Tag Archives: humour

Not All Bears

Horace brought his toast with marmalade and his mug of tea into the living room.  He lowered his considerable backside onto the dilapidated sofa and then scanned the vicinity for the TV remote. Ten to one I’m sitting on it, he rolled his eyes, but no: there it was, on the coffee table.  He flicked channels to the local news, hoping he hadn’t missed the weather report.  He was hoping to tend to his bees that afternoon and didn’t fancy being out in the rain.

On screen, the presenter bore a look of restrained alarm as he announced the escape from a nearby zoo of a grizzly bear.  “The public is warned not to approach the animal in any circumstances,” he addressed the camera.  “Advice from the police and zoo officials is to remain indoors until the bear is captured and returned to its secure environment.”

The toast turned to ash in Horace’s mouth.  Typical media sensationalism!  Alarmist nonsense!  What made them think the escapee would pose a danger?  The poor thing was probably terrified.  The zoo was surrounded, Horace knew, by busy dual carriageways.  Buses, lorries, endless streams of cars.  All that noise!  The stink of pollution!  The grizzly wouldn’t know whether he was coming or going.  He’d be confused, terrified!  He’d need reassurance and careful coaxing but what would he get?  He’ll be cornered – men from the zoo in their jeeps, thinking they were on safari, will chase him into a confined space, a car-park, perhaps or a subway.  And then – cowards! – they will shoot from a distance.  A tranquillising dart, if he’s lucky.  Something deadlier if he’s not.

Can’t have grizzly bears roaming around, willy-nilly.  Oh, no.  That would never do.

It was always the way.  Shoot first, hold enquiries later.  Rather than trying to make the animal feel at home and integrated into a place he never wanted to come to.

As he watched the rolling news reports, Horace reached under the collar of his shirt and scratched.  Soon be time for another waxing, he realised.  He was already at pains to shave his face four times a day.

Something heavy thudded against the back door.

Horace padded through the kitchen.  He opened the door.  Blocking out the afternoon sun was the towering silhouette of the escaped grizzly.

“Dave,” Horace said flatly.  “You found me.”

“Need a place to stay,” grunted Dave.  “Keep my head down until the trail goes cold.  Got the Filth on my tail, haven’t I?”

Horace stepped back so Dave could squeeze through the doorway.

“Nice gaff you’ve got here,” he sniffed appreciatively at the kitchen bin.  “We all miss you – at the old place.”

Horace closed the door and pulled down the blinds.

“Make yourself at home,” he sighed.

bear head

 

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Meanwhile, at the wedding…

“No!  No, you can’t marry her!”  Steven cried from the far end of the aisle.  In the pews, every head turned to see the source of this interruption.

Barry, the groom, shook his head and sighed.  “Ste, mate…”  He took a few steps but Zara, his intended, pulled him back.

“Don’t go to him!  Don’t listen to him!” she hissed.  Behind her veil, her lips curled in a snarl.

But Steven was striding toward the supposedly happy couple and the celebrant, whose lips were pressed together in professional silence.

“She’s not right for you,” Steven announced, his voice rising to the vaulted ceiling.

“You dare!” Lazlo, father of the bride, got to his feet.

“She’s not, mate!” Steven urged.  “Look around you.  Ask yourself a few questions.  Why did she insist on having the ceremony after dark?”

Barry scoffed.  “We have an early flight, so we’re jetting off straight after the do.”

“That’s bollocks, mate.  And why here, in this building?  You do know it’s not – whatsit – consecrated land any more, don’t you?”

Barry shrugged.  “It’ll look good in the photographs; won’t it, babe?”  He gave Zara’s hand a squeeze.

“Oh, will it?”  Steven whipped out his smartphone and snapped a few shots of the congregation.  “Look.”

He thrust the screen in Barry’s face.  “Look, that’s a good one of your mum and dad.  Your brother.  All your lot.  But look…”   He swiped to the next photo.  Barry’s jaw dropped.  In high definition, the pews of the old church stood clearly.  Clearly empty, that is.

