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  1. #1
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    Default Chapter 22 - 2pm

    TWENTY TWO

    It seemed a bit unnecessary to drive to the Town Hall in the man cruiser but Francois Devine insisted since his pay and display was about to expire and he knew a side road near the Town Hall that would just about have room in which to berth his mighty car. He was right – to an extent – as the car did fit but there was no room to open my door so I had to make an undignified exit through the sun roof. Splashes of grease – from unavoidable hot dogs so he claimed – meant the rim of the sun roof was rather slippery and on more than one occasion I fell back and landed awkwardly on the gear stick.

    “Do stop larking about, Dennis Brent” called Francois Devine. “We’ve got an appointment to keep. There will be plenty of time for horseplay later.”

    Melba looked at us.

    “Horseplay?” he asked.

    “No one mentioned horseplay” said Francois Devine firmly. He looked deep into Melba’s eyes.

    “You said horseplay” repeated Melba slowly. Francois Devine put on his pince-nez.

    “No one mentioned horseplay” he repeated, more firmly.

    “No one mentioned horseplay” agreed Melba from within a sudden daze.

    “Exactly” concluded Francois Devine, his voice returning to normal and his pince-nez returning to his b-r-e-a-s-t pocket.

    “I think I’ve broken my spine” I called as I felt the gear stick poke between vertebrae.

    “Nonsense – I learned a little trick from my homeopathic osteopath that never fails.”

    He poked Melba in the ribs and made him squeal. I found this richly comic and roared so hard that my spine fell back into place.

    “See?”

    “That, Francois Devine, is miraculous.”

    “All in the best traditions of the Craft” he told me.

    “You must give me your homeopathic osteopath’s number” I suggested.

    “I can do better than that” he replied. He wrote a number on a piece of paper and put it in his own jacket pocket. “That should do the trick”

    I had no idea he was such an expert on homeopathy. I’m pretty convinced by the science of homeopathy but find the remedies so offputtingly expensive. If I’ve actually got a naturally gifted homeopath under my roof – and paying me rent to be there to boot – then my future looked bright, healthy and almost without cost. With hindsight it was a blessing that Francois Devine concocted an excuse not to walk the half mile to the Town Hall.

    We went into the Town Hall and found it buzzing like bee hive on national Bring Some Honey to Work Day. Losers with big cheques and badges with Philip Stiffit’s face on them littered the place while The Memo sat, sealed with wax, in a bullet proof box on the stage.

    “Ladies and gentlemen” called the master of ceremonies. “May I have your attention please?”

    The throng stopped prattling.

    “…and its hop was a far from a kangaroo’s as you could imagine” said Francois Devine, the last to shut up when asked (as usual).

    “This has been the first annual fund raising extravaganza for the Philip Stiffit Foundation and your efforts will go a long way to helping the good causes promoted and supported by the Foundation. In its first year of operations the Foundation hopes to send up to twelve children to visit the BBC’s written records archive in London.”

    Applause from the proles, looks of horror from those of us who spend some of our time there and enjoy the crippling silence.

    “It also hopes to sponsor three regional telehistorians who have never been published in a national or international telehistorical journal to work with Philip Stiffit’s unpublished research into the cleaning methods employed by the BBC to remove stains from their colour separation overlay colour cloths during the first twenty years of CSO usage.”

    We nationally or internationally published telehistorians looked down our noses at this piffle. Though his research did sound fascinating and I was tempted to let the unpublished Melba apply to join the programme and secretly make copies of all Philip Stiffit’s research documentation.

    “Of course, no one knows how Philip Stiffit died…” continued the master of ceremonies.

    “Don’t be absurd – we know” called Francois Devine, forgetting our vow of silence. The room looked at him in horror.

    “Faux pas” I whispered through my moustache. He realised his error almost immediately both through my witty remark and the five hundred or so eyes that bore into.

    He covered his gaffe (superbly in his opinion and his alone). “Oh, wait, no we don’t. I was badly advised by Dennis Brent.”

    The people accepted this nonsense and gave their attention back to the man on the stage.

    “The fund raising totals have been computed and the winner, with a fund of £2,934.26 is…”

    He waited for a drum roll that was never going to come.

    “Miles Saragh-Jayne.”

    Applause for that weasel drowned out our lone voices of protest at his underhand tactics and inevitable fiddling of the figures. He took to the stage with a flourish and shook the master of ceremony’s hand eagerly.

    “I’m glad to have won. It’s not been a bad couple of days I suppose. Hopefully the money will do a bit of good. Yeah. But I didn’t do this for myself – I didn’t even do it for the children or the regional telehistorians that will benefit – I did it for the person that had the foresight to hire Miles Saragh-Jayne for the job. I am available for bookings – some jobs too big, some jobs too small but if it’s the right size I’m happy to be paid for it – cards are available by the dips. Don’t dip the cards in the dip – it ruins both.”

    “Who is this person?” I demanded when he had begun to ramble. “Who was so low down and dirty that they would stoop to cheating to win The Memo?”

    “That’s him over there” said Saragh-Jayne, pointing to the back of the hall. On a plinth stood a familiar face.

    “It’s mine, all mine” he cackled. I was stunned into near silence.

    “Dennis Brent” gasped Francois Devine. “It’s…”

    “That’s right, Uncle Francois” said my son. “I own the memo now. Little Dennis Junior’s career as a serious telehistorian has begun. Mwahahaha.”
    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. Twist!
    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

  3. #3
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    Wow, it's twistier than a twisting twisty thing that's been through a corkscrew making machine!


    I think the big question is...how did Francois Devine get out of the man cruiser? Surely he couldn't have got through the slippery sun roof?
    Unless it was one of those new fancy entire roof opening sun roofs...hmm, the exertion of it...hmm.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Gently View Post
    I think the big question is...how did Francois Devine get out of the man cruiser? Surely he couldn't have got through the slippery sun roof?
    Unless it was one of those new fancy entire roof opening sun roofs...hmm, the exertion of it...hmm.
    Surely it was only that the passenger side was up against a wall / dumpster / drunken prole; thus, Francois was able to get out of the driver's door (Dennis, being a gentleman, would never have considered sliding over into Francois' seat....)

    Little Dennis better watch his back....
    Bazinga !

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