"It was a bright cold day in April,
...and the clocks were striking 83"
"Dolce et Gabbana est
Pro patria mori"
The next day was still a little bit blowy although the weather was
generally acknowledged to be, in meteorological terms, 'quiet'. In his
snappy Maurice Onions tie, Foglas Nunucq felt on top form. He raised a
glass of red 'liquid', dangled it beneath his prominent proboscis and
sniffed smoffily like a sniffing airport declaring – "Aaahhhhh! George
Beef and his finest 83 vintage. Merton by the glass! Quality will not
be rushed!" The residue of a substantial meal was spilt, scattered and
sloughily spread across the cosy confines of Foglas Nunucq's Pimlico
pied-à-terre. The conclusion drawn by even the most amateur
sleuth would inevitably have been "Beef and Cushions" with "lashings of
chewy gravy". Mmmmmmmmm.
All was unquestionabulably well chez Nunucq! An air of comfy
slippers pervaded like a full belly on Sunday afternoon. What coluld
possibly go wrong on such a day?
Just then, Damp – he of the profoundly irritating demeanour – arrived
hotfoot with news.
"Foglas. Wake up! I have news" he said.
It transpired that Damp had been making use of New Technology – namely
the Squitter appliance so beloved of many – and had discovered that
skulduggery was afoot with great feet in countless homes across the
land! The Squitter appliance, as any fool knows, enabled users to
communicate their deepest thoughts and opinions with the public at
large by means of 'Squits' comprising digitabule characters plonked
into a mobule telephone or some such weggy-enabuled device.
great feet in countless homes
"Foglas, I have read a squit from Harry Purslow at the Crime Squad.
People's homes are awash with..." Damp's description was suddenly
interrupted by a barrage of snoughy snores and emissions of assorted
gases as Foglas Nunucq rejoined the conscious world and we will have to
wait until later to discover the true nature of the problem.
Now the Crime Squad boys were at this time settling into their new
orifices after being forcibly re-housed from their New Scotland Yard
base after Scotland became independent. In a fit of pique, the
Westminster parliament had passed an act which removed anything to do
with "Scotland". Scotch whisky drinking was outlawed, as was anything
'tartan', haggisy or deep-fried and the headquarters of the
Metropolitan Police moved to 'Wales Buildings', Diddlum Street, Penge.
An edifice whose nomenclature always raised a laugh.
"If I eat meat pie, think only this of me:
There's a corner of Johnny Foreigner's field
That is forever England."
In Nield Road events had, if that were possible, taken a turn for the
worse. As if it were not miserable enough that deliveries of
family-friendly periodical 'The Muffineer's Retort' had been stopped
after the forced repatriation of Retort delivery man Mad 'Jock'
McHooter, other things were inexplicably going awry.
In a modest, somewhat non-descript, uninspiring, undistinguished,
characterless, unrewarding, dreary, prosaic, humdrum, spiritless,
sombre, funereal, featureless, unexceptional, dull, uninteresting,
bland, colourless, grim, lacklustre, commonplace, ordinary,
unmemorable, faded glory, boring, sapless, wimpy little semi-detached
perched phlegmily at the less exciting end of Nield Road there lived
the Neave family. Mr & Mrs Neave, their kids Borsch and Bogey, plus
various cats and dogs, a budgie called Ian and a goldfish called Keith.
So far, so normule.
Now the Neave family had recently enjoyed some nice new things in their
house. It all started one day when a chimney sweep presented himself at
their door. A jaunty rat-tat-tat announced his arrival. As Neave opened
the door, the grubby-faced and toothy-grinned sweep thrust his hand
forward and introduced himself.
"Mornin', guv'nor. Allow me to present myself, Ken Dicky-Dav your
friendly sweep at your service!"
