The story so far - what precious little there is of it - the Spiffing Six have travelled to Aunt Peg's cottage on the Cornish coast, for the summer hols. Nothing really noteworthy has happened thus far. The Six, (Of whom there are really only four.) appear to have done nothing much, other than get drunk, smoke some weed, overeat, and pissball about trying to follow some chap who was larking about amongst the rocks. But things may be looking up...in their last outing, the Spiffing Six spotted a mysterious light in the night on the clifftops. It was acting strangely, as mysterious lights in the night have a tendency to do. Maybe our little yarn will take flight at this point. Then again - it might not.
The chums were up and about at around six-forty-five the following morning. (Quarter to seven, in English.) There was much moaning and grumbling, as they washed in an old tin bath, dressed, and then went downstairs.
"Good morning children!" Aunt Peg said perkily, as she busily fussed about the kitchen, doing stuff. "Sit yourselves down at the table my dears, and breakfast will be served in two ticks and a jockey's blink."
The chums took their places around the huge oak table. They all looked (and felt) a little fragile, the gargantuan excesses of the previous day having taken their toll. Dry mouths were the order of the day, along with parched throats, upset stomachs, headaches, tremours, and a general feeling of rottenness. Nobody wanted to move so much as a muscle - at least, not voluntarily.
The chums were feeling as brittle as sugar glass.
"Feeling a shade hungover, are we my dears?" Aunt Peg asked considerately. "Never you mind. A good slap-up breakfast and the hair of the dog that bit you will soon put things to rights."
A collective groan broke out around the breakfast table. A slap up breakfast was the last thing any of them wanted. They tended to agree that snotty eggs and fat saturated fried bread might well constitute the catalyst of a violent gastric revolution.
Or, in simpler terms, none of the chums really fancied it because they feared it might make them puke.
"Here we are me dears, get these down your necks for starters," Aunt Peg set eight ice cold cans of Headbanger beer down on the breakfast table. "After a couple or three of these, you'll be fit enough to eat a scabby horse wedged between two bread vans. That's the secret of the drink, you see - the best way to avoid hangovers is to stay sloshed. It might sound blindingly obvious, but it's the truth. I know, because I saw it on some TV programme or other, I did."
The chums regarded Aunt Peg cynically. Drinking beer at a quarter to seven in the morning simply didn't feel like the right thing to be doing. Especially not when one was suffering with a stonking hangover, and would have struggled to keep a lead balloon down.
Aunt Peg - being a woman of the world - instinctively sensed their cynicism. "Believe me my dears. Trust me. The best cure for beer inflicted misery is more beer. It's a proven scientific fact is that."
"Oh well," Spanky was the first to break the ice, so to speak. "In for a penny, in for a pound - as they say in Ulan Bator." He popped a can and drank deeply.
When - eventually - he set the can back down on the table, he exhaled, long and slow, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and belched.
Then he sat motionless for long seconds.
The others waited with bated breath for some kind of response.
"Better, actually," Spanky belched again. "Oh yes, Aunt Peg, that is sooo much better."
"Told you so! Didn't I tell you so? Your old Aunt Peg knows what's what and no mistake." Aunt Peg beamed brightly and returned to the cooking range.
The other chums - albeit it at first reluctantly - tucked into their Headbanger beers, and within ten to fifteen minutes, they all felt fighting fit again. Or as near as damn it.
"Well, roger me senseless, Aunt Peg!" Tugboat exulted. "I should bally well say so too - you're a genius! This is a far better cure than any quack's remedy!"
"Aunt Peg - you really know how to do it!" Abigail cheered, and Martina echoed the sentiment.
Aunt Peg accepted the plaudits with quiet dignity, and then announced that breakfast was served.
They started off with yet more Headbanger beer from Aunt Peg's seemingly inexhaustable stockpile, before ploughing through lashings of bacon rashers, free range eggs, sausages, black pudding, baked beans, fried tomatoes, fried bread, potato waffles, Danish pastries, croissants, toast with marmalade, toast with jam, more Headbanger beer, boiled free range eggs and soldiers, porridge with sugar, porridge with salt - which is how the Jockinese McKilty's have it, apparently - corn flakes, sugar puffs, shredded wheat, coco pops, frosties, more beer, pancakes, maple syrup, kipper fillets, kedgeree, and of course, lashings and lashings of Headbanger beer and absinthe, to soothe fraught nerves.
