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

Monday, June 19, 2006

Great Mysteries of the World: Part XIV

"Zandra! ZANDRA!" yelled Dame Angela Lansbury as she clutched the lamppost for support.

"Look, there's no lights," I said, trying to focus.

"Oh give her a little while. It takes her five minutes to screw her legs on."

I made sure I was wedged firmly against the bin before bringing my hands to the tight skin around my cheeks. The back of my neck was tingling too; I think I'd caught the sun. Odd afternoon: Judith Hann had announced she'd been 'let go' from Tomorrow's World, so we'd raised a glass to comiserate, swore an oath on Phillipa Forrester and before we knew it we were singing 'No More Tears', had drunk all the wine and Aggie was bargaining with some poor couple on the next sheet across for their bottle of rosé in exchange for an old tissue with her autograph on it. Two hours ago we'd had one of those moments when we'd started questioning the very nature of the universe, and Aggie announced she knew exactly who'd know the answer: Zandra Rhodes, fashionista.

I raised my hand in question, fell right on my face, and lay their giggling.

"Come on - up!" Judith was offering her hand out to me. As I looked up, the streetlight was behind her, giving her perm a halo. My heart melted some more, and I sighed. I waved her away (I didn't want her sullied by my indignity) but she stuck her hand in the crook of my armpit and helped heave me up.

"Nice street. I might get a place around here," I said, rubbing my nose.

"Oh you wouldn't survive around here," muttered Aggie, rifling around in her carpet bag for something to throw. "There's not a Habitat or Benniton within two miles."

"What's that got to do with it?"

"Lets just say Judith and I have been noticing what a... snappy dresser you are of late."

I was genuinely mystified.

"Come on Zandra! We know you're up there!" she yelled, pushing the intercom button continuously.

"Actually, how do you know she's home?"

She pointed to the roof of the gaudy peach building. "You see that bundle of rags on the roof?"

"Is that her?"

Aggie cackled. "No. That's her flag. She raises it when she's home.'Ere, Judith, can you have a go at hot-wiring the intercom?"

"You can do that?" I asked, astonished.

"Oh yes," interjected Aggie. "Good old Jude's getting a bit tasty with a philips screwdriver of late. 'Ere, tell him about the time we got messy on Advocaat and the only thing we could find to get home was the school bus! So Jude hot-wired it and we were half a mile down the road singing 'The Wheels on the Bus' before realising it was still full of kids. Still, we took 'em to the casino for a laugh. Told the doorman we were doing a film with midgets..."

"FOLLOW THE LADY!" bellowed Brian Blessed from the playground over the road. The car alarm next to us started going off.

"Nice one, Brian!" shouted Dame Aggie. "That'll get the old cadavier out of bed!"

"You took Brian as well?" I asked, trying to make myself heard over the alarm. Clearly not well enough, or Aggie didn't want to answer the question. For years we all thought she was going deaf, but now it turned out to be oddly selective. She could never hear when you asked her to turn Bedknobs and Broomsticks over, but was first to raise her hand when there was a trip to the cock-fighting.

"Hey Judith, you ok?" I slurred slightly.

"Oh yeah. She says soon we'll be able to use 'my talents' to break back into that bank vault and get her... you know... back."

"It's just, you know, I'm worr-"

"Lee," she said. "I've started seeing Howard Stapleford."

And all of a sudden, my inside were screwed up. I could feel my mouth hanging open, and snapped it shut. "Really? That's great. Marvellous, in fact," I said after a second in a far too level tone.

"I just thing I need someone in my life at this tough time. Sure he's not the most exciting person on the planet, and he's got the nastiest taste in jumpers, but he knows how a videophone works."

I nodded, trying not to think about him and her together, consentrating instead on watching her hand moving over the bonnet of the car, floating an inch or two over the surface like a psychic healer. She closed her eyes for a second, then struck down with her flat palm onto the car. The alarm shut off instantly.

She was magnificent.

"Come on Zandra! We know you're in there," yelled Aggie, throwing a stone against the window.

The sash window shot upwards, knocking one of the pot plants off the ledge. It sailed down and landed a mere foot from Dame Aggie.

"What do you want, you dried-up old hag!" From the window above, a flame-haired woman leered out, barely covered by her elaborate nightie. Her cheeks were flush, probably through anger.

"You silly bitch, you could have hit me with your plant!" shouted Aggie, dander clearly up.

"And there's another coming down if you don't sod right off!" she said, hefting another one up over the ledge to take aim.

