Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Furry Doom – A Cautionary Tale (Part The Last)

Part The Last

Neep. Neep eep neep. Crunch, crunch. Neep. Twitch, twitch. Neep eep. Twitch.

Editor's Note:- The above cryptic entry was all that was discovered, along the preceding segments and assorted other scribblings, in the wreckage of the good Squire's flat. The flat itself was found to be covered in pieces of fur and discarded peanut shells. Of the good Squire himself, no sign was ever found, despite much exhaustive searching (well, at least a week and a half).

Local Actonian legend has it that ever since the Squire vanished, a strange creature can be seen roaming the wilds of Walpole Park when the moon is particularly strange. Neither fully man nor fully squirrel, the strange creature arrives mysteriously, pinches your nuts and departs. Of course, most local legends are a load of old gnat's chuff.

Good night, gentle readers. Sleep well... if you can

[1] In fact, his mysterious disappearance was not reported until his brother, the much reviled Prime Minister Kirk The Younger, arrived at his flat for one of their traditional brandy-sodden Friday night opiate and whore binges.

Friday, 27 February 2009

The Furry Doom – A Cautionary Tale (Part The Fourth)

Part The Fourth

Tiny claws rip at me, tearing and shredding. Nut-stained, knife-like teeth snap and catch at my exposed face and arms. A veritable wall of fur, moving, writhing, attacking. A ferocious mammalian hurricane of Gotterdammerung-esque proportions has finally swept me up...

And, as swiftly as it had begun, it is over. I am beaten, bloodied and bowed. The squirrels have won.

I drag my bruised and battered body homewards to lick my wounds. I sit and shiver and shake and shudder for what feels like an eternity, images of terrifyingly tiny hairy beasts assailing my waking and dreaming thoughts.

Then suddenly, the fugue has passed. The light of comprehension shines upon me, lifting from my deep, dark pit of despair. I know what must be done, I know what option is left to me...

Preparations take some time. Materials must be gathered and my mental disciplines must be strengthened. I gather and prepare, prepare and gather. All my energies are consumed by it to the exclusion of all else.

Until, finally, I am ready.....

To Be Finished

Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Furry Doom – A Cautionary Tale (Part The Third)

Part The Third

I awake from fevered dreams; dreams of being hunted by unknown hirsute pursuers. My skin is clammy with the sweat of the preceding night’s terrors. The anticipation is almost physical; I can feel the oppressive weight of my impending doom pushing down upon me. I defied the squirrels and won. What fearsome retribution awaits me on my journey today?

But all is quiet as I warily trudge my daily route. Whither the furred peril of days past? The silence unnerves me. No hint of a rustle do I hear. No sign of bushy-tailed movement do my eyes detect. Is this another ruse, another attempt to lower my defences prior to some tiny pawed attack?

I reach my destination, unimpeded by squirrely rampage. My apprehension would seem to have been for nothing. Could it be that Serendipity has smiled upon me, that I have somehow escaped their foul clutches? I allow myself to begin to feel hope. But in the pit of my stomach I know that this is merely the calm before the storm....

To Be Expanded

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Furry Doom – A Cautionary Tale (Part The Second)

Part The Second

It would appear my earlier feelings of foreboding were well formed. As I brave the wilds of the estate, I hear rustling all around me. My eyes dart back and forth but they reveal no sign of their malevolent presence. The air is filled with the sound of nuts being crunchily chewed upon.

Suddenly, they are there. And they are legion. A bushy-tailed horde, eyeing me with murderous intent. I have encroached upon Squirrel Territory and they will extract their price for my transgression – a price in blood.

But, no, I will not submit, I will not bow to this brace of menacing mammals. I’m English, by crikey, and I will not be cowed. I plough on through and they disperse before me, cowed by the righteousness of my Anglo-Saxon fervour.

I make it to the other side and the fear that had held me it’s prisoner seems to dissipate. Until I make the mistake of glancing backwards. There I see, in increasing numbers, a tiny Sciuridaean army, lurking in silent, nut-crunching rage. I may have made it through unscathed this time but, next time, I fear I may not be so lucky…

To Be Furthered

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Furry Doom – A Cautionary Tale (Part The First)

Part the First

A gentle rustling and an unpleasant sensation at the base of my skull are the only signs that I am being watched. I turn, ready to confront the unseen voyeur. Two tiny beady eyes stare back at me fearlessly. The creatures face fixes me; small yet somehow incalculably evil (the effect only spoiled somewhat by the gormless expression in the set of its jaw as it masticates its nuts). What mammalian massacre, what furry apocalyptic fury is it plotting away in its dark little mind?

“You,” those tiny eyes of evil seem to say, “you are an interloper. You are not wanted here. This is our place. We have marked your card, Kirk The Elder. Your days on this world are numbered.”

A cold fear grips my heart and I stumble. Struggling to regain my composure, I make my way through the labyrinthine depths of the White City estate and out into the light of day. I do not glance back – I cannot show fear in the face of terror.

Upon my return to my Actonian abode, my composure slips. I tremblingly bolt and chain the front door and retire to the drawing room, pouring myself a large stiff brandy – purely for medicinal purposes as I think you’ll appreciate.

As I sit and ruminate upon my fearful bushy-tailed encounter, a sense of foreboding settles upon me. What is to come in the days ahead? What grim fate awaits at the tiny hands of doom?

I know one thing for certain: The squirrels are here. They know me. And they are waiting…

To Be Continued

Monday, 23 February 2009

Deathly Peril At The Volcano's Edge - Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - The Villain Revealed

He stood before me, head thrown back in taunting laughter. He looked exactly the same as the last time I had seen him - the bushy eyebrows planted atop the cruel, flashing eyes; the neatly goatee ending in a vicious point; the shiny bald head, glinting in the light of the volcano. There was no doubt - it was him.

"Baron Von Wenlock!" exclaimed Big John.

"In the very flesh," purred he.

"But that's not possible!" interjected the Perfesser. "We saw you die in that fiery zeppelin crash after thwarting your army of insectoid automatons!"

"Suffice to say, that particular inconvenience did not signal my demise. However, I will spare you the exact details of my mircaulous escape at this time. No, it's your very imminent and particularly final demise which should concern you more at this precise moment in time."

Once more, his evil laughter reverberated around our fiery prison. Lucy, being overcome by the heat and the monstrousness of our host, chose that moment to fall into a swoon.

"You evil blackguard! You won't get away with whatever nefarious scheme you have planned!" I heroically shouted.

"As you have but mere moments left to live, I may as well outline the details of my dread scheme," dastardlied the Baron, "Your timing is fortuitous, my copper nemesis, for in a few minutes, a long-awaited planetary alignment will take place. Once the planets are fully aligned, the particular light cast by this curious conjunction will strike the legendary and extremely rare purple diamond contained in my volcanic-agitating device located just over there to left. Once the machine is fully powered, it will unleash the full power of the mystic light directly into the heart of the volcano, setting up a chain reaction of unimaginable destructive power!"

Once more, his laugh echoed all around us.

"But why?" queried the Perfesser.

"What?" asked the Baron.

"Well, why? Surely you'll be killed in the eruptions and all it's going to do is cause massive destruction. What purpose does it serve?"

There was a moment of silence.

"Quiet, you fool, your tiny mind cannot possibly hope to comprehend the full magnitude of my malevolent genius!"

"You're a loony," muttered the Perfesser.

"Shut up!" angried the Baron.

"Hang on a minute, bub, what about the missing girls?" asked Big John.

"Ah, well, yes, you see, an evil genius gets lonely in his volcanic lair of villainy sometimes...."

