Monday 15 October 2012

Hello again, you spooky people

I'd hoped to have some really big news by now, but it turns out it's bigger than I thought, and will require Leo to dust off his copy of Adobe Acrobat to get some PDF/X-1a files converted to X-1a: 2001. Sorry you asked, I expect. Oh, you didn't. Anyway, not long now, hopefully, and then I'll be able to announce a whopping great Mirabilis book with all-new material.

In the meantime, here's another mini-instalment of Ghostly Goings-On. (For those tuning in from overseas, the rather forced tone of music hall humour is an intentional pastiche of radio in the UK, where laughter is still rationed under the 1948 Wartime Leisure Pursuits and Public Disturbances Act.)

In the picture getting rather cold bums are (left to right) me, my wife Roz, Aimee Quickfall and Martin "Quatermass" McKenna, on a ghost-hunting jaunt to Chillingham Castle, one of Britain's most ectoplasmic piles. Oh dear, it's terribly easy to slip into Round the Horne mode, isn't it. Bona nochy, dally coves.

*  *  *

Sound of bustling train platform. A whistle, "All aboard!", etc

Sound of compartment door sliding back.

HECTOR: Ah, here are some empty seats. Do you need any help with your bags, Madame Blavatsky?

MADAME B: Eees pretty 'eavy, I won't-a say no.

HECTOR: Manny?

MANNY sighs, grunts as he hefts the bag up onto the rack.

MANNY: Blimey, did you pack the kitchen sink?

MADAME B: I thought you say thees castle 'ave da modern conveniences!

HECTOR: It's just an expression. What have you got in there?

MADAME B: Ees my spirits. I jus' gotta check 'em. Hieronymous, knock if you een there...

A knock echoes inside the case.

MADAME B: An' Thumper, you give mamma a knock too?

Another knock.

MADAME B: Gaga? You know-a da drill...

Another knock.

MADAME B: All there, good. I can't-a go nowhere widout my knockers.

Sound of compartment door opening.

CONDUCTOR: Tickets, please.

MANNY: Ah yes, we'll take three.

HECTOR: And a choc ice.

CONDUCTOR: No choc ices. What about a drawing of a sumptuous banquet?

HECTOR (pause) Oh, all right.

Sound of furious scribbling.

CONDUCTOR: That'll have to do. I'm in my pointillist phase but it's murder on the pencil.

Sound of sheet of paper being handed over.

MANNY: Oh, very good. Hang on, what's this supposed to be? Is it a spotted dick?

CONDUCTOR: Huh? Oh that, no, that's King George III stuffing his mouth.


CONDUCTOR: Look, I was trying something, okay? Apparently it didn't work. Let's move on. Where are you folks headed?

HECTOR: Three for Chillingham Castle please.

A gasp. A clatter as the ticket machine hits the floor.

MANNY: You've gone as white as a vanilla blancmange that's just been told it's pregnant.

HECTOR: Also you dropped your - Wait a minute. This isn't a ticket machine. It's a camera!

MADAME B: What you' game? Pinch-a his nipples, Manny.

MANNY: I'll have this false beard, first.

CONDUCTOR: No, wait!

Very loud and drawn-out sound of painful tearing.

MANNY: Oh, sorry.


HECTOR: Even without the beard, I recognize him. It's Sam Serif of the Daily Bother, isn't it. Better come clean, chum.

SAM: Okay, but it's a long story...

Fade out. Sense of time passing. Fade in to the steady clack of train wheels, their journey now under way.

HECTOR (irritably): We're still waiting.

SAM: Oh, I assumed you weren't interested. I've started doing the crossword now.

MANNY: That's the sudoku.

SAM: I thought there were a few too many 9 downs.