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    Mr Changeable, Roxie and Karen piled into a taxi to take them back to Karen's Art Deco (qv) gaff. Upon arrival Karen suggested a nightcap to everyone, including the driver. Up until then Mr Changeable had not paid any attention to the cabman. Now he realized that it was Clive. "Don't mind if i do luv. There is not much business this evening sarf of the river so i am at the proverbial loose end" Clive ungraciously replied to the invitation.
    Karen staggered up the steps and after a few attempts managed to get the key in the hole, not before Clive had rudely suggested that "you would find it easier if it had hair around it".
    The motley crew made themselves comfortable in the lounge. Karen opened her Second Empire tantalus with a silver key which she kept on a chain around her neck.
    Tantalus (Ancient Greek: Τάνταλος, Tántalos) was a Greek mythological figure, most famous for his eternal punishment in Tartarus. He was made to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches, with the fruit ever eluding his grasp, and the water always receding before he could take a drink. He was the father of Pelops, Niobe and Broteas, and was a son of Zeus and the nymph Plouto. Thus, like other heroes in Greek mythology such as Theseus and the Dioskouroi, Tantalus had both a hidden, divine parent and a mortal one. He killed his kids,chopped them up and few the to the divine gods.This story is in fable of tantalus.

    There may have been a historical Tantalus – possibly the ruler of an Anatolian city named "Tantalís", "the city of Tantalus", or of a city named "Sipylus" Pausanias reports that there was a port under his name and a sepulchre of him "by no means obscure", in the same region.
    Tantalus is referred to as "Phrygian" and sometimes even as "King of Phrygia", although his city was located in the western extremity of Anatolia where Lydia was to emerge as a state before the beginning of the first millennium BC, and not in the traditional heartland of Phrygia, situated more inland. References to his son as "Pelops the Lydian" led some scholars to the conclusion that there would be good grounds for believing that he belonged to a primordial house of Lydia.
    Other versions name his father as Tmolus, the name of a king of Lydia and, like Sipylus, of another mountain in ancient Lydia. The location of Tantalus' mortal mountain-fathers generally placed him in Lydia; and more seldom in Phrygia or Paphlagonia,all in Asia Minor.
    The identity of his wife is variously given: generally as Dione,but whose name may simply mean "The Goddess," or perhaps as the Pleiad with that name; or as Eurythemista, a daughter of the river-god Xanthus; or Euryanassa, daughter of Pactolus, another river-god,both of them in Anatolia; or Clytia, the child of Amphidamantes. Tantalus, through Pelops, was the founder of the House of Atreus which was named after his grandson. Tantalus was also the Great-grandfather of Agamemnon.
    The geographer Strabo, quoting earlier sources, states that the wealth of Tantalus was derived from the mines of Phrygia and Mount Sipylus. Near Mount Sipylus archaeological features that have been associated with Tantalus and his house since Antiquity. Near Mount Yamanlar in İzmir (ancient Smyrna), where the Lake Karagöl (Lake Tantalus) associated with the accounts surrounding him is found, is a monument mentioned by Pausanias: the tholos "tomb of Tantalus" (later Christianized as "Saint Charalambos' tomb") and another one in Mount Sipylus, and where a "throne of Pelops", an altar or bench carved in rock and conjecturally associated with his son is found. A more famous momument, a full-faced statue carved in rock mentioned by Pausanias is a statue of Cybele, said by Pausianias to have been carved by Broteas is in fact Hittite.
    Further afield, based on a similarity between the names Tantalus and Hantili, it has been suggested that the name Tantalus may have derived from that of these two Hittite kings.

    In mythology, Tantalus became one of the inhabitants of Tartarus, the deepest portion of the Underworld, reserved for the punishment of evildoers; there Odysseus saw him. The association of Tantalus with the underworld is underscored by the names of his mother Plouto ("riches", as in gold and other mineral wealth), and grandmother, Chthonia ("earth").
    Tantalus was initially known for having been welcomed to Zeus' table in Olympus, like Ixion. There he is said to have misbehaved and stolen ambrosia and nectar to bring it back to his people, and revealed the secrets of the gods.
    Most famously, Tantalus offered up his son, Pelops, as a sacrifice. He cut Pelops up, boiled him, and served him up in a banquet for the gods. The gods became aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, so they did not touch the offering; only Demeter, distraught by the loss of her daughter, Persephone, absentmindedly ate part of the boy's shoulder. Clotho, one of the three Fates, ordered by Zeus, brought the boy to life again (she collected the parts of the body and boiled them in a sacred cauldron), rebuilding his shoulder with one wrought of ivory made by Hephaestus and presented by Demeter. The revived Pelops grew to be an extraordinarily handsome youth. The god Poseidon took him to Mount Olympus to teach him to use chariots. Later, Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus due to his anger at Tantalus. The Greeks of classical times claimed to be horrified by Tantalus's doings; cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide were atrocities and taboo.
    Tantalus's punishment for his act, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction (the source of the English word tantalise), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his head towers a threatening stone like the one that Sisyphus is punished to roll up a hill. This fate has cursed him with eternal deprivation of nourishment.
    In a different story, Tantalus was blamed for indirectly having stolen the dog made of gold created by Hephaestus (god of metals and smithing) for Rhea to watch over infant Zeus. Tantalus's friend Pandareus stole the dog and gave it to Tantalus for safekeeping. When asked later by Pandareus to return the dog, Tantalus denied that he had it, saying he "had neither seen nor heard of a golden dog." According to Robert Graves, this incident is why an enormous stone hangs over Tantalus's head. Others state that it was Tantalus who stole the dog, and gave it to Pandareus for safekeeping.
    Tantalus was also the founder of the cursed House of Atreus in which variations on these atrocities continued. Misfortunes also occurred as a result of these acts, making the house the subject of many Greek tragedies. Tantalus's grave-sanctuary stood on Sipylus but honours were paid him at Argos, where local tradition claimed to possess his bones. In Lesbos, there was another hero-shrine in the small settlement of Polion and a mountain named after Tantalos.

    The ancient tale of Tantalus reaffirms that human sacrifice and infanticide are taboo in Ancient and Classical Greek culture. Yet it seems to suggest that human sacrifice had once been offered in archaic times, especially to Demeter.Alternatively, Tantalus can be seen as a Promethean figure who divulges divine secrets to mortals. He presides over sacred initiations consisting of mystic death and transfiguration. His dismemberment of Pelops and Pelops' resurrection can be seen as an archetypal shamanic initiation.

    As you probably have guessed, Karen did not keep her drinks inside a mythical person from Ancient Greece ! A tantalus is nowadays a fancy beverage cabinet which you are likely to find in the home of a bridge-player or golfer. Or in Karen's case a computer hacker.

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    The fierce Amontillado burned fiercely in Mr Changeable's plastic throat. He would normally have chosen a crisp Manzanilla with a hint of almonds and gooseberries, but it would have been churlish to refuse Karen's inferior offering.
    Manzanilla is a variety of fino sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia (Spain). In Spanish, chamomile tea is called "manzanilla", and thus this wine gets the name because the wine's flavour is said to be reminiscent of such tea.
    The sherry is manufactured using the same methods as a fino and results in a very pale, dry wine. In addition, the sherry is often described as having a salty flavour, believed to develop from the fact that it is manufactured on the sea estuary of the Guadalquivir river. Sanlúcar de Barrameda's cool temperatures and high humidity contribute to a higher yield of flor yeast than in Jerez or El Puerto de Santa María. The thicker cap of flor better protects the wine from contact with the air, resulting in a fresher, more delicate flavour than other varieties of fino. It is typically aged for five years in a solera, but some types may be aged longer.

