R.I.P. Clive Dunn, January 1920-November 2012 – “Granddad” from 1971…
The Malawian Corporal Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here Punishment eventually co-ordinates his motile efforts in the direction of a rainbow-emblazoned Winnebago amongst the khaki tents, which looks very out-of-place in the Nine a.m. Lounge military field hospital.
A large satellite dish and a cluster of tannoy speakers perch on the roof. In the grubby window is a battered cardboard notice, upon which is scrawled (in red ink? Blood??) the words:
PANIC STATIONS – 911-999FM.
“I have here a poem dedicated to Mr. Dry and Miss Hot-Limps!” Justin Time’s voice announces from within. “Ahem… ‘There was a young lady from Buckingham’ …Oh no. This cannot be right. I am reliably informed by Mr. Slaughter that Miss Hot-Limps is still a virgin…”
A strange man in safari shorts, with a tea-towel tied around his head against the jungle sunshine, sits outside smoking a pipe. A red sign hangs around his neck.
“Looks like he’s on more than just air,” I speculate. “More than gas and air, even…”
Corporal Punishment ignores the warning sign, and raps smartly on the Winnebago’s side door.
“Open up!” he barks. “In the name of the General!”
The music inside lowers slightly.
“What name would that be?” the voice queries, after a pause. “General Ignorance? General Incompetence? Or just General Sense of Purposelessness?”
Corporal Punishment draws himself up to his full – and extremely intimidating, primeval warrior-like – height.
“General Sunny-Jim!” Punishment snaps. “Full name as you are well aware Mr. Time, General You Are Going Home In The Back Of An Ambulance Sunny-Jim!”
After another pause, the door in the mobile home cracks open, revealing the familiar face and coolie hat.
“General Sunny-Jim is on visiting duty?” Justin Time whispers, and gulps. “From the Six a.m. Lounge?”
“We are honoured to welcome all of our military ambassadors!” Punishment concurs. “Today, we are playing host to General Sunny-Jim, Captain Intraveinous Mainlining and Lance-Corporal Layabout Pikey from the Elevensies Lounge, and General Lissima Domina from the…”
Justin blanches so white, he almost illuminates the darkened doorway with his anaemic glow.
“…Lissima Domina…” he echoes, hoarsely. “Cutthroat Liss? Mrs. Reaper? The old lady?! The ball and chain??! The millwheel around my neck at the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker?!!”
“Yes,” confirms Punishment. “Your wife is visiting in her official capacity today, Mr. Time!”
“This I have got to see,” Luke chips in, appearing behind the errant rickshaw pilot, alongside Carvery Slaughter. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
“What? What is going on out there?” a woman’s voice calls from inside the trailer.
“Nothing, erm, Mother!” says Justin, hurriedly. “My mother is here. She is not well. I am looking after her, you see…”
“Justin…” moans another woman’s voice. “I’m bored. Come back inside…”
“Your mothers both sound in good health to me!” announces Corporal Punishment. “Perhaps Mr. Slaughter could stay and entertain them for you?”
Carvery shrugs amenably, and cracks his knuckles.
“You might want to check that they have their Wills written and in order first,” I suggest. “Just in case, Justin Time.”
The rickshaw pilot procrastinates in the doorway, apparently loathe to either leave, or to leave Carvery in charge of his harem of potential mothers/possible radio show fans.
“Okay, okay – I come to stupid General’s office!” he snaps at last. “We will see if I am ripe for the reaping yet! Er – Mother – you stay in bed. Both of you. No catching colds while I am out. Or touching anything, without me.”
He hustles Luke and Carvery outside, and emerges into the blistering sunshine. But before he can close the door, Carvery’s foot is somehow caught in it.
“Forgot something,” he says – kicks the door back open again, disappears inside – and locks it.
“Damn!” I yell out loud, before Justin even has the chance. His mouth sags, in formation of whatever expletive had sprung to mind.
“Yes,” he agrees, subdued. “What she said.”
But of course, I’m not thinking of the wellbeing of Justin Time’s female company. I’m thinking of that little diary in Carvery’s trouser pocket, and how I’m supposed to get Corporal Punishment to decipher it so that I can understand the supposedly important power of this stupid golden clockwork hand…
“From what I understand, he won’t be long,” Luke reassures us, unexpectedly. “Let’s go. I want to meet your famous wife, Justin! See if she’s really as bad as you make out. I swear, no-one has beaten mine yet. I wish they would. Even Carvery said he would have to charge me for it.”
Between them, Luke and Punishment manhandle the sobbing rickshaw pilot/rogue disc jockey away from the Winnebago, as the music in the mobile home is cranked back up to full volume. It starts to rock erratically, on its hard-standing of paving slabs laid on the scrubby jungle floor.
Damn, damn, damn!
I hurry after the three anyway, and as I catch up with their longer stride, something thumps me in the spine.
“Hey, where are we going?” Ace Bumgang greets me.
My heart and bladder fight to switch back to their rightful places again.
