Richie Smiff
Gannet One
Gannet Two
Dr Rob

NARRATOR: Once upon a time there was a girl named Pat who lived far, far away in the North of England. She was usually seen dressed in her grey woollen dress, and grey woollen tights, and grey jumper, walking past the grey slate houses of her in the drizzle of a grey sky.

PAT: Grooten graaten, Grooten graaten.

NARRATOR: Pat often spoke to herself this way because she was from the North and that was the way people talked there. Sometimes she would see her neighbour Richie and greet him.

PAT: Grooten graaten, Richie!

RICHIE: Grooten graaten

NARRATOR: Richie's tone was usually surly

RICHIE: Want Moors Booars

NARRATOR: Then he would stomp back into his house.

PAT (Sadly): Grooten Graaten. Grooten Graaten.

NARRATOR: It wasn't her fault that everyone was so unfriendly. She couldn't help being from Sunderland after all.

PAT: Oy, I'm from Middlesbrough, not Sunderland. Get it right, Narrator.

NARRATOR: Well, I do beg your pardon. To continue: One day, as she walked down the alley behind her house, Pat from Middlesbrough not Gateshead noticed that the door to Richie's garden shed was open. She knew she wasn't supposed to go in but Pat was a curious girl and wanted to see just what Richie had in his shed. Feeling slightly naughty she entered.

The shed was full of all the usual shed stuff Gardening tools, buckets, scraps of wood, and a box labelled Bits of String Too Small For Even Bill Burns to use. But in one corner there was something unusual. It was about six feet tall and shaped like a man, but a man built entirely of cylinders of crushed cans all soldered and riveted together to form feet and legs and a trunk and arms and hands and a head with a cigar tube for a nose. In the middle of the trunk was a circle with three coils of wire surrounding another coil of wire which could rotate. Sticking out of his side was a crank.

PAT: Grooten graaten

(PAT turns imaginary crank)

(SFX: Electrical Rotor whining and sparking)

(She stops cranking. EMM stands stretches and steps forward)

(SFX: Humnming, mechanical clanking)

PAT: Eeeee.

EMM: Hello, Pat, I am Electric Motor Man and you have rescued me from the evil Richie.

PAT: Eeeee (pause) Eeeee. What's that big whizzy spin dizzy thing in the middle of your chest?

EMM: I think it's my motor, or moorta, as the Evil Richie described it when he was soldering it into place.

NARRATOR: Pat pulled up her grey sock, which had fallen down. In doing she noticed the soles of her shoes seemed to be covered in yellow paint. Looking over her shoulders she saw a trail of yellow footprints behind her where she had walked into the shed and behind that a brick garden path freshly painted yellow, which she had obviously followed and was surprised she hadn't noticed before.

RICHIE: Grooten graaten grooten graaten

(SFX: Squelching sploshing marshy noise).

NARRATOR: It was the evil Ritchie walking through the mulch and manure he had just spread upon him garden in anticipation of an early crop from the Moors Booars bushes, and he was coming their way.

(PAT grabs EMM's hand)

EMM: That will be five dollars sixty. Will you be requiring exchange tickets?

PAT: Eeeee, you don't half say some silly things.

EMM: My spin dizzy bit once belonged to a Motorman on a San Francisco cable car. Mind the Step. All Aboard.

PAT: Never mind that. We must escape. Come on; let's follow this yellow brick road.

EMM: By the way, did I tell you, you had three wishes for rescuing me.

PAT: I wish you'd shut up. And I wish I hadn't got us into this mess. And I wish I'd never been born. Oh Lord that's my three wishes, isn't it? Do I turn into a monkey's paw now?

EMM: Don't worry, you will have guessed by the fact that the first wish didn't work, that I was joking about the three wishes.

NARRATOR: A solitary gannet flew overhead like an omen as they set out along the yellow brick road to who knew where, but almost certainly somewhere Northern.

