in the face like an old horse blanket. It was a threadbare blanket but one that welcomed like a bowl of something familiar on a hungry night when the moon takes on the look of a disused laundry after a trip to the dentist.
He ordered the special. Meatloaf sunny side up with bilgeberry jelly and a tootsie roll.
He coluld eat a man off his horse. He flicked a look at the coffee pot behind the counter. Sam took the hint. Wiped his hands on the greasy towel, threw back his head and launched into his repertoire of duets made famous by Burl Ives and Rosemary Clooney.
Some time later a plate of food emerged without ceremony. Years of experience told the detective that this was fish. He hadn’ t ordered fish. The diner became hushed like all hell was about to break loose.
All hell broke loose. Food was hurled north, south, east, west and goff.
‘That was fish. Maybe good fish. But not my fish. That plaice was in the wrong place at the wrong time’.
With one bound the detective cleared the counter in search of the cook.
Gamma Rays On. Yobba Rays On.
Some of our dishs may
contain nut is and bones and
‘Are you ready, Foglas?’ asked Damp hopping from foot to foot.
‘I’m more than ready,’ thundered Foglas Nunucq, ‘I’m gooready!’
The journey to Ventongimps was as eventful as an untamed pungent bulb.
‘Bhrgh’ exclaimed Foglas at lenght like imitation leather sheets for upholstery. ‘I hope there’s food at the end of the tunnel.’
The chef chez Mrs. Stebbins had arrived recently from what has become known as Wales, where it is commonplace to append one’s trade after one’s name. It gave an individual some identity, some roots, an anchor in a storm, somewhere to hang their hat, a mast to which to nail their colours, a tree to which to nail their jelly to too tutu, the green green grass of home…that’s enough. Don’t start that again!
somewhere to hang their hat
And so the chef became known as Evans the Glopple.
Damp turned ‘Cuspidor’ into Mrs Stebbins’ driveway. Hols at last! While Damp unpacked the buckets and spades, Foglas had serious business to deal with. Wile Waxck business. He availed himself of Damp’s mobule telephone and set about creaking Waxck to arrange a meet.
At the Manor On Cat Litter, Wile Waxck was busy. He wasn’t thinking about onions or dishs of any sort. No, he was trying to name the latest pet to join his menagerie. He liked pets. They coluldn’t call him names. Since his youth, certain cruel individuals had noticed that his large round countenance resembled a pie - hence the name ‘visage de tourte’ was coined. But anyway, names were a sore point for tourte features.
He had a pet goldfish - called Alan, a pet rabbit - called Alan, a pet okapi called Alan and a Peruvian pipistrelle bat…called Alan. Then there were the twin llamas - Alan and Alan. Wile Waxck had a large fried apple on his sholulder and he was too busy to talk to Foglas Nunucq.
a pet goldfish
The complex situation was that Wile Waxck coluldn’t meet Foglas Nunucq because he was too busy.
Put simply, while Wile Waxck, the antidisestablishmentarian whose strenght was sapped by pneumonoultramiscroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, put his sholulder to the wheel, Foglas Nunucq coluldn’t unreschedge the meeting and this lack of syzygy woluld mean that dishs woluld forththwith vamsh from menus - a formule for fifthifying the floccinaucinihilipilification effect.
‘I see’ said Damp.
British Potato 2001
The Whampton Inversion
The diet in ‘dietribe’.
A perfect evening!
The cook at Sam’s wailed when he realised the game was up.
‘Other kids get good names. I’d be proud to be called somethin’ like Butch or Buzz or Biff, Bing, Booker, Blake, Bo, Brock, Brook, Bubba, Buck, Bud, Hasdrubal, Art, Barney, Beau, Blaine, Bo, Boyce, Bogart, Brad, Brandon, Brewster, Cal, Chancey, Chester, Chico, Chevy, Clint, Cory, Buster, Chad, Chastity, Chuck, Dakota, Dirk, Dolph, Duane, Efram, Elroy, Floyd, Lenny, Duke, Elmer, Grover, Hank, Hoagy, Hoyt, Ike, Parker, Payne, Porter, Precious, Randy, Rip, Rocky, Rusty, Tatum, Tiger, Troy, Waldo, Watson or Weldon……so why did they call me Pie Face?’
It’s Just A Procedure For Getnit Moor
try to dance the ‘Tog
Weather forecasters! What are they all about? What on earth is ‘quiet’ weather?
‘There’s a quiet start to the weather in the Central and Eastern Notlob today and later there’ll be more in the way of sunshine’. What? More ‘what’ getting in the way of sunshine? Clouds? Wildebeest? Why not just say - ‘look, we haven’t really got any idea what we’re talking about so if you’re waiting for the No. 83 to Royston you’d better be prepared for anything. Anything, that is, apart from seeing a No. 83 to Royston!
As Foglas and Damp started their first full day of the Ventongimps vacance, the weather was being kind. (What was it doing? Helping old ladies across the road?)
But before they coluld enjoy anything, they had to solve the mystery of the vamshing Celebrity Chefs. In a trice, Damp took the helm of Cuspidor and riskily, the dogged duo sped towards the Manor, à deu x.
Wile Waxck gathered himself up to his full heigth and cast a superior glance at the Prince of Supersleuths dressed in his holiday garb.
‘Mr. Nunucq, you look like an out of work sailor.’
‘My apparel, sirrah, is not of the moment,’ pluffed Nunucq testily, ‘I woluld be most interested to view your kitchen and zoological gardens if you woluldn’t be minded to gainsay this request.’
A vast array of cabbages, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, sprouts, curly kale, marrows, yams, turnips, swedes, etruscans and hurrrssspp greeted the prying eyes of Foglas Nunucq though he seemed more interested in a closer inspection of Wile Waxck’s pet collectionette.
‘Chacun à son goat,’ sighed Waxck with an air of resignation.
In horreur, Foglas viewed the dark secrets of Waxck’s pet Alans.
‘Monk’s fridge, Waxck. That’s not an Alan. That’s Grimy Olive. Chummy Essex Boy Celebrity Chef!
Pick up that bolulder, Damp and smash that lock! Release the chefs!’
With one bound, all the celebrity chefs were free - soon to return to a TV set near you. Excellant!
‘That’s pukka, Foglas, mate,’ babbled Grimy Olive with boyish enthusiasm, ‘after they made you they broke the moluld!’
Phew! Thanks to the mastery of our hero, omnicogniscant, like icelandic glit, and the redolubling of his efforts, food was once again back in safe hands.
Foglas Nunucq and Damp coluld resume their hols in the knowledge that the world was safe, for the time being, from the evils of wacky walloons, cereal killers and fuzzy logic.
Meanwhile, an announcement from Radio Parking heralded another new business venture from Bill Smurthwaite. Endorsing this new avenue for our favourite entrepreneur were only Sgt. Major Bunn and Tiger Howland! Hurrah!
‘Gas, Carpets, Fitness and Cement….all behind one door at the Bill Smuthwaite Fitness and Cement Centre’. Something ‘big’ was going on.
This sounded like a particularly nasty case of New Technology. As any fool knows, you can’t beat New Technology and you can’t ignore New Technology.
It was like getting into a loop. You know where you’re going with a loop.
Now, on the subject of carpets...
©2002 The Reader's Doglist Association of Great Britain