When Sir Philip Heath-Robinson woke, twelve hours later, he found Quentin and Dan watching an interview of Timothy Michaelson-Daisy by Simon McCoy, which was interspersed with archive footage of Pip Maybe-Maybenot, and his wife Theresa, strolling around her constituency on Referendum Day, his braces, the same pair as Tim had worn during his marathon speech yesterday in the House of Commons; the offending braces, with the repeated slogan Brexit Means Wrexit, on display particularly in one scene, which showed him perched on a bar-stool, while Theresa seemingly quaffs a pint of beer with Nigel 'I will call you Teri, and Teri when you call me, you can call m Nige!' Farrago: "gosh, I remember that place," said Quentin, "I had just started working for The Dame – I was still at college and was doing a project on Brexit, so I was an unpaid Intern; she didn't even sip her beer, but Nige didn't notice, he was too busy waxing lyrical on all the benefits that would come, starting the very next day, when we would suddenly be free of the restrictions imposed by the European Union, and she certainly couldn't manage to call him Nige! that would have been anathema to her, so she called him Nige, err, el! and Little Pip was quite at home, happily sipping a lemonade and chatting to the barmaid as if they were bosom buddies – and his eyes were on a level with her magnificent bosom wobbling inside a low-cut pink zibeline sweater; oh he was quite smitten and so utterly sad when it was time to leave and I had to lift him down, but I popped back later and got her name and phone number for him – she's yclept Draga Milivici and she's from Serbia – they still meet up a couple of times a week at her flat in Shepherd's Bush and it's so sweet, he calls her Upsy Daisy and she calls him Iggle Piggle and they have tea parties with her Russian Matryoshka dolls and watch In The Night Garden together, it's the only opportunity he has to defervesce away from The Bunker and he usually ends up snoozing with his head nestling in her bosom; they are just like the Babes in the Wood! utter noodledom of course, but as the spouse of the PM he's quite emasculated, the Constitution simply doesn't accept a Man in that position – I suppose it was the same for Denis Thatcher, except that he had his golf – Pip's only got Draga, and her Tits, of course!" and Dan McGann the Headline Man seemed shocked that Quentin had never told him anything about this, so he turned to Sir Wilfred: "did you know about Draga?" he asked: "oh, well, it's not exactly a State Secret, but we do play our cards pretty close to our chests with the intimacies of Prime Ministerial lives; I had her vetted pretty thoroughly and her flat's bugged, phones tapped and all that, we can never be too careful with dirty laundry, you know," and Dan looked thoughtful, but said: "doesn't really matter to me, I'm based in Downing Street – that's where I shout out my questions; I'm only interested in what and who pass through the front doors, the comings and goings via back garden gates and Horse Guards doesn't interest me, that's more your Private Eye territory, and ever since they nicknamed me The Invisible Man and The Voice of The Gutter I stopped feeding them any Tit-Bits that come my way, so Draga’s Tits won't be dragged into any of my Headlines, unless she swings them along Downing Street!" and they all laughed as the interview was replaced by The Dame giving a nebulous Press Statement after meeting the European Council of Minsters and being asked by Laura Künßberg if it was time for her to Budge?
