Friday, December 21, 2007
A garden refuge
I arrive at Dr Whipnade’s residence for a short vacation, if that is the correct term for chilling one’s rump in the cold clammy air of a
I pay the man a courtesy visit next day and he is most civil, putting his kettle on the fire and plucking a couple of teabags from his overcoat pocket. It turns out that he is an unemployed Welsh actor called Trevor bin Laden. This is actually the stage name he has adopted to catch the attention of casting directors. His real name is Trevor Bumphries-Maddocks, which for all I know may be the Welsh form of ‘bin Laden’. His recent acting roles have been middle-eastern characters who yell an Arabic phrase before blowing themselves up or cutting someone’s throat. I ask him about his current accommodation problems.
“I recently had lodgings with an elderly widow who let me do chores instead of paying rent,” he explains. “We got on well until she saw me practising some lines on her cat. Would you believe she called the fuzz!? Thought I was a terrorist trying to involve her pet in a suicide plot against the shuttle service to her local bingo hall. I spent six hours in a police cell while they took my room apart from top to bottom. She wouldn’t have me back even after they’d assured her that her suspicions were groundless. I must be the first bloke in history who got thrown onto the streets for conspiring with a cat.”
“A shocking miscarriage of justice,” I remark. “Have you not thought of broadening your acting portfolio?”
“I think of very little else, Mr Bananas,” he replies. “It’s not that I mind playing jihadist assassins. The Welsh and Arabian tongues have many points of similarity and I once worked in an abattoir, so I’m pretty handy with a knife. But there’s not much emotional depth required to howl with rage before perpetrating an outrage, is there? You could find half-a-dozen capable of that in most of the pubs in Bridgend on a Saturday night. What I need is a good, solid character role of the sort Tony Hopkins used to play before he became a big star.”
“Like The Hunchback of Notre Dame?” I suggest.
“No fear, boyo!” he exclaims. “I’ve had enough problems with back pain to be stooping around with a medicine ball glued to my shoulder blades. I was thinking of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin in Victory at Entebbe. I’d have the critics cooing from the rafters if they saw me in a part like that.”
“I can’t see you landing that one in spite of your experience in playing Levantines,” I caution. “You don’t even have a ballpark resemblance to Mr Rabin.”
“Well, I was only using him an as example,” replies Trevor. “To be honest, anything with lines spoken in a conversational tone of voice would interest me, irrespective of my preference for work with sound artistic and orthopaedic credentials.”
I nod in comprehension and wish the frustrated thespian a Merry Christmas before returning to the mansion.
It must be Trevor’s lucky day, for that very evening I learn that Dr Whipsnade has invited an up-and-coming theatre producer to dinner. This budding impresario informs us that he is looking for an actor to play an unusual character part in a Christmas stage production. Without hesitation, I enthusiastically propose Trevor for the role. Alas, we cannot invite him into the house because he is away practising improvisational street dialogue with the ladies outside Kings Cross station. But I cite his acting credits, which greatly impress our guest.
Next morning, I knock on the door of the tool shed. After a minute of muttering and groaning, a bleary-eyed Welshman appears before me, wearing long johns and sucking a lozenge. He invites me to sit down on a sack of weed killer while he washes his face in the basin. His ablutions complete, he sits down on the mattress and apologises for his state of dishevelment. I waste no time in announcing the stage role he has been offered.
“A pantomime horse!” gasps Trevor in astonishment. “Are you taking the mickey, Bananas? I’m an actor who went to drama school, not a silly bugger who prances around in animal suits. I took for you for a better ape than to kick a man when he’s down!”
“It is no ordinary horse, Sir!” I protest. “It has more lines than most of the humans and funny ones to boot! I have seen the script!”
Impressed by my sincerity, Trevor questions me about the production and is gradually persuaded that the equine role would be a useful form of occupational therapy before his next gig as a wild-eyed fanatic.
“Maybe I’ll give it a go this one time,” he says, stroking his chin.