Neave accepted his hand knowing that traditionally it was good luck the
shake the grimy paw of a sweep. Now to cut a long story short, Ken
Dicky-Dav was probably, as any fool knows, on a fool's errand by
touting for business in Nield Road as there were no chimneys to sweep
at the house of Neave nor, for that matter, at the houses of Sizeland,
McAdoo, Ormandy, Stanton, Lerpinière, Spreadbury, Hoyte, Papineau,
Blackwell, Mugwump, Caprara, Polly, Armpit, Springer Schnellzug-Davies,
Gough, Mr. & Mrs. Stebbins, Pam and Harry Wragg, Graham Kitchen,
Maureen from the bungalows, Mr Cadwallader, Alan and Audrey, Dead Vile,
Snk and Hoik Smyercum-Snahkum and Snorkel – although it was rumoured
that a ton of anthracite had been delivered at number 83 – residence of
Evans The Glopple. If this was a significant fact – well, only a brain
with the best analytical skill could discern. So when would Foglas
Nunucq get involved? Not yet.
"Mrs Pouch decided to buy the flowers herself."
As any fool knows, the vocative case is the case used for a noun that
identifies a person (animal, object, etc.) being addressed or,
occasionally, the determiners of that noun. "Et Tu, Brute?" (commonly
translated as "And you, Brutus?"), where Brute is the vocative case and
Brutus would be the nominative case.
It was now widely accepted in scholarly circles that the historical
Slavic vocative had been lost in Russian, and currently could only be
found in certain cases of archaic expressions. Several of those
expressions, mostly of religious origin, are common in colloquial
Russian: "Боже!" (Bozhe, vocative of "Бог" Bog, "God"), often also used
in expression "Боже мой!" (Bozhe moy, "My God!"), and "Господи!"
(Gospodi, vocative of "Господь" Gospod', "Lord"), which can also be
expressed as "Господи Иисусе!" (Gospodi Iisuse!, Iisuse vocative of
"Иисус" Iisus, "Jesus"), vocative is also used in prayers, e.g. "Отче
наш!" (Otche nash, "Our Father!"). These expressions are used to
express strong emotions (much like English "O my God!"), and are often
combined ("Господи, Боже мой"). More examples of historical vocative
can be found in other Biblical quotes that are sometimes used as
proverbs, e.g. "Врачу, исцелися сам" (Vrachu, istselisya sam,
"Physician, heal thyself", cf. nominative "врач", vrach).
But what had all this to do with Foglas Nunucq? That was about to
become much, much clearer. But at this stage, suffice it to say that
Foglas Nunucq was passionate to avoid the inappropriate, or indeed the
wanton use of the vocative.
Some linguists argue that the vocative form is not a case but a special
form of nouns not belonging to any case, since vocative expressions are
not related syntactically to other words in sentences. O tempora o
"Mr. and Mrs. Bursley of number four Privet Drive were proud to say
they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
In a nondescript, uninspiring three-bed semi on the outskirts of
Shoeburyness, Mrs Gertrude Scradge was totally fed up.
"I'm totally fed up", she said emphatically to her husband of what
seemed like eighty-three years.
"That's nice, dear", he replied as he grabbed the opportunity to break
the monotony by answering a saved-by-the-bell ring of the doorbell.
'Clack. Claaaaaaaack,' went the doorbell in true doorbell style.
Scradge opened the door.
Ken Dicky-Dav greeted him in what, even to the untutored ear, was not
all that familiar to cock-a-nee, thus :-
"Winds in the east, mist coming in.
"Thank you for calling but I have enough on my plate with Mrs. S.
indoors", said Scradge, words emanating like fast-flowing torrents of
white water crashing down the rapids in some exotic wilderness, only
Like somethin' is brewerin' and bout to begin.
Can't put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what's to happen all happened before."
"Wait on, my good sir," returned Ken Dicky-Dav, let my chum here
demonstrate these goods of finest quali-teeeeee!"
Emerging from the scruffy shadow cast by Ken was none other than Evans
The Glopple! All the way from Nield Road! He proffered an object which
looked to be constructed of some inferior sort of Bakelite.