"We're not going to hang about here like a couple of klutzes, Quentin, so a strategic withdrawal would be in order, I think," muttered Sir Wilfred, steering his young assistant towards the doors leading into the back garden, "does your partner have a car? ring him, ask him to be in Horse Guards in about fifteen minutes," which Quentin passed on and told his boss that it was sorted, after which it was just a few words to the security guard at the back door, a stroll round the back garden, some more chat with the police at the back gate, and then an easy amble towards a waiting car; which was when the voice, so familiar to habitués of Downing Street and television news rang out: "anything to say about Brexit Means Wrexit, Sir Wilfred? is that the PM's new slogan, Sir Wilfred?" the Invisible Man whose questions dominated the comings and goings of politicians and civil servants, and then became headlines. no matter that there was rarely any reply to them: "fard your fizzog, Quentin, paint on your brightest smile," and Sir Wilfred turned, expecting to be faced with a battery of TV cameras, but instead he saw Quentin embracing the Invisible Man, whom he promptly introduced: "Sir Wilfred, this is my husband, Dan McGann," and the man, now known to Sir Wilfred as Dan McGann, extended his hand which the Cabinet Secretary could not avoid, and as they shook the other repeated the introduction: "yes, good to meet you at last, Sir Wilfred, I'm Dan McGann, the Headline Man! full-time with The Sun but I let any other paper use my lines for a modest price, oh, Quentin knows I'm a Hack, a Harlot, prostituting my talent but hey, we all gotta live; and the motor's here, Sir Wilf, is that okay, I feel we're family already, I understand you're gonna lay low at our gaff for a few days, nice little spare room with a cute little lunette, if you stand on a chair you'll get a great view of Battersea Power Station, but hey, I'm talking to a pro, must needs be a lowrie in your job Sir Wilf, I guess it takes all a fox's cunning to hang onto it with all this talk of defeats and Bunker mentality, but she held on tonight, so The Dame lives to lose another day, any comments, off the record of course, now we're family I never betray a confidence, hop in and we'll be there before you can say Jake Spotted-Dogg, now he's the real Enemy Within, ain't he? Boris the Doris is a has been, The Man Who Never Quite Was, you might say – or I might ask you and that'd give us 'Sir Wilf Doesn't Deny' etcetera, but I'm only joshing, old son, now, Belt Up In The Back, if the rozzers stop us and you ain't belted up, I ain't paying your fifty squid; shall we pick up a takeaway? what's your fancy Wilf?" and he didn't stop talking for the entire drive, even when they popped into a Mexican for Fajitas and Tacos and next door to an Off-Licence for a few bottles to wash it down with, and by the time he got into the spare room, alonbe, and lay down on the bed Sir Wilfred Heath-Robinson, probably ex-Cabinet Secretary, was so exhausted that he fell asleep at once and never dreamt of The Dame for the first night since she'd become Party Leader and Prime Minister!
At the start, Timothy felt he had been depermed, so intense was the barracking he received until little Johnny Milkman, The Speaker, intervened forcefully, threatening to gyve the most frequent offenders and insisted that the Secretary of State be given a respectful hearing, as each Honourable Member would expect when it was his, or her, turn to ask questions, and after giving way several times to allow supporters of The Dame's Proposal to speak, while refusing opponents' similar opportunities, and feeling rather pleased with himself, Timothy was happy to indulge in a little repartee with Members of the Opposition and acquitted himself so well that – with the aid of Sir Wilfred's voice in his ear, which no longer seemed to jinx him, indeed, it had become one with his own thinking – and eschewing, along with The Speaker, those short breaks for elevenses, luncheon, tiffin and supper, and even toilet visits, he spoke without repetition, hesitation or deviation for a full fifteen hours, immuring the House within it's Chamber, and even requiring that the clocks be stopped at midnight so that the entire proceedings could be contained within a single, calendar, day, meaning of course that both Hansard and Questions, Questions, known affectionately as QQ, missed their deadlines and even then, when he was just winding up before his big finish and feeling much more perite than when he had started, he placed his notes on the bench behind himself and turned square on to the Opposition Front Bench and began to ad lib; he adopted the bearing of a raisonneur, determined to put his own stamp on the speech as effectively as possible, to take ownership – even though it was always The Dame's, so let his jacket fall open and stuck his thumbs in his braces and pulled on them dramatically, which had a curious effect on those nearest to him across the Despatch Boxes; one pointed, then another, whispers were exchanged and wondering faces began to smile, to smirk, to grin and then to laugh uproariously; which was when Sir Wilfred’s voice spoke urgently in is ear: "let go of your braces, man, and button your jacket up!" but Timothy was too elated and determined to finish his speech on an upbeat; pulling dramatically on his braces he roared above the noise: "and That is what Brexit Means!" in The Bunker, all eyes were fixed on the central TV screen, showing the image currently being broadcast, and from the image of Michaelmas-Daisy, from waist to just above his head, the camera zoomed on on the stripes across his braces, which when he pulled them forward became what they quite distinctly were – blackletter words, one above the other, repeated down each strap and with each pull, perfectly legible; by now the serried ranks of the Opposition were chanting in time with Timothy, and some of his own party Members, prompted by Opposition Members holding up and pointing to their phones and tablets, had found the Parliament Channel and had begun chanting too; which was when little Pip Maybe-Maybenot, the PM's diminutive and petite husband had trotted into the Cabinet Office and was holding up his own phone – he stopped when he saw the wide-screen shots on the wall-mounted TVs in the office and asked, in an imperious voice: "why is that chap wearing my braces?" and Sir Wilfred turned to face him: "your braces, Mr Maybe-Maybenot? what makes you think they're your braces?" and Pip grinned mischievously: "cos The Dame had 'em made specially for me – jolly good ain't they?" and a faint memory from Referendum Day, when Old Davie and Young Georgie Porgie still held sway in The Bunker, and seeing Little Pip visiting and showing off his brand new braces, with the words:
and Sir Wilfred turned to Quentin: "where did you find them?" and Quentin said: "in Little Pip's dressing-up box under the stairs, you know, behind his rocking horse and Star Wars costume, but I never noticed it was actual words, it was just a cool jazzy pattern!"
