The Beginning -
I decided very early one extremely cold January morning that the scents of stale lager/urine/smoke/vomit and the sounds of feral bipeds experimenting with the joys of blunt force trauma had lost their charm and so decided go grab my newly purchased Syrian narghile and visit a mate of mine at the Zoo. Dodging the near corpses of modern day lotus eaters, heaps of vomit and fungal disease carries often mistaken for women by my not quite conscious neighbors I made my way to the main door and freedom from the miasma that defined my building.
Suddenly, my marry journey came to an end when my shirt got caught on nail sticking out of the door frame and I landed face first in something warm yet not quite comforting. Standing up I found myself covered in remnants of old pork pie & vomit mixed with some industrial type beverage of satanic origins. A quick shower and a another couple of trips past the stairs of the debatably living found me making it carefully past the scene of my last spill. I felt safely on my way till the screams of some yardie and the howls of a large, enraged dog disturbed my concentration which was aimed at avoiding the less pleasant portions of the toilet/street stretching out before me. As I turned I collided with a large beast resulting in me heaving upwards suddenly and chest moving oddly. Air rushing past me reminded me that gravity is not your friend as the less then encouraging sensation of my body impacting in to Lambretta owned by a local Teddy Boy ( yes, they really do still exist) was followed by a warm yet not comforting sensation of wetness gave yet another sign of a good day having yet to get underway. I got up and found myself covered in a new and exciting mixture of Boddington’s ale, fish bits and curry all generously left on the street after use by the prior owner. Amazingly my narghile survived all the perils it faced unscathed which made no sense whatsoever. Anther shower failed to remove my exciting new aftershave combo but I finally made it to my lovely T-60 (see: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3178/...5994fdd9f9.jpg
) where I found a huge, bored and sleepy mastiff. Ignoring him I climbed into my prized motor and the mastiff leapt in after me . I tried pushing him out but gave up my privacy in favour of keeping my hand.
The Main Bit -
I arrived at a semi-secret entrance to the zoo after a bit of wondering left me alone with nothing but beer cans, cigarette butts and graffiti to comfort me. My contemplation on the joys of living in a society that holds sacred the right to throw trash in all directions and cherishes the freedom found in the delights of diseases brought about by orifice confusion but has no problem with constant state surveillance ended when my mate stuffy popped up from the well rusted and nearly forgotten door to the penguin keepers quarters.
Coming in the door I was shocked to see the pensive mastiff I mentioned earlier charging in right behind me pushing me aside with great abandon. Inside the visage of blood clots, scar tissue and a toothy grin holding a plate of bangers & mash and the smell of gauloises cigarettes and scrumpy lurched in front of me as my chum Stuffy appeared to greet me with great enthusiasm .
He ask about the dog and I told him how I came to be with him. Scruffy said “well that’s about the most boring way you’ve ever gotten a pet I pet yet.” I concurred ask if I should take the mastiff outside and he replied that no he’d be fine with everyone which struck me as strange since no one else was about.
We headed into a new but closed exhibition area and sat back to chat while listening to an Angelic Upstarts tape as the mastiff drifted off to sleep. I fired up my Zaghloul filled narghile and drank a bit of Llandenny Perry. As we chatted it came out that Stuffy was given charge of 3 penguins for a week before escorting them via plane later that day to a theme park that was meant to open in the area. Although I knew he was he was a zoologist as well as an avid balloonist at the time it was hard to think of him as something other an oi! Boy drummer that supposedly played with Angela Rippon’s Bum and had a band called The Leith Boover Boys at the time.
As we chatted I noticed that 3 penguins had waddled up to see what was happening leaving me feeling oddly menaced. One penguin stared at me ( I suppose he mistook me for a fatter, older Joanna Hex and found that interesting for some perverted reason) while a second entertained himself swatting the mastiff’s ears with his wings. Oddly, rather then ripping the annoying beast apart the mastiff lazily batted away the wing and moaned. Watching this spectacle made me loose track of my narghile which seemed to be part of the devious birds plan.
I say that because while I was distracted the third penguin had shoved his face into my open bag of Zagloul and apparently smeared a bit of it on my favorite wooden tipped hose. By the time I noted was going I was too baffled to say anything but Stuffy noted my slack jawed gaze and said “leave him be, he loves all kinds of pipe tobacco, especially that poncy stuff they have at the Arab shop near here.”
It seems that Stuffy took the birds out for a spin everyday as he got his groceries and he always took them in a little Arab shop to grab his cigs which wass the high point of the day for the 3 lads. What the shop keeper must have thought I can’t imagine.
Anyhow, I pulled the bag of Zaghloul away from the meddlesome critter and started to close it only to discover that while I was occupied the winged Zaghloul fan left for a quick dip while the one bird that was staring at me plucked my loosely fitted wooden tip off my hose with his beak and waddled off into the water while the third web footed miscreant decided to annoy the mastiff who by this point was sulking off back to the staff room behind the exhibition area.