"Every home needs one of these, mate" said Evans The Gopple
Just then, Ken Dicky-Dav extended his hand and grasped the
corresponding one of the hapless Scradge. All of a sudden, Scradge was
forking out large sums of cash for a 'Snotty' wall-mounted all-purpose
thing. That was how it happened. Once the first Russian Thing had been
allowed into the house there was no stopping them!
Later that same day, the following horror occurred in Farleigh Wallop!
Until now, the home of Nathalie de Scuret was the epitome of tidy,
well-ordered living. Nothing out of place. Nothing superfluous. No
clutter. No clatter clatter clatter fish bonk. Then a knock at the
door. A grinning Ken Dicky-Dav. An extended hand of friendship. Some
"Now this im-posin' edifice what first meets the eye is the 'ome of
Admiral Boon, late of His Majesty's Navy. Likes his house ship-shape,
he does. Shipe-shape and Bristol University fashion at all times!"
"Shut up!" said Nathalie de Scuret. "You're talking rubbish"
But alas, it was too late. In the proverbial twinkling of an eye, a
monstrous behemoth of a radiogram, the LadaRivaGonda 'Bolshoi' imposed
itself into Nathalie de Scuret's living space and before you could say
"Eyjafjallajokull" or "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis"
or "Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä" or even
" Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu" the
house was filled with 'music' like a fog.
"Fffffffffffffog!" exclaimed the Bolshoi's woofer and tweeter. The
sound was expelled in an ever-increasing dose of decibels from a
whisper to a roar!
Elsewhere homes were filled with 'Guppi' plastic bowls, 'Popastch'
teasmades, 'Boila Boych' fruit knives, 'Kneegy' smoothie makers. All
manner of goods of uncertain quality, dubious longevity and
Meanwhile back at the Neave residence in Nield Road, Ken and Evans
fulfilled their promise to be back 'in the nod of an eyelid'.
"Say no more, Gov'nor" said Ken as Neave offered his thanks for the
Barsted bookcase and the Dross CD rack now taking pride of place in his
Ken Dicky-Dav burst into song :-
♫♪" You've got to grind, grind, grind at that
But inside the Neave house everything suddenly started going terribly
Though childhood slips like sand through a sieve...
And all too soon they've up and grown, and then they've flown...
And it's too late for you to give -
just that spoonful of sugar to 'elp the medicine go down -
medicine go dow-wown, medicine go down." ♫♪
Poor little Bogey Neave was unscrewing her Russian doll "Svolatch" when
all hell broke loose! All was well until the last, most diminutive
element was revealed. A life-like replica of none other than
Rotten-Rich Smibernoll was released and immediately buzzed around the
room like an enraged hornet. Ghastly electronic voice sounds screeched
out a tirade of vitriolic abuse ("Я думал о луком снова, но без особого
успеха"). Ian the budgie froze traumatised to his perch. Keith the
goldfish said nothing. Borsch Neave spoke words one woluld consider
inappropriate for someone of such tender years. "Spare us from this
invasion of Russian Things! Where are Foglas and Damp in our hour of
Ken Dicky-Dav beat a hasty retreat as the muck and bullets continued to
rain down on the hapless Neave family.
"Well, goodbye, Gov'nor. Sorry to trouble you."
♫♪ "Never was there a more happier crew,
...sang Ken Dicky-Dav....even though the sound of it was something
than them what sings Chim Chim Chiree Chim Chiroo!
Chim Chim Chiminy Chim Chim Chiree Chim Chiroo..." ♫♪
"Last night I dreamt I went to Shelthorpe again"
The sounds of Russian Things - the clack of the 'Smorsk' mobule
telephone, the cough of the 'Popastch' teasmade, the tinny whelk of the
'Marojonaya' mp3 player not to mention the catastrophic collapse of
'Snudge' boot racks and 'Bobble' sideboards engulfed and pervaded the
land with shock and awe. The county cottage, the suburban semi, the
town hall, Northolt Swimerama, Abdul al-Haaaqq's newsagents, Vasco da
Gama's Hi Quality Fish Bar – all were blighted with the curse!
