Tuesday 13 September 2011

The Riverbank Mutineer

FX:                                                      COURTROOM ATMOS

BAGS:                                                            Order, I will have order!

FX:                                                      A GAVEL BANGS

BAGS:                                                            Officer of the Court?

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             General Puss, if it pleases this Court Martial I will continue.

BAGS:                                                            (YAWNS) Pray do, sir.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             I thank you. To refresh us of the facts. In September, this year of our Lord 1917, a mutiny took place at the Camp at Etaples.

BAGS:                                                Why is this not to be heard in closed session? 

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             The Commandant exercised that right, sir. He is a peer of the realm.

BAGS:                                                Can we not speak with the blighter?

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Sir, as you wish. Call Major Toad!

SERGEANT AT ARMS:                   (SL OFF) Major Toad! Major Toad!

FX:                                                      STUMBLING FOOTSTEPS, A CORK POPS

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            What ho! Poop poop!

BAGS:                                                I know you. You’re that damn feller stole my staff car back in ’08.

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Crickey! Aha, youthful highjinks sir. The follies of a cadet…

BAGS:                                                Get on with it, Captain.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Sir – Major Toad, do you deny that during the events of the afternoon commencing the 9th you were absent from your post?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Absent is a very leading sort of phrase…

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Were you not present in the camp?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            I was perhaps committed to matters of fraternising with the locals, important dignitaries amongst our noble Frog allies…

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             ‘Important dignitaries’?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Vital links to our allied brotherhood.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             A Madame Florence of Le Rond Point Magique      
MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Splendid girl. Vital work. Vital.

BAGS:                                                Not ‘two franc’ Florence?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            ‘Time for bed, Florence’ – Indeed, sir. Exigencies of command, the pressures of decent rank… She sends her regards, General.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Major Toad, your war record might hardly be called one in which pressure has been your burden.

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Damn you, you middle class oik. Damn your eyes, I say.  What can a mere Captain know of such things?

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             I’ve lost better men than you in this war, Major Toad. Edward – took a potato masher up the trunk to save his platoon. Algy Pug - went down in flames with the RFC fighting off three of Rochtoffen’s thugs. Pongping, sunk at Jutland. The very cream of Nutwood litters the mud and wire of no man’s land. So damn you, sir!

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Stop being such a frightful tick, Captain.

BAGS:                                                Toad’s got a point, Get on with it, Captain Bear. (YAWNS)

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Sir - Major Toad, in your absence one Pvt. Portly of the 3rd Riverbank Fusiliers was taken into the custody of the Provosts.

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Damn bolshie otter.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Subsequently he was broken from the guardhouse. Your own office was stormed. A shot was fired. There was a death and a formerly resting battalion of stoats and weasels from the Wild Wood Irregulars took the camp. Where were you, Major?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Rallying a force to retake Etaples, naturally. In my newly established field HQ.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Le Rond Point Magique?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Quite so, old boy.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             The brothel.

BAGS:                                                Dammit, Captain. There is a war on you know. One makes use of what one has.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             And in this brothel you recruited a number of rogues to your cause, to save your own skin I suggest?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Oh no. No, no, no.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             No? You did not make plans to retake the camp?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Absolutely not, it was old Badger that did that. He, I, Commander Rat RN and a Corporal we found.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             One Corporal Mole, Major? Of the Honourable Artillery Company?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            If you say so, Captain Bear.

BAGS:                                                Good Lord, not Squire Badger?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Indeed, General. Also of the Wild Wood Irregulars. Bit of an old stick, of course. Fond of his own voice.

BAGS:                                                I went to school with Badger, Major…

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            (QUICKLY) But a rock of course. An absolute rock. First fellow to deploy Lewis Guns against the food rioters back on the Riverbank. The very fellow, you might say, for dealing then with that – minor – example of high spirits in Etaples.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             So armed with pistols and cutlasses you entered the camp and, you claim, quelled the mutiny?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Pistols, cutlasses and… a 38lb field gun. Yes.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             I put it to you, Major Toad, that the subsequent loss of life could have been averted if you were not derelict in your duty in the first case.

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            Come, come Captain. The common soldier respects discipline, order, the birthright of the officer class…

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             And the close quarter shelling ability of the Armstrong-Siddley Close Repeating Artillery Howitzer?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            That too, obviously. Having given them all a damn good thrashing we repaired to our HQ-

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             (INTERRUPTS) The brothel?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            -To our HQ where after soup, fish, a saddle of lamb, cheese, a rather decent duff, fruit and nuts we administered adequate punishment to the ringleader.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             Portly the otter?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            The ringleader, ‘Brother’ Portly. We held a drumhead court and in accordance with Army Regulations shot him in the head. Twice. And to further suffer loss of pay for three months.

BAGS:                                                Quite right, quite right. Clear-cut case.

CAPTAIN BEAR:                             I put it to you again Major, that had you been present none of this embarrassing affair would have arisen at all.

BAGS:                                                I’ve heard quite enough. An example well made, Major. Have a DCM. All done? Good. I’m for a nap. Who will join me?

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            A nap, sir?

BAGS:                                                I think you will find Major, that when General ‘Bags’ Puss goes to sleep then all his friends go to sleep too.

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            (SLIMILY) Then I am positively pillow bound, sir.

BAGS:                                                Good man that Toad! Captain Bear will not be joining us. Grammer school you know. I may be a frightful old cloth cat, baggy and a bit lose at the seams – but I buggered for the King.

MAJOR THE LORD TOAD:            (SL OFF) Regimental champion, sir?

BAGS:                                                            (SL OFF) That too.


  1. Delicious punchline. Didn't spot it until it was upon me. Nice one.

  2. Like nearly everything this week this is stuff dug out from the dusty hard drive. Kids are back at school but Boswell not all day for another week or two. It's all been very no-time-at-all this week for work, women or winegums.