He shoved the phone away.  “You’ve got some app or something that’s doing that…”  But he didn’t sound convinced by his own words.

“Mate…”

Behind them, Zara’s family were on their feet.  Their black outfits, more suited to a funeral than a wedding, seemed to fan out, like cloaks.  Like wings.

“Here, love,” Steven thrust a garland of garlic at the bride.  “Something for your bouquet!”

Zara recoiled, hissing like a startled snake.  She tore off her veil, revealing a screaming maw, brimming with needle-like gnashers.

Her father flew to the rafters, screeching and spitting.  Steven pulled out a machete and lopped off the celebrant’s head.

“Here you go, mate,” he handed Barry a wooden stake.  Barry looked at it and blinked.  He seemed to come to his senses and plunged the sharpened stick into his fiancee’s heart.  Zara gaped, dumbstruck, and exploded in a cloud of ashes.

“Now we’re cooking,” grinned Steven, standing back-to-back with his best mate.

“What are you doing the rest of your life?” laughed Barry.

And then the fun really started.

bridezilla_400x400

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Bear-faced Liars

The detective on the doorstep flashed his warrant card.  At his shoulder, his partner did the same.

“Mr Bear?  We’d like to have a word with you.”

“Oh?” Daddy Bear’s eyebrows went up.  “What about?”

“A girl has gone missing.” He held up a photograph of a pretty face framed by a shock of golden hair.  “We wondered if you might have seen something.  Anything.  Her mother, as you can imagine, is frantic with worry.”

“I can imagine,” said Daddy Bear.  He called over his shoulder.  “Love, have you seen a young girl around here recently?”

“You what, love?”  Mummy Bear came from the kitchen to join her husband in the hallway.  She was holding a tea towel and drying a breakfast bowl.

“Young girl,” said Daddy Bear.  “These policemen are asking questions.”

The corners of Mummy Bear’s mouth turned down and she shook her head.  “Can’t say that I have.  Sorry.”

“Muuuuumm!” came a high voice from the living room.  “I’ve got glue on me!”

Mummy Bear rolled her eyes.  “Kids!  I told him to let it dry.”

She handed her husband the bowl and the towel and padded into the living room.

“It’s a bugger to get off it you don’t leave it to soak,” said Daddy Bear.

The detective frowned.  “What is?  Blood?”

“Porridge,” said Daddy Bear.

“Can we come in for a minute?” the detective stepped forward.  Daddy Bear shrugged and stepped back.

The detective and his partner headed into the living room where they found Mummy Bear trying to tug a chair leg from a young cub’s fur.

“What happened here, then?” the detective took in the scene.

“Bloody cheap furniture,” said Daddy Bear.  “Swedish rubbish, I think.”

A thud from overhead made everyone look at the ceiling.  A panicked look passed between Mummy and Daddy.

“Probably the bed collapsing,” Daddy Bear smiled uneasily.  “Swedish too, I expect.”

“What have you got against the Swedish?” the detective’s eyes narrowed.

“Nothing!” Daddy Bear stammered.  “It’s just that the instructions are so difficult to follow, and you try using an Allen key with paws the size of dinner plates.”

A second thud, louder than the first.

“She’s awake!” cried Baby Bear.

The detectives ran up the stairs.

“Shit,” said Daddy Bear.

bear

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Meanwhile, in the Laboratory…

“Quickly, Igor!  Throw open the skylight!  This storm will not last forever!”

“Yes, master!”  The hunchback threw all his weight into turning the wheel that operated the mechanism.  High above them, at the top of the turret, a panel slid open.  The doctor’s maniacal laughter was drowned by a thunderclap.

“And now, the first switch.”

Igor pulled down a large handle.

“The second!”

Igor obeyed.  “Let me guess: the third switch!”

