The Adventures of the Boy with the Bear with the Blanket

For this week’s blog, I thought I would break with tradition and venture into the world of children’s stories. Inspired by my Grandson, Harry, here is a short story aimed at 3 to 6 year olds.

Pizza Time

Henry is a very cute little blond boy.

Henry

Henry’s best friend is a little bear called “Bear, Bear”, a bear so good they named him twice.

Bear Bear

Bear Bear’s best friend is a cheeky little blanket.

Blanket

Henry, Bear Bear and Blanket went to New York, New York, a city so good they named it twice.

New York New York

New York New York is a very big place, and after walking all day, Henry felt hungry. Looking for somewhere to eat, they found a pizza restaurant called “Pizza Pizza”, a restaurant so good they named it twice.

Pizza pizza Restaurant

A rather charming waiter sat the three friends at a nice table and asked Henry what he would like to eat. Henry asked for a pizza.

Pizza

“What would you like on top of your pizza?” the waiter asked. Bear Bear replied “Another pizza!!”

Pizza pizza

“And what topping would you like on that pizza?” Blanket said, “Another pizza!!!” So they were served their triple-decker pizza.

Pizza pizza Pizza

A man at another table to the right was about to order his food, looked across and said: “Yum, I’ll have what they’re having”. A lady on the table to the left was also about to order, she said: “Yum, I’ll have what they’re having”. Soon EVERYONE in the restaurant was eating triple-decker pizzas.

Henry went to pay for their meal, and the manager came over and said they did not have to pay. In fact, the pizza was so good that they would add it to their menu, but it needed a name.

Italian Waiter

Bear Bear said, “Call it the ‘Pizza Pizza Pizza’”… so they did, a pizza that was so good they named it THREE TIMES.

Pizza pizza Pizza

Advertisements

Gas Mask

My son, Craig, used to play for the local junior cricket team. His slightly younger sister, Loren, was taking part in a school project researching the Second World War. Apart from the fact that these two events were taking part at the same point in their childhood, you might not think these facts are connected, but let me tell you a little story.

One day, during the early part of summer, Craig came home from school and unusually found Loren playing in his bedroom. She had located a hand-sized plastic object and had it over her mouth and nose deeply breathing in and out. He said, “Oi, what are you doing in here?”

Loren replied, “Never mind that, what are you doing with a gas mask in your bedroom?”

Craig said, “That’s not a gas mask, it’s a cricket box!”

This apparently meant nothing to Loren until Craig explained about the part of the male anatomy protected by a cricket box while batting. I do believe that this was the first time Loren had voluntarily dashed to the bathroom to scrub her face and to clean her teeth.

Here are two images for you, the first to explain what Loren thought she was doing and the second to illustrate what she was actually doing.

Razzle-Dazzle

As a 14-year-old, I remember captaining my school cricket team. One evening, we played a cup game at Great Horton CC in Bradford. I can’t recall which school we played against, but I remember the match for two different reasons. Our team bowled first, and it was the only time I ever took a hat-trick. All three wickets were caught by the same player fielding at deep mid-off, so I’m not sure if I can claim a significant amount of credit as a feat of bowling knowing that I had been whacked to the edge of the field on three separate occasions. That is not, however, the main reason why I remembered this match.

Thin Cricketer

I was one of the two opening batsmen, and I played a wild shot that resulted in my dismissal for a very low score. I trudged back to the clubhouse where the rest of the team were sitting outside watching the match. There was no applause, no words of consolation and barely even an acknowledgement of my short-lived innings. As I walked past my teammates and headed for the changing room, the teacher in charge said, “Where do you think you’re going?” I replied that I was just going to take my pads off and change my shoes.

Feeling rather dejected and a little embarrassed at my poor performance with the bat, I sat myself down in an empty changing room. Something caught my eye. Underneath the bench opposite me, I saw a rolled up magazine. I wandered over to investigate further and unfurled it to reveal the title “Razzle”. Yes, it was the first time I had ever encountered a ‘porno’ magazine. I had honestly never seen any images like those I saw that evening. This was already starting to feel like a more exciting world. My eyes opened ever-wider in wonderment as I (literally) peeled open each page in the magazine.

