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Janey Macken Street and Basher Piggs
The Flying Superhero Pipe Band
The Solicitor of Doom
by Camillus John
1. The Mighty Jawbone of an Ass
Basher Piggs was acting like a ninja and slicing some sort of a stick about the place like a sword, outside the De La Salle primary school gates. His best friend came up from behind and tippy-tapped him on the shoulder. ‘How’s it going Basher?’
Basher’s head nearly popped like a champagne cork and scraping his fingers down his cheeks, he screamed, ‘Janey Macken Street!’
To which Janey replied, ‘Yes that’s me – how did you guess? What’s that you’ve got there? A Hurley stick is it? Are you in the school hurling team now?’
Basher swivelled and said, ‘You gave me an almighty fright there, you did Janey. I nearly high-jumped it right out of my skin and into the nearest cloud to nibble on its fluff. And you know how I hate fluff! For doing that I should smite you over the head with my mighty jawbone of an ass.’
Janey blushed and said, ‘Pardon?’
Basher continued, ‘It’s not a Hurley stick, it’s the mighty jawbone of an ass. And it kills Philistines with a single flick of the wrist, my wrist. Just like Samson the Nazirite’s jawbone of an ass. You look like a Philistine to me now Janey, you do, with your sneaking around the place and frightening people out of their wits evil-ways!’
Janey said, ‘Oh yes, we learned that in school last week as well. Yes, yes, yes, all about how Samson killed a thousand Philistines with his mighty jawbone of an ass in the bible.’
She went on.
‘I think Samson must have had dreadlocks, he couldn’t cut his hair in order to keep his strength up you know, so he must have had dreadlocks like a Rastaman. It stands to reason. I betcha he listened to reggae. Early ska too. By letting it grow all the time it would surely tangle up into dreadlocks.’
‘My big sister has red dreadlocks at the moment. Maybe she’s a Samson too, for she ripped the locks clean off Badger Brady last week for calling her a clown, both sides. The cheek of him. Serves him right. Or Delilah, that’s it, she must be.’
Basher smiled, ‘I found this jawbone of an ass yesterday Janey. My dog, Flux Capacitor, dug it up and left it as a present at the back door for me.
‘No Janey, he’s a mongrel, an Irish mongrel, not a Great Scott. Let’s go to Markievicz Park right now to look for Philistines, so I can put it to good use.’
2. Chased by a Tinselled Briefcase
Basher and Janey were at the gates of Markievicz Park when a single voice fog-horned at them and nearly ripped their eardrums up into confetti.
‘Hey you two over there! Did you let the air out of my tyres? Did you? I think you did! Come here right now! You’re all scum around here, I’m going to march you up to the police station. Come hither, you little pups! Scumbags! Junkies! Scumbags! Junkies! Scumbags!’
There was a man in a charcoal grey suit standing before them, with a yellow pointy-at-the-end tie swinging under his chin. And he was getting extremely red in the face. Fire-engine red. Practically in flames it was. You could toast marshmallows on it, if you had any marshmallows. He was waving a black rectangular briefcase at them like a horse whip ready and willing to go crack! crack! crack! down on their heads.
He started to run towards them. Basher and Janey were gob-smacked. They didn’t know what to do. They scratched their heads. Basher then remembered his mighty jawbone of an ass and shouted, ‘Let’s make for the apple tree in Markievicz Park Janey. Fast! I’ll smite the branches of it with my mighty jawbone and bring down some apples onto his head. That’ll slow him up so we can make our great escape. Quick! Run Janey run!’
The apple tree is on the left-hand side just as you enter the park from Garryowen Road. They ran past the charcoal-grey-suit man and noticed that the briefcase he was swinging at them had the word ‘Solicitor’ stitched in tinsel on the front. This made them worry even more, for they might end up in court, in big trouble indeed, for a crime they didn’t commit. It was all so unfair.
As they ran for their lives, Janey said, ‘It’s a pity I’m not Samson the Nazirite myself, for he was able to rip a lion apart with his bare hands tied behind his back. If I was, then I’d be able to rip this solicitor philistine apart with my own bare hands tied behind my back too and save us from this fate worse than death. But I have trouble ripping a brown paper bag apart – I’m not even able to punch two holes for the eyes. God help and save us all. That’s all I say Basher. God help us.’
3. Nifty Wasps and Elvis Presley’s Shaky Legs
Basher Piggs sprinted. Janey Macken Street sprinted. And the solicitor legged it behind nearly catching up with them when Basher passed the apple tree and gave it a massive whack with his mighty jawbone of an ass as he whizzed on by in a Flash-Gordon of a supersonic second.
All the branches and leaves shook like Elvis Presley’s shaky legs and an avalanche of apples started to fall to the ground just as the solicitor passed beneath. He dropped his briefcase and started to scream like a girl. He was going to be thwarted by the apples. Yes! Yes! Yes!