During the above, I had seized my opportunity to loosen my bonds, exercising the mighty preternatural power of my highly developed muscles. While the Baron was distracted by the Perfesser and Big John, I leapt free, grabbing the nearest thing to hand and hurling it strengthily at his deadly machine. Unfortunately, the nearest thing to hand was Little Jimmy. As the device exploded in a shower of electrical sparks, I vowed to avenge his fearlessly fiery self-sacrifice for the greater good.

As confusion reigned around us and the volcano began to make ominous rumblings, I launched myself at the Baron while Big John and The Perfesser struggled free and attended to Lucy. The Baron and I grappled fiercely but my magnificent upper body tension eventually won out and, standing triumphant, I lifted the bald maniac high overhead.

"This isn't the last of me, you musclebound moron!" yelled the Baron.

"Yes, it is," I pithily quipped, hurling him into the molten magma and listening with some satisfaction to his dying screams.

"Doc, we need to get out of here now!" exclaimed the Perfesser and I always listen to a man of learning. We beat a hasty retreat out of there as quick as our legs would carry us (mine being of stupendous strength, they did carry me somewhat quicker).

We arrived at Chief N'Dego's village in time to watch the explosive eruptions. Unfortunately, this only served to remind us that we had neglected to bring the local girls back with us. As we made our excuses and left rather rapidly, I wondered if we truly had seen the last of the Baron. I also wondered how we would make it home without any forms of transport. We did eventually make it home but that, my friends, is a story for another time....

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Deathly Peril At The Volcano's Edge - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Jungle Fever

Sweat dripped from our every pore as we hacked and slashed our way through the teeming jungle which surrounded the ominous volcano on all sides. After a prolonged period of humid trudging, our spirits began to flag. Even the luscious Lucy Lovelady began to look a little less lovely in the tropical heat.

A stealthy rustling nearby attracted my attention. I swung round, poised to deliver two-fisted fury upon any potential peeping Percy's but was too late. There was a thunderous crash and I fell to the ground as the world went black....

I came round to find that we had reached our destination - we were trussed up like Christmas turkeys on a ledge overlooking the gaping maw of volcanic doom. I took in our seemingly hopeless predicament and suddenly received a more pleasant surprise.

"Perfesser!" I cried, for it was he, similarly trussed up and looking slightly the worse for wear.

"Felicitations, fearless leader," he replied, "and my deepest apologies for embroiling you in this maliciously sulphurous death trap. My attempts to resist our taciturn captors proved decidedly feeble, I'm sorry to say."

I used this opportunity to take a good look at our incarcerators. Dressed all in black, head to foot, with only their eyes showing, there was something familiar about these ninja-like foes. They stood - silent, immobile and mysterious - in that tedious way that ninjas do.

My musings were cut short, however, by cruel, mocking laughter which cut through the air. I turned as much as I was able to see our mysterious enemy.

My eyes widened in surprise!

"That's not possible!" I exclaimed.

The mocking laughter drew closer....

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Deathly Peril At The Volcano’s Edge - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – At Danger's Door

Using makeshift paddles from the wreckage of the plane and the immense power of my uncanny upper body strength, I followed the avian trail and rowed us to shore. Being a superlatively quick healer, my semi-mauled leg was already beginning to show signs of improvement. We stowed our makeshift raft and made our way inland.

As we ploughed our way through this foreign terrain, a shout from Big John alerted us to a worrying sight – the crashed remains of The Perfesser's hydra-pnuematic gyroscope. Of the Perfesser himself, there was no sign. I studied the area around the wreckage. Utilising my advanced tracking skills gleaned from my time amongst the legendary walrus hunters of Alaska, I could see that there had been a struggle of some sort and that the Perfesser had been taken against his will. The tracks, however, soon disappeared so we plunged on regardless.

After a trek of indeterminate time, we came at last upon the village of Chief N'Dego. The villagers welcomed us but it was a subdued affair compared to my usual hero's welcome. I explained to Lucy that normally I was festooned with garlands and carried shoulder high through the village to rapturous chanting but obviously they were taking the loss of their maidens to heart. Finally, we entered the morose Chief's hut to find him sat with only four of his favourite concubines (always a bad sign).

"Fear not, chief, we shall find your girls, rescue our fallen chum and solve the mystery of the strange and unearthly noises issuing forth from your local volcano or my name isn't Doc Kirk," reassured I.*

He seemed unmoved by me reassurances so I resolved that there was only one thing for it. Words are not enough for a man of action such as myself, for we all know that actions speak louder. Pausing only to procure some provisions and apply fresh tattered rags to my leg wounds, our little band of intrepid explorers set off for the mouth of danger itself – the volatile volcano at the heart of the island....

*Obviously, I reassured him in the local dialect in which I am fluent

Friday, 20 February 2009

Deathly Peril At the Volcano’s Edge - Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Adrift

I surfaced from beneath the icy water to find a great white shark attempting to gnaw on my leg. Fortunate, my copper-tinged physique was protecting me from the worst of it. After a brief tussle which ended in bitter, jaw-wrenching defeat for my toothsome foe, I applied a tourniquet to my somewhat bleeding shins using tatters from my shirt and scouted the waters for signs of the others.

A short distance away, I found the three of them clinging to boxes which had been thrown from the plane as it plunged beneath the deep blue waves. I was surprised once again at Little Jimmy's resiliency – he has proved to be darned difficult to kill over the years. Before I was forced to pass out very briefly from blood loss, I managed to fashion a rudimentary sailing craft from remnants of the boxes and the parachutes we had used to escape certain death from our plummeting plane.

When I came to, I discovered Lucy Lovelady tending to my wounds, a frown creating furrows in her pretty little brow.

"Now, don't you go worrying your sweet little head about me, my dear Lucy. A quick sit down and I'll be fighting fit and ready for action!" I assured her in a thoroughly manly way. She batted her eyelashes in a demure fashion.

"Gee willikers, Doc, we sure are in a tight spot, aren't we?" chirped Little Jimmy. I gave the little tyke a reassuring chuck on the chin then waited a moment while Big John retrieved him from the ocean and mildly wrung him out.

"Not at all, Little Jimmy," said I. "I'll have us on dry land in no time. Big John, strike out north-westerly and we'll hit our intended destination within hours."

"Jeepers, Doc," squeaked the lad, "how do you know that?"

"Simplicity itself, little fella. Observe overhead." I pointed and their gazes drifted upwards. Overhead a perfectly straight line of brightly coloured birds stretched away in a north-westerly direction.

"Those bright red Yellowbirds up there never stray more than five miles from land and are only indigenous to three islands. Only one of those islands is in the vicinity of our splashdown point..."

"...and that's Klaatu Baradanikto!" squealed the small one. I moved to give him a congratulatory cuff about the head but he was surprisingly nimble and managed to duck out of the way. I resolved to congratulate him at a later date.

"That's right, all we need do is follow and our destination shall be reached," I proclaimed, mightily.

"But, Doc, what in the wide, wide world of sports a-knocked us out of the gosh-durned sky in the first place?" opined Big John.

I had my suspicions but held my tongue. I would wait until we reached our destination and whatever evil was held in store for us there....

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Deathly Peril At The Volcano’s Edge - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – Flight Into Danger

We took to the skies and, after some relatively uneventful hours of flight, I left Big John in charge and headed back into the plane for some rest. Suddenly, I heard a noise, as if someone where shiftily moving about within the recesses of the plane. I grabbed my trusty revolver, Betsy, and made my way into the cabin. What foul fiend awaited me? Had one of my deadly enemies stowed away? The Fiendish Finger maybe? Or maybe Hypno Mesmerio? Worse still, could it be my evil twin brother, Dirk, long presumed dead in a hideous fiery zeppelin crash?

A shadow moved out at me and I leapt. I wrestled the mysterious figure to the ground and took a close look. Imagine my surprise to find myself lying atop the wriggling body of the lovely Lucy Lovelady. I made my excuses and stood, somewhat awkwardly.

