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By Sarah Hapgood

They were among the last of the visitors to leave the following lunchtime, and their departure took so long that Julian was reduced to screaming at everyone to "get on the bloody plane!" Toppy had been the first one on and was staring moodily out of the window when Julian sat next to him. He gave him reassurances that the months would fly past and they would soon be back at Woll's place, but Toppy seemed inscrutably distant and uncommunicative.

A short way into the journey and Julian got fed up with his end of the air-buggy. Toppy was still silent, and Adam and Lonts were asleep. So he got up and decided to go for a stroll. Bengo was lying in the aisle doing his leg toning exercises. Julian nudged him with his foot and Bengo scrambled out of the way. At the other end of the plane the others were hanging round the small bar area, where Hillyard was making up cocktails, assisted by Tamaz.

"What's it called?" said Julian, looking at the invitingly thick brown liquid that was being poured into the glasses.

"It's my own invention so it doesn't have a name yet", said Hillyard "But as it's Finia's birthday, it'll have to be in honour of him".

"Well you've heard of a White Lady cocktail", said Kieran "So we'll make this one a Black Lady cocktail. Not very politically correct I know. Codlik wouldn't like it".

"Codlik isn't with us, I am so very glad to say", said Julian "What's in it?"

"I'm not sure", said Hillyard, glancing at the array of opened bottles behind him.

"Everything short of paraffin", said Joby.

"Right, I'll propose a toast", said Julian, when his had been poured out "To Finia, who brings elegance and style to the Indigo".

"And God knows it needs it!" said Joby, as the toast was drunk.

"I've got a present for Finia here", said Ransey, delving into his rucksack and drawing out a be-ribboned box "And I'm going to give it to him, because I think it's a bloody stupid rule of ours not to give each other birthday presents".

"It's not a rule", said Julian "It was just a habit we fell into for the sake of economy".

"Hang economy", said Ransey.

"An accountant said that?!" said Joby.

Finia opened the box and then had a fit of the giggles over the array of toe-shaped chocolates within.

"I got the pudding-cook at Woll's place to make them", said Ransey.

"Chocolate toe-nails, how wonderful", said Julian, dryly.

"It's because Finia likes having his toes kissed you see", said Ransey, bashfully.

Julian coughed with embarrassment, feeling like an elderly father who'd just heard intimate details of his daughter's sex life. He turned his attention to the other side of the bar, where Hillyard was making up another lot of Black Ladies. Tamaz was mindlessly eating green olives, glace cherries and gherkins out of various jars.

"He'll be sick", said Joby.

"Ach who cares?" said Kieran "Let him be, if he wants that".

"Yeah, but it'll be me he's sick over I expect!" said Joby.

He noticed Bengo hovering in the background, looking like a starving waif ogling the window of a cake-shop.

"Come on Bengo, try some of this", said Joby.

"I can't", said Bengo "I must've piled on pounds over Christmas".

"You are getting really boring, do you know that!" said Joby.

"You don't have to worry about your weight, honey", said Finia, popping a chocolate toe-nail into his mouth "You must burn off everything you eat pretty quick anyway".

"And the last thing we need is the world's first anorexic clown", said Julian "Not when we've got Kieran for that!"

"Oh you're a right charmer you are, aren't yer!" said Kieran.

"But my body is my living", said Bengo, in despair "If I get flabby I'll lose my career".

"Cobblers", said Kieran "The Little Theatre needs you more than you need it, and if Hawkefish was to fire you, why we could start up our own show. The Indigo Travelling Players. We'd be a massive hit. The Indigo Travelling Players Proudly Presents ..."

"A complete shambles I expect", said Joby.

"Oh ye of little faith, Joby", said Kieran "We could travel round acting and exhibiting ourselves. We couldn't fail. Bengo can clown, we've got Lonts with his matinee idol looks and his dancing, and Tamaz can show off his tits. We'd be a sensation, and we might attract a few other renegade performers as well".

"It's a good job we have your inheritence then", said Ransey "Because without that we'd starve in no time!"