“Now!” the doctor cried.  He clapped his hands together and rubbed them.  His eyes were wild and rolling as overhead lightning flashed.  A bolt struck the conducting rod.  A streak of hot blue energy flashed down the length of the apparatus, cracking and buzzing with electricity.

“The time is upon us!” the doctor yelled with glee.  “Igor, attach the electrodes to my creation’s neck.”

“Yes, master –”

Their work was interrupted by sonorous knocking at the castle door.

“Who could that be?” the doctor wailed.  “Who would be out on a night like this?”

Igor’s shrug accentuated his hump.

“Weary travellers, perhaps?  Got themselves lost.  Shall I let them in?”

“No!  Hang on, wait!  Yes!  Let them in!  They will do for spare parts.  But be quick about it!”

Igor shuffled off to answer the door.  While he was gone, the doctor made final checks to the equipment.  He allowed himself a snigger of excitement and anticipation.  He was going to be famous!  He was going to be remembered forever as the creator of eternal life.  He –

“Master,” Igor was back, appearing somewhat downcast.  “It wasn’t weary travellers.”

A man in a pinstripe suit stood dripping on the flagstones, his drenched raincoat draped over one arm and a briefcase dangling from his fingers.  He held out a business card.  The doctor snatched it and peered at the inscription while lightning flashed anew.

“What the hell is this?” he gasped.

“I’m afraid I’m shutting you down,” said the man in the suit.  “This equipment has not been PAT tested and until it has been, it is not to be used.”

“WHAT?” the doctor gaped.  “Are you serious?”

“I always am,” said the man proudly, “When it comes to matters of health and safety.”

The doctor tore the card into confetti and threw it in the man’s face.  Then he slumped against the table, crushed by defeat.

“It was the villagers who put you up to this, wasn’t it?”

The man remained tight-lipped but a smirk played at the corner of his mouth.

The doctor shook his head.  “Time was this place would be under siege with a mob armed to the teeth with flaming torches and pitchforks.  Now all it takes to halt the march of progress is bureaucracy.  What a world!”

“You can arrange for a tester to come out,” said the man.  “Could have one with you within a fortnight.”

“No, no,” the doctor lowered himself onto a stool.  “I shan’t bother.  Igor, show the nice man out.”

Igor did so and returned to find the doctor bowed and broken.

“Master?” he hardly dare approach.

“Society has monsters enough,” the doctor sighed.  “I am redundant.”

mad scientist

 

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An Exterminator Calls

Jane was unable to turn onto the drive until the big red van pulled away.  The driver honked in salutation as he sped away, the giant rubber rat on the van’s roof wobbling and quivering like an overexcited jelly.

Odd… Jane got out and locked the car.  She found Brian in the kitchen attaching an invoice to the fridge with a magnet shaped like a slice of lemon.

“Trouble, love?” she asked.

“Looks like it,” Brian shrugged.  “I’ll put the kettle on.”

While he made tea, he explained that since he’d been working more and more from home, he’d become aware of certain noises in the house.  Sounds of movement and scratching around.  In the end, it became so distracting he found he couldn’t concentrate on data entry or spreadsheets or anything and so he had called in an expert, an exterminator.  The man had found nothing as yet but swore blind he had heard something, something large, moving about behind the walls.

“He’s put poison down; that should sort it,” Brian scooped sugar into his cup.  “He’ll be back in a fortnight in case there’s any bodies to be disposed of.”

“Hmm,” said Jane.  She sipped her tea.  As usual when Brian made it, it was horrible.  Her mind was racing.  An idea flashed behind her eyes and she seized on it.  “I could murder a biscuit,” she sighed, knowing full well the biscuit barrel was empty.

“You’re out of luck there,” laughed Brian.

“Oh, please, love,” Jane wheedled.  “Pop down to the shop and get me some hobnobs.  I’ve been on my feet all day.”

“I work too, you know,” Brian wagged a finger.  “It’s not all daytime telly and scratching my belly, you know.”

