Copyright©2017 Barry Freeman
Edited and Published by Spellbrooktales at Shakespir
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Nufink for Nufink is an amusing little cautionary tale. When the Reverend Blackstone sets out to show how kind the people of Ditmus really are, things don’t go exactly to plan.
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Monty’s Boots 4
Barry Freeman 4
Monty’s Boots 8
A Surprise Trip to London 8
Sailing By 12
Oscar Mosca 16
The Painted Spider 21
The Spider Expert from London 26
Leaving Home! 32
Clive Hits the Spotlight 39
Clive’s Debut Performance 45
THE END 50
Like most spiders, Clive enjoyed living inside boots; football boots, flying boots, climbing boots, even Wellington boots.
They all made very comfortable homes for spiders; but just now he was living in a pair of old army boots that were hanging on the wall in Albert Spindler’s wash-house.
Even though they were covered in mildew and had a large hole in the sole Clive considered them to be the best boots he’d ever lived in, particularly as the cotton wool stuffed in the toe made a comfortable bed, while the laces came in very handy for Clive to climb up to his web. He was a happy and contented spider and spent the long summer days reading comics or just watching the dust particles dancing in the sunshine as it shone through the holes in the wash-house roof. There were plenty of bluebottles to eat and hardly a day passed without a friend popping down from the rafters for a chat. In fact, apart from Albert Spindler’s horrible whistling, he had nothing to complain about at all.
Then one day it all changed. He was relaxing in his deck chair on the toecap, when suddenly he was almost catapulted to the floor by a violent jerking. Grabbing the laces and looking down he could see Albert Spindler trying to hook the boots off the nail with a stick.
This was always a problem with boots, as soon as you settled in, tidied the place up and finished a nice new web, somebody would put their foot in it. He scrambled back inside feeling dizzy as the boots swung wildly on the end of the stick until finally, Albert dropped them onto the old wicker chair outside the back door.
“There you are Sis,” said Albert, standing back to admire the boots, “another lost treasure comes to light.”
“You what!” shrieked his sister in disbelief. “Well, don’t think you’re bringing those dirty cobwebby old things into my house.”
“All they need is a good clean and a polish,” snapped Albert.
“Well you needn’t look at me,” she replied. “Anyway, who ever heard of selling worn out boots at Sotheby’s.”
“Because, my dear,” interrupted Albert, “these are not just any old boots, they’re very special boots.”
‘Very special boots’ thought Clive who was still wondering what the heck was going on, ‘whatever does he mean by that?’
“These were Monty’s boots!” exclaimed Albert, almost jumping to attention.
“I thought they were Grandad’s boots,” replied his sister.
“Monty’s boots,” repeated Albert. “Look what it says on this label.”
Albert pointed excitedly to a faded label inside one of the boots which read ‘Montgomery’s Finest Boots’.
“They must have been General Montgomery’s boots,” he insisted, glancing at his sister, “you remember Grandad told us that he was in the army in the last war, so that’s when Monty must have given them to him.”
“Really, then tell me this,” she replied, “why would anybody in their right mind spend good money on a pair of worn out army boots, even if they did belong to some old chap called Monty.”
“Because,” snapped Albert impatiently, “he was a very famous general in the last war, and therefore his boots must be famous and probably very valuable as well.”
‘Famous and valuable boots’ thought Clive ‘and I live inside them, so I must be famous as well! After all, Buckingham Palace is famous, and that’s where the Queen lives, and she’s quite famous.’
Clive, however, was still a little puzzled as to why such a famous general as Montgomery would walk about with great big holes in his boots. But Albert was sure to know best; after all he did watch ‘Flog It’.
For the next few days trying to live a normal life inside Monty Towers, as Clive now called the boots, was very uncomfortable indeed. Albert continued scrubbing and polishing the boots making it almost impossible for Clive to sleep and what was worse, every time he poked his head out for a breath of fresh air, Albert Spindler would spit at him.
At last Albert seemed happy with his handiwork and placed the shiny old boots into a carrier bag with a pack of sardine sandwiches that Sis had made for him. Then waving goodbye to his sister, who stood on the front doorstep shaking her head in despair, he took a taxi to the railway station.
After arriving in London Albert ran up and down escalators, jumped on and off tube trains and walked for what seemed miles along busy pavements until finally, he arrived at Sotheby’s Auction House.
Clive had managed to sleep for most of the way, but was now beginning to feel rather hungry. He peeped over the side of the bag, hoping to spot a bluebottle, but instead, he noticed a very smart looking man in a dark blue suit open Sotheby’s front door.
After politely explaining to Albert that the entrance he was looking for was round the back of the shop he pointed to a large notice on the wall that read TRADESMAN’S ENTRANCE.
“Just a minute mate,” began Albert “I think you may be interested in these boots,” he went on, showing the man the label inside.
“I really don’t think so sir,” replied the man, turning to close the door “I already have a pair of old gardening boots.”
“But you must have heard about General Montgomery and what he did in the last war,” blurted Albert.
The man appeared to turn a little pink, and replied, “Yes sir, I had heard about the war,” and then went on to explain that the label inside the boots didn’t necessarily mean that they belonged to a general. In his humble opinion it was far more likely that the factory where they were cobbled together was called Montgomery’s Boot Factory.
However, it was only when Albert tried to convince him that the holes in the soles could only have been made by someone marching to Germany and back, that his patience finally snapped.
“Please take those nasty old things away at once sir and ‘oppit, before I fetch a policeman.”
But Albert just stood there waving the boots in the man’s face and shouting, “Boots Boots! I know more about army boots than Sotheby’s ever will.”
By now Clive was getting fed up with being thrown all over the place by this unruly behavior and glanced over the side of the carrier bag just in time to see Albert stick his tongue out at Sotheby’s big blue door as it was slammed in his face.
Clive couldn’t help feeling sorry for Albert, but he was quite pleased that Monty Towers wasn’t going to be auctioned off after all. They would have probably ended up in a museum he thought and who wants to end up living next to some old Egyptian Mummy, or a T. Rex.
