The Tales of Flashover House – The Open Day

The long Winter was over and Spring had come to Flashover House. Green shoots were appearing, birds were nesting, and the Sound of the two-stroke lawn mower was heard in the land. It wasn’t only the creatures of the woodland who were feeling the effects of spring. The residents too were having their moments. They were prancing out of their shacks after months of hibernation, woolly jumpers and second anoraks were being shed in all directions, and what was left of the sap was staggering in the general direction of their loins.

There are few things more disconcerting than radio hams on the rampage, so Matron, who could read the danger signs, decided that all this energy should be harnessed before it got out of hand. She confronted them at breakfast-time with a suggestion. “Let’s organise an open day so that the people in the town can see what sort of things we get up to.”

“If they find out what Weasel gets up to they will lock him up” said a carping G4 cowering behind a cornflake packet.

“Come now,” said Matron “Let’s have your suggestions.’ Rees Morgan was the first to speak. “What we need is a Welsh male-voice choir singing on the front lawn.”

“Like hell we do.” said Big Angus. “What we should have is a pipe band marching and counter marching up and down the drive, and a lone piper playing the lament at sunset.”

“I can remember the Dagenham Girl Pipers.” said G2 to no-one in particular.

“He can probably remember Methuselah as well” said Weasel. “Ah but she was a fine strapping lass, that one who played the big drum,” sighed G2 his eyes sparkling with the sheer memory of it.

“Lets not get any grand ideas.’ said Matron “We may be able to get the local Scout troop with their bugles, and, here’s a thought, we could get one of those bouncing castles”

“We had one of those when I was in the Battersea club,” said Weasel. ”It was doing very well until someone put a porcupine in it. Alter that it wasn’t nearly so good. I seem to remember that the bloke who owned it went off in no end of a huff.”

Anyway in the following weeks, the whole thing began to take shape. They decided to take a chance ointhe bouncing castle.  Harbottle offered to organise and judge a produce a craft event arid negotiations were taking place to enlist the services of The Army Cadets Formation Bayoneting Team, and The Brewery Shire Horses Free-fall Parachute Display. Unfortunately both these star attractions were fully booked so they had to turn to more local organisations. Weasel, ever the optimist, announced his intention of erecting a canvas booth and selling kisses at ten pence a time for charity!

The centre-piece would, of course, be the special event station where the hams would seek to dazzle the visitors with their genius. This would be housed in a marquee with a long wire antenna running the length of the garden. The opening ceremony would consist of the cutting of a ribbon across the front of the tent, but who was to perform this ceremony? 90% of the hams opted for Samantha Fox but Rees Morgan was demanding Jill Dando (it his must run in the family). Matron intervened to prevent an ugly scene. “We will have the Lady Mayoress Mrs. Forbes-Forbes, She doesn’t have a lot of fun. “She will need some special scissors to cut the tape,” said a G2 who was a stickler for protocol. “No problem.” said Harbottle, “I have some secateurs brand new – never been out of the box.”

So the arrangements were made, the date set and before they knew it, the great day had arrived. GZ sat at a table near the gate taking the money. He got off to a poor start though as he had never quite got the hang of decimal money and there were loud protests from patrons who had been given the wrong change.

When it was time for the opening ceremony, the crowd gathered round to hear Mrs. Forbes-Forbes give a heart-warming I5 minute speech all about senility in the elderly. She did, however finally get to the bit where she declared the event open. The ripple of polite applause was in sharp contrast to the coarse Caledonian oath from Angus as Mrs. Forbes-Forbes with a flamboyant flourish of the secateurs missed the ribbon altogether and cut through the aerial feeder. The onlookers gasped with dismay as the wire went snaking through the halyard and the pole at the far end, relieved of the tension, did a symbolic curtsy before subsiding gracefully out of sight behind the shrubbery.

Big Angus hurtled out of the marquee to salvage what he could of his wire but, unfortunately, he tripped over one of the guy-ropes. This caused him to plunge head-first into the refreshment tent. Happily, he missed the tea urn but he did sustain a minor flesh wound on his cheek from the jagged edge of a rock cake.

With the aid of a couple of G4s Angus managed to put up an aerial of sorts between the roof of the greenhouse and the clothes post. Plan B was then brought into play. Angus had arranged previously with a ham friend of his who lived a few streets away, that if conditions were no good, this friend would call him from time to time using one watt to avoid trouble with the DTI and pretend to be an Australian, an American, or even an Italian. they hadn’t decided which one of them would go to prison if things went wrong!

Meanwhile, Weasel wasn’t faring too well with his ten pence a kiss booth. No self-respecting female would go anywhere near him, which should not have surprised anyone. He was last seen sprinting across the fields pursued by an amorous truck driver who seemed to have got the wrong idea altogether.

Mind you, Weasel was not the only one in need of tact and diplomacy. In the produce tent, Harbottle had his own dilemma. He was trying to decide which of two almost identical cherry cakes should be awarded the first prize. Should it be the one made by the young housewife with the blonde hair, blue eyes, and trim figure, who was looking at him most appealingly, or should the prize go to the large lady who’s outline resembled a tank transporters, who was regarding him with a hostile stare, and making a great show of rolling up her sleeves. In the end he did what any red-brooded Englishman would have done. He chickened out and declared it a draw.

Perhaps the most popular hit of the afternoon was the Karaoke, or at least it was until Rees Morgan got his hands on it. Coming as he did from the land of song, it was only natural that he would want to take part. If, however, he had spent a few minutes studying the techniques of Karaoke he would have realised that singing Land of My Fathers while the tape is playing Love is a Many Splendoured Thing is a recipe for disaster. Several of the music-lovers in his audience pointed this out to him in no uncertain terms.

In the late evening when the last visitors had departed, and Matron and the lads were going round with the black bags rounding up all the discarded crisp packets and unsuccessful raffle tickets, all were agreed that this had been a nice day. There was just one member of their group who looked a little subdued arid thoughtful. “Never mind G2” Said Matron “Next year we will try to find the Dagenham Girl Pipers for you, but you may have to settle for the grand-daughter of the one who used to play.

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