As I type these words, I see Mr Trevor bin Laden leaving Dr Whipsnade’s tool shed for the last time, with suitcase in hand. He will make his way to the train station, from where he will travel to bed-and-breakfast accommodation paid for by the Howling Breeze Stage Company. I must go and bid him farewell. I don’t have the heart to tell him he’s been cast as the horse’s rear end.
The Japing Ape wishes his readers a Merry Christmas and will post again one week from today.
I love The Howling Breeze Stage company. I love "After a minute of muttering and groaning, a bleary-eyed Welshman appears before me, wearing long johns and sucking a lozenge. He invites me to sit down on a sack of weed killer while he washes his face in the basin." I'm smitten with everything about this post.
Have a very merry Christmas dear Mr. Gorilla Bananas. It's been my great pleasure to have electronically known you for nigh on these past 2 years and I wish you health, happiness and as many chocolate covered ants as you can poke a sticky stick into a mound at this Christmas.
And may i also wish you a jolly Merry Christmas - I hope it is happy and you keep your hairy bottom warm in that harsh London climate.
Have youself a Merry little Christmas Mr Bananas - I wish you all good things for the new year. :-) x
Ho! Ho! Ho!
Lord Likely: I think he's more a fan of the Lord Olivier school of wordy dialogue and hawk-like facial expressions.
Liv: Thanks, Liv, I'd love you to visit! Hope you feel better soon.
Sam: Thanks Sam dearest, it's been wonderful to have your encouragement and read your own stories. Christmas blessings to you and the girls. And their Pop as well.
Mzungu Chick: Merry Christmas to you, Miss Chick. Hope you have a good one wherever you are.
Kitty: Same to you, Kitty, I hope things work out well for you and the smalls. The Welsh have my admiration for many of their qualities, one of which is the gift of the gab.
Doris: Seasonal greetings, ma'am! Yo ho ho and a bottle of babycham to you!
Sabrina: I only hate the big ones that might eat me, Sabrina. Have a good one, sexy!
Merry Yuletide to you and your harem, and plenty of chestnut stuffing.
Before you scoff, please note that the shed is a spacious depository with brick walls, a concrete floor and a roof of durable rubber. The interior contains a wash basin with hot and cold taps, a latex mattress and a gleaming array of the latest Black & Decker implements.
Sounds like an S&M dungeon instead of a garden shed.
Truly has the spirit of Christmas been visited upon him. The Welshman seemed a bit ungrateful, but then they are, aren't they? The Welsh I mean.
May your bananas be forever peeled this festive season Mr G.B. (no offence).
Merry Christmas to you, Japing Ape, and I will look forward to reading your adventures again in a week's time. You tell wonderful stories.
Mosha: I hope so. Let us pray that he will buck to the occasion.
Randall: It might well become one if the wrong sort of person were allowed in.
Dr Maroon: I knew I could trust you to appreciate the true worth of a modern tool shed, Dr. I shall drink to your health when downing my next banana milkshake.
Mary: Thanks very much, Mary, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wish you every success in finding your spectacles and manufacturing further tasty snacks.
Mrs Cake: Thank you, Mrs Cake, I hope that your carnal delights continue unabated in the new year. Feel free to blog about them if you want to.
Merry Christmas and may your banana store never run out.
Ok, I had to read that line a couple of times before I realized that you were talking about the police and not snorting coke off the back of a furry cat. I know. I think I need a drink too.
Great posting, thank you.
You are Master.
I wish you a good end of 2007 and a good year of 2008.
according to mr david Santos you are the master of japing (+:
I think that is what he said ???
I am sure that many humans share your enlightened opinion, in the UK.
I like the way you started this post which is different & creative.
Ha-Ha! And an unemployed Welsh actor called Trevor bin Laden?
What comedy indeed! :-)
Btw, here's wishing you a truly Happy New Year for 2008.
You were right about the Arabic and Welsh, they're both just as unpronouncable as each other! All I can say in Welsh is 'araf' (stop). It's written on the roads there quite a lot.