Sunday 31 October 2010

Automatic reciprocating saw (in white); for Thud...

As the icy winds from northern climes prepare for their surge to the south, to cleave the intertesticular extremities and create howls of pain of protest from people who reckon they know why a brass monkey has two reasons not to like low temperatures, O'Blene Industrial Kinetics (OINK), continues its journey on the yellow brick road which leads to equality with Dyson and Baylis.

A few years ago, Mrs S Senior gave the company an electric reciprocating saw, because there are logs and branches on the 'Turrets' estate which need a few clops every now and then, to remind them who actually is boss round here! (A chain saw was not an option at the time, as the safety trousers were the wrong colour...)

Now this implement is a powerful machine, and while it is not in the industrial category, it takes quite a lot of muscle to keep it going longer than a few minutes, because an unusual condition creeps into the system, i.e., it begins to hurt.

This pain is a version of 'white finger', which was a pesky condition experienced by miners and other handlers of machinery which create high levels of vibration. In fact, after a few minutes of operation on some hard logs, like rhododendron, the 'white finger' quickly merges with a variation called 'very pale elbow', and then transgresses into 'sod me shoulder', and finally ends up (via 'bugger that hurts trembling back-bone'), in a state of 'white clenched arse, loose teeth and red vision'!

It had to change, as after each session at the bench, the journey from the shed to the house took longer with each faltering step, and even with a recreational tincture as a prize, those few minutes were agony...

I mentioned to Thud, whom as far as I can see has the best job in the world, and has superb results to prove it, that I'd altered the design of the saw to help me over the crisis, and here are the pics I promised him. In the world of sharp objects, 'elfun saftie' is always written large on the box, but weighing up the pros and cons of the design and also the operation, I'm taking a bet that this is probably a safer way to use the saw than by swinging it around like a dervish at every twig or bough which gets in the way. If I'm proved wrong, and that is the prerogative of Santa Barbara, and also Mr Gilbert Fiddler, of the local 'Sharp Objects Inspectorate and Licensing (SOIL) office, than I'll have to retract the statement...

All I've done, is to activate the switch permanently, and attach the whole machine to a frame which allows a downward swinging arm motion, That way, I can secure the beast in the jaws of the 1966 vintage Workmate (one of the best inventions ever), and connect to the juice as normal. As the machine is technically on because the handle is depressed, the master switch cuts off the power when necessary. The logs fit securely into the 'V' joint and stay firm, and the saw cuts only downwards with slight pressure on the handle near the blade.

Although this is a prototype, it's done a full morning's work, but is also showing signs of 'white screw loosening' which is exactly what used to vibrate the operator's body to some interesting levels, and I'm already working on version two, which creates a monocoque structure and the vibration reduces as it becomes integral to the operation and which hopefully will allow me to finish the pile of logs which is threatening to topple over and crush 'white Fiat-Ferrari-Punto-Turbo', the 'white branch Acer Palmatum Atropurpureum', which is a pride and joy, and also the various visitors we have calling to ask me why I'm up and about so early, and didn't I realise that the clocks went back today...

Saturday 23 October 2010

Sergeant Wilson's motorbike (conclusion)...

Scene 3

(Walmington-on-sea High Street. Capt. Mainwaring is walking to work, and Jones is putting up the awning on his shop)

Cpl. Jones: “Morning Captain Mainwaring, lovely day again”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Good morning Jones, it is indeed a beautiful day! (looks up at sky) Bit noisy up there last night, I suppose The Hun has retreated with his tail between his legs as usual”!

Cpl. Jones: “Yes Sir, there’s also a couple of official looking lorries out in the forest. They seem to be searching for something”.

Capt. Mainwaring: “Well as long as they don’t interfere with our training, they can stay there as far as I’m concerned. Good to see the ordnance around though, it gives everyone comfort to see their island being defended”!

(Capt. Mainwaring walks on and disappears into the bank. Walker is approaching)

Pte. Walker: “Here, Jonesy, did you see that lorry parked up by the crossroads? I heard it was on the lookout for stolen army kit! Watch out for your van, they’ll take it if they see it”!

Cpl. Jones: (blowing his cheeks out)“They’ll not take my van, it’s a reserved vehicle that is”! (goes back into shop muttering to himself).