(SFXfading Grooten Graaten Splash Spkloosh)

PAT: Eeeee. I'm a bit tired. Can we rest for a bit Electric Motor Man?

EMM: Why, of course, I wish I had a Mars Bar for you. That's why the wicked Richie is so angry, you know. He was going to trade me for a lifetime supply of Mars Bars and now he can't.

PAT: Eeeee! He can't trade a person. Why, that would be slavery!

EMM: Oh, but I'm not a proper person. (Points at bottom of foot) See, haven't got a sole.

PAT: Eeeee, like I didn't see that one coming. Can I call you Emm?

EMM: Why, certainly.

NARRATOR: The yellow path was growing wider as they followed it and soon they found themselves walking through a lovely meadow filled with daffodils and lupins and primroses and petunias. The mix of colours lifted their spirits and these soared even higher when the sun came out and they watched some fawns drinking at the brook which ran beside the path and then watched some fox cubs tussle around in a heap and get up and chase each other. (Aside) This bit was written by Rich Coad, by the way. I blame the drugs.

PAT: Eeeee, EMM, I've a feeling we're not in Sunderland anymore.

NARRATOR: And with that the happy pair began to skip up the path until they came to a fork in the road and there were two yellow paths available to follow.

PAT: Eeeee, Which way should we go?

EMM: I don't know.

MAULER: Well, many take the right fork and enjoy it.

PAT/EMM(TOGETHER): Who's that?

MAULER: Although, those who go left swear it can't be topped.

NARRATOR: Looking upwards, Pat saw a man standing at the very tippy top of a very tall ladder adjusting a sign post that said Right.

PAT: Eeeee, be careful up there.

MAULER: Not to worry, I'll just give this sign post a final adjustment and then be right down.

NARRATOR: He reached out towards the very end of the sign that said Right and the ladder swayed in same direction lifting its left leg off the ground. The man flailed his arms about and pushed the sign that said Right until it pointed in the same direction as the path to the right. With his other arm flailing about and shifting his weight on the top of the ladder he reached out to do the same to the sign which said 'Left' and the right leg came off the ground and he pushed the sign and flailed and shifted until both feet of the ladder were back on the ground and the ladder was resting safely against the top of the sign post again.

MAULER: You see, nothing to it.

NARRATOR: with that he stepped off the ladder and plummeted to the ground which sent up a large plume of dust where his crumpled body had landed.

(SFX: Maule Thud)

PAT: Eeeee! Are you hurt? Please don't be dead, oh please.

MAULER: Nothing to worry about. That happens all the time. I'm used to it. I'm Mauler, Mauler the Fix-It Man.

PAT: Eeeee, what you need, Mauler, is a Sense of Balance. And my friend EMM here needs a sole. I wonder where we might find such things.

MAULER: Legend does tell of a mythical Wizard of Gateshead who I am sure would be able to help us.

EMM: Not if he was mythical, he wouldn't. Sorry to be a pedant.

PAT: Do you think one of these TWO paths leads to his kingdom? But if so, which one are we to choose?

NARRATOR: At that point two Gannets flapped down out of the sky and settled, one on each arm of the fingerpost. They had placards round their necks which read: "One of us always tells the truth and the other one always lies."

GANNETS (IN UNISON): We know the answer

GANNET ONE: Yes, for we have flown all over this Kingdom, even as far as Sunderland and South Shields. We had a particularly nice afternoon at Whitley Bay once.

GANNET TWO: No we didn't.


GANNET TWO: Didn't. Just because you picked up that waitress.

GANNET ONE: Did. Just because you didn't.



PAT: Eeeee, just pipe down the two of you and tell us which path we should take.

MAULER: Let's just kill them and make a random choice. I've got a sharp chisel.

PAT: Eeeee, no, I don't feel like a blood-bath right now. Perhaps later. Eeeee, if only there were someone who could solve this puzzle for us.

MAULER: Why not phone a friend?