After a couple of minutes of pleading, he relented, pulled on his anorak and, rolling his eyes, said he might even bring the chocolates ones if she was lucky.

As soon as the front door closed, Jane sprang into action.  She went to the living room wall and rapped on it with her knuckles.  She listened… The knock was returned from the other side.  Jane stuck her head in the fireplace.

“You’ve got to go!” she hissed.  “Brian’s got a man in; you’ll be discovered!”

“Bloody hell!” wailed a voice from beyond the brickwork.  “What’s he doing working from home anyway?  When are we going to have some time to ourselves?”

“Calm down, Colin!” Jane urged.  “He’ll be back in a minute.  Get your arse into gear and get the hell out.  We’ve had a good run but now we’ll have to think of an alternative arrangement.”

“Six months I’ve been living here,” said Colin.  “Six months of having it off with his wife, behind his back, under his nose.”

“Colin!  Will you get a move on?”  Jane cast a panicked look to the window.  Brian could be back at any second…

“I’m starving, chick,” said Colin.  “Make me a sandwich or pass me some biscuits, would you?”

“Brian’s gone to fetch the bloody biscuits, Colin!  Get out of there now.”

“Oh, hold on.  I’ve found something.  Did you put this here?  Hmm, nice… Bombay mix, is it?”

“Colin!  What – no!  Don’t eat anything, Colin!  COLIN!”

At the window, Brian watched, a smirk stretched across his face.  He phoned the exterminator.

“It’s worked,” he said.  “And whatever’s on the invoice, I’ll pay double!”

biscuits

 

 

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One-to-One

“You wanted to see me, Janice?”

Team Leader Janice Fairbrother glanced away from her monitor and beckoned him in.  “Yes, come in, John; pop yourself on a seat.”

Smedley pulled up a chair and waited for Janice to finish typing.

“Just pinging this off… and there!”  She pressed SEND with a flourish and then turned to Smedley with an earnest expression.  “I’ve called you in because it’s been quite a while since we had a one-to-one.  I’m sure downstairs can manage without you for five minutes.”

Smedley nodded.  He kept his palms flat on his thighs, willing them not to sweat against the polyester trousers he was obliged to wear.  He could guess what this was about but when someone is about to open a can of worms, you don’t hand them the can-opener.

“Are you happy here, John?”  Janice’s eyes sought his, giving her a more bovine expression than usual.

“It’s OK,” he shrugged.

“Getting on well with everyone?  I like my team to be happy bunnies.”

“They’re OK.”

“Hmm.  Well, I’m not one to beat about the bush.  When I see a spade, I call it one right away, no messing.  It’s just that I’ve noticed – and Head Office has noticed – you’re not your usual chirpy self down on the shop floor.”

“Hmm.”

“Now, we don’t expect you to be all-singing and dancing, doing flipping backflips every five minutes – Health and Safety would be on my back in no time.  Janice, they’d say, this is a frozen food shop not a flipping circus.  But we do expect certain levels of courtesy, John.  Service with a smile.”

“Yes, I know – I’ll do better.”

“You look tired, love.  I think you’re taking too much on.  Working two jobs is affecting your performance.”

“Oh, now, look –”

Janice threw up her hands.  “Far be it from me to tell you how to live your life, sweetheart.  But my priority is the team.  The business comes first.  Now, I expect that’s what your other boss says as well.  So it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.”

“No, it’s –”

“So think on!  And get those pearly whites on show.  Your face won’t crack, I promise you.”

She turned her attention to her monitor and set her fingers tapping.

Smedley stood.  He put the chair back where it had come from.  As he made his way through the building, his phone buzzed.  It was his other boss.

“Is it done?”

“Yes.”

“Get yourself out of there.”

“On my way.  I was thinking about quitting anyway.  Just one question.”

“No questions; you know that.”

“Spies and diplomats, I can understand.  But the team leader of a shitty frozen food shop?”

“Let’s just say it’s personal.”

The line went dead.