The weather had turned very warm and Albert sat by the river wondering how he could explain to his sister about the posh bloke at Sotheby’s, without looking like a complete idiot, not to mention having to listen to Sis going on and on saying ‘I could have told you so’.
Big Ben struck three o’clock and Albert decided to relax on the bank for a while before catching the train home. He took off his shoes and socks and dangled his feet in the river while listening to the gentle breeze playing among the reeds and soon fell fast asleep.
It wasn’t long before he was dreaming about Monty’s boots and how they had just sold at auction for hundreds of crisp new pound notes and Sis was telling him that from now on he would always be her hero.
Clive however was still thinking about bluebottles and after watching Albert eat the sardine sandwiches Sis had made for him, he decided to pop down to the rushes by the river and try to catch a fly or a grasshopper for his lunch.
At the same time, a vagrant strolling along the bank almost tripped over Albert who was spread out on the grass snoring contentedly next to a pair of almost new Doc Martins.
The unfortunate tramp was in desperate need of a new pair of shoes and decided to try them, only to discover that they were several sizes too small. That’s when he spotted the carrier bag containing a good strong pair of army boots,
“Now they look more my size,” he mumbled to himself, “and only need a piece of strong cardboard popped inside to block up the holes in the soles.”
But not wishing to disturb the owner, who was still in dreamland, the vagrant quietly removed the boots from the bag and slung them over his shoulder before strolling briskly away.
“What a liberty!” gasped Clive, who had just returned to Monty Towers and was about to eat a horsefly he’d caught. “The cheek of the fellow, these tramps think they can do just as they please with other folk’s boots. Well, not with Albert’s boots they can’t!” he muttered to himself as he shinned up the laces and bit the vagrant’s ear lobe as hard as he could.
He just managed to scurry back inside the boots before the vagrant, shrieking at the top of his voice snatched the laces from his shoulder and began whirling the boots around his head before suddenly letting go, sending them spinning and tumbling through the air.
Hanging on with all his strength Clive watched in horror as the world outside the boots span wildly round and round before plunging into the river with one enormous splash.
Albert woke with a start on hearing the tramp’s shrieks and was amazed to see grandad’s boots bobbing up and down on the river some way from the bank. Luckily, they floated quite well and being tied firmly together by the laces they were soon being carried along by the strong tide.
Clive however, who had never learned to swim and didn’t even like water very much, desperately clung on as the boots bobbed up and down on the waves and drifted slowly further and further out into the river.
He could see ships moored along the bank and started to wonder how long it would be before he reached the sea. Motor boats and barges sailed past violently pitching and rocking the boots and half filling them with water. Clive was now convinced that they would sink at any moment and his helpless body would be swallowed by the first haddock that spotted him.
Albert, who had no idea how his boots came to be in the river was still quite convinced that they did once belong to the great General Montgomery. What’s more he wasn’t prepared to let some kid or vandal just throw his property into the river without at least trying to get them back. So he chased after them along the river bank hoping they may just drift into the shore or get hooked onto a jetty. Each time the boots floated under a bridge, he tried to hook the laces with a bent pin that he’d tied onto the end of a piece of string. However, he soon found that this was quite impossible and could only gaze in despair as Montgomery’s boots drifted slowly out of sight.
Clive was now sure that he would never see Albert Spindler again, or his old friends in the wash-house and even worse, he would probably be shipwrecked on some desert island. His imagination began to run wild, conjuring up horrible images of giant birds and huge wasps that would eat him as soon as he set foot on the beach, or even cook him for supper in a big iron pot over a wood fire.
At that very moment a huge wooden ship sailed past so closely that he could count the copper nails hammered into its side. Clive stared in horror as they bounced along the side of the ship until at last the laces became hooked onto a large nail sticking out of the rudder, dragging the boots through the water like a pair of skis. Scrambling down inside and away from the noise and the spray from the huge bow wave splashing over the toecap Clive stuffed cotton wool into his ears and hoped that it would all turn out to be just a horrible dream.
Meanwhile, Albert had reached Tower Bridge where a large crowd had gathered to watch it open to allow a fine old three masted schooner to sail through. With all hope of ever recovering the boots now gone, Albert decided to make his way home, and tell his sister that a gang of about ten muggers had stolen grandad’s boots just before he got to Sotheby’s. But at that moment he overheard a woman in the crowd shouting to her friend,
“Look Myrtle I bet the captain of this ship has just gone and got married.”
“Married” giggled her friend “whatever makes you say that Lilly”
“Well he’s only gone and tied a pair of old boots to the back,” she went on excitedly, pointing at the schooner.
“Boots!” gasped Albert, rushing over to see what the woman was pointing at and sure enough, hooked onto the rudder of the schooner were Montgomery’s boots. Albert hung over the railing, gazing in disbelief as the ship sailed away when suddenly he noticed, written across its stern in faded gold letters, the name ‘Winston Churchill’.
He could hardly believe his eyes. Winston Churchill and Montgomery’s boots; those two great heroes were together once again. Fighting to hold back the tears he rushed into the nearest phone box and rang his sister.
“Sis you’ll never guess what I’ve just seen,” he stammered as she picked up the phone
“Well go on, what?” she snapped impatiently.
“I’ve just seen Montgomery’s boots being towed along the river Thames, by Winston Churchill.”
“Winston who”? Blurted Sis
“Churchill, under Tower Bridge” he went on almost bursting into tears.
“Albert! You’re drunk!” yelled his sister, then after a long pause. “Churchill, towing Montgomery’s boots under Tower Bridge, whatever silly excuse will you think of next,” she repeated before slamming down the receiver.
“Oh no! Now she thinks I’ve been drinking!” thought Albert.
Albert stood and watched as the ship sailed into the distance, quite sure that he would never see Monty’s boots again, or be able to convince his sister that he really had seen a ship called Winston Churchill towing them along the river.
If only there was a way to prove that I’m telling the truth, he thought as he made his way slowly to the train station.
It was as he was walking past a group of Chinese students balancing on a park bench taking photos of the Tower of London, that the thought struck him. ‘That’s it! Of course, if I buy a disposable camera from Woollies, and catch the bus to Canary Wharf I can take a photo of the Winston Churchill as she sails past’.
