It was dark times in Pudding Land. The land had been ravaged by the harpies of Thread Needle Street. The time of man was coming to an end. Tony had turned to the forces of Sauron and left the land reeling from senseless wars. The Cameron faction had seized power and was threatening to break up the old alliances. The cities, once bastions of culture and pluralism, had been over-run with trolls sporting trainers and hoods. The countryside was split between the untouchable rich and the pikes. The indigenous elves of fair pudding land had got fed up with the destruction of the forests and most had crossed the great ocean to escape. The forces of humanity lacked leadership. It seemed only a matter of time before Pudding Land would fall under the dark dominion of Sauron.
It had been a hard year for the Trippy family. We had fled from the land of the Haradrim to the East – people who had lost their way many years ago and who had ended up pledging their allegiance to the evil Lords Toyota and Sony. We found ourselves taking refuge in Pudding Land. It had been a hard decision fleeing Harad Land: but I had consulted the stones that never lied on several occasions and each time they had advised crossing the ocean. Although mostly peaceful, the Haradrim myopia threatened to be their undoing; as it had in the past.
We found the land of Pudding much changed: a place once renowned for its martial prowess had now become the host for the proxy battles of the warlords Mansour, Roman and the brothers Glazer. It was a land destitute of sunshine and employment opportunities that was slowly been stripped of its former civilization by the pestilential trolls, pikes, Thread Needlers and Cameronites. The elfish herb was being abused: its price rocketed; and no longer were the tribes of Pudding Land being guided by its beneficial teachings
During all our earlier visits to Pudding Land we had never seen the country in such a state. Stupidity and despair hung in the air like the fat hung from the bellies of its denizens. The elves and humans were sorely needed.
It was the final night of the year.
It was only recently that I had found gainful employment and any source for the elfish herb. I had missed the herb of worship with an ache that was only eased by the smile of the wondrous Sophia, the youngest member of my clan.
Recently the new source for herb had disappeared and then to add to the calamity the gods had struck down young Sophia with a nasty cough and temperature. For fear of spreading the virus we had cancelled our New Year celebration plans with friends from the neighboring shire. Herbless, cold and fearful for the health of a youngling, the New Year moment was going to be witnessed outside of community. I considered the occasion to be worse than suffering the clickety-click festival in the Haradrim city of Zu
It started out a grim night made grimmer by the rain and sounds of merriment to be heard in the town; sounds that included the usual imprecations of drunken trolls.
I sought distraction in the froth of Cava and the oracle in the corner. Unfortunately, the oracle in Pudding Land was showing only chat shows and a couple of naff movies. Since my wife refused to watch the Bourne Identity I was forced to watch Bridgette Jones’s Diary. It was an unsubtle form of torture. At the momentous midnight hour Rude Tube was driveling from the Oracle’s screen. My wife went to bed and left me to face the dark night of the unstoned soul. But I was made of more resilient stuff than that. I girded on my armour and stowed some false metal in my pockets and headed out.
The way was dark but at least the rain had let up. The bridge of fair Bewdley Town was filled with throngs of young people. I passed troll couples swearing at each other and gobbling chips. I could hear the bangs of fireworks but could spy no sparkle lines.
Once passed the bridge, I did my best to blend in with the crowd but I felt hopelessly sober and old in comparison to the trolls in tiny lumpy skirts and their male folk in trainers and hoods. I felt dislocated, like a character from a Murakami tale.
And then I smelt it. The unmistakable aroma of the godly smoke. Using my olfactory powers I soon spied a huddle of three trolls spliffing it up. I paused for a moment before plunging into social interaction. Trolls were normally deemed to be harmless on the last night of the year, but you could never count on it.
“Happy New Year!”
I hugged the lumpy womenfolk and shook the hand of the male troll. I then asked politely for a drag. The male paused as if waiting for the synapses in the frontal lobe to start working and then he gave a nod of permission.
It was primo herb of the skunk variety. Two draws were already taking me into a sunlit mental landscape. I gave the trolls prayerful thanks and disappeared into the mass of bodies around them. I made my way up the hill passed snogging couples and posturing males to the church. It was being guarded by Porcine Orcs who worked for the evil lord Cameron. They were busy ignoring the herbal intakes and sought to prevent the trolls from throwing bottles at the church. They also directed traffic.
wandered around alone surrounded by happy creatures. A few trolls and humans tried to lift my mood with seasonal greetings but it just made me feel even more distanced.