About this time I called out to then missing stuffy to complain about his annoying pals and he came running into the exhibition area cursing about the plane not being on time and how he’d have to deliver the flightless trio in another 8 hours. Stuffy was also totally unsympathetic to my plight and told me that we had to drive to a little airfield near by right that moment!
As we hurried out the door the almost forgotten mastiff leaped with such force that he knocked stuffy over on the way out.
I suppose he had his full of penguins.
Instead , the mastiff followed Stuffy until he opened up his Bond Bug
) and sat down on the passenger side’s floor. I piled into the Bug along with the mastiff, 3 penguins, Stuffy and my narghile in an act which surely was a first in automotive history.
We go to the little airfield 20 very uncomfortable minutes later and the critters and I hung about while Stuffy tried to rent a plan with no luck.
The Wacky Bit -
After wondering what Stuffy planed on doing came the less then assuring answer “My balloon!”
Naturally I was incredulous until it was explained to me that the weather forecasts were fantastic as the prevailing winds were predicted to carry us to our intended destination quickly and effortlessly.
Stuffy’s helium balloon had suspended beneath the envelope a boat fitted with wire mesh containers along the hull and a little fiber glass covering with a door over the rear third or so of the boat. Basically it looked like the famous Double Eagle II balloon (google it) but a bit smaller. Anyway, we piled all the critters into it after an hour or so when the folks that were supposed to rent it canceled. Just before we cast off the mastiff became very annoyed by the constant harassment of the penguins and jumped out and on to the ground.
We had been air born for a hour or so when I decided to fire up my Zaghloul yet once again two of the penguins started up the staring routine and I got distracted by it resulting in the third winged miscreant pinching my bag of Zaghloul with his beak. I decided to get it back but Stuffy yelled about how my mucking about was making it hard for him manage the balloon so I let the mischievous critter keep my bag of moassel.
I went back to smoking and after a bit I got up and went for a can of Double Diamond and as I was bending over I heard a bit of metal clang followed a burning sensation on my buttocks. Natural I cried out in pain and poured the Double Diamond down my backside. It turned that for some mysterious reason my coals along with my ashtray has been flipped off my narghile. Two penguins were standing about the narghile looking non-pulsed after the incident but Stuffy maintained that they were innocent and declared me paranoid. His explanation was that a wind that only disturbed rear of the gondola/boat caused the incident but that explanation did not hold water in my view.
After the ruckus died down I was lazily watching the sky go by when I noticed that the penguins were hanging about the narghile again. Rather then pinching anything ( I had the hose tip wedged in tightly this time) they just seemed to be staring at it. I asked Stuffy what was going on and he told that “are always standin’ round sniffing the poncy gooey tobacco at the Arab shop. If I was prone to fights of fancy I’d suppose they are tryin’ to figure out how smoke that posh pipe of yours”.
After another couple of hours of flight the weather went sour and the rain started coming down hard. The gondola/boat started swaying hard and Stuffy told me to lock up the penguins in the cabin. While I was so occupied a huge gust hit us and I saw winged Zagloul fan go over the side of the gondola/boat. After a bit of panicking it turned out that the feather fiend hadn’t plummeted to his death but was merely stuck in one of wire mesh holders hanging off the side. With a lot of work retrieved the wayward penguin finding his face covered in Zaghloul and I could have sworn I saw a glint of joy and mischief in his eyes. Shortly before the real excitement of the day began Stuffy was busy figuring out a flight strategy to deal with our change in fortunes when the thunder & lightening kicked in and we got a nice sized tear in the envelope. About 30 minutes later we set down with a lot of drama in a near by loche (not the famous one) and took care of dragging the envelope into the gondola/boat. Much to my dismay I discovered that my newly purchased narghile was lost after the rough landing while my web footed foes remained.
By this time the weather had started to settle down when a fishing boat piloted by a happy drunk showed up who offered us a couple of pints of homemade cider and a tow. Once we got back to land we talked an old, fat, heavily tattooed ex-biker turned tucker into give us a lift to our final destination. Stuffy spent the next hour so sitting in the back of the truck with his pesky polar pinchers and some annoyed sheep while I got to listen to crazed ramblings about how estrogen taken from Chinese slave labourers is being pumped into the water supply to destroy the manly character as part of a Amazonian conspiracy.
The End Bit -
At long last we arrived at the aquatic theme park to be and delivered the penguins in great shape. The owner never heard about the plane flight being canceled and had a look of skepticism when recounted the events of the day and the reason why my trousers had a massive hole and why I smelled as I did. Later that evening over a wonderful meal of Shepard’s pie and old scrumpy Stuffy told me that he wouldn’t have believed what had happened coming from anyone looking like us which made it all the cooler since it was true. I replied that I had best not recount the story of the bear in Ishfan nor the one about the hallucinogenic alligator since those stories are far zanier.
The Morals of the Story -
Never trust a penguin around your narghile. Never trust an oi! Boy drummer/zoologist/balloonist’s weather predictions.