Armed with his new camera, he caught the next bus to the Dome, hoping he would be in time. He was determined to get a good picture of the ship towing the boots; then Sis would have to believe him, after all, the camera never lies! He soon found a good spot with a clear view across the river, and sat down on the grass to wait.
Huddled on a bench a little further along the bank he noticed a strange looking chap wearing a long brown coat and sunglasses.
“Some folks are really odd,” he mumbled to himself, “fancy wearing an overcoat on a boiling hot day like this.”
But just then, the schooner’s masts came into view and Albert slid down the bank to get a closer shot of the ship as she sailed past.
The Winston Churchill looked magnificent as it gracefully ploughed along the river, and he could clearly see Monty’s boots skipping along in its wake when suddenly, his view was spoilt by the man in the long coat and sunglasses, who had rowed out into the river in a rubber dinghy.
“Just my luck” muttered Albert, “to pick a spot where some bloke decides to go boating.”
However, he decided that he may as well use up the film, so he could get it developed at the one hour photo booth on the station before he caught the train home.
After clambering back up the bank, he brushed the grass off his trousers then glanced back at the river intending to shout ‘I hope you enjoy your boating mate’, to the man in the dinghy, but to his surprise there was no sign of him and after a few moments he started to wonder if he’d just imagined ever seeing the bloke at all.
Albert caught the next bus and soon arrived at the train station, feeling a little smug now that he could prove to his sister he was telling the truth. He took the camera to get the film processed at the photo booth and as he had an hour to kill he decided to buy a newspaper.
He was just about to turn to the sports pages when he noticed the headline, BANK ROBBER ESCAPES FROM COURT.
“Gosh,” thought Albert, “he must be a slippery character.” It said Mr. Mosca jumped from the dock and made a dash for freedom after being sentenced to twenty years in jail. It went on to say that he was a dangerous criminal who had carried out a fifty thousand pound robbery by climbing up the outside of a bank, using only a rope, and entered through an open skylight. It also said that the bank was offering a one thousand pound reward for any information leading to his capture.
That’s all very interesting thought Albert glancing up at the station clock but I’ve got more important fish to fry so I’d better go and collect my photos or I’ll miss the train.
The girl in the kiosk quipped, “Not many young men take photographs of old boots, still, each to their own taste I suppose,” before handing him the photographs. Albert ignored her and opened the envelope to check that he had the right ones.
‘These look jolly good,’ he thought as he thumbed through the photos. There was a nice clear picture of the ship, and he could clearly see the boots skipping over the waves at the back, ‘Now perhaps Sis will believe me, when I tell her things.’
‘But wait a minute;’ thought Albert, ‘who’s that fellow swinging on the rope, I don’t remember seeing him.’ He was looking at one of the photos that he’d snapped to use up the film and there was the bloke he’d noticed earlier in the rubber dinghy, but now he was climbing up a rope onto the Winston Churchill. He’d taken off his dark glasses, and Albert was certain that he’d seen that face somewhere before, and quite recently.
Then it struck him and he snatched up the newspaper to have another look. It was definitely the same man, Oscar Mosca the escaped robber and the bank was offering a thousand pounds reward to anyone who knew where he was! Albert was so excited he couldn’t think what to do next. Maybe he should phone Sis and tell her that he’d just photographed an escaped bank robber climbing onto Winston Churchill, but somehow he didn’t think she’d believe him.
He knew exactly where Oscar Mosca was, and what’s more, he had a photograph to prove it. With the one thousand pound reward on his mind he ran as fast as he could to the nearest police station.
“I may be able to help you with your enquiries regarding the escaped bank robber,” he gabbled as he rushed up to the enquiry desk.
“Is that a fact son,” replied the policeman sitting behind the counter, “Come to give yourself up ‘ave yer?” he went on sarcastically.
“No, no! I can tell you how to catch the bank robber who escaped from the Old Bailey. Look it’s in the newspaper!”
“Oh you can, can yer? Well that’s handy,” said the policeman, staring at Albert suspiciously over his spectacles, “come along then Sherlock, spit it out.”
“Only if I get the reward,” blurted Albert who was still out of breath, “it says one thousand pounds in this paper.”
“Well so it does lad but we have to catch ‘im first,” replied the policeman “or I could just nick you for withholding vital information. First we need proof of where he is, then we can talk about rewards.”
“Oh I’ve got the proof,” blurted Albert, “Look, here’s a photo of him climbing up a rope onto a ship.”
“This could be anybody,” replied the policeman, taking off his glasses and glancing at the photo, “and how am I supposed to know what ship it is.”
“It’s called the Winston Churchill, and there’s a pair of old army boots hooked on the rudder,” interrupted Albert.
“Army boots,” repeated the policeman nodding his head, “whose army boots?”
“General Montgomery’s boots of course, no sorry I mean grandad’s army boots,” he stammered.
The policeman glared at Albert shaking his head; “you’d better make up your mind whose flippin’ army boots they are son. Anyhow, I’ll get the river police to check it out and if you’re right you’ll be a flippin’ hero.”
After what seemed hours news came through that the bank robber Oscar Mosca had been found hiding under a lifeboat on the Winston Churchill and that a suitcase full of used banknotes was also recovered. Soon the press arrived to photograph Albert receiving his cheque for one thousand pounds from the police inspector and a plastic bag containing a pair of waterlogged army boots from the captain of the Winston Churchill.
However, what none of them knew was that, keeping well out of sight inside one of the boots, was a spider called Clive, thinking about bluebottles and warm sunshine streaming through holes in a wash-house roof.
It was several weeks before Clive stopped having nightmares about being chased by a giant octopus. Even the splash of a raindrop on the wash-house roof or the smell of kippers being fried would send his thoughts racing back to the Winston Churchill and that terrible moment when he thought he would never see England or Albert Spindler again.
As for Albert, he never talked much about Sotheby’s or army boots after that. Instead he’d ramble on for hours about bank robbers and how his suspicions had been aroused the instant he’d clapped eyes on Oscar Mosca. Sis however soon got bored listening to Albert going on about how easy it was to catch criminals if only you used your brains.