"Soft living has made you lot defeatist", said Kieran "You all want to retire and vegetate".

"I wish we could!" said Joby, with feeling "No chance of that with you around".

Tamaz pulled off his t-shirt and caressed his bare breasts with his gherkin-soiled hands. Then he turned round and stuck out his posterior saucily.

"Our very own taxi dancer", said Hillyard, smacking Tamaz's rump playfully.

"Well I'm glad to see Tamaz has got the idea at least", said Kieran.

"Any old fool can do that", said Ransey.

"Not necessarily", said Julian "I wouldn't want to see you try it!"

"But Finia could", said Kieran "Who was the little black dancer who wore only a bunch of bananas on stage?"

"Josephine Baker", said Julian "And another un-p.c suggestion to make Codlik turn in his grave! I'm almost sorry he's not here to enjoy it!"

"It wouldn't work", said Finia, helping himself to another chocolate toe-nail "I haven't got any tits to show off".

"Well Josephine Baker wasn't particularly well-endowed in that department", said Julian "She used to wear little silver studs on her nipples. I shouldn't be giving you ideas really".

"Why not?" said Joby "It sounds the best suggestion so far. And Finia did use to be a professional performer. Get him a snake and he'd be well away!"

"So there you are, Bengo", said Kieran "If Hawkefish or Bardin gives you trouble, you can tell them you're going self-employed with your own revue".

"Which means you can have a cocktail", said Hillyard.

The duck-shoot was arranged for New Year's Eve, with most of them scheduled to get up at three-thirty in the morning, in order to catch the chilly grey dawn on the marshes. Ransey had hired extra guns for the occasion and assembled them on the galley table, where he proceeded to lecture everyone on the use of them.

"I have fired a rifle before, you know", said Hillyard, indignantly "There's nothing you can tell me about poaching".

"We are not poaching", said Ransey "Those ducks belong to no one. The marshes are a free-for-all. And besides, I don't want to end this day with one of us getting shot by mistake".

"And if they do it'll be you, and it won't be a mistake!" said Hillyard.

"This isn't an encouraging sign", said Finia, anxiously "You two quarrelling before you even set off".

"If they keep it up we'll leave them behind", said Julian "And go off without them. Ransey seems to labour under the delusion that the rest of us are helpless around firearms. Well I can assure him I'm not".

Kieran was hovering around the gangway, feeling like a spare part. Everyone else had assumed he wasn't going on the duck-shoot, and originally he hadn't intended to, but he was beginning to feel he was missing something. He went into his cabin where Joby was getting dressed, and Tamaz was prancing around in one of Joby's best shirts.

"Take it off", said Joby "You needn't think you're wearing that to go shooting".

"The buttons on the pockets jiggle over my breasts", said Tamaz, nonetheless taking it off.

"Put something warm on", said Joby, putting on a pair of thermal socks "Are you sure you don't wanna come, Kiel? You don't have to do any actual shooting, or eating the birds. You can help Tamaz be a beater".

"Trouble is, I've been hunted meself so much in life", said Kieran "I don't feel like turning the tables".

"I've been hunted too", said Tamaz, jabbing Kieran in the shoulder with his finger "Mainly by you!"

"O.K", said Kieran "I'll come along and blow a funny whistle".

"Yes!" said Joby, and he kissed Kieran on the lips.

"Get a bloody move on!" Julian roared from the doorway "This creature isn't even dressed yet!"

"He'll be ready in two minutes", said Joby.

"I find that very hard to believe", said Julian "It takes him half-an-hour just to choose a pair of knickers!"

Julian continued to chafe with frustration as everyone took an age to get ready. His bad temper wasn't helped by Adam bemoaning that he wouldn't be able to settle to any painting when Julian was insisting on taking his muse (i.e Lonts) shooting with him.

"Oh for God's sake", said Julian "If we get much more camp on this boat we'll all be sitting around doing embroidery! Toppy, why are you still in your dressing-gown?"