Basher and Janey stopped for breath, turned around, and watched, biting each other’s nails.
Basher said, ‘He might still escape from the apples and come after us again. I think we’ll have to do what Samson did on another occasion in the bible and set fire to the tails of three hundred foxes – that’s if we can find any in Markievicz Park!’
But Janey said, ‘Why would we want to set fire to the tails of three hundred foxes? Have you smote yourself with your own mighty jawbone of an ass by accident and gone a bit mad Basher?’
Basher said, ‘With their tails on fire they’ll run over to the solicitor and climb up his trouser legs like ferrets. They’ll try to put the fire out on his belly. Whack! Everyone knows that the belly of a solicitor is great for putting out fox-fires! Whack! Your teacher should have told you that really. Whack!
‘Three hundred foxes with their tails on fire will a-gallop towards him Janey. This grim tableaux will make him sprint with terrible terror away from all these foxes-on-fire coming at him – and us too – and back to his car. It’s a sure thing Janey. We just have to point the foxes in his direction.’
Janey took a gasp of air into her big mouth, ‘That’s a grand central space station Apollo 9 of a plan Basher. Very cunning. And it will work too. It bloody well has to – it’s the only plan we’ve got.’
But before they could jump up and root around in the park’s bushes for the foxes, they heard a loud buzzing sound coming from the tree. A swarm of wasps started to fly out and down from its branches in mid-air and towards the falling apples and the lily-livered solicitor.
The solicitor started to contort before their very eyes. He wasn’t shaking and quaking like a startled hedgehog with no sunglasses on in the middle of the road anymore. No, he was stand-up straight, smiling and looking with beady eyes and baleful intent towards Basher and Janey.
The wasps all started to buzz around each and every falling apple and munch down into them with their tiny teeth. They chomped hard and fast. But before the apples could fall any further and conk the solicitor on the head, the nifty wasps had devoured them all up, leaving only the pips in the middle to fall on the solicitor’s head gently, and mess up his slicked-back greasy hairstyle. The plan had failed.
4. The Pipes, the Mighty Bagpipes are Calling
The solicitor clicked his fingers at the wasps and commanded them to do strange things – his strange things. Basher gripped his jawbone tighter. Lines creased up his forehead. Janey tied a reef knot in her long brown hair as she watched. Then a sheep shank. The two of them realised what was happening sharpish. They suddenly remembered what they were taught in school as far back as high babies about solicitors and wasps.
The teacher had told them –
‘Never, never, never try to fend off an attacking solicitor with wasps, children! Because all solicitors the world over (and Ireland in particular) have mind-controlling powers over wasps. They can make them do whatever they want. It all comes from the time during the great biblical flood many years ago, when a solicitor and a wasp had to share bunk-beds together on Noah’s ark.
‘The food on the ark was running out fast and the solicitor had only one rasher sandwich left in his briefcase for the remainder of the trip until the ark met dry land. The wasp had no food left at all. The solicitor said that he’d share his rasher sandwich with the wasp if he promised to help him in times of need. They shook hands on the deal before chomping into the tasty rasher sandwich together, after freeing it from its tinsel wrapping. And ever since that day, boys and girls, solicitors and wasps always do favours for each other. They’re pals forever.
‘That’s why whenever you see solicitors and wasps together, you’d better run for your life children, if you know what’s good for you, because they’ll come after you every time in tandem, and rip you to shreds! Buzzzzzzzzzzz!’
Janey and Basher recalled every single word of this impassioned speech and thus jumped up into the air shaking their legs to get the blood flowing again. But just as they were about to try and scarper off to the other side of the park, they heard something strange and booming coming from the self-same apple tree.
The solicitor had his hands on his hips and ordered the wasps to ‘Attack the scum forthwith!’
They were buzzing now in nifty shapes and patterns – like a Kazimir Malevich painting in the sky – flying towards Basher and Janey, getting ready to sting with the sharp edge of a swooping geometric shape.
The strange and loud noise they’d heard sounded like bagpipes. Bagpipes and drums. Up in the air.
A pipe band marched out the top of the apple tree playing music that filled the whole of Markievicz Park to its bursting seams and dribbled down the railings and out over all adjacent footpaths.
Basher said, ‘It’s all go, go, go in that apple tree today Janey. Nifty wasps first. Now a flying pipe band. What next? A priest with red trousers?’
5. Machine Guns on Raglan Road
There were eight pipers and seven drummers marching, whacking and bagpiping in the air up and around the apple tree and now making their way down towards the solicitor and his brain-washed wasps. The band landed on the grass still squeezing out their bagpipe music and they formed a perfect circle around him and his swarm of nifty wasps. The solicitor of doom was frozen to the spot.
