The President's Competition 2014

The first VWC competition of 2014 was the President's competition. Below are the rules of entry for the compeition and the four winning entries. That's right - four! Two entries tied for third place. Even 1002646 10152323817295879 647343371 nmore unusually two of the entries were by the same member, Janet Baldey, who placed both 2nd and 3rd and inspired this very well 'photo-shopped' winners' photo by Oscar.

 

The President's Competition 2014

Animal Crackers

A golden rule is never share a stage with animals or children. This year we are asking you to break at least half of that rule. The 2014 President’s competition is to write a story in which an animal is the main character.

Whether the character is essentially human like Boxer in Animal Farm, all too human like Toad in the Wind in the Willows or more of a real animal like Buck in Jack London’s Call of the Wild is up to you.

But the story must be entertaining and, oh yes, have a murder as the main plot element (but please, no “who killed cock robin?”).

The rules

·         Entries must be no longer than 1500 words but can be shorter.

·         Each entry must be accompanied by a suitably awful pseudonym.

·         Each entry must be printed, single-sided, on A4.

·         Your real name should not appear anywhere on, or with, the entry.

An entry fee of £2.50 must accompany all entries.

  • Please could you supply two copies of each entry (one for each judge).
  • The closing date for the competition is 5th February 2014.  You can either hand in your entry on the meeting for that date or post it to Nick Cook. Posted entries must not arrive later than the closing date.

Adjudication by Simon Bowden (last year’s winner) and Nick Cook will take place on 5 March at St Michael’s Church Hall.

Good Luck!

 

 

The winning entry, by Richard Bruckdorfer.

Slaughter of the Innocents            By Jen O’ Syde    1295 words

The whirr of the exercise wheels stopped when the human dressed in black stepped into the room, his lumpy body and bulbous neck framed by light from the corridor. He checked something on the wall, coughed on his sleeve and slammed the door as he left. Darkness was restored and life started again. The scaly tails of my cage mates slid over mine as we returned to the hopper to feed.

       ‘They’ve got human food over on the other side’ squeaked my brother from his cage on the rack below. ‘It smells so good. I’ve had it with these pellets.’

       ‘How do you know?’

        ‘I saw the human take some…. and eat it.’

        ‘Have you seen how fat those rats are?’ I whispered. ‘You don’t want to be like that.’

       ‘I’d be alright…I won’t get fat.’

        The sound of teeth grinding on pellets resounded round the room, interspersed by slurps from the cages on the far wall. The feast slowed down when the lights came on and the time for rest began. My attention was drawn to the droppings on the tray below the grid at the bottom of our cage.

       ‘It’s so annoying,’ said my cage mate as he jumped down from the hopper. ‘It’s as if those humans want to stop us having a tasty nibble. You have to catch a turd as its coming out – piping hot – or it’s gone- out of reach on the tray.’

        ‘I’ll just be glad when they change it,’ I replied. ‘The piss is burning my eyes.’

       ‘You’re such a softie,’ he said.

         We settled down and went to sleep in a pile.



The door was flung open and a familiar voice rang round the room. I knew a treat was in store. A gentle but fleshy hand protruded from a white coat, undid the catch and reached inside to lift me out. My fur was stroked with tenderness and I was placed with care into a clean cage over a tray with fresh litter. I liked the human in the white coat.

         ‘I wish I knew what goes on out there,’ grumbled one cage mate after the door had been closed and the nice human moved on to comfort our neighbours.

         ‘Where?’

         ‘Out there, through that big door!’

         ‘We’ll never know,’ I said. ‘Perhaps it’s as well… at least we‘re safe in here. It’s nice and warm and we always get fed.’

         ‘Safe? Safe........? Have you never noticed how some cages are taken out full of rats and come back empty?’

       ‘No…..No I haven’t. I don’t like to……’

         My cage mate bared his teeth.

         ‘You don’t like to what? My brother was taken out through that door last week. You should have heard him squeak. He’d been on human food. They’re the ones they want… the fat gits.’  

           He turned round, curled up and went to sleep. I tried and tried, but couldn’t. What if my brother was taken? I was awake until the lights went out and the room stirred itself once more for a feast.

