Skip to content

My Song Parody Performed Live by Moogy

Hello Everyone,
 
 
Some of you already know that, in my bid to become the next Weird Al Yankovic, I have been working on song parodies lately.  

Well, recently,  I have been honoured to have one of my song parodies performed live by the very talented Belgian-Australian singer/songwriter/pianist Deborrah “Moogy” Morgan. The song is titled ” Those Were the Nights” and it is a parody of the classic song “Those Were the Days”.
 
Moogy performs every Tuesday at a seafood restaurant/bar called Claypots and I changed the lyrics of the song to be about this restaurant/bar and the people who come there. (The lyrics are not about me personally.)
 
You can watch a video of Moogy performing this song at the link below. Her enthusiastic and delightful performance brings my song parody to life! (The video also features the very suave percussionist Apú.)
 
And these are the links to Moogy’s Facebook page and her YouTube channel, where you can see more of her marvellous performances of other songs.

 

 
 
So if you are in Melbourne or happen to be passing through Melbourne, do come and see Moogy perform at Claypots, 213 Barkly St, St Kilda, every Tuesday night at 9pm. She sings a wide variety of great songs, including classic French songs of the 50s and 60s, and Jazz-Pop originals, both in French and English. You are sure to have a very enjoyable time!
 
I include the lyrics of the parody below.
 
 
(Please note that “alco” is Australian slang for “alcoholic”)
 
 
THOSE WERE THE NIGHTS
(You can watch the original song together with the original lyrics here)
 

Once upon a time we went to Claypots
Where we used to eat a fish or two
Remember how we boozed away the hours
And thought of all the dumb things we could do

Chorus


Those were the nights my friend
There was no time for bed
We drank mulled wine forever and a day
The band played all night long
We’d sing and dance along
For we were drunk
and didn’t care what people say
La la la la…

Then the busy week went rushing by us
Monday, Thursday… is it nearly the weekend?
If by chance I see you there this Tuesday
Will you still remember my full name?

Chorus

Just tonight I stood in front of Claypots
No one there looked familiar to me
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Who’s that alco staring back at me?

Chorus

Through the door there came familiar singing
I saw Moogy and heard her call my name
Oh my friend we’re sober but no wiser
For in our brains all cells have died away

Chorus

The Pen of Plenty (or A Portrait of an Artist as the Entire Universe)

“The Gift” by Alex Grey

Part I

“Take this Boris, may it serve you well!”, a booming voice commanded, as a hand, holding a shining writing implement, extended towards me.

I was all of thirteen years old when the Hand from Above bestowed the Pen of Plenty upon me.

” You shall be my voice! I shall speak through you with this pen. You shall be a conduit to that Other Reality, the one inhabited by Eternal Truths, Infinite Beauty and Ineffable Questions. From this pen will spring forth an inexhaustible flow of Magic, you will not be able to help begetting works of perfection, each one more perfect than the one before it.

There is a price to pay. You will not be able to feel, smile, laugh, love, pursue ordinary human activities. You will only be able to write, writing alone shall be your existence.

You shall move solely in the Infinite, Eternal, Universal sphere. You will capture and portray through your writings every permutation, manifestation and aspect of life, yet you shall remain cut off from mankind.

This pen shall be the bathyscaphe with which you will descend to the lowest abysses, and it shall be the alpenstock with which you will ascend to the highest heights not yet scaled by mankind. The world will ostracize, scorn, misunderstand, persecute, laugh at you and it will cherish, adore, worship, celebrate you. But you will stay numb, unmoved by both love and loathing.

You will not know how to be young, yet you will not grow old and will stay a man-child, for, by not partaking in the outer world, you shall be free of its deleterious effects.

You will give life to an infinity of uniquely bizarre, wondrous realities, yet you yourself will be a mere metaphor, an empty shell of a shadow, never being able to feel real, concrete. The worlds you engender will be suffused with sensation and meaning, while your own outer reality will be bare, senseless and pedestrian by comparison.

This pen shall be the flame that will illuminate truths as yet invisible, you will help others find their identity, will bring clarity and enlightenment to humanity, will reveal the underlying, inner structure of existence, yet you will be forever lost, confused, at odds with yourself and the world, drifting aimlessly through existence, a jellyfish in the ocean of life.