“What a pity” he would say “that the police didn’t listen to me sooner.
But Albert’s sister had better things to think about now that the one thousand pound cheque had been safely deposited in her bank account, like talking Albert into moving into a flat and buying some new furniture.
Most of the other houses in the street had already been demolished, and the new supermarket next door would be opening any time soon, it was only Albert who refused to see sense, saying that his grandad and his mum had lived in this house all their lives, and he intended to do the same.
Then one afternoon when Sis was doing the ironing she thought that her dream may just have come true.
What she didn’t know of course was that outside in the wash-house; fast asleep inside an old army boot was a spider called Clive who was quite capable of throwing a spanner in the works.
Albert had just rushed into the kitchen clutching a big brown envelope, shouting
“Well that’s it Sis! Look what they’ve sent. It’s a compulsory purchase order.”
Clive woke with a start as Albert dashed up and down the garden path shouting
“They’re going to pull my house down! Whatever are we going to do now?”
“They may give us a better one,” replied his sister as Albert rushed back into the kitchen. “They certainly couldn’t give us anything much worse,” she went on.
“Oh yes they could, a flat on the twenty first floor, with a lift that keeps breaking down. “It’s just not fair” continued Albert “I’ve lived here all my life, why should we have to move? I bet if I was a scarce old weed or a rare butterfly they wouldn’t be allowed to move us and pull the house down.”
‘Gosh,’ thought Clive who could hear everything through the kitchen window, ‘they’re sure to pull the wash-house down as well, and what will happen to me?’ Now try as he may Clive couldn’t remember seeing any rare butterflies in the back yard, and as for rare weeds there were mostly dandelions and stinging nettles. ‘But what if they discovered a very rare spider he thought, would they pull the house down then?’
‘If I could find Albert’s old school paint box, I could paint some stripes on my legs and a few coloured dots here and there.’ Clive’s imagination began to run wild and he could soon see himself as the rarest and most famous spider in the world. Like Albert said, they wouldn’t be allowed to move him then.
That night while Albert was asleep Clive crept into his bedroom and soon found his old school paint box under his bed. There was plenty of water in the glass on the dressing table, and Clive quickly began mixing colours and painting patterns all over his body and legs.
As the first rays of the sun squinted through a gap in the curtains, Clive could hardly recognize his own reflection in the mirror and by the time Albert had finished his cornflakes and his sister had opened another buff coloured envelope from the council, Clive had made a new web in the front room window and was taking a nap under an aspidistra leaf.
“This letter says the man from the council will be calling at eleven” said Sis, “to talk about the move.”
“Oh how nice,” replied Albert as if he couldn’t care less, “so what?”
“So you’d better be nice to him, that’s what,” snapped Sis.
It was just before eleven the man from the council knocked on the front door. Albert thought to himself, ‘I’ll let him wait, why should I rush about for a bloke from the council.’ The man knocked again and began pacing up and down outside, thinking to himself that he’d soon be rid of this old dump once and for all.
Still nobody had answered the door, and becoming more and more impatient the man started tapping on the window and peering in, just in case Mr. Spindler was hiding behind the settee, when suddenly he noticed Clive sitting in the middle of his web and jumped back in astonishment.
“What the heck!” he managed, “can that be what I think it is?”
“Can what be what you think it is?” blurted Albert, who had finally opened the front door.
“This – that!” said the man, pointing to Clive.
“That’s the strangest looking spider I’ve ever seen.”
“Spider? Oh yes” replied Albert, wondering what on earth the man was on about and not noticing Clive.
“Are there any others,” said the man from the council, “spiders like this?”
“One or two in the wash-house,” replied Albert, “but don’t worry mate the bulldozer will soon get rid of them.”
“No! No! Not if I have anything to do with it” exclaimed the man, “they must be protected at all cost.”
“Leave this to me Mr. Spindler,” and he immediately got back into his car. Winding down the window as he drove away, he shouted, “I’ll get in touch with the Natural History people straight away!”
Albert stood in the doorway scratching his head, and wondering what the bloke was talking about. Then glancing into the front window all he could see was a large cobweb, and his sister flicking at it with a yellow duster.
“You could have told me we had a cobweb in the window” shouted Sis, “whatever did he think, and him from the council as well.”
“He thinks it’s a very rare spider, and you’ve gone and got rid of it! That’s what he thinks.
“He’s gone to get in touch with the Natural History people and what’s more, he didn’t even mention the demolition order once.”
So far so good, thought Clive who was keeping well out of the way under the sofa while Sis was rushing around with her vacuum cleaner.
The following day a group of experts from the Natural History department arrived, they were carrying magnifying glasses and clip boards and one had a jam jar with a label which read ‘Rare Spider or possibly very Rare Spider’.
Clive, who was resting under an Aspidistra leaf, watched suspiciously as the experts looked under cushions and slid the sofa across the room. He heard one of the men say to Albert, “I do hope your sister hasn’t frightened our spider away.”
“Oh no” replied Albert, desperately hoping she hadn’t “He’ll be around here somewhere, probably skulking behind that aspidistra plant in the window.”
“Ah yes” exclaimed Mr. Rigley the chief expert, “I think this may be what we are looking for.”
He’d lifted one of the leaves with his ballpoint pen to reveal Clive looking rather sorry for himself now that the paint had dried, making it difficult for him to walk.
“A very rare spider indeed.” he went on, almost bursting with excitement, “Quick, pop it in this jam jar before it escapes.”
“Jam jar!” thought Clive, who wasn’t expecting to be put in a jar of any sort. But it was too late.
One of the men shook the leaf and Clive tumbled into the jar and the man screwed on the lid. There were faces peering through the glass from all sides, and Clive began to wonder if he’d done the right thing after all.
“We must keep the spider in its own environment” said Mr. Rigley “this may be the only place in the world where it breeds.”
“Not in my front room it aint!” blurted Sis, “put the ‘orrible thing outside.”
“Oh very well” replied Mr Rigley rather abruptly “if we must. Perhaps in the shed or the wash-house. But remember, it must be kept warm at all times.”
