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The Poetic Eels Of Lake Quimby
Mike Stools

On the southern shore of the mysterious amoeba shaped Lake Quimby, lived a young boat builder called Anglepoise. Anglepoise had a relatively easy life, for since the inhabitants of Lake Quimby’s shoreline preferred to sail in large wooden spoons there wasn’t much demand for his trade, and he was able to enjoy a fairly light workload. This left a considerable amount of time for Anglepoise to pursue his main interest, which was teaching the eels of Lake Quimby how to write limericks.

Now, Anglepoise’s eels were not stupid. They could speak up to five oriental languages, solve partial differential equations and even understand why Jewish people have such appalling taste in wallpaper. However, try as they might, they simply could not get to grips with the rhyming and metering mechanisms of jocular limericks.

This had caused a considerable amount of frustration for Anglepoise, for he had been teaching his eels for eight and a half years now, and failed to get a single eel to compose a complete working limerick. It was also putting a strain on his relationship with his girlfriend Armagnac, and threatening any chance of his blowing raspberries on her bottom, a fetish which Anglepoise particularly enjoyed but which Armagnac had hitherto denied him.

It was approaching midnight of the annual Saint Pingy’s Day Ball when Armagnac finally issued Anglepoise an ultimatum.

“Anglepoise Sneeze-Factor,” she scowled, “If you don’t take me to the ball immediately, I shall stamp my foot.”

“Just another five minutes, dear,” said Anglepoise, “Conrad’s composing. I feel sure that this time he’s going to produce a proper limerick.”

“He’s being trying to write a limerick for the last eight and a half years!” snapped Armagnac, “I hardly think another five minutes is going to yield any results.”

Slowly she raised her left foot off the ground.

“Please, darling. Don’t stamp your foot,” begged Anglepoise, “Look at him, he’s concentrating terribly hard.”

The eel was indeed giving an awful lot of thought to his task. He would occasionally close his eyes in deep contemplation, and then sometimes stare fixedly at the sky. Every now and then, his elongated body would squirm in frustration as the words to his poem struggled to arrange themselves in his head. Suddenly, the fish jolted, grasped a charcoal stick in his tail and began frantically to scribble down the fruits of his inspiration. When he’d finished, he handed (or rather finned) the parchment to Anglepoise, and sat back with a smug, self-satisfied smirk on his face. Armagnac snatched the poem from him and read it out.

“There once was a sandwich of tuna
Who fancied himself as a crooner
It became such an issue
That he folded a tissue
And went home.”

“It’s crap!” she snapped, “It’s dreadful! Why do you waste so much time on those stupid eels?”

Conrad’s face dropped.

“Don’t call my eels stupid,” said Anglepoise, “You know they can speak up to five oriental languages, solve partial differential equations and even understand why Jewish people have such appalling taste in wallpaper.”

“I don’t care if they can fart the 1812 Overture,” said Armagnac, “They can’t write limericks to save their sad, miserable, pathetic lives! If you think I’m going to let you blow raspberries on my bottom then you’re as stupid as your eels.”

She raised her left foot higher and higher until her knee could bend no further.

“No!” yelled Anglepoise.

But to no avail. Armagnac drove her foot solidly to the ground stamping a firm footprint in the pebbly beach of Lake Quimby.

*

Now, Anglepoise had a rival for Armagnac’s affections. This was his brother Shoeburyness, who had inherited the family spoon making business when their father had died of a freak outbreak of spoon-handle pigs. [1]
[1] A terrible affliction, which only attacks people who regularly engrave intricate designs on spoon handles. The victim becomes nauseous, sweats profusely and then becomes infested with up to two dozen Gloucestershire saddle-backs.

Shoeburyness’s problem was that since the people of Lake Quimby preferred to sail about in enlarged versions of his father’s classic table spoon design, he was forced to work all the hours God sent in order to satisfy customer demand. Consequently, he had no spare time to chase after attractive young girls and satisfy their demands. However, he did have the advantage that he was not committed to teaching fresh water wildlife how to write humorous poetry of any kind. And so it was to him that Armagnac finally went in search of an escort to the ball.

“Yes, Armagnac,” he said, “I would love to take you to the ball. I can finish Mr. Silage-Abstract’s twin ladle catamaran in the morning.”

Armagnac smiled.

“But why,” continued Shoeburyness, “would you prefer to go with a mere spoon maker rather than my boat building brother? He’s always been better than me. Did you know that his current project was teaching eels how to write limericks? Don’t you think that’s amazing?”

“Ooooh,” purred Armagnac seductively, “but I’ve always had a soft spot for manufacturers of water-going cutlery.” She picked up a long handled salad tosser and stroked its length lovingly. “They’re so . . . passionate!”

