Thread: Chapter 1 - 5pm

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  1. #1
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    Default Chapter 1 - 5pm

    ONE

    “Do you want to pay to touch my moustache or not?” I snapped as the prole hovered around his purse like a man whose hand has forgotten how gravity works. “It is for charity you know”.

    I should perhaps explain that last remark. Not the bit about my moustache – that has been public record for some time and has featured in at least two documentaries about facial hair in quasi-academic circles. No, my clarification will be around the word ‘charity’. Apparently, and I had to look it up when this business first started, it means giving money away – free of charge – to someone else who is operating on behalf of a third party that wants to use the money for something that the first person wouldn’t directly pay for themselves. I know – it sounds baffling but I understand it is quite popular even in these straightened times. I have been privy to 'charity' in the past – I’ll never forget the time we raffled Fraser Hines’s hair while he slept at the ’89 DWATfest and he was really cheesed off about it. Now I understand his annoyance when he heard we’d spent the proceeds on getting our ties dry cleaned rather than giving it to some ‘cause’ or other. Until this affair the subtle distinction had always baffled me but now it makes a kind of demented sense. Anyway, tedious explanations aside, I am knee deep in charity and haven’t made it clear yet that I did not have any affiliation or sympathy for the organisation or organisations that would be benefiting from my hard work, were my hard work to actually lead to any money being raised. My motives were entirely self-interested and pure but my current total was zero and I blamed the people of Bendaton.

    “Failing again, Dennis Brent?” scoffed Francois Devine as he jogged past on the first – and ultimately last – leg of his sponsored run to France. He was being paid a penny per mile and foolishly counted his chickens before they hatched having ordered twelve dozen baguettes to be waiting for him when he reached Paris.

    “I happen to have a very interested customer here” I began before noticing that the chap who wanted to touch my moustache had gone. I blamed Francois Devine almost immediately.

    “You’re never going to win the memo if you can’t even get a man to touch your moustache” he chuckled.

    “You couldn’t get anyone to pay to touch your moustache” I retorted.

    “Firstly, yes I could. Secondly, I don’t have a moustache to touch. Thirdly, if I did and a gentleman wanted to pay to touch it, I would firmly but politely refuse on the grounds that he was clearly either a deviant or a defective and I don’t want either any where near the face that won Bendaton’s Bonniest Baby three years in a row.”

    “I notice you’ve stopped running to France” I told him, changing the subject because I feared I was losing even though it was about moustaches and I was the only one amongst us that actually had one.

    “Have I? Oh bother – so I have. What a thundering nuisance. The terms of the sponsorship form were most precise and any stopping for reasons other than unmentionable natural functions, busy roads, customs officials or because I needed urgently to study a road sign lest I become lost on the continent would mean I’d voided the exercise and forfeited my right to payment. I may as well not bother running to France now as I would be doing it essentially for fun and what sort of fool runs for fun?”

    I’d never run for fun so I tilted my head slightly in what I hoped was an unnoticed show of agreement.

    “Never mind – I have plenty more apples in my orchard” he declared. “The better to thrash you with” he added nonsensically (he couldn’t thrash me with an apple even if I let him try which I wouldn’t) before wobbling off to prise himself out of his lycra running shorts and into something which would, if worn continuously for thirty-plus years, help restore some of the dignity he’d lost in the last few minutes of puffing, blowing, pavement cracking and sweating.

    His mention of the memo reminded me that I needed to do something more impressive than offering the general public a once in a lifetime chance to touch one of the finest moustaches in all of Firkinside. Officially the eighth finest but that poll was clearly rigged by the organiser’s wife or how else can you explain how that dreadful woman won? The memo was The Memo – capital letters both deserved and compulsory. I’ve seen many thousands of memos in my time but The Memo is the holy grail (not deserving of capital letters since its existence is speculative at best) of telehistorical research. It is the piece of paper upon which someone – and we don’t know who – first outlined the concept of regeneration in Doctor Who. Its existence has been the subject of many fascinating technical articles, debates, seminars and at least one miscast musical comedy at a DWAS smoker back in the early 80s, but until a few days earlier nobody knew for sure that it was real. Then we discovered that it had been in the private collection of the late Philip Stiffit for many years and only now was being made available. The knowledge that he had a private archive that even his pathetically stupid populism wouldn’t place online in a digital format for any Tom, Dick or Francois to read made his rotting body go up a little in my estimations. But his ridiculous posthumous caveat that it would be given to the person who raised the most money for charity on the first annual Philip Stiffit Memorial Day was beyond the pale. That the money raised was going to the Philip Stiffit Foundation for Excellence in Adversity almost made me feel stick to my stomach. But there was something in it for me so bullets were bitten and I signed up to be an official charity raiser or whatever the term was. The deadline was the following afternoon and I had to make absolutely sure I won. Or that - if I didn’t win - Francois Devine didn’t win either. I could just about cope with knowing that someone less than me knew a sliver of information that I didn’t but if Francois Devine came into ownership of The Memo and I had to look at his smug, knowing face at table every mealtime for the rest of his life then it would have to be the end of our acquaintanceship. So a lot was riding on the next few hours and unfortunately I was beginning to doubt it would be as easy to raise money for a pathetically stupid cause as I initially thought.
    Dennis, Francois, Melba and Smasher are competing to see who can wine and dine Lola Whitecastle and win the contract to write her memoirs. Can Dennis learn how to be charming? Can Francois concentrate on anything else when food is on the table? Will Smasher keep his temper under control?

    If only the 28th century didn't keep popping up to get in Dennis's way...

    #dammitbrent



    The eleventh annual Brenty Four serial is another Planet Skaro exclusive. A new episode each day until Christmas in the Brenty Four-um.

  2. #2
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    Ooo - sounds like the battle is about to begin!

    Technically it's already begun, of course. Some time before the start of this episode. And knowing Dennis and Francois far more intimately than any person would want to, I should imagine it was and will be a most unusual battle indeed!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  3. #3
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    I'm intrigued by all this intriguing talk of The Memo.

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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