Sharon is a punk. She has spiky hair and likes to wear ripped trousers, studded belts, dog collars and safety pins through her nose. Danielle is not. She is a girly girl and wears pretty dresses all the time. Funny how chalk and cheese get along so well.
Anyway, Sharon went to see a punk band recently and liked them so much, she felt she had to take Danielle along to see them. Amazingly, Danielle loved them too. This band is called Skid Mark and the Gussets.
The lead singer and bassist is called, unsurprisingly, Skid Mark or, as he’s known to his close friends, Mark. The other band members are Freddy Gusset (guitar) and Pete Underpants (drums).
So, what can we say about Skid Mark and the Gussets? Well, most people, including punks and skinheads, appear to think they’re absolutely, appallingly dreadful. Mark cannot sing a note (not that Sharon’s bothered), Freddy cannot play the guitar (he has only one hand) and Pete has no sense of rhythm. All of which Sharon thinks is nit-picking. They’re loud and obnoxious, just like she likes her music.
Take for instance their first, self-produced CD. It’s an EP entitled “Dirty Washing” and features 3 tracks: “I can’t do a poo without Sudoku”, which charts Mark’s battle with chronic constipation, “You’re Nick”, a track supposedly inspired by real life events, where Freddy was apparently mistaken for a friend by a policeman and thought for a minute he was being arrested, until they both realised their mistake and the policeman really did arrest him for riding a bicycle whilst under the influence of alcohol. Then there is Pete’s gentle lovesong, “I fell in love with a large painting of a woman in the stairwell”. These three tracks are reasonably representative of everything Skid Mark and the Gussets do: they all sound exactly the same (Mark is notorious for recycling lyrics – the choruses of “I can’t do a poo” and “I fell in love” are identical) and none of them can play their instruments, so thrash out the same the noise over Mark’s out of tune caterwauling. They have only sold one copy so far.
They have absolutely no stage presence whatsoever. Mark likes to crowd surf and frequently leaps into the crowd, which is probably a stupid thing to do because Sharon and Danielle, usually the only people there, will swiftly sidestep to avoid getting a boot in the face. Freddy thinks he can play guitar and leap up in the air at the same time. He can’t. He frequently falls over and has often fallen off the stage, usually when he’s completely off his head. Pete just beats the hell out of his drum kit and if he manages to get some semblance of a beat out of it, it is definitely a coincidence.
So, all in all the sort of band Sharon’s bound to like.
Broughton Ratchet-McCabbage was born on the family estate at Scrimborough, Buckinghamshire, on 19 September 1963. He is the second son of Sir Lewes Ratchet-McCabbage Bart. and Lady Escalonia Ratchet-McCabbage (née Glue-Ear).
Broughton showed a great deal of promise virtually from birth. He was able to read and write long before he started school and left his public school with 11 O’Levels (all A Grades) and attained 5 A Grades at A’Level. He went on to achieve a Double First in Fine Art and Quantum Physics at St Wayne’s College, Oxford.
After University, he pursued a career in Merchant Banking for a couple of years before he had what he now calls his Road to Damascus Moment. He accidentally took the lift at work to the wrong floor and saw a plasterer at work during a refurbishment of that area of the building. He decided to give up Merchant Banking there and then and pursue a career as a plasterer.
Broughton had excelled at every activity he had attempted so far and plastering was no exception. He passed his City and Guilds in record time and was quickly taken on by a local builder. Shortly afterwards, he bought the firm, so that he could steer it in the direction he felt it was best to go. Broughton has since perfected his plastering skills to such a degree and he plasters with such consummate artistry that he can now command high fees for his work and it is not unusual for him to charge £1000 per hour for his services. There is currently a five-year waiting list for his services.
Broughton is unmarried and is generally considered to be the most eligible bachelor in England. A large number of unmarried young ladies have begged their fathers to be introduced to him at society balls and charity functions but so far he has remained immune to their charms.
Broughton has many hobbies. Some of those mentioned in Debretts are Scrabble (he was three times World Champion in the late 1990s), extreme ironing (he base jumped from Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho, with his ironing board, iron and his favourite tweed jacket last year) and icing wedding cakes. Most weekends, however, Broughton likes to go for a drink at the local pub, the Tart and Plimsoll, with his colleagues. He is a generous man and usually buys all the rounds himself.
What of the future? Broughton feels that he has not exhausted all the possibilities of plastering and is contemplating studying pargetting; he would like to go over the Iguazu falls while ironing his Dinner Jacket; he will ice the cake for his sister, Forsythia’s wedding in 2011 and, of course, he intends to continue going to the pub for a drink with his friends and colleagues from work.