         ‘What food have you got?’ I called out to my brother.

         ‘Human food ……. it tastes great.’

         ‘Don’t eat it!’

         ‘Why ever not?’ he said.

         ‘It’ll make you fat and they’ll take you away…..’

         Before I could say more, a beam of light flashed through the window of the big door. It juddered open and four humans burst into our room shining their light sticks into our cages. They weren’t like the other humans we knew, but thin and with something black over their faces. I could only see their eyes. I squeaked when our cage was opened and cowered at the back. We waited but nothing happened.

         ‘They’re opening all the cage doors,’ whispered the smallest of my mates. ‘Let’s get out. There’s human food out there – can’t you smell it? I’ve got to taste it. They’re not going to harm us.’

           I resisted no more, scampered through the door after him and climbed down the rack. In an empty cage we found food in a bowl. It was very tasty, unlike anything we’d had before. We ate until we felt sick.

         ‘Let’s get out while the big door’s still open,’ I said, excited but scared by my new freedom.         

           The faceless humans were still opening up the cages but then stopped and looked round. There was something in the corridor. The lumpy human who visited us each dark time stood in the doorway and switched on the lights. It shouted at the thin humans and grabbed one by the arm. They squirted something into its face. Whatever it was smelt terrible. It stung my eyes so much I could hardly see. The lumpy human fell to the floor and was hit on the head with a big light stick. The faceless humans rammed their feet into its body again and again until it lay quite still. A dark liquid oozed from its mouth and the faceless humans ran away.

           I found my brother and we hid under the bottom row of cages with all the others. My brother crept towards the body, not daring to touch it, but drank from the liquid which had formed a large pool on the floor and turned towards us.

         ‘Be careful,’ I said.

         ‘Come on….. it’s good.’

         Without hesitation all the rats joined in, licking the floor until the liquid was gone. My brother jumped up on the body and drank from the open mouth and bit at the tongue. The others followed him eating the soft parts of the face. The lumpy man was covered with white rats but did not move.

         ‘Stop!’ I cried, ‘let’s run.’

           They took no notice and ate the human’s flesh. I ran through the open door into the corridor and hid beneath something big and grey. I was trembling more than on the day I was first separated from my brothers. More humans came running down the corridor shouting and banging the walls. All of them were in black with round caps on their heads, but I could see their faces. At the door to our room they stopped, fell silent for a moment, then shouted again. They stamped on the rats and kicked them off the body. I heard my brother squeak then heard him no more. Dead and dying rats lay everywhere. Their bodies were brushed away and thrown in a sack. The black coated humans put a white line around the body and made bright flashes from a small box.

         It was long time before they left. My hunger was great. I ran to another hiding place and then to another. The air became cooler and strange smells tickled my nose. An open door beckoned and I ran into the half-light beyond. I crossed a cold hard floor until I came to a soft dark surface with strange things sprouting out of it. They seemed to be living but harmless and offered me somewhere to hide. Small creatures crawled beneath them and tried to escape from me. I ate them. I had to. They tasted good.

         A huge barrier blocked my way, but was broken in places. I squeezed through to the other side and saw water that flowed past me and away into the distance. I drank then heard the squeak of a rat in distress.

        And now I am here. On the other side of the water lies the body of rat - dark, not white like me. His neck is torn and he’s breathing hard. Standing over him is a creature ten times his size. Its fur is dark, but white on the underside, with big pointed ears and a long, bushy tail. Its face is smeared with the dark liquid. The creature has seen me.

 

 

Second placed was this entry by Janet Baldey

The Wolf Within by P. K. Nease

Teresa stood staring out of the kitchen window at the dog.   It lay on the grass, its nose resting on its paws, as the death throes of the setting sun flooded the lawn with crimson and set fire to its fur.

‘If only’, unbidden the bitter thought flashed into her mind.   Immediately, she felt guilty.   It was wrong to be jealous of an innocent animal. But Teresa couldn’t rid herself of the idea that the dog was anything but innocent. She could have sworn there were times when she’d caught it regarding her with a calculating expression. On those occasions, the look in its soft brown eyes was quite different from when it gazed at her husband.  