This pen shall speak with a thousand voices, educing hysterical laughter, uncontrollable tears, twisting minds into Moebius strips, creating transcendental beauty that will stop others dead in their tracks, dumbfounded with awe, even if they have had just a fleeting contact with it, but you will be blind and deaf to its powers and will stay frozen inside. You will feel no pride or pleasure in your creations, for you will know that you are merely a conduit.

But even though this is a Pen of Creative Cornucopia, one day it shall run out and will write no more. Consequently, writing will be the hardest and most terrifying task of your existence, for you will be forever insecure, not knowing when you no longer will be able to create any more. Yet, before that time comes, you shall be flooded with a ceaseless deluge that will demand every instant of your life and your very sanity.

Once you take this pen, it can never be un-taken, you can never disown it or rid yourself of it.”

The voice stopped. I waited a while for it to resume, but it remained silent. Then, with childish, reckless eagerness, I extended my hand upwards, to meet the hand reaching down from above, caring not at all about the consequences.
Part II
The Writer sits in his room, writing at his desk. He has access to the deepest secrets and mysteries of the Universe, but the question that the whole world, from the tiniest and simplest organism upwards, seems to know the answer to, he can not solve: ” Why live?”

The Writer is torn apart by two contradictory thoughts that occupy his mind simultaneously and seem equally valid. He is certain that he is blind to a fundamental truth that the rest of the world is in possession of, for how else can one explain the whole world choosing life over death and existing with a purpose, something that he is not capable of. Yet he also knows that he is in possession of a fundamental truth that the rest of the world is blind to, for if it was privy to this truth, it would not be able to live in certainty.

The Writer is triply trapped by his room, his mind and his pen. Occasionally, overcome by curiosity and longing, he steals a brief, wistful glimpse, through the window, of the world outside that is teeming and pulsating with life in all of its infinite variations, life that he can never be a part of and whose simple pleasures he could never enjoy or grasp the meaning of. Other times he catches sight of a sliver of the sky that is visible to him from his sitting position. But he immediately feels guilty for neglecting his sacred task and hurriedly resumes scribbling, letter after letter, word after word, sentence after sentence, in his notebooks of madness.

Life passes him by, and then death passes him by too. He has no time for life and he has no time for death either. Neither life nor death can arouse his interest or get their hands on him, and just as he has forgotten all about time, so time has forgotten all about him. In any case, the Writer can not die, for the pen is still working and so he must keep on writing, for his commitment to his pen is greater than his commitment to life and death.

Years, centuries, millennia, billions of years elapse. The Sun expands into a red giant and then collapses into a white dwarf. The stars are torn apart by the forces of the Universe’s expansion, and the protons themselves rot into pieces. Cosmos begins to wind down, all of its energy having dissipated and turned into useless forms. Then the fabric of space-time dissolves.

Still, the Writer remains writing at his desk, which is now floating in vacuum, separate from time and space. Now and then he sneaks looks at the outside world, even though nothing remains there but pure nothingness.

And then, for the very first time, something leads the Writer to take a close look at the pen he was gifted with. He examines it carefully and notices the faded blue letters forming the words MADE IN CHINA etched on its side. Distant memories come flooding back to him, memories of his mother buying pens at the local supermarket, for the start of the new school year; memories of the bare walls of the bathroom that distorted the acoustics, and how he liked to speak to himself there and listen to his boy voice transforming into the stentorian voice of a man. He remembers standing in the bathroom and hearing a million voices calling out his name, then turning around and seeing all of humanity in the mirror looking back at him, as his left hand passed the pen to his right hand.

The Writer now realises that he is the Creator. Having had encompassed the Universe with his mind, the Writer expands to encompass the Universe with his body, so that the Universe and the Writer become one and the same, identical entities, coinciding precisely with one another.

With quiet satisfaction the Writer slowly puts the pen down and that is how the Universe
( and this story) ends, not with a bang or a whimper, but with a .

Note

1) In Australian English, “.” is known as “full stop” rather than as “period”.

THE ETERNAL ANSWER

Image may contain: bird

“Beauty and the Beast”by Ryohei Hase

Theirs was a love affair for the ages, the likes of which the world had never seen before and unlikely to ever see again.

