Tuesday, 9 March 2021

The Calamities of the Carmine Quill

 A silent Ms Scarlet  held up the intertitle card with a self-satisfied grin.  Having flirted with the idea of becoming entirely text based and giving up speech forever, she had gone out on a few dates with it, made a deep connection, and then eloped, with the marriage ceremony held at the Grade II listed telephone box in Mogwash.

 After an interminable amount of time - at least eight or nine seconds - Ms Scarlet's grin had regressed to a scowl.  Why wasn't anyone taking any notice of her very clever, and painstakingly crafted card?!  Fortunately, she had prepared for this eventuality - as unlikely as she thought it would be - and held up another card: 

 Still no reaction.  Were they blind?!  What were they doing over there that meant they weren't paying attention to her?  And on her birthday, too.  There was only one thing for it: she threw her cards to the floor and then glared at the three only mildly surprised faces that turned to see what the commotion was.
 "Why aren't you listening to me?!" Ms Scarlet snapped, the divorce from her silence settled in record time.
 "Did you say something?"
 "What are you up to now?"
 "We must rescue my cake!" Ms Scarlet teetered on the edge of hysterics, but wasn't sure that she could pull it off convincingly, so she settled for a kind of urgent whine.
 "What?  What cake?"  Mago was confused which also led to urgent wine...
 "My birthday cake!"  She might have given up on the hysterics, but Ms Scarlet's grasp of petulence was top notch.  It was so good, in fact, that Mago could have sworn she stamped her foot even though she hadn't.  "You know, the black forest gateau that almost got splattered before someone made off with it?"
 Mago racked his brain but nothing was forthcoming.
 "Ah" said Jon coming to Mago's rescue.  "You mean the one from last year's Ms Scarlet with the Trolley on the Mezzanine?"
 "Yes!" Ms Scarlet cried.  "That's the one!  We must engage in a madcap rescue adventure with lots of wrong turns and mistaken identities - and, possibly, a flock of starlings - before retrieving my birthday cake and settling down for tea."
 "Tea?" Dinah perked up at the mention.  "Oh, yes please, if you're putting the kettle on."
 "No, I wasn't putting the kettle on, I was just saying that we should.  You know, once we've got my cake back."
 "What cake?"  Dinah, equally confused, looked at Mago who just shrugged and - once Ms Scarlet's and Jon's attention was diverted - opened a bottle of Sylvaner.
 "Ms Scarlet" Jon began in what he hoped were tones that did not display the full levels of his exasperation, "that cake - if it does still exist, which I doubt - would now be a year old.  I, for one, am not eating some ancient cake which has had who knows what done to it by some crazed cake-snatcher.  Besides, didn't that whole cake-snatcher thing get resolved on Mr Device's birthday?"
 "Did it?" Ms Scarlet put a finger to her faintly pouting lips and affected a thinking pose, not unlike the one that was captured for posterity in her unofficial and unauthorised biography Ms Scarlet in the Pantry with the Can-Opener.
 "Well, I thought so.  Wasn't the cake-snatcher Delilah Smythe?  Isn't that who Mr Device was insinuating took it, and who then left those recipe books - including the one specifically about Black Forest gateaux - on his doorstep?"
 "Oh, I don't know!?"  The petulence made a spirited return.  "Who knows what goes on in Mr Devine's head.  So, does this mean I'm not getting a cake?"
 "It certainly looks that way."
 "Fine.  I don't really like Black Forest gateau anyway, and I wouldn't be able to eat it even if I did because of my debilitating jaw issues!"
 The clink of glass against glass made both Ms Scarlet and Jon turn around.
 "Yes, please" Jon said accusingly before he'd even caught a glimpse of the wine bottle Mago was not very surreptitiously trying to hide behind his back.
 "Oh.  Um..."  Mago stuttered.
 "Bugger.  We'll have to open another bottle now that they want some" Dinah griped retrieving her glass from behind her handbag.
 "We'd have to anyway" Mago said holding the bottle upside down, "this one's empty."
 "But...  But you only opened it a minute ago!" Ms Scarlet wailed.
 Dinah looked away and tried to stifle a reasonably ladylike burp with little success.


 Meanwhile, in a flower shop not far away...

 Madam Arcati, the proprietor of the shop, hummed to herself as she tended to the large, and rather unruly plant that sat in its pot on the end of the counter.  She wanted to ensure that the terrifying chimera was in tip-top condition for when her customer arrived to collect it.  Not for the first time she pondered the strange request made by the be-cloaked and pointy hatted 'man' who came into her shop a little over a month ago.  A personalised plant put together from parts of a peculiar pot-pourri of prickles, perianths, and petioles - an impossible task. 
 Except that she'd done it.  Somehow, she'd managed to splice together DNA from dog rose, wolf's bane, houndstongue, dog's-tooth violet, hounds berry, and creeping dogwood to create this surprisingly vigorous, and unnervingly thigmonastic specimen.  The resulting plant didn't look much like any of its donors, but there were a couple of cues: a few thorns and some tooth-edged leaves - including their hairy undersides. 