She jumped, startled by the brassy ring of the doorbell.   She shot a glance at the clock; Charlie must have forgotten his keys again.

`           As she walked down the hallway she could hear the clicking of the dog’s claws as it skidded along the parquet flooring. As usual, it beat her to the door, skilfully insinuating its body in front of her just before it opened. Its tail waving like a flag, it reared and rested its paws on Charlie’s chest, almost knocking him over.   A grin smeared itself over his face.

‘That’s my girl.   Are you pleased to see me? Come on now, down.’

Gently replacing the dog’s front legs on the floor, Charlie bent to its level and ruffled its ears.

‘What a lovely welcome! Have you missed me?’.

At last, he rose and aimed a kiss somewhere in the direction of Teresa’s cheek.

‘Hi love.   What are we eating tonight?’

The muscles of her face tightened.   He thinks more of that dog than he does of me, she thought.   As the dog trotted off behind its master, it shot her a sly glance.

            All through supper, it sat by Charlie’s chair ogling him with chocolate brown devotion.   At last, Charlie put down his fork, rose and pushed back his chair.   Looking down, he uttered the magic word.

            ‘Walkies.’

            Teresa watched them as they walked down the path and out onto the lane; the dog circling its tail and weaving figures of eight around Charlie’s legs. She bit her lip. Not once, ever since they’d been married two years ago, had Charlie ever suggested that she should join them on their evening walks. Just as he never suggested that she sit next to him on the sofa as they watched TV.   That place was reserved for the dog.   Charlie would sit gawking at the screen, one arm thrown over the animal, his fingers thrust deep into its fur, while the dog lay inert, a look of glazed ecstasy in its half-open eyes.

That night, Teresa awoke from out the fog of an uneasy dream and lay, its shreds disintegrating around her.   Behind the sound of Charlie’s regular breathing, she could hear the creak of the garden gate keeping time with the wail of the wind.   She realised that was what had woken her. Charlie must have forgotten to close it and now she’d get no sleep. With an irritated sigh, she dragged her body from underneath the duvet. As she padded round the end of the bed towards the door, she had a vague sense that something was wrong but her mind felt muzzy and she couldn’t think properly. Then, it came to her. She always slept nearest the door, so why was she walking around the bed from the other side. That was where the dog slept.

‘It’s a wonder I didn’t step on the damned thing,’ she thought.

A sudden noise shocked her into stillness.   She craned forward and listened.   There was the whisper of voices and the sound of stealthy movements.   A frozen hand gripped her bowels and squeezed.   There were strangers in the house.   Instinctively, she dropped onto all fours.   She tried to cry out but her throat seemed clogged. Desperately, she tried to clear it.  

‘Go away’.   The words came out as a rasping growl.

She crouched, her body hugging the carpet.   Then, she heard the slam of a car’s door and the voices receded.   With a feeling of relief so complete she almost swooned, she realised the sounds had been coming from the house adjacent.

She took a deep breath and tried to get up but her limbs seemed anchored to the floor and she nearly fell over.   Looking down, at first she was merely surprised to notice that her arms were covered in long, red hair. Then, horror followed surprise as she realised it wasn’t just her arms. Her whole body was covered with a glossy, chestnut pelt.   A rolling wave of panic washed over her

‘Help me’ she cried.   It came out as a low whine.

Her head felt heavy as she swung it towards the bed.   She blinked, her feeling of disorientation deepening. There were two figures lying there, cuddled intimately together.   Despite her plight, she realised that she and Charlie had not slept like that for a long time.

‘But, it’s mine’ she thought helplessly.   ‘That’s my body in the bed’.

The smaller figure’s eyes snapped open and Teresa knew the full meaning of terror for the first time. The eyes, staring triumphantly at her, were brown.   Hers had been blue.

‘No’ she screamed.   It came out as a howl.

‘Shaddup girl,’ Charlie said, and turned over in bed.

All night, Teresa tried to tell Charlie something was wrong but her words came out as yips and yelps and in the end he got annoyed and dragged her out of the room by the scruff of her neck.