    Manzanilla DO, in the province of Cádiz, region of Andalusia (Spain)
    Manzanilla Pasada is a Manzanilla aged longer than usual (approximately 7 years), so that its veil of flor begins to fade, though not long enough to become an Amontillado.
    Manzanilla Amontillada is similar to a Manzanilla pasada but in some cases aged as long as 12 years, taking on more of the qualities of an Amontillado.
    Manzanilla Olorosa is a rich form of Manzanilla that takes on the quality of Oloroso through extended aging, sometimes as much as 30 years.
    Jerez Cortado is a Palo Cortado made from Manzanilla.
    On 12 April 2012, the rules applicable to the sweet and fortified Denominations of Origen Montilla-Moriles and Jerez-Xérès-Sherry were changed.
    The classification by sweetness is:
    Fortified Wine Type Alcohol % ABV Sugar content
    (grams per litre)
    Fino 15-17 0–5
    Manzanilla 15-17 0–5
    Pale Cream 15.5-22 45–115

    Manzanilla is best served chilled at 7-10°C (45-50˚ F), with olives, almonds, or other tapas such as Jamón serrano or seafood.
    It is also popular with young people in the cocktail Rebujito.

    The fiery liquor transported Mr Changeable in his mind far from the cruel streets of South Norwood to the sunny seaside city of Barcelona where he had spent such a happy year before joining the army. It was there that he had first tried his hand at busking, a talent which would later serve him well in Fish Creek Victoria (qv). At that time he did not have a bassoon ( or English Didgeridoo as it is known ). Instead he would sing strange songs to the accompaniment of a home made drum.
    Soon he was a familiar sight on Las Ramblas and made a steady income from tourists who thought he was a Spanish Lunatic, and locals who thought he was an English Lunatic. He was not complaining ! Some days he earned enough pesetas to finance a visit to the local brothel where he was given a discount in exchange for an hour's musical entertainment.
    His favourite lady of the night was called Esmerelda. She had taught him so many things in the shabby room overlooking the courtyard where they were serenaded by the cicadas.
    Cicadas (/sɪˈkɑːdə/ or pron.: /sɪˈkeɪdə/) are insects in the order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha (which was formerly included in the now invalid suborder Homoptera). Cicadas are in the superfamily Cicadoidea. Their eyes are prominent, though not especially large, and set wide apart on the anterior lateral corners of the frons. The wings are well-developed, with conspicuous veins; in some species the wing membranes are wholly transparent, whereas in many others the proximal parts of the wings are clouded or opaque and some have no significantly clear areas on their wings at all. About 2,500 species of cicada have been described, and many remain to be described. Cicadas live in temperate-to-tropical climates where they are among the most-widely recognized of all insects, mainly due to their large size and unique sound. Cicadas are often colloquially called locusts, although they are unrelated to true locusts, which are various species of swarming grasshopper. Cicadas are related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs.
    Cicadas are benign to humans under normal circumstances and do not bite or sting in a true sense, but may mistake a person's arm or other part of their body for a tree or plant limb and attempt to feed. Cicadas have a long proboscis, under their head, which they insert into plant stems in order to feed on sap. It can be painful if they attempt to pierce a person's skin with it, but it is unlikely to cause other harm. It is unlikely to be a defensive reaction and is a rare occurrence. It usually only happens when they are allowed to rest on a person's body for an extended amount of time.
    Cicadas can cause damage to several cultivated crops, shrubs, and trees, mainly in the form of scarring left on tree branches while the females lay their eggs deep in branches.
    Many people around the world regularly eat cicadas. They are known to have been eaten in Ancient Greece as well as China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, and the Congo. Female cicadas are prized for being meatier. Shells of cicadas are employed in the traditional medicines of China.
    The name is a direct derivation of the Latin cicada, meaning "tree cricket". There is no word of proper English, or indeed Germanic, etymology for the insect. In ancient Greek, it was called a titikas, and in modern Greek tzitzikas—both names being onomatopoeic.

    Cicadas are arranged into two families: Tettigarctidae (q.v.) and Cicadidae. There are two extant species of Tettigarctidae, one in southern Australia, and the other in Tasmania. The family Cicadidae is subdivided into the subfamilies Tettigadinae, Cicadinae, and Cicadettinae, and they exist on all continents except Antarctica. Some previous works also included a family-level taxon called the Tibiceninae.

    The largest cicadas are in the genera Pomponia and Tacua. There are some 200 species in 38 genera in Australia, about 450 in Africa, about 100 in the Palaearctic, and exactly one species in England, the New Forest cicada, Melampsalta montana, widely distributed throughout Europe. There are about 150 species in South Africa.
    Most of the North American species are in the genus Tibicen: the annual or jar fly or dog-day cicadas (so named because they emerge in late July and August). The best-known North American genus is Magicicada, however. These periodical cicadas have an extremely long life cycle of 13 to 17 years and emerge in large numbers. Another American species is the Apache cicada, Diceroprocta apache.
    Australian cicadas differ from many other types because of that continent's diversity of climate and terrain. In Australia, cicadas are found on tropical islands and cold coastal beaches around Tasmania; in tropical wetlands; high and low deserts; alpine areas of New South Wales and Victoria; large cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane; and Tasmanian highlands and snowfields.
    Forty-two species from five genera populate New Zealand, and all are endemic to New Zealand and the surrounding islands (Norfolk Island, New Caledonia).Many New Zealand cicada species differ from those of other countries by being found high up on mountain tops.

    The adult insect, known as an imago, is usually 2 to 5 centimetres (0.79–2.0 in) long, although some tropical species can reach 15 centimetres (5.9 in), e.g. Pomponia imperatoria from Malaysia. Cicadas have prominent eyes set wide apart on the sides of the head, short antennae protruding between or in front of the eyes, and membranous front wings. Also, commonly overlooked, cicadas have three small eyes, or ocelli, located on the top of the head between the two large eyes that match the colour of the large eyes.

    Some species of desert cicadas such as Diceroprocta apache are unusual among insects in that they have been shown to cool themselves by evaporative cooling, analogous to sweating in mammals. When their temperature rises above about 39 °C (102 °F) they suck excess sap from the food plants and extrude the excess water through pores in the tergum, at a modest cost in energy. Such a rate of water loss would kill any insect quite quickly if it could not make it good somehow, but cicadas feed on xylem sap that is so rich in water that at lower temperatures feeding cicadas normally need to excrete the excess anyway. By evaporative cooling desert cicadas can reduce their bodily temperature by some 5°C (9°F).
    Some non-desert cicada species such as Magicicada tredecem also cool themselves by such a mechanism, but less dramatically.
    Conversely, many other cicadas can voluntarily raise their body temperatures as much as 22°C (39.6°F) above ambient temperature.

    Male cicadas have loud noisemakers called "tymbals" on the sides of the abdominal base. Their "singing" is not the stridulation (where one structure is rubbed against another) of many other familiar sound-producing insects like crickets: the tymbals are regions of the exoskeleton that are modified to form a complex membrane with thin, membranous portions and thickened "ribs". Contracting the internal tymbal muscles produces a clicking sound as the tymbals buckle inwards. As these muscles relax, the tymbals return to their original position producing another click. The interior of the male abdomen is substantially hollow to amplify the resonance of the sound. A cicada rapidly vibrates these membranes, and enlarged chambers derived from the tracheae make its body serve as a resonance chamber, greatly amplifying the sound. The cicada modulates the sound by positioning its abdomen toward or away from the substrate. Additionally, each species has its own distinctive "song".
    Average temperature of the natural habitat for the South American species Fidicina rana is approximately 29 °C (84 °F). During sound production, the temperature of the tymbal muscles was found to be significantly higher.[14] Cicadas sing most actively in hot weather and do their most spirited singing during the hotter hours of a summer day, in a roughly 24 hour cycle.
    Although only males produce the cicadas' distinctive sound, both sexes have tympana, which are membranous structures used to detect sounds and thus the cicadas' equivalent of ears. Males can disable their own tympana while calling.
    Some cicadas produce sounds up to 120 dB (SPL), among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds. This is especially notable as their song is technically loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in humans, should the cicada sing just outside the listener's ear. Conversely, some small species have songs so high in pitch that the noise is inaudible to humans.[6] Species have different mating songs to ensure they attract the appropriate mate. It can be difficult to determine from which direction(s) a cicada song is coming, because the low pitch carries well and because it may, in fact, be coming from many directions at once, as cicadas in various trees may make noise in unison.
    In addition to the mating song, many species also have a distinct distress call, usually a somewhat broken and erratic sound emitted when an individual is seized. A number of species also have a courtship song, which is often a quieter call and is produced after a female has been drawn by the calling song.