And so off went Shoeburyness and Armagnac to the Saint Pingy’s Day Ball. There they discovered that the party was in full swing, and everybody was wearing loganberry cheesecake on their heads and waving half-scale inflatable models of Norman Wisdom high in the air. Quite why this was regarded an appropriate way of commemorating Saint Pingy’s Day is lost in the annals of history, as indeed is what mighty deed Saint Pingy had performed in order to merit his sainthood, but it seemed a fitting way to celebrate. Everyone was having a good time and that’s the main thing, isn’t it?

Shoeburyness and Armagnac were greeted by Armagnac’s parents as they arrived.

“Armagnac, darling,” squealed her mother, Flotsamblouse Wainscotting, “I thought you weren’t going to make it. Is that nice Anglepoise not with you?”

Mr. Wainscotting made a grimace at the name of his daughter’s boyfriend.

“No, mummy,” replied Armagnac, “He’s being very boring. Shoeburyness has very kindly offered to escort me tonight.”

Shoeburyness politely tipped his loganberry cheesecake at Armagnac’s mother, who was visibly showing difficulty in hiding her displeasure in her daughter’s choice of partner.

“Mrs. Wainscotting,” Shoeburyness greeted apprehensively.

Mr. Wainscotting, however, did not share his wife’s reservations about Shoeburyness.

“Excellent,” he said enthusiastically, “Fine young man. Tell me, Shoeburyness, how is the spoon making business?”

“Oh, busy, busy,” said Shoeburyness.

“Been doing lots of,” Mr. Wainscotting began, “handle engravings, eh?” He gave Shoeburyness a wink and slight nudge of the elbow.

“Daddy!” scolded Armagnac in disgust.

“Er, no sir,” replied Shoeburyness, “After what happened to my father I’ve been keeping my handles fairly plain.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Wainscotting, “Unfortunate business. Still you must hanker after a little metallic etching every now and then. Used to be a bit of an aficionado myself in my younger days, you know. Strictly amateur, of course, not in your league.”

“Daddy, please,” said Armagnac, “You know it’s dangerous.”

“I say,” interrupted Mrs. Wainscotting, “Isn’t that an absolutely gorgeous loganberry cheesecake that Lady Nostrilpeople is wearing? Mind you, I’m not at all sure about Mrs. Ectoplasm’s. I’m sure she’s used bramble.”

Mr. Wainscotting harrumphed disapprovingly.

“Oh, you haven’t yet got your half-scale inflatable Norman Wisdoms,” his wife continued. She snatched a couple of them from a silver tray that a passing servant was carrying, and handed them to Shoeburyness and Armagnac.

“Shall we dance?” Armagnac smiled at Shoeburyness.

“Yes,” said Shoeburyness, and he led her to the dance floor where they waltzed, tangoed and waved their half-scale inflatable Norman Wisdoms to the music of the Quimby Quartermasters’ Quintet.

*

“A wobbly playwright called Brian
Had three dozen fish but couldn’t fry’em
He got out his pan
But eventually gave up and went down the road to the chippy where he changed his mind and had a jumbo sausage instead.”

“No, Conrad, no,” said Anglepoise, “It starts off okay, but you’re losing it before the end.” He handed the poem back to the crest-fallen eel. “Try again,” he said. “Now, what about you, Lucy? You’ve been working hard all night on that poem. Let’s have a look.”

“You know how it feels
When you live your life as eels
It’s a bum deal.”

“Oh, Lucy, Lucy,” despaired Anglepoise, “How many times have I told you - we’re writing limericks, not Haiku.”

Anglepoise sat down on a rock and heaved a heavy sigh. A cool breeze was blowing in from the lake, causing Anglepoise to pull his cloak tightly around his shoulders. He shuddered. But was it the breeze that made him shudder, or was it his frustration in being unable to achieve his goal? Or was it the strange misty apparition that was slowly forming on the surface of the lake? A ghostly white figure of an old, old man. Gradually, the figure materialised into a more solid form, hovering motionless about six inches above the lake’s surface. A deep, hollow voice echoed around the bay.

“There once was a wise man called Norman
Who took on a job as a doorman
As part of a piss-take
He made up a cheesecake
Of loganberry for the old store man.”

“Wh-wh-wh-what?” stammered Anglepoise, “Who’re you?”

“Anglepoise Sneeze-Factor?” spoke the voice.

“Y-yes,” Anglepoise trembled.

“Son of Goose-Decree?” intoned the voice of the old man.

“Y-y-yes.”

“I have a message for you.”

“For me?”

“From your father.”

“My father is dead,” said Anglepoise, confused but dauntless.