(Walker continues on down the street, and sees Sgt. Wilson approaching)

Sgt. Wilson: “Morning Joe, lovely day”!

Pte. Walker: “Morning – hey, (takes Wilson’s arm) if you’re in a spot of bother, I can get you a new motorbike, but it won’t be the same as your old one”!

Sgt. Wilson: “Well that’s very kind of you Joe; it really is a bit of a bind, having to walk everywhere”.

Pte. Walker: “Just leave it to me; I’ve got a few feelers out for you”!
(Walker and Wilson go their separate ways)

Scene 4

(An office in the Home Guard Command building in Eastbourne. The senior officers are all assembled)

Colonel Peat: “Now Chaps, we need to get to business! Any news from last night”?

Major Elbers: “Well, they certainly made a racket overhead, but as far as we can see, there was no real damage – apart from a couple of greenhouses on the estate being shattered”.

Colonel Peat: “Oh well, that’s what we have to expect, but at least we have a few tricks up our sleeve, eh Major”!

Major Elbers: (warily) “Ooooh – er - yes, definitely...”.

Colonel Peat: “Any news on the requisitioning programme, have we found any unattended vehicles”?

Major Elbers: “We’ve ended up with three Austin cars, a Riley bread van, several bicycles and a GPO motorbike”.

Colonel Peat: “A GPO motorbike! Damn Post Office loses everything these days”!

Major Elbers:”Well, they’re all impounded now, and going to Brighton tomorrow”!

Colonel Peat: “Good, well done Chaps, now, what’s next...”?

(scene fades).

Scene 5

(Private Walker is passing a shop at the bottom of the High Street. He does a double-take on realising that it has only just opened for business)

Pte. Walker: (enters shop with door bell clanking) “Morning! Anybody home”?

Shopkeeper (Mr. O’Blene): “Good morning Sir, and how can I help you”?

Pte. Walker: “This is all new isn’t it? Funny time to start a new business these days, there’s a war on y’ know”!

Mr. O’Blene: “Oh yes, and that’s why I’m opening here! I’ve got a shop in Eastbourne, and a workshop in Pevensey. I repair and sell bicycles”!

Pte. Walker: (holds out his hand to shake and introduces himself) “Joe Walker; I can get you most things you need round here, cycle lamp wicks, real leather saddles; got a nice line in rubber inner tubes; cost you a tanner each...”!

Mr. O’Blene: “ Always looking out for a bargain Joe, (shakes Joe’s hand) Friends call me Stan, I get most of my stuff from a bloke in Eastgate, but he’s finished up in Lewes Prison recently”!

Pte. Walker: “Pleased to meetcha Stan. Blimey, what did he do”?

Mr. O’Blene: “Oh, he came round the corner from the High Street too fast, and buried his car in the gates on the crossroads! He’s still sorting that one out I can tell you”!

Pte. Walker: “Ha ha! Do you – er - sell motorbikes as well”?

Stan O’Blene: “Oh yes, any make you like; Matchless, James, Velocette, you name it, I can get one”!

Pte. Walker: “Can you do a deal on a GPO BSA? I may need one”!

Stan O’Blene: “Ooooh, I’m afraid you’ve got me there Joe, they’re protected vehicles you know, most of them were snapped up by the requisition boys recently! The GPO’s going back to pedal cycles again! (rubs hands) I can do you a Brough Superior, got one out the back, but it’ll cost you”!

Pte. Walker: “Blimey, I’m not made of money, haven’t you got anything smaller for about five quid”?

Stan O’Blene: (sharp intake of breath) “Not a lot, but I’ll keep my eye out for you. Call by tomorrow and I may be able to help”!

Pte. Walker: “Certainly will! Can I interest you in some copies of ‘Tit Bits’? Unused”?

Stan O’Blene: (quickly) “I’ll take a dozen; leave them round the back...”! (looks out of window with glazed expression on face)

Scene 6

(The Drill Hall. The Platoon is standing at attention).

Sgt Wilson: “Platoon! Er, At – er - ease don’t you know, just relax a bit”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (fuming aside to Wilson)“Wilson, you’re giving orders, not just lining up a ‘rugger team’ before ‘prep’! (to platoon) Now listen men, I have to report to Area Command about Sergeant Wilson’s missing motorbike. Has anyone got any news"?

Cpl. Jones: “Permission to speak Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Yes Jones, what is it”?