The music got louder and more intense. The drums sounded like machine guns. The girl’s-blousey look on the solicitor’s face was slowly rearranging itself. The pipe band kept playing and marching in a circle around and around the solicitor and his nifty wasps relentlessly, blowing their bagpipes hard, and smacking their drums loudly. The solicitor’s hands were now hanging limply down by his sides and his left foot started to tap along to the rhythm, slowly at first, but getting faster and faster. The music was having some sort of effect. His stomach growled rhythmically.
Basher scratched his head and said, ‘I don’t believe it Janey, but I think he’s starting to enjoy himself. He’s bloody laughing now. He loves the bagpipe! Amazing! He loves the bagpipe!’
All the anger that had been welled-up inside the solicitor dripped from his body and splashed out over the skinhead grass of Markievicz Park with rising black steam. He began to dance vigorously in the middle of the pipe-band circle questing merrily to kiss the Quaker’s wife. Wherever she may be.
Three more apples then dropped from the tree unannounced, but the solicitor caught them in his hands no bother. He began to juggle with them while singing along to the music.
‘On Raglan road of an autumn day,
I saw her once and knew.
That her dark hair would weave a snare,
That I might one day rue.
The wasps too were now dancing in more nifty shapes and patterns and buzzing all over and around and around the smiling head of the juggling solicitor. Then they flew back into their nest in the apple tree, bopping their heads and clicking their fingers to the bagpipes and drums as they went.
The music stopped with a pink-cheeked slap and one of the pipers leaned forward and opened the buttons on his bright red jacket for some fresh air. Swishing his green kilt behind him, he walked towards the born-again solicitor with fresh air massaging his nether-regions.
Stroking his chin the piper said, ‘Mister Solicitor, I think you’ve got something to say to Janey Macken Street and Basher Piggs.’
The solicitor broke down in tears and crawled towards them.
‘Sorry about that mad carry-on earlier folks. I was wrong. I don’t think it was you who let down my tyres after all. You’re not scumbags. You’re not junkies. The mighty power of the bagpipe has made me see the light and swallow some sense. I only hope you can see it in your hearts to accept my apology?’
Basher and Janey looked at each other and then back at the supplicating solicitor. They waited five seconds before saying, ‘Sure, you’re grand, go on then.’
He was crying now and trying to stop himself from dancing off into the sunset like a flicked elastic band.
Basher thought for a minute and said, ‘You wouldn’t do us a favour would you Mister Solicitor? Is there any chance you could teach us how to control wasps by clicking our fingers the way you can? Is there? Is there? Is there?’
The solicitor smiled, laughed hard and phlegmy, ‘Of course. No problem. Meet me at the birch tree over there at the same time tomorrow after school and I’ll teach you all the wasp tricks I have in my entire solicitor’s head. Deal?’
‘Deal!’ said Basher and Janey and shook hands with the solicitor who told them that they could call him Wob, for that was his name, but never to call him bumfluff, cause that wasn’t his name at all and he didn’t like it.
6. Finbarr Furious Says Hello
‘Hello there Basher and Janey. I’m the pipe major of the Flying Superhero Pipe Band –’
‘What’s a pipe major? Is that something you stick down the toilet when it’s broke?’ asked Basher.
‘No. No. No. Bad hair day, that’s all. Being the pipe major of the band means that I’m in charge of the band’s music, practice sessions and all their superhero activities as well.’
Basher said, ‘What’s the name of the tune you were playing back there?’
With his hands on his hips and his tongue moving very fast indeed, the pipe major said, ‘The Dawning of the Day. It’s a cracking little ditty of a tune, Basher and Janey, even if I do say so myself. It always does the trick of turning people’s minds on to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The naked truth running wild in the forest at dawn with a thorny red rose clamped between its teeth and a lively slip-jig coming out its nostrils. Sorry, I went a bit swivel-eyed and misty there for a few seconds.’
He coughed and continued, ‘As well as that, people can sing along to it too. And tap their feet. It’s an old traditional air. Patrick Kavanagh, the stony-grey poet from Monaghan, famously wrote words to the tune, so it’s also known as Raglan Road as well. You’ll probably know all the lyrics from Luke Kelly’s big-banjo version on the radio or Spotify.
‘The Flying Superhero Pipe Band come out, come out from the Dublin skies to save people when they’re in trouble and suffering from discrimination like you and Janey here today. I hope you didn’t mind us interfering in the way we did? We were only trying to help.’
Basher said, ‘Not at all. Thank you very much indeed –’
‘By the way, my name is Finbarr Furious. And, eh, my lead drummer, King Con over there, has asked me to ask you nicely to see if you’d like to join The Flying Superhero Pipe Band for the up and coming season? Give us a dig out for a year. He says that your hands are perfect for drumming, plenty of splinters within, he can tell by their very smell – even from over there with his drumstick-bashed ears.