"Lucy, that was gosh-darned foolish. I had my weapon poised – it could have gone off at any time!", I exclaimed.

"I'm sorry, Doc," breathed she, "but I couldn't let this scoop get away. This could be the biggest one I've ever seen. Let me come with you. I won't get in the way. And I could even cook and clean up around here for you. You could use a woman's touch."

Being a manly man who isn't immune to the charms of a lady, I could hardly refuse her (especially as we were several thousand feet over open water and throwing her out would hardly have been gentlemanly). Besides, I admired her spunk. As I righted myself and Lucy, a small shape suddenly barrelled from the rear of the plane and caught me off-balance, knocking me to the ground.

"Don't forget me, I'm coming along too!" squealed the little cannonball. It was my faithful if somewhat irritating ward, Little Jimmy. I righted the two of us and patted him on the head. My affectionate tap had been somewhat harder than intended as I had to pick the little fella back up again afterwards.

"Well, I guess the gang's all here." I resolved there and then to finish teaching Little Jimmy some of the finer, and coincidentally more violent, points of Peruvian chess. "I guess we'd better-"

There was a sudden lurch and the three of us were thrown about the cabin.

"Big John! What in tarnation's going on??" I hollered.

"We've been hit, Doc! Ain't lookin' none too good!", he yelled in return.

There was further sickening lurch and we were thrown backwards as the plane began to spiral downwards towards the waiting embrace of the cruel, cruel sea...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Deathly Peril At The Volcano’s Edge - Chapter 1

Editor's Note:- As has been extensively documented in these pages, my ancestor, Squire Kirk The Elder, was a figure of some note (or rather notoriety) who left behind extensive writings on his life and views. He wasn't, however, the only twig on the family shrub to have left an impression. Largely forgotten now but a minor sensation in his day, my American ancestor and preternaturally powered world adventurer, "Doc" Kirk (commonly known as "the Man Of Copper") has had much written about him over the years – largely spurious accounts, if truth be told. Recently, a large number of his own writings were found, locked in a steamer trunk along with some of his personal possessions, and have been added to the ever-expanding Greater Kirkian Archive. We now present a selection of his memoirs for your reading pleasure.

Chapter 1 – Peril Comes A-Calling

It had been a period of reflective quietude at magnificent Kirk Towers. I'd spent some time recuperating after my last adventure* and was engaged in teaching my ward, Little Jimmy, the manly art of Peruvian Chess. It's much like regular chess - the main difference being that the loser gets pelted with deadly blowdarts. I was just about to deliver check and mate and was reaching for my blowpipe when the telematronic machine began to chatter.

It was an incoming telematamessage from my bosom chum, Hartley "The Perfesser" Carr. He had in turn received a similar telematamessage from Chief N'Dego of the little known island of Klaatu Baradanikto, an island that my father had long acted as protector for**. My father had seen to it that many of the modern luxuries we enjoyed were freely available on the island.

The Chief's stricken message told of a terrible curse that had befallen the island. The volcano at the island's very center had recently begun to issue forth weird, unearthly noises. At around the same time, young maidens from the communities at the base of the volcano began to disappear. Despite my father's attempts to bring an enlightened view to these ungodly heathens, they still believed that the ancient gods were angry at them for embracing civilised ways and that they had awoken and taken the girls as punishment. The Chief, however, felt that a more earthly power was behind the unexplained phenomena. The Perfesser had received the call for help from the Chief and was already en route in his hydra-pneumatic gyroscope.

My nose twitched. I smelled adventure in the air! I sniffed again. It was rather more pungent than adventure. I looked around to discover that Little Jimmy had been playing with the blowpipe and accidentally blown a dart into his foot, soiling himself as he had slumoed into unsciousness. Fortunately, it was a non-lethal toxin, designed to wear off in a few hours. I propped him in the corner and set about readying myself for another expedition.

Once packed and ready to go, the first order of business was to ditch the little fella. I leaped into my private elevator and hurtled down to my private car pool, dynamically setting off in the Docmobile. First port of call was to the luscious Lucy Lovelady, Gal Reporter, to safely deposit the now-conscious (but still rather ripe) Little Jimmy.

"Doc, don't leave me behind. This could be just the scoop I need to finally make my name at the Daily Interest," opined Lucy.

"Oh, Lucy," I laughed, "there's danger afoot, little lady, and danger is man's work. I don't want to have to be worrying about your pretty little head."

"If only I were a big strong man like you, Doc, then I'd get all the assignments a gal could want," whined she.

"I'm glad you aren't, my sweet Lucy. You certainly wouldn't look as good in that dress!"

We laughed heartily at my witticism but, with time pressing on and excitement lurking around the corner, there was no time to waste. I was back in the Docmobile and on my way. After a brief stop to pick up my other trusted companion, the redoubtable Big John Dynamite, we arrived at my private air strip just at the Doc Plane finished refuelling. Within no time at all, we were on our way into the blue yonder and adventure was ahead. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, adventure was skipping hand in hand with peril...

* as chronicled in "Danger Wears A Pointy Hat"

** in fact, so taken was he with the locals simple ways, that he opened up the Abraham Kirk Center for Young Girls and acted as headmaster and sole teacher there for many years. He actually insisted that many of them live with him in the school so that he could offer them further private tuition after normal schooling hours. His selfless devotion to the young ladies of that island is an inspiration to us all.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The One-Legged Dog At The Gates Of Hell - A Macabre Encounter (Part The Last)

Part The Last - The End?

I lay in wait in my barely-concealed hidey-hole, waiting for the cold, clammy touch of the undead. I began to suspect that this was it, that my number was up. There would be no last minute reprieve for my Squirely self on this dire occasion. I began to reflect on my life (obviously with some speed and little time to linger on any specifics – particularly if those specifics involved a nun, a toboggan, a bucket of soapy frogs and one of the crowned heads of Europe). On the whole, it had been a good life, full of wine, women and song....well, mostly wine and women....well, mostly women, come to think of it.

My morbid and doom-laden reflections were interrupted by the sounds of cabalistic chanting. I risked a peep from beneath fear-lidded eyes. There in the middle of the room, arms aloft, reading aloud from a piece of parchment, stood dear old Arbie. His brave attempt to hold back this dread horde filled me a sense of overwhelming familial pride as I scurried further back into my impromptu bolthole and resumed my furtive cowering.

A rising howl began to pierce the very air about us. The shambling corpses stopped in their tracks and began to shudder, shake and shimmy. A harsh, coppery tang filled my nostrils. The chanting from Arbie ceased and there was a sudden sucking sensation in the air. The dread apparitions writhed and gyrated as if suffering the most gruesome agonies. Before you could say Jack Robinson, the ghouls were sucked kicking and moaning back into the hellish dimension from whence they'd emerged, leaving the portal to close itself with a rather disappointing popping noise. Dearest Arbie had saved the day!

I will confess that, upon emerging from that place, our conversation was somewhat on the strained side. It seems that Arbie was not overly enamoured of my enlightened sense of self-preservation (or "pant-moistening cowardice" as he chose to term it - each to their own). Discretion being the better part of valour and all that balderdash, I made my exit from Cairo as swiftly as was feasible.

Of course, my return journey to this dearly beloved isle of ours was not exactly the restful sojourn that I was hoping for but that, my dear old coves, is a tale for another time...

Here Endeth The Tale

Monday, 16 February 2009

The One-Legged Dog At The Gates Of Hell - A Macabre Encounter (Part The Fourth)

Part The Fourth -Hellish Portal

I'm not an overtly courageous fellow. I don't set out to immerse myself in a life of danger, dynamism and derring-do. I am perfectly at home reclining by the fireside in the Old Actonian Gentleman's Club with a glass of fine port. Yet, by some mysterious quirk of fate, I seem to find myself pushed, prodded and propelled into the realm of the perilous and hazardous.

