Whilst surfing the waves of the information highway I came across this blog by Ms Sara from the publishers of my biography in New York (must pop along and visit them soon - I believe the city is very much modeled on Homeward).
I feel I should point out, however, certain factual errors in the blog.
Whilst it is true that Great Britain no longer uses the monetary system known as £sd or L.s.d. (meaning "pounds, shillings and pence"-the term originated from the Latin "librae, solidi, denarii" hence the use of the hatched "L" (£) for pounds and "d" for pence) we at Homeward are still staunchly loyal users of the currency.
I often say to the Old Monkey, when he complains about counting all these fiddly little coins on Rent Day, look after your farthings and the pounds will look after themselves.
Although we were trapped all night in the Maestro's hut it was not to bad. A bit snug, as most of the room is taken up with a Grand Piano, but the Little Lion rustled up a very fine dinner.
In the morning Cowgill arrived with a band of my followers. We decided that the best thing to do would be to force the monster to the surface with depth charges.
Before long the Monster had clearly had enough and broke the surface. To our astonishment the head appeared to be attached to a small submarine. Leering out of the windows were Beaver and Hitmouse making rude gestures at us. Beaver poked his head out of the hatch at the top. It transpired that they had been using the disguise of a monster to scare away the local residents whilst they laid claim to Watercress Lake and it's valuable harvest.
"There's nothing you can do about it Fatty" cried Beaver "We discovered an underground stream from Badfort and as this Tower is clearly linked to our land we have every right to claim it!"
"Nonsense" I declared. Beaver just laughed and said "Too late - we have already planted our flag on the bottom of the lake!.. and we are now the sole purveyors of watercress in Homeward."
We were just wondering how to respond to this grotesque act of piracy when the Lake solved our problem for us. The propellers of the sub had become caught up in the watercress and their infernal machine was now being dragged down by the weight of the plants.
With cries of "Sabotage!" and "Land Thief!" Beaver and Hitmouse abandoned ship and swam to the side of the lake. Looking bedraggled and covered in watercress they were last seen escaping down a rope ladder at the side of the tower.
Yesterday I decided we would all take a trip out to Watercress Tower. It is a very wet place and one needs to wear bathing suits. Right up the side of the tower is a gigantic salmon ladder. I don't know whether you have seen a salmon ladder in a stream, but they are like steps with water running over them
We waded up the steps, which looked lovely with the foaming water pouring down them, and with lilies and ferns growing in the cracks of the stones. The tower is so huge it seems like a mountain and has a gigantic lake at the top. Most of it is overgrown with watercress from which the tower takes its name. It felt very nice there with the cranes and herons flying around and the enormous lemon coloured fish swimming lazily by. We met up with the Maestro and the Little Lion for a picnic.
It would have been a perfect day if it were not for the fact that a monster suddenly appeared from beneath the watercress. It let out a deafening roar and we had no choice but to take refuge in the Maestro's hut.
As I write this we are urgently attempting to contact Cowgill to form a rescue party.
Saturday. Rent Day. As you know many dwarfs live in the top storeys of Homeward. I only charge them a farthing a week, but it mounts up when there are thousands of them.
They all come to pay on a Saturday and Homeward Hall is always full of a pushing, yelling mass of the little men.
Today, they were packed in so closely that the Old Monkey was able to run rapidly over their heads to see me and then back again to his duties.
Of course they also had to be fed. When they had paid they struggled back through the crowd to the green space in front of Homeward, where I had provided for each of them a linen bag containing raisins, bananas and motoring chocolate.
So, after all, their rent is not excessive.
A feeling of ennui descended over me during the proceedings.
I admit that I tend to shed a tear when I think of my humble beginnings and the bitterness of my early struggles, but at least it was exciting. I was building my fortune - now look at me. A life full of responsibilities and administrative duties in order to bring happiness to my tenants. But what of my happiness?
I am loathe to admit it, but sometimes I even look forward to the regular spats with my neighbours...at least they liven things up a bit.
The exams are over, the results are in, and so the thoughts of the scholars at Dr Lyre's Select School for Young Gentleman turn to their future life at University.
As the Chairman of the Board of Governors I was invited along to Speech Day to pass on a few words of wisdom.
I recounted a few of my own memories of life in those hallowed halls of learning of my own student days. The intimate quadrangles, the cloistered beauty, punting on hot summer days and all those people reading this and that, eager to open their minds to the great joys of learning. They were, indeed, idyllic days...apart from the unfortunate incident when I ....
