Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Great Mysteries of the World Solved: Part X

The good thing I've noticed about Cher is that she never has a hangover. Here she was, resplendent in the most ludicrously large sunhat, letting the spring grass tickle between her fingers as the morning grew. The rest of us looked, frankly, like a car crash.

"So, what are we going to do today?"

There was a collective groan. Dame Angela Lansbury took umbrage at the sun and forced her large pair of Jackie O sunglasses up her nose with the palm of her hand. She always claimed that they were the actual Jackie O glasses, but we reckoned the flecks of red in the left corner were just the red juice from a 99 she'd had trouble eating. I squinted in the sunlight, on the verge of blaming her for my current malady - it was her who had introduced us all to using alcopops as a mixer. But then I recalled it was my good self who said we should try at least one drink from every country in her antediluvian atlas, the one that smelt of attics and didn't have Australia in it.

"Dears, I plan on doing nothing." And with that, she toppled backwards, skirts billowing upwards like a shaken duvet.

We lay there for a good ten minutes, seemingly trying to contact the living. The world seemed utterly still around us, as steady as the sunshine. The leaves barely moved in the heat rising from the grass. I rolled up my dinner jacket for use as a pillow; the bow tie I'd borrowed off Gaz Topp was long gone - left in a gutter somewhere in Hackney, one supposes. The jacket made a poor rest, and smelt tremendously of hookah smoke.

Cher tutted like a Geiger Counter. "But it is a lovely day. We should do something."

I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I would be willing to partake in any activity she suggested as long as it didn't involve moving, any sort of fun, or loud noises - particularly whooping. I thought that was perfectly reasonable to be getting on with the day. Dame Aggie made some tasteless crack about that being like every other man she'd slept with, merely cementing that I was not even on the verge of being ready for breakfast.

"We do need a new celebrity hobby, dears," Dame Aggie conceded. I wasn't keen on the idea. I recalled she was the one who decided we should all take up Laser Quest. Two black eyes later and I'd discovered the real danger of pensioner blood-lust. I suppose it came from attempting to be first in the queue to get the dented tins in Aldi.

"We could always phone Kevin Spacey. He's normally got some great ideas of what to do when he's in this park, dears. Admittedly, they're normally at night, and nor-"

She was shushed by Judith Hann, former Tomorrow's World presenter, as two joggers came into earshot. I glared at them with a building, irrational hatred; not only were they beautiful, but also capable of standing. They smoothly ran past us with ne'er a pant, and in the direction of the lake-side path, taking my wrath with them.

"All I shall say is that there's loads to do around here," she affirmed, flapping her hands as if this would strike something of interest with minimum effort. Her bangles clattered like wire coat hangers.

"We couldn't phone him anyway. He lost his phone," stated Cher.

Cher hadn't got a mobile. She just dialled out.

"MARMITE PATTING!" yelled Brian Blessed. He'd fallen asleep in the shaded area some way off, and some children had mistaken him for a climbing frame. They wouldn't be doing that again, and squealed that tear-stained anguish of the under ten all the way back to their parents.

"Now Brian, that's just cruel," shouted Judith Hann over her shoulder. "Nothing's been proved."

"HOBBY!" he yelled back.

Judith and I exchanged a puzzled look. I couldn't help but notice how her hangover had drained her a little of her colour, leaving her flawless skin looking like a Greek marble masterpiece. She really was very beautiful.

Dame Aggie struggled to sit up, elbowing at her handbag for leverage. I've seen tents that were erected more gracefully. "What's he on about now, dears?"

"Marmite patting," stated Cher.

"Oh! Marmite patting! Wonderful. Christopher Lee taught me," she said with some sudden airs and graces. "He finds it very relaxing."

We braced ourselves for another one of her overly-visual stories. There was an expectant air, mostly from Dame Aggie.

"What? You've never patted Marmite?" she asked after a few minutes of trying to catch one of our eyes.

I opened my mouth, and closed it again. Some of my adventures were for another day.

Dame Aggie barked a laugh laced with genuine surprise, and with a resolute "Right!", hauled herself to her feet and hobbled off across the grass in the direction of the corner shop. She cut quite a sight in her evening dress topped with her woollen shawl, but even from this distance you could see the green stains on the knees from the celebratory skid she did from last night's impromptu football game. Which was odd as it was played on some baize in a butcher's window.

We took a moment to enjoy the quiet. Brian's snores merged with the dull rumble of the distant traffic, and Judith contented herself by modelling the molecular stricture of Marmite using a pile of balls and sticks she always appeared to carry with her. I refuted the vertical, admiring the way the sun lit the leaves in the tree above us, throwing rivulets of gold through the gaps.

Dame Aggie arrived back with a sigh, sat down heavily and threw a bag of bacon sandwiches into the centre. From her gargantuan handbag, she produced five paper plates and a jar of Marmite.

"Now, each take a scoop and put it on your plate," she said.

"And then what?" asked Cher.

"You pat it."

We exchanged looks.

"And then what?" asked Cher.

"It goes white."

I snorted derisively, and told her to stop being silly. She gave me a serious expression, and I buckled under it, and started patting away. After a few minutes, we all got a sense of rhythm going, and I have to say that the gentle motion was helping clear my head somewhat. I stole a look at my plate.

"Well, will you look at that," I exclaimed. The colour had indeed changed, going towards a light brown. "It's gone kaki!"

"BABY SHIT," bellowed Brian, offering his opinion.

"Brian!" cried Judith. There were, after all, children present. Just not as near to him as they were before.

"I told you," said Dame Aggie, fiddling in her handbag for a cloth. "And if you keep going, it goes white!"

"The agitation must fold in air, making it lighter in colour!" exclaimed Judith in her gorgeous presenting tones. She was blissfully happy when she could explain anything with science.

What a blissful way to spend a morning, I reflected. Indeed, the morning had drained away slowly, and we were looking at a gorgeously sunny afternoon. And it didn't hurt to look skyward any more.

Cher was looking at the light-coloured spread on her fingers with an odd curiosity. "So, can we do something now?"

I smacked my lips together, noticing how dry my throat was suddenly. "Hair of the dog?" I suggested.

"We're back to Kevin Spacey again," said Judith, in a rare moment.

I asked Dame Aggie whether she happened to have brought her antiquated atlas with her. "We only got as far as Constantinople," I reminded.

She swapped her Jackie O's for some half-moons chained to her neck and poked around in her bag. "Ah, Constantinople!" she gushed, fixing the glasses unevenly. The book opened with an escaping mote of dust that was lifted by the sunshine, and she ran her fingers over the Post-It note amends she'd made inside. "According to this, for this one, we're going to need some Turkish Raki. Oh! And a galvanised bucket..."

Ah. Happy days.

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