Keeping Your Feet on the Ground

Periwinkle and friends fall victim to entrepreneurial zeal – all in the name of the great outdoors.

All three members of the Toffee-Hammer Club – ‘Chuffer’ Donaldson, ‘Tubby’ Cartwright and yours truly – sat at our usual table in the lounge of the Glamper’s Retreat for our 48th monthly meeting. We each own land in the county, devoted to the entrepreneurial pursuit of profit from the ‘Great Outdoors’. Chuffer opened the Glamper’s Retreat in 2007 to offer guests rustic respite from the relentless luxury of Tubby’s glamping site (a couple of his tents have chandeliers).


The meetings always start with a discussion to test our intellectual rigour. We had just finished speculating on the degree to which the Cubist movement might have been influenced by the invention of the Walnut Whip, had that particular confection been around at the time. When this discussion petered out, Tubby began bemoaning the fact that the early promise of his latest, grand idea for attracting more custom to his glamping site had expired within a period shorter than the lifespan of a moth. He’d nobody to blame but himself of course: Chuffer repeatedly warned Tubby that the introduction of an adults-only bouncy castle as a new service line was the worst idea since the wind-powered draught excluder.

Desperate to somehow attenuate Tubby’s self-pitying whine, Chuffer interjected to propose a round of Knickerbocker Orange Slammers – a proposal I foolishly endorsed. I suppose you could consider Knickerbocker Orange Slammers the Toffee-Hammer Club’s signature drink. It’s a fully fledged ice-cream parlour Knickerbocker Glory into which is decanted four hefty measures of Cointreau.

Knickerbocker_Glory_DrinkDowning my slammer faster than was medically advisable, I suffered that rarest of senior moments – the frozen brain fart. This is the synchronous occurrence of brain freeze and brain fart. The brain freeze element of the condition was like having the business end of a professionally sharpened HB pencil jabbed into my eye con gusto. The pain crescendoed exponentially, stopping mercifully short of outright agony, though it hovered at that excruciating level for three minutes before dissipating.

Boffins call these events nano-strokes. Chuffer had one some years back. He was lucky: only a small cluster of brain cells was impaired. He had to re-learn the six times table, but otherwise made a full recovery. Luckily, I had no time to dwell on the pain: it was masked by the confusion caused by the brain fart element of the event. You know the kind of thing, you find yourself half-way up the ladder of a grain silo but can’t remember whether you’re going up or coming down. Or indeed why you’re wearing your pyjamas while doing so.

Miraculously, I was unimpaired by the frozen brain fart, but it did provoke a spontaneous outpouring of entrepreneurial zeal beyond my conscious control. You’d have to go back to the days when Richard Branson had a bum fluff goatee beard to witness such commercial fervour. Before I knew it I was possessed by a raging desire to turn my lower paddock into an annual rock festival venue that would make Woodstock look like the Chipping Sodbury Scout Jamboree.

I didn’t fight it; I embraced it. I resolved to make the event as eco-friendly as possible (I have been Ultra-Green since Bobby Shaftoe was a sea cadet). The Ultra-Green Party is a movement founded on Green Party policies, but leaning further to the left of the Greens than a horse after a trough full of Old Speckled Hen. Think wind-powered butter churns, home-knitted vegetable lasagne, free-range mince and weekly Dandelion and Burdock enemas. Believers are encouraged to sell their houses, buy a yurt and move to the unpolluted Eden of Corsica from where they should commute to their hydroponic farming jobs by hang-glider and return home on a llama.

Anyhoo, that’s your heads-up for this edition. Catch you next time around.

Apologies, readers. I failed to tell you the outcome of Tubby’s bouncy castle for adults fiasco. As a means of testing the contraption – which the safety instructions said must be inflated to a pressure ‘similar to that found at the bottom of the Marianas Trench’ – Tubby launched himself from a 10m diving board. He immediately executed a triple half-Humphrey with pike and ricocheted arse-first off the bounciest section of the bouncy castle with the force of a bunker buster bomb.

As the ambulance crew said later, had Earth’s gravity been half of what it is, the rebound force would have propelled Tubby clean through the Van Allen belt into deep space. After reaching the highest point he plunged toward the planet’s surface at terminal velocity where the concrete lid of a septic tank broke his fall.

Unfortunately the septic tank belonged to Tubby’s most westerly neighbour, Sir Donald Twistleton-Penge. Sir Donald has cultured a visceral hatred of Tubby since prep school and immediately had Tubby charged with ‘breaking into a sewage processing unit without the owner’s consent’. The bouncy castle has been mothballed – a fate that may well befall Tubby if he doesn’t start walking with his feet a bit closer to the ground in future.

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