Philippe was born with a very rare medical condition of having his head shaped like a giant rat skull. His emotional and mental faculties were not impaired to any degree; he could talk, think and feel. And he needed love, like the rest of us. Yet the oversized rodent cranium on Philippe’s shoulders caused him to feel shame and self-consciousness and he resigned himself to a life of loneliness and unfulfilled desires.

Salvation came to Philippe in the arms of Olympia, the one woman in the world who accepted him as he is and who fell head over heels in love with him.

Olympia’s favourite expression of affection was to pat Philippe’s head tenderly; eventually she became so used to its cold, hard texture that she would be repulsed by the feel of soft, warm skin.

To those who scorned her and mocked her choice of partner, Olympia always had the same answer: “The appearance of your loved one will deteriorate over time. The skin on their faces will sag and grow wrinkly; their chins will multiply in number; their hair will turn grey and eventually fall out. But the face of my beloved will never age. It will always look exactly the same as that blessed day when I first laid my eyes on him.”

As with most happy marriages, after a few years of unbridled joy in each other’s company, Philippe and Olympia’s thoughts turned to procreation. Despite their obstetrician’s repeated warnings of unforeseen results that their union might produce, they enthusiastically went ahead with their plans for becoming parents.

As events rolled inexorably towards their climax, a child was born – Alexander, a child of the Evolution. The infant was free from any physical defects, except for one thing. He possessed two heads so solidly fused together, that no surgeon would ever dare to attempt separating them. One head was inherited from the mother. The other head, a skull (albeit of human, rather than rodent, shape), clearly came from his father’s side.

Given such a physical form, it is not surprising at all that Alexander grew up to be a most peculiar man, engaging in somewhat unconventional activities. Due to his double head construction, he was able to experience and exist in both the Living and the Dead Worlds at once. Consequently, he did a roaring trade as a medium and a prophet, informing the grieving relatives of how their dearly departed were faring in the Afterworld, as well as spreading the Gospel of the Afterlife and letting the living know what existence really was like in the next world.

His consulting table was cluttered with heads, hearts, genitalia and other parts of the human body. These were unmistakable reminders of his role as a conduit between the two realities, for put together, these objects constituted the human body, the most powerful symbol of life, while separately, they were the most vivid mementoes of death.

Image may contain: 1 person

“Der Wäger von Kopf und Herz”by Michael Hutter

The Find

How these pages came into my possession is of no importance. Suffice to say that no chicanery or deceit was involved in their acquisition.

What is significant is the glimpse that they have given me into another’s life. Reading these words I felt like a robber, stealing someone else’s sensations, surreptitiously experiencing that which is not mine. A diary, after all, is a place where one lets his defences down to reveal his inner self.

So many times in this metropolis I have failed to see life for what it truly is. Get up; run to work; run back home. This routine was as dehumanizing as any torture, and I was a part of it for a long time. My existence was reduced to that of an automaton.

But these papers shone through the grey monotony of my life like a lonely golden ray breaking through the forbidding clouds.

There they were, lying on the pavement outside an apartment block, as I was returning home from work. Waterlogged: they were waiting for the wind to carry them into their new abode. White fragile pieces on a black inert background – the scene bore a certain resemblance to a giant chessboard.

The discontinuity of the following account is a result of the incompleteness of the source itself. Nonetheless, despite the gaps, a uniquely powerful atmosphere, almost like a zeitgeist, envelops one as these words are read.

Let me share my find with you.

20 January 19–:

Something very peculiar happened to me as I was taking my regular walk by the beach earlier today. This event was so unexpected and shocking that not even the Gods of Destiny would have seen it coming.

In order for me to convey exactly the thoughts that started to run through my mind, let me first give a description of the scene that was unfolding before me.

I was sitting on an old, wooden bench near a gaudily yellow kiosk to gain my breath and to rest my legs. The weather was ominous. In the west, the sun was taking in its final gasps; its body’s redness mixed incongruously with the black of the ocean.

I often noticed how other walkers, overtaken by the beauty of a sunset, would slow down, come to a complete stop and watch the sun’s fire being extinguished by the cool waters. Yet I have always been left unmoved by the spectacle.