Just say to him: "awa an bile yer heid, ye big tumshie!" said Sir Wilfred's voice in Timothy''s ear, and he did so in his best rendering of Billy Connelly; there was uproar among the SNP Members, while the rest of the Chamber roared with delight at the collapse of the stout party; next it was the opportunity of one of the Labour Members to ask the new Secretary of State about the Government's intentions when the PM's motion was defeated? and in his ear Timothy was advised that the Government was confident that the proposal would be passed, as it was the one and only puredee which would achieve the Brexit the British people had voted for in the Referendum and thus the proper business of securing the Kingdom's departure from the European Union would be achieved, which Timothy did, at which point the Speaker, having called the House to Order in his firmest tone, announced that the Secretary of State would address them on behalf of the Government: now, as it happens, Timothy had done well to learn and practice his speech – which had been written by The Dame, as many of her party referred to the PM, herself – with considerable aplomb, if a tad galumphingly, when he had gone through it for the final rehearsal in front of Sir Wilfred and Quentin – who had actually applauded him when he finished, and then cheekily cried: "encore!" - even though he, personally, had no confidence that he was anything other than a transpicuous mouthpiece and had no faith in the likelihood of it being passed: so many of his own party, including himself were opposed to it, and would certainly go through the Nay Lobby to that effect, and that opposition had made extremely unlikely bedfellows – ardent Europhiles, like Timothy, who had voted to Remain in the Union because they believed, among other things, that a United Europe brought not only economic and mercantile benefits, but also provided a guarantee that there would be peace in Europe and no repetition of the two disastrous 'World Wars' of the Twentieth Century, would rub shoulders with Labour, Lib Dem and the other opposition parties, while zealous 'Little Britainers' like the Honourable Members for the three Beddingshire Constituencies: North (Sir Pompus MacFarlane), Mid (Mr Digby Doubleday) and South (Ms Natalie Rhombus) who had voted to Leave, were a mixture of Nationalists amd Europhobes who seemed to detest all the other nations of Europe because they didn't speak the Queen's English and had never been able to grasp the fundamental rightness of LSD (not the drug, but Pounds, Shillings and Pence, the old monetary system which had been abolished in the 1970s to put the UK in the metric system as a forerunner of the long-planned Euro, a single currency within the Union which had always been seen by it's champions as the natural precursor of their eventual aim of a United States of Europe, something political akin to those of America) and still harboured a dream of returning to it! – he rose to his feet, provoking a number of cat-calls from the other side of the House, and noticed how the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, the Queen-makers, who had taken Theresa Maybe-Maybenot's thirty pieces of silver on a promise to support her, as then undefined, proposals for Brexit - £1 billion, or £15 a head from the population of the rest of the UK – and were now intent to vote against the Deal on Tuesday, and this without the courtesy of at least returning the Bribe – were arrayed on the same benches as the Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists and Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalists, the one Green Party representative and one Independent, from Northern Ireland, thank goodness the Sinn Fein MPs from Northern Ireland refused to attend because it would require them to take the Oath to the Queen which would have choked them, as that would have been the last straw; as it was the last straw was provided by the combined weight of the committed Remainers and Leavers in his own Party which, at this point, seemed to guarantee that the Proposal would be dead in the water after the vote on Tuesday – maybe that would be when Timothy could become the slugabed of the SNP jibe, without a job, or, more accurately, without a Cabinet Post and back to being simply the anonymous back-bencher from Pimlico West; oh well, he thought, nothing to lose really, the worst is that I go back to who I was before the summons to Downing Street (or The Bunker as Sir Wilfred had called it) this morning; he stood to his full 5'7" gazed around the Chamber, feeling as if he had reached the end of the plank and had only a few feet of air between him and the tumultuous ocean, closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them wide and plunged in!
