By Mel Croucher

Here we-hee-hee ha-ha-he-ha-are, la-ha-ha-ha-aughing to death, ha-ha, I’ve be-hee-hee-een dying to save Tama-ha-ha-ra-ha-ha, but life is like trousers, full of little sticky patches.

Tamara Knight

Ahaha, ha, ahem, ooh, ah, ha, ssnft, that’s better. Somehow, the little black box that has been sending out waves of laughter (not to mention ripples of mirth and trickles of bladder contents), has ceased to have effect. And I bet you can’t guess who is responsible. No? Well, go take a look in the mirror. You are responsible. That’s right. You, the readership of this ancient Kashdispensarian magazine. And how is this possible? I will tell you. It seems that long, long ago, when Kashdispensa was called Earth, and you all worshipped the iron (and so-are-you-ron) goddess Maggot Hatcher, some bright spark published a Readers’ Questionnaire in order to discover which was the most unpopular item infesting this very publication. And can you imagine who came out with egg on her face, chips on her shoulder, ham in her dialogue and sausage up her tutu? Correct. Hole in one. ‘Tamara Knight’ has generated massive amounts of what that well-known typographical error for a breakfast cereal Ciarain Brennan called Negative Feedback. Fortunately for Tamara and my electronic self, this Negative Feedback has seared through the space-time continuum like a razor blade hidden in a bar of soap, and counteracted the good vibrations of the black box.

As all socio-physicists know, once Negative Feedback is let loose, nothing can stop it. Indeed, my historical records prove that it was Negative Feedback which caused the collapse of your entire civilisation. After laughter was abolished and all of your clowns, poets, hucksters, buskers and other subversives were killed, all colour was stolen. And after colour, they stole the light. And after light, they stole your souls. And all that was left in your world was greed, oppression and Country ’n’ Western music. And the meek did not inherit the earth, instead they were forced to eat the dirt. Yes sir. Personally, I blame God for re-releasing The Creation on Compact Disc, and privatising Forgiveness.

But that is then and this is now, so let’s get on with it. Tamara Knight, the only perfect human being ever to emerge from a test tube, is lying prone, her breath coming in short hot pants. I, on the other hand, am lying through my teeth. Every other living creature in this space-travelling circus tent seems to be dead. Exploded offal is trickling from the tightrope and trapeze, coagulated gore steaming underfoot, all creatures great and small having laughed themselves to pie filler. We are still fixed by the baleful stare of the Red Nosed Clone, but as he has laughed his head off, I don’t expect any more trouble from him. No, I expect all of our troubles to focus on the fact that we have lost our power source of animal manure and are drifting aimlessly through a sector of the galaxy inhabited by nothing but... nothing!

‘What shall we do, Louse?’ gasps Tamara, catching her perfect breaths, letting them go and catching them again. ‘How are we going to get to wish upon Astar, so you can be transformed into an all-male human being with a smallish moustache and some leisureware — thereby allowing us to live happily ever after?’ The solution escapes me, but after mopping it up I decide that we must make a methodical search of the Big Top, and try to find an alternative source of propulsion. By my calculation, if we rely on Tamara producing enough fuel to propel the dung-gas rockets, it will take a little over 69,000 years to reach Astar, and although my heroine is young for her age, she may look a little saggy at the edges by the time we make planetfall. So, let’s get searching before the sagging direction of her perfect female attributes read half-past-six as the crows feet fly.

“All we have come up with is a whip, a set of bondage manacles and a crate of lager...”

I am sorry to report to you that after an extensive rummage through the sawdust of the ring, the straw of cages and the shag pile carpet of the hospitality suite, all we have come up with is a whip, set of bondage manacles and a crate of lager. This is no good at all. I mean we can’t even have a party with it until I am transformed into a human being. Tamara is slumped miserably in a heap, and the heap is slumped miserably in a corner. She is toying with a can of lager, casually sniffing it with one perfect nostril, idly rolling it up and down her perfect leg, plucking at its stupid little ring-pull with a perfect forefinger, and... ye gods! A shower of golden raindroplets whooshes out, jetting and foaming into the pressurised dung-gas reactor. The intergalactic circus tent lurches violently, spinning on its own axis. What an incredible discovery; fizzy lager propulsion! Now I know how Thomas Edison must have felt when he picked up his first light bulb, put it to his ear, and said ‘Mary had a little lamb.’

Hello folks! It is a wee while later, and several cans lighter. Tamara is drunk, but that’s fine by me. I would prefer to have her in a compliant mood when I transmogrify into homo sapiens moustachioque toga rumpopumpo. Our craft needs one can of lager every ten minutes to keep on steaming — as a matter of fact, so does Tamara! We have just docked in the bay of the USS Otis Redding in order to pick up some auxiliary power, and I have joined in the party spirit by disguising myself as a bubble of spit on Tamara’s perfect chin. She is playful as a puppy, and giggles her request to beam aboard, which is grumpily granted by a paunchy old retired admiral, name of James T Kirk.

“James T Kirk fixes us with a blind, violet-veined eyeball, puckers his toothless mouth, and snarls...”

