It was Monday morning and Tommy Cannon was sitting in the living room drinking a nice cup of tea, eating toast, and reading the morning’s letters.
Suddenly, there was an enormous crash as the ceiling fell in, a large body dropped down with the ceiling, hit the floor and disappeared in a cloud of dust.
When the air had cleared, Tommy found himself sitting at the edge of a large jagged hole in the living room floor. He leaned over and looked down into it.
“Hello, Tommy,” said Bobby, from down the hole. He was just picking himself up from the wreckage in the cellar. He was covered in broken plaster, dust and cobwebs.
“What are you doing down there?” asked Tommy.
“I’m fixing the roof,” said Bobby, dusting himself down and climbing out of the hole.
Tommy looked up through the ceiling at the sky. “Er, wouldn’t it have been easier to fix the roof from the top of the house?” he asked.
“Not any more,” replied Bobby. “It’s all in the cellar. I had a bit of trouble…”
“You’re always having a bit of trouble,” said Tommy. “I wish I’d never bought you that Do It Yourself book for your birthday. Oh well,” he sighed, “I’ll just have to call in the builder again. He’s making a fortune from you doing things yourself. Everything you do seems to turn into a major disaster.”
“No it doesn’t,” exclaimed Bobby indignantly. “I renewed the electric wiring in the house, didn’t I, and that’s all right.”
“Oh, yes,” said Tommy with a bit of a sneer. “That’s all right, all right…Turn on the kitchen light and the kettle boils…The postman rang the doorbell and the TV exploded and now we’re the only family in Oldham that keeps its milk in the oven and cooks the Sunday dinner in the fridge. Terrific.”
Bobby opened his mouth to argue, but Tommy hadn’t finished yet. “Come on, Bobby, admit it, you’re hopeless. Look what happened when you vacuumed the house out last week…When we opened the vacuum cleaner we found seven socks, two meat pies, a jar of marmalade, the dog’s dinner, Grandad’s false teeth, and the budgie, poor little thing. All it’s said since then is ‘Who’s a dusty boy?’ I honestly don’t know how you do it.”
“Well, anybody can make a little mistake,” protested Bobby.
“A little mistake…” Tommy laughed, a trifle hysterically. “A little mistake indeed. And I haven’t forgotten the time you made the Christmas pudding – turned the gas on and forgot to light it, and then went back half an hour later and struck a match to find the ‘gas leak’. We still haven’t managed to get all the raisins out of the kitchen wall…”
“Well, it saved us wasting money on brandy to set fire to it,” said Bobby, sidestepping pretty smartish to avoid a clout round the ears from Tommy.
“Anyhow,” went on Tommy, “never mind that, look what we’ve got here.” He held out a letter to Bobby: “It’s an invitation to be judges at an indoor fete and pet show in Mumpcastle town hall next Saturday afternoon.”
“Oh no! No way,” said Bobby quickly. “I don’t know that I fancy that. You know what happened when we judged that baby show last week.”
“Well, yes,” agreed Tommy, “I suppose it was a bit dodgy. I must admit that I never expected the losers’ mums to behave like that. Those baby bottles didn’t half hurt when they hit you, particularly the full ones. And the babies were no better. What about that little lad that used the elastic from his plastic pants as a catapult…By heck he was a good shot. It took me ages to get his dummy out of my earhole.”
“Aye, and remember the baby girl that won it,” said Bobby. “She had absolutely no need to sink her teeth into the end of my nose when I was pinning the winner’s medal on her.”
He rubbed his nose gently, thinking back to the awfulness of the baby show, and realising ‘that lots of pets’ meant ‘lots of teeth’.
“No, Tommy,” he said, “it’s much too dangerous. We won’t do it.”
“But it’s nothing like a baby show,” protested Tommy, who was looking forward to going.
“We won’t do it,” said Bobby most emphatically.
“It’s a very pleasant town, is Mumpcastle,” said Tommy persuasively.
We won’t do it…” said Bobby firmly, in a voice that gave no promise of relenting, absolutely no promise of mind changing, and absolutely no chance of being altered in any shape or form.
“They say they’re having black pudding sandwiches…”
“WE’LL DO IT.”
Well…it just so happens that there is one thing that Bobby Ball finds difficult to resist, and that is black pudding sandwiches. So when they got to Mumpcastle Town Hall, the first thing thant Bobby did was to go to straight to the refreshment table. The refreshments were covered by a large white sheet to protect them from dust, flies, small boys’ hands, etc.
Bobby lifted one corner of the sheet and peeked under it. He coudln’t believe his eyes. He lifted the sheet high up and had a good look.
His mouth watered at the sight of not only one hundred and fifty fresh black pudding sandwiches, but also fifty mince pies – his second most favourite food – AND, he could hardly believe his eyes, there was also his third most favourite food, trifle…six huge bowls of delicious, creamy, pink and yellow trifle, just the way he liked it best. His hand was just reaching out to take a black pudding sandwich, when Tommy saw him.
“Hey,” shouted Tommy, “that’s not for eating now, we’ve got to wait until the end of the pet show before we can get stuck in.”
