Knickerbocker Glory with treacle toffee.

Do you know, it wasn’t until I began typing up my rejected radio plays that I realised what a lot of food features in my writing.  I once wrote a novel featuring Pic’n’Mix.  It’s still looking for a publisher, if you know one.  Meanwhile, this:


                           The Village of the Dim.

                                The silent birds.

Rural music.  No birdsong.

Ethereal voice           Once again here we are deep in the countryside, nice
                      morning, clouding over later 50% chance of 
                      precipitation in the afternoon where the – wait a
                      minute – play the theme music again.

Rural music.  No birdsong.

Ethereal voice           Did you notice something missing? Again, please.

Quick snatch of rural music.

Ethereal voice           As I thought, no birdsong.  Well that is strange.  I
                      wonder why the birds have fallen silent here in the

FX Da Da Da!

Ethereal voice          Village of the Dim?  How very odd.  Happily help is
                      at hand in the shape of the great detective,
                      Millennium Domes and his tame idiot, Watsup,
                      back in his native village to rescue the villagers
                      from a silent spring.

Watsup                       Listen Domes, my Auntie was right, there isn’t a
                      single bird singing anywhere in the village.

Domes                        It is indeed strange, Watsup, for birds were singing
                      loudly in the fields we passed to get here.  As you 
                      observed, the silence seems to be affecting only the
                      birds in the village itself, which is quite remarkable.
                      We must talk to some villagers.

Watsup                       Here comes the road sweeper, Domes.  Shall I ask

Domes                        You may interrogate him if you wish, Watsup.

Watsup                       Oh I can’t do that, you know, Domes.  I haven’t got
                      a table lamp and even if I had there’s nowhere to
                      plug it in here in the street.

Domes                         A bright light is not necessary, old fellow, merely ask
                       him some questions.

Watsup                        Really, Domes?  Like a quiz, you mean. General
                       knowledge, that sort of stuff? Should he form a

Domes                          Questions about the silence, Watsup.

Watsup                         Very well, I’ll try.  Excuse me, honest sweeper
                        how long has it been silent?

Sweeper(guessing) Er, six inches?

Domes                            Allow me, Watsup.  Road sweeper, have you
                        noticed the birds have stopped singing?

Sweeper                        I have trapped my gigantic mackerel in the door and
                        now the end has come off.

Watsup                         I think you’ve confused him, Domes.  Let me try.
                        Listen, honest sweeper


Watsup                          What do you hear?

Sweeper                          Rol fiddly eye oh.  I can hear the sun shine.

Watsup                           Yes but can you hear the birds singing?

Sweeper                           No but I can be sick in three different colours.

Watsup                              Aha!  Listen to that, Domes, even the road
                          sweeper has noticed the silence.  Tell me, road
                          sweeper, how long have you been able to hear
                          the sun shining?

Sweeper                            Ever since I was a tadpole.  Don’t breathe that
                          air, you’ve no idea whose lungs it’s been in!

Domes                               I fear we will get nothing more from the road
                          sweeper, Watsup.

Sweeper                            Have a bit of grit, it’s lovely and crunchy!

Watsup                             Perhaps you’re right. Domes.  Where shall we go

Sweeper                            Timbuctoo, my darling, on a slice of flying custard.

Domes                               I think we’ll go and talk to Mrs Cakemix at the 
                          village teashop.  It’s just over there and we could 
                          have a coffee and cake, if you wish.

Watsup                              That would be splendid, Domes, we got up so
                           early, I missed breakfast.

Sweeper                             I miss my bed and sleep on the floor, quite often.

Domes                                 Thank you for your time, road sweeper, goodbye.

Sweeper                              I can hide a lemon in  a very surprising place.

Domes(fading out)  Thank you so much, please don’t demonstrate.

(Fade up) Domes        Ah, here is the teashop.

Tinkly bell

Watsup                                 Hello Mrs Cakemix.

Mrs Cakemix                      Hello young Watsup.  Hello Mr Domes.  Go 
                            away, we’re closed.  What brings you here?

Watsup                                 We’ve come to solve a mystery, Mrs Cakemix. 
                            Do you really want us to leave?

Mrs Cakemix                      No, of course not, dearie.  It’s just that I have to
                            warn people that I can’t do a full menu because
                            of the shortages.

Domes                                   Shortages, Mrs Cakemix?

Mrs Cakemix                      Yes, isn’t it awful? I can offer you beverages  
                            as usual but the rest of the menu is limited to  
                            prunes, an omelette or a lollipop for after.  It’s 
                            an absolute disaster for a cake shop.

