The Columnist






            Once upon a time in London there was a children's party entertainer called Squidgy. He called himself Squidgy the clown from outer space. Squidgy had three arms, blue skin, two heads, and antennae. He told jokes and did tricks. With his three arms he could juggle very well and his best trick,which all the children loved, was to take off his left-hand head, with which he had just  been talking,  and juggle it in the air. Just before he plugged it back in his neck again, he would make it talk in the air and say:  ‘Put me back! Put me back!’ They loved that.
            After he had finished his entertainment they would try to see where his blue skin zipped up the back and how his head was joined on, but they never could. This was because Squidgy really did have three arms, blue skin, two heads and antennae. He came from the planet Glunt, which is ninety-five light years away by our reckoning, and he lived in a small flat in Shepherds Bush in West London, where he went unnoticed among the other ethnic minorities and where his short-sighted landlady referred to him as ‘that Rastafarian on the third floor’.
            It was not by choice that Squidgy lived here in London and worked as a children's party entertainer. He would much rather be back in Glunt, doing his normal work as a garden centre deputy manager, but he had come to London once as part of a 3 day spacecoach tour of the universe, and had turned up late for the coach after the four-minute stop-off in London. The coach had gone without him.  Now, every evening, he switched on his antennae and listened hopefully for a Glunt spacecraft in the vicinity but it was no good. Either there was nothing from home anywhere in the solar system or his reception was being ruined by the proximity of BBC Television Centre.
            The only friend he made was an old, retired bank manager who lived in the flat opposite, called Reg.  They had something in common. Reg was always complaining about having been buggered about by head office, and Squidgy now knew how he felt. Squidgy went over there one evening and found Reg doing some paperwork.
            ‘Just getting my affairs in order prior to my death,’ explained Reg.
            ‘Are you going to die?’ said Squidgy, shocked.
            ‘Not for twenty or thirty years yet,’ said Reg, ‘but it took twenty or thirty years for everything to get into this mess, so I reckon I'd better start that long before my death to get it straight.  So you're a kid's entertainer, are you?’ said Reg, as he made him a cup of tea. ‘What sort of tricks do you do?’
            Squidgy was just about to stand upside down on one hand while juggling with the other two when suddenly, from nowhere, there appeared a third figure in the room. He had three arms, blue skin, two heads, and antennae.
            ‘My sainted aunt Spliff!’ said Squidgy. ‘You're from Glunt!’
            ‘Ye-e-es,’ said the new arrival. ‘How do you do ? Name of Motto.’
            ‘And you've come for me!’ said Squidgy. ‘After all these years!’
            ‘That depends,’ said Motto, consulting some sort of charge sheet. ‘Is your name Reg Whitworth?‘
            ‘No,’ said Squidgy.
            ‘Well, that's who I've come for.’
            ‘That's my name,’ said the retired bank manager.  
            ‘There you go, then!’ said Motto, looking relieved. ‘Let's be off. I'm hovering on a double yellow line out there.’
            ‘But what do you want him for?’ said Squidgy aghast.
            ‘Zoo,’ said Motto. ‘The Imperial Space Zoo of Glunt, Earth section, is short of a Terrestrial bank manager. Last one died off on Tuesday. Need a new one. Come on, Mr Whitworth. Have't got all day. We have to go to Nottingham to pick up a ...’ he consulted his sheet again. ‘....second year geography student. Come back for you when I got a chance, OK?’
            ‘But...’ said Squidgy.
            It was too late. He was alone. He had another ten years to live in London before he was collected by Glunt Interplanetary Minicab Service, during which time the only paces he could safely go out in were Carnaby Street, where he looked normal, Kensington High Street, where he looked five years behind the fashion, and the Kings Road on a Saturday, where he was taken to be a Chelsea supporter.


Edinburgh Fringe Festival
August 1994



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