So often the dreams of one’s youth collapse into a chasm carved out by unrealized aims and unfulfilled ambitions. A few grow up and discover their talents. Others, their mediocrities. It occurred to me that my entire life has been a struggle against ordinariness and triteness.

And I was frightened. I felt the grey mediocrity invading my very being. There it was, penetrating me from all angles, filling in the cracks exposed by my meager defenses.

The soft leaves of the nearby young trees, the waxing crescent – they still looked the same, but with a merciless certainty that I had never before experienced, I knew and felt that I have been irreversibly changed by this realization.

While other people of my age were looking forward to socializing, finishing school and a bright future, I had to face a titanic struggle with an enemy I could not flee from, an enemy from which there was no hiding place.

More than that, I had to face my parents and tell them what had happened to me, for never before had I felt such intense, relentless unhappiness.

Father would be there, watching the evening news as usual. He doubtless would not look in my direction but would just give out a low grunt when told the news. Mother would almost certainly turn red. She’d go hysterical. Yes, that is what she would do.

11 February 19–:

Now that the worst has happened I can take a big sigh of relief, for I have nothing to be afraid of, any more. Only those who have had their most terrifying nightmares realized would have tasted this heady sensation of freedom that I am now feeling.

26 February 19–:

I have found a way through which I can reclaim my identity. I will find the significance of the cloud patterns in the sky. I will gaze at the sky all day long and draw the shape of every cloud in the big sketchbook that I purchased at the supermarket. I will then come home and analyze the drawings. From this analysis, I will come up with fundamental laws which will allow me to predict the shape of clouds in the days to come.

I’m like a rubber ball, the harder you hit me, the higher I rise!

15 March 19–:

Devastating disaster! Throughout all of yesterday, the clouds were following exactly the patterns that I had predicted. And then, just as I was about to pack up and go home, feeling satisfied and proud, this little puffy white cloud had to appear in the lower right hand corner of the sky, as one faces the sea. My laws never foretold the arrival of a cloud of that size and shape at that time and place. Now, because of that dumb puny cloud, I have to start all over again with my formulations of The Cardinal Laws of Motions of Clouds in the Sky.

17 April 19–:

Yesterday I spent most of the time in bed. I did not feel like getting up. I just lay there and analysed the past, trying to understand the linkage of events that led me to my present condition, trying to determine the exact moment when it started to go wrong for me.

I guess my tragedy was that I was too young when I realized the presence of divine impetus in my soul. With my slender years, my attention’s focus could not get away from the radiance emanating from my mind.

I gazed, overawed and powerless, at the wondrous landscape of my inner world and reality lost all its reality for me. I used to wonder how people could be worried and concerned by the drab, meaningless external events when the world of the mind was so much more fascinating and enthralling.

I would lose myself for hours on end in my contemplations, staring at my reflection, trying to understand the inexplicable and mysterious power that would emanate from the eyes in the mirror. What were they trying to tell me, those eyes?

I never did get adjusted to childhood or to teenage years. I never could work out how to be young.

28 April 19–:

Today I went to the city center just so that I could see normal people engaging in normal activity and experience some human contact, no matter how fleeting or inconsequential. Instead I learned that no type of loneliness is more excruciating than the one you feel in a crowd.

Alone in the ocean of humanity, waves of people endlessly washing over you. Who are these beings that rush past you? Unfamiliar faces that you never saw before and you will never see again, they have no time for you and you have no time for them, your existence as meaningless and insignificant to them as theirs are to you.

If the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” then surely the Rime of the Modern Journeyer must be “People, people everywhere and not a soul to talk to.”

20 May 19–:

Today my life shimmered before me in all of its multitudinous facets, in all of its innumerable permutations but I just stood there dumbfounded, overwhelmed by the infinite choice offered to me. I knew not what to do, could not reach out and hold onto even one possibility.

12 June 19–:

All day long I kept thinking of a persistent nightmare I had as a child, of being forced to witness the bizarre, inhuman spectacle of numbers increasing one at a time.

Ceaselessly they would grow larger and larger to hideous proportions; coming closer and closer to the yawning abysm where that monstrosity, The Devil of Infinity reigned, atop his throne of fire. Never actually reaching him but always in sight of his leering grin, his flickering tongue. He’d torment you with the vilest curses, safe in his knowledge that a mere mortal like you could never grasp his body.