Goggle Eyes

It’s amazing how quickly 20 minutes go by, and I quickly came to my senses. I rolled the magazine up and returned it exactly where I had found it before leaving the clubhouse and joining my teammates outside. The teacher shouted across, “What have you been doing?” I shouted back, “Taking my pads off!” He replied, and I quote, “You’re still fuckin’ wearing ‘em!!”

Beetroot Face

The last day of the cricket season had arrived. The under-17’s Bankfoot cricket team in the Bradford League had completed a less than moderate campaign finishing just three places from the bottom of the table. Winning or losing the last game of the season would have made no difference to the finishing position, but with hindsight, that is no reason for my despicable unsportsmanlike behaviour that day.

I opened the batting for that team along with a good friend of mine, Richard. We had privately battled all year to end the season with the best batting average to the point where, to us, the contest had become more important than the fortunes of the team. Before that final match started, I led Richard with a batting average of 20.5 runs per innings compared to his 20.1. We went out to bat together and even shook hands before we started; I guess the opposition must have thought that a bit odd!

Within just a few overs, Richard had smashed the ball around and had already scored 30 runs before I had even scored 5. This was a disaster; at this rate, he was going to overtake me in the averages. As a team player, I really should not have become so excited when he was caught by the slip fielder. Richard walked over to me before leaving the field and said in a desperate act of reverse-psychology mind games, “Well, it’s all yours.”

I mentally worked out what I needed to do to claim the best batting average for the season, I either needed to score more than 30 runs or score 10 runs but not lose my wicket. It is shameful to admit that I opted for the latter option and defended my way through the next 15 overs, attempting to make sure that whoever was at the other end of the wicket took most of the strike. In short, I played in the style of the great Geoffrey Boycott for the entire 20-over match and scored 15 runs, thereby winning our contest. Of course, the team ended up losing the game because we barely scored any runs, but at the time, that didn’t really matter to me.

Boycott

The end-of-season club awards ceremony took place a few weeks later, not just for the under 17’s but for all the age brackets and teams that played for Bankfoot CC. That year, it was an organised fish and chip supper for all the players, both junior and senior, and some family members. The club chairman started his speech while people were still eating and shortly afterwards, he announced the winners of the various awards. My turn came around, I was called up to receive a small trophy for the highest batting average for the under 17’s. I was given a round of applause, walked over to the chairman, shook hands, received my award and returned to my seat.

30 seconds later, a lady approached the opposite side of my table and held her open hand out to me. I smiled, stood up and shook her hand. She said to me, “Very nice, well done and all that, now will you pass me your dirty plate?” Sweet Lord, she was only trying to tidy up. Deep embarrassment took over, and I’m convinced my face went a dark shade of beetroot red as all my mates laughed their bloody heads off.

As an epilogue to the story, the team sheets and scorecards for the first five matches of the following season looked something like this:

Cricket scoresheet

Nine Lives

Something recently reminded me of a short story I wrote over 20 years ago. It was handwritten on a long lost scrappy piece of paper but using the same idea I decided to rewrite it for this blog. I hope you enjoy it.

 


Nine Lives

The year was 2424. All wars between countries and religions had virtually ceased; the human race had to act collectively to combat a mass, worldwide alien invasion. For centuries, there had been increased sightings of alien craft for the governments of the world to accept the threat could not be ignored. They pulled together, agreed on peaceful settlements and combined all efforts to a global defence strategy.

The alien beings were desperate to colonise our planet due to the exhaustion of their own natural resources; the already overpopulated Earth had insufficient assets to sustain multiple lifeforms. After weak attempts to negotiate settlements, the foreign lifeforms had no option but to endeavour to wipe out humanity and take over the Earth for the survival of their species.

The human race appeared to have little to fear. While the aliens had sophisticated spacecraft, the living beings were small, slow-moving lifeforms with limited intelligence; they were no match for a human being if it ever came to 1 to 1 combat and their versions of weapons were the equivalent of peashooters in comparison to the more advanced Earth defence artilleries. They did, however, have two advantages: firstly, they could breed very quickly, resulting in huge numbers already adapting to life in the Earth’s atmosphere; and secondly, they were disease-ridden, harbouring infections which had no impact on their own lifeform but were deadly to humans.