By the time they finished breakfast, it was almost nine-thirty, and they were all as stuffed as beef tomatoes in a ristorante magnifico.
"So, what will we do now then chums?" Spanky asked, as he reclined in his seat and rubbed at his amply fortified tum.
"I say we go back down to the clifftops, to see if we can shed any light on that light what we saw last night," Abigail suggested.
"Ho yes!" Tugboat seconded. "But do let us explore the village first! We haven't been down to the village in absolute yonks."
"What was that?" Aunt Peg called, from the deepest recesses of the larder. "Did you see somethin' strange occurin' last night then me dearies?"
"Abigail spotted it first!" Martina piped up.
"What was it you saw then, Abigail?"
"Well, Aunt Peg, I was standing by the window last night when I observed a light, fluttering about on the clifftops."
"What sort of a light me dear?"
"Well, just a light really, sort of like a lantern, or a torch, and it was swinging about and flashing on and off, almost as if somebody was making signals in some sort of secret code. Spanky thought it was a UFO."
"It was a UFO!" Spanky insisted.
"So you say. But I don't believe it for a moment. In fact, I suspect that it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard you come out with. Ever. And you've come out with some corkers over the years. Like that time..."
"Yes! Alright!" Spanky said tetchily. "But I know what I saw."
Aunt Peg emerged from the larder. "It was probably a weather balloon, that or drug smugglers, or gun runners, or illegal immigrants, or some such thing. We get stuff like that all the time in this neck of the woods - it really is quite a mysterious place, old Puddleby Cove, you know."
"Well, whatever it was, or might have been, we're jolly well going to treat it to a thorough investigation. We wouldn't be the Spiffing Six if we didn't!" Abigail said proudly.
"You know, my dears," Aunt Peg said, choosing her words with great care. "There's one thing that's always baffled me about all this: If there are only the four of you, then how come you insist 'pon calling yourselves the Spiffin' Six?"
Tugboat blushed. Embarrassed. He hated it when people kept on about awkward things. They were as irritating as a dog with a bone when one can't be arsed.
"It's a long story," he said simply. We'll probably change the name or something. Eventually. You aren't the first to pick up on the anomaly Aunt Peg." He glared at Martina, who was smiling quietly to herself. The look suggested: All right, point taken.
Aunt Peg hovered around the table, smiling maternally.
"Not that it's any business of mine in any case," she said, still smiling like a Yorkshire cat, full of Pontefract cake. "Anyways me dears, I had a hunch that you'd want to be off adventurin' and stuff today, so I made up a picnic for you. It's in the hallway, by the front door."
"Golly gosh!" the chums cheered. "Thanks, Aunt Peg!"
Puddleby Cove was a picturesque village, typical of so many on the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coastline. It sort of snaked down the cliffs, as if it was tumbling slowly, inexorably, down into the sea.
The High Street - known locally as High Street, and by tourists, day trippers and visitors as The High Street - started on the flatter ground, atop the cliffs, and wound down a gently sloping ravine through the heart of the village, to the promenade below. On the waterfront.
Minus Marlon Brando.
The chums strolled from Aunt Peg's cottage, around the cove to where the High Street began, on the flat ground atop the cliffs, a short distance away from the railway station.
From thence, they strolled further down the High Street, towards the promenade.
"Look chums!" Spanky yelled in a state of great excitation. "Look at that! The Ye Olde Tea Shoppe Shop! Who's in favour of a cup of cha, and some clotted cream, what?"
"Raaaa - theeeeerrr!" Tugboat was almost champing at the bit, like a Grand National winner on crystal meth.
"Last man in's a sissy!" Spanky guffawed.
Oh how the chums howled and shrieked in whoops of sheer delight as they galloped towards The Ye Olde Tea Shoppe Shop!
"Can I take your orders now?"
