The monster mystery.
Welcome to the very last scraping of Knickerbocker Glory. I hope you didn’t miss me too much during the holidays, I have nearly finished the kitchen, which let me in for a lot of feeding groups of people who were not noticeably undernourished. Happily the house is back to nearly normal and the festive tat has been binned or stuck in the loft and the last Christmas card arrived today, just in time to be recycled. Everywhere people are launching into the new year with varying degrees of enthusiasm, dieting and financial planning.
Not so in the Village of the Dim; home turf, I’m sure you recall, of the great detective’s sidekick, Watsup. Here the idiot villagers are still waiting to celebrate Christmas………………………………
Rural music, birdsong.
Ethereal voice And once again, as early morning changes to slightly
later morning, we find ourselves in the countryside,
roaming freely in the
FX Da Da Da!
Ethereal voice Village of the Dim which seems to be deserted. I
wonder where the villagers are? Perhaps we should
ask Millennium Domes, the great detective and his
chum of infinitesimal intellect, Watsup, who have
returned to the village to solve yet another mystery.
No doubt they have been summoned by Watsup’s
aunt, who panics rather easily.
Fade up Watsup I tell you, Domes, she said it was a monster.
Domes Yes but has anyone seen it, Watsup? It’s all very well
saying there is a monster but has anyone even caught
a glimpse of it?
Watsup Well no, Domes, because the villagers are too
frightened to go out. They’re staying in doorways.
Domes I think you mean indoors, Domes. A nice semantic
precision is important to detectives.
Watsup Is it? Oh dear, Domes, I haven’t got one of those,
though I have got a nice new magnifying glass. Look
at this: things look big, take it away, things look little
again. Things look big, things look little; it’s very
entertaining. And I do mean doorways, you know.
It’s because of the earthquakes, you see. It is most
unfortunate that the poor villagers are coping with
earthquakes and a monster at the same time. My
auntie says that everyone is exhausted here in the
FX Da Da Da!
Watsup Village of the Dim. No one is getting any sleep.
They just sit up all night in their doorways, feeling
the tremors and listening to the monster roaming
round the village. They’re absolutely terrified, Domes
totally terrified and terribly tired too. The tremors are
taking it out of them, you know how it is.
Domes Perhaps I do but that’s none of your business, Watsup.
However, fear not, old friend, I intend to render
assistance just as soon as I can find a villager to
question. Now, whose cottage is this, on the
outskirts of the village?
Watsup It’s old Mrs Looney’s little cottage, Domes. Look,
I can make it look huge through my magnifying glass.
Big cottage, little cottage, big cottage, little cottage.
Oh I say, I spy Mrs Looney asleep in the doorway
clutching a pin, no it isn’t, it’s a baseball bat. I haven’t
quite got the hang of this magnifying lark yet. Should we
Domes I think we must. Good morning, Mrs Looney!
Mrs Looney What! Oh! Go away, if I hit you with this fishing
rod, you’ll get an electric shock!
Watsup It’s all right, Mrs Looney, it’s me, Watsup and my
friend, the great detective, Millennium Domes.
Mrs Looney So it is, young Watsup, I’m sorry I shouted, I thought
you were a monster.
Watsup No, it’s just us; we heard about the monster and have
come to help. Mr Domes and I are going to catch it.
Mrs Looney If you can’t run fast enough, you probably will. It’s
Domes Have you seen it, Mrs Looney?
Mrs Looney I don’t want to see it, thank you, Mr Domes. Hearing
it all night is bad enough.
Domes What does it sound like, Mrs Looney?
Mrs Looney Terrible. You can hear it roaring all round the village.
Sometimes you can hear its stomach rumbling and then
it does these awful wails. All the while the earth is
shaking and all the ornaments dropping off the dresser.
Then you can hear the monster trying to get into the
village. You can hear it growling up at the far end of
Squitty Alley then roaming round the outside and trying
to get up Bakers Lane.
Watsup How awful, Mrs Looney. You must be terrified.
Mrs Looney What if it gets into the village and starts eating the
pets? Mrs Abacus at the store can’t let her dog,
Widdler, out on his own anymore. Everybody knows
Widdler, you know and nobody locks their doors
round here. He used to wander freely in the fields and
round the village, though, mind you, she had to stop
that even before the monster came.
Watsup Why, Mrs Looney? Was he worrying sheep?
Mrs Looney No, young Watsup but he worries the villagers,
especially the ones with new carpets.