Smedley had enough time to retrieve his jacket from the locker room.  As he walked away, the entire upper storey of PriceFreeze went up in flames, the windows bursting outwards in a shower of flame and glass, as the device he had concealed under the chair in Janice’s office detonated right on cue.

Smedley got his pearly whites on show.

Many miles away in a top secret location, Nigel Fairbrother deleted an email refusing him a divorce.

Freezer

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Deal of a Lifetime

First of all, I’d like to thank you for inviting me into your lovely home.  It really is quite – well, let me put it this way: it has real potential.  It’s a real fixer-upper!  Is that what you have in mind?  Fixing this place up?  Or perhaps you want to move to something bigger?  With a better climate!  Somewhere where it’s hot all year round!  I can think of somewhere…

If it’s travel you’re into, the whole world is your oyster – if it’s pearls you want, you can shower yourself with them and any precious stones you can think of!  The only limit is your imagination.

Perhaps you just fancy the idea of limitless funds in your bank account.  That’s OK, too.  Then you can dip into it whenever you like.  You can splurge to your heart’s content; it’s never going to run out.

And you can put that money to good use.  Charities!  There’s a lot of need, a lot of suffering in the world these days – same old same old, am I right?  But think of the good you could do!

You’d be famous!  Or, if you don’t like that sound of that, your donations could be completely anonymous and only you would know.  Imagine the secret thrill of knowing you had changed someone’s life!

Honestly, the possibilities are limitless.  You would want for nothing.  You’d be set for life!

Of course, I am honour-bound to draw your attention to the small print.  Nothing much to worry about.  The usual blah-blah.  In exchange for anything you want, I get, upon your death (and let’s hope that’s a long time coming, am I right?) your immortal soul to do with as I wish.  Are we clear on that?

Now, are you ready to take full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime deal?  Or do you have questions?  Questions are good, questions are welcome.

What’s that? You want what?

Oh, no, sorry!  Can’t help you with that.  I’ll have my pen back, if you don’t mind!  Inviting me in here, making me go through the whole spiel.  If you’d told me at the start all you want is to be rid of your depression, you could have saved me the effort.

There’s nothing in this deal for me.  You already know all the torments of Hell.

Bloody time-waster!  I’ll see myself out.

devil-md

 

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Beware! The Peckish Dead are abroad!

With his third adventure now available, here are some thoughts about unlikely hero, Hector Mortlake.
The Man
Working as a hack writer, Hector Mortlake when we first meet him is single and seeking inspiration.  He embarks on a trans-European journey and, inspired by Chaucer, decides to collect tales from his fellow travellers with a view to deciding a winner.  Hector is a bit of a prig but basically a decent cove.  And he’s gay, which, at the fag end of the 19th century is not quite the thing to be.  He meets a younger man named Cuthbert on the Orient Express and they team up to defeat a horrific Water Nymph.  Hector enjoys lording it over his new valet although it is quite clear the pair are devoted to each other, and it is Cuthbert who most often ‘wears the trousers’, so to speak.
Hector’s past is much of a mystery – he’s remaining tight-lipped about his background but I suspect details will be teased out in future novels.  We know he has aspirations to move in higher social circles and would love to earn enough from writing to be able to retire.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that he is good enough!
The other love of his life is his car, Bessie, an early Mercedes Benz.
Bessie
The Books
We first meet our arrogant narrator in KISS OF THE WATER NYMPH – an account that turns out to be his first bestseller.
Kiss+of+the+Water+NymphHis second exploit, XOLOTL STRIKES! turns out to be his first flop, despite being as outrageous and outlandish an adventure as the first.
xolotl
Now, his third and craziest tale is available to the public – will Hector achieve his goal and re-top the bestseller list?  Or will he be consigned to the bargain bucket of poorly-selling fiction?
peckish
Victorian hack Hector Mortlake and his trusty valet Cuthbert are at it again. This third outing takes them to the Scottish Highlands – but that’s just the start. A mysterious portal and a ghostly gang of ghouls threaten to separate the pair for good. With a host of new characters and their craziest story yet, Hector and Cuthbert deliver high adventure and shameless innuendo in equal measure. Fans of William Stafford’s inimitable style will not be disappointed.