“He is very proud of you,” the ghostly voice continued.

“You’ve spoken to him?”

“He is very pleased with what you are trying to do.”

“Oh, er, good good. That’s nice.”

“You must go to the ball.”

“I, I can’t,” said Anglepoise, “I have to teach these eels to write limericks. If you truly have spoken to my father then you’ll know how important it is.”

“I am aware,” said the old man, “But that will be taken care of. You must go to the ball.”

“Look, I hate to be rude or anything,” said Anglepoise, “but just who exactly are you?”

“My name,” said the man, “is Saint Pingy, and this is my day, and you must go to the ball.”

*

The ball was an enormous success. Shoeburyness and Armagnac had danced and danced, and were now taking time out for a breather. Mr. and Mrs. Wainscotting were also taking a breather. Mr. Wainscotting was sitting by a potted fern looking very pale and drawn.

“What’s the matter with daddy?” asked Armagnac.

“He’s a bit tired,” said Flotsamblouse, “He’s waved one too many half-scale inflatable Norman Wisdoms. Always overdoes it.”

“I feel queasy,” moaned Mr. Wainscotting.

“Oh dear, daddy,” said Armagnac, “You don’t look at all well.” Mr. Wainscotting was beginning to perspire. Armagnac loosened his tie and unfastened his collar in order to release the cobs. [2]

[2] Although nobody knows what these are, people invariably sweat them.

“Oh, my God!” she shrieked. Something most disturbing was beginning to happen to her father.

The left side of his neck began to quiver. The quiver grew to a wriggling movement as if something beneath the skin was struggling to break out. Suddenly the flesh parted and a little soft, pink snout poked out of his neck.

“Oh, father,” howled Armagnac, “Is this what I think it is?”

“I’m afraid so,” gasped Mr. Wainscotting, “I’m sorry Armagnac, but I was doing it for your mother.”

“Doing what, daddy? What have you done?”

“A canteen of cutlery,” wheezed Mr. Wainscotting, “It was for our silver wedding. For the last two weeks I’ve been secretly engraving the handles.”

“Oh daddy, daddy,” wept Armagnac, “How many spoons were there?”

“A dozen teaspoons, a dozen dessert spoons and half a dozen table spoons.”

“Thirty spoons in a fortnight!” exclaimed Armagnac, “Oh, foolish, foolish father!”

The snout pushed its way further out, and sniffed the air curiously.

“Oink!” it said.

A number of other guests had begun to notice Mr. Wainscotting’s affliction. Some of them screamed. Mrs. Ectoplasm fainted spilling her cheesecake onto Flotsamblouse’s dress. Flotsamblouse, who had been anxious for the opportunity all evening, took a finger of it to taste.

“Bramble,” she said, “I thought so.”

The snout on Mr. Wainscotting’s neck had pushed its way further out to reveal a full hog’s head. Further snouts were now appearing all over his body, tearing his clothing and squealing like swine to the slaughter. In under two minutes, he was a mass of full blown pigs, surgically attached to his body by their bottoms. The band had stopped playing, and everybody had gathered round to witness the horrific spectacle. In the sheer bally hoo, Flotsamblouse had successfully switched loganberry cheesecakes with Lady Nostrilpeople, and was parading herself about to, well, to nobody for they were all too interested in Mr. Wainscotting’s apparel.

“Let me through, I’m a doctor!” came the inevitable obligatory cry in these situations.

The crowds parted for Dr. Nosebag the local practitioner and bean critic. After a thorough examination he announced gravely, “I’m afraid Mr. Wainscotting is in the final stages of spoon-handle pigs.”

The crowd gasped in horror.

“Well, get rid of them!” demanded Armagnac.

“I’m sorry, Miss Wainscotting,” said the doctor, “but it is incurable.”

“But, you must be able to do something!”

“No,” said Dr. Nosebag, “There was once a cure, but the technique is lost in the history of time.”

“What was that?” asked Armagnac.

“The only treatment is to recite limericks composed by eels. There was only ever one person who could train eels to write limericks, but he is long since dead and the secret died with him. I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do.”

Armagnac began to cry.

“Pity,” said Dr. Nosebag, “He grew some damn fine runner beans.”

“Not so fast there, good doctor,” came a cry from the back.

Standing at the door to the foyer was Anglepoise with a bucket of eels, a pad of parchment and some charcoal sticks. He made his way to the front and addressed the crowd.

“This very night,” he announced, “the secret of extracting limericks from eels has been brought to me from beyond the grave.”

He lifted the eels from the bucket and handed them each a charcoal stick and a sheet of parchment. The eels eagerly grabbed the charcoal sticks and began to scribble industriously onto the parchment.

