“Yes, Joe, funny old world over there”.
“Time for a beer over at the Blacksmiths Arms.”
“Yes, but it won’t be the same as the brew at the Tavern.” “Ah, but Poopsie gave me the recipe for that. Just can’t read it.”
“Well, then she will have to make it for us at Christmas.” said Joe
“Yes it could be a good Christmas.” said Fred.
“Certainly be a strange one mate.”
The two old friends took out their walking sticks and proceeded down the hill towards home.
8: CHRISTMAS FOR THE JODECHIANS
Joe Spratt was most anxious. It was the day before Christmas Eve and he was waiting on the taxi to arrive that would take his daughter and her family to the airport that would take them to an overseas destination. His Christmas present to them. They were most grateful but wished that Joe would go with them. He kept on saying that he would be spending most of it with his friend Fred Jackson. Everything was arranged with Fred, they would spend Christmas at Fred’s home with his children. Joe, despite his age, would be more than happy. The family reluctantly agreed that they would go on their special Christmas holiday.Now Joe was just waiting for the taxi to come.
There was a peep, everyone started to jump up and down, grabbing bags and suitcases. After everyone had said their goodbyes Joe watched the taxi go down the lane.
Well, stage 1 completed thought Joe. He reached for the telephone and dialled Fred’s number. Brrr brrr, brrr brrr, brrr brrr. The phone was picked up.“Hello “
“Hello Fred, they’re gone”
“Ok Joe, on my way round”
Handsets were replaced.
Fred was at the door within 10 minutes. He let himself in, the door been unlocked. Although the home was fitted with an upto date burglar system, the area was relative crime free. No one ever entered other people’s home uninvited.“In the kitchen Fred.”
Fred walked in, took off his mac and cap, and sat at the table. Joe had put in front of him a cup of tea.
“Any problems mate” “No, just kept on asking if I would be alright. Honestly you would think I was a 10 year old”“Yeah I know what you mean. It is as if you lose all social skills once you retire”
“I would have been more worried if I was leaving them behind”
“Right then, when are the bikes coming” asked Fred
“Well, hopefully this afternoon between 1 and 4 pm”
“Give us enough time to put up the Christmas tree”
Joe gave a chuckle.
“They are away for 10 days, didn’t see the point in putting them up. I couldn’t actually disagree with them. Just need to make sure they are down before they get back. The box is over there, it was in the cupboard under the stairs”“So that only leaves the problem of the pets”.
“I think the cats will be ok, just make sure the dogs don’t go for them.
“Think they will”
“No, not if we are here”
Fred looked into the box. It contained everything they would need. An artificial tree, streamers, tinsel and lights. A new packet of balloons and pump.“I think it would have been better if we had a real tree” said Fred
“Yes, but I think the pine needles would fall off”
“I think we can handle that, got a strong hoover.”
“Ok, then. Let’s go down to the farmshop. Pick one up from there”
“Yes, better go down now if we want to get back for the delivery”
“Oh, and one more thing, I think we should put the tv away, put it under the stairs. Least they know about our world the better” said Joe“Never thought of it that way, good point.”
Both Fred and Joe collected their macs and caps. It was a short walk to the farmshop, but the weather was still chilly despite the mid-morning sun.
They selected a large 6ft tree. They also picked up a mistletoe reef for the door. They were asked if they wanted it delivered, but both Fred and Joe thought they would be able to handle the tree. They left the farmshop and proceeded to go home. They arrived in good time to wait for the delivery of the bikes. They set about decorating the tree.
Meanwhile, over in Buttercup. Cosmicblasto Monkeynose and Catwhiskers Picklebuns were hard at work in their apprentices, as were Poopsie Rhinochunks and Lardyme Cootiepants.
Lardyme who worked in the Alderfolk chambers was constantly listening to Alderfolk Pottypears talk about the mysterious giantfolk he thought he had seen a short while ago. If there was one thing Situppy Pottypears did not like, it was strange things happening in his village. Buttercup was a nice village and he wanted it kept that way.
Lardyme kept quiet about the giantfolk. She knew that the Alderfolk was talking about Fred and Joe. Although they had only met once, she had an instant liking to them. Both Poopsie and she had never met more polite gentlefolk. It had taken a while for Poopsie to get all the gossip from Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers. But they told all about the Travel Device and how it worked. They promised that they could go and visit Joe and Fred in their own homeland. Both Poopsie and Lardyme were looking forward to visiting Joe and Fred. For this reason above all other reasons Lardyme kept quiet when Pottypears was talking about seeing the giantfolk.
Poopsie was busy in the Tavern; she was putting away the mugs. Cosmicblasto walked into the Tavern. He was still wearing his overalls, flour on his nose.“Hello Poopsie. All set for tomorrow.”