“Now” continued Mr. Rigley “I will telephone the council and instruct them that under no circumstances must they demolish this house”
Mr. Rigley visited the Spindlers’ house almost every day so that he could observe Clive through a magnifying glass and make notes on his pad.
Clive still had very stiff legs and the paint showed no signs of coming off making it very difficult for him to catch flies.
The demolition men had long since removed all the houses in the road apart from Albert’s, and the Supermarket was almost ready to open.
“Won’t it be great Sis when the supermarket opens” said Albert, “everything we need right on the door step, and all because of a blinkin’ spider?”
“It’ll just make you even lazier” snapped his sister, “if that’s possible.”
Then on Friday morning Mr. Rigley turned up with a spider expert from London. He was carrying a large camera and a tripod, which he set up inside Albert’s wash-house. The camera was pointed at Clive’s web and the spider expert asked Mr. Rigley to gently touch the cobweb with a feather that he’d tied onto a stick.
“That should coax the rare spider out of that old boot,” said the expert, from under his black cloth.
After a few minutes, Clive who had been enjoying his breakfast, decided he may as well pop out so that the expert could have a nosey, then he may get some peace.
However, as soon as Clive reached the middle of the web there was a blinding flash and Clive, thinking that the roof had just fallen in, made a frantic dash for the boots. But in the confusion and half blinded by the bright flash, he tripped and tumbled off the web, dropping into a bucket of cold soapy water that Albert had left on the wash-house floor.
Spluttering and splashing he popped to the surface and desperately clambered onto a stick that Mr. Rigley was holding.
“Here, let me see,” said the expert, holding out his hand, “there seems to be something rather peculiar about this spider.”
Wiping the soap out of his eyes, Clive soon realized that he was standing in a pool of coloured water, and looking up could see the expert and Mr. Rigley staring at him in amazement until, after a few moments, the expert turned to Mr. Rigley and shouted, “I’ve been conned! It’s a fraud! Look! The paint’s running off!”
“Are you sure?” babbled Mr. Rigley. “Are you telling me that it’s nothing but a painted spider?”
Albert Spindler denied all knowledge of course; all he said was that as far as he was concerned, “If you’ve seen one spider, you’ve seen them all.”
However, Mr. Rigley was far from convinced and pointed out to Albert that fraud was a very serious offence.
“You’ve wasted an awful lot of our valuable time Mr. Spindler,” he said “and we may have to prosecute. Don’t forget that we have got this spider as evidence.”
“I always knew that you’d come to sticky end Albert Spindler” snapped Sis, who had been listening.
“But Sis,” pleaded Albert, “I promise I did not paint that pesky spider!”
Clive however thought that while all this shouting was going on it may be as good a time as any to make a dash for it. He certainly didn’t like the sound of being evidence, and he knew that Albert wasn’t guilty of anything, least of all, painting spiders.
The spider expert had placed Clive on an upturned flower pot to dry, and then began to fold up the tripod and pack away his camera. Clive waited until the expert was looking the other way, then he jumped off the flower pot and ran as fast as his legs would carry him out of the wash-house door and scuttled up the side alley into the new supermarket which was still being made ready for the grand opening the next day.
He raced down one of the aisles where a boy was stacking tins onto the shelves, and into the fruit and vegetable department, were he found a good hiding place under a pile of bananas.
However, just at that moment, Mr. Rigley, who had seen Clive leap from the flower pot and had followed him into the store, went dashing past and frantically began delving among the apples and oranges searching for the spider. This soon attracted the attention of the new store manager, who politely asked him to leave and come back when the store opened the following day.
Clive could hear Mr. Rigley protesting loudly about losing his painted spider, as several of the staff ushered him through the big glass doors, locking them firmly behind him but it was several minutes before Mr. Rigley stopped screaming ‘I want my spider!’ and hammering on the glass doors.
When Mr. Rigley finally got back to the wash-house, Albert told him that the expert had gone back to London, mumbling something about wasting the museum’s time and this is not the last you’ll be hearing about it, Albert went on, pointing at Mr. Rigley.
Sis coughed politely and said would he like a nice cup of tea and a piece of ginger cake, but Mr. Rigley just glared at Albert and repeated “And you Mr. Spindler will be hearing from my department very soon indeed,” and stamped out slamming the door behind him.
“Just our flipping luck,” said Albert.
“Just your luck more like,” shouted his sister. “tell me this, if you didn’t paint that spider then who did?”
“How the heck should I know?” snapped Albert, “perhaps it painted itself.”
“Oh, and pigs might fly I suppose!” replied Sis
The following morning the new superstore was to be officially opened by the Mayor. He was to arrive at ten o’clock and give a short speech, then after cutting a tape the doors would be thrown open to the public.
However, at nine o’clock a police car arrived and Albert Spindler was taken away for questioning about defrauding the Council and cruelty to a spider.
Determined not to miss the grand opening and quite convinced that Albert would not be coming home for some time, Sis decided to join the crowd outside and watch the Mayor open the new store.
Clive had spent the night under the bananas and was so cold his teeth were chattering. He hadn’t seen one bluebottle or house fly all night and decided that the only way to get a good meal was to make his way back to the wash-house, convinced that the spider expert and Mr. Rigley would have long since given up looking for him.
He lowered himself to the floor, trying to remember the way to the big glass doors. He was quite surprised at just how quiet it was. All these shelves full of things to buy and not a customer anywhere! Arriving at the door he just managed to squeeze under the glass and soon became aware of the crowd that had gathered outside.
‘Wow!’ he thought ‘that expert really is out to get me; there are hundreds of people looking for me now.’ And in the front row, holding a jam jar he could see Mr. Rigley who was scowling impatiently at a man carrying a large pair of cardboard scissors.
Clive guessed he must be the Mayor, because he had a fancy gold chain around his neck, and seemed to be droning on about the price of pilchards and tinned tomatoes. Luckily he was standing on an empty beer crate and looking the other way, so Clive immediately decided to clamber through the slats in the crate and hide himself inside the Mayor’s trouser turn-ups. Surely even Mr. Rigley wouldn’t dare to look there.
