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By Sarah Hapgood

"Talk about in-breeding!" said Julian, as he and Adam sat on the forward deck in the sweltering sunshine the following afternoon "The whole family are completely nuts. And as for that Simeon, he reminds me of my brother!"

"Oh dear, is this a bad attack of second son-itis coming out?" said Adam, teasingly.

"Rubbish", said Julian "It's a plain fact. Piers was just as demented as him. The last time I saw him we were having a drink in a little country pub. Piers decided the brandy was distinctly below par and chucked it on the fire. The whole thing erupted like an inferno! I'm surprised he didn't manage to burn the bloody place down! The man was a danger to the public. I always thought he should've been spoonfed in an institution somewhere, for everyone's safety".

"Well I liked Piers", said Adam "He had a lot of childlike charm. But then I've always been a sucker for that sort. That's why I fell for Lo-Lo. I remember when Piers came to see me in Northumbria ..."

"When was that?" said Julian, sharply.

"Oh eons ago", said Adam "I went home one summer because I'd had enough of you".

"I didn't know you came from up there?" said Joby "I thought you were a Southerner like me".

"I am, born and bred", said Adam "But Northumbria was where the old ancestral pile was. I just used to flee there occasionally with Mother. Either to escape my Father or Julian".

"For old ancestral pile translate as ruined castle", said Julian, disparagingly "It had one tower left intact that they lived in. Wouldn't have looked out of place in Transylvania. Highly appropriate for his lot!"

"Anyway, Piers came to see me there", said Adam "He was driving past by chance one day and he thought he'd call in".

"You've never told me about this before", said Julian, accusingly.

"There's nothing to tell", said Adam "I always got on well with Piers, and we could relax without you around upsetting us both".

"And how many other little clandestine meetings were there?" Julian barked.

"Oh for heaven's sake!" said Adam "There was nothing clandestine about them".

"There must have been", said Julian "Or you would have told me. You both went to great lengths to ensure I never found out".

"Why should it bother you?" said Joby "Unless your brother was a poofter too!"

Adam burst out laughing.

"My brother wasn't capable of being anything", Julian spat.

"That's how much you know", Adam chimed.

"And what's that supposed to mean?" said Julian.

"Nothing Jules, I'm teasing you", said Adam "Because you're being awfully silly to get jealous over a perfectly innocent meeting that took place over 2000 years ago!"

"What did you talk about together?" said Julian.

"How on earth am I expected to remember that after all this time?" Adam exclaimed "Rather a lot has happened since then! All I can remember is that it was a pleasent afternoon, and he took some photographs of the old bridge across the river. Now the others want to do their dress rehearsal, so try to watch it without grinding your teeth!"

Bardin had set up on the deck the water-butt that Kieran used to do the clothes-washing in. This, plus Julian's new china hip-bath and a couple of chairs, were to serve as the main props.

"Right, I'm going to have to talk us all through it for the moment", said Bardin "We've not actually performed this all together as an ensemble yet, so you'll have to bear with us. Now, me and Bengo are working in the laundry, along with Tamaz".

"Hang on", said Tamaz, standing nearby in Finia's old white petticoat. It suited him marvellously. Finia had put some boning in the bodice, in order to push up Tamaz's small breasts, and to show off his wasp waist. Bardin had gone into ecstacies when he saw it, convinced that they couldn't fail with such a sexy ingenue on the team.

"He's causing trouble already", said Julian "This dress rehearsal will probably go on all night".

"I just wanted to know", said Tamaz, arms akimbo "If I'm the owner's wife, why am I actually WORKING in the laundry?"

"'Cos you've been naughty", said Joby "Get on with it. You're holding everyone up".

Tamaz sulkily proceeded to rub a sheet against the wash-board propped in Julian's bath. Whilst he was doing this, Bengo and Bardin performed an inspired routine which involved them both vying for his attention. In the end Bardin defeated his rival by upending him and thrusting him head-first into the wash-tub. This went down a storm. Bengo emerged, spitting water, and with soap suds in his hair.

"Why does it have to be me who gets shoved in?" he snarled.

"Because the punters would rather see your bare legs waving in the air than mine!" said Bardin.

"It was very effective, old love", said Adam, to a bedraggled Bengo.

"We couldn't have that bit again, could we?" said Julian "In slow motion this time".

"Someone should reinvent the camcorder", Joby laughed.

"Yes, we could watch it endlessly at our leisure", said Julian.

"Move onto the next bit", Bengo bellowed at Bardin.

The next bit called for a triumphant Bardin to get Tamaz in a passionate embrace. This was accomplished very deftly, but then Bardin shrieked in a stage-whisper.

"Joby, it's your cue!"

"Oh cripes, I'm on".

Joby scrambled to his feet and then stopped.

"But what do I say?" he said, in bewilderment "I know I have to be the narked husband, but what do I say?"

"Whatever you feel a narked husband would say", said Bardin.

"You brazen hussy, that kind of thing", said Kieran.

"What would you normally yell at Tamaz in those circumstances?" said Adam.

"You dirty little bastard probably", said Joby.