Bobby very reluctantly put the sheet back over the top of all that lovely food.
Well…the fete and pet show were terrific. There were stalls selling all sorts of things that people had donated, there were plants and and pottery, comics, books and beads, and home-made tea cosies galore. There were also lots of competitions, tombola, throw the wet sponge at the boy scout for 2p, lucky dips and raffles. It was great, everybody was enjoying themselves, especially Tommy and Bobby.
It was their job to look at and judge all the pets that had been brought to the pet show. And there were hundreds of them.
There were dozens of dogs, countless cats, rabbits, mice, turtles, parrots, a ferret, twelve goldfish, and a tame worm in a jam jar. The best thing about this pet show as far as Tommy and Bobby were concerned, was that there were no losers. There were prizes for every category.
Tallest dog, smallest dog. Fattest cat, thinnest cat. Turtle with the nicest smile and so on. Actually, the two lads were making up the categories as they went along, so everybody was a winner. (Even the worm, for being lest best looking pet in the show.) Now it just so happens that the judging was about half way through – in fact it was just at the ‘Hamster with the longest tail’ section – when Tommy let out a piercing yell.
“YEEEE HAAW!” he yelled, and started doing an exceedingly good rendition of an Irish jig. He was terrific…his leaps took him four feet off the floor and his footwork was fantastic. He jumped, spun and cartwheeled, all the time yelling in an almost indescribable way.
“YAA HOOO, YEEEE HAW, WAAHOOOOOOHAA!”
It was absolutely brilliant.
Well, not to be outdone, Bobby quickly whipped his mouth organ out of his pocket, and stamping his foot at the right tempo, he played a rousing tune in time to Tommy’s dance.
Two minutes later, practically everyone in the hall had joined in. What a sight…Two hundred people dancing and yelling and really enjoying themselves. When Tommy finally stopped the atmosphere was absolutely deafening.
Tommy was leaning against a stall getting his breath back when Bobby went up to him.
“By heck, Tommy!” exclaimed Bobby, with great admiration in his voice. “By heck, I never knew that you could dance as well as that.”
“Neither did I,” panted Tommy. “Not until that ferret ran up my trouser leg.”
So, apart from Bobby awarding the prize for the best looking stick insect to a twig, the rest of the afternoon went very pleasantly and smoothly. That is, until almost the very end…
Tommy and Bobby were standing by the refreshment table, and Bobby was pinning on the very last prizewinner’s badge, when Tommy decided that as he was so close to the refreshment table, and as it was nearly time anyway, and particularly as he was starving, he would get a sandwich.
As soon as he saw the table he knew that something was wrong. Instead of the sheet looking like a mountain range where it was draped over the black pudding snadwiches, mince pies and trifles, it looked more liked the Sahara desert. Flat.
Tommy quickly whisked away the sheet.
All that was left was one single black pudding sandwich, nothing else, no mince pies. no trifle, nothing.
Tommy was shocked to the soles of his shoes. He picked up the one remaining black pudding sandwich, held it up in the air and shouted: “SOMEBODY’S NICKED THE NOSH.”
Now this was a very severe mistake.
You must remember that all the animals in the pet show had had no food since that morning, and consequently were feeling more than a little hungry, and when Tommy held the sandwich up they naturally thought that it was for them, andimmediately went for it.
Tommy and Bobby suddenly found themselves at the bottom of a huge pile of animals. Dogs snapping and yapping, cats clawing, ferrets fighting, rabbits wriggling.
It turned out to be the best dog fight that Mumpcastle had seen for centuries and was talked about for years afterwards.
Tommy managed to escape by hiding under the refreshments table. Bobby tried to climb up the stage curtains, and he almost made it to the top…But then the curtain ripped and it all came crashing down with Bobby inside it.
Somebody called the Police, the Ambulance, and the Fire Brigade, just in case.
When they all arrived, three minutes later, the Mumpcastle town hall was a total wreck…
Tommy was sitting up in his hospital bed reading the Beano and eating grapes when Bobby was wheeled in.
He was covered in bandages from neck to toes. His nose was bright red and his right eye was black. His left eye had a nice sort of greenish purple look about it. He was moaning horribly.
He saw Tommy and moaned even more loudly. “Ooooooh,” he moaned, “I do feel ill.”
“Why do you feel ill, Bobby?” asked Tommy. “Was it because all the firemen and policemen didn’t know it was you covered by the curtain and used you as a stepping stone to get on to the stage?”
“Nooooooooh,” moaned Bobby.
“Well, was it because you fell out of the ambulance and got towed along for two miles when your shoelaces got caught on the bumper?”
“Nooooooooh,” moaned Bobby.
Tommy was mystified. “Well, was it when they pushed you into the lift, and it wasn’t there?”
“Nooooooooh,” moaned Bobby.
“Well, what was it then, Bobby? Why do you feel so ill?”
“Well, I’m not quite sure,” moaned Bobby, “but I think it could be something to do with eating a hundred and forty-nine black pudding sandwiches, fifty mince pies, and six huge bowls of trifle…”