Peeping over the top of the turn-up he could see Mr. Rigley becoming more and more impatient, as the Mayor kept going on and on about finally realizing his lifelong dream of selling low cost lobsters to old age pensioners when Clive suddenly spotted Albert Spindler’s sister standing next to the Mayor’s wife carrying her large shopping bag.
There was a loud round of applause as the Mayor finished speaking and turned to cut the tape stretched across the supermarket doors, that’s when Clive decided to make a dash for Sis’s shopping bag, once inside he knew that he’d be quite safe.
He cautiously lowered himself onto the Mayor’s shoe, but unfortunately Mr. Rigley who had been constantly watching for any sign of the spider, spotted him and immediately raced over to where the Mayor was standing, intent on scooping Clive into the jar.
However, Clive had seen Mr. Rigley’s looming reflection in the Mayor’s highly polished toe cap and instantly shinned up his sock to avoid being caught.
Furious at seeing the only piece of evidence that could stop him looking a complete idiot, once again slip from his grasp, Mr. Rigley lost his patience and in total desperation demanded that the Mayor remove his trousers at once in the name of justice.
Then turning to the colour of a ripe tomato he began violently tugging at the Mayors braces, shouting, “Come out you little so and so I know you’re in there!”
Sis, who could see the Mayor desperately trying to escape from this unprovoked attack, started hitting Mr. Rigley with her shopping bag, forgetting about the two pence pieces inside that she’d borrowed from Albert’s piggy bank and watched in disbelief as Mr. Rigley suddenly dropped to the floor like a stone.
The Mayor and his wife however, were only too pleased to see this vandal restrained and willingly accepted Sis’s offer of a cup of tea and a piece of carrot cake.
They said they would always be thankful for what she had done and how brave she was to confront that poor demented man.
Meanwhile, Clive cautiously slid from inside the Mayor’s trouser leg onto the front room carpet and was soon back in the wash-house and curled up, fast asleep inside grandad’s boots, not wishing to see another expert for as long as he lived.
As Mr. Rigley proved to be such an unreliable, as well as a violent prosecution witness, the case against Albert Spindler was dropped and he soon arrived home in a taxi.
The Mayor said he would be eternally grateful to Albert’s sister and signed a decree stating that the house should be preserved for as long as Albert and Sis wished to live there. That of course, included the wash-house, which made Clive a very happy spider indeed.
Some months later, Albert became fed up with kids pressing their noses to his front room window or sticking their tongues out as they walked past to the supermarket next door. He was becoming a curiosity and often when he was watching telly he would suddenly look round to find a crowd of people staring through his front room window, as if he was a fish in a glass bowl. So his sister wasn’t too surprised when he agreed to view some new council flats they were building next to the football ground. But she was over the moon when he said to the agent, “We like this one, we’ll have it.”
Then for weeks he hardly talked about anything else, “It won’t be long now Sis,” he’d say, “I just hope we can move in before the season starts.”
Then one morning after a heavy dew had left the cobwebs below the guttering sparkling like strings of pearls, and the bluebottles buzzed in swarms around the dustbin, Clive decided to repair his web, when he heard the loud roar of a motorcar engine being revved. He was quite used to the noise of cars driving past, but the unusual sound of someone trying to back a van into the narrow alley at the side of Albert’s house made him stop what he was doing and look through the gap above the wash-house door.
Two untidy looking lads came in through the side gate, and stood, staring at the old house as if they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Then one of them poked his head into the wash-house, while his mate knocked on the back door and Clive heard the tall lad whisper, “Have you ever had that feeling you’ve been taken for a Charley?”
His mate Tom replied “I certainly have,” nodding towards the gate as if they were getting ready to make a dash for it, when suddenly Albert Spindler threw open the bedroom window and shouted, “You boys must be keen, I thought you said half past nine.”
Sis, with her curlers still in her hair, made the boys from ‘Jacko’s Bargains’ a cup of tea, and told them that apart from the old rocking chair in the front room, everything else was to be cleared.
“Right Misses” replied the tall lad, “we better start in the wash-house and get that old mangle up the front of the van.”
While his mate Tom reluctantly handed Albert the twenty five pounds they’d agreed over the phone, saying “What a pity you didn’t mention that the Victorian Whatnot was infested with wood worms Mister Spindler.
But Albert just shrugged his shoulders and said, “They must have been hiding last time I looked mate.”
Sis, after finally managing to talk her brother into moving to a new flat just couldn’t wait to get rid of the old rubbish and buy some new furniture. She still couldn’t quite believe that Albert, who had always ranted that he’d rather live in a tent than a tower block couldn’t find a bad word to say about the new flats they’d built next to the football ground. He even agreed with his Sister that a move would do them both a world of good. What’s more, he thought that number nine on the third floor overlooking the pitch was the best flat he’d ever seen.
However, Clive, who was still living in grandad’s old army boots, watched suspiciously as the boys struggled with the mangle and wondered whatever was going on. Then he heard Albert say to one of them,
“Do you know son, I’m really going to miss this old place.”
“Miss it,” snapped Sis, who had just popped into the wash-house for her mop, “So will I, like a hole in the head.”
So that was it, thought Clive, they’re moving house.
“Don’t forget those” shouted Tom, pointing to Grandad’s old boots hanging from a nail on the wall.
“You must be joking! Chuck them in the dustbin more like,” quipped his mate.
“Dustbin!” gasped Clive, almost toppling off the toe cap. “That’s my house they’re talking about.”
“Not flippin’ likely” replied Tom, “we may get a few bob for them on ebay; old military stuff is getting quite popular and we need every penny we can get out of this lot
Then with a sickening crash Clive and the boots landed on top of the rest of the rubbish in the back of the van. After slamming the back doors shut the old van groaned and bounced over the sleeping policemen and out of the supermarket car park.
“Fancy that Albert saying that he’d miss a dump like that,” said Tom as they turned onto the main road.
“I know and he even asked his sister if he could take those old boots with him” replied his mate, sniggering. “What a Wally.”