The waitress at The Ye Olde Tea Shoppe Shop had a distinctive Scottish accent, and, as Spanky quickly noted, she was quite a looker too - all bottle blonde hair, ruby lips, protuberant boobs, tight buttocks and long, well muscled legs - which reached all the way up to her arse.
And lots of mascara.
Tons of it, to be precise.
Altogether too much make-up for anyone of good breeding or any degree of decorum.
"Beg pardon?" said Tugboat, having completely forgotten what the original question was.
"What kin I dae for ye's?" the waitress enquired.
"Bloody hell!" Spanky spluttered. "I could think of myriad responses to that teasing little question!" He shot Tugboat a leery, meaningful, ever so suggestive look.
Tugboat could only respond with a blank stare.
"Ye wouldnae ken whit tae dae if ah give ye the apportunity, ye saucy wee divvel," the waitress said, without even a hint of a blush, but still with that unrealistically exaggerated Scottish accent.
"I wouldn't be too sure about that if I were you girly!" Spanky chortled, snorting through his nose in that curious way which upper class people tend to do, when they find something hysterically amusing, or suggestive, or even a combination of the two.
Martina and Abigail maintained a discreet silence, while Tugboat simply looked on, with blank faced curiosity.
The waitress smiled at Spanky. It was one of those great big cheesy smiles which can be so difficult to interpret correctly.
"Jiss let me tak yur order young man, afore ye gets me intae trouble."
"I should be so bloody lucky!" Spanky snorted again.
"If ye wouldnae mind...please..." the waitress entreated, with the patience and unruffled calm of a martyr.
"Righty ho Missy. As you put it so diplomatically, we'll have Cornish pasties and clotted cream teas all round. Heaps of it. We're all absolutely bloody ravenous!"
The waitress sashayed off to the kitchen, only to return a couple of minutes later, with the chums' order. Everyone tucked in and thoroughly enjoyed it. These were kids with appetite.
When the waitress returned with the bill, Spanky noticed that she had, at some point, affixed a name tag to her left breast. It said: POLLY
"Hur hur hur!" Spanky snorted. "What's the other one called then?"
All present, including Polly, the waitress, rolled their eyes and groaned.
And who could blame them?
A short while later, the chums were walking down on the promenade, admiring the view, when they were serendipitously greeted by an old friend.
"Hello kids! How lovely to see you all again! And my! Look how you've grown since last time!"
It was Mr Fairweaather from the fishing tackle shop, which was located in a little side street just off the promenade.
"Hallo there Mister Fairweather!" Martina said cheerfully. "We're down here for a couple of weeks actually! We're on our hols you know."
"When did you get in then?" Mr Fairweather was grinning from ear to ear. He was obviously delighted to see the chums again.
"We got in yesterday, Mister Fairweather," Tugboat said. "Ruddy awful rail journey, truth to tell. Seemed to take forever and a day."
Mr Fairweather gave the chums the once over. "Nice to see you all looking fit and healthy," he said.
"Yes," Spanky said. "It was high time we came down here to soak up the sea air. It's been a while now."
"True," the fishing tackle vendor mused. "But I recalls the last time you came for a holiday all too well. You managed to get old Mister Crutchcramp banged up in prison for ten years for fraudulently claiming heating allowance off the DSS, when all the time, he was going out into the woods chopping wood for his fire, and not using his central heating at all."
"Yeah," Tugboat jeered. "Scrounging bloody parasite! Got his just desserts if you ask me."
"Hear hear!" the chums chorused.
"I'll drink to that!" Mister Fairweather enthused. He rummaged about for a bit in his jacket pocket, extricating a crisp new five pound note, which he handed to Abigail, saying: "Here you are kids! You go out and have a slap-up feed, on me!"
"Yay!" the chums cheered. "Now we're really cooking with gas! Thanks to good old Mister Fairweather!"
By common concensus, the chums agreed to go on to explore the cliffs around the cove, in the approximate vicinity of the mysterious light they'd seen the previous night.
It was yet another hot steamy day, and getting hotter by the moment as high noon approached. Headbanger beers were very much the order of the day, in order to remain cool and refreshed.