    Cicadas live underground as nymphs for most of their lives, at depths ranging from about 30 centimetres (0.98 ft) down to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft). The nymphs feed on root juice and have strong front legs for digging.
    In the final nymphal instar, they construct an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge. They then molt (shed their skins) on a nearby plant for the last time and emerge as adults. The abandoned exoskeleton remains, still clinging to the bark of trees.

    Cicada nymphs suck sap from the xylem of various species of tree, including oak, cypress, willow, ash, and maple. While it is common folklore that adults do not eat, in reality they do have their own sucking mouthparts, and also drink plant sap.
    After mating, the female cuts slits into the bark of a twig, and into these she deposits her eggs. She may do so repeatedly, until she has laid several hundred eggs. When the eggs hatch, the newly hatched nymphs drop to the ground, where they burrow. Most cicadas go through a life cycle that lasts from two to five years. Some species have much longer life cycles, such as the North American genus, Magicicada, which has a number of distinct "broods" that go through either a 17-year or, in some parts of the world, a 13-year life cycle. These long life cycles perhaps developed as a response to predators, such as the cicada killer wasp and praying mantis. A predator with a shorter life cycle of at least two years could not reliably prey upon the cicadas.

    Cicadas are commonly eaten by birds, and sometimes by squirrels, but Massospora cicadina (a fungal disease) is the biggest enemy of cicadas. Another known predator is the cicada killer wasp. In eastern Australia, the native freshwater fish Australian bass are keen predators of cicadas that crash-land on the surface of streams.
    Some species of cicada also have an unusual defense mechanism to protect themselves from predation, known as predator satiation: because so many emerge at once, the number of cicadas in any given area exceeds the amount predators can eat; all available predators are thus satiated, and the remaining cicadas can breed in peace. Cicada nymphs suck sap from the xylem of various species of tree, including oak, cypress, willow, ash, and maple. While it is common folklore that adults do not eat, in reality they do have their own sucking mouthparts, and also drink plant sap.

    Around 220 cicada species have been identified in Australia, many of which go by common names such as: cherry nose, brown baker, red eye (Psaltoda moerens), green grocer/green Monday, yellow Monday, whisky drinker, double drummer (Thopha saccata), and black prince. The Australian green grocer, Cyclochila australasiae, is among the loudest insects in the world.
    Being principally tropical insects, most Australian species are found in the northern states. However, cicadas occur in almost every part of Australia: the hot wet tropical north; Tasmanian snowfields; Victorian beaches and sand dunes such as Torquay and deserts. Some species, such as the Green Grocer, are not restricted to coastal or desert zones in Victoria. Each year for a period of a few weeks, an astonishing number of newly mature Green Grocer Cicadas emerge from the ground. Their numbers, combined with the ear shattering noise produced by a single adult male, are sufficient to make their entrance throughout suburbia absolutely unmistakable and 'Cicada Season' as some Victorian residents know this time, is clearly noticeable even in central business district areas of major cities such as Bendigo and Melbourne where this species flourish. According to Max Moulds of the Australian Museum in Sydney, "the 'green grocer' is unusual in its ability to adapt perfectly to the urbanized environment." Cicadsa sounds are a defining quality of Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra during late spring and the summer months.

    Cicadas inhabit both native and exotic plants, including tall trees, coastal mangroves, suburban lawns, and desert shrubbery. The great variety of flora and climatic variation found in north-eastern Queensland results in its being the richest region for the spread of different species. The area of greatest species diversity is a 100 km (60 mi) wide region around Cairns. In some areas, they are preyed on by the cicada killer wasp (Exeirus lateritius), which stings and stuns cicadas high in the trees, making them drop to the ground where the cicada-hunter mounts and carries them, pushing with its hind legs, sometimes over a distance of a hundred meters, till they can be shoved down into its burrow, where the numb cicada is placed onto one of many shelves in a 'catacomb', to form the food-stock for the wasp grub that grows out of the egg deposited there.

    In France, the cicada is used to represent the folklore of Provence and Mediterranean cities (although some species live in Alsace or the Paris Basin).
    In the Ancient Greek myth, Tithonus eventually turns into a cicada after being granted immortality, but not eternal youth, by Zeus.
    The cicada has represented insouciance since classical antiquity. Jean de La Fontaine began his collection of fables Les fables de La Fontaine with the story La Cigale et la Fourmi (The Cicada and the Ant) based on one of Aesop's fables: in it the cicada spends the summer singing while the ant stores away food, and finds herself without food when the weather turns bitter.
    In Japan, the cicada is associated with the summer season. The songs of the cicada are often used in Japanese film and television to indicate the scene is taking place in the summer. The song of Meimuna opalifera, called "tsuku-tsuku boshi", is said to indicate the end of summer, and it is called so because of its particular call. During the summer, it is a pastime for children to collect both cicadas and the shells left behind when moulting.
    Since the cicada emerges from the ground to sing every summer, in Japan it is seen as a symbol of reincarnation. Of special importance is the fact that the cicada moults, leaving behind an empty shell. But furthermore, since the cicada only lives for the short period of time long enough to attract a mate with its song and complete the process of fertilization, they are seen as a symbol of evanescence.
    In the Japanese novel The Tale of Genji, the title character poetically likens one of his many love interests to a cicada for the way she delicately sheds her scarf the way a cicada sheds its shell when molting. A cicada shell also plays a role in the manga Winter Cicada. They are also a frequent subject of haiku, wherein, depending on type, they can indicate spring, summer, or fall. Also, in the series Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, cicadas (or higurashi) are a major subject.
    In China, the phrase "to shed off the golden cicada skin" is the poetic name of the tactic of using deception to escape danger, specifically of using decoys (leaving the old shell) to fool enemies. It became one of the 36 classic Chinese strategems. In the Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (14th Century), Diaochan also got her name from the sable (diāo) tails and jade decorations in the shape of cicadas (chán), which at the time adorned the hats of high-level officials. In the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West (16th Century), the protagonist Priest of Tang was named the Golden Cicada; in this context the multiple shedding of shell of the cicada symbolizes the many stages of transformation required of a person before all illusions have been broken and one reaches enlightenment. This is also referred to in Japanese mythical ninja lore, as the technique of utsusemi (i.e., literally cicada), where ninjas would trick opponents into attacking a decoy.
    Javanese version of cycle of months, called pranata mangsa, uses cicadas sound as an indicator of the beginning of dry season (April–May). Farmers who still depend on rain irrigation will interpret this as time for planting of non-rice crops.
    Cicadas play a major role in the short story collection, The Society On Da Run: Dragons and Cicadas. They are sacred to dragons and are worshipped as gods.
    In Mexico, the mariachi song "La Cigarra" (lit. "The Cicada") romanticises the insect as a creature that sings until it dies.
    In Tuscany, the Italian word for the cicada (cicala) is the euphemism for "vagina" used by children (the usage is equivalent to "fanny" in British/Australian English).

    The memory of the thrumming cicadas then turned his feverish mind to the terrifying hallucination of the beetle-soldier induced by the toxic fugu fish. The fumes of the sherry combined with the powerful organic compounds lurking in his system to induce an even more bizarre vision:

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    In a grotesque parody of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice he saw a naked ghostly Roxie being possessed by the hideous beetle-man whilst he was restrained by her corporeal being. A huge purple creature with flailing tentacles menaced him as he tried to rescue his wanton partner from the realm of darkness.
    What will happen to Mr Changeable ? Will he be dragged across the River Styx to the realm of Hades ? Will the real Roxie prevail and rescue him from his vain phantasms ?
    All will be revealed in the next enthralling episode of Mr Changeable and the Dolls of Doom

    Mr Changeable's limbs felt like lead wading through treacle whilst encased in concrete trousers. He tried to pursue the ghostly shade of Roxie down the dark twisty path overhung by gnarled thorntrees which tore mercilessly at his plastic thorax. Roxie and the beetle-monster were almost out of sight when they stopped. A few minutes later Mr Changeable caught up with them. They were at the edge of a foaming river. The Styx, he assumed. The beetle-monster was summoning a ferryman from the opposite bank. It was Charon, the guardian of the threshold. In the prow of the boat was his fearsome three-headed dog Mr Woofs.
    In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon (/ˈkɛərɒn/ or /ˈkɛərən/; Greek Χάρων) is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin to pay Charon for passage, usually an obolus or danake, was sometimes placed in or on the mouth of a dead person. Some authors say that those who could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were left unburied, had to wander the shores for one hundred years. In the catabasis mytheme, heroes — such as Heracles, Orpheus, Aeneas, Dante, Dionysus and Psyche — journey to the underworld and return, still alive, conveyed by the boat of Charon.