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RIP Raffles

“Hello, Timmy,” David grinned on the doorstep.  “Thought you might need some company?”

Timmy looked puzzled.  “Why?”

“Because – you know – Raffles.”

Timmy nodded.  He beckoned David in.  “I’m all right,” he said.  “Raffles is in a better place, Mummy says.”

“Oh, what’s this?”  Timmy’s mother emerged from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.  “Talking about me behind my back!  Hello, David.  Staying for dinner?”

“Um…”

“You’re very welcome.  There’s more than enough.  Now, you two go up to Timmy’s room and play quietly.  I’ll call you down when it’s ready.”

“Thanks, Mum!” Timmy pounded up the stairs.

David lingered in the hall.  “Is he all right, Mrs Farrell?  I thought he’d be sad.”

“You’re a good friend,” Mrs Farrell smiled.  “And losing a pet can be tough.  Did you know, Raffles was as old as Timmy?  That’s quite old for a dog.”

David did the mental arithmetic.  “Raffles was 70!”

“Yes.  But he’s not in pain any more.  Now, you run along.”

She went back to the kitchen.  David caught a whiff of the dinner to come.  It smelled delicious.

He joined Timmy in his room for a quick game of superheroes, bashing action figures into each other and doing all the sound effects with their mouths.

“Timmy…” said David, toying with a figure of Wonder Hound.  “It’s OK, you know.  If you want to talk about Raffles.”

Timmy scrunched his nose.  “What for?”

“Perhaps you could write it down.  Then you could bury it.  With him.  With Raffles.”

Timmy looked aghast.

“It could help you.  That’s what funerals do.  They help people.  When my gran –”

But Timmy wasn’t listening.  He bombarded Mr Terrific into Blast-o-path, making noises like explosions.  David sat back and watched his friend.  Bottling things up; that’s what Timmy is doing, David diagnosed.  And that’s never good – not according to David’s mother’s magazines, anyway.

Mrs Farrell called them from the foot of the stairs.  Dinner was ready.

“Looks delicious, Mrs Farrell,” David tucked a napkin under the collar of his Fabulous Five T-shirt.  “And it smells – like heaven!”

Mrs Farrell grinned.  “I’m glad you approve, David.  It’s nice to get a compliment.”  She sent a meaningful glare across the table to her husband, who was already tucking in.  “Roger,” she hissed.  “The prayer!”

David dropped his knife and fork.  He had forgotten that Timmy’s family were quite religious and did things David and his family did not do at home.  He decided the best thing would be to close his eyes and bow his head.

“We thank Raffles for the time he shared with us and the love he gave,” Timmy’s father intoned.  David thought he heard Timmy sniff back a tear.  “And we say our final farewell to him with this commemorative repast.  So be it.”

“So be it,” echoed Mrs Farrell.

“So be it!” said Timmy enthusiastically.  “Come on, David.  Don’t let your dinner go cold!”

David looked up.  The Farrells were all smiles.  They made enthusiastic noises as they devoured the meal Mrs Farrell had prepared.  David tried a forkful of the mashed potato.  It was the creamiest, smoothest he had tasted.  Even the peas – and he had never been a fan of peas – were sweet and – and – minty!  David’s mother would never put mint in the peas.  She would dismiss it as yet another of the Farrells’ odd ways.

“Something wrong, David?”  Mrs Farrell gave him a look of concern.  “You haven’t touched your meat.”

“It’s the best part,” said Mr Farrell.

“I always save it until last,” said David.

“Some people have funny ideas!” Mr Farrell rolled his eyes.  “Get it down you.”