Now, although rather foolish by nature, Timothy Michaelmas-Daisy was nobody's fool; he knew that ad hocism had a natural tendency to be transpicious, irregardless of any approbation showered on it's puppets by the string-pullers, and now here he was, just the day after his Maiden Speech – and he blushed at the memory of the disruption in the House which rather drowned most of his words – elevated to be a Secretary of State, albeit in a doomed Ministry, and now facing the Opposition and the millions watching on television from a Front Bench position he had never dreamt to occupy; Sir Wilfred's voice in his ear almost made him jump: "if you can hear me loud and clear, pull your right earlobe," and Timothy did as he was told; he knew that he was a Follower and could never be a Leader, but there was something intoxicating about even pretend-power; the Speaker called a Scottish Nationalist for the first Question to the Secretary of State: "ta, very muchly, Maister Speaker," quipped the SNP's Brexit Spokesperson: "does the newly appointed Secretary of State huv ony plans fur the morn's morn or wull he jist lie lik a slugabed till sumdy ca's tae tellim he's oot oan his ear?" roars of laughter from the Opposition ranks, and boos from the Government Party at what was presumably a risqué if not downright rude question and verging closely on unparliamentary behaviour if anyone South of the Border Down Westminster Way could understand quite what it meant!
And that was when his telephone rang! assuming that it was one of his friends, and never bothering to check the caller display, Timothy answered in a funny voice: "good morning, Candelabra Antiques, I'm Sandy, and this is my friend Jules," and in another voice, piped up: "cooee, Jules here! how can we help you Mister Horne?" but instead of Lesley or Paulie, he heard the voice of the Cabinet Secretary: "Mr Michaelmas-Daisy? this is Sir Wilfred Heath-Robinson, the PM wishes to see you at 10 prompt, please ensure that you are not late," and he hung up; Michaelmas-Daisy checked the caller display and saw that the call had indeed come from the Cabinet Office, so without any delay, he dressed, kissed his Mamma, Lady Braid-Hills and left the house without even taking a bite to eat or a sip of tea, and so was at the door of the Cabinet Office with five minutes to spare; he was met by Sir Wilfred, who told him to agree with everything the PM said and that he would have all the support he needed, then quickly ushered him along the corridor which adjoins that house and Number 10, and at ten-o'clock the novice MP was ushered into Mrs Maybe-Maybenot's private office; he bowed formally and the PM glanced up at him: "oh!" she said, "I thought you were taller and broader and somewhat more, err, athletic," and Timothy was acutely aware of his aesthete's inherent limpness, but before he could apologise for disappointing her, Mrs Maybe-Maybenot shook her head: "doesn't matter, you'll just have to do! I'm appointing you Secretary of State for Leaving th European Union, your predecessor resigned last night, now here's the speech you will give to the House at 2.30pm, learn if off by heart; Sir Wilfred will give you the details about responding to questions from Honourable and dishonourable Members, now, don't waste any time, go through to Sir Wilfred's office and start learning your lines!" and Timothy found himself hurried back to Sir Wilfred’s office and sat at a desk with the speech he had been given, but found it hard to read because the Cabinet Secretary kept giving him advice, or moral boosters, or how to listen to his, Sir Wilfred' voice through the earpiece one of Heath-Robinson's assistants, a boy called Quentin, had inserted: "try not to be overtly transpicious – they'll see through you in their own time, no need to make it too easy for them; I'll tell you when to sandbag any pushy prat, just say what I tell you and if it includes a hint that you know something he wouldn't like the whole world and his wife to hear on live TV that usually shuts them up; remember you are now a member of the ohana – we're a family here in The Bunker and if you follow the rules we'll help you all the way," and then Quentin pinned a red ribbon to his lapel, with the comment that "it's World Aids Day – we've got ribbons for just about everything that'll win over, or hold onto, any large block of votes: Polish Independence Day, every Saint's Day you can think of, Burns Night and Hogmanay, Guy Fawkes, Easter, Christmas, Breast Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Autism, Thalidomide, all the Hindu Gods, Mohammed's Birthday, Buddha's Enlightenment, nearly every day of the year, old Sam who keeps the diary is always having to add something else in: Mumsnet, Dadsnet, Siamese Twins, Twin Towers, Grenfell, it's never ending, you'll love it here, I hope you've still got a job after Tuesday, who knows? we might all be claiming Universal Credit!"