"I-I'm not coming", said Toppy, looking beseechingly at Adam for help.

"Toppy doesn't like gunfire, Jules", said Adam "My mother was exactly the same. She used to have nightmares on shooting weekends about someone shooting her by mistake".

"The way your mother was permanently attached to a hip-flask she was nothing but a bloody liability anyway!" said Julian "So Toppy's staying at home with the ladies is he?"

"I'm not going to dignify that absurd comment with a response", said Adam "I hope your bloody skiff sinks!"

Toppy decided to go back to bed after the shooting-party had departed. The other non-shooters were Adam, Finia, and Bengo. The latter of whom had stayed in bed all through the departure, and who wasn't going because he had a rehearsal later that morning.

"Have they gone?" he said, looking over drowsily from Julian's bunk.

"Yes", said Toppy, removing his slippers and aligning them neatly on the floor.

"I'm surprised you didn't go", said Bengo "It'd be a bit of therapy for you. You've been as miserable as sin since we came back from Woll's. It must be serious between you and Lillijana".

"It's got nothing to do with you, Bengo", Toppy snapped "You're always interfering in other people's business".

"Oh fuck you!" Bengo exclaimed "Now I can't even talk to you! Well I've got news for you, a cat can look at a queen!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" said Toppy, sharply "Have you been reading my diary again?"

Bengo had the grace to look abashed.

"That is unforgiveable!" Toppy squawked "I'm going to tell Julian about you. I'm going to tell everyone about you! I'll make you a pariah. You had no right to do that. We're all supposed to respect each other's privacy on this boat".

"I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist it", said Bengo "I was dying to know what you really felt about Lillijana. I haven't told anyone, I promise".

"Those are my private thoughts", Toppy began to cry "I didn't write them there for you to laugh at".

"But I'm not laughing", Bengo protested "Perhaps I can help".

"How can you help?" Toppy retorted "You've got no idea what it's like to be me. You're totally immoral. You just have sex when you feel like it".

"Whereas you never feel like it", said Bengo, stung into spite "You want Lillijana as a sister figure, isn't that right?"

"How dare you talk to me like that?" Toppy shrieked.

"And how dare you say I'm immoral!" said Bengo "You stuffy little sod. Your trouble is that to find out you fancied someone you'd have to take your nose out of the air first!"

"Shut up, Bengo", said Toppy "I don't want to talk to you anymore".

Lonts deftly paddled the wooden skiff through the reeds on the marshland waterways. Behind him, two abreast, were Ransey, Hillyard, Julian and Joby. Julian was convinced the boat had a small leak and was slowly sinking, although Joby swore this was more due to there being so many of them in it, which had caused it to sink so low in the water.

On the shore Tamaz stalked through the springy undergrowth, blowing a duck whistle and peering into the cold grey gloom. Kieran was supposed to be helping him, but had been distracted by the sight of some wild marsh ponies, and had sat down on a tree-stump to watch them in the distance.

"I dunno how anyone can enjoy hunting all the time", said Joby, trying to shift position without causing too much of a disturbance "It's too bloody uncomfortable to me".

"It becomes highly addictive", said Julian "Like hard exercise. It gets the adrenalin going and nothing can match the buzz it gives you, both during and after. Plus it's not just that, but the surroundings itself. To see the marshes at this hour for instance".

"Never thought of you as having a poetic-type streak before, Julian", said Joby.

"Art and sensitivity aren't entirely Adam's province", said Julian.

Suddenly two birds rose up out of the bushes witha great flapping of wings and a rough squawking. They were cleanly shot by Ransey and Hillyard. Lonts steered the boat to the shore, and Hillyard disembarked, in order to retrieve the birds and bind their legs together with string.

"See if we can get a couple more for good measure", said Julian "There are nearly a dozen of us to feed after all".

The brace of ducks were tossed into the bottom of the boat and Lonts resumed his stealthy paddling. Tamaz hadn't stopped his mournful whistling.