The aliens had to be controlled, ideally eliminated altogether. Humans lived in vast controlled zones, protected by giant magnetic shields which were virtually impenetrable. With ever-increasing extra-terrestrial numbers, there was a danger that those shields might not last forever. As a consequence, daily efforts were made across the globe to cull the invaders and keep the numbers to manageable proportions.

Surveillance vehicles called “Thundercats” were sent on patrol, leaving the safety of the controlled zones to seek out the intruders and kill on sight. The Thundercats were fast-moving, multi-terrain armoured tanks with their own mobile magnetic defence shields capable of withstanding a small atomic bomb. The aliens were not difficult to find, they would plod towards the tanks with a single-tracked, zombie-like dedication and no plan of how to attack. They could be killed with a single shot, and their bodies would decompose within days. The patrol missions were more like cleaning-up exercises than acts of war.

 

Spencer Invictus was a much-decorated and highly respected Captain in charge of a small specialist team managing the patrols. He was the youngest man ever to be assigned the position of Captain, and his operational knowledge of the Thundercat surveillance tanks was second to none. On February 1, 2424, he turned up for his usual working day at the “Station”, the simple name given to the depot which was the home to hundreds of war machines. He said goodbye to his 13-year-old brother who loved to be in his company and entered his Thundercat for a two-hour shift.

Gliding effortlessly across the barren terrain outside the human zone, he successfully sought out dozens of cumbersome alien land vehicles and even more of the sluggish creatures. He felt no remorse as he blew them all to smithereens with the minimum of effort. In his eyes, it was simply a job to be carried out. He used to say that he very much enjoyed his job; there was something therapeutic about eliminating evil and ridding the world of these dangerous creatures.

He had just started his return journey back to the Station when something odd caught his eye. The skies rapidly darkened and his dashboard control panel began to flicker. Unconcerned, he opened the communication channels back to the main Station switchboard. “Delta, Alpha, Gamma, over.” No answer. “Delta, Alpha, Gamma. Come in, over”. No answer. The override amber alert setting was activated on his dashboard, but still, the skies darkened.

Additional attempts to communicate with the Station or indeed other surveillance vehicles met with similar failure. He still did not know what was happening but was sufficiently concerned to set the override red alert setting and then accelerated the Thundercat to its maximum speed. Shortly afterwards, the cause of the darkened skies became apparent; an alien Mothership, the size of 14 football pitches, arrived directly overhead turning daylight into virtual night-time.

Spencer weaved his vehicle as fast as he could towards base when he noticed the eight super drones hatching from the Mothership. They completely surrounded the Thundercat, and in an instant, before Spencer had a chance to re-adjust his vehicle missiles to point to the air, each super drone, in turn, unleashed cutting-edge laser weaponry. According to the monitor, the attacks depleted the shield’s defences by 12½% each time. Within 30 seconds, all the drones had unleashed their maximum destruction.  The Thundercat’s first eight lives had been cruelly taken, it was left to the Mothership to deliver the final ninth blow to a terminally weakened vehicle. It seemed to delay the inevitable, almost savouring the moment.

Inside the ‘Cat’, there were no remaining weapons, no movement capabilities, no power apart from an emergency override to feed the computer, and no hope. As the cockpit temperature rose to critical proportions and a bright white light covered the whole area, Spencer screamed his final act of defiance, “Come on then, just do it”.

In the last moments of life, the first part of the brain to die controls all the day-to-day decision-making processes and body movements. After this, the middle part of the brain which stores all memories takes control; this is why people say your life flashes before you. In his last fleeting moments of life, Spencer thought , in reverse order, about when he set out on patrol, how he left his young brother playing in the Station, the day he started work and went out on his first patrol, a brief fight he had whilst at school and his first day at nursery. As his eyelids were about to shut for the very last time, he glanced at his monitor which fizzed, crackled, went black and then, for a split second, displayed two words…

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

 

“GAME OVER”

 

Tom put the PlayStation controller down on the coffee table and searched for the disc labelled, “Tomb Raider”.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the interconnected web-enabled virtual world, a Japanese teenager from Downtown Shibuya, Tokyo, who controlled a Mothership, took the option to save his game, another level successfully navigated.

..

..

..

 

 

Did you spot the subliminal clues?

  1. Spencer Invictus = “Space Invaders.”
  2. Delta, Alpha, Gamma, over = “Game over.”
  3. Spencer’s brother played in the Station = “PlayStation.”