    The name Charon is most often explained as a proper noun from χάρων (charon), a poetic form of χαρωπός (charopós), “of keen gaze”, referring either to fierce, flashing, or feverish eyes, or to eyes of a bluish-gray color. The word may be a euphemism for death. Flashing eyes may indicate the anger or irascibility of Charon as he is often characterized in literature, but the etymology is not certain. The ancient historian Diodorus Siculus thought that the ferryman and his name had been imported from Egypt.

    Charon is depicted frequently in the art of ancient Greece. Attic funerary vases of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. are often decorated with scenes of the dead boarding Charon’s boat. On the earlier such vases, he looks like a rough, unkempt Athenian seaman dressed in reddish-brown, holding his ferryman's pole in his right hand and using his left hand to receive the deceased. Hermes sometimes stands by in his role as psychopomp. On later vases, Charon is given a more “kindly and refined” demeanor.
    In the 1st century BC., the Roman poet Virgil describes Charon in the course of Aeneas’s descent to the underworld (Aeneid, Book 6), after the Cumaean Sibyl has directed the hero to the golden bough that will allow him to return to the world of the living:
    There Chairon stands, who rules the dreary coast -
    A sordid god: down from his hairy chin
    A length of beard descends, uncombed, unclean;
    His eyes, like hollow furnaces on fire;
    A girdle, foul with grease, binds his obscene attire.
    Other Latin authors also describe Charon, among them Seneca in his tragedy Hercules Furens, where Charon is described in verses 762-777 as an old man clad in foul garb, with haggard cheeks and an unkempt beard, a fierce ferryman who guides his craft with a long pole. When the boatman tells Hercules to halt, the Greek hero uses his strength to gain passage, overpowering Charon with the boatman's own pole.
    In the second century, Lucian employed Charon as a figure in his Dialogues of the Dead, most notably in Parts 4 and 10 (“Hermes and Charon” and “Charon and Hermes”).

    In the Divine Comedy, Charon forces reluctant sinners onto his boat by beating them with his oar. (Gustave Doré, 1857)
    In the 14th century, Dante Alighieri described Charon in his Divine Comedy, drawing from Virgil's depiction in Aeneid 6. Charon is the first named mythological character Dante meets in the underworld, in the third canto of Inferno. Elsewhere, Charon appears as a cranky, skinny old man or as a winged demon wielding a double hammer, although Michelangelo's interpretation, influenced by Dante's depiction in Inferno, canto 3, shows him with an oar over his shoulder, ready to beat those who delay (“batte col remo qualunque s'adagia”, Inferno 3, verse 111). In modern times, he is commonly depicted as a living skeleton in a cowl, much like the Grim Reaper.

    Most accounts, including Pausanias (10.28) and later Dante's Inferno (3.78), associate Charon with the swamps of the river Acheron. Ancient Greek literary sources — such as Pindar, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, and Callimachus — also place Charon on the Acheron. Roman poets, including Propertius, Ovid, and Statius, name the river as the Styx, perhaps following the geography of Virgil’s underworld in the Aeneid, where Charon is associated with both rivers.

    Charon asked his traditional question of the three travellers "Who pays the ferryman ?". In other words who was leaving the world of the living for the shades of Hades ? "Sorry Pal, i left my wallet at Karen's " said Mr Changeable. "My purse is in my other handbag " said Roxie's ghost. "Guess it's down to me... again " moaned the Colonel, scrabbling in the pocket of his uniform with his beetle claw. "Do you take plastic ?"
    Charon spat lavishly and rowed away, leaving the little group nonplussed at the edge of the foaming torrent.
    "Well, this is awkward" said Mr Changeable. "How about we return to the land of the living and have a nice cuppa ?" he asked.
    "Ooooh, i could murder a cuppa and a hobnob right now" chipped in Roxie's ghost.
    "You fools, do not make light of the powers of darkness" retorted the beetle-headed one. "Your destiny is sealed in blood".
    "Whatever Trevor. Come on Roxie's ghost, we're out of here !" Mr Changeable ejaculated. He clicked the heels of his muddy army boots three times and found himself transported back into Karen's kitchen where Roxie was awaking from a deep sleep.
    "Hi Geoff, i just had the weirdest dream ? We were in some ghastly place trying to cross this, like, river ? And this weird beetle-guy was weirding off on us ? I guess we must have picked some dodgy fugu last night ."
    Mr Changeable gave Roxie a big hug. She responded warmly and soon they were hard at it up against the cereal packets.

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    • Thread Starter

    not quite sure if this would flow or not but

    just then Roxie saw karen and ben coming so both she and mr changable suddenly stopped and froze, "Oh ben" Karen yelled as she saw her roxie doll which she use to love playing with when she was a kid and mr changable just lying about

    Just then Karen came into the kitchen to mend the window through which the Colonel had burst before being transformed into the hideous beetle-hybrid.
    "Oh sorry guys i did not realise you were having an intimate moment !" Karen apologized to the copulating couple. "Just ignore me !"
    Roxie was unable to answer but Mr Changeable gasped "Nearly finiiiiiiiissshed ! Yes oh yes baby !" and fell back panting onto the carrara marble worktop.

    For the rest of that glorious summer Mr Changeable and Roxie enjoyed non-stop nookie. They did it in all of the rooms of Karen's Art Deco apartment, in the garden, and especially in South Norwood Country Park. Roxie developed a deep over-all tan from her prolonged outdoors romping, whilst Mr Changeable's already oaken hues deepened to mahogany.
    As summer imperceptibly passed into autumn Roxie started to feel bored. Geoff only wanted her for one thing. She was a 21st century doll and deserved better.
    One late September day Mr Changeable woke up to find himself alone in the Cat Igloo which served as his and Roxie's bedroom. There was a note on the pillow in Roxie's childish scrawl. "Do not try to find me. It was fun knowing you. Roxie"
    He hastily put on his military trousers and combat jacket then went to give Karen the news. She was not surprised; Roxie had hinted that she would be leaving a few days earlier.
    Karen was lying back against her luxury pillows, enjoying a rare lie-in.
    "Hey Geoff there are plenty more fish in the sea hun. Would you like me to fix you up with a date for tonight ?"
    "Karen my life is over. Roxie was the only woman for me, despite being made of high-tensile polyethylene. We were true soulmates."
    He crawled into Karen's bed and snuggled up against her 8 month bump. He could hear the occupant moving around.
    "Have you decided what to call your baby ?"
    "Well i thought that if he is a boy then Siegmund would be nice. Maybe Sieglinde for a girl ?"
    "Yes i hear that Wagner is very hot among the alpha-mums of South Norwood. Denise who lives opposite the crematorium called her twins Fasolt and Fafner. They are very big. Like Denise, actually"
    • Thread Starter

    i bet that ben would be suprised to find another toy to play with, but has there ever been a moment where roxie and mr changable freeze when ever ben and or karen were coming or around because when i first started this story it was meant to be like that because i wanted it to be a toy story type story, don't think that i'm bad mouthing all the good ideas and that because i'm not

    Meanwhile Roxie was wasting no time getting her rocks off elsewhere. On her first evening out after leaving Karen's she went to her local Wetherspoon's and picked up a hunky Action Doll. However he insisted that they swap clothing. The final straw was when he insisted on calling her Abdul.