I could tell by the expression of bovine surprise littering Arbie's jowls that this was not something that he had been expecting to happen. Harkworth continued to jibber and shriek and the portal began to pulse and oscillate with alarming frequency. Arbie rushed over to try and stop the raving little twitcher, receiving a sound clout to the head for his troubles. He dropped unconscious to the floor.

"You fools!" shrieked the insane little blighter. "You don't understand what this means, the power, the unimaginable power!" He threw back his head and laughed in what he obviously imagined to a be a maniacal fashion but was, in fact, somewhat asthmatic and rather damp.

It was at this point that I decided that discretion was probably the better part of valour and removed myself to a more secluded vantage point underneath one of Arbie's work benches. I was able to spy upon the wretch and the unearthly doorway from there.

There was a final resounding crack and the shimmering haze of the portal solidified. Murky figures began to appear and push their way through from whatever hellish dimension lurked beyond that archway. They had the mouldering grey skin and festering decrepitude of the walking dead.

Harkworth fixed them with a stare and declared himself their lord and master. Unfortunately for him, this had little to no effect on the shambling monstrosities as they descended upon him en masse and tore him rudely limb from limb. My best course of action at this particular juncture appeared to be curling up into as small a ball as possible and whimpering as quietly as possible. It was not looking good for your dear old Squire....

To Be Concluded

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The One-Legged Dog At The Gates Of Hell - A Macabre Encounter (Part The Third)

Part The Third - Dusty Relics

Dust, fluff and grit. These appeared to the overwhelming factors in Arbie's day to day life. The rum old cove was getting rather excited about the whole endeavour but, really, a few grimy old relics were not precisely high on the list of your good Squire's favourite things. I was, however, willing to suffer this remarkably dry tour for the sake of familial cousinhood (his mention of untold fortune had, naturally, no sway on me whatsoever and was indeed purely coincidental).

My dear old cousin was aided in his researches by a nervous twitch of a fellow who went by the name of Harkworth. He was the sort of chap who made you feel nervous just by his very existence. I wasn't overly enamoured of the lad – he was the sort of anxiously eager fellow who always the impression of trying far too hard to please - but Arbie seemed to find him useful.

"Let me show me you what I've discovered," enthused Arbie. It occurred to me that I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time with scientific type bods while they display their baffling wares.

He unveiled a be-sheeted item with a theatrical flourish and stepped back approvingly, eagerly awaiting my reaction. It was a rough-hewn stone portal around six feet in height. To say it was underwhelming would be the very pinnacle of understatement.

"Well," said I, after a pause of indeterminate length, "it certainly is tall." I had always been brought up to believe that, if you couldn't say anything nice, then a meaningless pleasantry will always suffice.

"It's more than tall, dear cousin. If my translations prove to be correct, it is indeed far more than merely tall."

He rushed around, gathering parchments and stretching them out for me to peruse. I caught glimpses of baffling symbols – a three-headed parakeet, a man holding a wooden parasol, a dog with one leg – none of which made any kind of sense to me but seemed to stirred Arbie's particular cup of tea.

"If I've read this correctly, it is... the portal to the land of the dead!", exclaimed he.

I felt that kind of cold certainty gripping my spine which told me that this was about to be one of those moments where I really should stayed in bed and not been a burden to the world on this particular day. Once that twitchy little assistant began to chant in unearthly tones and the portal began to spark and crackle with eldritch power, I knew for certain that this was definitely going to be one of those days...

To Be Prolonged

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The One-Legged Dog At The Gates Of Hell - A Macabre Encounter (Part The Second)

Part The Second - Familial Bonds

I have, through no fault of my own, I hasten to add, become somewhat of an connoisseur of penal institutions. It is an unfortunate by-product of my devil-may-take'em, cad-about-town lifestyle that finds me residing at the local constabulary's pleasure more often than I would prefer. I have to hand it to the local Egyptian Peelers, though – they were decent enough chaps and kind enough to let a gentleman savour the morning paper in peace before the regularly scheduled daily truncheoning began.

Once Cousin Arbie had secured my release and we'd exchanged a somewhat strained reunion (although it would be fair to say that he was not entirely surprised at the method of my arrival), we retired to his quarters for some minor refreshments. Well, there's only so long any self-respecting gentleman can go before needing something slightly stronger than tea and biscuits to lift his spirits.

Once I had been sufficiently revived and Arbie had received ample reassurance from myself regarding remuneration for his Squire-liberating generosity, we settled down to discuss what the deuce he was doing scrabbling away in the dust and dirt so very far from home.

"You would not believe it, cousin, the things I have found, the things I have seen!" he twittered. I rather fancied that I could imagine the dry collection of cracked pots and rusty trinkets that he'd managed to unearth but kept my own counsel and nodded politely. Fair is fair, he had just rescued me from regular thrashing about the cranial area. Let the old duffer wax lyrical about his dusty old relics.

"I think I've…well, this could be….that is to say….", he flustered around in his excitement.

"Spit it out, old fruit, there's a good fellow. We'll be here til breakfast at this rate," exclaimed I. There is, after all, a limit to a man's reserves of patience.

"This could mean the big time, cousin. With this find, I could have untold riches – treasures and rewards beyond the wildest dreams of mortal men."

It seemed only fair to the old thing to let him give me a bit of tour and show me this important find of his. After all, we are family and it would only be fair to humour old Arbie in his obsession. With a bit of persuasion, I managed to talk the old codger into showing me round the excavation that very afternoon.. With hindsight, I maybe should have stayed in my cosy little cell and endured the regular head bashings a little while longer instead…

To Be Expounded

Friday, 13 February 2009

The One-Legged Dog At The Gates Of Hell – A Macabre Encounter (Part The First)

Editor's Note:- Another tale from the vast library of frantic scribblings left behind by the notorious Squire. A brief word about chronology – the Squire was always very vague in his tales as to when exactly they took place in relation to each other. There are sometimes clues in the narrative itself (as with this story's reference to his difficulties in Wales and time in Paris) but, other than that, any attempt to impose some sort of order on his writings is mostly educated guesswork on my part. Anyway, enough of that, on with the story......

Part The First - Arrival In Parts Unknown

I crouched in my hiding place, their fetid moaning filling the reeking air accompanied by the deathly shuffle of their unholy feet. There were more and more of them pouring through the open portal. It was only a matter of time before they rooted me out and perpetrated foul and unspeakable acts of monstrous deviancy upon my person. The future was decidedly bleak for your good Squire, gentle reader, decidedly bleak. But how had I become embroiled in this near hopeless scenario, I hear you ponder? Fear not, oh my curious ones, for I shall elucidate...

Our tale begins, faithful reader, far from the shores of this sceptred isle, this jewel, this land of plenty. Through a series of circumstances which, when put to paper, would appear rather on the fanciful side, I found myself nestled in the heart of Cairo. The exact mechanics of my arrival are far too convoluted to divulge here – suffice it to say that they involved disastrous misunderstandings, dusky maidens, devilish rogues, fine alcoholic beverages and no small amount of running away when most prudent.

Fortunately, Cairo was able to provide me with an oasis of sanity. My esteemed cousin, Arbuthnot Kirk, was currently residing in these parts. The rum old cove had always been morbid sort of a fellow and was busily engaged in some sort frightfully important yet stultifyingly dull excavation work. Not my cup of fish, truth be told, poking around in the dusty remains of some foreign blighters tomb but each to their very own, I always say.

It was whilst I was picking through some ful medames at a roadside food emporium, waiting for dearest Arbie to turn up, when the usual fortune that your good Squire has become accustomed to began to shower down upon him once again. When the time came to settle my account, Dame Misfortune once again rudely gestured in my general direction. Unfortunately, in my haste to arrive, I had neglected to obtain the local currency.