After the friendly, familiar faces of One, Two, and Three, strange new entities would appear, with long, surly faces. No person ever had to see their ugly mugs before but here I was, a small child, condemned to look straight in the eyes of numbers like 15084307597502802380423797493720748038720734020 and feel the hatred exuding from them.

How it frightened me those numbers. In this world I was accursed to forever keep up with their merciless, inexorable progression, like an infinite column of army ants, without end, without pity.

Was there no escape from this ordeal? One million and one, one million and two, one million and three, sixty seven million four thousand and five, sixty seven million four thousand and six, somebody please stop this, but alas this world had no saving grace of death that awaited us in our physical lives.

And the Devil of Infinity would continue to grin his leering grin, observing this procession and my suffering from atop his throne of fire, knowing full well how unreachable he was in all his glory.

31 August 19–:

The pale buds of doubt have now blossomed into the bright flowers of despair.

WAKING UP TO LIFE

Some time ago, a woman with a gun in her hand demanded of me and my companions that we provide good reasons why life is worth living; otherwise she was going to terminate us.

I thought to myself, ‘This is the very question I’ve struggled with for so long and now I am being forced to provide a definitive answer. Do I make up some fancy reason and thus escape with my life? But if I lie, then my life is not really worth pursuing.’

In the distance, I saw my friends getting finished off – obviously their answers weren’t good enough.

It was now my turn. I entered and faced the interrogator. In a voice devoid of any tone, she commanded me to present my case.

“Life is hard, really hard sometimes,” I replied to her, “and a lot of times I don’t want to go on struggling against the unyielding, overpowering forces. Yet I want to continue living. That is all I can say. I want to live.”

The interrogator gazed at me with an empty look – a look lacking any human expression – deciding on her answer.

Just as she was about to make her pronouncement, I woke up to life.

THE GIANT EGG

Where exactly the giant egg was found is no longer remembered clearly.

What is certain is that an egg of such a size had never been observed before and it dwarfed the sightseers who gathered to gawk at it. The immediate instinctive reaction was to attempt to crack it open right where it lay to see what was within, but a voice screamed out above the din of the excited crowd that something rotten, perhaps even a half-decayed gigantic monstrosity, could be inside.

It was therefore decided to drag the giant egg to a nearby beach so the sand could absorb any putrid liquids that might leak out once the shell was broken, and the ocean could then be used as a trash can to dispose of every trace of this aberration’s existence.

Engineers arrived on the scene to draw plans for the most effective way of breaking the shell. Environmentalists gathered to ensure the surrounding land would not become too contaminated, should the egg release any foulness. Scaffolding was erected all around the egg, upon which an army of labourers hammered relentlessly at the egg’s thick, concrete-like shell.

No one can recall how much time it took for the workers to make even the slightest dent in the shell or how long it was before the first visible cracks appeared on the surface of the mysterious egg. The spectacle of the egg unveiling its secret was just so overwhelming that all other details faded into obscurity.

An awed hush swept over the crowded beach as the inner contents slowly came into view. Some could not bear the stress of the suspense and turned their backs; others even ran away. But those who stayed to watch are unanimous in their recollections of the wonder of the moment when a golden star, bathing the surroundings in soft light, drifted calmly out of the broken shell and settled cozily upon the horizon, as though it had always belonged there.

Vladimir Kush

THE CURIOUS STORY OF FRANK AND HIS FRIEND Mr. STIMS, THE HYDROPHOBE

…so anyway, like I was saying, I was sitting comfortably in this nice chair when Mr. Stims told me what he wanted to do with his invention. But please don’t interrupt me again, because I am going to forget what I was saying and won’t be able to tell you the whole story of what happened that day.

Let me begin again from the start, as I can’t remember now what I have already told you. My name is Frank. I finished school two years ago. I stay at home most of the time and watch TV. I live with my mum. I like her a lot. She is very smart and knows about everything. So I don’t see what’s wrong with saying, “That’s what my mum told me”, but the other kids used to laugh when I said that and called me a retard, which made me angry. Now I can’t hang out with them any more; my mum tells me I have a bad temper and could hurt them.

My only friend is my next door neighbour, Mr. Stims. I enjoy being with him. I love the brain games that he is so good at inventing. The game I particularly like is the one in which he asks me to guess what he is thinking of at that very moment. It is not an easy game to play at all.