Cpl. Jones: “I’d like to be the first to report Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Right Corporal, what have you got”?

Cpl. Jones: “I’ve heard absolutely no news at all Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (exasperated) “Well why are you making a report then”?

Cpl. Jones: (smugly) “Walls have ears Sir! Careless talk costs lives”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (even more exasperated) “Yes I know all that Jones, but I’m asking you in confidence man! We’re a fighting force; welded to duty; united in defence! What can you report”!

Cpl. Jones: “Well Sir, nobody’s seen hide nor hair of Sergeant Wilson’s motorbike”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Is that it”! (turns to Wilson with despair written all over his face)

Cpl. Jones: “I have to report the truth Sir, if I said anything else, I’d be in trouble”!

Pte. Pike: “Mum says you’ve caused her an awful lot of bother, Uncle Arthur! She said you’re having your tea in the kitchen tomorrow”!

Pte Frazer: “Aye, that’s punishment enough these days”!

Pte Godfrey: “My sister Dolly likes to take tea in the summer house, it reminds her of her childhood! She met many a suitor there, and so did our ‘uncles’; most of them in fact”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Oh, this isn’t getting us anywhere! Wilson, have you heard anything at all”?

Sgt Wilson: “Not a dicky bird Sir, I really don’t know what to do next”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Not a ‘dicky bird’ Not a ‘dicky bird’! This is a serious matter of national importance Sergeant! We may all be arrested if we’re not careful”!

Pte. Walker: “I think I can help Captain Mainwaring”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “You Walker? What have you found out”?

Pte. Walker: “Well you know that new bicycle shop which has opened at the other end of the High Street; well, I met the new owner, Stan O’Blene, and he’s got something which may well suit Sergeant Wilson”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Oh, I’ve seen him; bit of a shady character that one; seems to be coughing all the time. Elizabeth went there to purchase a small nut and bolt for something, and he ended up selling her a new handlebar basket, three gallons of oil for a front lamp, and a footpump”!

Pte. Walker: “Sounds reasonable to me Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Nooo, not really, she hasn’t got a bicycle”!

Pte Frazer: “Well I think I know what’s happened to the wretched thing”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “You Frazer! Well what have you heard”?

Pte Frazer: “Well..., the requisitioning brigade has been lurking around this week! The hearse had to be hidden round the back away from prying eyes! There was a casket on the rollers”!

Cpl. Jones: “You’re right Frazer! They eyed up my van on Tuesday, and it still had a load of sausages in the back"!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Well, what did you do Corporal”?

Cpl. Jones: “I sold them a pound each sir, and also got rid of a lot of chit’lings which don’t sell well Sir”!

Pte Godfrey: “My sister Dolly cooks chitterlings on a slow stove; they’re delicious with a little French mustard and some of her home-baked bread”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (exasperated) “Godfrey; Jones, that’s enough! Now Wilson, it seems to me that your motorbike has been requisitioned, and you’ll probably not see it again! I can’t say I blame them, you should have kept it out of sight..."!

Pte Pike: (interrupts)“ Mum said you should Uncle Arthur...”

Capt. Mainwaring: “...Quiet Pike! So, that’s probably the end of all this”!

Pte. Walker: (returning to his earlier statement) “I think I can get you another one though Sergeant. Stan O’Blene is making ordinary bikes work with alternative engines”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “What on earth are you talking about Walker! How does he do it”?

Pte. Walker: “Oh it’s quite simple Sir, he takes an ordinary bicycle, and fits a motor to the wheels”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “That’s a French idea isn’t it? Not sure I like the idea of their designs being used in England. They use them in places like Paris! Ooooh no, that sounds shady to me”!

Pte. Walker: “Well apparently, he’s invented a rechargeable motor which fits over the wheel, and drives the bike along”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Oh, this is preposterous! What do you mean by ‘rechargeable’ ? It’s a banking term! This man O’Blene isn’t the sort of person we want in Walmington, making – er - French things”!

Pte Pike: (giggling) “heugh heugh...”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (hopelessly) “Stupid boy”!

Pte. Walker: (continuing his piece) “Well anyway, you plug the connecting wire into the 15amp socket, and it makes the battery last for longer. You can then use it for a while, ride home, connect it to the mains and after a few hours, it’ll go for another few miles”!