‘And personally, I think that you, Janey Macken Street, would make a most excellent bagpiper if you’d like to join up as well? Your fingers are shaped like jigs and hornpipes in my opinion. What do you say chaps?’
But before they could answer, King Con came over to them thumping his chest with both hands and pretending to be some sort of a chimp in a sarcastic-messer sort of a way and said, ‘Nice to meet you folks. As Pipe Major Furious has already stated quite eloquently Basher, I hope you’ll agree to be in my drum corps. Will you? I just know you’re going to be one of the best drumming superheros I’ve had in a long, long time. Are you up for it? We’ve got a valid licence for it from the City Council, if that’s what you might be worrying about. Ferret-man is in charge of that section in the Council now, since he retired from the superhero game last year after doing his forty years’ service.
‘As you’d expect, he’s very efficient indeed. He rubber-stamps all forms now with an enormous POWWW! Three Ws and an exclamation mark. Now that’s what I call style. Superhero ferret style.’
Basher and Janey jumped ten feet into the air and banged their heads on a branch, ‘Of course we’ll join!’ they said after landing again quite fleet of foot.
‘That solicitor should never have called us scum. If we can save more people from suchlike evil, then we’re joining up straight away with a ferret flourish. Just finger-flick us the pen and we’ll do the rest ourselves.’
7. Liquorice Grass on the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
‘Good chaps yourselves, you’re in,’ said Finbarr Furious. ‘By the way, why do they call you Basher? You don’t bash people do you? If you do then I’m afraid the deal is off the table faster than a dog’s drooling tongue.’
But Basher said, ‘They call me Basher because I don’t bash people. They’re a bit whacky-backy in my school. If you’re tall, then they call you shorty. If you’ve got straight hair, then they call you curly. If you’re skinny, they call you fatty.
‘I don’t bash people, I’m a very docile-horse sort of a chap really, so that’s why they call me Basher. I do smite apple trees (and solicitor philistines if I ever catch up with any) with my mighty jawbone of an ass – but nothing worse than that.
‘My Ma and Da were hippies in their youth, so they’d kill me with my own fists – they can’t use their own because they’re lifelong pacifists – if I ever bashed anyone. Can I still join up even though they call me Basher at school? Please Mr. Con?’
‘You can indeed or my name isn’t King Con, champion drummer and drum sergeant in The Flying Superhero Pipe Band.
‘By the way, here’s a few tickets for a gig I play every Saturday afternoon in the Pigeon Club on Lally with my band Assorted Biscuits. I play a chocolate guitar and write all the songs myself. Bring a few friends if you like. It’s a good show.’
‘My Da warned me about Assorted Biscuits. He said that the lead singer ripped apart a goat on stage with his bare hands last Saturday. Is that true?’
‘Yes it is – but it was a chocolate goat – and filled, not with blood, but with red Smarties.’
‘Oh, oh, oh! Samson the Nazirite could rip a lion apart with his bare hands – my teacher told me that today in school – not a goat –’
‘Yes I know. That’s why I did it on stage. In homage to Samson the Nazirite. I loved him at school just like yourself. I think we may have had the same teacher actually. But I couldn’t find a chocolate lion last week, so had to settle for a chocolate goat instead. Do you know what? I think you’d make a pitch-perfect flying superhero drummer, I do.’
With that, Finbarr Furious, the pipe major, musical director and spiritual guidance counsellor of the band, walked closer to Basher and Janey and offered them a slice of a cheese ball he’d sliced, diced and placed onto a small silver platter of a plate on his hand like a waiter. As everyone chewed down into the tasty brie, he said, ‘We’ll see you tomorrow after school at the birch tree over there, if you still want to join up with us for the year that is –’
Janey stopped him dead in his tracks and nearly made him soil his pants, ‘But Mister Furious, Wob the solicitor is teaching us how to control and do tricks with nifty wasps tomorrow at the birch tree. Can we make it the day after that, Wednesday, at the hawthorn tree instead please?’
‘Sure we can Janey. Nay bother. See you then, so.’
The band struck up another tune and marched off into the sky before disappearing into a small fluffy cloud leaving a long steak of smoke behind them.
Basher turned to Janey, mist everywhere and rising, ‘We’re going to learn how to fly with the Flying Superhero Pipe band tomorrow.’
‘Janey Macken Street!’ they both screamed together two octaves above their normal pitch.
‘Look Basher. All the grass in the park is green liquorice, we can eat it. The Flying Superhero Pipe Band must have done it with the magic and mighty power of the bagpipe!’
Basher dropped quickly to the grass like a lead balloon, chewed a handful and spitted it out again in disgust.
‘You’re a messer, Janey – and I know your Da didn’t turn into the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel overnight in his sleep last week like you said either – let’s go home.’
And they did.