PAT (Pulling out mobile phone): That's an idea. I'll ask my friends InTheBar, that's a seedy little watering-hole I sometimes frequent. They will be sure to know the answer... Hello, is that Bruce Townley..?

NARRATOR: Bruce didn't know the answer and was forced to Google it, but several hours later came up with the answer.

PAT: Thanks Bruce… Eeeee, Gannet One. What would Gannet Two say if I asked him which was the correct path?

GANNET ONE: He would say west, but what the fuck does he know. He thinks he had a nice weekend in Whitley Bay. That twat there Mauler used to be a Gannet as well, before he moved south and became a limp wrist and made a career of climbing up ladders.

PAT: I'll pass over that slur on my travelling companion. Right, Gannet One says west, Gannet Two, what would Gannet One say if I asked him which was the correct path?

GANNET TWO: He would say west, because you know I speak the truth. Or do I?

PAT: In that case it's pretty obvious we should go east.

MAULER: Errm, how do you work that out?

PAT: Eeeee, it's a classic Boolean logic puzzle. And besides my mate Bruce looked it up on Google.

EMM: Somebody is trying to make this a story for the restricted section of the library where only grown-ups can go. But that's okay because I know how to solve that problem with only one question!

MAULER: Me too, for as a Fix-It Man I have to think carefully through a problem and find the best solution. Let me just climb to the tippy-top of my ladder and I will ask the question.

PAT: But Mauler, you can ask the question from the ground just as easily.

MAULER: Solve a problem without a ladder? I've never done that before.

EMM:: Why don't we ask the question together?

EMM/MAULER: Which way will the OTHER gannet tell us to go?

PAT: Eeeee, we could piss around all day like this but we've got to crack on so I can get round to the "Three people check into a hotel" conundrum. So follow me, my hearties

EMM: Wait for me.

MAULER: And me.

NARRATOR: Mauler grabbed his ladder, which fortunately was light weight aluminium one, £9.99 in Homebase. And so Pat skipped off with Mauler and EMM in close pursuit. Eventually they paused for breath, so sat on the meadow sward where the butterflies fluttered in a psychedelic blur. Mauler climbed to the top of his ladder to reconnoitre.

MAULER: There is a peculiar creature up a little way I think we should investigate. Ooops! Look out! Here I come!

(SFX: Maule Thud)

NARRATOR: After picking up Mauler they strode off. Well, Pat strode off and EMM hobbled after, and Mauler did as best he could despite his collapsed lung. By the side of the path they came across a peculiar creature wearing pebble-glass lenses and sitting at an old-fashioned writing desk. It was writing with a quill pen on a thick pad of paper.

GOBLIN: Scribble scribble scribble, Scribble scribble scribble. Write write write. Can't stop. Must write. Scribble scribble scribble.

PAT: Excuse me, sir...

GOBLIN: Ssssush, Must finish my novel. It's my novel you see, and it's going to be the greatest novel in the entire whole world written by Me.

MAULER: I know you. You are my old mate Goblin.

GOBLIN: Yes Goblin, that's me. The best writer in the world and you are Mauler. Would you like to read my novel. It's all mine, you know. I wrote it myself. I'm only working in the library until someone recognizes my talent as the World's Greatest Writer.

PAT: We're off to see the Wonderful Wizard of Gateshead. Mr. EMM here needs a sole, and Mauler needs a sense of balance, and it's obvious you need some Talent, so how would you like to join us?

GOBLIN: Why not? I can tell you all about my novel as we go.

NARRATOR: The quartet was happily skipping along the yellow brick road when they heard a faint putt putt sound from the distance behind them.

PAT: Eeeee, I wonder what that noise is?

MAULER: I'll take a look; just let me shin up my ladder.

GOBLIN: What do you see? Is it an agent or a publisher coming to see me about my novel? MAULER: There's a man on a motorbike with a keg of cats and a banner that says Wont Moors Booars. Oh no. Look out. Aaargh!