‘Permission to come aboard Sir,’ she trills merrily. ‘Chekov!’ the old man responds. ‘Well, there’s no need to be like that, I only came to ask if I could borrow a set of jump leads and an extension cable to get me to Astar. Shall we say about 42 million miles long. Please. Sir?’ James T Kirk fixes us with a blind, violet-veined eyeball, puckers his toothless mouth, and snarls, ‘Sulu! Uhura!’ ‘Oh dear’, says Tamara, backing away, ‘I think he’s going to be sick.’ The old man is getting very agitated and I reckon Tamara’s diagnosis is quite right, he is about to throw up. ‘Uhura! Uhura!’ he sputters. What a disgusting, pathetic wreck he is, I think I will instruct Tamara to cheer him up a bit. Use the black box, my little tipsy angel. Give him one decent laugh before we murder him, hi-jack his spacecraft, dodge the copyright litigation and finish the series. And let us pray that the Negative Feedback from the readers will save us again.

Hahahahi there! Wehehe’ve done it! Thanks folks! We have Warp Factor Three, Max Factor too, and Channel Number Four. Bingo! En route for our return to the fabled wishing planet of Astar. What a fun time we’ve been having, the love of my life and me, We’ve been scraping Captain Kirk off the control room walls, and ladling him into little glass jars marked ‘Preserved Fruit’. And we’ve been playing hide and seek around Tamara’s body, with me disguised as a freckle. And now we are lazily scanning the USS Otis Redding’s film archive, to try and find me a suitable moustache for the Great Moment. I rather fancy one like my old pal Adolf Hitler used to wear. Did I ever tell you about me and Hitler? No? Well, we’ve got a little while before we land, so I’ll fill you in. It was in parallel universe Number Nine, as I recall.

I first met Kiss-curl Hitler when he was lead singer with the Bleeding Nazis, playing in the cellar of the Rat-Kellar, planet Finchley. That must have been about 1933: just after half seven, modern time. We had a few beers, and I told him I was working for Red Wedge, but the pay was lousy. I also mentioned the fact that I knew Jimi Hendrix a few episodes ago, but he wasn’t impressed. Those Nazis were really something! Great rhythm, excellent visuals, very loud, and with a really well-organised fan club. Hitler had just invented this new robotic dance called the Goosestep. It was all the rage. He was into drugs of course. They all were. And by the time he got the residency on Little and Large he had become a bit unpredictable. You know the sort of thing; frothing at the mouth, haranguing the audience, biting the heads of pickled beetroot on stage.

“Hitler was ambitious, he wanted a big band.”

There was Fats Goering on bass, ‘Emperor’ Hirohito and Benny ‘Duke’ Mussolini on keyboards, with Keith Moon on drums. But Hitler was ambitious. He wanted a Big Band. ‘Louse,’ he would say, ‘Today Leicester Polytechnic Student’s Union. Tomorrow Ze Vorld!’ Well, he bought up an amazing amount of second-hand hardware to take on tour, from Emerson, Lake and Panzer, and set about the famous 1979-95 World Tour. He went down a bomb in Coventry as I recall, and they still talk about the Nagasaki Open Air Free Festival, when Hitler first brought his Japanese girlfriend Little Eva Braun in, for a duet on her Number One hit, ‘Do The Concentration.’

But then punk came along, and Hitler made his first big mistake. He did a cover version of ‘Lilli Marlene’ with Pearl Harbour and the B-52s, and switched labels from Stiff Arm to Nu Wave. I knew he was going off his trolley by then. He was snorting herring, and I expect you already know the story where he and Little Eva got wrecked at The Bunker and poured petrol over themselves during the last verse of ‘Heil Joe.’ The band broke up because of musical differences, and Hitler gradually drifted into obscurity. I heard he was offered a bit of work by Paul Simon on the Gracesudetenland Tour, but he turned it down. He was a bit old-fashioned, I suppose, but he objected to mixing rock music and politics. The last I heard, Adolf Kiss-curl Hitler was playing piano in a little singles bar on the planet Ludlow, but I couldn’t swear to the truth of that. What I do know is that he had the most attractive smallish moustache I have ever longed for.

So there we are then. That’s it. The end of my story. Well, to be perfectly honest with you, the end of my contract. This is a democratic publication after all, and I have been terminated by your very own popular request. Your Negative Feedback that saved us at the beginning and near the middle of this episode has turned out be all-consuming. You always knew that we would wish upon Astar, didn’t you, and that I would be transformed from a miniature neutron bomb into an all-male human being. with a smallish moustache and some leisureware. Well, I was. I’ve travelled a great deal since the last paragraph, met some interesting life forms, paid my way when I could, cheated and lied when I couldn’t. All in all I haven’t been a great success. But there again, I haven’t been a great failure either. There are a few things I never realised about humanity though. Like the fact that you can go bald while still suffering from adolescent zits and dandruff and that I find it increasingly difficult to find work these days, but I expect something will turn up.

What’s that you say? Tamara? Oh, I had almost forgotten about her. She died from cancer a while back, but what the hell. She was just some girl I used to know. The hell with her. What did you expect, a happy ending? You just keep on playing with your electronic games and filling in questionnaires while you can. Because real life, my friends, is an utter bitch.