Sunday, 31 October 2010
The story so far...
It's August 1939 and Calliperso, Wally, Palter and Soiliver are visiting their Aunt Rowenta and Uncle Hichard Bertcutherson, and their 10-year-old cousin Oophy who has been taken in by Rowenta and Uncle Hichard to live with them at Howardsendaway. They are often visited by the twin sons of the local rector and Monny and Maxika, a Jewish refugee couple from Austria who have been taken in by the rector to use as insulation for his somewhat drafty Rectory. Their only son, Polio, is in a concentration camp, somewhere in the darkest depths of Neasdon.
Young Oophy is delighted with the arrival of her cousins, especially Soiliver, who has a tongue as long and agile as a common grass snake. She is determined to run 'The Terror Run', a coastal path that the cousins race along at full moon with only the songs of glamorous American crooner Riff Clichard and a king-size jar of brylcreem for company. However, during a daylight practice run she is flashed by the local coastguard - although whether the lighthouse was involved is still a matter of some debate - many feeling that a simple hand held torch or Davey lamp may have been sufficient to get Oophy 'in the family way', as her disconcerting propensity to walk about the grounds of Howardsendaway with a pillow stuffed up inside her cardigan is affectionately referred to by the other family members.
Returning during a tea-break from fighting in the Spanish Civil War, a depressed and disenchanted Soiliver has a changed outlook on life although he is still wearing the same underwear he had on when the Treaty of Locarno was signed and retains his crush on Calliperso. Calliperso, knowing that she isn't what Soiliver is truly seeking - namely a prostitute who will have sex with him at every conceivable moment *and* give him large amounts of money into the bargain - is determined to make the most of her beauty and marry a rich man with a large collection of crustaceans and/or an electronic egg timer.
Sensible, intelligent, practical Wally is observant and, noticing that there is a war on and having been bequeathed the old family clipboard and a variety of coloured pencils, eventually joins the War Office as a clipboard/coloured pencils monitor, bravely dispensing precious office stationery to a roomful of blindfolded recruits who have been deemed too sexually deviant even for the armed forces proper but who have to be perceived to be fulfilling *some* sort of useful activity because don't you know there's a bally war on etcetera etcetera. It is implied - although by whom, we are left none the wiser - that she is working on War Intelligence, although in reality, she is an icecream salesperson at the Worth Matravers Rialto, occasionally doubling as a stand-in projectionist whilst the regualar incumbent, a war-wounded and mercurial Cypriot known locally as Mr. Spanniploppita is sanding down his piles. Her brother Palter joins the Navy - which, if you've ever seen the way he holds a cigarette holder is about par for the course.
But then disaster strikes. With the war all but won, Uncle Hichard is made redundant from his job as an aircraft designer after twenty years and is unwilling to re-enter the rat race again - he just can't stand rats, you see, especially not in a competitive sporting environment. A sailing enthusiast and amateur whelk fondler, Uncle Hichard decides to pursue his dream of designing and building boats made solely from marzipan and balsa wood, putting his redundancy pay-out into the ailing Marmite boatyard, run by Rack Jolfe, a gruff traditionalist with a fully independent hernia, and his daughter Bovril. Uncle Hichard immediately finds himself in conflict with Rack, whose reliance on the bottle - he uses it to keep his hernia in when not wearing it - and resentment of Tom's new design ideas - "you'll never keep a boat made from marzipan and balsa wood afloat on the high seas, you stupid gay rectum of a man!" he never ties of telling Uncle Hichard - lead to no end of rows and recrimination until Bovril can stand it no more and takes up a correspondence course in raffia work run by the local polythechnic.
All of these tensions threaten to ruin the business, but not quite so much as the fact that they aren't making any money. Suave and ever-so slightly handsome in a Boris-Johnson-with-a-hump-sort-of-way as he is, Hichard has an unlikely ally in Bovril, who turns out to be the real driving force behind the yard with her cool, businesslike brain and ability to whistle the Marseillais with a mouthgag on and her ankles behind her ears. Rowenta, who has spent the last twenty years raising the children and building the family home, is less than impressed with her husband's risky new venture - although she has a soft spot for his hump, so long as he keeps it neatly shaved and moisurised. Putting down her hod and spirit level in protest, Rowenta finds herself pursuing her own life outside the family through establishing a new marine boutique whilst working for flash "medallion man" Men Kasterson.
Next week on Howardsendaway...
Will Calliperso find the man of her dreams and, having found him, be able to resist the temptation to post him up on eBay? Will Men Kasterson make good on his threat to hide his medallion somewhere that hasn't seen the light of day since assasination of Franz Ferdinand? And can Mr. Panniploppita get back from his urgent internal examination at the hands of Jistopher Cartin-Menkins, the sinister, wheelchair-bound locum doctor, in time for the second reel of "I Was a Male War Bride"?
Now read on...