As my exchange with the local restauranteur escalated from heated discussion to diplomatic incident and the local gendarmes put in their customary appearance, I reflected that this may not be the best of omens for my African sojourn. As they cuffed me in that gentle way they have about the head and torso and I experienced minor flashbacks to my time in Paris (along with mild concussion), I began to suspect I was probably right.

"Here," I thought, quite rightly as would later become apparent, "we go again...."

To Be Continued

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Dirty With Desire - A Chaply Challenge (Part The Last)

Part The Last – Game, Set And Match

I manfully strode my way to the picture of loveliness who had dismissed the attentions of Lord Harry in such an offhand manner. I knew that, The Beest having failed, the path was pretty much for the good Squire to romp home to victory. I plumped my impressive set of whiskers (which never fails to excite the ladies) and threw myself into the fray.

It soon became apparent early on, however, that even my not-inconsiderable charms were somehow failing to have an effect. My approach was textbook – I'd already adopted a stance that exuded both confidence and sexual magnetism (I cannot help but adopt this stance – it is both my blessing and my curse); my whiskers were full and lustrous, having been freshly spruced with pomade that very morn; I complimented her on her womanly figure and slim delicate hands which were ideal for needlepoint, embroidery and other such girlish pursuits; I was even sure to point out the woolly-headed thinking in some of her more outlandish female ideas. All of this, for some unfathomable reason, fell on deaf (though delicate-shaped ears). Eventually, even I was forced to concede defeat and retire to the table with His Lordship.

Having both failed to make any sort of impression on the fine filly, we resumed our steady consumption of libations and were rapidly well and truly in our cups. Our joint sozzled commiserating was interrupted by the arrival of a familiar face. At the bar was none other than my favourite scientific type, Professor Edgington-Bickley. I was about to halloo the old chap when suddenly he made a beeline straight for our tormenter.

To say that the welcome she gave him was warm would a disservice to the concept of thermodynamics. Harry and I were too stunned to even react when they left arm in arm and wreathed in smiles. All that hard work, all that time spent, and the woman was a boffin boffer! Well, there was only one thing for it. His Lordship and I proceeded to get as drunk as is humanly possible and launch ourselves into a night of such depraved and decadent debauchery that it would go down in the annals of the bacchanal forevermore. But that, my friends, is another story...

Here Endeth The Tale

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Dirty With Desire - A Chaply Challenge (Part The Second)

Part The Second – Opening Moves

With a gesture, Lord Harry motioned over the waiter and placed a few choice words in his ear. Moments later, said waiter materialised alongside of our vision of beauty with a glass of champagne and a gentle incline of the head in our direction. She smiled and saluted us with her flute. Being slightly quicker off the mark, I returned the gesture before His Lordship had a chance to do so. Round One to the Squire (and without costing me a bean to boot).

With a minor victory to the Kirkian side, The Beest was prompted to move in a more direct fashion. Girding his loins and smoothing his mustaches, the man launched himself into the fray. From my vantage point, I was free to observe the Lord at work. At this point, I wasn't overly concerned. While he did indeed possess a set of fine lady-pleasing whiskers, my own set of lip-warmers have been known to set hearts and knees a-flutter across the land.

While I was a little too far way to overhear, I could see from the patented moves that His Lordship was going for a traditional approach: a flattering comment about her hair, a mild joke about ladies things such as needlepoint and the offer of further champagne. She accepted but, by the tilt of her body, I could tell the randy old bugger was singularly failing to entice her.

He returned a slightly crest-fallen man and, I have to admit, I couldn't fault the chap's technique: it was a textbook Beeson play which had, in the past, reduced many a lady to putty in his depraved hands. There was only one thing for it – it was time for the good Squire to intervene...

To Be Furthered

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Dirty With Desire – A Chaply Challenge (Part The First)

Part The First - Initial Stirrings

This particular chapter in La Vie De La Chatalain began, as such episodes often do, with your humble narrator ensconced in a club conducive to the imbibing of alcoholic libations. It should also be noted that, on this particular occasion, I was enjoying the welcome sight of a bevy of buxom beauties bolting beverages at the bar. There's no finer way to idle away an afternoon than feasting the eyes on fine female flesh.

My lecherous reverie was soon interrupted by the noisome arrival of an old friend. Fulsome of moustache, dashing of cut and with an eye (or two) for the fairer sex, Lord Harcourt Beeson never failed to create an impression wheresoever he roamed. He lounged his way in my general direction and sidled his way into a seat.

"How fares it, Kirk The Elder?" drawled he.

"Ship shape and Bristol fashion, The Beest," replied I.

At this point, we commenced our traditional battle of wills; a tussle which I have come to dub, "What Shores?". It is a simple game in which both players delicately tiptoe around, ensuring never to mention the possibility of offering a drink to the other. The game is won by the losing player offering the opportunity for the winner to deliver the line:- "Mine's a large brandy, most kind of you, sir." As we were both eager to whet our respective whistles, a smallish bout ensured lastly barely half an hour before the Beest made a schoolboy error and paved the way for my demanding of fine cognac.

Glasses in hand, we were about to set about catching up the affairs of the day when I noticed that old Harry's attention had been incontrovertibly diverted. I followed his apparently stupefied gaze only to be stunned into a slack-jawed gawp myself. Standing near the bar was a vision so divine, I felt that my eyes were beginning to sully her by merely resting their gaze upon her.

Her hair shimmered like fire (by which, obviously, I don't mean that it crackled and gave off smoke), her eyes sparkled like the finest diamonds and she had a figure that could reduce a grown man to tears. I knew on that very instant that I was smitten and she had to be mine. A sidelong glance to The Beest, however, confirmed that a similar thought process was being undertaken in his own debauched brainpan. He noted my noticing and raised a sly eyebrow.

And with that gesture, the game was afoot...

To Be Elongated

Monday, 9 February 2009

Let Love Not Cause A Scene – Words Of Advice For The Modern Gentleman

Editor's Note: Presented is another of the Squire's "inspirational guides for sound living" as he was wont to term them. This time, the man himself turns his attention to thorny subject of the opposite sex.

As is common knowledge around the bedrooms and boudoirs of this fair capital city, I am widely known by the ladies as something of a sexual mastodon. I'm not one to blow my own trumpet (why in blue blazes would I when there are so many willing and keen trumpet players out there?) – my actions speak far louder than words ever could. I was, however, reminded of the less fortunate when I recently encountered my one of my cousins, Wentbridge Kirk, at a minor social gathering. I was in the midst of softening up a game old bird (sometimes the older filly can give a chap quite a run for the money between the sheets) when the familial type sidled up to me and made his, frankly, rather limp presence known. I excused myself from the buxom wench and greeted old Wentbridge.

"What ho, Wenters," hallooed I. "How fares it, cousin of mine?"

"Not so good, old fruit, not so good. I... I could do with some advice."

"Advice?" I enquired warily, as this sort of thing tends to lead to the lending of money.

"Yes, well, it''s a bit...the thing is...", he stammered.

"Spit it out, The Cousin," hurried I, "I've got a randy duchess on the go here and I don't want the old dame getting cold."

"Well, that's just it, old sock. You're quite the man with the ladies." (The youth had a point.) "You seem to always know what to do and what to say. You know, with women. And so forth."

I looked on the poor wet blanket with a mixture of pity and more pity. I took him to one side and dispensed a few sage words of gentlemanly advice to help set the poor damp squib on the path of righteousness. As he set off with a purposeful look in his watery eyes, it set me to wondering. Firstly, it set me wondering how that wet lettuce came to be related to me but secondly, and most importantly, it made me realise that there must be many chaps out there like young Wenters who were adrift on the seas of life and could do with someone to give them a bit of a compass bearing. So with that in mind, I decided to set forth a few pointers to the uninitiated hoping to emulate the good Squire's success with the ladies. And here it is.