"He makes a good beater", Julian conceeded "Unlike Tinkerbell, who might as well be on the moon for all the use he is to us".

"I didn't expect him to contribute much", said Joby "He just came along for the company. You can't expect a vegetarian to throw himself wholeheartedly into duck-shooting can yer!"

"I suppose not", said Julian "Still at least he hasn't read us any sermons, unlike a certain Mr Codpiece would have done I expect".

"Dear old Codlik", said Joby "I wonder what he's gonna do from now on".

"Stop talking about Codlik", said Ransey "You'll scare off the ducks!"

Bengo had felt bad about his conversation with Toppy, even though Toppy's behaviour for the rest of the morning had been perfectly repellent and childish. Bengo knew he had been in the wrong to go prying into his diary, and so he didn't feel like getting angry again, even when Toppy taunted him that no one would want to see his show anyway, as Bengo was completely devoid of any talent or style.

After Bengo had gone off to rehearsals, Toppy had had a minor fit of conscience about his snotty behaviour and had decided to go and meet him at the Little Theatre at lunchtime. Bengo had rather wished he hadn't bothered. The truth of the matter was that Toppy, ultra-shy and sensitive as he was, could be extremely nasty and crushing when he put his mind to it. Some of his taunts earlier that morning about Bengo's act had wounded the little clown deeply. Not only that but when Bengo had tried to make friendly overtures to him on the Indigo, Toppy had employed some very crass bullying tactics, such as asking him to repeat what he had said several times, until Bengo had felt a complete and utter idiot for daring to speak to him in the first place.

Because of all this Bengo hadn't been too thrilled to be informed by one of the chorus-girls that "your little friend Toppy's waiting for you in your dressing-room". He was even less thrilled when he got there to find Toppy picking up the various pots and bottles from the table and then fastidiously wiping his hands on his handkerchief. He then flapped the handkerchief as though to imply it was now soiled beyond belief.

"Here", said Bengo, passing him a small towel "Wipe your hands on this".

Toppy sniffed it (SNIFFED it!) before deigning to wipe his hands.

"What are you doing here, Toppy?" Bengo sighed, wishing with all his heart that he had Lonts's immaculate gift of being able to cow Toppy instantly with just a look or a word.

Before Toppy could answer one of the chorus-girls came in, looking worried. She was dressed in a clinging red sequined outfit, which she didn't look the slightest bit at ease in.

"Bengo, is it true Hawkefish is intending to axe me from the New Year show?" she said, sounding very worried.

"I doubt it", said Bengo "He won't axe a woman. He's always saying we need all the women we can get!"

"But there's a rumour going round that I'm letting the team down", said the bob-haired girl "Apparently he thinks I look stiff, and I watch the others too much when we're dancing. But I have to! I'm frightened of getting out of sync!"

"You just need to relax a bit that's all", said Bengo "You hold yourself too wooden. You need to let your body go a bit floppy, sensual and flowing like a ream of silk blowing in the wind".

"You do come out with some right stuff sometimes!" the girl giggled.

"That outfit doesn't suit you", Toppy suddenly blurted out "You're long and thin, the waist on it is too low so it makes you look even more lanky".

The girl looked completely crushed by this, and left the room disconsolately.

"Did you have to say that?" said Bengo "She's new here and she's really lacking in confidence. She's sweet, you didn't have to upset her with that!"

"I-I was trying to help", said Toppy "That outfit doesn't look right on her. I'd have thought Finia might've noticed that".

"Finia makes and repairs the girls' costumes, he doesn't design them", said Bengo, rattled "And even if he did he'd have put it better than you did!"

"But I didn't say anything insulting", said Toppy "Or I don't think I did anyway".

"Oh come off it, Toppy!" Bengo exclaimed "Don't try that one with me, I know you too well. You always know exactly what you're saying, each and every time. You gear the exact words to the exact moment for maximum effect. And then when people get upset, you try and kid us all you're really just shy little Toppy. Butter wouldn't melt. So nervous he sometimes says the wrong thing. Well I don't believe it anymore. You are not a very nice person, Toppy!"