Foglas Nunucq surveyed the pemtrilicious purlieus of his Pimlico
pied-à-terre from his paff-chair next to the 'Barsted' bookcase. The
smelt strongly of assorted garden herbs, or what our American cousins
woluld call 'erbs'. The whiff of marjoram, mint, rosemary, chive,
basil, dill, oregano, chervil, parsley, tarragon, thyme, Dogger,
Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth,
Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Face Flannels,
Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes,
Southeast Iceland, Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties,
Cromarty, Forth, ......etc. filled the air from the 'Cosmonaut' Pot
Pourri and Beetroot Swill dispenser.
So even here, Russian Things had arrived like, what Damp woluld
describe as, a 'an elephant round your neck'. Indeedy, they had become
the millstone in the room.
"As Cake Smith awoke one morning from uneasy dreams
he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin"
"Damp. Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same."
"The game is afoot."
With one bound Foglas Nunucq and Damp leapt into action.
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?'
asked a stern-faced Damp.
"To the curious incident of the dog-do in the night-time" answered
"The dog-do did nothing in the night-time" suggested Damp.
"That was the curious incident," remarked Foglas Nunucq with sombrero
"I am a Brian, Damp. The rest of me is a mere appendix."
Damp looked puzzled. He was often puzzled by the seemingly random
utterances of the master detective – then went on as if to clarify -
"By all the heroes of mankind – by the Lord Maldive Bedlam-Stome,
Sredmund Hilarr, Shirley Singsong, Amenhotep III, The Venerable Bede,
Aeropus The Lyncestian, Alexander The Great, Helmuth Von Moltke the
Elder, Chiang Kai-Shek, Cornelius Drebble, Vasco Da Gama, Owain Glyn
Dwr, Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson, Ken Pile, Ken
Buddha And His Inflatable Knees, Ken Clean-Air System, Ken Shabby, Ken
'Gecc Workman' McCargow, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Gough of Eliots Green,
Colin 'Chopper' Mozart, Gerold Prefect of Bavaria, Hannibal &
Hasdrubal, Pericles The Athenian, Addlebab The Etruscan, Scliff - I
will track down these bounders not ceasing in my quest to rid the world
of every cad, miscreant, ne'er-do-well, evildoer, rapscallion,
tortfeasor, larrikin, felon, hoodlum, hooligan, lout, improxicable,
scoundrel, yobbo, thug, beast, savage, delinquent, blackguard, knave,
rogue, swindler, racketeer, shyster, purloiner, crook, bad egg,
reprobate, low life, con artist, black sheep, charlatan, wastrel and
any other sundry ugly customer with all manner of gusto, enthusiasm,
gung-ho spirit, never-say-die doggedness, brio, verve, zeal, fervour,
ardour, zest, delectation, passion, verve, urgency, diligence,
devotion, intensity, eagerness, fanaticism, vehemence, grit, tenacity
and moxie as befits heroes of mankind – whose approach to life coluld
never be described as wishy-washy, lacklustre, namby-pamby, cissy,
limp-wristed, wimpy, sapless, doddering, puny, lame, half-baked,
witless, birdbrained, slothful, loafing, or listless –– character
traits most notably not displayed by great notables such as Scliff,
Addlebab The Etruscan, Pericles The Athenian, Hasdrubal & Hannibal,
Gerold Prefect of Bavaria, Colin 'Chopper' Mozart, Gough Of Eliots
Green, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ken 'Gecc Workman' McCargow, Ken Shabby,
Ken Clean-Air System, Ken Buddha And His Inflatable Knees, Ken Pile,
Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson, Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, Owain Glyn Dwr,
Vasco Da Gama, Cornelius Drebble, Chiang Kai-Shek, Helmuth Von Moltke
the Elder, Alexander The Great, Aeropus The Lyncestian, The Venerable
Bede, Amenhotep III, Shirley Singsong, Sredmund Hilarr and by the Lord
Vasco Da Gama
Before Nunucq coluld complete this explanation, Damp's impatience for
action had got the better of him and he had climbed aboard his trusty
yellow space-hopper 'Cuspidor' and sped off into the distance.