As they ambled along the clifftops, the vista before them was simply breathtaking. The sea shimmered, a heat haze distorted the very air around them, waves crashed furiously against the rocky shoreline, and small fishing boats cut through the sun's sparkling reflections off the sea.
The chums could just about see Aunt Peg's cottage in the distance, so Abigail pointed out that whoever was behind the mysterious light phenomenon must have been standing in approximately the same location where they now found themselves.
"So...what now?" Tugboat asked.
"We must hunt for clues," Martina responded. "All of the truly great detectives start off by hunting for clues."
"What great detectives?" Tugbat said.
"I expect she's referring to people like Sherlock Holmes," Spanky said. "I read a book about him once. He was brilliant! Martina's absolutely correct in what she says - Sherlock Holmes always looked for clues. So he could deduct things."
"Deduct things?" Abigail didn't think that sounded quite right somehow.
"Oh yes. He deducted things," Spanky said.
"How?" Tugboat asked, with furrowed brow.
"Well, in one of the stories I read, some chappie was coming up the stairs to Holmes's apartment, and Holmes knew that this chap had only one leg, and that was before he'd even clapped eyes on him, because he deducted it from the noise the chap's wooden leg made on the stairs. Then, after the chap had left, Holmes told Watson that the chappie was also an ex-sailor, who had worked as a lumberjack and also a part time big top circus performer."
"That's amazing!" Tugboat said. "How on earth did he come to deduct all that?"
"Well...apart from the wooden leg, the chappie had a parrot on his shoulder - a Norwegian Blue if memory serves - an eyepatch, he had clown make-up on his face, and he was wearing a check shirt, Wellington boots, and carrying a chainsaw."
"Brilliant!" Tugboat sounded awestruck.
"I should have thought that it was simple common sense," Abigail said quietly.
"What?" Spanky challenged. "How can you possibly say that? The man was clearly a genius!"
"If the chap was dressed like a lumberjack, with a parrot on his shoulder, and wearing clown make-up, it doesn't take much of a genius to work out that he has maritime, forestry and circus connections, for God's sake!" Abigail said huffily.
"That's easy for you to say," Spanky countered. "Because I'd already presented you with the information. But if I hadn't - would you have been able to deduct it?"
"Deduce," Abigail said crisply.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I think you'll find, Spanky, that the word is deduced, and not deducted," Abigail said. "It comes from deduction, which I believe, in a Sherlock Holmes context means to eliminate all the possibilities, one by one, until only one possibility remains. That possibility, it then logically follows, must be the answer."
"I knew that!"
"Of course you did Spanky," Abigail said patronisingly, giving Spanky a sickly-sweet smile to rub it all in.
"Miss Marple!" Martina squealed, quite out of the blue.
"What about her?" Tugboat asked.
"She was one of the great detectives," Martina said, excitedly. "And she was only an old biddy. She didn't do karate or anything like that, and she didn't even routinely carry a gun. But you can bet, every time somebody got murdered down at the Vicarage, she always solved the crime, and brought the culprit to justice."
"What's that got to do with anything?" Tugboat asked again.
"She looked for clues," Martina said. "Then, once she'd gathered all the clues, and sorted out which ones were red kippers -"
"Herrings," Abigail corrected her. "Red herrings."
"All right - red herrings, some manner of red aquatic dwelling thing - once she'd done all that, she'd gather all the likely suspects in the drawing room and tell everybody who hadn't done it, and why they hadn't done it. Then she would reveal the identity of the killer, and tell him why he had done it, and reveal how she'd caught him out. Unless of course the killer was a woman, in which case she would tell her that she'd done it and why. And, more often than not, it wasn't the butler."
"Best detective I ever heard of was Toby Widderington," Tugboat said, quite suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, or something.
"Toby who?" Spanky had obviously never heard of anybody named Toby Widderington.
"Toby Widderington!" Tugboat said proudly.
"Who the blinking flip is Toby Widderington?" Abigail asked. "And what has he ever detected that could be legitimately deemed noteworthy?"