What part of his body did he just touch me with? I’ll be re-living that one in my mind at night for months…
“We are going to meet Justin Time’s wife!” says Luke, cheerfully.
I guess he’s happy to meet anyone’s wife other than his own.
“Cool,” Ace remarks. “Hey, I found out what was wrong with the ambulance. They were trying to make their own moonshine gasoline, and got the mix wrong.”
“How wrong?” Carvery asks, suddenly catching up.
Luke was right. That was suspiciously fast… Maybe he keeps a stopwatch on him, and is trying to beat his own personal best.
Perhaps hanging out with The Stig too often has made him competitive…
“Well, I reckon they’ve accidentally cracked the secret recipe for Guinness.” Ace pulls a pint glass from his trouser-pocket, two-thirds full of a black liquid topped with creamy white foam, and holds it out. “Siphoned from the reserve tank just now.”
Carvery accepts the glass, and sniffs it before taking a sip.
“Yup,” he remarks. “That’s definitely not napalm. I smell a future peace treaty brewing.”
“Peace treaty?” Justin Time splutters. “Noooo! No money in making peace treaty! They just not succeed in making cheap gasoline yet! You know the story – the man, who say: ‘I not fail seven thousand times. I discover seven thousand ways not to succeed.’”
“Well, in the Six a.m. Lounge they’re failing to make Guinness, while here in the Nine a.m. Lounge they’re failing to make rocket fuel,” Ace remarks.
“Yeah,” Carvery agrees. “How much money do you think that sort of information is worth? Properly worded, of course?”
“How much money do you think the information that a certain rickshaw-flying Trans-Lounge operator is hiding that information is worth?” Ace grins.
“An arm and a leg?” Carvery suggests.
“And a head and a foot and two testicles and a man’s proportional representation!” Justin shouts. “It is not Guinness, I tell you! It is just bad combustion engineering chemistry, by amateur scientists and part-time amputee surgeons!”
“Well, I’ve heard it called worse,” Ace shrugs.
“In my experience, Mr. Time, if it looks like an elephant, smells like an elephant, and has a poacher’s head stamped underfoot like an elephant, it is an elephant!” announces Corporal Punishment, wisely. “Come to the Okavango Delta in flood season, and I challenge you to deny the existence of elephant, when it is staring you in the back of your screaming head!”
“Anyway, anyway,” Justin Time recovers himself. “They give up on chemistry already. So no more failed jet fuel and they throw all evidence away, hah! Tomorrow, they convert all ambulances to gas power!”
“Good, they can run on your hot air, Mr. Time!” Punishment approves.
“Seems to be a popular opinion of you, Justin,” I remark, recalling damply the moment that Higham Dry Senior decided to test our ability to fly unaided, from the top of the mountain fortress.
“Shame they don’t have a way of running on Sarah’s nervous bladder as well,” says Carvery. “They’d be unstoppable.”
“And what was stopping you just now?” I bristle.
“Just checking to see if Justin Time’s mothers had any organs on them that they didn’t need,” he replies. “Still looking for replacements for Fuck-Tits back on the giant barge, now that Crispin has used the ones you skewered earlier to save Homer.”
“Oh.” I look at his hands, to check for bloodstains. Well – up to the elbows, could be normal for him on any given day. “Any luck?”
He shakes his head.
“Nah. They’d had that thing done already, where it’s all been snipped and turned inside-out, and stuffed with silicone.”
“Mummified?” I gasp.
“A lot of effort to pass as anyone’s mother, definitely,” he nods, agreeing with me for once. “That’s why as a guy, in some cases you can only be certain once you’ve cut them open.”
“They do like it up them, Miss Bellum!” Corporal Punishment confirms, tapping his bayonet. “Right up the fuzzy-wuzzy…”
“First zombies, now mummies…” I groan. “I dread to think now what’s happening to… um… to your girlfr… Miss… er… Thingummyjig…”
“To be fair, Sarah, I don’t think they like being called ‘Mummies’,” Ace informs me. “I think they prefer ‘Ladies’.”
“No worries.” Carvery looks unconcerned. “The state we last saw Bruiser in, I doubt anyone could tell either way what she started out as.”
“A Frankenminky,” I agree gloomily, echoing Crispin’s own mother’s opinion, and both the boys nod. “Oh – the General’s office. Is this it?”
A long silver Airstream is stationed in the shade, on the outskirts of the camp. As we approach, Justin Time visibly shrinks in direct proportion to its proximity, accompanied by the increasing volume of his knocking kneecaps.
“Gooood of you to join us,” says that devastatingly deep voice, and Crispin steps ominously out of the shadow of an overhanging Strangler Fig. “Would you be so kind as to step this way?”
My own knees sympathise with Justin’s. Gosh – I keep forgetting how manly he is… I mean, was…
“Permission to squeak, Sir!” says Justin, jabbering now through his chattering teeth. Crispin glowers at him darkly, before deigning to nod. “Thank you, Sir! Er… eeee-EEEEEE-HHHK!”
Classic clips from “Dad’s Army” in fond memory – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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