Suddenly, a scruffy boy at the back interrupted with a yell...."Shut up you establishment toady...Beaver says University should be the best party you have ever been to times a thousand, and you should try and do as little work as possible!"
I must admit I turned puce. I was even more shocked when Dr Lyre started applauding and shouted "Bravo, and well done Snivel Minor, you have learnt your lessons well!"
I asked Dr.Lyre if we could adjourn to his study to discuss this aberrant behaviour and his reaction to it.
Apparently the citizens of Badgertown are fed up with Public Schoolboys taking all the places at Badgertown University and then getting all the plum jobs in Law, Government and the Media.
So, in order to help them hide their posh backgrounds Dr Lyre has been sending them on a training course with Beaver Hateman so that they can learn how to behave like "Oiks". "It has been a great success" he claimed. "He's taught them to drop their T's and H's, he's given them jobs stacking shelves so that they can claim they have really had to work - rather than rely on Mater and Pater, and he has even given hair and fashion advice so that they don't all look like Hugh Grant."
I am furious at this deception. Did it not occur to the good Doctor that Mister Hateman could also use this as an opportunity to fill impressionable minds with propaganda and ideas of dubious morality???
Once again I have been asked to act as a judge on the new series of the famous television programme "The Why? Factor"
Critic's can be a bit snooty about it - claiming the arguments between myself and, fellow judge, Wizard Blenkinsop are manufactured. But the audience are always agog with excitement - there is such a lot at stake for the contestants. First prize is a year's contract to work alongside Will Shudder in my Library and, of course, all the celebrity status that comes with the job.
On the remote chance that you have not watched the programme, I will explain the rules. Each contestant has a minute to impress the judges by putting forward a question and answering it in an entertaining manner. The first programme got off to a good start with a dwarf who posed the question "Why does water go down a plughole the wrong way in Australia?". He then gave a very exciting demonstration of the Coriolis Force using only mime. I felt I had to point out that scientists still argue about whether the effect can be seen in your sink of bathtub, but we decided to put him through to the next round.
But, of course, there is always some eager beaver who tries to pull off too big a subject for a Saturday evening audience. This particular beaver decided to tackle the question "Why are we here?".....well he had barely managed to get past "The origin and destiny of beavers is one of the greatest philosophical problems that has occupied the finest minds of all races throughout all ages.." when we had to stop him. Even Stephen Hawking would have trouble covering that one in a minute.
Badfort TV always schedule "Red Idol' against "The Why? Factor". Typical. "Red Idol" is about the search, each year, for the most ardent anarchist in Badfort. The prize is to lead the May Day parade. I must admit I cannot resist recording it, as it is often quite amusing. I particularly enjoy Beaver Hateman's put downs of the contestants. Sooner or later he always upbraids them for lack of revolutionary zeal. I always fast forward through the section where they have to invent and perform a song decrying my totalitarian rule - it's not funny, it's just hurtful.
As in previous years many wannabee's had come dressed as Che Guevara. I must admit, though, I did admire the one who had taken it one step further and came riding into the studio on a goat.
This weekend we have come to Owl Springs for the world's biggest gathering of birders.
Goodman, being a cat, was excused the trip as he thought birding would just make him feel hungry. I can understand how he feels - I get hungry looking at fields of banana trees. The Old Monkey is, in secret, a bit of a twitcher. I have noticed him surreptitiously ticking off birds in his 'I Spy Book of Birds'.
There we met the famous celebrity birder - William Oddly who told us of some of the rare breeds of birds we would be likely to see. Of course everyone had been hoping for a rare sighting of the bird that the springs are named after.
I myself have only ever seen the Owl once and it was a moment of solemn joy. Gratification is a poor word to express my feelings at that moment. I was afloat on a sea of foaming joy and delight!
Many a long winter evening I have expounded my feelings on that extraordinary event.
Owl Springs are disappointing at first glance, a mere muddy trickle of water coming down between the bushes, but they are fascinating all the same, and it is well worth going even if you don't see the owl.
When we arrived at Owl Springs the narrow valley was packed with people, and it was clear that most of them were not your normal birders. In fact there seemed to be an awful lot of ordinary tourists wandering around and dropping litter.Many seemed to be waiting in line for something. William Oddly became most vexed. It appeared that someone was guaranteeing the appearance of the famous Owl for a fee of five pounds.