“Oh yes, both Lardyme and I are both looking forward to going. Are you sure the Travel Device can cope with the four of us”
“Well, we use it whilst flying on the dragon with Fred, Joe and us two on it.”
“It seems scary to think about it”
“We find it easier to use it whilst flying. We let Ethereead do the stabilising. When we use it on our own. You end up crash landing. The only good thing about it, is that you arrive back at the same time as you left”“So no one will ever miss us”
“No, the only way you know we are going was when we were not pleasant with you”
“Yes I remember”
“Sorry Poopsie, but when you go for the first time you will understand why we were like it” said Cosmicblasto.
“So what time tomorrow.”
“After the bakery closes. That way, I can still make the bread and be back in time to make more bread the day after”
“But then when we get back it will be time for me to come to the Tavern. You still get to bed and I have to work.”
“Well, I suppose the best time would be when we are all finish work at the same time. Easier for Lardyme and Catwhiskers, but difficult for us. I start early and you finish late”
“Well I am sure we can fix that at some point” said Poopsie. Cosmicblasto said goodbye to Poopsie and left the Tavern. He went down to the Blacksmith where Catwhiskers worked. As he was still wearing his overalls, he called out from outside.“Catwhiskers”
There was loud hammering noise coming from the forge area. He called again.
The hammering stopped. Catwhiskers came to the rear double doors.
“Hey, Cosmicblasto, over here.”
Cosmicblasto walked over to the read doors.
“All set for tomorrow”
“Yeah, not actually working tomorrow got a day off. We have managed to do the wheel ferrings early, so there isn’t anything to do tomorrow, so it’s a day off.”“Great stuff”
“Well we will meet up after I have finished at the bakery”
“Looking forward to it. I can’t believe that we haven’t used the Travel Device for so long. But I guess it is good to not use it too often. We have had some serious problems over there.”“Not wrong there Catwhiskers. I wonder what will happen to us over there”
“Well, let’s hope nothing bad happens. Just for once let’s have some fun and games” said Cosmicblasto.
“See you tomorrow then” “Yes, see you tomorrow. Bye”
With that Cosmicblasto left the Blacksmiths and went back to his bakery. Catwhiskers went back inside and started on his hammering again.
When Cosmicblasto arrived back at the bakery. He opened the ovens. He took out the cake he was making. It looked good. It smelt good. This would be a special cake.This would make a good present to Fred and Joe.
Joe and Fred surveyed the sitting room. They felt it was now Christmas. They moved the furniture around a little; remember where it was so that they could put it all back in it original spot later. The tree was in the corner, with a little table at the side containing a bowl of assorted nuts and crackers. There were baubles, ribbons and little niknaks on the tree, with 2 sets of fairy lights. There were streamers running from corner to corner. The balloons were blown and hanging from the ceiling and on the pelmet rail which ran along the walls. Next to the tree were 2 small bikes, both gift-wrapped. These were for Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers. There were also 3 smaller packages. If you had seen them you would have read the names of Poopsie, Lardyme and Ethereead.Joe and Fred survey the sitting room. They were quite proud of their endeavours.
“Well Fred. Looks like Christmas after all now”
“Yes, looks one to remember. Have you sorted out the sleeping arrangements” asked Fred.
“Well we get to share the big bedroom, Poopsie and Lardyme will be in the girls’ room and Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers can have the bunks in the boys’ room.”“And what about Ethereead” “Don’t go there, I haven’t yet.”
“Well the backyard is certainly big enough. We shouldn’t be expecting callers” said Fred.
“So what if we erect that big tent you had for the caravan. Just in case”
“Well, if the dragon comes, it wouldn’t be fair to leave it out on things.”
“How do you entertain a dragon?”
“Dunno mate. How about we go down to the Blacksmith Arms for a beer or 2 before we go and meet them.”
“Well, we are done here. Better put the tent up first though”
“Where is it?”
“In the garage”
Joe and Fred spent the next hour erecting the tent. But it still lacked that homely touch.
But the time was getting on, and they still needed to meet up with their Jodechian friends.
Back in Buttercup, Catwhiskers and Lardyme were in the Tavern. Poopsie was still serving behind the bar, but it was quiet for her. They were all waiting for Cosmicblasto to come in from the bakery.Very soon, Cosmicblasto came in carrying a cake box.
“Hello Cosmicblasto, what is in the box” asked Poopsie.
“It’s a cake I baked for Fred and Joe”
“That’s very thoughtful of you” said Lardyme. “Yes, having those 2 as friends has certainly made you more responsible” said Poopsie.“And we still regard it as fun too” said Catwhiskers.
“Which is why you get into so much trouble” said Poopsie.
“Yes especially as Alderfolk Pottypears talks non-stop about the giantfolk he thinks he saw” said Lardyme
“We need to be more careful” said Catwhiskers.
“Well, then are we ready” said Cosmicblasto.