Toppy looked distinctly emotional after this, and Bengo instantly felt like a bastard.

"You're saying you hate me", Toppy sobbed "How can you, Bengo? My sins are nothing compared to what some people do, and yet you're giving me all this grief. How can you?"

"I didn't mean to be so harsh", said Bengo "I shouldn't have said that about you not being very nice, but I know you're more manipulative than you like to make out. Even so, what I said was horrible. I'm sory. We can't seem to get on the right side of each other today can we?"

Toppy was more amenable after this, and they chatted about the show whilst Bengo put his street clothes on. Nonetheless Bengo was slightly rattled that Toppy had made no attempt to apologise in return for some of the things he'd come out with that day. It meant it wasn't an even-sided truce, and this rankled.

At the end of the morning's shoot the other Indigo-ites strolled towards the pub that Kieran, Joby and Tamaz had discovered before Christmas. Julian noticed that Ransey kept glancing back at Tamaz with an inscrutable expression on his face.

"How do you feel about him these days?" said Julian.

"Impressed actually", said Ransey, sounding as surprised as he felt "When I think how far he's come in the past few months. It wasn't that long ago that he was a filthy, deranged animal we had to keep locked in a cage. A couple of years ago we were all for shooting him! Even the general public don't seem to hate him anymore".

"There's no reason why they should", said Julian "Anyone with half a brain can see that he's no danger to the world these days. I used to think Kieran was mad for keeping him alive. I can't understand how it's happened, but he's been tamed, and if I live to be a 100 I'll never understand how!"

They all went into the bar, where Ransey set about ordering beers and food from the landlord. As on the previous occasion the only other customer in the place was the old man sitting by the fire, smoking his pipe.

"Permanent fixture", Joby muttered "He must live here!"

He went over to warm his hands by the fire, and the old man suddenly spoke to him.

"Good shooting?"

"Not bad", Joby replied "Enough for us anyway".

"Good work you did", the old man went on "Firing that Ghoomer house just up the road".

"Oh that wasn't me", said Joby "Ransey and Hillyard did that".

"But you destroyed the rest of 'em", said the old man.

"They did a pretty good job of that by themselves", said Kieran, who was warming his backside by the fire "A bit like the vampires really".

The old man motioned him to move closer and Kieran did so. Joby always got nervous when anyone did this to Kieran. He continually expected them to suddenly stick a knife in his ribs. The old man had no intention of doing this. Instead he grabbed Kieran's hand and kissed it.

"That was for putting the beginning of the new world in Toondor Lanpin", said the old man "The old ways must never come back. I remember what it was life before we had the women".

"We'll never go back to that", said Kieran, firmly.

Meanwhile Julian lit a cigar and watched as Tamaz and Lonts giggled together in one of the corners. That these two were on very close terms was undeniable at times, but it was also a cause for concern, if only for the prosaic fact that Lonts could not be relied upon to wear a condom!

"You both look very cosy", said Julian, sitting down on the bench, next to Tamaz.

"We're not doing any harm", said Lonts "Tamaz was telling me about the drawers he's got on".

"As you will undoubtedly see them later I can't imagine there's much suspense to be had there!" said Julian "He always looks like a tart in an Edwardian brothel anyway".

Tamaz climbed onto Julian's lap and kissed his face all over.

"Do you love me?" Tamaz asked.

"I love everyone on the Indigo", said Julian.

"Does that include me?" said Tamaz.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but you do live on the Indigo do you not?" said Julian.

Tamaz gave one of his tee-hee-hee giggles and licked Julian's nose with his long tongue. Julian lifted him up slightly and affectionately patted his bottom.

The others came over and joined them at the table. The food had just been served when Hillyard dropped his bombshell.

"I'm going to stand for Governor", he said "Of Toondor Lanpin. It was Kieran's idea. He says it's the best way we have of making sure everything stays as we want it".