‘If you can’t behave yourself, you must sleep in your basket.’ He closed the door in her face.

The next few days were a nightmare. Charlie wouldn’t listen to her and not being able to face the endless bowls of Chappie, Teresa grew weak and emaciated.   Her fur started falling out.   She couldn’t sleep and had no energy.   She simply lay in her basket as hope faded from her life.

In spite of her misery, she couldn’t help noticing what was going on. One of the first things the dog, - or ‘Terri’ as Charlie now called her - had done, was to throw out all Teresa’s clothes. She bought a completely new wardrobe, miniskirts mostly and tops with plunging necklines.   Teresa had to admit she looked well in them. They showed off her curves and long, slim legs. It had to be admitted, her figure was better than Teresa’s, obviously due to all the long walks she had been taken on.   Charlie was now walking around with a foolish little smile playing around his mouth and he no longer stayed up late watching television.

Then, one day she heard something that made her prick up her ears.

‘There’s something wrong with that dog.’ Terri said.   Charlie looked worried; he came over and started stroking her.   Teresa desperately wanted to unburden herself but she knew she’d only start whining again, so she didn’t stir a muscle. She simply gazed at him imploringly, willing him to notice the change of eye colour, but Charlie had never been the observant sort.

‘It doesn’t look happy does it?’ Her rival said.

Teresa felt her lip begin to curl and Charlie got up so quickly he almost fell.

‘We’ll wait and see how she goes.’ He said.

A few days later, just before Charlie got home, Terri poured pools of water all over the kitchen floor. Puzzled, Teresa peered at her from over the top of her basket.

As soon as Charlie was inside the front door, she heard Terri talking to him in the hall and a terrible realisation dawned.

The kitchen door opened and Terri gestured dramatically.  

‘Look’ she said.   ‘It’s pee’d all over the floor.   I think the poor thing’s senile.   It is quite old, isn’t it?’

Charlie looked miserable and Terri slipped an arm around his waist and pressed her body against his.

‘I know…’ she muttered huskily.   ‘You’ve had it a long time but don’t worry, I’ll do what’s necessary and it won’t suffer.’   She offered up her face for a kiss.   ‘Now, shall we just pop upstairs for a shower?’ She raised herself on tiptoe and licked his ear with her long, red tongue.

The next day Teresa was awakened by the clinking of a chain. She opened her eyes and saw Terri bending over her.   All her poise and superficial glamour had disappeared, her teeth were bared, her incisors dripped saliva and her eyes gleamed. Terrified, Teresa saw the wolf within.  

‘Come on you brute,’ she snarled. ‘ You’re going to the vet. I’m taking you for your last walk.’

The chain looped around her neck, Teresa’s paws skittered helplessly as she was dragged towards the door.

‘Noooo’ she howled, raising her muzzle to the ceiling.   ‘Noooo, you can’t. Its murder!’

 

Joint third was this entry, also by Janet Baldey

Jungle Blues By Ivor Dreem

Peril stalks the jungle, but not on four legs.  

It comes walking upright as sharp-eyed natives hack their way through tangled lianas.   With stealthy grace they raise venom-tipped blowpipes and marmosets, tamarinds and spider moneys fall prey to the pet trade.

It comes driving in Land Rovers with frozen hearted poachers at the wheel.   Forcing their vehicles through the undergrowth, forging tracks where there were none before, they seek larger game. A second of gentle pressure on the trigger and another tiger, rhino or shy jungle elephant, is blown into a bloody heap; crucified on the altar to the Oriental penis.

It comes rumbling in by logging truck. Huge forest harvesters, that shake the ground and pollute the air, bring lumberjacks with chainsaws that cut deep into the trunks of soaring teaks, sending them crashing to the ground, leaving only jagged stumps festering in the mire.

It comes insidiously as villages nibble away at its margins.

A tide of destruction surges through the forest and death follows in its wake.  It is momentous, it is unstoppable and sooner or later, everything that pads, slithers or wings its way through the jungle faces extinction as barren swamps replace majestic trees.