“So where are we going then” said Poopsie
“We are going to Frinkstone Hill, meet up with Ethereead” said Catwhiskers.
“What, fly on the dragon” said Lardyme
“Yes, it’s fun” said Cosmicblasto.
“You will like it” said Catwhiskers.
“Come on; let’s go now before Alderfolk Pottypears goes on his rounds of the village.”
They all left the Tavern and after walking around the village green, walked up the lane.
Alderfolk Pottypears had seen them from his chambers.
They all reached the caves of Frinkstone Hill. They found Ethereead sitting outside the caves.
“Hello Catwhiskers and Cosmicblasto. I fill with dread everytime you come here, you known” the dragon said.
“I know” said Cosmicblasto “But I think this could be the last time”
“Oh. What do you mean by that?” “Well, remember when we were with Fred and Joe and you always had the problem with the flash” said Catwhiskers.“Yes, it is most annoying. How can a dragon be able to fly truly when I get stunned by the flash?”
“Well, I think Fred and Joe can fix that for you” said Cosmicblasto.
“Oh, and this is Poopsie and Lardyme our friends” said Catwhiskers.
“Hello to you ladies” said Ethereead.
Poopsie and Lardyme had never seen a dragon before, but they felt comfortable in the presence. Certainly Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers were very familiar with Ethereead. Which is probably what they were more worried about.“All aboard then” said Ethereead?
The four Jodechians climbed abroad Ethereead. Catwhiskers showing Poopsie and Lardyme where to hold on. Cosmicblasto gave the cake box to Poopsie. Lardyme and she held it in the middle whilst holding on with their other hand. Cosmicblasto would need to use the Travelling Device.
The dragon enquired if everyfolk was ready, took a small run and was airborne. Both Poopsie and Lardyme gave a whoop of delight. They had for sure never done anything like this before.
Ethereead soared high, the giant wings flapping away. The dragon was getting use to carrying folk. As they flew over the hills Alderfolk Pottypears saw the dragon. He couldn’t see who was onboard the dragon. He knew about dragons and although he knew there was one nearby, he was not concerned as the dragon had never come anywhere near Buttercup. But whilst he stood on the ground watching the dragon. He saw a great flash and the dragon disappear.
The dragon, as became routine by now, dropped down. Everyfolk was holding tight, especially Poopsie and Lardyme. They were not used to this as it was the first time they had flown.
Ethereead balanced out and had now settled. The dragon proceeded to fly lower until he approached Churchup and the two people sitting on the bench there. Even from this height, the dragon recognised Fred and Joe before the others did.
“Hello everybody” said Joe
“Hello Poopsie and Lardyme” said Fred.
“Hello Fred and Joe” said Cosmicblasto.
“So everyone here. Jolly good” said Joe.
“Have we got a good time for you lot” said Fred.
“Yes, but we will need to wait until it gets dark” said Joe.
Everybody said down on the bench and Ethereead settled down close by, waiting for the sun to settle down. It would be difficult at normal times to take four very small folk and a dragon, to the village, but as it was Christmas Eve. It might just be a little easier, but still best to wait until darkness crept in.
Joe told everybody of his plan. The idea would be to fly on Ethereead to the village and land in the backyard of the home they would be staying at. The backyard would be surrounded wooded land so it would be hard for anyone to see a dragon there.
Soon enough, the sun fell over the hills of Churchup. Joe and Fred had turned on torches they had thoughtfully brought with them. They all climbed abroad Ethereead. With Joe sitting high up the back of the dragon, to give it directions. Fred sat behind Poopsie and Lardyme. Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers were at the back. The dragon had never carried six before and was a little worried. But if they didn’t use the Travelling Device it felt they should be ok. The dragon took off and soared high up over the hills. Joe gave him a bearing of where to fly and soon enough they were high over Churchup village.“Ethereead, go low down over the woods, if you fly at treetop level you should be ok.”
“Ok Joe.” The dragon lowered down to the treetops.
“Just take a left, now, then drop down there, see the big tent”
The dragon landed, textbook landing, if a dragon learned to fly by textbook anyway. Everybody got off.
“Welcome to my family’s home” said Joe.
“It’s so big” said Catwhiskers
“Our homes are bigger, but smaller on the inside” said Cosmicblasto.
“Bigger and smaller” said Jack
“We build up higher for an extension. The living area is small for our needs. These windows are so high up” said Cosmicblasto.
“Well, come on inside and take a look around.” said Joe.
“You remember the last time you were here” said Fred.
“Oh we remember it well” said Catwhiskers
“All that snow” said Cosmicblasto
“Ah yes, well that was in my cottage, which is smaller than this house but just as comfortable” said Fred.
“And the snow isn’t due until next month” said Joe
Ethereead was shown into the tent and settled down.
“I am sorry that you have to stop here Ethereead, but there just isn’t the room inside the house” said Joe.