“Happy New Year! I’m an alcoholic.” A pretty black girl announced.
I smiled, wanting to make the effort: “Really? Do you drink every night?”
“Well then. Besides being an alcoholic is nothing to aspire to.”
The girl looked crest fallen and not particularly drunk. She turned her back.
The river was very high. The rainy season had lasted 300 days and was causing the water to slosh over the banks. I was drawn to the dark, fast moving river. As I stood watching the shadows of whirlpools under the bridge two young men from the neighboring town of Kiddy approached. They were full of ridiculously good cheer and seem to be mostly able to understand my accented thoughts. They invited me for a drink in a local tavern.
I went first. Just as I crossed the threshold I could hear one of the youths ask for a double whisky. Cheeky blighters.
I waited at the bar. The floor and counter was gleaming with spilt ale. The bar was thick with thirsty trolls waiting to be served.
A dilemma presented itself. My new found friends were not at my side. Should I invest in this passing friendship and buy a round of double whiskeys? Had they abandoned me? If I came out with only a drink for himself the new fellowship would be destroyed. What to do?
The solution presented itself. Fuck them. I would buy 2 pints of black ale, my favourite variety, and if they were still there the two youngsters could share one pint. If not it was no hardship to down two pints and wander home.
As I went outside to the beer garden I bumped into a fellow dread head. A young dread, no doubt his first locks. He also wore a beard that belied his youth. He was immediately friendly to me and rather than being confused by my trippy quips he seemed to enjoy the barbed banter.
A quick survey of the garden was all it was needed for me to see that my new found companions had indeed scarpered. In a moment of inspiration I offered the other pint of goodly black ale to the dread conversing with me.
The young dread was momentarily stunned. These were dark days. Such was the perilous state of Pudding Land that one dread often looked with suspicion at the kindness of another dread. Sauron was sowing dissent amongst humanity and preparing to use the trolls and porcine orcs to take ultimate control and throw the country into permanent darkness.
The young dread recovered his composure and took the proffered pint. He also made the kindly gesture of stating that he would re-pay the kindness by skinning up. I was mightily relieved to hear those words. However, my hope was somewhat dashed: the beer garden was packed; it was facing the road; and the young dread was distracted by his mates and my conversation. This would be no straight-forward quest success.
As conversation got under way it turned out that young Aaron had spent several years in Sweden. His mates around the wooden table had obviously been out to visit him as they took turns showing off their ability to swear in the Swedish tongue.
To join the festive spirit I asked one of Aaron’s mates:
“Well, we all know that Swedish birds are blond and fit. I think you know the question that I want to ask you as one man talking to another.”
“Yes, they do take it up the arse.”
“That was my second question.”
I found it hard to grasp why young Aaron of Kidderminster would forgo life among the humans and elves of Swede-take-it-up-the-arse-Land where life was sweetened by decent benefits, low crime and a lack of trolls to come back to blighted Pudding Land. I guessed that there was a narrative that would explain this. Another time perhaps.
As is the way with the young in their cups, Aaron’s friends were soon impatient to head off to a party back in Kiddy. Aaron still had most of the pint I had given him to drink. Some of the Swedish swearing crew wondered off. I could see that the promised skin up was not going to happen.
“Hey mate. I’m sorry to hassle you. I’ve had a shit New Year and I could really do with some weed. Could I buy a bit from you?”
“Do you have a rizla paper?”
I produced one in the twinkling of a moment.
“No need to pay, friend.”
And with that Aaron had taken a pinch of herb and put it in the rizla paper. He folded it and handed it to me. I quickly slipped it my pocket. I bade Aaron good year and took my leave.
Walking back over the bridge I looked out at the dark swirling waters. I no longer wanted to be sucked under by the whirlpools. The immediate future at least held some small amount of promise.
With head held high I dodged past a chundering troll male and his she-mate in high heels and made my way back to my humble abode to finally celebrate the arrival of another year in the way gods intended.