            The Universal Eye peers through the emerald canopy and sees all.   Small, limp bodies tumble from trees, their luminous eyes shuttered by closed lids.   Gaudy, orange and black pelts are tossed into open trucks and lie limp and motionless like tattered, wind-starved flags.   Deep craters, full of nothing but mud and

slime, surround acres of logging camps.

The sounds of the forest are muted as the jungle mourns and the Eye brims, shedding teardrops that swamp the ground and floods the rivers.

            ‘Aieeee’ the people wail. ‘Never before have have the rains come so early in the season.   It is an omen’.

            Driven by disaster, the Eye sends and coiled deep underneath the earth’s crust, the Great Serpent receives.   Angry at being disturbed, the tip of its tail twitches.   Seas boil and great fountains of blue-green water erupt only to collapse again, causing surges that swallow many small islands.

            ‘Aieeee!’   The voice of the people rends the air.

            Now fully awake, the Serpent sees through the Eye and fury replaces anger. It rears and volcanoes burst into life sending gouts of scarlet fire thousands of feet into the coral sky.    Underneath the sea, the earth quivers and breaks, and tsunamis race towards serene palm fringed shores.

            ‘Aieee’, the people scream.

            At last, the Serpent lassoos its wrath and speaks.    

            ‘Bring me my brothers.’  

            Immediately, the elements obey the order. A light zephyr shuffles the grasses and the message is passed from stem to stem.   Coral snakes, fer de lance, cobra, black mamba, vipers, python, all heed the call and slither, glide and squirm towards the crest of a certain rise. The site of the first spawn. Their ancestral home.   The birthplace of the Great Serpent.   It is night before all arrive and driven by instinct, they form a circle and dance, their bodies swaying and their tongues flickering.

            At last, the phantasm of a huge and sinuous shape appears weaving and undulating, outlined in pitch against the moon washed sky.

            ‘Brothers, sisters….a great calamity is upon us….’   Its voice reverberates inside their skulls and mesmerised, the reptiles cease all movement and listen

‘The greed of man surpasses itself.   Now, the most secret places of the earth are violated.   Even our jungle fortress is breached and unless we act quickly, we are doomed.’

The Serpent’s massive head swivels as its gaze encompasses the reptilian multitude now coiled and still, only the glitter of their eyes betraying their presence. It speaks again.        

            ‘The self proclaimed kings of the jungle - the tiger, the leopard, the rhino, the elephant - all are useless.’ There is a white flash of fang as the Serpent betrays its contempt.  

‘Too large and cumbersome they have no protection against the sticks that spurt fire and Man laughs at their plight.   The human pestilence thinks it is invincible but it is mistaken.   Their heads too high in the clouds, they fail to see what is at their feet.   And this, my brothers, is our strength. Small and insignificant, we can hide inside crevices and strike when least expected; swarm out of the blue when the enemy’s back is turned’.

Interrupted by a sudden clatter, its head swings towards a group of rattlesnakes starting to preen; its jaws open with an explosive hiss and the snakes freeze.

‘But even we cannot do it alone’.  With one last stern look at the rattlers, the Serpent again turns to face its audience.

‘We must call upon all that is most loathsome to Man: scorpions, the arachnids, hornets, and the fearsome giant centipede – scolopendra gigantea.   Every ant, bug and biting insect that makes its home in the undergrowth must join us.   Together, we will drive out the beast that walks on two legs. Now, go my brothers and spread my word.’

            Only the Eye sees the first murders.   Seduced by the chattering of langurs, a group of natives worm their way through thick vines.   Blinded by sweat streaming down their faces, they blunder into a thick mesh of silk thread woven between the trees. Busily brushing off the sticky filaments, they fail to see the spiders, each with a glossy black abdomen marked with a scarlet hourglass.   At the time, their bites are hardly felt and it is only later that the first native dies, gripped by convulsions that distort his body and throw him, twitching, to the ground.   The toxin in a Black Widow’s bite storms through the body’s nervous system and although a single bite is rarely fatal, these spiders were on the warpath and many had set that trap.