My party and I stormed to the front of the queue and I was not surprised to see Beaver Hateman taking the money from the gullible tourists. "Ha! trying to jump the queue, as usual, you old tyrant!" he shouted at me. I attempted to warn the tourists that if Beaver Hateman was involved they were surely being fleeced. But Beaver just shouted "What's that then!" and pointed to the Owl sitting obediently on a withered twig. Astoundingly, this miraculous beast who in the past rarely made an appearance seemed happy to sit placidly before an audience.
Of course, it was the Old Monkey who noticed something was amiss. "It's not moving Sir" he whispered in my ear. "Of course not I" I replied "it is legendary for it's immobility". "I know Sir, but look, it's not even blinking." he argued.
There was a shocked cry from the crowd as I picked up a stone and threw it at the Owl. As I suspected instead of flying away, as the stone hit, it merely swung around to hang upside down from it's perch. The Owl was a fake.
Hateman cried "Quick scarper lads - we're rumbled" and the Badfort Crowd ran for it.
Trust Beaver and his gang to drag even the respected art of ornithology into disrepute.
Well, I must say the Old Monkey is right. News travels fast on this interweb thingy. Since my last blog I have been inundated with requests to seriously consider allowing a film of my life.
A Mister Hugh Grant's agent has called a number of times extolling the qualities of his client in the role of myself. I must say he certainly has my boyish good looks. I have also been contacted by the agent of a Mister Stephen Fry. No offence to Mister Fry but he would need to lose a little weight to match my svelte figure.
I have also had agents putting forward their clients for other roles. A Mister Gervais feels that he would be perfect as Beaver Hateman. He has even taken the trouble to dress as him in the photo he has e-mailed. I think that there is quite a likeness, however, I feel he will need a little prosthetic work to completely capture the ugliness of my nemesis.
The agent of a Mister Mayall is sure that his client captures the very essence of Hitmouse and I would have to say that in this picture he does indeed have an uncanny likeness to the reprobates sneering expression.
My only concern with these actors is whether there abilities are up to the job. The Old Monkey informs me that their skills are mostly limited to those of the comedic kind. Mister Gervais's agent tells me that he is very keen to move into dramatic roles, apparently he is always being asked to dance in a silly way that is rather demeaning and longs to show his hidden depths.
Could actors of this ilk really cope with a story of drama and pathos, such as mine ? Would the audience have the wrong expectations and imagine that there would be a comedic element?
If only David Lean was still alive - for it would need a director of that calibre.
Dear readers, let me know your views - for you would be the audience for this epic. Any other casting suggestions will be gratefully received.
A Mr Frank Cottrell Boyce has been kind enough to say that this is the best blog ever.
I really cannot comment as it would be most immodest to do so, however, who am I to disagree?
My writing skills have often been commented upon. My last play, that I wrote for my annual Christmas get together at Homeward, was particularly well received.
I must admit that there is only one great writer that I really look up to and that, of course, is Mr Ernest Wiseman. England, and probably the world's, greatest playwright.
I shall never forget watching his depiction of the life of Elizabeth the first and that wonderful line "All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got." Oh how true. I was moved to tears by the performance of the beautiful actress in the title role. Unfortunately I think she has become somewhat involved in the murky world of politics. She is certainly much admired by Beaver Hateman - in fact I think he might be a bit obsessed by her although he claims that it is the meeting of minds that he desires rather than anything as sordid as physical lust.
Anyway, it seemed clear to me that Mr Cottrell Boyce was seeking some advice on how to improve his writing skills and I was going to suggest that he sign up to Will Shudder's "How To Write Really Well" correspondence course. The Old Monkey tells me that Mr Cottrell Boyce is in fact a writer of some repute, having written a number of moving picture scripts.
Sadly it would appear that he is just another member of the moving picture industry attempting to butter me up in order to persuade me to allow them to make a 'blockbuster' of my life story.
I appreciate that my story could be an inspiration to many common people. Born in the jungle of lowly birth. My parents were poor. Thrust into the world at an early age to make a living. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps to become the celebrity you see before you.
But I value my privacy and there are unscrupulous people out there who may wish to dwell on some of the minor mistakes I made on the road to riches. The less said about bicycles the better.
Many film-makers have approached me in the past. A Mister Bergman became obsessed with the idea of representing my battle with the Badfort Crowd as a chess game with Beaver representing death. How bizarre I thought. A Mister Allen from New York fell in love with the skyline of Homeward and tried to persuade me it would look amazing shot in Black and White. Beaver was very keen as somehow a love element crept into the script involving him and a somewhat radical young lady.
No, I am afraid that flattery will not persuade me to allow my life story to be told on celluloid - not whilst there are still some empty places in my Treasury.