1. Don't Be Ugly
– I cannot stress this enough. Women hate ugly men. That much is a fact. If you're a deformed, hair-sprouting, wart-ridden travesty of nature, please don't read any further. Any advice I give you cannot overcome the bum hand that nature has dealt you. Stick to reading books. Or any sort of indoor activity that doesn't inflict your hideous visage upon an unsuspecting populace, really.

2. Facial Decoration – There is much to be said for a fine set of gentleman's whiskers. A particularly lustrous pair of moustaches can reduce even the coldest of fillies to a quivering mass. However, due care and attention should always be taken over one's lip warmers. Always use the finest of pomades – I myself prefer Kirk's Old Luxuriant (which is, coincidentally, widely available from many a fine moustache and beard emporium).

3. The Stance Of Assurance – A gentleman's general bearing and countenance has much impact on his way with the women. If you are slouched or slumped like a common footman, then quite rightly you will be the object of much derision from the fairer sex. A gentleman holds himself erect and looks rather like he is about to thrash you roundly for your insolence. These things attract a lady much in the same way that gin attracts the lower classes.

4. Manners Maketh The Man – Deference, gentility and courtliness are all fine qualities which a young lady seeks in a young man. They should not be ignored; at the same time, they should not be employed to the detriment of my next point.

5. Air Of Superiority – Manners may make the man but a careful sense of arrogance truly does separate the men from the boys. Not only knowing your own mind but theirs also is something that cannot fail to impress – women's minds are naturally smaller and they have very little wish to clutter them with unnecessary information that will push out vital facts about embroidery and suchlike.

6. A Leer's As Good As A Wink To A Flirty Filly – If it looks like the lassie is a responsive little minx, don't be afraid to drop her a quick lecherous leer or a salacious wink. They love it, the dirty little hussies.

Obviously, it's hard to distil the essence of the sexual colossus that is your humble Squire into an easily followed set of instructions. Nature has blessed some of us with more than others and there's only so much that advice can do to try and rectify that. These are merely a few gentle pointers to set you on the path to rollicking rumpy-pumpy with buxom beauties. Remember, if at first you don't succeed, you may be ugly so it's probably best to stop trying altogether and have a bit of a sit down in the dark.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The King Is Dead, Long Live The Squire - A Regal Romp (Part The Last)

Part The Last – A Squire Reinstated

My time in captivity amongst those heathen brutes was a torture that no civilised man should have to endure. Inadequate cutlery, sub-standard cuts of steak and a distinct lack of a decent drop of cognac were just some of the many hellish torments that your poor Squire was forced to endure. Really, rarely has a man been so shabbily treated. They only pressed and laundered my clothes twice a week. It was like the Renaissance had never happened, really it was.

However, having little else to do with myself, I eventually fell into conversation with some of my captors and began to get to know them a little better. There was the Hairy One, the Even Hairier One, the One With The Beard, the One Who Knew Stuff About Sports and the One Who Looked A Bit Like A Woman Except For The Moustache. I began to realise that they weren't such bad blighters after all. I mean, obviously they were Welsh and, as such, would never reach the lofty heights attainable by a solid and true Englishman, naturally, but they had their good points.

The One With The Beard, for example, was a fair cook when he put his hand to it. The Even Hairier One had always wanted to be a concert pianist but had been let down by his unnaturally stumpy fingers. The One Who Looked A Bit Like A Woman Except For The Moustache… well, to be honest, he was a bit odd. Never quite got on with the fella, shifty eyes, far too close together. Plus he looked like a woman except for the moustache.

As the deadline for imminent parts severing approached with still no sign of any interest from my bounder of a brother, they confessed that they weren't really violent men at all and that they had thought that their demands would be acceded to by now, what with me being the Prime Minister's brother and all. I sympathised with them – after all, I myself had thought that The Younger might have been feeling guilt-stricken at having embroiled his beloved elder sibling in such a beastly hash and done his utmost to extricate him at once (alright, I may be laying it on a bit thick here but I didn't think the cad would leave me to a grisly dismemberment). It looked like I was here to stay…

As we neared the end of my second week with the chaps, they confessed that it didn't look like I was going to be either paid for or rescued and they'd have to let me go. The food was pretty low and, more importantly, so was the booze. Besides, while we'd been cooped up here, the Welsh had decided that they missed the comforting tight stranglehold of the yoke of British imperialism and had given up on the whole "separate sovereign" thing anyway, thus rendering the Welsh Liberation Front redundant. And, really, who can blame them?

A free man and no longer king of all I surveyed [1], I trudged, hitched, stumbled and, at one point, swam my way back merry old London town, intending to have rather strong words and even stronger fisticuffs with my duplicitous brother. However, upon my arrival at Downing Street, muddied, bruised, soggy and bedraggled, I was informed that he was busy having a really good shout at the other politicians and couldn't be disturbed. Deciding that this could wait for another time (and not wishing to be knocked to the ground once more by a suit-encased slab of beef), I retired to my own quarters, freshened up somewhat and poured myself a decent drop of brandy. The not-inconsiderable wheels of my frankly fearsome intellect began to turn. My revenge against The Younger would be slow, cruel and merciless and he would rue the day that he chosen to make a sop out of the eldest sibling. Oh yes, my friends, he would rue…but that is a tale for another time…

Here Endeth The Tale

[1] Even if all I surveyed were valleys, sheep and more valleys

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The King Is Dead, Long Live The Squire – A Regal Romp (Part The Fourth)

Part The Fourth – We'll Keep A Welcome

"We're The Welsh Liberation Front, isn't it?" said the shortish, wide-ish, coal-smeared fizzog peering at my blinking face as the burlap sack was removed from my head. At least I assume that's what it said, hard to tell with these foreign johnnies.

"Unhand your king at once, you miserable curs, or I shall have you hung, drawn, quartered, eighthed, sixteenth and then jumped up and down on a bit," I bellowed in my most majestic fashion. I have to confess that I'd picked up the kingly lingo very quickly and had taken to lording it about a bit rather like a corpulent child takes to the eating of cakes.

"Well, you see, that's the problem there, isn't it? We don't recognise your authority, alright but. You're English and we're Welsh, isn't it?" claimed the reduced revolutionary.

I could see from the manic glint of fanaticism in his eyes that distraction with items of a shiny and glinting nature was unlikely to have any effect. This was an altogether different class of Welshy. It called for far subtler tactics. These were a hardier breed living the lonely life of the dedicated maniacal patriot.

"Look, an attractive and single young sheep!" I cried and, as they fought each other for the first crack at the supposed ovine, I made my break for it. Unfortunately, they were a wily bunch and my attempted flight into freedom was soon arrested.

"You don't want to be trying that again, boyo. We're hardened men, cut you soon as look at you, isn't it?"

"What do you want with me?" I demanded. Well, maybe demanded is a rather strong way of putting it. At this point, there may have been more than a slight tremble in your humble narrator's voice. I was beginning to fear that not only were my days of wine and roses numbered but my days of respiration in general were not so long as I would once .

"We're gonna demand that Wales just be for the Welsh and, if we don't have our own king within a week, we'll start removing bits of the current one and sending them back individually," claimed he. "Erm, isn't it?" he added, realising that he'd nearly forgotten to fulfil his contractual stereotypical obligations.

This I did not like the sound of. I'm rather attached to all of my bits and have been for some considerable time. If they were to be removed, I'd be somewhat on the upset side, I have to admit.

They advanced upon me menacingly. I could tell by the leers upon their little stout faces that this was to be no picnic...