            Other assassinations follow: a group of loggers are set upon by thousands of giant hornets, each as big as a small bird. The rising crescendo of the insects’ furious hum drowns their agonised screams as each thrust of a swollen abdomen drives home a red hot nail. Each sting produces pheromones, acting like magnets and attracting ever more hornets, until their victims lay still, buried deep inside a living cocoon of yellow and black.

            Mosquitoes descend in their millions, a thrumming, pulsating umbrella they blot out the sun and each one is ravenous for human blood.   Their faces red and swollen, their hands clawing away countless winged vermin, maddened by the incessant high pitched whine that drills deep into the meat of their brain, the poachers leap from their vehicle and run to the nearest waterhole. It is only after they have thrown themselves in that they discover it is foaming with hundreds of deadly Taipan.   For everywhere, there are snakes; they form a living carpet on the ground and the rivers heave with them.

            In the jungle, no one hears you scream and it takes a while for people to realise something is wrong. Eventually, the rumours start.   It seems that no-one who enters the jungle is ever seen again.   At first, a few foolish people, mainly white skinned, scoff and disregard the talk. Money calls, a siren they can’t resist, but once inside the forest, they vanish like a dream greeting the morning.   Search parties are mounted but even one step inside the jungle causes its floor to blacken and ripple with swarms of huge ants whose bites cause excruciating pain; for they are called bullet ants for a reason.

The rumours are compounded.

‘Black magic,’ the people moan.   They keep their distance and soon the jungle becomes a forbidden place ringed by an invisible barrier of fear.  

            Slowly, life in the forest returns to normal.   Spiders, naturally solitary beasts, scuttle back to their burrows. The snake hordes disperse and once more, mosquitoes infest only certain swampy areas.   The giant hornets spread their wings and return to the cities where food is abundant.   Leopards and tigers start to prowl the leafy glades again and, once more, the antelope grows wary.   All becomes as it ever was, every species linked together in an interdependent chain which is broken at the planet’s peril.

            At last, The Great Serpent again opens its jaws but this time in a yawn. It is satisfied and as befits its age, resumes its slumber beneath the earth’s crust where it lies coiled in a mountainous heap, warmed by the molten rock.    

Only the jungle’s guardian, the Universal Eye, does not sleep.   Instead, it keeps watch, by day and by night as, ever vigilant, it waits for the next time.

 

and last but by no means least this entry was joint third, by our Chair, Dave Weaver

 

Just Skip It By Ann E Mal

The Director parked the jeep outside the star’s trailer and turned to his First Assistant.

“I could really do with out this hassle right now you know. This is the fifth time we’ve had to go through all this with him and its still only Series Two.”

“They don’t have very good long-term memories Boss.”

“They don’t have any bloody memory!”

The two men reluctantly got out and the Director rapped on the trailer door. After a long pause he rapped again. Eventually from inside came a heavy thumping sound (like a large tail bumping into things) then the door opened a crack and a long nose poked out.

“What…?” Said a peeved voice.

“Can we have a quick word?” The Director asked timidly.

There came a sigh then the door opened fully. The trailer’s occupant shuffled back awkwardly to let the two men passed him then shut the door again.

“Have a seat, I can’t face breakfast at the moment but there’s coffee in the pot.”

“Thanks… er, what can we do for you?” The Director asked.

“How d’yer mean mate?”

“You asked to see us, remember? In the bar last night after we all looked at the day’s rushes.”

“Did I…?” He scratched his long face with a paw distractedly. “About what?”

“I… believe it was about the other kangaroo’s…” The First Assistant prompted nervously.

“Other… oh yeah, I remember now. What the hell are using other kanga’s for in this programme? Don’t think I can’t spot ‘em, I know what my own bloody ears looks like for frig’s sake, and my own sodding tail, and my own paws. You’re using stunt kanga’s when my back’s turned aren’t you? Don’t try to bleedin’ deny it you bunch of arseholes. And speaking of arseholes I know my own one of those looks like too. Well I do when I’m in wardrobe.”

The Director and his First Assistant began to blanche at the star’s tirade.