Sharon has an announcement to make. John has finally realised that she is always right. Arguments have now become a thing of the past. John cannot win an argument if he’s always wrong and if he doesn’t agree with Sharon, who is always right, then he must be wrong, mustn’t he???
We have two ghosts at work. They haunt the men’s and women’s toilets. We never see them but we know they’re there because they keep making the taps, which have sensors to make them go on and off, go on and off.
Our office is built on land that, as far as we know, has never been built on before. It has not been built over any graveyards either, so we could not work out how we had come to be haunted. That set Sharon to thinking. She always likes to know exactly what is going on so she’s done some mental research and come up with this sad story.
Once upon a time, probably at the end of the Nineteenth Century there was a little shepherd boy and a little shepherdess. The shepherd boy was called Will and the shepherdess was called Ethel and they tended the sheep in the fields just north of Preston, Lancashire.
One day, their paths crossed. One of Will’s lambs had strayed away from the flock and he went to look for it. He hunted over hill and dale and then eventually found it in a field. Coincidentally, Ethel had lost one of her sheep and she had gone looking for it too. She had also hunted over hill and dale and she also eventually found it in a field. The very same field as Will’s lamb.
So they met and fell in love instantly. Will was very good-looking and Ethel fell for him immediately. Ethel was not very good-looking at all but Will was short sighted and didn’t have any glasses so it didn’t matter. Ethel was just a blur but she was a very sweet natured blur and knew a bit about sheep and lambs so it was love at first partial sight.
They often used to meet up at dinner and sit down in a field eating their sandwiches together, holding hands and comparing notes on strayed lambs, shears and shepherds crooks. One day, they were sat together, chewing thoughtfully on a lamb sandwich and discussing the price of fish when a meteorite fell to earth and hit them both on the head. It killed them instantly, which was a bit of a surprise to them and they simply did not realise they were dead.
So, for years, they went about their shepherdly business, looking for strayed lambs, eating sandwiches and discussing the best place to buy shears, oblivious to the fact they were dead. They did get a bit confused at times because after a while, there were no sheep for them to tend and after a little while longer, there were dairy cows in the fields but Will and Ethel were not the brightest shepherds around and thought the sheep would come back.
In the end, some workmen came and built a large building in their special field and one day, Will and Ethel woke up and found themselves in this building. It was a very strange place for them. It had three tiny rooms in a larger room and each room had a large china bowl in it with water in the bottom. In the bigger room were other, strangely shaped, china bowls with metal tubes hanging over them.
Once Ethel put her hand, rather gingerly, near one of the tubes and to her amazement and delight, water came out of the tube. Excitely, she ran to Will, through the wall to the other room, and showed him. He was delighted too and they spent many weeks happily making the water go on and off.
After a while, they got a bit bored of this and had a go at flushing the toilets. This game was best when there was somebody sat on it. Will and Ethel never really cottoned on to the fact that they were dead or ghosts and, if anything, they thought the strangely dressed people sat on the toilets were ghosts. They were not afraid; they were childish, so this game amused them no end.
Eventually, they did get tired of this but not until after they had scared quite a few people witless and they (the people, not Will and Ethel) had been signed off for several months with stress. Will and Ethel, of course, had never heard of stress; there was no such thing in the late Victorian era but they did feel a bit sorry for their victims and so they decided to move out of the toilets and into the offices.
The offices became their favourite play area. There were these strange machines that had writing and pictures on them. Will was illiterate and so could not read any of the writing and the pictures were not interesting but Ethel could read a bit and so would tell him wonderful stories of strange shepherds and shepherdesses who lived in weird buildings, never discussed the price of fish and ate ham sandwiches. She also found she could change the stories a bit by pressing buttons on one of the stranger looking boxes. This caused much consternation amongst the ghosts, which was highly amusing to Will and Ethel, especially when some of them accused others of altering their notes and letters and had spectacular arguments with each other.
Eventually, the strange machines lost their appeal for Will and Ethel and one day they decided to leave the building and try to find some sheep again because sheep were what they knew best. They walked through the wall hand in hand and then set off to look for some fields. Before they found a field, they saw a woman with a rather strange shaped sheep on a lead (actually it was a poodle but Will was shortsighted and Ethel was a bit stupid so they didn’t realise). They then spent the next 8 years following the poodle around but they’re no longer haunting our toilets so we don’t care.
P.S. All the bits from when they start flushing the toilets haven’t happened yet but Sharon is convinced they will.
The End again.
This is Ristagno Compostio. He is the 100 metres record holder in the small and obscure southern European Principality of Hangovia. He smashed the national record by 5 seconds 2 years ago at a national competition when he ran the distance in 19.73 seconds. There was some controversy at the time because the timekeeper was thought to have accidentally started his stopwatch some 3 seconds after the race had been started (he had been asleep and was startled into action by the sound of the starting pistol). The same race was also marred by a tragedy because the starter had accidentally left some live ammunition in his starting pistol and had shot one of the racers, Sfortunato Perdente, dead.
