The charabanc, unsullied by the blight of airborne pollen, the pestilence of squashed insects, or the perils of airborne industrial soot particles, weaves its way majestically from the gloomy depression that is the village of Lower Doom, with its slate grey stone buildings, its lack of meaningful sunlight, and its dour residents, headed for the Lovers Leap at Lippington Mount.
The charabanc's impressive cream and emerald green livery almost sparkles in the apparent gloaming.
"Lower Doom is a rather morbid looking destination, don't you think, Major?" says Mrs Percy.
"Oh I don't know," replies the Major. "It is possessed with a certain je ne sais quoi.."
"Oh do stop speaking Mexican at me Major," Mrs Percy says. "You know I hate it when you speak Mexican. It simply isn't good enough. Conduct unbecoming, and all that..."
"Hmmm," muses the Major. "Sorry about that, my little aardvark...It's just that when one's spent as long as I have in the Upper Niger delta, Mexican comes as second nature. I suppose Lower Doom is a little difficult to stomach on first acquaintance. It's something of an acquired taste. Rather like the young ladies who flirted with Binky, Sniffer and I, all those years ago. Come to think about it, they were a little pallid of complexion and dark beneath the eyes."
"Are you sure they weren't vampires Major?"
"Ha ha!" the Major chuckles. "It's little remarks like that which make me so glad I married you. Allied of course with the fact that you wait on me hand and foot, indulging my every whim, and being generally submissive, and utterly lacking in assertiveness. But what the heck...it's all good in my book."
But Mrs Percy doesn't hear.
She has dozed off.
It is but a short run between Lower Doom and Lippington Mount. 20 minutes at average speed in reasonable traffic conditions and clement weather allowing.
Mrs Percy continues in her shallow slumber as the Major encourages the charabanc driver to put his foot down in order to compensate for the lateness of the vehicle at the pick up point. The charabanc driver is unmoved by the Major's exhortations, and appears to take great delight in maintaining a melancholy pace for the duration, despite a singular lack of restrictive traffic.
Eventually, the charabanc pulls in at a parking area, replete with picnic tables, litter bins, and a wooden signpost crudely designed in grey emulsion paint indicating the route to Lovers Leap.
Along a footpath of well trodden earth, in the shadow of a burger van, which appears to be trading at a significant loss.
Major Percy elects to rouse Mrs Percy by way of a couple of sharp jabs to the ribcage with his left elbow.
"Uuuuhhh!" Mrs Percy gasps, looking for all the world like she's just been stabbed by a psychotic killer wearing a rubber mask, looking suspiciously like Captain Kirk out of Star Trek.
But spray painted white.
"We're there," the Major hisses.
The cheery charabanc driver announces a 25 minute stop, with ample opportunity to visit Lovers Leap, and enjoy a brief picnic before rejoining the tour.
Also warning that, as there are no available toilet facilities, anybody going for a pee amongst the shrubbery would do so at their own risk, adding that nettle stings would not constitute grounds for compensation claims.
The Major and Mrs Percy elect to take a look at at Lovers Leap at Lippington Mount before tucking into some sandwiches and a cup of Monte Puta coffee from the thermos flask.
As they follow the signs towards the attraction, the cheerful burger van operator leans through the hatch to welcome them.
"Hello good people!" he announces in a rather loud voice. "Welcome to Lovers Leap at Lippington Mount! I am Ali Bullo, burger and kebab entrepreneur extraordinaire, and I have burger, kebab, breakfast rolls, pizza, chips, and fried chicken on sale. I give you good price! No bladdy worries! Me also have Pippa Middleton sex DVD, Robert Pattinson sex DVD, and nude pictures from Playguy of anybody you want to see. Male or female, all photoshopped. Calendars too. For delectation and quick frisky one innit. Just ten pound!"
"Ignore him," the Major advises Mrs Percy. "He's obviously an immigrant from the Ottoman Empire. One just can't trust the blighters. Look at Gallipoli."