Usually I spend time in his living room, where we drink tea, eat some biscuits and discuss interesting topics. But that day, Mr. Stims invited me into his study and asked me to sit in a comfortable chair beside his desk. He himself sat behind the desk, on which lay writing pads and folders, all neatly organised.

After staring at me in silence with an odd look in his eyes for about a minute, Mr. Stims started talking: “For the past five years, I have been engrossed in a fiendishly difficult task, as you probably have noticed Frank. I no longer need to be secretive about what I do, but I did want to apologise for being evasive and unpredictable in the past.”

He was right. He never told me what he did for a living, but it seemed to me that he was spending much of his time working on some scientific problem. All of his rooms were cluttered with books, whose titles I didn’t understand, and papers that were covered with calculations and formulas in his scribbly handwriting. And his strange ways did confuse me sometimes. I remember once asking him how he would like to be remembered, and it produced an odd reaction from him. He turned first red, then white and only replied that he had great hopes for the future. Another time I told him that even though we don’t live far from the ocean, we don’t know much about it, and that there could be big sea monsters and other curious fishes living in its depths. For some reason, he got all agitated and started going on about the chemical properties of water. Then, suddenly, he stopped mid-sentence and started talking about something completely different. But I still find him a fascinating person to be with. He knows so many things and can always answer my questions.

Mr. Stims continued: “You might remember from your school days, my friend, what a polar molecule is. Well, water just happens to be comprised of polar molecules. This fact is the linchpin of my work.“

I did not actually remember anything about those molecules. To tell the truth, I really do not recall much from my school days. I was always surrounded by people brighter than me, which made me afraid to speak up and say what I thought, in case I might say something stupid. That is why I like Mr. Stims so much. He has never treated me as a fool and is always happy to listen and explain things to me.

“The fact that it is a polar molecule, does that suggest anything to you, Frank?” he asked. Not waiting for my reply, as he usually does, he continued: “I will get straight to the point. For your benefit, I will state it in simplified terms. The water molecule is a charged particle. Charged particles respond to magnetic fields. By creating a magnetic force of appropriate strength and by aligning it in the right direction, we can separate the water molecule into its constituent parts! We can turn liquid water into the gases of hydrogen and oxygen. The theory behind it is of course much more complicated than that, but what I have just stated is my work in a nutshell.”

He stopped talking for a short while, to give me time to understand what he had just said. But to be honest with you, I did not really see the point of it all. I thought it would be much better if you could go the other way and make water out of the invisible gases, so that people everywhere would have enough to drink, especially people who live in the hot deserts.

He went on to say, “The idea sounds simple enough. Let me tell you, putting it into practice was another kettle of fish; the years I have spent trying to create a functional apparatus, attempting to discover the right alignment. Failure followed failure. Many a time I was tempted to throw it all up in the air and just walk away. Only one hope kept me going. I cannot say it was a well-defined sensation, but it was something like…well, that by achieving my goal, all my past deeds would gain the meaning they were lacking.”

I looked closely at Mr. Stims’ face. Sweat had gathered on his forehead and there was a distant look in his eyes, but it quickly disappeared.

He then said, “Let me tell you a little of my past, as it will explain to some degree the present. I was a brilliant university student, majoring in chemistry. I was heading straight for a conventional academic career. But my personality did not sit well with the scholastic surroundings. The claustrophobic atmosphere and the daily routine were stifling my natural creativity; the imperiousness of the professors, the ceaseless competitiveness prevalent amongst the students. Once I left the university, there was no way back. To this day I remain an outsider to the scientific community. You, Frank, are the first person in the world to hear of my achievement.”

Although I was flattered, I still thought it would be better if water was made out of the invisible gases, so that people everywhere would have enough to drink, especially people who live in the hot deserts.

“But what are we waiting for!” he exclaimed. “Actions speak louder than words. Just one minute and I will show you how it works.”

While he was gone, I stretched my legs; they had almost gone to sleep. I also had an itch on my back where a mosquito bit me and I gave it a good scratch. I could not do that while Mr. Stims was in the room. When I am with him, I try to behave properly so he will respect me. I remembered dinnertime was coming soon and wondered what my mum had cooked for me. I hoped it would be fish fingers with mashed potatoes. That’s my most favourite meal in the whole world.