Ristagno’s victory was complete, though, because he won the race by a good 20 metres and breaking the national record was the icing on the cake for him. He was later to dedicate the race to Sfortunato, as he believed his death had probably distracted the other runners a bit.
Ristagno was born in the suburbs of Hangovia’s main city, Berzase, in 1978. When he was small he would frequently run errands for his mother, Guardaroba. She would send him off to collect small mushrooms of a certain colour, which she would dry and sell to tourists in Berzase’s main square. As he got older, she would send him farther afield, looking for herbs, which she would dry and sell to tourists in Berzase’s main square.
They never had a great deal of money, despite his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit, and he had no knowledge of his father. When he started working as a clerical assistant in the National Bank, he was unable to afford the bus and so ran into work and back again at night. This proved a solid foundation for the training that would eventually lead to his pre-eminence in his country’s sporting pantheon.
Ristagno is a modest man and I am sure that if he were to read this article, he would ask for a picture of his opponents from two years ago to be included. I was lucky enough to find a picture of his competitors on that fateful day, taken by one of Hangovia’s most respected photographers, Benzino Stoviglie. So, here they are, from left to right Pasticcino Torta, Porka Grasso, Panino Crema, Culo del Lardo and, last but not least, Grande Mangiatore.
Filed under: Stories
Danielle and Sharon’s friend, Caroline, wrote a story. We thought it was so good, we asked Caroline if we could put it on the blog. Caroline said that will be fine. We weren’t able to use Caroline’s pictures because of copyright so Sharon found some on the Web. Here it is, it’s called “The greatest story in the world”.
The greatest story in the world (by Danielle and Sharon’s friend, Caroline)
All of a sudden the rabbits jumped in the pond to rescue a drowning trout!!!!
Margaret Thatcher walked over and said “that was very brave of you have this tuna sandwich”.
The bunnies were very pleased that the trout was safe so left with their sandwiches
We first met Eva at Heathrow Airport in the Harrods duty free shop. Danielle and Sharon were putting the teddy bears on display into amusing positions and Eva walked over to us with a shopping basket full of whisky, caviar and flights (for darts). “Vot are you doing?”, she asked us. We looked around us shiftily and then showed her the teddy bears in their new amusing positions. She seemed unimpressed and went off to pay for her shopping. We moved onto cuddly rabbits before being thrown out unceremoniously by a security guard.
An unpromising start then but, quite by chance, Danielle found herself sat next to Eva on the flight to Tashkent and, because Sharon spent the whole flight looking out of the window oohing and aahing at the clouds, Danielle struck up a conversation with her.
As it turned out, they got on rather well, although Eva tends to go on about Darts, Whisky, Caviar and Gregor Schenk von Osterwitz, Archbishop of Salzburg between 1396 and 1403, which can get a bit tedious after a while. However, Eva was very interested to hear about our Wicker Furniture horticultural pursuits and our collection of Hillman Imp Carburettors and between them they managed to while away the hours during the flight.
So that’s how we met. Eva is a world class darts player and has won the World Title for Synchronised Round the Clock five times, scoring a perfect 10 for artistry in 2005. Here is a picture of Eva (far right) and her fellow team mates at that fateful World Championships in 2005.
Eva definitely is a Diva. On our flight to Tashkent, for instance, she was making all kinds of demands on the flight attendants, even though we were flying third class economy, were not even entitled to seat belts and had to breathe second-hand air. I have to admit, I was embarrassed when she demanded to be served Caviar Blancmange and Garlic Eclairs and to be given a large teddy bear to hug for take off and landing (she is a nervous flyer).
Conversely, she is also notoriously tight fisted and can spot a bargain through thirty supermarket aisles. She always knows where the 2 for 1 and 3 for 2 offers are and will fight, bite and scratch to get the last dented tin of beans from the bargain bucket.
Her darts playing is phenomenal and it has come in handy away from the oche on numerous occasions, including once when she was shopping in Waitrose in Dartford in Kent. While she was going through the checkout, an armed robbery took place and the robbers looked set to get away with £278,361.84 takings. Cool as a fruitstand, she took her darts out of her handbag and felled the three ruffians with three deft flicks of the wrist. She got the first robber in the neck, the second in the thigh and the third in his right buttock.
She got a standing ovation and was awarded the freedom of the town of Dartford. Here she is just after she had given the police a witness statement, which later led to the conviction and jailing of the three armed robbers (now known as the Dartford Three).