"Anything to stop the Ministry getting a foothold", said Kieran "Hilly represents all we hold dear about the town".

"Free love?" said Ransey, caustically.

"It's not a bad idea", said Joby, who was simply relieved Kieran wasn't going to run for it "When I really stop and think about it I think he'll be alright. He's laid-back, wants everyone to have a good time, he won't get tied up with beaurocracy and penny-pinching, and he's not like Codlik. That's a lot in his favour".

"Hillyard is not a born politician", Julian protested.

"I've discussed this with Adam since coming back from Woll's too", said Hillyard "And he was all for it. In fact he's offered to be my campaign manager".

"That dozy old bird knows even less about politics about you do", said Julian "He'd have probably voted for Mussolini on the grounds that he had a kind face! I notice you've discussed this with everybody but me. I haven't even caught so much as a whiff of this news. As usual, I'm the last person to hear anything!"

"Julian", Hillyard sighed "If you really don't want me to do it, just say the word and I won't. It's as simple as that".

Julian was momentarily disconcerted by this, but he couldn't doubt the sincerity of it.

"No, you go ahead", he said, quietly "Kieran's right, it'll stop the Ministry getting a hold on our beloved town, and there's no denying your popularity. I think you'll be a great asset to the Council of Governors, and it'll keep your mind off your cock for a while at least!"

"As he's gonna be a politician I wouldn't bank on it", said Joby.

By ten-thirty that evening Bengo had finished his part in the show. He went backstage to remove his make-up, put on a singlet and then went out to the theatre bar, where all the other Indigo-ites had assembled. The first one he saw was Adam, standing there in his paint-stained shirt, drinking orange juice.

"Ah Bengo", he said "Who is that new clown you've got in the show, the little black guy? He was very funny, I thought. I loved his frantic running on the spot routine".

Bengo promptly burst into tears and threw himself into Adam's arms.

"Everyone praises him", he wailed.

"Oh for heaven's sake", said Adam, sternly "You are being very silly. Aren't we even allowed to praise another performer now?"

"He is turning into a complete prima donna he is", said Joby.

"I've had a terrible day", Bengo sobbed "I've spent most of it with Toppy".

"Oh well we'll let you off then", said Joby.

"He wears you down", said Bengo, after having first ascertained that Toppy was on the other side of the bar "He just keeps grinding me down all the time".

"I don't understand why you're getting upset about Toppy", said Lonts "No one should ever take any notice of anything Toppy says!"

"You haven't heard the news, Bengo", said Joby "Hillyard's gonna run for Governor".

"If he wins", said Bengo "Does that mean we have to leave the Indigo?"

"We do not!" Lonts exclaimed.

"Of course not", said Adam "Hilly's duties will be mainly ceremonial. Most of the work he does will be at the town hall. Life on the Indigo will go on as normal".

"If this whole enterprise is to go forward it needs to be done properly", said Julian.

"We can't do much until we know who else is going to throw their hat into the ring", said Adam.

"Yes, but we can still think up such things as an election slogan for him", said Julian "'Vote For Hillyard Because ... etc etc etc".

"Vote for Hillyard because he's a really nice person", said Lonts.

"Oh Lonts!" said Joby "You can't use that as an election slogan!"

"I've heard worse", said Kieran.

"Vote for Hillyard because your town will be safe in his hands", said Adam.

"That sounds downright sinister", said Julian.

"I haven't given it a lot of thought yet", said Adam "I need to draft up some ideas for a little promo leaflet. You know the sort of thing. A bit of biographical stuff".

"But everybody already knows everything about him", said Joby.

"Well o.k, what his interests are", said Adam.

"We'd better draw a veil over that one I think", said Julian.

"Oh this is crazy, it sems to suggest we're on a hiding to nothing", said Adam, in exasperation "Patsy, it was your silly idea to bring democracy to Toondor Lanpin. You think of something".