Anglepoise took one of the sheets and read it out.

“A pervert whose wife was called Trish
Once had a peculiar wish
He took off his jacket
And got out his packet
And asked her to smack it
with fish.”

Upon the utterance of the word fish, the paper burst into flames and leapt out of his hands. The flames continued to burn on the ground, its tongues extending into well-formed pseudopods upon which the fire stood, somewhat uneasily at first, but then began to walk freely. Impishly, it walked over to Mr. Wainscotting and stretched out two long fiery arms with which it grasped one of the pigs. With a mighty tug it heaved the squealing swine from its victim’s body, and engulfed it in its own body of fire. Then it staggered over to the punch bowl and leapt in. There was a brief splash, a sharp hiss and an acrid whiff of smoke, and then there was nothing. No pig, no fire. Perhaps a slice of peach was slightly charred, but otherwise the punch remained undamaged.

“Everybody get a poem and read it!” commanded Anglepoise.

The guests did as they were bid and for each limerick they read, a fire demon was invoked which removed a pig in the same manner as the first. Eventually, Mr. Wainscotting was freed of all porky infestation.

Armagnac rushed into Anglepoise’s arms and kissed him lavishly. Mr. Wainscotting rose to his feet and addressed his redeemer.

“It seems I’ve misjudged you, young Anglepoise,” he said, “I always regarded all that business with the eels a bit of - harrumph - stuff and nonsense.”

“I think many people also thought as such, Mr. Wainscotting,” said Anglepoise, “But, no. Since my father died I have been working hard to rediscover the cure for spoon-handle pigs so that no one else would ever have to suffer the same humiliating fate. And since my brother has taken over my father’s trade, he was particularly at risk, and I could not bear to see him go the same way.”

“Yes, quite,” said Mr. Wainscotting, “Shoeburyness, you’re a blithering idiot! Spoon handle engraving, indeed! I don’t want to see you anywhere near my daughter ever again!”

“B-but . . .” burbled Shoeburyness.

“Quite right,” said Flotsamblouse, “Now get out of here and never let us see your nasty cutlery again. In future, we shall sail in proper boats with sails and oars and poop-decks, whatever they are.”

Shoeburyness fled, with his tail between his legs.

“So, tell me, Anglepoise,” said Mr. Wainscotting, “How did you come to teach eels to write limericks.”

“I had a visitation,” said Anglepoise.

“A visitation?” inquired Flotsamblouse.

“Yes,” said Anglepoise, “From the ghost of the man who originally discovered the cure. Saint Pingy!”

The crowd gasped. Many crossed themselves.

“You had a visitation from Saint Pingy?” exclaimed Dr. Nosebag.

“Yes, and now I know what he did and why we celebrate his day and wear loganberry cheesecake and wave half-scale inflatable Norman Wisdoms. It’s all there in the very first limerick he ever extracted from an eel.”

“Well, Anglepoise,” said Mr. Wainscotting, “You have indeed done well for yourself. You are an asset to the community and have well deserved the hand of my daughter in marriage.”

“Marriage?” gibbered Anglepoise, “I don’t want to marry her. I just want to . . .”

“It’s all right,” interrupted Armagnac taking his hand, “I know. Come. You’ve earned this.” She led him out of the ballroom, through the gardens, and down to Anglepoise’s boat yard on the lake shore. There, she clambered up onto a half completed tug boat and fingered a long, flat wooden piece of boarding that was waiting to be installed.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“It’s a poop-deck,” said Anglepoise.

“Ideal,” said Armagnac.

She bent herself over the poop-deck, kicking her legs playfully behind her. Anglepoise ran to join her.

He knelt down behind her and held her feet down. Armagnac stopped kicking. Anglepoise hitched up her skirts to reveal a deliciously peachy rounded bottom. He puckered his lips and took a deep lung-full of air. Then he leaned forward and placed his mouth firmly upon her left buttock.

Then he blew.

Rasp!

Armagnac’s fleshy bottom rippled and quivered. Anglepoise’s lips rasped and vibrated. The resonating sound echoed about the boat yard scattering seagulls and intriguing the eels.

“Ooooooohhhhhhh!” went Armagnac.

“Ah,” went Anglepoise, when he’d finished.

They spent the rest of the night blowing raspberries on each other’s bottoms until the dawn cast an orange glow across the lake. Breathless and exhausted, they collapsed into a tired heap, and watched as the sun climbed from its nightly slumber. A distant cock heralded the arrival of a new day, a day in which mankind shall henceforth never again be plagued by that most accursed of afflictions - spoon-handle pigs.

“Turned out nice again,” chuckled Anglepoise, as he snuggled up to Armagnac.

Then they fell asleep.





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