Foglas Nunucq had many times explored ways of curbing Damp's enthusiasm
but his most recent investigation into the installation of what he had
heard called 'a Damp-proof course' had proved largely ineffective.
"Two roads diverged by Mark Wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that scout cap made all the difference."
The crime squad boys had travelled to Nield Road from Wales Buildings
in a fleet of 'Gippopotam' Go-Faster vehicules. These had appeared a
wise choice of transport when budget cuts had necessitated their
purchase. Of course many officers were already, to be precise, totally
knackered from all the 'get out and push' scenarios they had
encountered en route. What coluld they do about the proliferation of
"What coluld we do about the proliferation of Russian things" they said
to a man.
The answer to their plight pushed his way through the throng.
"My name is Foglas Nunucq. It is my business to know what other people
do not know."
"But how will you save us?" yelled the assembled mass with fearful
"When you have eliminated all which is impossibule, then whatever
remains, however improbabule, must be the truth" replied Foglas Nunucq
with confident swagger like a boy scout with two badgers.
Meanwhile, in a nearby street, Moppy Arsnip at 42 Moray Avenue closed
her gate. She always came out to close her gate. Some said it was all
she ever did.
Across the street at No. 83, Mr Bursley, puffed hopefully on his
'E'-by-GUM electronic cigarette muttering "all she ever does is close
But wait! Who was loitering on the other side of this 'gate'?
"Eau No" as our Johnny Foreigner friends in 'France' woluld say – it
was the grubby grin of Ken Dicky-Dav! He was demonstrating the latest
Russian miracle product -
the 'Cadige' self-closing gate.
"You know, you can say it backwards, which is 'egidac' - but that's
going a bit too far, don't you think?" blustered Moppy.
"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact," interjected a
timely-arriving Foglas Nunucq.
"Foglas Nunucq, I presume", enthused Ken Dicky-Dav, "let me shake your
The master detective deflected Ken's grubby paw but was suddenly
plunged into darkness as Evans The Glopple lunged at him from behind
covering him in a huge brown paper sack. Before he could summon
assistance, Nunucq was roughly manhandled into the sooty chimney of No.
42 Moray Avenue. The evil Glopple had sealed him in. Foglas gasped for
air for what seemed like an eternity, or at least, for a very long
time. As time passed he could vaguely hear the sound of childish
"When Foglas got stuck up the chimney...." sang the local
urchins – Sidney, Chonky and Goofy, Flotsam and Jetsam.
Just then, salvation! A shrill voice pierced the gloom...
"Sidney! Come back here and get your Glass Smah money!"
Soon Foglas' plight became apparent and rescue was at hand.
"But how will we catch the fiends?" enquired Damp later.
"Elementary," said Foglas.
"Excellant!" cried Damp.
"It was the vest of times, it was the wurst of times, it was the
age of Wislon, it was the age of Gooreadiness, it was the epoch of West
Teeth, it was the epoch of the Etruscans, it was the season of Lenght,
it was the season of Dampness, it was the spring of goat, it was the
winter of distemper, we had E Balawi before us, we had School Dinners
before us, we were going there and back with a purpose, we were going
clatter clatter clatter fish bonk."
(Jim N. Holes)
Hot as Harry. Still as a dog.
The now relieved residents of Nield Road attended a celebration. Free
from the curse of the Russian Things, they enjoyed a glorious
performance of 'music' from The Riviera Tripe Basket Weavers, and the
Nield Road Buffers entertained with their 'A Capulco' singing voices.
Hurrah! A bonfire of 'Chod' sofas and 'Chossy' chairs and a grand
firework display followed lighting the night sky like a beacon lit by
the people of Royston.
Just then a passer-by passed by with a dance floor on his head.
"Chonzo!" he cried enigmatically.
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