"There is no need for a protracted election campaign", said Kieran "Not in Toondor Lanpin. It's the slippery slope. Once we have politicians running things here, we'll be right back where we started. The people here don't give a damn about policies. I've heard enough grumbles as it is about us giving a forward look speech at the Council of Governors' meeting! All a Govenor is going to have to do is turn up at the Governors' meetings, and generally be a figurehead for the town, and Hillyard'll be terrific at it. We just have to nominate him for the post, and let the public vote on polling-day".

"But what if Codlik stands?" said Joby.

"We'll keep an eye on him, make sure he doesn't pull any fast tricks, like bribing the voters", said Kieran "And quite frankly, I think that's the only way he's going to get elected! But if we start bringing back the old kissing-babies routine, we could find ourselves being drummed out of town!"

"Codlik, or whoever else does stand, could claim Hillyard was riding on your popularity", said Julian "Probably whilst the election's on you shouldn't be seen with him too much".

"Don't be daft!" said Kieran "I live under the same roof as him! And what do you suggest I do? Throw meself head-first into the nearest dustbin everytime we find ourselves in the same street!"

"Just a thought", said Julian.

"It's such a shame about the promo leaflets though", said Adam "I've just thought of an idea for him. Hilly's first job was driving tractors on a Ministry farm. We could've promoted him as a man of the people. The simple peasent boy who's led an extraordinary life. Like Juan Peron and his working-men followers".

"Oh yes", said Julian "With Tamaz as Evita no doubt! You're a complete ass sometimes".

"Well at least I have ideas", said Adam "I don't just criticise everybody else's. That was always the way with you, Jules".

"Stop acting all hurt, it'll be midnight soon", said Julian "A new year, a new era. I don't want to begin it by having a row with you".

"I don't see why not", said Adam, tartly "We might as well start it as we mean to go on!"

It was the shortest and most low-key election campaign in history. It lasted barely a few days and was conspicuous by nothing happening. A sheet of paper had been pinned to the town hall doors asking people to put down names of prospective candidates who wanted to run, only to have it made clear from various notes delivered to them that Hillyard could proclaim himself Emperor if he wanted to, as long as (a) Codlik and none of the Ministry men were allowed to run the town, and (b) all this new-fangled civil service-style nonsense that had started to creep in should cease forthwith.

Soon after Codlik announced that he was retiring from public life, and was going to live on a small yacht that he had recently purchased, moored a short distance (too short) from the Indigo. Codlik though was born interferer, and still showed every intention of making a perfect menace of himself in town whenever he felt like it. He had already achieved notoriety by attacking the manager of the little tin shed that passed as an exhibition centre, for exhibiting a photograph of a pig being roasted over a fire, taken a few months earlier at the Festival.

"Even a pig should be allowed more dignity in death than that!" he squawked.

Most of the time though he was regarded as a harmless eccentric. He adapted enthusiastically to the boating existence, and provided endless amusement to the other river dwellers by lecturing them on what he perceived as yachting etiquette.

"A yacht should always be referred to as a boat", he said "Toilets as heads. Canvas shoes should be worn on deck at all times [obviously taking no account of rough weather!]. Flirting with the crew, of both sexes, should be actively discouraged".

On hearing all this later Julian had remarked that the man was a complete and utter poseur, and he'd had a great desire to roll around on the floor pissing himself with laughter at all this maritime etiquette.

"He'd have got on like a house on fire with your mother, Jules", said Adam "She could get terribly uptight if someone said serviette instead of a napkin".

"Quite right too", said Julian, unrepentant "It's a horrible word".

"Stuff and nonsense", said Adam "It's only a word".

"My mother was very sensitive to things like that", said Julian, with a wry twist to his lips "The poor dear had to practically lie down once, after you'd announced that your favourite snack was sausage roll covered in lashings of brown sauce! I almost hoped you'd managed to finish her off!"

As Hillyard had been the only candidate there was no need for a vote, let alone a count, so the proclamation of him as the first governor of Toondor Lanpin in the New Era was simply read out from the balcony of the town hall at sunset on Twelfth Night. 'Formalities' over, a celebratory party followed.

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