Domes                                    Ah, I see.  What can you no longer offer,
                             Mrs Cakemix?

Mrs Cakemix                      There’s a very extensive menu that I cannot do 
                             at all. There’s no cake, of course, no breads  
                             no scones or fancies.  Nothing that goes  
                             with toast, so no rarebit or baked beans. And 
                             it’s worse than that, it’s dried up my light 
                             lunches because there’s no gravy or custard. I 
                             can’t even do soup without rolls.  If the infants 
                             don’t finish their scrapbooks soon, we’ll all 

Watsup                                    Domes this is terrible.  First all the birds stop
                              singing and now Mrs Cakemix can’t even give
                              us anything to eat.

Mrs Cakemix                         Oh you’ve noticed the dickie birds, have you?
                              My goodness, young Watsup, you always were
                              quick as a slug. He was the first to notice when
                              the church fell down the mineshaft, Mr Domes.
                              Pity about the verger.  Still, never mind. And 
                              now it’s all gone quiet, here he is, putting his
                              finger on the problem, bright as ink.

Domes                                      How long have the birds been silent, Mrs

Mrs Cakemix                         Well, let me see.  They stopped singing round
                              about Tuesday.

Domes                                      And how long have the infants been doing 
                              their scrapbooks?

Mrs Cakemix                         Oh all week.  They started first thing  
                              Monday morning.  That’s the problem
                              of course, it’s been all week.

Watsup                                     Domes, I’m confused.  What have the 
                               infants’ scrapbooks got to do with
                               Mrs Cakemixes menu?

Domes                                       All in good time, dear fellow.  First tell
                               me, Watsup, were you a member of the
                               infants school here in the

FX Da Da Da!

Domes                                       Village of the Dim?

Watsup                                      Oh yes, rather.  Loved it.  I was in the 
                               infants until I was ten, or was it twelve?
                               That’s five years or seven add twelve or 
                               ten is, oh dear. Well, a long time.  I 
                               could tell you exactly if I could take my
                               shoes and socks off.  Give or take a

Domes                                        Never mind, dear fellow.  Tell me, is 
                                it a large infants school?

Watsup                                        Absolutely enormous, Domes.  Huge. 
                                It has to be because there are so many 
                                infants in the village. You see everybody 
                                stays in the infants school until they can 
                                write letters with the correct end of the 
                                pencil and add up to, ooh, big numbers. 
                                Many never graduate to the junior school 
                                and the villagers traditionally have very 
                                large families because most never find  
                                out what’s causing them.  The village 
                                would be full to overflowing if it weren’t 
                                for the other tradition of leaving at  
                                sixteen and not coming back.  Some 
                                children get quite far.  In fact, Domes, 
                                there are Dim people scattered all over 
                                the world.

Domes                                          You do surprise me.

Watsup                                         No, it’s true, you know.  But I still don’t
                                 see what this has to do with the shortages.

Domes                                           Simply, Watsup, that the schoolmistress 
                                 decided the whole school should do 
                                 scrapbooks this week and accordingly 
                                 went out and bought all the flour in the  
                                 village to make flour and water paste. 
                                  Isn’t that right, Mrs Cakemix?

Mrs Cakemix                                Exactly, Mr Domes and very cross I 
                                  was to find there wasn’t a scrap of
                                  flour left anywhere.  I can’t do my
                                  baking at all and there won’t be another
                                  delivery until Saturday.  If you think I’m
                                  upset, you should see the baker.

Domes                                             Mrs Cakemix, I think we shall do just 

Mrs Cakemix                               Turn the sign to closed on your way
                                  out, please.  There’s no point in
                                  being open.  Nice to see you, young

Watsup                                            Bye Mrs Cakemix.

Tinkly shop bell.

Watsup                                            So now we know why Mrs Cakemix 
                                   has nothing on the menu, Domes but we
                                   still haven’t discovered why the birds are
                                   silent.  I wonder if we shall ever know?

Domes                                               I think we are about to find out, Watsup.
                                    Ah, here is the bakery.  Do you know 
                                    the baker by any chance?

Watsup                                              Yes, of course, Domes, I went to
                                    school with her.  She’s called Flora Bun.
                                    She never married though she has 
                                    thirteen little Buns in the infants school.

Domes                                                A baker’s dozen, eh?

Tinkly shop bell

Domes                                              Ah, good day, Miss Bun.

Flora                                               Good day to you sir, what a fine figure 
                                  of a man you are.