To Be Lengthened

Friday, 6 February 2009

The King Is Dead, Long Live The Squire – A Regal Romp (Part The Third)

Part The Third – To Kill The King

I must have been getting softer. A note of caution should have sounded when the initial simple plan turned out to be something rather different to the version I had been initially sold. The phrase "gently assassinated" as used by brother dearest may well have been what the rum old cove had in mind but the more important words "by yours truly, the gullible Squire" were sadly lacking.

Naturally, when I initially found out that murderous despatch by my squirely hand was to be my method of ascension to the Welshy throne, I balked and, as many of you know, I'm not one of nature's balkers. I'm also not one prone to murderous intent, no matter the provocation – I'm predominantly a lover, not a pugilist. However, it's truly remarkable the difference that the promise of palatial riches, free-flowing firewater and fine fulsome fillies, coupled with a few hours being given a ruddy good thrashing by a pair of the man mountains, all convinced me to go along with the regicidal machinations.

I arrived in deepest, darkest Wales under cover of night (don't ask me whereabouts – it had sheep and a valley, much like most of the wretched place). Armed only with the accoutrements bestowed upon me by The Younger's carefully trained team of partially shaved besuited beasts, I stealthily stole my way towards the royal palace. At this point, my spirits begin to sink to further depths (if it is indeed possible for one's spirits to sink lower when one has been bullied into regicide). The "royal palace" appeared to be a rather glorified country manor with word "Brenhindy" emblazoned across it. Still, needs must and all that. I crept on towards the palace, planted my secret murder weapon and retreated to lodgings in the nearest town.

The next morning, I was awakened by a fearful hullabullo. It appeared that the King had been secretly planning to sell Wales back to the English and have all the inhabitants sold off for spare parts. Somehow, this information had made it's way to the King's closest advisers at some point secretly during the night. According to ancient tradition, he had been summarily executed at dawn by being forcibly stuffed full of leeks and miniature replicas of dragons. I felt some mild pangs of remorse for the poor fellow but they were son quelled by a stout breakfast.

Now was the time for me to make to my move. After first dazzling the locals with a few bright and shiny gewgaws and doodads, I pointed for them all to look in the other direction, dashed a pre-prepared crown upon my head and informed them all that I was the new king. After some initial confusion – one man insisted I was English until I pointed out that I was King of Wales so was hardly likely to be English, now, was I – they accepted me and carried me shoulder high to the… well, let's call it a palace.

This is the point where my false sense of security was restored. There was bowing and scraping, peeling and feeding, tweaking and frolicking – truly everything I had been lead to believe a kingly life was all about. I was beginning to think that, for once, The Younger had steered me right, finally rewarding me with the life of devilishly debauched decadence I had always craved and, in your narrator's humble opinion, deserved. Of course, when the rough and ready revolutionaries rudely retarded my regal repose and draped a burlap sack over my head whilst manhandling me out of the door, I realised that I had been, as they say in the vernacular, "done up like a kipper"…

To Be Prolonged

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The King Is Dead, Long Live The Squire – A Regal Romp (Part The Second)

Part The Second – A Deal Is Struck

"I need someone I can trust on this, brother," said the younger one. I looked him squarely in the eye.

"And yet you came to me?" My steely gaze bored into his own. The traditional sibling game of stare wrestling commenced, neither of us giving an unblinking inch. The ancient Kirkian art of battle staring is well-documented throughout the world and can lead to blindness, insanity and, in some cases, sartorial inelegance in a lesser mind. Fortunately, we had both been tutored from birth in the antediluvian ways of the glare and were eighth-level masters in lethal eye-balling. Eventually, though, as is always the way, seniority won through and the younger was forced to beat a visual retreat.

"Alright," conceded he, "if you want the truth, I have concrete proof of what happened between you, the nun, the toboggan and the bucket of soapy frogs and I'm not afraid to take it to a certain Inspector "Sleddy" Edgars if you don't help me."

Being of a generous nature and always ready to leap into action to further the bonds of familial closeness, I magnanimously agreed to lend my not inconsiderable intellect to his assistance.

"We're having a spot of bother with the Welsh," said The Younger, "and we need someone... sympathetic to go in and help sort it out for us. All on the hush hush, you understand, of course"

"What sort of bother? Shortage of new sheep for the locals? Sudden inexplicable growth spurt and lengthening of the face?", enquired I.

"Worse than that, old sock. The choral little blighters have declared themselves independent and set up themselves up as a separate sovereignty. Can't have that sort of thing obviously, bad for the Empire and all that guff. So, basically, we intend to go in on the quiet, gently assassinate their new king and set you up as a sort of puppet leader. You get to lord it about a bit – nice palace, hot and cold running girls, so on and so forth – and all you need to do is whatever we tell you to do every now and then. Couldn't be simpler." He sat back with an expectant expression upon his somewhat-less-noble face.

"So what you're proposing, oh brother mine, is that I simply swan in, get all the benefits of swaggering about like a king but you'll do all the actual work and I just have to give the orders?"

"In, as they say, a right royal nutshell," confirmed the more youthful sibling.

Well, what else could I do? With a smile on my face and a hand outstretched, I sealed the deal that was to be quite possibly one of the worst mistakes I would ever make...

To Be Expanded

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The King Is Dead, Long Live The Squire – A Regal Romp (Part The First)

Part The First – To All Things, A Beginning...

I lounged upon the throne, adjusting my crown to a rakish angle, and languidly stretched forth an idle hand to ring the delicate silver bell situated on the plush velvet cushion nearby. A slight gesture of the hand and one of my nymph-like concubines rushed forward to pop a freshly-peeled grape into my majesterial mouth. This scene of regal relaxation was rudely shattered by the arrival of a group of foul-clothed and fouler-smelling revolutionary types. This was not the response that I had been expecting to my silver-belled summons. That fact that they were extremely heavily armed was doing very little to assuage my newborn sense of panic. As the Royal Guard lay down arms and inexplicably let them forward and a filthy burlap sack was hastily scrambled over my head, I began to suspect that being the ruler of one's own country wasn't going to be quite the wizard wheeze that I had been led to believe...

How had your dear Squire come to find himself embroiled in this oh so stickiest of wickets, I hear you ask? How else does one normally find oneself up the proverbial without a rowing implement? Family, my dear friends, family...

I had been on my way to ensconce myself within the welcoming embrace of the Actonian Gentleman's Club when I found my way barred by what can only be described as a monolithic slab of a man. I excused myself but his impassive stare seemed to indicate that he had no intention whatsoever of unblocking my progress. As I attempted to circumnavigate his gargantuan bulk, a second behemoth hoved into view alongside. Turning back, my original path was now similarly blocked by two more man-mountains.

My attempts at conversing with this wall of meat were as doomed as my bids at bypassing them. Eventually, they conveyed to me their desire that I should step into a waiting carriage (admittedly, this was mostly communicated by the time honoured method of grunting and gesturing). Faced with few obvious choices, I could do little more than acquiesce to their monosyllabic demands.

Upon entering the cab, I discovered that I was not the only occupant. Had I stumbled upon some nefarious scheme to round up the great and the good, England's finest, the jewels in the crown... well, maybe I am laying it on a little bit thick but it's not every day that a chap gets kidnapped by walking blocks of granite. A flare in the dark as the other occupant lit his pipe illuminated not only the carriage but also the situation somewhat. Revealed in the glowing embers was the face of one of the most reviled men in the country – the Prime Minister and, loathe though I am to admit it, my brother, Kirk The Younger.

"Bit of a rum do, old sock, accosting a chap in public like that," I protested.

"Well, would have you have come along if I'd asked nicely?" countered he.

"Fair point, The Younger. What occasion has called for you to let slip the bears of war out there?" I enquired, gesturing at the Brobdingnagian bulks outside.

"Ah, you see, the thing is..." I always enjoy seeing the poor fellow look awkward so let him prolong his obvious misery a little while longer. "I... that is.. well, really.... I need your help."