My supporters organised a fantastic show in the pavilion at the end of the pier. Noddy Ninety sang and Wizard Blenkinsop gave an amazing display of the art of prestidigitation. This was followed by a performance of a play I had written myself on the dangers of revolutionary zeal called "Homeward - This Green and Pleasant Land".
At the end of the performance a brass band began to play 'Hail to Glorious Uncle' and as I walked onto the stage a group of young badgers began to sing:
"We love to hear of Uncle's deeds; He makes us feel so glad; His bounty makes the poor man rich And fills with joy the sad.
"How vast his stores of ham and lard; How huge his vats of oil..."
Unfortunately, at this point a raucous voice interrupted:
"See that pompous humbug Unc On the platform raise his trunk...
I felt that the only dignified course was to take no notice of this sordid and unfortunate incident. In the corner of my eye, though, I could see Beaver and Hitmouse bobbing around on a raft by the pier and making rude gesticulations towards me. I decided to make my short speech of farewell in which I thanked everyone for their support and hoped that the tourists would enjoy the rest of their holiday. Besides me were a whole pile of parcels containing items such as buckets and spades, rubber rings and water wings which I graciously offered as a token to their esteem.
Everybody clapped and cheered and, despite the incident with Beaver, I felt it was a fitting ending to my time at Sunset Beach.
Yesterday we discovered that Beaver and his gang of miscreants had taken over the pier at Sunset Beach. Overnight we had formulated a plan. Cloutman and Gubbins did a recce of the pier to discover how well it was defended. They discovered that there was a lot of noise coming from beneath the pier.
We decided that whilst Rudolph made a full frontal attack, with his group, at the pier entrance the rest of us would investigate the mysterious noises and make an unexpected attack from below.
Whilst we hid, amongst the wooden piles, we saw Hitmouse come out holding a large drill. Although he put up a fight and tried to get his skewers out we soon overcame him. Goodman interrogated him using a large goose feather. Finally he could take it no longer. With tears of laughter streaming down his face he admitted the Badfort Gang's evil plan. Apparently they intended to float the pier away and declare it as an independent revolutionary state. Hitmouse claimed they would be freeing the tourists from the tyrannical yoke of capitalism and everyday would now be a holiday for them.
They would just have to do some work, for the collective good, cooking, cleaning and helping them to run the enterprise in it's new use as an offshore tax haven.
So they clearly hoped to bring down my empire by cutting my tax revenue...then Hitmouse admitted they would be running off with the loot and steering the pier to warmer climes.
Cowgill took a quick look around and ordered Goodman to fetch as many volunteers as he could to carry out the necessary shoring up work. In the meantime he declared that the pier would be safe for our rescue operation. We soon had the grappling irons out and had started to scale the pier.
The Badfort Crowd put up a determined resistance but were out-flanked by our pincer movement. Cloutman was singling out individuals and stunning them with one blow of his fists, while Old Walrus laid about him with belaying-pins and marlinspikes in true sea-dog fashion. The twang of Rudolph's crossbow seemed to be everywhere at once.
Finally we cornered Beaver and his band of rogues at the end of the pier. "We will live to fight another day! Long live the revolution" cried Beaver and suddenly they all jumped over the side!
For a moment we all thought they had gone mad....until the Old Monkey spotted a fleet of ramshackle rafts below.
I decided that in celebration of this victory, and my last day at Sunset Beach, that tomorrow we would put on a show at the end of the pier!
I must say it has been a most enjoyable holiday by the sea but, it seems, I was right to feel uneasy after the incident with Beaver and the plane.
As we will be going home soon I decided, yesterday, to sample some of the joys of the magnificent pier here at Sunset Beach. The Old Monkey, Goodman and I strolled towards the entrance only to be confronted by a sign saying "NO ELEFANT ALLOWED ON THIS PIER". Atrocious spelling! - this should have given me a clue to the events that were to unfold. Thomas Scoffins, the Piermaster (a small anxious man with red moustache) came running up to us.
"Oh Sir, I am terribly sorry about all this - but we had an inspection today, by a gentleman, and he informed me that the pier could no longer take the weight of.. ahem...large objects such as...elephants...I really am sorry..." his voice tailed off and he was obviously very embarrassed by the situation.