"He goes to my school," Tugboat explained. "He's absolutely wizard at Cluedo - gets it first every time. Mister Black in the library with the lead pipe and all that sort of thing."
"Yes, well I think that's just about enough of this particular subject," Abigail said with great finality. "Never mind all this talk about Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, and Toby Widderington, or whatever his name is when he's at home. Let's do what Martina suggested in the first place, and jolly well start looking for clues."
"So, where exactly do we start looking for these clues then?" Tugboat asked. "And what, precisely, are we meant to be looking for?"
"We don't know yet," Abigail responded. "Nor are we likely to, until we find something. Then we'll know."
Life can be pretty tough when you have to search for something of vital importance, and you haven't got the foggiest idea what it actually is. The chums rummaged around for a good half hour, but all they came up with was a few cigarette butts and a couple of crumpled beer cans - which turned out to be their own anyway.
"Well that wasn't exactly a resounding success was it?" Spanky said, dejectedly.
"Oh, stuff and bugger it," Abigail concluded. "Let's just forget all about it and go for a walk on the beach."
A little way beyond the point of the cove there was a long slender ribbon of sandy beach, which was gently caressed by foam capped breakers. The chums ambled lazily along the sand, gazing out to sea and tossing pebbles into the rollers.
"You know," Tugboat said to nobody in particular, or to everybody in general, whichever way you prefer: "We could do with a nice coastline back home in our part of Surrey. It would certainly be an asset to the neighbourhood."
"Be a bit tricky to get organised though, one would think," Abigail observed.
"Vast undertaking," Spanky agreed. "The logistics would be an absolute nightmare - a bigger project even than building the pyramids, I reckon."
"They couldn't build the pyramids these days," Abigail said.
"Why's that then?" Tugboat asked.
"They haven't got the technology," Abigail explained. "Those ancient Egyptians were far more advanced at building stuff than we are today."
"That's because space aliens gave them the blueprints and supervised the construction," Spanky said.
Abigail groaned. "Here we go again..."
"It's true!" Spanky protested. "They found pictures of men in space helmets, carrying ray guns, carved into the stone in the burial chambers, and then there was the hydroponics - that's the ancient Egyptian way of writing by the way - tell all about how it was spacemen organised it all."
"Which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with creating a rugged shoreline in Surrey," Abigail said, attempting to avoid another protracted space aliens/UFO related argument. "Which by the way, I consider to be a rather splendid concept. If somewhat abstract...to a degree."
"It would certainly eliminate unemployment at a stroke - give the feckless oiks something worthwhile to do with their time," Spanky opined.
"And that can only ever be construed as a positive thing," Abigail said. "That's the trouble with this country; the oiks don't have enough to occupy their time. That's when oiks get dangerous, when they've got nothing to do, because that's when they start thinking, and they get to believing that they actually possess a modicum of intelligence. Then they start riots and stuff. The bloody nerve of it!
"Do you realise that these days, the oiks actually, seriously, believe they know how to run the country?"
The chums laughed fit to burst at this lunatic revelation.
"It's true I tell you," Abigail insisted. "They have opinions too - on all manner of things, and that's dangerous.
"They want to scrap the monarchy, they want to abolish hereditary peerages, they want to cap executives' salaries, they want the poor to pay less in taxes, and the rich more - the sheer bloody audacity of it! - they want better public services, they want better health care, they want a voice in the workplace. They want the whole world served up to them on a plate.
"Well, if you ask me, I think we should ship them all off to labour camps and make them earn their corn. And when they're too old and doddery, and no use any more, we should leave them outside in the cold to freeze to death with dignity, like the Eskimos do."
"Hear hear!" Spanky crowed appreciatively, happy in the knowledge that Abigail hadn't gone soft. "Anyone for a paddle?"
The chums, who had had the foresight to put swimwear on under their outer clothing, were quick to strip down, and they squealed with abandoned laughter as they ran down to the briny and plunged headlong into the surf.
It must be said that the 'paddle' quickly got out of hand as the chums got busy with scragging and wrestling one another, so that within half a minute, or two twitches of a duck's tail, they were all soaked to the skin from head to toe as they grappled in the spume.