(SFX: Maule Thud)

EMM: Oh no!

MAULER: Thank you for your concern, but I'm alright. Just twisted my ankle a bit, and put my shoulder out.

EMM: It's not YOU I'm worried about. It's Ritchie following us. He'll want to take me back and trade me for Mars Bars. Oh my!

PAT: Eeeee. We had better find the Wizard of Gateshead soon or we will be in trouble. Maybe this man who has set up his easel and is painting in this field can help direct us.

NARRATOR: So Pat, being a bold girl, walked into the field to where a painter was working at his easel. But once she arrived and saw the beautiful painting of the countryside surrounding them, with its vibrant colours and broad expressive brush strokes she knew she was in the presence of someone who had Talent. Then she noticed he was barefoot and standing on one leg, with the other folded across his knee, and she knew this artist had a Sense of Balance. Looking at his foot she noticed the fine whorls and magnificent arch to it and realized the not only did he have Talent, and a Sense of Balance, but also that he had a Sole. Then she noticed he was dressed in a blue robe and pointy hat with stars and moons and Saturns printed all over which is just how a Wizard dresses. And finally she noticed the laconic smile and friendly twinkle in the eyes of the painter.


NARRATOR: And with that she fainted clean away.

(She slumps to the ground. DR ROB appears and helps her up)

PAT: Eeeee, where am I. What's going on? Where is that tantalizing handsome painter person I last remember seeing? Who are you?

DR JACKSON: You are in a motel just outside Hinckley, in a bypass just off the yellow brick path, I don't know what's going on, or who this painter bloke is, but I am Dr. Rob.

PAT: You're a doctor? But why aren't you wearing a while coat and a stethoscope.

DR ROB: Im not that sort of Doctor. I specialize in head cases. Which means I can wear my ordinary suit for work. Coral is very happy about this because she doesn't have to lay out my clothes in the morning, although, god knows, I've asked her to do so often enough. As long as I can find my comfortable old suit, I'm happy enough to go out there and wrestle with people with acute psychological problems due to drug abuse. Would you like to see my Walrus impersonation? It's not pretty but it is quite distracting.

PAT: I'd much rather find out what happened to my three companions.

DR ROB: Well, we arranged for them to book into a local hotel, called the Hanover. But the strangest thing happened. The hotel only had one room; the clerk offered it to them at £30.00, ie £10.00 each. They accepted this gratefully for Mauler had fallen off a few ladders lately and had a headache, and EMM had a sore sole, and Goblin had repetitive strain injury from writing so much talentless rubbish, so they were all very very tired and in need of rest. But later the proprietor came by. He checked the register and decided that £30.00 was far too much for the room. He instructed his clerk to refund £5.00. The clerk was puzzled about how to split £5.00 between the three guests and so decided to keep 2 pounds back, and refund them £1.00 each, which he did the next morning. So each guest ended up paying £9.00, or 3 x 9 which equalled £27.00 for the whole room. But the clerk only had two pounds left, which made £29 in total. So what happened to the other pound?

PAT: Eeeee, I feel dizzy.

DR ROB: It's obviously my lack of a bedside manner. You see I'm not used to dealing with real people, only loonies.

PAT: Join us, Dr. Rob. I'm sure when we finally get to meet the Wizard of Gateshead he will be able to give you a Bedside Manner. By the way what was the answer to the £30.00 Conundrum?

DR ROB: Buggered if I know.

PAT: Are you absolutely sure you're a real doctor, Dr Rob?

DR ROB: I have a certificate. It's plain to see that the problems of you and I don't amount to a hill of beans as long as Walter Brennan is on hand to speak some homespun hokum, about eating bees, and after ditching the girl I walk off with a peculiar foreign policeman. So why don't we forget the stupid syllogism which has kept us trapped in this godforsaken motel, collect our companions and walk off into our own sunset, perhaps to find this fabled Wizard of Gateshead.