“Or is he?” interrupted Tom “don’t forget he did managed to take us for twenty five quid for this load of old junk.”
“True” replied the tall lad, “And we’ll be lucky if we get half our money back.”
Clive could hear the boys chuckling and grumbling about Albert, but as far as he was concerned, they’d got a real bargain. After all, the mangle only had one roller missing and there was grandad’s bike, even if it was a bit rusty. The big saucepan with a small hole in the bottom must be worth something thought Clive, even Albert’s old motorcycle goggles are probably antiques by now.
Clive had become very attached to the wicker-back chairs in the kitchen where the woodworms lived and even the plastic watering can looked almost new. But the more Clive thought about things the sadder he became and he started blaming Albert for not insisting on taking grandad’s boots with him; at least then he could have gone to live with them as well.
Sadly it was all too late. He couldn’t imagine what would become of him now, and he was quite convinced that he’d never see Albert or Sis again.
Clive was beginning to feel more and more sorry for himself when the van suddenly juddered to a stop, sending a cardboard box fall of plastic mugs and old plates crashing to the floor.
“We’ll unload this lot later,” said Tom, “I’m dying for a cup of tea.”
“And a bacon sarny,” chipped in the tall lad as they clambered out of the van, slamming the doors behind them.
Climbing on top of the mangle Clive could see that they’d stopped in a busy town, the pavement was bustling with people, and the road was crowded with cars and lorries. A big green bus with ‘Supermarket Special’ written on the front drew up just behind and Clive was tempted to scramble through a hole in the van floor and catch it, thinking it may take him back to the old house. But what if it’s a different supermarket he thought and maybe they’re going to pull the house down and a dozen other things that spiders think about at times like this. Then he heard the bell ding, and the bus pulled away and was soon lost in the traffic.
So after pacing up and down on the mangle and thinking as hard as he could, Clive decided that the time had finally come to look for somewhere new to live. Glancing back at Monty’s old boots for the last time he lowered himself onto the road and scrambled up the steep kerbstone onto the pavement.
Stupidly, he forgot to look both ways before setting off towards the shops at the far side and was almost flattened by a luminous orange skateboard that sent him tumbling head over heels back into the gutter. He lay on his back in the dust with the sound of the wheels still ringing in his ears, wondering if living in a town would suit him after all.
However, determined to reach the shops Clive cautiously clambered back onto the pavement, scrambling from gap to gap in the slabs to avoid being squashed by trainers or run over by a buggy. He just avoided a one eyed teddy lobbed over the side of a pram by leaping into a crack in the cement next to a lamp post, splashing an old black beetle with brown muddy water as he landed.
“Oh dear, Oh dear, whatever next” sighed the beetle as if the world had suddenly come to an end. “Whatever is happening now, just look at the colour of my beautiful shiny black wings.”
“It’s only water that’s a bit muddy” replied Clive reassuringly “I had to leap out of the way or that flippin’ teddy bear would have crushed me.”
“Oh dear, oh dear” continued the beetle, “It’s far better to cross pavements when it’s dark, you know what they say. If the birds don’t get you then the flip flops will.”
“I’ve never heard that” replied Clive a little impatiently; “I was only trying to get to the wall over there where all the shops are.”
“Deary deary me,” the beetle droned on in a grandmotherly kind of voice, “weren’t they all? Well, you take my advice young fellow and stay where you are until it’s dark. Whoever heard of crossing a pavement at this time of the day? Still I suppose you’ll please yourself; didn’t they all?” and with that the Beetle closed first one eye and then the other and began to snore loudly.
It was such an uninviting place, cold and wet, and the beetle wasn’t going to be much company, so Clive was soon peeping over the edge of the flags waiting for his chance to make a dash for it. After sprinting from gap to gap in the slabs, he found himself peering into a broken iron ventilator below a bakers shop window.
He stood for several moments gazing into the bake house below the shop where he could see trays of freshly baked buns and doughnuts and licked his lips at the sight of large blue and green flies circling above a large basin of fresh cream. With the warm sweet smelling aroma of freshly baked bread filling his nostrils he instantly decided to squeeze through the narrow gap in the ventilator and find a good place to build his new web.
However he’d hardly put one leg inside, when a dozen or so angry looking cockroaches came rushing towards him shouting,
“Clear off you, can’t you see this is private, clear off!”
Not wishing to cause trouble, or get into a scrap, Clive quickly clambered up to a shady spot below the sill, were he was glared at by a nasty looking spider with thick hairy legs. Not bothering to wait to hear what the spider was about to say, Clive mumbled “Sorry I’m sure” and hurriedly dropped back onto the pavement.
This is not a very friendly town, he thought, wondering if he should find his way back to the van, and his old home inside Monty’s boots. But looking round he soon noticed that the van had already gone, and realised that he was now completely on his own, and to make matters worse it was beginning to get dark.
Frightened that he may be chased by a dog or one of those urban foxes he’d heard Albert talk about, he wearily climbed to the top of a lamp post were a warm orange glow had suddenly appeared. But the higher he climbed the more the wind blew, and when he finally reached the welcoming rosy glow he found that it was surrounded by a big glass bowl and offered no protection from the icy wind. Attaching a strong silk cord to stop himself being blown away in the night, he clung desperately to the glass, hoping that tomorrow his luck would change.
Clive was constantly woken by the noise of traffic and loud voices coming from the pavement below and his thoughts kept returning to the quiet, warm comfort of the old army boots when suddenly he became aware of some very bright coloured lights flashing on and off. They appeared to be chasing each other round and round a huge picture of a cat.
On the wall above the picture in large illuminated letters it read PUSS IN BOOTS, while on the pavement below Clive could see a long queue of very noisy people waiting outside the big glass doors. That must be a theatre he thought. Clive had often heard Albert Spindler say to his sister, ‘Do you fancy going to see a show at the theatre tonight Sis?’
However, at this moment Clive could hardly take his eyes off the huge illuminated picture of the cat which was wearing a very large hat with an ostrich feather tucked into the brim and a crimson jacket with enormous gold buttons. The cat was standing inside the most gigantic pair of boots he’d ever seen. They had polished silver buckles and white fur around the top, and Clive could just imagine just how warm and snug it would be, curled up inside the toe.