Sgt Wilson: “Oh, you mean an electric device like the cars we used to have in Belgravia”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (mimicking Wilson) “’Belgravia’ – that snooty place! All money and no work! Doh, this is ridiculous! It sounds like something out of Jules Verne! I can’t see something like that ever working”!

Pte. Walker: “Well, he’s made several, and there’s an even bigger one with two motors! I can get it for you for five quid! No petrol coupons, dead easy to drive”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Look Wilson, you’ll have to find out more about this in your own time, speak to Walker afterwards, we’ve got a war to run”!

Sgt Wilson: “Yes of course Sir, we’ll chat later Joe”.

(scene fades)

Scene 7

(In the High Street, outside Stan O’Blene’s shop. Walker and Wilson arrive at the same time)

Sgt Wilson: “So what is all this Joe? I’ve never met the man before”!

Pte. Walker: “Well he may look a bit funny, and have some mad ideas, but he’s only doing the best he can under the circumstances! I’m selling him some talc for punctures – pongs a bit, but it was old stock from Timothy Whites before the war”!

Sgt Wilson: “Well, we’d better see what he’s got then”!

(they enter shop and a bell clanks)

Stan O’Blene: “Morning Joe! Morning Sir, how can I help”?

Pte. Walker: “Morning Stan; I want you to meet the gentleman who wants a motorbike”! (aside and behind his hand – usual commission – 10%! Stan nods)

Sgt Wilson: “Good Lord, you’ve got some of the Sturmey-Archer gears from before the war! We all had bikes with those on the estate”!

Stan O’Blene: “The very items Sir! Brand new and wanting a good home”!

Pte. Walker: “Well, Sergeant Wilson wants something with an engine actually Stan, one of your electric bicycles should do the trick”!

Stan O’Blene: “Oh, you mean the O’Blene Flyer! Well I definitely can help you there! Come out the back”! (shuffles off wearing carpet slippers, coughing all the time, towards the back of the shop)

Scene 8

(the yard at the back of Stan O’Blene’s shop)

Pte. Walker: “Blimey, you’ve got enough stuff here Stan”!

Stan O’Blene: “Oh, this is only some of it, the main shop is in Eastbourne”! (pokes around in a box of bicycle pieces, finds an electric cable, coughs, peers at it closely and wanders across to an odd looking bicycle, leaning up against a wheelbarrow)

Sgt Wilson: “Good Lord! What on earth’s that”!

Stan O’Blene: (proudly, and puffing up his chest) “That Sir, is the prototype ‘O’Blene Flyer – Mark 1’! It has two engines, one for each wheel”!

Pte. Walker: “Blimey, it is something from outer space”!

Stan O’Blene: (slightly hurt) “Well I wouldn’t put it like that Joe, (hastily) it really does go well, and costs nothing to run”!

Sgt Wilson: “Well I think it’s a splendid machine Stan! Er, how much do you want for it”?

Pte. Walker: (hastily) “Stan said you could have it for five quid Sergeant”! (winks at Stan)

Stan O’Blene: “That’s about it Sir! And I’ll throw in a spare wire for the electricity charger”!

Sgt Wilson: “Can I have a go first”?

Stan O’Blene: “Well of course! Just pedal as normal, then pull that switch there, (points) and you’ll start the engine! Goes like a dream! Not up to your Vincent speeds, but at least it costs nothing to run”!

(Wilson pedals off, flicks the switch, and the bicycle starts up. He vanishes into the High Street in a cloud of dust)

Pte. Walker: “Another satisfied customer Stan! We could sell a lot of these, you and me! Now, what about an engine on a bath chair for Dolly Godfrey”?

Sunday 17 October 2010

Apodeictic dittography...

It's no use!

'Sergeant Wilson's motorbike' is taking much longer to write than I ever imagined!

I've had to scrub round the ecene in 'The Bells', where Captain Mainwaring has one over the eight, and sings 'Eskimo Nell' at the top of his voice, and upsets the Vicar.

Gone also is the bit where Private Pike experiences - er - feelings with the young blonde cashier at the bank, and has to go home early.

Scrapped - yes, SCRAPPED, is the hilarious scene where Hodges has to return to the hall to find his trousers!

It beggars belief that us case-hardened comedy writers (with a whole freshly edited blockbuster novel in the can; oven-ready for publication at the drop of a hat)*, can have so much on their plates that even the metaphors dry up!

