"Not that the beer isn’t fine enough," burped Flo, "but even a Mudshark can contain only so much. Can anyone suggest an alternative to a pint of the old foamy?"
"The local spirits are friendly" Sylvia informed her helpfully, "why not try some?"
"Fine," agreed Flo, "I’ll have a pint of that"
"Have a care, Flo, for I dreamt of weasels as we rested"** warned Monty(**dreaming of weasels means that you have a wicked wife who is fond of strong drink. I read it in the Guardian TV supplement, honest!)
"Okay, I’ll start with the weak stuff. What’s this?"
"Slivovic" intoned Gregori
"I expect I will be," agreed Flo, wrinkling her delicate nose as she took a taste of the colourless liquor.
Le… Cholmondoley looked round conspiratorially, raised one eyebrow, touched the side of his nose with his finger and whispered almost inaudibly:
"The Green Fairy"
"And then what happens?" enquired Flo (who had been rather lax in keeping her diary up to date recently) with some interest.
"Then you go mad and cut your ear off"
"Sounds dangerous. Better just have a half, eh Gregori?"
But Gregori plainly did not agree.
"Rimsky Korsakov!!!" he cried, and downed the green liquid in one, presenting his glass for a refill with, it has to be said, a very artistic and poetic flourish.
The Mudshark clan knew of old the futility of attempting to curb Gregori’s artistic impulses when in full flow. Thus it was, somewhat later into the evening, that when Monty and Lord Roberto enquired if the rest of the expedition would like to see a Pole dance, that no-one was at all surprised.
The next morning, Gregori was discovering, as have many artists before him, that the Muses - delightful though their divine presence may be – exact a price for their inspiration. His own flirtation with Terpsichore the previous evening had left him feeling a little wan. The other Mudsharks could not help but notice his distress.
"Bad dreams?" enquired Lady Ecaterina soothingly. "Serves you right!"
"Wurst" croaked Gregori unhappily
"I’m not surprised, after the skinful you disposed of last night. And I see it hasn’t improved your spelling either!"
"No, wurste," explained Le.. Cholmondoley. When the others continued to look blank, he elaborated:
"Gregori has been visited in the night with a ghastly premonition. In his dream, he saw us all transformed into sausages, yet still strangely human, talking and walking."
Le.. Cholmondoley paused as if to let the full horror of this scenario become apparent, then continued, with a slight steely gleam appearing upon his usually calm countenance
"… can’t say I’m surprised," he muttered, with eyes darting from side to side. "I’ve suspected it for years. A sausage conspiracy! Have you ever noticed how sausages hold all the most prominient positions in our society, and control all the banks and financial institutions, and the sound effects department of the BBC?"
All the other Mudsharks present shook their heads in unison.
"Well it’s true, I tell you! Dangerous things, sausages. The only way to keep oneself free from their baleful influence is to reject their evil presence entirely! Why, I myself have had no truck with any sausauge these past 20 or more years, and I am quite sane. QED."
Monty attempted to conceal the second hot dog he was consuming for breakfast, and wondered if a 2 star hotel included sedation facilities.
It is often the case in families that tastes and mental stability are not always shared. So it was with the Mudsharks, and in order to accomadate their need to do their own things, man, a rendezvous time was set upon in order to allow the family members to meet up later and share their individual experiences.
The hostelry which the Mudsharks had chosen for their stay was unfortunately situated in what appeared to be a magickal blind spot – the incantation "Pivo" had no effect, no matter how often it was invoked, but it was a handy place from which to set forth in search of more favourably supernatural spots. Awaiting the arrival of Flo, Monty and Le… Cholmondoley – who had set for earlier in order to view some native recreations – the rest of the clan discussed their afternoons.
"Such a cozy castle," cooed Sylvia, "it reminds one of home"
"Pivo?" said Gregori, hopefully
"… and turned into a cockroach! What?" recounted Lord Roberto, who was in his usual good humour, despite having had to remove his knees due to overuse. This was in no small measure due to the stamina of his wife, the Lady Ecaterina, who was spending the duration pursuing her own cultural pursuits.
"Rhabdomancy," she countered simply, in response to Roberto’s accusation that she was missing out on the more educational aspects of Bohemia. ".."..divination for water or mineral ore by means of a rod or wand".
"‘Tis true that the mineral ore looks far spiffier once it has been given a rub down and encircled with metal," Lady Ecaterina mused beatifically, giving the large chunk of now-gleaming mineral ore on her finger and quick breathe-and-polish, the better to admire its lustre ".. and it may also be the case that the rod or wand is a little more… card-shaped than might have been in previous generations, but we Mudsharks must embrace modernity and move with the times, no?"
Lord Roberto sighed, fearing that his experience of rhabdomancy was by no means ended, but just then his reveries were interrupted by a commotion from the returning Flo, Monty and Le.. Cholmondoley
"Two Ni--il! Two Ni--il!"
Le.. Cholmondoley’s triumphant chant could be heard some ells away, but behind him, Florentina did not sound quite so exhuberant.
"We was robbed," her plaintive voice insisted. "The Queen of the Night was fouled in Act II, and Monostatos, the substitute in the second half, was not offside!"
"The boy Tamino played a blinder!" crowed Monty "he had a great first half, and he really created some opportunities with that Magic Flute!"
"He had some fantastic passes from Papageno," Le.. Cholmondoley enthused ".. those magic balls were just… magic!"
"So how was the native entertainment?" enquired Sylvia "how did it end?"
"Freemasons 2, Goths nil" cheered Monty, waving his tie above his head
"It’ll be a different story when they play La Scala next week, you mark my words" grumbled Flo
"Unfortunately, we missed the kick off" explained Le.. Cholmondoley "..owing to the fact that Monty’s sundial was running slow, and we were obliged to repair to the back stalls until half time. Monty and Flo were up for a Bovril, but I persuaded them to fight through the crowd and take our place in the stands for the second half. And what a half it was! Bam! Sarastro takes the initiative, but Tamino makes the break and tackles him for possession. He has a great run, getting past The Queen of the Night’s back three, then passing to Pamina…she shoots…. She scores!"
"Should’ve been a penalty when the Queen was plunged into the bowels of the earth" moaned Flo.
"And," Monty continued trimphantly "did you know that the stadium is the very one in which the legendary manager Wolfgang first led his team to victory! Ah, the history… the culture… the three three four formation!"
"Sounds fascinating" said Sylvia, in a tone which suggested that supervising the evaporation of emulsion would have been heart-stopping excitement in comparison. "However there are thirsty Mudsharks in need of refreshment, so we will analyse the results later, if you please"
"Pivo" agreed Gregori plaintivelyWill the Mudsharks ever get any bloody dinner? Find out on the exquisite and lovely page 3
(Too stupid to work out what the hell's going on? Good grief. Back to page 1 for you!