PAT: Eeeee, You're a good man, Doctor Rob, even if you do have a bloody awful bedside manner.

DR ROB: I think it's genetic, or the result of my brain not being correctly wired until I was forty eight. I did do a lot of marijuana in my youth, after all. Or else it's something to do with global warming.

PAT: Eeeee, Doctor Rob, you are a laff

NARRATOR: The next morning the group continued down the road somewhat lighter in the pocket but all the richer for the experience of the night before. Pat skipped and capered ahead of her new friends as they tried in their own way to match her pace. Goblin was lashed to his typewriter; each time he pounded on the keyboard it would make him jump forward a step. Mauler was teeter-tottering on top of his ladder, swaying backwards but mainly forwards in short stumbling steps. Dr. Rob was making catapults from the many stethoscopes about his person and firing himself forward in great leaps. Strange friends thought Emm as he walked steadily forward on his tin cans.

GOBLIN: I'm tired. That's probably what comes of dragging this huge manual Hermes typewriter around with me and trying to write *my* novel at the same time. But it will be worth it, I suppose, when sell it for a vast fortune. That's the novel, not the typewriter, which frankly I think I will have to give away. And I have got to a particularly good part where these people I call the munchkins attempt to bugger a huge fat witch made out of marshmallows. There's a lot in it, also, about chocolate and lemonade, and where they are made. I did tell you it was a children's novel, didn't I? Can we stop for a rest for a few minutes?

MAULER: Suits me, it will give me a chance to get down from this ladder. Look ou! Oooop! Aaargh! Oooo.

(SFX: Maule Thud)

MAULER: Anybody got any vinegar and brown paper?

EMM: My bushes are tired out; I suspect they are corroded with iron oxide. I need a complete top to bottom overhaul, although you could probably leave out the bottom bit. Which of us doesn't dribble a little bit of oil occasionally?

DR ROB: I'm distinctly suffering from brain-fade myself, which of course is a technical term we doctors use to indicate the fading of the brain.

PAT: Eeeee, What you guys need is a hiking holiday. Tones up the calves and the biceps something special walking over all those hills, and staying at comfy B&Bs along the way, none of which charge you £30.00 for the room so you are tempted into syllogistic discussions of false logic. Of course I hope that some day I will meet up again with a strikingly handsome renaissance man wearing a pointy hat, but it seems that will never be.

NARRATOR: From away in the distance came the sound of a Harley Davidson, being ridden recklessly by a Northerner. The cry of 'Moors Booars' came keening on the wind, and close behind it the sound of an old Buddhist accountant, screaming, "It's mars bars, you fool. Although I know there is no dialect joke involved in that! "

Pat had run so far ahead of the others that she had almost forgotten why she was here in the first place. She thought she might just give it all up, but then she thought of the whimsical handsome Renaissance man with a pointy hat, soles, a sense of balance and talent, and felt a reassuring dampness spread through her knickers.

PAT: Eeeee, time I had an orgasm.

NARRATOR: But then she remembered where she was.

PAT: Eeeee, I'm among friends, but not those sort of friends. Eeeee...

EMM: Who are you talking to?

PAT: Oh, I must have been daydreaming again, I always daydream. Ever since I was a little girl slaving in the Sunderland slate mines I've daydreamed of one day meeting handsome princes, devilish wizards, funny animals with quirky habits and friends like you and Dr. Rob and even Mauler, although I sometimes think he's lost the plot.

NARRATOR: Emm glanced over to where Mauler was struggling to free one leg of his ladder from a small hole in the ground whilst balancing an air rifle in one hand and a dead animal between his teeth.

EMM: I see what you mean.

NARRATOR: Just then, as they mused, from around a bend in the yellow brick road came the sound of a highly revved engine.

(SFX motorbike, Smiff, Grooten Graaten, Moors Boor, approaching)

PAT: Eeeee! The evil Richie is coming. Look EMM there's an unattended bulldozer and a large mound of dirt over there! What shall we do?

