With little warning, Ferdinand Desai found himself in thick and freezing fog. His windshield froze, the fuselage sparkled, his goggles misted over and his beak tingled with the sudden chill. He tried to coax his craft upwards above the fog, but the build up of ice was making her heavy. The engine began to splutter; parts were binding and the fuel turning to mush – the prop ceased to turn. Slowly the autogyro began its gentle descent, buoyed by the free wheeling rotor. Then there was a screech of locked and tortured metal. The rotor bearings had frozen. His descent turned into a plummet.
There came a jarring thud, some pings and boings, a pop and a small puther. Ferdy found himself sitting at the centre of a snow crater surrounded, to a distance of ten feet or so in every direction, by disassembled and slightly bent aeronautical parts.
Having checked that all HIS bits were in place and full working order, he packed a stash of ginger biscuits into a knapsack and removed the compass from its gimballed mount. He would continue with Plan A (no one had apprised him of a Plan B) and follow a line towards Edinburgh. It would just take a little longer without his airborne transport. Adjusting his goggles firmly he trudged blindly into the total white-out.
Trudging can be tiring and flying boots are not the best hiking footwear. After what seemed an age Ferdy halted and partook of two well earned ginger biscuits. It was whilst resting thus that he noticed a small, indistinct black blob out in the whiteness that enveloped him. As he watched it grew larger, and blacker, and really large, and distinct, and nose shaped. It stopped, hovering some way above him, in close formation with a pair of coldly intense eyes. A large mouth also appeared, and spoke.
“And what exactly are you?”
Peering hard, Ferdy thought he could make out the outline of a massive white bear.
“I am Ferdinand Desai, dodo… on an important rescue mission. Can I assist you in any way?” he added, politely.
“Not just now,” replied the polar bear, “I have already eaten, and at the moment a duck is out of the question.”
Ferdinand inwardly bristled. He had endured duck jokes and similar manifestations of robust English humour ever since he first landed in the UK, but now did not seem a good time to get uppity. Tentatively Ferdinand explained his situation, without much hope for a happy solution. The bear however was feeling untypically sympathetic.
“I could give you a lift as far as the Great North Road. I probably won’t get hungry before then and you might be able to cadge a lift from there.” Not waiting for a reply the great bear scruffed Ferdy by the collar of his flying jacket and set off at a speedy lope. Dangling, limp limbed from the jaws of a polar bear the dodo did not feel dignified, or comfortable, or particularly safe. Modifying his expectations and assuming an air of resignation he was on the brink of getting used to the gentle swinging when they approached the tops of a bus-stop sign and a row of telegraph poles, peeking above the snow. The bear dropped him at the bus-stop.
“I can’t see an omnibus coming any time soon, but you may be able to hitch a lift on a passing snow-plough. I’m afraid I’m getting peckish and you are starting to look tasty so I’d best go find a MacDonald’s, or a baby seal or some such.” …and without looking back he loped off across the icy wasteland.
Ferdinand sat for a while, then rose and resumed his trudge.