Domes I wonder why the monster doesn’t simply come into
the village down the main street?
Mrs Looney Oh, we’ve put up barricades, both ends. We might
be stupid here in the
FX Da DA DA!
Mrs Looney Village of the Dim but we’re not stupid, you know.
Domes A wise move. So Mrs Looney, let me see if this is
right. At night there’s a noise which seems to be
trying to get into the village. Is that all the evidence
for a monster?
Mrs Looney Well apart from the enormous footprints, yes.
Domes Footprints, Mrs Looney?
Mrs Looney Yes. All round the village, Mr Domes. You can
see them there just on the other side of the barricade.
Domes Thank you, Mrs Looney, I think we’ll take a look.
Come along, Watsup, you can use your new
Watsup Oh hurrah! I’m going to be useful!
Domes Don’t push it Watsup. However, the glass might be
Fade up sounds of clucking which continue through the following.
Watsup So Domes, here we are at the barricade.
Domes It’s a very strange barricade, Watsup. A couple of
duvets, a crate of chickens and some balloons tied to a
Watsup I think it’s a wonderful barricade, Domes. It’s even
manned. Look there’s Cholmondely Farquarharson,
road sweeper and official village idiot, asleep on one of
the duvets! What ho, Farquarharson!
Road sweeper What? Oh! Ding fang riddle I lemondrop, is it morning?
Domes Indeed it is, my good fool. Have you been here all night?
Road sweeper They shall not pass. Save the village. I’ll have a little
Watsup Mrs Looney mentioned something about footprints,
Farquarharson. Have you seen them?
Road sweeper All over the road, good sirs. All over the horizon,
Watsup It’s a lovely barricade, Farquarharson. Did you
Road sweeper Mrs Looney tells I. She says, big bangs, early
warnings and make sure no one gets hurt. So I’ve
done balloons, chickens and duvets. Have I done right?
Watsup Well it certainly seems to have worked. The marks on
the road come right up to the barricade, go round and
round in circles and then go away again. What do you
make of them, Domes?
Domes Caterpillar tracks, Watsup.
Watsup Goodness me, Domes, are they, by Jove! The
caterpillar that made them must have been absolutely
gigantic. Goodness gracious, if it turns into a butterfly
it will be bigger than an aeroplane.
Domes No Watsup, the footprints were not made by a
caterpillar. They are the marks of caterpillar tracks
such as are found on agricultural vehicles. Somebody
has been driving round the village in a tractor, or
something very like it. I wonder about the agricultural
activities hereabouts. Do you know what is grown
Watsup Well, there’s the dump in Bluebell Dip which grows
rusty car bodies and old mattresses. There’s the
pickled onion factory over at Twittington Wallop
Parva which is surrounded by fields full of onions.
Oh and the Windy Hill cheese farm, of course.
Domes Is the cheese farm nearby?
Watsup It’s over there on top of Windy Hill. That’s why it’s
called the Windy Hill cheese farm, you know. The
local cheese is world famous and also completely
Domes How so, Watsup?
Watsup They sell tons and tons of it world wide, Domes,
packaged in gigantic blocks with no labels on.
Restaurants and supermarkets everywhere re package
it and put their own labels on it.
Domes Fancy that, Watsup. What is it like?
Watsup Well I don’t fancy it at all, Domes. It’s orange in
colour, sweats a lot, tastes of nothing and bounces like
a rubber ball. In fact most of the children in the
FX Da Da Da!
Watsup Village of the Dim have footballs and tennis balls made
out of it.
Domes Oh I think I’ve had some of that, Watsup.
Watsup Probably, Domes. It lasts in an industrial store for up
to five years but in a domestic fridge it goes mouldy
overnight. Farmer Pickles has a patent out on it, you
know. I don’t think he would frighten the villagers
with a tractor.
Domes I’m quite sure it isn’t him anyway, Watsup. None of
the tracks go up the hill towards the farm.
Watsup Ah! But are there any tracks coming down the hill
away from the farm, Domes?
Domes No, there are none coming from the farm, either,
Watsup. I think we should look elsewhere. Let us
go into the village and interview some villagers, as
Cholmondely Farquarharson seems to have gone
back to sleep.
Watsup He’s probably tired, poor fellow. Wasn’t it brave of
him to man the barricade all night?
Domes Indeed it was, Watsup and like all the villagers he’s
very kind to animals. Look at the way he’s cuddling
that crate of chickens. That reminds me, I’m hungry,
let’s go and see Mrs Cakemix at the shop.