I was immediately suspicious. I asked Scoggins what the gentleman looked like. He replied that he looked a bit rough actually and was wearing a uniform made of sack cloth. I asked the Old Monkey and Goodman if they were thinking what I was thinking. They both nodded in agreement. I told Goodman he would have to investigate as there was no time to get hold of A.B.Fox. This greatly pleased him as he has been longing to work as a detective and has been taking lessons from the fox. He immediately rolled around in the sand to disguise his rather distinctive white fur.
He soon reported back. Apparently Hateman had taken charge of the pier and was using every ruse under the sun to fleece the tourists. The One-legged Donkey was offering to take punters for rides down the pier and then threatening to throw them off if they did not hand over a tenner. Old Whitebeard had already had a dunking because, not surprisingly given his reluctance to part with cash, he refused the extortion. Hootman was telling people their fortunes in a darkened tent. Whilst they listened to his tall tales with rapt attention Flabskin fleeced them by dipping in their pockets.
This morning the Old Monkey was kind enough to create a lovely mud pool on the beach. I was enjoying a lovely wallow when I heard a sort of clanking sound above me.
A miserable, rusty looking, plane appeared. Dripping oil and coughing and hesitaiting in the air it flew low over the beach.
I could see Hateman in the pilots seat and behind him Hitmouse throwing skewers.
Luckily, although a silvery cloud of these small objects could be seen falling from the plane, they all fell harmlessly in the sea.
Then the plane, making a more hideous clanking sound than ever, rose in the air, banked and dipped and rose again. Every moment it looked, and sounded, as if it were going to collapse. Suddenly a great banner unfurled from the tail fin.
HE STOLE A BICYCLE!
and included a rather unflattering portrait of myself.
As you can imagine this was extremely embarrassing. All the walkers on the promenade turned to look at me and several were pointing and laughing!
We all had a lovely morning on the beach yesterday. I prefer wallowing in the mud to sea bathing so I sat in my deckchair watching Aunt Maidy and her companion Miss Wace playing water cricket. They both got rather wet. My aunt stood in a pool of water about a foot deep using her umbrella as a bat. Miss Wace stood in another pool, using her handbag as a bat. They bowled to each other in turns, sending up showers of spray and shrieking as they got caught in. It was a rum sort of game, as the only wickets they had were themselves. My Aunt thought it most unfair because she is twice as big as Miss Wace and much easier to hit. But Miss Wace argued her handbag wasn't as good a bat as my aunt's giant umbrella.
Before lunch we had an invigorating game of spigots and all the running about helped us to work up a good appetite.
Rudolph has been determined to capture the shark that has been terrorising Sunset Beach. Early this morning he went out in a fishing boat and laid a net across the bay. Before long thrashing water could be heard and it was obvious that his trap had worked.
Imagine our astonishment when the beached shark started shouting and screaming at us! "Get off you fat brother of a tyrant!" he screamed at Rudolph. Suddenly the tail fin fell away and the shark was revealed to be Filljug Hateman in a costume.
It appears that the Badfort Crowd were attempting to lure tourists away from Sunset Beach to their own resort - Moribund Marsh. They bought it up cheap because it had been being used to dispose of toxic waste. The beach is a grey sludgy mud and the accommodation consists of a number of ramshackle old caravans. The Badfort Crowd guaranteed the beach to be shark free based on that fact that Hootman was able to scare them all away. At only £50 per week this seemed like a bargain holiday for the many dwarves of Homeward until they were presented with a bill at the end of the week with additional 'extras' that often amounted to over £500.
Thank goodness we have managed to foil another dastardly plot of those human skunks!
Still I must admit I am rather glad that Sunset Beach has not become over-run with a bunch of noisome dwarves.
With the weather being so nice - I have decided to decamp for a week's holiday at Sunset Beach. We are all staying at Wolf Lodge. Miss Amy Wolf is a wonderful host and her terms are very reasonable. As usual she had prepared a nice little barrel of hot cocoa for my arrival. My retinue were treated to flagons of Hot Joey. One of the attributes of this excellent establishment is the trap door by my bed. The sea is directly beneath so I can have a plunge before breakfast. Sadly, General Boar was staying again. One runs out of excuses to get away from his interminable stories.
Luckily, as the tide was up, most people wanted to bathe at once - so we had the perfect excuse to escape his company. We were all enjoying ourselves immensely until a cry started being repeated across the beach. "Shark !" shouted Miss Maidy. We were all stunned to see a grey fin gliding towards us. Everyone immediately ran from the water.
Miss Amy was beside herself. "I have never known anything like it," she cried "This is the first time a shark has ever been sighted in these parts - it will destroy the tourist trade!"
It has certainly put the dampeners on our holiday.