“But Skippy…”

“Mr Skippy thank-you very bleedin’ much!”

“Sorry, Mr Skippy… We’ve been over this all before.”

“Four times before…” The First Assistant muttered sotto voce to him self.

“I heard that Brian!” The hung-over kangaroo hissed angrily. “And as far as I’m concerned this is the first and the bleedin’ last time we’re going to have this particular conversation or I’m getting my lawyer to go through my contract again with a fine tooth comb. That one the girl grooms me with should do fine. This TV show’s called ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, not ‘Skippy and a load of bleedin’ extras shoving their noses in’. And I’ve seen those cut off paws you use for the close-ups when I’m resting in my trailer. Totally gross apart from the fact that I’ve got a paw model contract with the studio to do all that stuff.”

“But Skip… Mr Skippy, you kept dropping things, and then you’d wander off between takes as if you’d forgotten where you were… it’s been holding up production.”

“Are you saying I’ve got a drugs problem Michael, because I’ll sue your arses off if you breath a word to the press. I just get a little confused sometimes that’s all. You guys have given me a pretty heavy script to learn you know. I’m not used to all this dialogue, don’t forget I come from action films; this cerebral stuff takes time to get used to.”

“What dialogue? You only have to twitch your nose and chatter your teeth.” Brian the First Assistant was starting to lose it.

“Oh, so you know the Kangaroo for ‘Timmy’s fallen down the old disused well out by Mrs Murphy’s and broken his leg, follow me…’ do you Brian? One of your many talents when you’re not running around kissing Michael’s arse or making the coffee? I studied with bleedin’ Lee Strasburg I’ll have you know! He said I was a natural.”

“Of course you’re a natural, you’re a bloody kangaroo…” Michael laid a calming hand on Brian’s arm before he could say any more.

“Look Mr Skippy, we’re just asking for you to meet us half way, that’s all. Let us use a few Skippy look-a-likes for the pick-up shots while you retire to your trailer for a well earned nap after a long day’s…” Michael waved a hand in the air, “…hopping. And emoting of course. Hopping and emoting. And may I say you’re brilliant at both.” He finished smoothly.

The kangaroo seemed to think about what he’d said for a few moments, one of its paws rubbing an eye while the other scratched its crotch. Then the long tail gave a petulant swish.

“No, sorry gentlemen, but no bleedin’ way. I was at Sydney Animal Con last month, on the same panel as Flipper, Trigger and Gentle Ben. He’s not so gentle when he’s had a few by the way. Anyway, those guys told me none of them ever had a double, never mind a whole bloody gang. It was just them doing their own show. They asked me what the frig was going on when I told them what you lot get up to. Said I had to make a stand against the industry or we’d all suffer, it’s not soddin’ reality TV you know.”

“Quite right, we’ll certainly take your views into consideration at the next script conference.” The Director replied in a mollifying tone. “Where are you going…?”

“Just got to pop out for a leak, mate. Talk amongst yourselves for minute.”

They heard a grating noise coming from outside the trailer for a few minutes then the kangaroo was back. “Right, I think that’s all for today. Thank-you gentlemen, I think that was a most constructive meeting.”

“So we’re ok are we?” The Director asked hesitantly.

“Never better mate. See you on set tomorrow.”

“Thanks Skippy, Mr Skippy sir. I’m glad we could sort this out.”

“No probs!” The Kangaroo told them as he shut the trailer door behind them.

“That was easier than I thought it would be.” The Director told his First Assistant as they drove back to the hotel.

“Yeah, you want to slow down a bit,” the First Assistant replied, “only that’s quite a tight bend coming up ahead.”

The Director stabbed at the brake then desperately stabbed again. There was a heavy thumping sound as the pedal hit the floor far too easily. “It’s not working, it’s bust… Jesus Christ, the little bastard’s chewed through the bleedin’ cable…”

The Kangaroo stretched out on the couch in his trailer, beer in one paw, telephone in the other.

“Yeah, get Lee Strasberg for me would you babe?” He told the secretary on the other end of the line. “I’ve got a little project that he might be interested in. Tell him it’s his favourite protégé, the one with the tail.”