My friend wasn’t gone for long. When he came back, he was carrying a small, shiny box and a full glass of water. I thought it was really thoughtful of him to bring me water, because I was really thirsty. I was about to reach out my hand and say, “Thank you Mr. Stims, it’s really thoughtful of you,” when he put that shiny box over the top of the glass. There was a hissing sound and the water disappeared before my eyes. Well, it didn’t actually disappear straight away. For a second, it looked like the water was cut in half, like a fresh bread roll with a sharp knife, and then both halves vanished. I was a bit miffed, as I really did want to drink that water, but still the sight was so amazing I could not help crying out, “WOW!”

The room filled up with a funny smell, like a cross between rotten eggs and fresh pineapple. Mr. Stims must have noticed me sniffing for he said, “That’s nitrous oxide or laughing gas, as it’s commonly known. The oxygen released by the process has combined with the nitrogen in the air. You have to be very careful with nitrous oxide. It messes with your mind.”

I knew he expected me to say how impressed I was and I did say so. He didn’t reply for a while and then he started a long speech. I can only remember bits of it:

“I have great plans, great plans,” Mr. Stims said. “Imagine magnifying the strength of this machine a hundredfold, a thousandfold, a millionfold! Look at the map of the world, Frank! Look at how much space is taken up by the oceans. Two thirds of our planet is water. Two thirds! How much land is wasted because of it! So many regions are overpopulated. This leads to stress, stress leads to crime. And on top of that, the world population is growing at a faster and faster rate. What use is ocean water? We certainly cannot drink it. And in any case, many regions that are now ocean used to be land once. We need to reclaim that land. And we need not stop there. The time has come for the oceans to go! We will make them disappear, just like the water in this glass. Certainly, this might cause some climate changes, but they will be easily fixed. And just imagine…land, land, land everywhere! One great continuous continent! No barriers between countries! The whole world finally united as one, living in peace! Room to plant crops, room for cattle to roam! Spaciousness that, at present, mankind doesn’t even dare to dream of! Whole continents underneath the oceans are just waiting for us to populate them! The potentialities are breathtaking in their scope! Yes, there will be a price to pay. That price will be paid by the ocean inhabitants – but we need not concern ourselves with that. Intelligence arose on land and it is the land dwellers that will rule this planet. And I will go down in history as the man who made it all possible – the new saviour of humanity!”

Mr. Stims was getting very excited. Whenever he gets excited, he walks from one end of the room to the other and waves his arms around. Well, he was certainly doing that; his arms swung like the blades of a windmill and he shouted out, “Liberation from the tyranny of water! The time has come! The possibilities are endless!”

It was all very interesting, but I was getting rather hungry and kept thinking more about the fish fingers with the mashed potatoes. It was then that a terrifying thought startled me so much that I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I realised that without oceans there would be no more fish, and without fish there would be no more fish fingers for me to eat. Fish fingers really are my most favourite food in the whole world.

I said, “Hey, wait a minute Mr. Stims. I really like fish fingers. You can’t kill all the fish. Give me that shiny thing! I don’t want you to destroy the oceans.”

“Fish, shmish,’’ he replied. “Who needs them? They don’t sing, you can’t pat them and they smell terrible.”

He refused to give me the box. A scuffle broke out between us, because I was getting a bit angry about not being able to eat fish fingers any more, all because of his stupid invention. I reached for the gadget and tried to take it away from him; it was then that I accidentally pressed the round red button on its top. What happened next was the strangest thing of all. You know when you blow up a balloon, and then let it go without tying it up and it flies all around the room, letting out air? Well, something similar happened to Mr. Stims. All this vapour started coming out of his eyes, nostrils and mouth and he was getting thinner and thinner and changing in shape before my very eyes. Then he just fell to the floor, or what was left of him, for by now he looked like a gigantic squashed raisin.

“I am very sorry about this, Mr. Stims,” I said to him, “but I really do like fish fingers. They are my most favourite food in the whole world.”

I then took the box that was lying on the floor and broke it into small pieces. You both know what happened after that.

The two detectives exchanged glances and one of them said, “Looks like it’s going to be a long night for all of us, Frank.”