Fade out chickens.
Tinkly shop bell.
Watsup Hello Mrs Cakemix.
Mrs Cakemix Hello young Watsup. I am pleased to see you. I
see you’ve brought your detective friend with you.
Not a moment too soon, we could do with some
good detectoring. The earthquakes are playing havoc
with my china. All the bowls and cups have got
smashed so I’m having to serve everything in eggcups.
It’s confusing the villagers dreadfully. I keep getting
orders for lightly boiled cups of tea and people
asking for toasted soldiers to dip in their trifle. What
with that and no sleep I’m nearly getting to my wit’s
Watsup Oh dear, Mrs Cakemix, have you got far to go?
Mrs Cakemix It’s not a long journey, no but I’m trying to keep
calm and collected because my youngest son,
Christmas, is due home on leave any day now. In
fact, he’s overdue. You remember Christmas, don’t
you, young Watsup? Wasn’t he in your class at
Watsup That’s right, Mrs Cakemix. Chris and I were in
the infants’ school for twelve years, Domes, until I
left for higher education and he went into the army.
How is he doing, Mrs Cakemix?
Mrs Cakemix Absolutely wonderful. They’ve learned him all sorts.
After only a month he’d learned how to do walking,
another month and he’d learned how to polish his
boots and put them on the right feet, or, better, one
on the left foot as well. Last I heard he was learning
how to peel potatoes. It’s wonderful how they learn
them all these skills. He said they were learning him
something else and he would show me when he came
home on leave. It’s a surprise, he says. First person
ever from the
FX Da Da Da!
Mrs Cakemix Village of the Dim to make it into the army and I’m
his proud mum. Isn’t it wonderful? Would you
like an eggcup of coffee, or six? Or some local cheese?
Watsup That’s a very kind offer, Mrs Cakemix but I don’t think
we’re that hungry.
Mrs Cakemix That’s all right because I had planned to use it as floor
tiles. I thought it might help the china to bounce if we
had another earthquake.
Domes I think we may have spotted another clue, Mrs Cakemix.
If you would care to go and stand in the main street, the
mystery will be solved very shortly. Come Watsup, let
us go to the barricade at the other end of the village.
Watsup Oh I say, Domes, are we going to man the barricades?
Domes (fading) Not at all, Watsup, in fact we’re going to dismantle
(Fade up) Domes Well here we are at the other barricade, Watsup.
Watsup Oh I say, Domes, isn’t it colourful?
Domes Well it would be, Watsup, as it is mainly composed
of piles and piles of jumpers.
Watsup Oh gosh, so it is. Good gracious, Domes, look at this.
This jumper belongs to me, my auntie knitted it. It’s
a jumper for helping with the washing up and gardening.
Domes That will be why it has a knitted tea towel attached to the
Watsup Exactly, Domes and very useful it is. Though to be
honest the knitted spade joined to the wrist is not all
that handy as it does get dirty very quickly and it has to
be dry cleaned. Mrs On Won Hanger at the Chinese
Laundry does it. Oh I say, there she is, fast asleep
on a bed of trousers cuddling a couple of rabbits. Cooee
Mrs Hanger Herro, what, go away! Go away or I sharr put you
on fast linse and spin. Oh herro, Master Watsup, Mr
Domes. Solly, I thought you were a monster. Why
didn’t you terr me, Fruffy and Fifi? You’re supposed
to wake me up if anyone comes. They’re not much use
as earry warning labbits, Mr Domes. I sharr bling my
hamster tomollow night.
Domes There will be no need, Mrs Hanger. We are going to
dismantle the barricade.
Mrs Hanger Dismantre the ballicade! Have you gone mad? The
monster wirr get into the virrage!
Domes Exactly, Mrs Hanger.
Mrs Hanger Werr, if that’s your idea of detectiving, I think it’s
Domes Don’t worry Mrs Hanger, I promise everything will be
Mrs Hanger Plomises, plomises, I don’t know if I berieve you.
Domes Mrs Hanger, please believe me, all will be well. Watsup
and I will move the jumpers if you will go and fetch Mrs
Mrs Cakemix Okay, I take my earry warning labbits with me. (Fading)
but prease put the jumpers into those raundly baskets or
I wirr have to wash them arr over again.