The recently elected Member of Parliament for the constituency of Pimlico West, Timothy Hugo Michaelmas-Daisy, sighed as he read the report in The Guardian of the débâcle which had disrupted his Maiden Speech last night during the Adjournment Debate, but he couldn't help smirking at The Grauniad's confusing the word presumer with prosumer – quite obviously what the writer of the piece – he glanced up the page to see that it was Theresa Somerville, it jolly well served her right, it was just a pity that few of the Trendy Lefty readers would notice; just an MP for four months, in the vacancy left by his predecessor's sudden death, Timothy was still very much a learner, more at home with his Conté drawings than the hurly-burly of political life; he was an abstainer from alcohol, tobacco, women and gambling, indeed excess in all things, led a rather spartan life like his hero from Ancient Rome, Cato the Younger, and would have been both amused and horrified that the MI5 dossier on him described him as xeric, the implication being arid and sterile, although it did also assess him as being mens sana – having a healthy mind – perhaps in ignorance of his philosophy tutor at Oxford, Roger (The Dodger) Maskelyne, regularly drawling it as Men's Sauna and hinting that it was the only place worth spending any recreational time in if one were neither a Soccer, Rugger, nor Rowing Hearty, and whatever Timothy was, he most certainly was not a Hearty!
Oh what a Kludge! the Sergeant-at-Arms dragging the leader of the DUP from under the PM's bench and interrupting the Maiden Speech of a shrinking violet from one of the Shires on the subject of Tags fitted to persons whom are presumed innocent until proven guilty and are remanded at home rather than in a detention centre and had just proven himself guilty of being a presumer in the matter of Tags, by presuming them to be affixed to the person's ear, as are sheep tagged, instead of being an ankle bracelet! and now he was drowned out by the sheer abandon of Madame Tangerine Foster, clad in Orange all over and declaiming her innocence of any possible charges: "there I wis, oop in thay Pooblic Gaullery, yer Warship, craning me knack tae oabsurve me Loyal Orange Maimbers below, staunnin oop fer Oolstur against he Youropean Younyin, whan wan o me airings drapt awf me aire and fail doon inter the Chumber, an wis axidauntly kicked oondur thot therr bainch, wall it was wan o may beloved King Billy airings, presented tae me bay the Graund Mint Impayreal Eturnal Graund Vizear of the Moast Loyal Orange Squash of Holeland, so it wis, an impulsively I joost shinned down wan of theym pillers in they confusion of the mayment, so I did, aund I'll sware tae thot oondur Oath!" and then burst into The Sash My Father Wore, as the Sergeant-at-Arms frog-marched her out, the DUP Members roared their support for her and the rafters echoed with their cheers and the Speaker bellowed: "Orderrrrr, Orderrrrr!" to all and sundry.
It was well after midnight on the first day of the Brexit Debate, when the Conservative Members of Parliament for the three Beddingshire Constituencies: North (Sir Pompus MacFarlane), Mid (Mr Digby Doubleday) and South (Ms Natalie Rhombus) staggered into the Chamber and found themselves rather at a loss - it was highly unusual for a Debate, however sparsely attended, to be on at this hour: "it's a wee bit eldritch," hissed Nat the Hat, sliding along a bench, to make room for her companions; "not much of a conglomerate, worse attendance than for a School Debating Society!" said Sir Pompus, sniggering, as he surreptitiously pulled a hip flask from his pocket and, hiding it behind a handkerchief, took a swig, then passed the handkerchief and it's contents to Nat; which was when the perspicacious Doubleday spotted something untoward under the Front Bench opposite (not realising that the Three Caballeros had entered the Opposition Benches) and, hand raised and index finger quagswagging, roared: "I Spy Strangers!" thus causing uproar, especially as the Stranger, dragged out from under the PM's customary seat before the Dispatch Box turned out to be none other than the Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Madame Tangerine Foster, wearing the Regalia of a Grand Imperial Wizard of the Loyal Orange Order, not herself a Member! what a kerfuffle, during which the three from Beddingshire, having realised their erroneous choice of seats, quietly squeezed out of the Chamber and found their way back to The Floozies Bar and their usual table!