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    The following day she was shopping at Tesco when she came across a strapping commando doll by the reduced vegetable shelf. He helped her to pick out some lovely broccoli down to 22p. He was very adventurous when they got home. Roxie had moved into a disused pickle factory on the edge of South Norwood Country Park. The weather was still pleasantly warm but she was worried about the coming winter months. The only other inhabitant was Old Harry the homeless person who kept a fatherly eye on her.
    The commando was called Len and he was as hard as nails. Plastic nails.
    He insisted that Roxie ride around the bathroom on a plastic inflatable cow in her wedding dress. She was so infatuated with her beau that she complied willingly, finding the experience curiously stimulating. Soon she was being ravished under the hot tap by her plastic partner.

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    Mr Changeable realized that the problem lay within him. Although he was physically attractive and able to satisfy the carnal cravings of his plastic paramours his lack of intellectual breadth meant he was doomed to a series of meaningless encounters of the grossest kind.
    He vowed to improve himself. Slowly but surely he turned his intellectual life around. He started listening to the wireless. At first he could only cope with the moronic output of Radio 1... but after 6 months felt confident enough to switch to Radio 2. After a year he plucked up courage to phone in to Terry Wogan's show on the topic of Australian culture, but lost his nerve and hung up.
    Despite this setback he persevered and eventually one beautiful Autumn day in 2001 he switched over to Radio 4.
    Alas this was the 11th September and he could not have predicted the awful events which swamped the airwaves.
    By this time he had been with Karen for 5 years. Roxie had left 4 years ago but it still felt like yesterday. Karen's son Ben was now a boisterous 5 year old, although he had not been fully weaned, and still preferred to be transported by pram rather than use his chubby legs to get around. He formed a close relationship with Mr Changeable although this did involve considerable amounts of doll abuse, including hurling, dunking and limb-removal. Fortunately Mr Changeable's limbs were usually able to be re-inserted. Sometimes Karen had to order new ones off ebay. On one occasion she was unable to find a replacement right arm so had to use a spare one which Roxie had left behind.
    Mr Changeable soon adapted to his slender limb and was able to use it proficiently. However it seemed that the limb was in some way still connected to Roxie and would suddenly start doing lady-tasks without any input from its hyper-masculine owner. Karen would watch fascinated as it grasped her lipstick and applied it to Mr Changeable's rugged plastic lips.
    On other occasions in the kitchen it would try to do the washing up, much to Karen's amusement.
    In the bathroom Mr Changeable would be unable to leave until the willowy limb had put down the dunny seat after his morning ablutions.
    Despite these minor problems life in South Norwood was good for the unusual household. They all missed Roxie, even Ben, whose only encounters with her were pre-natal.
    Karen had put up fliers around the neighbourhood for the first few months after Roxie disappeared. The police were not interested in a missing plastic doll and advised Karen to seek professional help. An advertisement in the South Norwood Examiner, incorporating The Beckenham Charivari, yielded a few false leads by timewasters hoping to claim the £143 reward.
    Local clairvoyant Claire Voyant was a desperate last throw for Karen. After handing over £115.30 Karen watched the overweight fraud go into a trance and channel the spirit of her Guide whom she referred to as "Uncle Jim".
    In an unconvincing Leeds accent she said "Goodness gracious young lady. Come a bit closer to Uncle Jim. That's nice. Now then now then i hear you've lost your dolly ! Uncle Jim will try to fix it for you to get Roxie back. Now close your eyes and put your hand there. No peeping ! Oooh that's good. Now then, i'm getting some interesting vibrations. A bit closer please. Your dolly says she is in a proper pickle ! Something about a tramp round a lake. She's fading away now, goodness gracious !"
    Ms Voyant came out of her trance and lit a John Player's Superking. "Did the spirits help you my dear ?" she asked.
    Roxie replied that she needed to ponder the message from Uncle Jim and would be in touch if she needed any further consultations."Just remember dear, there are so many frauds and charlatans out there. You made the right choice with me".
    Karen bade farewell to the ghastly medium and returned to her Art Deco Flat.
    She wrote down the details of the encounter with the spiritualist in her special diary. The creepy message from "Uncle Jim" was recorded in her neat writing. Unfortunately Karen's school had banned joined-up writing as bourgeois and elitist. She wrote everything in CAPITAL LETTERS.
    Each evening before switching off her Tiffany bedside lamp she would read the message again. DOLLY IS IN A PICKLE. A TRAMP ROUND A LAKE.
    Each morning as she jogged past the disused pickle factory on her way round the lake Karen would wave to Old Harry the tramp. The conundrum teased and taunted her. What on earth could it mean ? Where could she begin to search for Roxie ? To whom could she turn ?
    A Tiffany lamp is a type of lamp with a glass shade made with glass designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his design studio. The most famous was the stained leaded glass lamp. Tiffany lamps are considered part of the Art Nouveau movement.

    The first Tiffany lamp was created around 1895. Each lamp was handmade by skilled craftsmen, not mass- or machine-produced. Its designer was not, as had been thought for over 100 years, Louis Comfort Tiffany, but a previously unrecognized artist named Clara Driscoll was identified in 2007 by Rutgers professor Martin Eidelberg as being the master designer behind the most creative and valuable leaded glass lamps produced by Tiffany Studios.
    Tiffany's first business venture was an interior design firm in New York, for which he designed stained glass windows.
    Most of his lamps can be grouped into one of seven specific categories:
    Irregular upper border
    Irregular lower border
    Transition to flowers,
    Flowered cone
    Flowered globe
    The Irregular Upper and Lower Border lamps carry an openwork crown edge that helps to simulate a branch, tree, or shrubbery. The Favrile category, which means handcrafted, identifies the first lamps Tiffany made with this label. His initials LCT, later replaced the Favrile stamp. The Geometric category, done primarily by the male craftsman, speaks for itself. The Tiffany craftsman used geometric shapes such as triangles, squares, rectangles, and ovals to form these patterns for these lamps. Next is the Transition to Flowers group, which is subdivided into the Flowered Cone and Globe lamps. All of these lamps follow a nature, or botanical, design using flowers, dragonflies, spiders with webs, butterflies, and peacock feathers. The difference within these two smaller categories is the difference in the lamp shapes, basically a cone and a globe.

    Aside from their categorization every lamp is prepared by using the copper foil method. First a pattern for the lamp is drawn out on a heavy piece of cardboard. Next a number and glass color is written on the pattern piece. After the pattern is drawn and labeled, the glass is laid over it and traced. Once the pattern is traced onto the glass, the pieces can be cut and ground to their correct shape. Next the pieces need to be cleaned so the copper foil can be applied to the edges. The copper foil solution allows the pieces to adhere together. After the lamp has been placed accordingly and it is fully bonded, the edges need to be soldered together for a firm hold. Finally after the lamp has been soldered it is cleaned to bring out its beauty.

    Karen was addicted to jogging. After Ben's birth she had waited patiently for three hours until she felt able to resume her 15 mile daily run. The fresh air and vigourous exercise did her so much good. Some of her most creative hacking ideas came to her in the park. Still the message from the beyond frustrated her. PICKLE, TRAMP, LAKE... what on earth could the ethereal Northern Pervert have meant ? Today Karen decided that she would take a slightly different course; she detoured around the Duck Pond instead of going straight past the pickle factory,although it would mean missing her encounter with Old Harry the tramp by the lake. She had a vivid flashback to the day five years ago when she first met Mr Changeable. At the time the embarrassment factor had been way off the scale. Now they were able to have a right giggle about it. She glanced at the unhygienic water and decided not to go for a swim.
    She hoped against hope that Roxie was still alive, although she realised that the chances of that were in reality very slender indeed. Most doll disappearances resulted in a sad corpse being found in a ditch or hedgerow in the following days or weeks. The alternative was perhaps more disturbing. She imagined Roxie being held in some dank cellar and used as a plaything by some degenerate deviant who managed to show a normal face to the unsuspecting neighbours and maintained the facade of a dull suburban civil servant or management drone whilst secretly harbouring unspeakable lusts which he, for it was inevitably an man, satisfied in the secret lair behind the lace curtains whilst his neighbours watched foolish talent shows or cookery contests on TV.