“It’s ok Joe”
“Right everybody inside, but watch out for the dogs” said Joe.
Everybody walked into the house through the kitchen.
“What is that” asked Cosmicblasto “It’s only the dogs, it’s alright, they quite friendly” said Joe
“Go on stroke them” said Fred
“Oh, look at this range” said Poopsie
“What is that smell” asked Lardyme.
“The meat for tomorrow’s dinner” said Joe
“Ah, Jodechians don’t eat meat” said Lardyme.
“Oh well, then Ethereead can have it then” said Joe.
“Sorry Joe” said Catwhiskers “I suppose we should have said something, and Ethereead is a vegetarian too”
“Yes, as we all had soup the last time. We didn’t think we would be ever coming back again” said Cosmicblasto.
“Not to worry, there are plenty of vegetables” said Joe.
“It’s ok Joe. Poopsie and I will cook dinner tomorrow. We will give you a meal to remember”
“Oh yes, remember that recipe you gave us for the ale” said Jack
“We need you to translate it for us, we couldn’t read it” said Joe
“Yes we got a basic home brew kit, so if you could just help us to make it like yours then that will be good”.
“No problem, we can do that too” said Poopsie.
“Right, if everybody could go into the sitting room” said Joe
Joe led the Jodechians into the darkened room.
“Everybody ready, Ok Fred, lights please”
Fred turned on the Christmas lights.
Catwhiskers, Cosmicblasto, Poopsie and Lardyme whooped with delight, they had never seen such a display. The lights on the tree flashed on and off, there were musical chimes coming from underneath the tree. The lights on the window were simulating a snowfall.
There were two cats sat by the fire hearth. However after the musical chimes started, they both got up and went into the kitchen.“Merry Christmas to you all” said Joe
“Merry Christmas” said Fred as he started to give out drinks.
“Just a fruit punch” said Joe
The Jodechians started to sing and dance. Joe and Fred sat down on the sofa. They both had a drink of a little stronger brew.
“Merry Christmas mate”
“Merry Christmas Joe, but I am missing the tv” as they toasted their drinks.
Joe and Fred were the first to wake up on Christmas morning. They washed and shaved, made themselves feel fresh and good for the day ahead.
Poopsie and Lardyme followed soon after, not having actually a change of clothes didn’t seem to bother them. Perhaps they hadn’t realized how long they were going to be staying here.
Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers were up a little later. Both Joe and Fred chose not to mention what was going to be happening on Christmas morning.
Soon enough everyone was in the kitchen. Poopsie was preparing breakfast of assorted fruits. However, Joe and Fred were having toasted bread. Joe made the tea, which he poured from the teapot into 6 beakers.
Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers had remembered having the tea the last time there were here during the snow, but this was new to Poopsie and Lardyme.
Poopsie took a taste and flicked her tongue. Fred put in two spoons of sugar and stirred the cup.
“Here, try this now”
“Ah much better” she said.
Jack also put in two spoons of sugar into Lardyme’s cup of tea. She tasted it and was quite agreeable.
After breakfast, Joe took the four Jodechians into the lounge. Jack had put on the Christmas tree lights. The flashing bulbs making the room warm, even with the fire heater that Jack had put on earlier.“Now then, what has Santa Claus brought you for Christmas then” said Joe
“Yes, let’s see what is under the Christmas tree” said Jack
The four Jodechians were silent; they were not expecting anything like this.
Fred pulled out a large object from besides the tree.
“Let’s see what the label says. Ah here it is, it’s for Catwhiskers. I wonder what it is”
“Well, this one here is labelled for Cosmicblasto. And as they are pretty much the same sized present, why not open them at the same time” said Joe.
Fred had his camera ready. Joe and Fred had discussed the wisdom of taking photographs of the Jodechians. But knowing that they didn’t have to take the film to be processed at a chemist. They agreed it would be ok. Providing they kept them secret, away from normal albums and they should be ok. God bless digital cameras.
Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers took hold of the presents. They had no idea what they were. They were gaily wrapped in paper that had scenes very much what they were in at the moment.
They started to tear into the wrapping paper. As they were doing this Fred was taking photos. Being a digital camera, Fred had the settings on high-speed, so no flash was needed. He didn’t want to spook them by mistake.Both presents were unwrapped and both Cosmicblasto and Catwhiskers were standing alongside gleaming, shining bicycles.
“Joe, these really ours” said Catwhiskers.
“Sure Catwhiskers, Merry Christmas” said Joe
“Merry Christmas” said Jack.
“Ok Poopsie and Lardyme, your turn now” said Joe
Joe reached down and picked up two parcels, and handed one each to Poopsie and Lardyme.
After seeing Catwhiskers and Cosmicblasto unwrap their presents, they knew what to do. They unwrapped the presents to reveal an iden
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