Watsup Certainly, Mrs Hanger, we’ll just put the filled baskets
here on the pavement. Remind me why we are doing
this, Domes? Oh look, a sock with teddy bears on it
by Jove, I wish I had one of these, oh look, another
one. I say, you could wear one on each foot, how jolly.
Domes Pass me another empty basket, there’s a good fellow.
We’re dismantling the barricade so the monster can
Watsup I say, Domes, is that wise? Oh look, green wool
combinations with socks, gloves and a balaclava
attached. How very practical.
Domes No one could accuse the villagers of being slaves
to fashion, Watsup. That’s the last basket. There we are,
a clear road. I suggest we stand on the pavement armed
with a long stick.
Watsup Will this do? It’s one of Mrs Hanger’s clothes props.
Here she comes now with Mrs Cakemix. Is it all right
if we borrow your clothes prop, Mrs Hanger?
Mrs Hanger It’s okay but are you going to fight the monster
with onry a crothes plop?
Watsup Oh goodness gracious, golly, gosh, my goodness me, no.
I’m not that stupid. Domes is going to do it.
Mrs Hanger Mr Domes, you’re either velly sirry or velly blave.
Oh here come monster now. Lun away!
Domes Stand on the pavement, ladies, all will be well.
Huge rumbling followed by a massive clang. The rumbling stops.
Watsup Goodness gracious, by Jove, I say, golly whizz bang,
Domes and then some! It’s an army tank.
Domes Quite so, Watsup. Now if you’d be good enough to
give me a leg up I can climb up on it and talk to the
driver. Oof, ah, thank you. Hello in there!
Muffled voice Hello out there. Help! Help!
Domes Hello in there! Are you stuck?
Muffled voice Yes I am. I can’t get the hatch open.
Domes I fancy a quick twist of this lever will do it.
Domes There you are, climb out, young man.
Unmuffled voice Cor, what a relief. Hello Mum!
Mrs Cakemix Christmas!
Watsup Golly gosh, Domes. It’s Christmas Cakemix.
Domes Home on birthday leave for the holidays.
Unmuffled voice Hello Mum.
Mrs Cakemix It’s lovely to see you and I am happy, Christmas
birthday and new year but what are you doing
in that tank?
Unmuffled voice Hello Mum. It’s my surprise. They’ve been
learning me to drive a tank.
Mrs Cakemix Silly Christmas, didn’t you stay for the lesson
where they learned you to undo the lid?
Unmuffled voice Sorry Mum, I just wanted to show you. I’ve been
driving round the village for days now. I couldn’t
get out and I couldn’t come down the village street
for help because someone had put animals at both
ends. There was chickens at the far end and fluffy
bunnies up this end. Are the bunny rabbits all right?
Mrs Hanger The labbits are quite safe, Master Cakemix, don’t
Unmuffled voice Hello Mrs Hanger. You couldn’t give the inside of
this tank a wash before I take it back, could you?
Mrs Hanger Reeve the tank in the load, I sharr wash it tomollow.
Unmuffled voice How about some home cooking, Mum?
Mrs Cakemix I’ll do you some cheese on toast.
Unmuffled voice Oh it’s lovely to be home. Have I missed Christmas?
Mrs Cakemix Not as much as I’ve missed you, Christmas. We’ve
all missed it so we’ll have it next week for a week
then we’ll have your birthday and then we’ll have
new year the first week of February and Easter in
the summer to leave room for pancake day and
move the spring bank holiday to October just in time
to buy the presents for next Christmas, Christmas.
Watsup I say Domes, don’t the years just fly by! How nice it
is to know that the
FX Da Da Da!
Watsup Village of the Dim is safe and the villagers won’t have
Domes I don’t think you were going to leave the
FX Da Da Da!
Domes Village of the Dim anyway, were you, Mrs Cakemix?
Mrs Cakemix Of course not, Mr Domes. Now I’m an army mum
I shall always be home for Christmas. Arrgh! A
a giant eye!
Watsup Big Cakemix, little Cakemix, big Cakemix little
Domes Did you get that in a cracker?
Watsup Millennium Domes, wok. Millennium Domes, wok.
Rural music. Birdsong.
That concludes Knickerbocker Glory, the series of six half hour radio plays I wrote some years ago which were never broadcast. If anyone wishes to do so, please get in touch; I have a great deal more silly trapped in my tank. Meanwhile if you found me lately the whole series is archived under Knickerbocker Glory or can be found by tracking back through the archived months.
JaneLaverick.com - narrowcasting mainly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, see you here!