Presently, exhausted by their exertions, but in good humour, they waded ashore and lay back on the sand to soak up some rays and dry off.
There was one thing which Spanky alone seemed to have taken note of, and that was how Abigail appeared to have 'developed' beyond all recognition in the curvaciousness stakes. Lord, but she had developed into a wonderfully rounded young lady. The way in which she favoured chunky sweaters and baggy jeans tended to disguise her physical femininity, but when she frolicked in the surf, in a skimpy bikini, it became difficult to ignore.
Tugboat and Martina seemed totally oblivious to it all, but not Spanky. He could hardly tear his eyes from her.
Abigail herself was feeeling quite contented as she laid back on the sand and relaxed. It wasn't often that she gave vent to her political feelings, but when she let rip, she felt like a modern day crusader, the scourge of her political foes.
A bit like Mrs Baroness Thatcher.
Only not as left wing.
Abigail closed her eyes and welcomed the sleep which enveloped her.
A short while later...
Abigail opened her eyes and screamed.
It wasn't exactly blood curdling, but it was close.
There was a great deal of kerfuffle going on around her. The chums, as one, sprang to their feet and started to mill about a bit, all confusion, shouting, pushing, shoving and jostling each other.
There was an antelope in their midst, (Interloper - Ed) and they weren't quite certain what to do. The interloper was a somewhat bedraggled individual, gaunt, hollow eyed, with stringy, greasy hair and brown stained teeth, wearing a motley assortment of ragged and ill fitting clothing which looked like it had been salvaged from a skip on a really shit council estate, somewhere up North, probably.
Protectively holding his chums at bay as he squared up to the interloper, Spanky snapped: "Who are you, and what do you want?"
"Identify yourself, damn you!" Spanky was losing his cool. He glanced nervously behind himself, looking to his chums for support.
"He looks terribly oiky," Abigail murmered in Spanky's ear. She was still a little shaken up as a result of her rude awakening.
The interloper just stood there. Facing them. Snot oozed from his nose like candle wax, and spittle dribbled out between his slack lips. He truly was a disgusting looking individual.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" Spanky repeated.
The rheumy eyes briefly flickered.
"Flob," the interloper said.
"Flob?" Spanky sneered. "What kind of a name is that?"
"Flob," Flob repeated.
"What do you want?" Abigail ventured. "Why are you bothering us like this?"
"The jellyfish are rising," Flob said, mysteriously.
"I beg your pardon?" Martina appeared on the brink of hysteria. She was finding all of this quite hard to take in.
"Jellyfish?" Tugboat spluttered. This was all proving to be a little bit beyond his comprehension.
"It's in the stars," Flob said, by way of an explanation, and then, quite inexplicably, considering he was talking about the stars, he stared down at the sand, deep in concentration.
"What's in the stars?" Martina was thinking aloud. She was as confused as her twin as regards the way this incident was panning out.
"The day of the great Pzazz is upon us, and all the monkfish will gain deliverance from the voracious locusts, and the garnet encrusted kung-fu slippers will enjoy a resurgence," Flob explained (?) whilst still staring fixedly down at the sand at his feet.
"In that case, we'd better start our picnic. Would you care to join us Mister Flob?" Spanky said cheerily.
"Just call me Flob," said Flob. "I don't care for the Mister bit."
"I'm sorry...would you care to join us...Flob?"
"Don't mind if I do, squire," said Flob.
"Good man," Spanky grinned. "Let's find a comfy place to sit down. I think a comfy place to sit enhances a picnic beyond all measure."
He then glanced at Abigail, in her bikini, with her...curvy bits...and stuff...
"We'd better put our togs back on too, before we catch a cold or something..."
More as we get it.
Author's Note - If you've actually bothered to read this nonsense, you're probably wondering why it's entitled 'Episode Three - Part Two'? It really ought to be 'Episode Four' but as 'Episode Three' was read by five times as many people as Episodes One and Two, I decided to write lots of Episode Threes. Confused? You will be. Coming soon: Episode Three - Part Three. Not in 3D