"Didn't Mel Gibson play an ANZAC message runner in that, Major?"
"Quite possibly," the Major says, tension palpable in the tone of his utterance. "They'll have Charlie Sheen playing Field Marshal Montgomerey next. Nothing's sacred in Hollywood. Just don't look the Ottoman spiv in the eye as we walk past. That's all. It only encourages them."
The Major, and Mrs Percy eventually manage to bypass the Ottoman spiv, only to come up against a barrier consisting of parcel tape, strung between two saplings, and a man wearing a mismatched jacket and trousers, sporting a magnolia shaded cravat and a World War Two spiv's pencil moustache, blocking their path.
"Get your tickets here for Lovers Leap - the official guided tour," the man exhorts. "It ain't cheap, but then yer gits wot yer pays for. Roll up! A fiver a throw, two for ten pound, and a voucher for Ali Bullo's burger van thrown in! Now stone the crows me old muckers - if that don't represent value for money, then I'm the bloke wot sung 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' in the motion picture extravaganza, 'Monty Python's Life Of Brian.' Roll up! Get your guided tour tickets here! You know it makes sense!"
"That man," Mrs Percy splutters. "Isn't he that Eric Idle chappie out of Monty Python?"
"Probably," the Major says. "Happens to them all eventually, these entertainer types. They get a taste of the high life, then they get hooked on smack cocaine, and they'll do anything to earn a pound or two. They've no shame. I once saw Don Estelle out of 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum' that bloke who sang 'Whispering Grass' with Windsor Davies - with an upright piano on a hand cart in Basingstoke shopping precinct, singing his head off and trying to flog CD's at four pounds a throw. Never seemed to have change for a fiver. Little bastard."
"Is this going to cost us more money?" Mrs Percy asks.
"Only a tenner my sweet," replies the Major.
"In that case, I'd better get my purse out. Again." Mrs Percy sighs.
Presently, after forking out ten pounds, the Major and Mrs Percy are guided by the man in the mismatched suit to a perilous precipice.
"Is that it?" Mrs Percy snaps. "Is that what you'd describe as a Lovers Leap? Is this Lippington Mount what you'd describe as a mountain? This is outrageous! To think I got up at four am for this!"
"Granted Madam," the Monty Python, Eric Idle from 1974 lookalike continues. "It is, admittedly, more of a hillock than a mount. But having said that, it's quite a substantial drop to the bottom..."
"No it isn't!" Mrs Percy protests. "It's no more than four feet! This is just a terrible example of entrepreneurs taking advantage of gullible tourists!"
"I can assure you Madam, that several people have sustained sprained ankles, over the years, sustained in the execution of suicide pacts whilst jumping off this precipice," the Eric Idle spiv lookalike insists.
"But has anybody actually killed themselves?" Mrs Percy erupts. "Hardly likely in a four foot drop onto soft earth, unless they overdosed on tablets and sliced their limbs off with a chainsaw beforehand!"
"Madam, I can assure you..." the smarmy guide continues, but Mrs Percy is having none of it.
"Oh do fuck off!" she yelps. "I'm tired enough as it is! And if you insist on pissing me off, I shall punch your fucking lights out and no mistake! You smarmy little creep!"
"Suit yourself darlin'!" the tour guide continues, undaunted. "But don't forget your discount voucher for Ali Bullo's burger van. Your old man will probably receive no small degree of gratification from the Pippa Middleton sex DVD! Bloody lesbian!"
"That didn't work out too well, did it?" the Major asks as he steers his exhausted spouse back to the charabanc, as the couple studiously avoid Ali Bullo in the burger van waving a nude photoshopped glossy poster of Cheryl Cole's head on Katie Price's body, and shouting 'Only three pound with bacon roll!'
"Take me back to the charabanc, this instant, Major," Mrs Percy sighs. "I feel I may need to lie down for a while."
To be continued...