I promise that it will be ready soon, and that's as good as a definite maybe isn't it?

*Morning Mr. Penguin! Any - er - news?

Saturday 9 October 2010

Interjacent essay...

The intention was to write 'Sergeant Wilson's motorbike' (previous post), in two, or even more episodes, and run them consecutively. They would then culminate in the funniest, most ingenious ending you could ever read, which of course is a result that Scrobs always strives to do for his four readers!

Well, it hasn't been finished yet, because at the moment, Scrobs is bogged down with a few other things which seem to be taking up far too much time...

1) Ebay are offering a free weekend, and Mrs S has instructed me to get rid of (quite rightly as it happens) all my old Private Eye collection, because they smell, and also seem to be selling at around a quid each, and it takes ages getting the sale docs together...

2) I still have to work a full day, and some, to keep Scrobs Inc. striving for a payout in the middle future; we can't stop now, and we have got to recoup all the money squandered away by the ruinous nulabyrinthine 'Three Bs', (Blair, Brown and Balls)...

3) I still haven't cut the hedge...

4) We need to take out all the runner beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes, because they're almost finished...

5) I'm on tenterhooks, because (chuckles to self), I've just emailed a synopsis to Penguin Books, and, like about ten thousand other people who've written the one novel they all have in them, I'm expecting an email saying I'm going to have my name in lights and would I like as much money as J.K.Rowling...

6) There's a load of gardening to do at Mother-in-law's place...

7) We've just taken on an allotment and it already has a fine crop of three foot high couch grass, which seems to be getting sustenenance from the compost heaps of outer Sydney...

8) I've also got to write a post about Australia again, as there's been a fantastic development...

9) There's another post in the folder about 'Leicester story', which also threw up (not literally you understand), an interesting result...

10) I've almost finished automating my electric reciprocating saw, which is attached to a 'Workmate', (not Mrs S you understand) and is capable of cutting logs up to 5" thick...

11) We are spending ages picking the mushrooms at the Pinetum, because they are rife at the moment, and Mrs S has sprung a leak on her wellies which now need a patch...


I'll be working on 'Sergeant Wilson's motorbike' during the early hours of each morning to ensure that the four readers can spend many hours in good humour, when it's eventually finished!

I just wanted to let you know this...

Sunday 3 October 2010

Sgt. Wilson's motorbike (part one)...

Dad’s Army – Sergeant Wilson’s motorbike

Scene 1

(Walmington Home Guard (Vicar’s) Office. Captain Mainwaring is writing at his desk. He looks up at Sgt. Wilson.)

Capt. Mainwaring: “You feeling alright Wilson? You look distinctly pale! Anything wrong”?

Sgt. Wilson (mopping brow): “Yes I’m fine Sir, I really am - just a little - er - fraught at the moment”.

Capt. Mainwaring: (leaning back in his chair and fiddling with a pencil): “Oh? Really? Fraught? You can –er - tell me you know, I’m your friend and confidante as well as your commanding officer”!

Sgt. Wilson: “Yes I know Sir, that’s very good of you to enquire, but I assure you, I’ll be alright very soon”.

Capt. Mainwaring: (pausing, then leaning forward): “Wilson, I need you to help me run this Platoon. If you’re wandering around in a daze, it does nothing for the morale of the men, and I can’t have that”!

Sgt. Wilson: “Yes I know Sir - well - , there is something actually - er - don’t you know".

Capt. Mainwaring: (triumphantly) “I thought as much! I’m not an Officer and a bank manager for nothing you know! I earned these positions! (points to his right epaulette) Now come on, out with it; tell me what this is all about”!

Sgt. Wilson (resignedly and running fingers through his hair): “Well you see Sir, it’s like this - er - I’ve - er - lost my motorbike”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Lost your motorbike? What on earth happened? There’s a war on, you can’t just lose a motorbike”!

Sgt. Wilson: (waving his arm) “Well it’s gone, and I don’t know where it is at all. It’s all very distressing”.

Capt. Mainwaring: “Well where did you lose it then? Outside the bank? In Eastbourne? Where man”!

Sgt. Wilson: “Well it’s all a little embarrassing Sir, because it was parked outside Frank Pike’s house”.