    Mr Changeable grew to like Radio 4 and enjoyed the soothing tones of the lady presenters. Sue McGregor, Libby Purves, Cathy Clugston. So clever but yet Mum-like. Like Karen but with University Education.
    He looked forward to Thought For The Day and The Bottom Line. He had initially expected the latter programme to be about more physical matters but the hard-hitting business show kindled an ambition to succeed in the world of companies and boardrooms.
    But first he must become qualified. And that meant University. But Mr Changeable soon discovered that his lack of qualifications barred him from all but the least demanding courses. With Karen's help he applied to the University of South Norwood for a four year BA in Portable Food Studies. It was a sandwich course.
    Fortunately they took into account his impeccable military record. Mr Changeable thought it best to gloss over the murder of his commanding officer Rupert and merely hinted at an unfortunate background of deprivation and abuse which he was sure could be overcome by obtaining the degree.
    The interview panel was chaired by Lorraine Ubunga-McLintock, the sister of Ben's appalling ex-headmistress. She did not approve of the military or indeed of any form of restriction on creative expression.
    "Have you thought how you could contribute to our student body if you joined us Mr ermm Changeable ?" she asked suspiciously "Perhaps you would like to join one of the many societies or informal groups. This year the LGBT federation are actively recruiting for members..." Mr Changeable realized that this was his chance impress the egregious leftie. "Oh wow ! I was really hoping to join the LGBT. What an amazing coincidence ! I hope that my disabled arm would not prevent me from playing a full part in their activities. And please call me Geoff ! "
    He had pressed exactly the right buttons and as he revealed his thin lady-arm by rolling up the right sleeve of his army jumper Lorraine embraced him in an overpowering but somehow empowering hug. "Welcome, welcome little man. South Norwood University welcomes you Geoff !". The other panel members burst into applause and joined Lorraine and Mr Changeable in a sweaty group hug.

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    A few weeks later Mr Changeable was sitting at his tiny desk upstairs at Karen's. He was having an all-nighter trying to write his first essay. Despite intensive searches of Wikipedia he was making very little progress on the topic of "Crusts: On or Off ?".
    He dimly remembered his mother encouraging him to eat the crusts on his sandwiches to promote curly hair. He ran his girlish right hand through his bristly barnet. There was not much curliness there. Thankfully he was not in any danger of going bald like so many chaps of his age, although the jury was out on the link between alopecia and crust removal.
    He had written twenty three words. In desperation he removed all the hyphens and was gratified to see the word count shoot up to twenty eight. Only one thousand nine hundred and seventy seven to go...
    At that moment Karen popped her head round the door. Her face was covered in a gooey mask of Dead Sea Mud which she had obtained at vast expense from the internet. "Hey little guy ! I am going to the shops in a minute. Do you need anything ?" she asked.
    He hated being called little guy... it was so insensitive of Karen. "Hey angel tits, maybe you could get a selection of sandwiches ? You can choose the flavours." "Sure hun... crusts on or off ?"
    Mr Changeable groaned.

    More than 35 different types of minerals can be found in the Dead Sea's waters, and many people vouch wholeheartedly for the life-altering qualities these minerals possess. In fact, these minerals are considered so valuable that a company called Dead Sea Works has 1,600 employees who work day and night to harvest them. The mineral salts are believed to cure or alleviate the symptoms of ailments ranging from skin problems such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis to rheumatic diseases, like various forms of arthritis and fibromyalgia.
    The Dead Sea Research Center proposes a seven-step treatment program for clients seeking dermatological relief. To begin, the patient spends some time in the sun on the banks of the Dead Sea -- the sun's harmful UV rays are filtered due to the high atmospheric pressure in the area. This step is followed by a bath in the Dead Sea itself, then application of emollient creams, thermo-mineral baths and mud soaks, scalp treatment, optional psychological counseling and a follow-up consultation with a medical professional. Treatments for the rheumatoid diseases are more varied but often include sulfur baths, salt baths, sodium chloride baths, and of course, baths in the Dead Sea itself.
    Patients dealing with respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease and cystic fibrosis often benefit from the area's high oxygen levels, coupled with the environment's low pollution and allergen levels. The Dead Sea Research Center claims that these factors allow patients the opportunity to get their symptoms under control without relying so heavily on medical equipment. Dead Sea therapy is also used to treat Crohn's Disease, orthopedic ailments, heart disease and hypertension
    Tourists who don't seek the Dead Sea for specific health treatments can enjoy the water simply for relaxation. In fact, thanks to its unbelievably high mineral content, the Dead Sea is incredibly dense. This high-density level allows people to float without any effort whatsoever -- they are able to read books or bob carelessly in the water. Some Dead Sea swimmers think of the water as a natural health spa: The water, minerals, mud and sunlight have naturally nourishing effects on skin. Black mud found along the shoreline is also rich in minerals and is often used in skin treatments.
    Many famous visitors have flocked to the Dead Sea over the years to experience its positive effects, including Cleopatra and King Herod the Great.
    Although the Dead Sea may be biologically dead, it maintains its historical ability to nourish the mind and body through its therapeutic qualities. Life may not be sustainable within its waters, but it most certainly thrives along its shores.

    Suddenly Mr Changeable had an idea. He would simply invent lots of "facts" about crust-ology and nobody would be any the wiser...
    He deleted the twenty eight words on his screen and began again:
    "Did your mother tell you to eat your crusts ? Perhaps you should have paid attention ! Far from being an old wives' tale scientists in New Mexico have discovered that children who eat bread with the crust on go on to earn 15% above the median in later life. They report a 33% increase in levels of life satisfaction and greatly reduced incidence of nervous ailments and debility. Moreover a survey of Nobel Laureates across all disciplines revealed that no fewer than 97% of them consumed bread with crusts on.
    It is unclear whether the type of bread made a significant difference, but the groundswell of opinion among dieticians in the bread industry is that wholegrain with crusts on is a game changer."
    Yes, he thought to himself, that is much better. Now to invent some references...

    The following Thursday Mr Changeable was sitting in a conference room on the first floor of Bin Laden House, one of several hideous concrete buildings on the campus of South Norwood University. He was taking part in a symposium organized by the egregious leftie Ms Ubunga-McClintock, who was Dean of Food Studies as well as Senior Admissions Tutor, Wicca Chaplain and various other key roles.
    Her whiny Estuary English voice contrasted hideously with her tent-like African tribal clothes. "And now it is my pleasure to introduce one of our newest students who is already making his mark on the Department of Food Studies.
    Mr Geoff Changeable. Geoff will read from his first essay which i have recommended for the Pol Pot Trophy for Most Promising Freshman. Geoff"
    Mr Changeable blushed and rose to his tiny plastic feet. "Madame Chair, thank you for that kind introduction. I must admit that being RPGed by Terry Taliban was far less terrifying than facing you lot !"
    A ghastly silence greeted his unfortunate quip. The Taliban were, after all, fighting against the British and Americans so were really the good guys.
    He hurried on and began reading from his ground breaking essay on crusts.
    After twenty minutes he came to the final paragraph:
    "And so it is with some confidence that I can predict that in the very near future a combination of gene splicing and advanced heuristic algorithms will enable scientists to optimize the bread-mouth interface, which has heretofore been known as "crusts", whilst retaining the follicular benefits arising therefrom. I thank you."
    For several seconds the room was enveloped in a pregnant silence then one after the other the attendees rose to their feet and applauded wildly. Ms Ubunba-McClintock swept Mr Changeable to her enormous bosom and then held him aloft. All thoughts of his Taliban-related blunder were forgotten. "Comrades we have seen the future today. Let us celebrate with our traditional South Norwood dance."
    With that she began to shake her vast booty and to move round the conference room, gathering followers as she went.
    Mr Changeable was wedged into her crevasse-like cleavage as the conga grew until the whole department was swaying rhythmically around the worn linoleum floor.
    After ten minutes the dancing subsided and seats were resumed. Ms Unbunga-McClintock stood up and addressed her colleagues:
    "Comrades, friends. I have decided on your behalf to mark this auspicious event in the history of Food Studies by offering Geoff Changeable a Readership with immediate effect. Would all those in favour say Yo !"
    A deafening chorus of Yos ! broke out. One or two members of the faculty were less enthusiastic, but found the gimlet eyes of their Leader boring into them and decided that perhaps it would be better to join in with the general hysteria.
    "Geoff, welcome to the faculty. You can move into the office next to mine. Ms Peterson will no longer be needing it."
    Jenny Peterson had incurred the wrath of the egregious Ms Ubunga-McClintock by suggesting that fried chicken was a valuable dietary component in the ethnic population of South Norwood and Croydon.
    "Madame Chair, this is a most unexpected honour. Is it not the case that tenure is only offered to the possessors of a degree ?" asked Mr Changeable hesitantly.
    "This is true Geoff. On behalf of the Praelectors of South Norwood University i confer on you the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Congratulations Doctor Changeable !".