Watsup                                           Hello Flora.

Flora                                                Watsup!  Sweetie pie!  How are you?
                                   Give us a kiss.  I heard you had come
                                   back.  Give us a cuddle.

Watsup                                           Not at the moment.  This is my friend
                                  Millennium Domes, the great detective.

Flora                                               Is he great?  I bet he is.  Come here and 
                                  let me find out.

Domes                                             Thank you madam but I must decline.

Flora                                                Must you?  Can I watch?

Watsup                                            Now, now Flora, control yourself.

Flora                                                I’ll try but it ain’t natural.

Domes                                              We’re here to ask about the flour shortage

Flora                                                 Ain’t it dreadful?  Look at the shop, it’s
                                   empty.  Normally I could offer you so
                                   much.  At this time of the morning I
                                   usually have plenty of big white family
                                   loaves, trays full of lovely squashy
                                   doughnuts, baskets full of biscuits and
                                   more rolls than you could handle. And big
                                   enormous floury baps.  I always have
                                   enormous  floury baps.  But not today.
                                   I’m like a shrivelled old lady, I’ve got
                                   nothing on offer but little flat doilies.  My
                                   regulars are very upset, I can tell you.  Do
                                   you want a quick cuddle out the back?  Go
                                   on, it’ll cheer us all up.

Domes                                             No thank you Madam but perhaps you
                                  could tell us who your regulars are?

Flora                                                All and sundry, dear, I ain’t particular.
                                  What a nice pipe.  I like a man with a nice 
                                   big pipe, yours has a shiny bowl and a
                                   curly end. I like your curly end.

Domes                                             Quite.  Who is your best customer, might
                                   I enquire?

Flora                                                You might enquire as much as you like.  I
                                  don’t mind; I enjoy it. It’s Mrs Looney.

Domes                                             Does she have a regular order, Miss Bun?

Flora                                                Yes, my lover, she does.  You can have a
                                   regular order if you wants one.

Domes                                              What is it?

Flora                                                 Whatever you like.  Wait a minute, I’ll get
                                    a pencil.  There, now I’m ready to take
                                    down whatever you say.

Watsup                                              I think, Flora, that Mr Domes wants to 
                                    know what Mrs Looney’s order is.

Flora                                                   Oh, I see.  She has five large white loaves
                                    and two dozen baps every day regular as
                                    clockwork except Saturday when she has it
                                    twice.  You could order twice on Saturday 
                                    if you wanted.

Watsup                                            No thank you, Flora, we’re only passing
                                   through.  That is a very big order, Domes,
                                   considering Mrs Looney lives all alone.  It’s
                                   very strange.

Domes                                            On the contrary, Watsup, I think it may 
                                   prove very enlightening.  Thank you Miss
                                   Bun, good day to you.

Flora                                                Good day to you, you two lusty young
                                   gentlemen.  I hope you’ll come back and
                                   see my enormous baps another day.  Give
                                   us a goodbye kiss.

Domes                                          Thank you Madam, no. Out Watsup, hurry   
                                she’s coming round the counter.

Tinkly shop bell, door slams.

Domes                                            My goodness, Watsup, we barely escaped

Watsup                                          She’s always been a very affectionate girl
                                  Flora; spreads herself round the village 
                                  no end.  Where to now, Domes?

Domes                                           I think we should seek out Mrs Looney,
                                 Watsup.  In fact if I’m not mistaken
                                 that is her over there by the  duck pond.

Watsup                                          So it is, Domes, well spotted.  Mind you, 
                                  she’d be difficult to miss, nobody else is as 
                                 tall, skinny or fast.

Domes                                           Indeed Watsup, she is like jet-propelled string.

Watsup                                        So she is, Domes but that wheelbarrow 
                                 she’s pushing seems to be slowing her
                                 down.  Whatever is she doing?  She
                                 seems to be taking something from
                                 the barrow and throwing it at the ducks.
                                 Hello Mrs Looney!   
Mrs Looney                                 Well if it isn’t young Watsup and his friend.

Watsup                                         It is, you know.

Mrs Looney                                  I know, I recognised you straight away by
                                  your faces.  We might be stupid here in the

FX Da Da Da!

Mrs Looney                                Village of the Dim but we’re not stupid, you
                                know. Have you come to help?

Watsup                                        What is that you’re throwing at the ducks,
                                 Mrs Looney?

Mrs Looney                                Not at dear; to.  At would be nasty.  You
                                must be kind to all the feathery things.