 "Oh, no!"
 "What?!  Whatever is it?" Ms Scarlet asked, anxiety rising within her thanks to the sheer terror in Dinah's exclamation.
 "We're out of wine!"  Jon's gasp of shock at Dinah's statement was masked by the thud of Mago hitting the floor in a faint.
 Ms Scarlet relaxed slightly at the 'revelation'.  "Well, this is definitely a 'put the kettle on' moment, then."
 "Ooh, yes please, dear".  Dinah was determined to get that cuppa as long as she didn't have to make it herself.  "But we're out of milk."
 "I'm not drinking tea without milk" Jon said.  "Someone will have to go and get some."
 "Well, don't look at me.  The shop isn't exactly within walking distance, and I've had far too much to drive."
 "Me, too" Jon said, and both he and Dinah looked down at Mago's still prone form, before fixing their gaze upon Ms Scarlet.
 "Oh, fine!" she relented.  "I'll go and get the milk, then.  Even though I hate driving..."
Ms Scarlet calmly popping out for milk... (full sequence can be found here)


 Pulling up on double yellow lines outside the corner shop, Ms Scarlet waited while rain drummed against the fabric roof of her Compact Figaro.  And waited.  Then waited for longer, getting more and more fed up - so much so that she even pondered using the 'Butter Stick Treatment' in her car's beauty-related arsenal!  Eventually, thinking better of the butter stick, she beeped the horn a couple of times, but still no one came out to open the car door and help her alight onto the pavement.  Didn't anywhere have valet parking anymore?! With a tremendous sigh, she opened the door herself and scurried across the pavement into the lee of the building to escape the rain.
 As she approached the shop door, Ms Scarlet heard singing.  It seemed to be coming from around the corner, so she peered around and had a look.  Across the street near the bakery three puffball skirted figures with elaborate bouffant 'dos and trowel-loads of make-up were sashaying towards her, singing something about a small, terrifying shop.  As they got closer, Ms Scarlet could make out more details and hear the voices - including an accompanying electronic-sounding "beep boop" - a bit better.¹
Little shop, little shop o' horrors
Beep boop, little shop o' terror
Watch 'em drop! Little shop o' horrors
No, oh, oh, no-oh!
 One of the 'girls' had accessorised her frock with bejewelled rubber gloves, dark glasses, a veil, and a MASSIVE hat.  The other two didn't need to add anything to their appearance in order to stand out as they were very noticeably robots: a tall, humanoid, gold one, and a small, stocky blue & white one that looked like a dustbin on castors.  It was Pam Demic, C3-Peenee and Norma-D2!

Ohhh, here it comes, baby
Tell the world, baby
Beep boop, beep boop
Ohhh, hit the dirt, baby
Tell the world, baby
Oh oh, beep boop, oh, no
 Ms Scarlet hurried across the road to find out what was going on, but the three glamorous Blogorati waggled their index fingers and sang - and beep-booped - at her threateningly:

You betcha, you betcha, you betcha beep boop, you betcha
Best believe it, something's come to get ya
You betcha, you better watch your back in this town!  Beep boop
 Bewildered and slightly terrified, Ms Scarlet ducked into the nearest shop and bumped into a tall, purple-suited, green-cloaked figure who was on his way out.  The large, strange-looking pot plant he was holding was knocked from his grasp and, running on instinct and reflexes, Ms Scarlet attempted to catch it before it hit the ground.  Unfortunately, it was too big and heavy, and she fumbled it.  The ornate terracotta pot smashed to smithereens on the tiled floor, releasing the monstrous plant.
 "Blast!  My Houndwort!  You ham-fisted cow!" the man hissed.²
 "Oops!  Sorry."  Ms Scarlet then did a double-take.  "Mr Devine?!"
 The Houndwort's tendrils started writhing and it reached for Ms Scarlet's ankle.  Surprising no one - after all, we're over the Cusp - the plant spoke.  What was surprising (although, not really if you paid attention to the 'Meanwhile in a flower shop...' bit up there) was the distinct, yet not overwhelming, Brummie twang.
 "C'mere, bab" it said.
 Ms Scarlet could see what was coming up a mile off.  Not because she was psychic - although she was - but because that much pink in one place (on a sideboard or not) has a tendancy to get noticed (and she'd starred in many an adventure over the Cusp, of course).  She took a deep breath and threw herself into the role.
 "Hay-ulp!  Hay-ulp!" she screamed and ran out of the shop using a strangely elegant goose step, jingling faintly as she went.  The Houndwort, taking advantage of the open door, scrabbled after her. 
 IDV stood in the doorway and pointed a surprisingly crone-like finger³ at Ms Scarlet as she ran across the street towards her car.
He most certainly did not!
Yes he did.  It says so right there.
Well, yes, but 'crone-like'?  I don't think so.
We're only 36!
Of course.  And how many times is that now?
 Will you two shut up!  It's my line now!
Oh, okay.
Carry on, then.
 "I'll get you Penelope Pitstop Ms Scarlet!"


 "All that effort with costumes and singing and choreography, and she didn't take a blind bit of notice" Maddie said, as the three of them watched IDV give chase to the plant and Ms Scarlet.
 "I don't know why we bothered" C3-Peenee agreed.
 "Beep boop" said Norma-D2.
To be continued...