    Following his ground breaking essay on Crusts the whole of Sarf London's Academia beat a path to Mr Changeable's door. He had to turn down countless invitations to open this lecture theatre or that student accommodation block. Ms Ubunga-McClintock basked in his reflected glory and dropped several not-so-subtle hints that she would not be unwilling to help him with his physical requirements.
    But Mr Changeable was still holding a torch for the missing Roxie and declined the advances of the egregious leftie and the many other academic groupies who wanted to check his attributions.
    He was still living at Karen's and accompanying her and Ben on their daily meanderings around South Norwood Country Park before spending the afternoons crafting more ground breaking papers in the field of portable nutrition.
    Karen had explained about the mysterious messsage from the Beyond. "Surely two heads are better than one, Geoff" "This is a real two pipe problem Karen. PICKLE, TRAMP, LAKE. This would have foxed the sleuth of Baker Street ! It is more puzzling than the puzzles in Dan Brown's puzzle packed publications..." he said as they passed the pickle factory on their way to see Old Harry the tramp by the lake.
    "Perhaps it is actually PICKEREL rather than PICKLE" he mused." A pickerel is a freshwater fish which one might find in a LAKE ! Could Roxie have been eaten by a pike or other member of the genus Esox which are grouped together under the pickerel umbrella ?"
    "I see where you are coming from Geoff, but where does TRAMP fit in ? I think that PICKEREL is a RED HERRING" giggled Karen.
    Meanwhile Ben was excitedly pointing at the factory and then the old tramp and then the lake. "Mummy Roxie Mummy Roxie !!" he shouted over and over. Karen smiled indulgently at him and said "Hey Ben we are looking for Roxie you clever boy. Mummy is trying to solve a mystery ! Do you know what is a mystery little man ?"
    Ben gave up pointing and screamed "You ****ing bell-end of course i know what a cocksucking mystery is. Roxie is in the pickle factory not a ******* fish ! The tramp is Old Harry and the lake is the buggering lake you bunch of tossers !"
    Roxie and Mr Changeable gasped in amazement. Ben had managed to solve the conundrum..."Roxie is in a pickle... of course... the disused pickle factory " Karen stuttered. "A tramp round a lake... that must be Old Harry. He lives in the old pickle factory and is often found in the vicinity of the lake ! Roxie must be with him ! How could we have not seen that ?".

    Mr Changeable believed deeply in the saying "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". He made sure that as well as working hard on his ground-breaking theories of portable food-ology he spent time socializing with the other young folk who attended South Norwood University. Most evenings he was to be found holding forth at the Ak Bar in the students' union building surrounded by adoring groovy food-student chicks... he hardly ever had to pay for his own drinks !
    At his interview Ms Ubunga-McClintock had been delighted to hear of his interest in the University LGBT Federation and a week after he arrived on campus she asked him to attend a talk that her sister Grace was giving that evening.
    Mr Changeable was slightly surprised that the trendy headmistress would have been up to speed on Local Government Business Trends, but was willing to listen to keep her sister happy. Instead of banging on about the finer points of Business Rates and Enterprise Zones the ghastly woman spent half an hour complaining about how the children at her school were brainwashed by the media into believing they were all heterosexual. One child in particular had been vociferous in his rejection of her teachings. His name was Ben.
    Mr Changeable decided to give the rest of the meeting a miss, although this meant forgoing the fairy cakes and turnovers provided afterwards.
    A few days later an invitation on embossed card was slipped under the door of his office.He was invited to become a member of the Porringer Club. This was a secret organisation for closet T*ries. Meetings were held on the first Friday of each month in the freezer aisle of the local Waitrose. Members would pretend to be browsing the frozen Bressingham Ducks but in reality they were whispering controversial ideas such as Free Trade and Benefit Capping to each other.
    The manager of the supermarket tolerated their meetings as his son had been an enthusiastic member of the Porringer before being sent down from the University for possessing a photograph of Margaret Thatcher. It had fallen out of his wallet while he was being strip searched by the campus security guards.
    The elaborate precautions taken by the members of the Porringer to avoid discovery were somewhat nullified by the distinctive uniforms which they wore at all times.

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    After their visit to the park Karen, Ben and Mr Changeable sat round the breakfast bar to decide how they should approach the rescue of Roxie from the Pickle Factory.
    "Perhaps we should call in the police ? They have, like, special hostage negotiators and **** ?" suggested Ben.
    "No no no" ejaculated Mr Changeable " If you want to get something done properly do it yourself. The police know nothing about South Norwood Country Park, whereas we have been visiting daily for years."
    "I agree with Geoff", said Karen, twiddling her diamond earrings."We know the park like the back of our hands."
    "OK then it's agreed. We will draw up plans for Roxie's extraction and the elimination of enemy units " said Mr Changeable in an annoying army voice. "Ermm do you mean Old Harry the tramp ?" asked Karen nervously. "Who else is there, duhh ? He must pay for his crimes in the only way he understands."
    "Well if you're sure Geoff. It's just that he's kinda old and decrepit..."
    "He is a burden on the state and now we find that he has been hiding Roxie in that dreadful Pickle Factory. Goodness only knows what he has been doing to her over the years. No, he must not be shown mercy."
    "I guess that makes sense hun. As long as you don't expect me to terminate him with extreme prejudice."
    "Don't bother your pretty head with the details angel tits. I will take the **** down myself."
    "I was listening to Woman's Hour yesterday by mistake Geoff... they mentioned some syndrome which women get when they are kidnapped ? It is called after some place in Norway or somewhere... Copenhagen Jitters, Malmo Itch, something like that ?"
    "I think you will find it is called Stockholm Syndrome " said Ben in a superior voice. "It was first noticed in the audience at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1975 in the eponymous city."
    "Poor Roxie, that sounds like a horrible affliction. We cannot afford to delay our attempt to rescue her from the homeless fiend." said Karen sadly, before outlining her plan:
    "Here i have downloaded the blueprints of the Pickle Factory from the Town Hall server. Our best option is to use this disused service tunnel to enter the building. The entrance to the tunnel is by the Duck Pond. After that we will squirm through the heating ducts until we are above the room where Roxie is being held. We wait until her captor is in an alcoholic stupor, then burst through the ceiling and grab her."
    "Roger that Karen" said Mr Changeable. " We will RV by the Duck Pond at 0200 Zulu. Radio silence must be maintained throughout. Synchronise watches on my mark... 3,2,1 MARK"
    "Who is Mark Mummy ? " asked Ben as he fiddled with his Child's Rolex.
    • Thread Starter

