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Mike's Expedition
A Letter From Africa
Mike & Kate

Dearest Kathryn

It's been six days since we left the yogurt mines of Isandlwana. I am still having difficulty coming to terms with Bunny Johnson's decision to stay and try to sort out the lysteria problems with the low fat pineapple and grapefruit flavours. However, I'm sure his experience in the Lancashire Fusiliers will hold him in good stead - he was the cuttlefish eating champion for three years running and regimental mascot for two. But the expedition will miss him dearly, I in particular. He was always a good man with an armadillo when morale was at a low ebb.
Tomorrow we set off for Mabouti Ridge where we hope to find the rare Scrotum tree which is the only tree in Africa known to lay size 4 free range eggs. It is said that extracts from the yolks of these eggs can be used to induce marmosets to write poetry as beauteous as that of Byron or Shelley. To get there we shall have to cross the Limpopo River which the natives fear for its silly name. I've had to shoot three of them this morning for getting the words to Rule Britannia wrong again.
Yesterday, Carruthers bagged a rhino and we had great fun trying to toss the dismembered breasts of the local maidens onto its horn. Needless to say, Algy won. He performed a superb lob from a distance of fifty feet, the point of the horn piercing precisely the hole of the nipple where the milk comes out. ( The exact medical terminology escapes me but he scored thirty points for it.) How the natives cheered. And how those that didn't screamed as they were flayed against a mangrove tree.
Beautiful as this continent is, I cannot help thinking of England, particularly at this time of year. The daffodils will be in bloom, the elms will be in bud and it will be open season for maitre d's. Remember that poor soul at Harvey's whose trousers we stuffed with electric eels? How kind of the coroner to pass a verdict of misadventure for only a hundred pounds.
I shall look forward to seeing you again my darling as soon as this wretched expedition is over; maybe we can go punting on the Serpentine if that's not too audacious a thing to ask. I have already taken the liberty of writing to your father for permission but I have since heard that he's recently gone stark staring mad. Is this true?
Until then, my thoughts will be of you with every wild beast I callously slay.

All my love,


My Dearest Michael

I thought I would never hear from you, I've been so terribly worried. Will your expedition never come to an end? You sound to be having a hoot and my life will no doubt seem perfectly dull after your devilish jaunts.
I attended a croquet party at the Plethora-Smythes after chapel on Sunday where I bumped into Larry. He and Hattie are engaged to be married now. He has been booked into a first class clinic on the south coast of Norway - specialists say there is an operation available which could restore his sight. Needless to say, we Knitting Circle ladies are keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn't work. I don't think poor Hattie has explained to him about the dorsal fin yet. Must be awfully embarrassing for her. I also saw Ada. She's looking ever so plump after swallowing that mosque.
Slide Henry-Plimpford Junior has been expelled from Eton. Apparently he was caught with his dangly bits out in the school aviary. Seems Aunt Hildred's budgerigar may not have died from beak cancer afterall. Finbarr sends his regards. He was over for the annual grouse tease last Wednesday. He's dreadfully good at it; has the little blighters in a real fury. Father was rather cross. You know how he likes to boast about the grouse he teased before the war. These days he can barely get them to be mildly irritated.
You were right about father, by the way. His sanity is somewhat fragile. We've tried every specialist in Europe but can't seem to put an end to his raccoon fetishes. It's terribly sad to see the old goat go down this way. He's still only fifty seven but he's had to have so many rodents surgically disattached there's hardly any of him left.
Did you remember about the village fete next month? I do hope you can come home in time for it. We have already begun to prepare for it. Father is doing his usual talk on rare breeds of anchovy for the Ladies Auxilliary and mother is running a stall selling her much famed pigeon fat preserves. Yesterday, they chose the Flower Queen for the year. All the girls between the ages of twelve and sixteen congregated before the vicar and dropped their knickers as usual. Unsurprisingly, he chose Lizzie 'Long-Cleft' Armitage again.
I have decided to try my hand at a little tapestry for the fete. Mrs. Hornblower's landscapes were a real winner last year, although why she chose to reproduce elaborate impressions of Yards Outside Public Toilets is beyond me. She was always running short of brown and yellow thread.
Anyhow, my dear, I know you have rhino to slay and natives to meat-hook so I shall leave you and prepare for the dreaded ball I must attend at Lumpy Boil's.

Disembowel a couple for me,

Your Kathryn.

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April 1995

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