Capt. Mainwaring: (leaning back in his chair and looking slightly bemused): “Pike’s house? But why, he’s been away hasn’t he? I gave ‘C’ Section 48 hours leave! When did you lose it then”?

Sgt. Wilson: “Last Sunday, you gave us the weekend off, yes, and Private Sponge took over the watch at Beachy Head”.

Capt. Mainwaring: “But how long were you there; half an hour, an hour? Not long enough for a thief to call by is it”?

Sgt. Wilson: “Well it was a little longer than that Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (pompously and losing his patience) “Wilson, as your Commanding Officer, I have to know! This is serious, and I don’t want the police coming round here asking questions! It might impinge on the bank, and there’d be hell to pay! How long were you there”?

Sgt. Wilson: “Well, it was actually all weekend Sir”! (looks away in embarrassment)

Capt. Mainwaring: “What; all Saturday and Sunday? For God’s sake man, what did you get up to for all that time?

Sgt. Wilson: “Well Mavis – Mrs Pike, needed some work done around the house. She needed an extra pair of hands, taking a few things down, and putting things – er - up, you know - and I – er - said I’d help out”.

Capt. Mainwaring: “Why couldn’t Pike do it then; he’s mended a few things at the bank, and knows a little about carpentry, well, what he learned at school that is – probably better at that than financial matters”.

Sgt. Wilson: “Well Sir, he wasn’t there was he; he was away at camp with the Scouts".

Capt. Mainwaring: (beginning to understand at last) “Oooooooh I see! Hmmm. Look Wilson, er - I’m a man of the world, but this has got to stop you know! We’re a finely honed fighting force, ready to take on Hitler’s hordes, and we can’t carry out our duties if half the platoon is – er - carrying on this way”!

Sgt. Wilson: “I know Sir, but Mrs Pike was desperate for someone to see to her curtain rails. The blackout curtains were only nailed up by Pike, and were letting in the light! Warden Hodges had been very rude and threatened her with arrest! He’s an awful man I know, but he was always looking for lights showing through. He spent a long time peering though the gaps with that awful grin of his! So, anyway, she asked me round to help”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Well, it doesn’t take that long to fit a few curtains, let alone what else you got up to! And, oh my God, I’ve just realised; there’s another problem! Was your motorbike disabled while you were – er –er – putting things up inside her house”?

Sgt. Wilson: “No, I lost the ignition key years ago, so I use a paperclip”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (fuming) “A paperclip! This is disastrous Wilson! It could have been a Nazi spy poking around! HQ will ask questions and I won’t have any answers! You’ve done it this time man”!

Sgt Wilson: (fiddling with a piece of paper on the desk) “Yes Sir, I know, I’m terribly sorry Sir, it’s all very worrying”.

(there’s a knock on the door which opens and Cpl. Jones marches into the room and salutes into various directions, eventually facing Capt. Mainwaring. He salutes him twice, and then salutes Sgt. Wilson, does a complete turn, looks bewildered, starts for the door again, realises he’s facing the wrong way and returns to face Capt. Mainwaring).

Cpl. Jones “The men are fell in Sir and awaiting your countenance with expectancy”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Yes thank you Corporal, return to the ranks and we’ll be out shortly”!

Cpl. Jones “Right Sir, thank you Sir”! (starts saluting everywhere again and eventually reaches the door, and goes out to the hall)

Capt. Mainwaring: (thoughtfully, after a long pause) “Listen Wilson, I’m going to stick my neck out for you”.

Sgt. Wilson: “Oh, that’s awfully kind of you Sir; what do you have in mind”?

Capt. Mainwaring: “I’m going to get the platoon out on patrol and look for it! Simple as that! What sort of motorbike is it”?

Sgt. Wilson: “It’s a BSA Sir. A lovely 500cc machine, I bought it from the Post Office Garage for £4.7s.6d before the war! It’s very fast. We drove at nearly fifty miles an hour on the Old Downs road near Eastbourne last summer”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (smugly) “Oh yes? Fancy yourself as a latter day Lawrence of Arabia don’t you? Tearing round the country at high speed, with hair blowing in the wind! You public school people are always trying to get one over us chaps who had it hard”!

Sgt. Wilson: “Oh come, come Sir, it’s only a motorbike, not a Rolls Royce; (regretfully) although my governess used to take me out in the family Rolls saloon on picnics when I was very small”!