"Ladies! Ladies!" I said, before losing my balance and pitching forward onto the pavement.

"You throw that and I'll sue your cottage cheese arse for all it's worth, you wizened corpse!" Aggie yelled, rolling up the sleeves of her cardigan. I pushed myself up onto my elbows and tried to placate them. Didn't work.

"You and who's army, shortarse?" Zandra bellowed back, brushing a length of her bright red hair back off her face. "You haven't got the money to wash your tights, you rank old battleaxe! Last launch you were at, people thought there'd been an OAP incontinence convention in before us!"

"Why you spindly hag! If I did have your money, I'd get a dye job that didn't look like a prozzy had enjoyed her monthlies over it! No wonder it took you so long to open the window - the lid of your bloody coffin must be sodding heavy!"

Zandra hissed in shock and pulled back her arm to sling the second pot plant, but before we could all duck, a strong male hand reached out of the darkness behind her and grabbed it. There was the sound of conference from the window, Zandra's high voice tempered by a deeper, accented one.

"Why Zandra, are you getting some?" asked Aggie with new-found respect.

Zandra smiled.

Aggie started hopping on the spot. "Ooh, I knew it, I knew it!" she said, clearly not even slightly suspecting. "You sly cow! Well, we'll just ask you something and be off then."

"What is it?"

Aggie looked around at us, momentarily blank. I'd forgotten too.

"Oh! That's right," she said. "It was a textile question. You know how wool shrinks in the wash - do sheep get smaller in the rain?"

There was quiet for a second.

"Aggie, go home," said Zandra.

"Come on, you must know what happens when a sh-"

"Aggie, go home or I'm calling the police."

Dame Aggie blustered herself up to her full height, ready to have another go, but the magic was gone. That drunken brilliance where you can do anything, say anything and be anything had slowly ebbed out of us. It was time to go home. I staggered to my feet, put my arm around Aggie and steered her away. I saw Judith waving an apology before joining us.

"Nasty piece of work, that Zandra," I said, checking my gums. I think that first fall had loosened my front tooth slightly.

"Oh, she's always been a bit like that. We used to share a flat years back - brilliant fun. Completely forgot that the flag being up was a sign she'd got a man in."

"Really? Oh. That would have saved a lot of embarrasment," I hiccoughed.

"Oh yes. We used to have them in the flat. They were hung on the door when we had gentlemen callers."

"So why'd you forget?"

She tried to level a gaze at me. "Because, dear boy, they were always up! Mucky, we were! Now, who's up for a nightcap?" she cackled as we tried to hail a taxi.

Ah, happy days.


Lee said...

There. Because some of you asked for it.

Imogen said...

>>Sure he's not the most exciting person on the planet, and he's got the nastiest taste in jumpers, but he knows how a videophone works.<<

*grins* sounds like valid reasoning to me.

I love it!

I've missed these, thank you Lee!

CyberPete said...

Utter brilliance Lee!

AndyT13 said...

Well I couldn't follow a word of this LOL! Loved it anyway though. You've certainly been missed.
I hope the new jobby thing is working out! Cheers!~

DanProject76 said...

I didn't ask for it but I am glad I got it.

Loudlush said...

Bloody funny stuff, young man. "Getting messy on Advokat" will be my catchcry for the day.

No Shit Sherlock said...

Excellent. Even in my fevered state, I laughed. You know Brain Blessed? I am envious.

First Nations said...

my brain hurts and now i have to pee.
thank you.

Frank said...

Yeah, this Yank has no idea what you're talking about, but it was still fab!

Spike said...

What Imogen said.

MQ said...

What Dan Project said.

Although I would most like another episode of Gallagher! and Binding! Maybe even performed and recorded in audio.

Clearly your freelance work isn't going to be as important as keeping us entertained, Lee. I hope you understand this already.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Oh, thank you. Thank you!

I can't quite believe you did a Great Mysteries of the World post so quickly. Thrice thank you!

I very nearly didn't get through it, mind. I was shaking with laughter after this: >"It takes her five minutes to screw her legs on"<, and then, not giving me a chance to recover, there was this: >"You see that bundle of rags on the roof?"

"Is that her?"<

Anyway, must dash. All that shaking has made me want to wee!

Jay said...

Yeah we talked about recording some Gallagher & Binding (not hte correct order beardface!)scripts as radio plays, but never managed to get a sound effect that was convincingly like Joan Collin's nails scraping down a bannister so the whole project had to be put on ice... ah well, lost opportunities everywhere!