Captain Sun Yat-Soo was bang on time and Martin Elginbrod still couldn't decide whether the Captain was male or female, although the velutinous reddish-chocolatey-caramelly skin inclined him to think She, so he said: "should I call you Captain, or what?" and the Captain smiled, and replied: "you can call me whatever you like, Mr Elginbrod, please take a seat; I have been asked to apologise for what happened – our mission, like others, was to study how you react to unexpected situations; our orders are to watch for anomalies, but not to interfere; unfortunately, someone attacked you and I believed that your life was in danger and I did interfere, for that I have been reprimanded by my Commander, because the Alert meant that rather than being returned, unharmed and with no suspicion of being reviewed, you were brought here; you are the first Earth Human to be brought back to Mars, as you call our Red Planet, and that was not intended by the Creator, whom some of you Earth Humans worship as a God, or not a God, but the God, who watches over you," and Elginbrod asked: "and are you Martian Human too?" at which the Captain laughed: "of course, we are all descended from the same original archetypal blueprint – or DNA as you call it – it is the Life Source and while Mars was created to be the repository of information on the Life Source, your original ancestors were Humans from Mars who were given the chance to live more freely, without any direction by the Creator, to see how far they would develop on the planet originally called Eden; I must tell you that, in many ways the Creator was unhappy that such Freedom – I think you call it Free Will – has resulted in negative developments, in conflict and aggression; I do believe that the Creator is particularly unhappy that, given so much opportunity and Freedom, and the same cognitive abilities as us, Earth Humans in many epochs chose to settle their differences by engaging in wars, which are totally destructive and have set back your development by many millennia! the purpose of the current Study is to establish whether Greed, Envy, and Aggression are inherent, or encoded within the Human Genome, or simply Learned Behaviour, and whether it might be possible for the Creator to circumvent it," which left Elginbrod's mind reeling; not quite knowing what he wanted to discover, he asked: "can you tell me more about Mars, the Red Planet? I don't know if any of the theories we have on Earth about it are true – you probably know that it has been described as a Dead Planet;" and that made the Captain laugh, and it was a little while before the reply came: "it's probably simplest to say that Mars is a kind of Storehouse, or Computer in which we Mars Humans live and work: the outer surface, which you can observe from Earth, is really just Space Dust which has accumulated over many millions of years – we rarely spend time on the surface, for all our needs can be met beneath it; and being lost for words, Elginbrod did what he usually did on those rare occasions, he mentioned something within his vision: "that sword, o dagger on the wall, what do you call it, and use if for?" and the Captain without a glance towards it replied: "it is a badelaire, a souvenir from a mission to France, it had been discarded in the street and I thought that for safety it should be removed – yes, I know, that's interfering – and I brought it back," and Elginbrod followed up: "when was that?" but the reply: "your 16th century, if you really must know!" hit him like a sucker-punch and he sat down, heavily, and was surprised that the chair seemed to sag slightly and then resume it's correct height, everything here was quite beyond his ken!
But on the way, their path suddenly divaricated when Dixie O'Hooligan suddenly threw herself at a couple of guys who'd just stepped out of a pub: "I'll fuckin kill ye, ya fuckin arsehole bastard!" she screamed into the face of one, as she slammed him against the wall and fair kneed him in the goolies, before turning towards the other, but he abandoned his pal and ran hell-for-leather away from the mayhem; "what's up, Dixie?" asked Riddle, but not moving too close: "he cried me a Playboy Bunny, the fucking wanker!" and kicked the guy, who had slumped to the pavement: "well, I think he's got the message that you aren't that," laughed Riddle, as he and Dixie hurried to catch up with the others: "aye but, it's okay for you guys," said Dixie, still pumped up with the adrenaline rush, "you really dinnae ken whit it's like bein a lassie an hearin shite like thon aw the time, an no jist fae arseholes like him, there's arseholes aw ower the place, an loads wha should ken better – they open their gobs an lerrit aw come oot, an if ye object they say 'och, cool it hen, it's jist in fun, a wee bit o hairmless banter, words dinnae hurt ye!' aye bit they dae, an okay it's mebbe different fae getting run ower by a bus, or being in accouchement, ye ken, gien birth tae a bairn, burrit's stuff like thon that grinds us doon, yin generation efter another, an even you Riddle – no that ah've ever heard ye say stuff like thon, but ah mean, ye micht sympathise an empathise, but ye cannae really ken whirrit's like unless yer a lassie, ye ken?" and Riddle said: "like ye cannae really sing the Blues, unless ye're Black, Blind an Starvin?" and she punched him on the arm, laughed and said: "prick! but dinnae take it tae hert, am only cryin ye a prick in fun, ye ken, hairmless banter!"