"Perhaps not that", said Bardin "He is meant to be your missus".

"You little tart!" Joby thundered "I can't take my eyes off you for a second!"

"Very good", Julian purred.

"Ach, we've heard it so many times before", Kieran chortled.

"And Tamaz", said Bardin, coaxingly "You say ..."

"I love Bardin, not you", said Tamaz, sounding none too convinced.

He then gave a yodel and ran into Bardin's arms. Joby lunged at him, remembering in time to give Tamaz's petticoat a brief tug. Finia had done his job well. The whole skirt came away with very little trouble at all. Tamaz gave another yodel and flung it over Joby's head like a tablecloth.

"No Tamaz", said Bardin "He's ripped your clothes off. You're supposed to be really embarrassed by this".

"No chance", said Julian "He's too much of a little exhibitionist for that!"

"Can you write in a part for me?" said Hillyard "I think I'd enjoy this".

"What as?" said Joby, flinging Tamaz's skirt on the floor "The other irate husband?!"

"Look, what am I supposed to be doing all this time?" said Bengo.

"Drowning", said Bardin, and he tipped him up and shoved him in the laundry-tub a second time.

"Brilliant!" said Hillyard "Keep that bit in".

"Good job his ears are full of soapy water at the moment", said Ransey "He wouldn't be too pleased to hear you say that!"

"That was good", said Adam "I wasn't expecting it at all".

"That wasn't scripted!" Bengo shrieked, once he'd emerged.

"Oh go on Bardin", said Julian "Go for the hat-trick".

"No, that'd be pushing it", said Bardin "The punters would start finding fault. Right, Joby and Tamaz have a rough and ready reunion".

"That sounds familier too", said Kieran.

"Joby wallops Tamaz, then they kiss and make up", said Bardin.

"What do you mean?" Tamaz cried "I was never told he was going to beat me on stage!"

"Another one for the album", said Julian.

"I won't really be hitting you, you daftie", said Joby "You can trust me".

"Have you ever thought of resurrecting Punch and Judy?" said Adam.

"What, with you and Julian starring in it?!" said Joby.

"If Joby beats Tamaz", said Lonts "Can't I come on and rescue him like I did Glynis in the mime act?"

"No, I'll make up another sketch where you can do that", said Bardin "For this one I want Tamaz to fall in love with Joby all over again".

"Hardly very politically-correct, old love", said Adam "I prefer Lo-Lo's idea".

"No", said Joby "That means my character has to be a wife-beating bastard, who she's glad to get away from. I wanted to play a romantic part for a change. Why should Lonts get to play the heroes all the time?"

"Will you hark at this lot?" said Kieran "I'm glad I don't carry on like this when I'm rollerskating!"

"Just play it as I say it", said Bardin "Trust me, it'll work this way. Tamaz, you have nothing to fear. I promise you that the audience will all fall in love with you after this".

"Everyone likes a good sport", said Kieran.

"If Joby stands where he is", said Bengo, pouting "He'll conceal me".

"Good!" said Bardin "Now let's get on with some work shall we? Joby, chastise Tamaz".

"How?" said Joby.

"You've never been at a loss before", said Julian.

Joby patted Tamaz's bottom playfully, and they both started giggling.

"NO!" Bardin thundered "Joby, you have just caught her ... him ... Oh God, help me. You have just caught Tamaz kissing me. You are angry, furious ..."

"So I'd give you a smack in the chops instead", said Joby.

"No, because the whole point of it is that Tamaz falls in love with you all over again", said Bardin "There would be no point to hitting me".

"That is a matter of opinion!" said Bengo, shrilly.

"Get on with it", said Ransey "Or we'll all die of sunstroke out here".

Joby bent Tamaz over and made sweeping circular movements over his bottom with the back of his hand.

"You little trollop!" he cried, sounding like the demon king from panto.

Tamaz yodelled with amusement.

"Can I rush on now and give Tamaz some chocolate to cheer him up?" said Lonts.

"He doesn't need cheering up!" said Joby.

This was perfectly true. Tamaz couldn't have looked more blissed out if he'd been on drugs. Bardin was euphoric about this.

"Kiss Joby now", he urged.

Tamaz flung his arms round Joby's neck and snogged him greedily.

"Oh I do like a happy ending!" said Julian, facetiously.

Bengo suddenly pushed Bardin into the hip-bath, put both hands on top of his head and thrust him under the water, so that his feet shot out of the other side.

"Was that scripted too?" said Adam.

"No I did it for my own satisfaction", said Bengo, haughtily "But it's a good ending, we'll keep it in".

Ransey picked up Tamaz's discarded skirt and inspected it. Like most highly-intelligent men, he could be endlessly fascinated by how the simplest thing worked.

"I stitched velcro all round it", said Finia.

"That accounts for the satisfying ripping sound it makes when its torn off", said Ransey "You are clever, Finia".

"It's very simple", said Finia, bashfully "I got the idea from the catamite's frock".

Tamaz stood patiently whilst Ransey re-fastened it around his waist. Kieran watched this tender operation, and felt satisfied.

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