After he patiently waited for my paroxysms of mirth to subside, he outlined exactly what it was he wanted my help with. My face was nearly rent in two by the large grin which spread across it. If I knew then what I know now, that grin would have been nowhere to be seen....

To Be Furthered

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Ten Step Plan For Immortality – An Instructional Guide

Editor's Note:- As well as remarkable tales of his many exploits, Squire Kirk was known to write essays and treatises on a wide variety of subjects, one of which is reproduced below for your edification.

The Plan
Presented here below, in ten easily digestible steps, is my guide to prolonging your lifespan past that of one normally expected and maybe even further than that.

Step The First - Pleasures of the Flesh
Now, I know many of you may scoff, harrumph and pshaw at this but to that I say fie! Tish and fie! There is no finer way for a gentleman to spend his time than in having a quick tumble with a fine buxom wench. And, if you are a fine buxom wench, there can be no nobler cause than to give yourself up for a quick tumble with a gentleman (and maybe also with a gentleman's other lady friend, too). The life extending powers of the sheer act of naughty bedtime fun cannot be overstated.

Step The Second - The Way Of Onan
Do not despair if you cannot find a fine buxom wench to share the pleasures of your gentleman's boudoir. The key to successful wooing always begins at home – and if you can't woo yourself, how can you be expected to court the attention of the fine fillies? While not as life-enhancing as fleshly pleasures with others, don't be afraid to lavish upon yourself the love which you would spend upon others.

Step The Third - Quaff, Quaff, Quaff
A stout ale, a fine wine and a superior Cognac are all part of a gentleman's healthy daily routine. They promote a healthy glow and sheen to the skin (particularly in the nasal area) and are signs of a long-lived happy life. So raise your cup and quaff! Quaff, blast-your-eyes!

Step The Fourth - Serfing
A fine and noble English tradition, the beating of your social and intellectual inferiors with a sound birch switch (or "serfing") promotes a healthy body and a healthy mind. It not only energises the body and keep the mind sharp and alert, it also performs the vital social function of keeping the great unwashed very firmly in their place.

Step The Fifth - Mammalian Massacre
Riding roughshod o'er hill and dale and ruthlessly massacring small mammals, birds and peasants that litter the wayside is an Englishman's prerogative, damn-your-hide, and I'll not be convinced otherwise. There is nothing like the blood of small creatures splashing over boots and britches for getting the circulation pumping. Marvellous.

Step The Sixth - Pleasures Of The Flesh, Part The Second
Once you have the circulation properly pumping after slaughtering your small animals, there's no finer way to keep the constitution bolstered than by feasting on their roasted flesh. Preferably, when cooked to perfection, the flesh should still have a good smattering of blood throughout - the vital juices being good for the spleen and liver and furthering an iron constitution.

Step The Seventh - A Good Stout Pipe
Smoking. Smoking, smoking, smoking. Not only does it give a chap an air of quiet dignity and refinement but it tastes and smells divine. A man's pipe is his right, his prerogative and his key to a long and healthy life. It aids the digestion and should always be lit after a particularly satisfying meal.

Step The Eighth - A Gentlemanly Wager
Gambling has long been pilloried as a disgraceful sin and vice. The truth of the matter is, of course, that a fine wager (be it cards, racing or good old fashioned back street dog fighting) is the sport of kings. The swell and surge of excitement in the manly breast helps to promote a healthy and vigorous outlook.

Step The Ninth - Pleasures Of The Flesh, Part The Third
To be perfectly frank, yes, this is the same point as Step The First but it is a point that needs careful reiteration.

Step The Tenth - Do Not Die
It may seem somewhat flippant but the surest way to guarantee a long and healthy life is to refuse to give in to the cold and skeletal embrace of the Grim Reaper. Personally, I have no intention of giving in and, if the Reaper so desires me, he shall find me raising a merry old hullaballo on the way, make no mistake about it. No, Death shall not claim me easily, for I am singular of mind and strong in body and purpose. On that, my good people, you can depend.

Editor's Note:- Squire Kirk was 34 when he disappeared.

Monday, 2 February 2009

How The Moon Became Strange - A Right Ripping Yarn (Part The Last)

Part The Sixth - A Triumphant Return

They were gaining on us, the miniature fiends, and I was forced to do something which wrenched at my heart almost as much as I would imagine the loss of my own children would do - I took my precious brandy bottle (which, naturally, I had kept secreted about my person the whole time) and, uncorking it, flung it into the bubbling volcanic crater nearest to the titchy terrors.

The effect was near-instantaneous and devastating. The brandy reacted with the sulphurous substance to explosive effect, covering the creatures in thick, viscous matter which bore a passing resemblance to soft cheese. However, it seemed that it only bore a resemblance in appearance only - I've never seen brie have that kind of corrosive effect on the flesh, not even when it's particularly runny.

We didn't stop to admire the effects too much - my actions seemed to have set up some sort of ongoing reaction. All around us, craters were beginning to spew forth the deadly cheese-like muck. We dashed for the capsule and bolted ourselves inside. Prof M. hurriedly got the blasted thing moving and we were on our way. As we looked back, we could gradually see the surface of the moon being covered in the foul gloop.

After the excitement of our escape, we were treated the other extreme - that of profound boredom. I had tired of the Prof's company on the initial journey and found him to be no more bearable on the return trip. This, combined with the lack of brandy to my tragic loss, led to a near-stoving in of the good Professor's head. He was rescued from a grisly bludgeoning, however, by our rather unceremonious landing. Before I knew what was going on, we were tumbling about the capsule.

A terrible tearing rending noise precipitated our sudden immersion into the icy cold waters of the Thames. We were back on home territory but the Prof's miraculous space-faring machine was no more.

We made our way on to land and squelched off our separate ways. I will admit that I was in no hurry to explain to the authorities what were no doubt some substantial smouldering ruins where once the Prof's lab had been.

As I trudged my Thames-moistened way homewards, a pretty young slip of a guttersnipe accosted my good self. Despite my obvious bedraggled state, she could tell that I was a man of some refinement (bearing always shows through).

"I got no place to sleep tonight, guv'nor,", bemoaned she. Well, they do say that charity begins at home and that night I certainly gave a sizable donation to a worthy cause - but that's a story for another time...

Here Endeth The Squire's Tale

Sunday, 1 February 2009

How The Moon Became Strange – A Right Ripping Yarn (Part The Fifth)

Part The Fifth - Brave New World

A greenish landscape, cut through with swathes of purple stretched out before us, interrupted only by small volcanic craters, bubbling away with an unidentified sulphurous substance. Weaving their way through this strange landscape were several strange creatures. Initially, their small stature, wide, flat faces and curiously inexpressive features led me to believe that we may have returned to Earth somewhere in the vicinity of Aberystwyth. However, upon closer examination, the third eye in the centre of their forehead coupled with the five waving tentacled appendages dispelled this theory.

The Prof and I found ourselves ushered along by these strange moon creatures. Their polite invitation to join them was punctuated by occasional prods with long-handled spears, just to ensure we were in no doubt as to their intentions of enforced hospitality.

After some time trudging through this strange new landscape, we found ourselves at the mouth of a cave. The dour-faced little chaps ushered us inside but would go no further themselves. If I had been capable of gauging any emotion from Welshy faces, I imagine it would have been fear.

A dull roaring noise from somewhere in the dark recesses of the cave served only to reinforce that opinion. After a brief conference with the Prof, we decided to curtail our visit and return forthwith to our means of conveyance. As we leaped over the heads of our tiny tormenters and sprinted for the safety of our capsule, the little flat-faced savages gave chase.

We had the advantage of height but they knew the terrain and were soon beginning to gain on us. At the rate they were gaining, we weren't going to make it to the rocket before they caught up with us...

To Be Lengthened