::  ::  ::

1. Prologue: Little Shop of Horrors, from what else but Little Shop of Horrors
2. Tangerine-tinted buffoon Julian berating his manicurist, from Bridget Jones's Diary

3. HRH Homunculus, from The Windsors, because I can't find a clip from S1 Episode 4 in which Camilla points at characters she identifies with as part of a suitability-for-adoption test.  Needless to say, she skips past the beautiful princess as seen in the picture above.
4. Intro from The Perils of Penelope Pitstop


  1. Tea kettles to left of me, tea pots to right, into the tea-soaked valley of death I thunder...
    For newcomers to this hell-hole...I DO NOT DRINK TEA!
    (And I'd never have guessed the Calamities of the Carmine Quill.)

    1. Oh, dear. Perhaps all that wine went to your head so you didn't know what you were asking for?

  2. Superb, Mr Devine!!! That'll teach me to go out for milk in the rain! But..... the Houndwort will turn into Aidan Turner in a towel - I know it will because IT IS MY BIRTHDAY, THERE IS NO CAKE, AND I WILL BE EXTREMELY PETULANT if it doesn't. Plus, I am psychic.
    Dinah - you don't drink tea????? Crazy talk.
    Thank you, Mr Devine!!!


    1. Um. Yes. That is what's going to happen, I'm sure.

      ::hisses into the wings:: I need a rewrite. And a very small towel!

      Happy birthday, Ms Scarlet!! x

  3. Did someone mention CAKE? Multiple times?

    No tea? Wot?!

    1. Fortunately, the cake got left out in the rain.

      And, I must admit, I'm with Dinah on the "no tea" thingy.

  4. If we were sending the birthday girl out screaming into the rain, why did she not fetch MORE WINE instead of milk? Never mind the cake.

    I'm heading out the the extensive gardens forthwith to check for errant Houndwort tentacles [yes, I said tentacles]...


    PS Happy birthday, Ms Scarlet! I got you a selection box.

    1. Funnily enough, I did think of that, but too late, as Ms Scarlet had already left. Perhaps she'll get some wine once she's dealt with Houndwort and the Haggard Claw?

      :: wonders if there'll be any leftovers in Ms Scarlet's selection box ::

  5. This contsico so much that I love. Just a pity it's left me with a face like Livery Street because I can't piss on any plants in case they're me!
    Thank you. Let me sniff your finger.

    1. You'll have to explain the Livery Street thing - I googled (okay, Bing-ed) some photos, but I'm none the wiser. However, I'm glad you approve!

      I can tell you now that my finger does not smell like Camilla's. No fags, for a start...

  6. That was a fun read! I really enjoyed it! I'd done at least one post similar to this many year's ago, Mr Mago will need to check one of the filing cabinets deep back in his brain to remember, circa 2007 or 2008?

    Sounds like we skip the cake then. How about Millet pudding then? I have recently heard of this and now I must try it!

    I'm sorry I put a giant building on your sideboard! You said you didn't like that vase anyways and here I gave you a big green building instead. I was wondering where that picture went! I looked everywhere on my Wordpress for it after posting it as a "feature image." I've never tried a "featured image" before so imagine my surprise to find it here of all places. Ha ha ha.

    Happy Birthday, Ms Scarlet!

    1. Ha ha! Yes, I was surprised not to see the picture in your post, but then I'm never quite sure what goes on in the Blogger vs Wordpress sideboard fights? Still, I do rather like all the green - it'd be the only thing that'd keep me sane if I had to live in a tower block.

      I'm glad you enjoyed our little trip over The Cusp - there'll be plenty more to come.

  7. Houndwort? Woundwort? Mugwort? Wolfsbane? Tincture, tea, treacle, tisane? Ms. Scarlet has had a birthday again? Bugger and balderdash! Barnacles and brine! I missed it again, and I get to whine! I wish that I hadn't, it sounds like a blast. Unfortunately for me it's now in the past. Sadly mine is the guilt and mine is the blame. Now I think I'll go out and set something aflame. *muchas smooches to Mr. Mago!*

    1. Fear not, Ms Nations. Ms Scarlet's had hundreds of birthdays - um, I mean dozens - I'm sure she won't mind. And there's always next year.

      P.S. Don't mention tea - Dinah's already on one about that.

      P.P.S. Nice rhyme!

  8. I am sorry Ms Scarlet if there was any possibility of the Houndwort turning into anything like Aidan Turner in a towel I would never have parted not even for ready money, Birthday or no Birthday.

    1. If only we could get hold of some of Aidan Turners seed and grow a few for "personal use".

    2. That would put a whole new spin on 'Grow Your Own' !
      I am checking my seed catalogues immediately (the Marrow, section)!

    3. People do frequently tell me I remind them of Aidan Turner, as a matter of fact.

    4. Okay, Hound, let’s see some pics! IN A TOWEL.

  9. Oh My Lord! I'm reading and finding out I've missed a party (and a hellva great one it seems) and also the story line! xoxo

    1. Don't worry, dear Savvy. The party's yet to come and there's barely a storyline to speak of!


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