"Bonk him on the conk?" exclaimed Felix Rosenstiel, "not our style, Mr Mooney, "but I do think we need to secure him before we try to take him down the hill," at which Peadar removed a length of stout cord from his capacious pockets, and Felix, assisted by Riddle Rankine, proceeded to tie Martin Elginbrod's ankles and wrists, in such a way that he could be rolled down the hill towards the Radical Road, where one of the O'Hooligan Twins associates was waiting for them with a vehicle that had been adapted to give it a passable resemblance to an ambulance - it did mean a slight diverication to get there, but there were enough of them to make it in short order, despite Mooney taking on the role of preceptor and issuing a constant stream of instructions as he walked and smoked several cigarettes in the time it took to reach the vehicle, just beyond the old loch: "ye'll be taking a dram to mark the Saint's Day?" asked Mr Mooney to the assembled group, after Elginbrod had been safely stowed and driven off to an undisclosed destination: "well, now, and where would you suggest?" asked Rankine, expecting it to be The Burke and Hare, only to be surprised and privileged when the older man said: "my place, the missus will be pleased to make your acquaintance, bhoys, the lasses are already well kent, since they were knee-high to a grasshopper, sure and isn't that so, Bunty?" and the girls both agreed, so, following in Mr Mooney's footsteps, they trooped off to meet the far-famed matriarch who ruled Peadar Mooney;'s indoor life!
"Unhand me. ye heathen!" cried Peadar Mooney at his unseen assailants, "huv ye nay respect fer yer man here, abomination though he may be, bein a brief fer the haves agin the have nots, but all the same, some divil has bashed his brains oot an iffen that husnae kilt him, the tummel offen Salisbury Crags wud hae finished him off, good an proper, hud I no dun the public-spirited thing an saved him from The Drop!" and taking a deep breath, as though about to declaim the Last Rites, a hand clapped itself over his mouth and a woman hissed: "ah but yer the right ritzy wan tae be grievin this bag o shite, Peadar Mooney, ah never hud ye pegged for bein a hypocrite!" and his eyes nearly popped out of his head: "Dixie O'Hooligan, as I live an breath, or at least I will that, if ye'se hud the decency tae unhand me," at which he was let go of, but still closely hemmed in by, as he glanced around, Dixie and her twin Bunty, and two young fellahs who had that combination of intellectuality coupled with a hint of muscle, which was enough to stay Peadar off from trying to fight his way out; oh well, he considered this bivious situation, there's no third option, so I'd best side with this gang, especially with the Twins in it, for I wouldn't like to see my bones being turned into scrimshaw by some lifer in Saughton, like this lifeless thing at me feet; which prompted him to glance at the two men: "wis it ye'se yins banjoed him?"
As the Probe landed, with a puff of dust, it actuated a response and the message went out, from Illustrious Presiding Justice Pando Mash-Fa-Line, President of the Red Planet, and it was by a quirk of reception, or perception, that Martin Elginbrod – floating in the Medical Suite of Vessel EARTH SURVEYOR SPQR – just happened to catch it and find that the strange and seemingly random combinations of vowels and consonants made sense to him, translating to:
"Calling all Martians, to take a Stand! Earthmen Invaders approach our Land! Prepare to Attack! And Make them Draw Back! All of our Spacecraft are fully Martianned!"
in a way, this audio perception might be considered rather akin to looking at a doodle, or a cloud and seeing a recognisable likeness of your Grannie, or Charlie Chaplin, though no-one else might see it – pareidolia, the psychologists call it when carrying out their Rorschach Tests with inkblots, to help them peer under the defences of your subconscious!
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