EMM: Just leave it me. I have an affinity with things with engines.

NARRATOR: So saying he jumped on board the bulldozer. He dozed the pile of dirt into the road and working like a thing possessed lowered the shovel and carefully set about carving and shaping the pile... into a massive steep dirt ramp. Mauler scampered up his ladder to get a good view of events, and even the Goblin paused from tossing off some sheets of manuscript. Smiff (for it was he) screamed around the bend on his motorbike, engorging himself with Moors Booars as he did so, but noticed the ramp too late to take avoiding actions.

RICHIE (Yelling) Grooooooooootengraaaaaaaaa....

NARRATOR: Along with his motorbike he sailed into the air. For a long time nothing was heard but the fading dopplered sound of his yell and then an enormous crumpling explosion from some miles off.

(sfx Motorbike crash)

MAULER: I think that must be a record. It was at least the length of 450 London buses by my estimation, and bendy ones at that. And the crater is at least fifty feet across.

PAT: Eeeee, What tales of myth and legend we find ourselves witnessing, eh, chums.

DR ROB: Something tells me we still haven't seen the last of Smiff.

NARRATOR: Meanwhile Mauler was still up his ladder.

MAULER: I say chaps; you'll never guess what I can see from here. It's sort of green and it's sort of a city. What do you think it could be? Ooops. Aaaaargh. Ouch...

(SFX: Maule Thud)

NARRATOR: And so our friends came to the Emerald City, which wasn't in fact a city at all but a small collection of faded green tents a bit like a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. In front of one tent which bore a badly drawn sign : ENTER HERE TO SEE THE WIZARD, they met the painter with the stars on his hat.

PAINTER: Where have you lot been? I was expecting you ages ago.

PAT: We had some trouble with some Gannets.

MAULER: And my ladder.

GOBLIN: And the horrible Smiff.

DR ROB: And I got my stethoscopes in a bit of a twist.

PAINTER: Never mind that, the Wizard is waiting.

(They enter the tent. The Wizard appears. It is D. West)

D: Holy fucking Jesus. What a complete and utter shower. I've never seen such a lot of losers. You're so tied up in your own capers you're in danger of disappearing up your totally non-creative smug arses. You, Mechanical Twat or whatever you call yourself. Bet you couldn't make a duplicator out of an old washing machine. I could give you a sole, but I'd have to rip it out of one of the editors of Matrix, so it would be much of a soul. As for you MAULER, what have you done of any significance for the last 20 years except play war games? A sense iof balance? Don't make laugh. And you Mrs Eeeee, what's so bad about being Northern, cheer up you mad bint and enjoy it like I do. And GOBLIN, you never had any talent and you never will have, so stop wasting your time in the real world and go back to your smug self-referring blog. And you, call yourself a PAINTER, you're just a second-rate fan artist who isn't fit to lick Dan Steffan's boots, or mine either. Let's see where you come in the FAAN awards this year. And you DR ROB, trying to resurrect your past glories in the likes of INCA when it should have stayed dead like so many of your ex-patients. It was bland, smug and boring then, and it hasn't changed. Look I wash my hands of the lot of you. You couldn't even organize a piss up in a brewery, let alone a convention. Look at this shambles, for instance. I rest my case...

(D stalks off, muttering)

PAT: Was that really the Wizard? (To Painter) I thought it would be you. He was very rude.

MAULER: I was expecting someone taller. Or at least someone with a ladder.

GOBLIN: He still managed to loom a lot, if you ask me.

DR ROB: Looked like a bit of a looney to me.

EMM: Several cogs short of a Difference Engine, if you ask me.

PAINTER: I don't know. I thought he talked a lot of sense. That Dan Steffan is very good.

NARRATOR: With that the friends linked arms and wandered off into the sunset, or at least in the direction of the bar.