    i think that it's about time to end this story

    Mr Changeable decided that the raid on the pickle factory would be designated Foxtrot Four Zero. At precisely 0200 the rescue team assembled on the jetty at the duck pond. Ben had insisted on being pushed in the pram. Karen left it behind the blackberry bush where she had first met Mr Changeable on that fateful day five years before.
    A full moon shone down on the murky waters of the pond, silvering the unhygienic liquid. There were no other visitors to the park at this time of night. A few rats scuttled away as Mr Changeable placed an explosive charge on the rusty grill which covered the entrance to the service tunnel.
    The detonation shattered the peaceful nocturnal scene. Hopefully Old Harry would be unaware in his normal alcoholic stupor.
    Carefully Mr Changeable shone his torch into the tunnel. It was about three feet high so he and Ben were able to stand upright. Karen had to crawl on her hands and knees. The tunnel sloped gently upwards from the pond to the factory, a distance of some three hundred metres. After ten minutes Mr Changeable held up his hand to halt the others. He whispered "we are now under the factory. There should be an air duct in the ceiling very soon."
    Ben spotted the recessed opening first. Karen levered herself into the narrow orifice and pulled the other two up. "OK Karen, we must head northeast for twelve metres then due north for eight metres. That should get us to a ladder to the top floor. The kidnappers always use the top floor in books and films. Let's go "
    A strong smell of pickles permeated the narrow duct. Production had ceased some eighteen years before when it was found that the company had been adulterating its Piccallilli with paint stripper. When they removed the additive customers complained and sales plummeted.
    Soon they reached the junction where the ladder was situated. Karen tested it. Although it was quite rusty it bore her weight. However after a few feet she was unable to continue as the duct narrowed sharply.
    "Guys i will have to take my kit off " she said. "I must ask you to keep your eyes closed as we ascend the ladder". Mr Changeable said "i have already seen your bits if you remember. It is unsafe to climb with my eyes closed." Karen gave up her attempt at preserving her modesty and stripped off her designer SWAT suit. She ascended the rungs of the rusty ladder followed by Mr Changeable and Ben. After a few minutes she heard voices nearby. One was definitely Old Harry. The other was a woman shouting in whiny Estuary English. Karen could not make out all the words but the woman seemed to be discussing their hostage in an agitated manner.
    "Yew 'eard vat explosion. We gotta split. Leave the bleedin' doll." Old Harry replied "She ain't done no 'arm. We should let 'er go ".
    "orwight 'Arry i'll tell yer what. We 'ide blondie on ve campus until ve 'eat dies darn".
    Mr Changeable suddenly realized the identity of Roxie's captor. It was the appalling Ms Ubunga-McClintock. She must be keeping Roxie prisoner as part of some devilish left wing plot hatched with her equally appalling sister Ms Ubunga-Shufflebottom. Old Harry was merely a tool of the egregious siblings.
    Clearly there was no time to lose if Roxie were to be delivered safely from the clutches of the Marxist-Leninists.
    Mr Changeable attached a shaped charge to the brickwork separating the ladder from the room where the voices were coming from.
    The detonation was deafening in the confined space but the wall was successfully breached. Mr Changeable led the way into the chamber. Old Harry had been killed outright in the blast. Ms Ubunga-McClintock was lying on the floor, her usual flamboyant African robes swapped for black terrorist garb. Size XXXL.
    Karen leaped on top of her and slapped her dusky cheeks. "Where is Roxie you left-wing fiend ? You have five seconds to answer " "I am not going to tell you, Tory *****. Nice cellulite by the way."
    Karen was furious "do not call me a Tory you evil socialist. I am UKIP and proud of it."
    Mr Changeable pulled out his taser and let the mountainous left-winger have 40000 volts.
    After handcuffing Ms Ubunga-McClintock to a rusty radiator Karen searched her pockets. She discovered a bunch of keys. One of them fitted the lock of the room they were in.
    The team made their way down a dusty corridor strewn with empty pickle jars. A few yards down they came across another room. On the door someone had scrawled ROXIE in chalk. Karen tried the remaining keys without success. Ben suggested turning the handle. It was open.
    Inside was Roxie. She was on a narrow bench clutching her knees and singing to herself. Waterloo by Abba.
    Mr Changeable turned to Karen and Ben with tears of frustration in his eyes...
    "We are too late guys. Roxie has Stockholm Syndrome."

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    An hour later the bedraggled Rescue Team and Roxie arrived back at Karen's Art Deco (qv) gaff. They slumped exhausted on the designer chairs (qv).
    Karen had earlier made an anonymous call to Crimestoppers explaining that a member of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb was to be found in the disused pickle factory.

    Crime Stoppers or Crimestoppers may be a program separate from the emergency telephone number system, that allows a member of the community to provide anonymous information about criminal activity. It thereby allows the person to provide crime solving assistance to the authorities without being directly involved in the investigation process. That person could also be eligible for a reward if the reported information results in an arrest. Crime Stopper programs are operated in many communities worldwide.
    The authorities, especially the police, cannot solve many crimes on their own. Forensic science and investigative skills are vital, along with information from the public. Crime Stoppers recognises that someone other than criminals may have information about crime, and was developed to combat the public's fear of reprisals, public apathy, and a reluctance to get involved. The program provides anonymity (callers are given a code number instead of being asked for their name and calls are not traced or recorded) and pays rewards when their information leads to an arrest and/or conviction.

    Crime Stoppers first began in Albuquerque, New Mexico during July 1975, which saw the fatal shooting of Michael Carmen while he was working one night at a local filling station. After two weeks the police had no information when out of desperation Detective Greg MacAleese approached the local television station requesting a reconstruction of the crime. The re-enactment offered US$ 1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest of the killers.
    Within 72 hours, a person called in identifying a car leaving the scene at high speed and he had noted its registration. The person calling said that he did not want to get involved so he had not called earlier. Detective MacAleese then realized that fear and apathy were the primary reasons why the public tended not to get involved. So he helped design a system where the public could anonymously provide details of the events. This system focused on stimulating community involvement and participation, taking advantage of every possible media opportunity, especially electronic media, to publicise unsolved crimes; and offering cash rewards for information leading to an arrest and/or conviction.
    Since its first chapter was officially formed in Albuquerque in 1976, Crime Stoppers in the United States has been responsible for more than half a million arrests and more than US$4 billion in recovered property.

    Roxie was still withdrawn in her Abba-induced trance. She had moved on to Dancing Queen but in a joyless dirge. Everyone was soon feeling very depressed.
    Karen whipped up a round of bacon sarnies and strong tea (qv). She switched on the local news. "yes Susan. Residents of the peaceful borough of South Norwood were awakened at 2am by a loud explosion from the direction of the Duck Pond. It appears that the derelict pickle factory has been taken over by terrorists. A few moments ago i spoke to Chief Inspector Derek Ponsonby.
    Here is what he said: "Our tactical firearms unit or TFU attended the premises in South Norwood Country Park shortly after 2 this morning in response to an anonymous tip-off. On the top floor they encountered stiff resistance from one or more suspects. As a result of this one suspect received firearms injuries from which they have sadly died. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the deceased. Another body was discovered nearby but it is not believed that they died as a result of police action."
    "And do we have any information about the identity of the deceased Jackie ?" " Well Susan the police are unwilling to comment but unofficial sources suggest that the terrorist was a local woman who worked at South Norwood University. The other victim is believed to be a homeless vagrant." " Thank you Susan. And now the sport with Tony."
    "Well all the loose ends have been tied up guys" said Karen, switching off the telly. "They did not mention Roxie at all. It is unlikely that she left any DNA signature, being made of plastic."
    "Yes boss", added Mr Changeable " that was a very successful operation."
    "But what about Old Harry ? He was my friend and he is now brown bread" whimpered Ben from the pram.
    "Hey little man, don't fret " said his Mum. "Old Harry is much happier now. He had a sad life but now his sadness is ended".
    "Old Harry was a diamond geezer. He deserved better than being blown up in a pickle factory."
    "Look Ben, we can maybe get a memorial for him in the Park. Maybe a bench, or a, like, statue ?" said Roxie.
    Everyone stared. The ex-hostage had come out of her catatonic Abba-trance and was hugging Ben with her little plastic arms.
    "Old Harry was my lifeline during captivity. He would smuggle me in snacks and drinks when that woman was away at the University. He made a splint from ice-lolly sticks when i broke my leg trying to escape. Without him i would not have survived."
    Karen and Mr Changeable moved over to the pram and the rescue team had a tearful group hug.
    "Yes a statue would be just the ticket" said Mr Changeable. "We can ask the local primary school to make one as a tribute to Old Harry. He was very popular with the children there. He would share his last cigarette with them. He introduced generations of year fives to the pleasures of alcohol in a safe and fun environment."
    "Yes i will write to Ms Ubunga-Shufflebottom later today" said Karen.

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    • Thread Starter

    Hi the bear and memomemootoo.i know that the story has come to a satsifying end, but You know some of those pics that you and memomemootoo had posted of karen, ben, Mr changeable and Roxie can a put in a request for a few like Karen changing ben’s nappy and what she looks like form his point of view when he was a baby

    i'll do it if you pay me :sexface:
    • Thread Starter

    can you please tell me how to do it then cause i want to do my request myself

    le Photoshop :sexface:
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