Not wishing to appear rude, David sliced the end off his portion of meat.  It was thick and succulent.  It seemed to melt in his mouth.  But – but – there was something else.  David coughed and spluttered.  Mrs Farrell sprang to her feet and began to pat his back.  David pulled a clump of hair from his mouth.  Long, red hair that reminded him of Raffles.

“Perhaps we should let him choke, love,” chuckled Mr Farrell from the head of the table.  “Lad like him would keep us in dinners for a fortnight.”

dog

 

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Meanwhile, in the trendy restaurant…

The waiter, dressed in cycling shorts, helmet and a bright yellow jersey as if he had just won the Tour de France, approached the table with a wary smile.  The couple looked apprehensive and were glancing around with increasing uncertainty at their surroundings.  The restaurant was festooned with bicycle parts: wheels on every wall, oily chains spanning the ceiling.  Handlebars adorned the backs of chairs, the seats of which were uncomfortably shaped like bicycle saddles.

“Do you need a few more minutes?”

The man cleared his throat; the woman looked askance.  The man jabbed his finger at the menu, which was shaped like a bicycle wheel.

“Soup of the day.  What is it?”

“It’s Tuesday.”

“Not the day, the soup.”

“Heh.  Just my little joke.  It’s spicy parsnip.”

The woman nodded enthusiastically.  “Sounds lovely, David.”

“She’ll have the soup.  I’ll have the uh…” the man’s eyes flicked up and down the list.  “The spring rolls.”

“Very good, sir, madam.  And for second gear?”

“What do you mean, ‘gear’?”

“It’s a gimmick, sir.  Here at Spokes, we have something of a bicycle theme going on; it may have escaped your notice.”

“For mains,” the man said emphatically, “I’ll have fish and chips and Sarah will have the moules mariniere.”

The woman nodded rapidly.

“Right you are,” the waiter jotted a note.  “I’ll just fetch you your drinks.”

He flitted to the bar and came back with a tray.  The man scowled.

“What’s this?”

“Your pint of lager and the lady’s sauvignon blanc.  Is that not right, sir?”

“No, that’s right, but –”

“David!” the woman snapped.  “Don’t make a scene.”

“But look at them!  I can’t – we can’t be expected to drink out of oil cans.  It’s not sanitary.”

The waiter pursed his lips.  “I can give sir every reassurance these cans have been thoroughly, not to mention industrially, cleaned.”

“It’s fine,” the woman smiled thinly.

“Like hell it is,” the man slapped the table.  “What’s wrong with proper glasses?”

“Like I said, here at Spokes we have a theme.”

“I don’t give a monkey’s fart about your bloody theme.  Fetch me a proper glass or you’ll find yourself in need of a puncture repair kit.”

The man grinned as the waiter scurried away.

“There was no need for that,” the woman wailed.  She tried to sip wine from the nozzle of her oil can.

The waiter returned.  “I can offer sir a trophy.  First place, no less.  I can decant sir’s beer into it in two shakes.”

“Fuckinell,” said the man.  “Oh, go on then.”

While the waiter tipped the lager into a gilded trophy with ornate handles, the woman paled.

“Excuse me.  Do all the meals come like that?”

“Like what, madam?”

“On wheels!”

The couple watched in horror as a second waiter carried bicycle wheels flat like platters, dripping sauce from one and gravy from another as he passed.

“Here at Sp -” the waiter tried to recite.

“You have a fucking gimmick!” the man roared.

“But – I ordered the soup!” the woman gasped.  “How will that work?”

“It’ll be fine!” said the waiter.  “Keep the wheel spinning fast enough and the wossname – the centrifugal force – will keep the soup in place.”

The woman whimpered.

“This is ridiculous,” the man got to his feet.  “Come on, love; we’re going.”

The woman winced apologetically and stood.

“We’ll try that new place over the road,” the man said loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear.  “What’s it called, love?”

Snake-in-a-Basket,” said the waiter, holding the door open.  “Good luck to you.”

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