Watsup                                        Birds Mrs Looney.

Mrs Looney                                Them too dear.  Birds are my friends.
                                I like birds.

Domes                                          Do you feed them everyday Mrs Looney?

Mrs Looney                                 Yes Mr Domes, I get my little barrow and
                                 I go all round the village.

Watsup                                        The bread, Domes, that explains why Mrs
                                 Looney buys so much bread!

Mrs Looney                                 That’s right, Master Watsup.  What a quick
                                 little boy you are!  He’s very intelligent you
                                 know Mr Domes.  He was the first one to
                                 notice where the church had gone when it
                                 fell down the mineshaft. Its a pity about
                                 the verger, still, never mind.

Domes                                           So you feed bread to all the birds in the
                                 village every day, Mrs Looney?

Mrs Looney                                  That’s right, Mr Domes.  They’re always
                                  waiting for me.  Some of them follow me
                                  from place to place and have seconds.  Isn’t
                                  that lovely? Someone has to do it, you know
                                  otherwise they get very desperate and start 
                                  eating all sorts of nasty things.  Worms and
                                  beetles and all sorts of muck.  So I look
                                  after them and give them lovely fresh bread.
                                  Come to Mrs Looney my lovelies, come and
                                  get your breakfast.

Watsup                                           But there isn’t any bread this week Mrs
                                  Looney because of the flour shortages.

Mrs Looney                                   That’s right, Master Watsup.  Bright as
                                  a puddle, you are.

Watsup                                          So what have you been feeding them?

Domes                                            I think if you look in the wheel barrow,
                                 Watsup, you will see that it is full of treacle 

Watsup                                         By Jove, so it is, Domes. Have you fed
                                 them with treacle toffee all week, Mrs

Mrs Looney                                Except for tomorrow, young Watsup.  This is
                                the last barrow load the sweetie shop had. So
                                tomorrow it will be minty bullets.  Would you
                                like minty bullets, my lovelies? Its strange 
                                you know, they’ve all stopped talking to me.
                                It’s difficult to know what they want.  Would
                                you prefer liquorice allsorts, my little friends?
                                Oh I do wish they would speak to me.  

Domes                                         Mrs Looney, I think if you were to take a jug
                                of warm water round with you and perhaps
                                a saucer to pour it into that would remedy
                                the situation.  The birds are silent, I think you
                                will find because their beaks are stuck
                                together with treacle toffee.  Warm water for
                                them to wash in and drink and the passage
                                of time should have them talking to you
                                once more.

Mrs Looney                                Oh I never thought of that.  Do you think 
                                they would prefer tea?  How many sugars? 

Domes                                         No, my good woman.  I should just stick to

Mrs Looney                                No, I don’t think you will because it isn’t

Domes                                        And neither will the birds, Mrs Looney.

Mrs Looney                               Right ho, water it is.  We might be a bit
                               daft here in the

FX Da Da Da!

Mrs Looney                              Village of the Dim but we are all capable of
                               learning.  Here you are my birdies, no more 
                               treacle toffee Mr Domes says, so tomorrow
                               I shall bring you a treat.  Humbugs tomorrow
                               and bubble gum on Friday.

Watsup                                     My goodness, Domes, I think the whole
                              village will be glad to get fresh flour supplies
                              on Saturday.

Domes                                     Especially the birds, Watsup. Oh, here comes
                              Mrs On Won Hanger, proprietress of the
                              Chinese Laundry here in the

FX Da Da Da!

Domes                                    Village of the Dim.  She at least looks happy.
                             Hello Mrs On Won Hanger, might we enquire
                             why you look so happy?

Mrs Hanger                          I rook happy because I rove riving here in the

FX Da Da Da!

Mrs Hanger                          Virrage of the Dim.  You terr me, where erse
                            does it lain tleacurr toffee?  Rook!  It is arr over 
                            the load.  Arr you have to do is pick it up.  I
                            have corrected thlee bags furr this morning
                            arone.  I’m setting up a siderine as a sweet shop.
                            I understand the virrage sweet shop has lun out
                            of treacurr toffee so I’m expecting a rot of
                            business.  My goodness I am panting with arr
                            of this bending over and picking up.  Rook!
                            There is more over there!

Watsup                                 Wait until Friday, Mrs Hanger, you’ll be panting
                            but over the moon!

Mrs Hanger                        Reeve the pantaroons on the doorstep. I wirr
                            wash them tomollow!

Rural music and birds coughing.

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| – putting effort into being silly.

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