England was not yet an anarchist utopia, but under Larry’s random and light pawed guidance it was becoming co-operative. Its people were quietly becoming self reliant, involved and innovative – and in some small way, happy.
Superficially Limehousesailortown was unchanged. Steamers, clippers and tramps still jostled for a place at the quayside; bars, stews and music halls still spewed rowdy, boisterous, swaying parties of intoxicated matelots out onto the narrow streets; ships’ cats still slunk in and out of dingy catnip dens. Homesick seafarers still sought temporary solace in companionable, rentable substitutes for their dimly remembered mothers and sweethearts; but somewhere along the line the claustrophobic alleyways had lost their edginess.
The penthousebedsit was pretty much the same as well. A kettle whistled on the range, the little black and white TV set was showing Land and Freedom – its brown Bakelite case had become loose and an eerie mauve glow escaped around the cathode ray tube. Monochrome posters of Ernesto Guevara and Albert Camus eyed each other from opposing walls. Ginsbergbear was lounging in an old armchair, feet up on the mantelpiece and catnip shag dangling from an as yet unlit Peterson briar, Boz was trying to concentrate on the latest, slightly crumpled, copy of International Catnip Times whilst Phoebles pointed out good bits that he had written and Ferdy, having warmed the teapot, was toasting pikelets under a small gas grill. The pals were relaxing between adventures when…
There came a coded rap on the door. Phoebles opened it and Slasher McGoogs was standing before him. He was wearing a pair of St Michael’s aertex Y-fronts over a cerise spandex hooded one-piece. The hood formed a close fitting mask over his upper face and a serpentine gilded S was emblazoned on his chest.
“B****r me!” expleted Boz.
Ferdy raised an eyebrow, “I know the nation’s dress code is somewhat more relaxed under Larry’s leadership,” He glanced pointedly at Phoebles’ voluminous Smarty-spotted trousers and rainbow bracers, “but surely there are still limits.”
“It’s not easy, suddenly finding you’re a superhero after all those years of covert operating.” Slasher stalked into the room and perched on the edge of the dining table.
“Er, I’m not sure the table is all that sturdy.” Boz warned, but Slasher ignored him.
“Turn up the sound on the telly, I don’t want to be overheard.” He could barely be heard at all as the film climaxed in a crescendo of gunfire and Spanish shouting.
“My contacts within the Aldershot Ghurkha Community warn of rumours from their homeland that the Merovingian Lizard Kings are on the move and strange discs have been seen in the sky above the mountain peaks. Agents in the north report of Reivers raiding south of the wall, and Les Chats Souterrains have been seen mingling amongst the revellers at the Castleton Goth Festival – Speedwell Cavern has been closed to the public. Corsairs aboard black whale hunters with 40mm Bofors or twin 12.7mm DShK’s mounted on the prow have been hi-jacking Arctic Coleyfishtrawlers and holding their cargo’s to ransom!”
Boz gasped. “Coleyfish pirates? Destitute fishmongers? A coleyfish famine? This is a disaster!” Ferdy tried to calm him.