Capt. Mainwaring: (wistfully and not listening, and fiddling with a pencil) “Elizabeth didn’t ever like riding on a motorbike you know. She was a skilled horsewoman when she was a young girl you see. She said that it was unnatural sitting astride something that throbbed like that”! (stares at nothing out of the window)

Sgt. Wilson: “Well I don’t want to cause any trouble you know Sir, but if anyone’s seen it, I’d like it back at some stage”.

Capt. Mainwaring: “Trust me Wilson, I’ll get to the bottom of this! Fall the men in”!

Scene 2

(The Drill Hall. The Platoon is standing at ease)

Sgt. Wilson: “Platoon! Platoon ‘shun! Bit quicker Jonesy, if you can”.

Capt. Mainwaring: “Now listen men, I have to report a very serious matter, which will need all our skills and local knowledge”!

Cpl. Jones: “Permission to speak Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Yes Jones, what is it”?

Cpl. Jones: “I would like to volunteer my skills, and local knowledge, for your serious matter Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “But you don’t know what I want to ask yet Jones! This involves National Security! We may have to be asked to explain ourselves at High Command”!

Cpl. Jones: “Then I’d like to volunteer to not know what you need local skills and knowledge for Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Jones – er - just wait a moment will you, (aside) Wilson, I have to tell them a little more you know, just be prepared to answer – er – any questions as you see fit”!

Pte. Frazer “Permission to speak Sir, if it’s anything to do with the hearse being parked on the crossroads; that was my fault! It ran out of petrol and I’ve run out of coupons”!

Pte. Walker “I can let you have some Taffy! Cost you five bob, no questions asked".

Capt. Mainwaring: “Walker! Frazer! That’s enough! No, it’s not about that, although – er - parking has got something to do with it”! (Looks haughtily at Wilson, and sniffs) There you see Wilson, I knew I’d get the men round to the subject in hand pretty quickly, its leadership you know! (To all) Now listen men, I have a delicate matter to discuss with you, and it has to stay within these four walls. (everyone cranes to listen to the announcement) One of our essential pieces of fighting equipment has gone missing”.

Cpl. Jones: “Permission to speak Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Yes Jones, What is it”?

Cpl. Jones: “I’d like to volunteer to search for our missing vital, important and essential equipment Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Yes thank you Jones, we may need your van at some stage, but everyone must take this information very seriously. Now gather round please, we don’t want Hodges or any of the Vicar’s staff listening in”.

(everyone crowds round Capt. Mainwaring and he emerges with glasses askew and in general disarray).

Cpl. Jones: (from the bottom of the scrum) “The men are gathered round in secret Sir”!

Capt. Mainwaring: “Yes I’d noticed Jones! Now men, (quietly) Sergeant Wilson has had his motorbike stolen”!

(There is an embarrassed hush, followed by a few of the platoon muttering and looking at each other with questioning faces).

Pte. Frazer “Well Sir, so what”?

Capt. Mainwaring: “So What Frazer? This is a huge problem for us all! These vehicles are a major part of our armoury, and we are responsible for everything within our control, which can be used in the event of invasion”!

Pte. Pike “Is that the motorbike that you and Mum ride about on Uncle Arthur”?

Sgt. Wilson: “Yes it is Frank, have you seen it”?

Pte. Pike “No, but when you come round for your tea, Mum always asks me to put it round the back, so it won’t get seen”!

Sgt. Wilson: (hastily) “Yes Frank but this time it was out on the road”!

Pte. Pike “But I didn’t see it, did you see it Mr Godfrey”?

Capt. Mainwaring: “Er – Pike, just be told that it was near your house when it went missing”!

Pte. Godfrey “My sister Dolly used to have a motorbike with a sidecar. It was Rudge Sports. She called it Boadicea, and we used to keep a posy of wild flowers in a little metal cup attached to the sidecar’s windscreen”.

Cpl. Jones “When we were in the Sudan, we used to have despatch riders on Royal Enfields. And one day, one appeared on the horizon in a cloud of dust, and we could see him from about three miles away! And we saw him getting closer and closer, and all the time, the dust cloud was getting bigger and bigger, until just a few yards away from us, he vanished from sight”!

Pte. Walker “What happened then Jonesy”?

Cpl. Jones “He drove straight into our trench and killed himself”! be continued.