It was so cold at the top of the lamp post Clive’s teeth were chattering, and he started to shiver and shake so violently that he found it almost impossible to cling onto the glass. ‘If only I could find those boots,’ he thought to himself, remembering that all the cats he’d ever seen had very small feet, so there would be more than enough room for him inside.
Guessing that the cat must live in the theatre he soon made up his mind to find a way in. With this in mind he fixed a strong silk line to the top of the lamp post and began to slowly lower himself to the pavement below.
However the gusty wind soon started to swing him back and forth, pushing him higher and higher before spinning him round like a top until he began to feel quiet dizzy. Soon he could hardly remember which way up he was, when from the corner of his eye he noticed a large black object coming directly towards him.
Spreading out his legs he grabbed wildly at the object and clung to it with all his strength, thankful that he’d finally stopped spinning wildly round and round, only to discover that he was staring through a large glass disc into a gigantic bloodshot eye.
Leaping back in horror, he slipped down a huge pimply nose and dropped onto a cold bony hand that was gripping the handle of a walking stick.
Immediately the air was filled with an ear shattering shriek, and Clive was once more flung high into the air, tumbling over and over as he fell before landing with a loud crunch on an empty crisp packet. Hardly daring to open his eyes for fear of what he may happen next, Clive found to his amazement that he had landed half way up the steps leading to the foyer and in mortal danger of being crushed by dozens of tramping feet.
In desperation he sprinted into a long dark passage at the side of the theatre where a notice the shape of a large arrow fixed to the wall pointed to the stage door. Sprinting past an old man sitting in an alcove reading a newspaper, Clive soon found himself in a narrow corridor with doors leading off on both sides where a strong smell of grease paint hung in the still warm air.
On the first door was a card with “Coachman” written in big blue letters. The next said “The Miller” scribbled on a piece of coloured paper and fixed with a drawing pin. There were labels that read “Peasants” and “Herald” and “Ogre,” but on the very last door hung a big gold painted star underneath which was a picture of the cat. It was carrying a silver sword, and wearing huge boots, just like the ones Clive had seen on the picture outside. That must be the room where the cat lives, decided Clive. But finding that the gap below that door was far too small to crawl under, he decided instead to find out what lay at the far end of the corridor.
Following it round a corner he found himself standing at the side of a dimly lit stage, from where he could just make out some huge red capped toadstools and a massive windmill which appeared to be made of cardboard.
On the far side was a big red curtain reaching right to the ceiling and groups of men with white rabbit’s ears were chatting quietly to some ladies with long black whiskers and tails that made them look a bit like cats.
Darting across the stage and peeped through the gap in the middle of the curtain, Clive was shocked to see rows and rows of white faces all peering back at him.
He stood for a moment wondering whatever they were all staring at. When on strode a man in a scarlet waistcoat carrying a huge drum which he beat with a stick like a toffee apple, making Clive leap into the air with fright, and clamber half way up the curtains just as they swung apart. Suddenly the whole stage became flooded in brilliant yellow light and an orchestra burst into a loud marching tune, while standing on a podium in front, another man began waving a stick above his head urging the ladies with whiskers to spring higher and higher.
Rabbit eared men from behind the red topped toadstools and began throwing the ladies into the air as if they were as light as feathers.
Clive clung desperately to the curtain staring in astonishment as the dancers leapt and sprang across the stage, watching the colours of their dresses change from violet to green and orange as if by magic.
Soon farmers dressed in smocks wearing hats of straw and chewing long barley stalks joined in the dance, waving cardboard scythes above their heads and pretending to cut the painted corn as they leapt around the stage.
Clive was really beginning to enjoy the dancing when the man in the scarlet coat raised two giant cymbals above his head and crashed them together, sending the rabbits scurrying back behind the toadstools.
Clive’s ears were still ringing as the ladies with whiskers ran off the stage meowing like cats, just as the door in the front of the windmill swung wide open to reveal a tall thin cat standing at the top of the steps.
The audience applauded and the men whistled as the lady with a long fluffy tail slowly walked down the steps and the whole stage turned to midnight blue.
Stars hanging from the roof on strings began to twinkle, and a big round spot of light shone on the cat lady who was dressed in a crimson coat and wearing an enormous hat with an ostrich feather tucked in the brim.
She slowly walked to the front of the stage and started to sing.
The boots she was wearing however were nothing like the ones in the picture outside; they were green and shiny and covered in sparkling jewels. Clive wondered if they were made of plastic because they squeaked every time she moved. In fact, apart from the bushy tail, and a few black whiskers, the cat lady looked to Clive much more like the girl he’d seen on the checkout at the supermarket.
After she stopped singing the audience applauded loudly and shouted ‘More! More! That’s when Clive heard a high pitched whistle which almost made him lose his grip on the velvet curtain.
It was the same piercing shriek Albert Spindler used to make when he put two fingers in his mouth and Sis would jab him with her umbrella, or hit him with a rolled up newspaper and tell him to grow up.
But at that moment Clive didn’t wish to think about Albert and his sister any more. In fact he was almost glad that he hadn’t moved in with them. He’d now convinced himself that all the scrubbing and polishing that posh people do in new houses wouldn’t have suited an easy going spider like him at all.
His legs were beginning to ache, and his ears were still buzzing, so he gently lowered himself back onto the stage, thinking that he should go back down the corridor and start looking for the boots he’d seen in the picture.
He was a little disappointed that the cat lady wasn’t wearing them, but was quite sure they must be in the theatre somewhere.
“I say, do you mind deary” snapped a little grey mouse, “That’s the second time you’ve walked over me today.”
“Oh, is it?” replied Clive, “I’m so sorry but it’s all the loud music and flashing lights, I hardly know what I’m doing, there was never anything like this in the wash-house.”
“Wash-house” repeated the mouse enthusiastically, “I’ve never heard of that place, what sort of shows do they put on there then?”
“Shows? Oh no, it’s not a theatre!” exclaimed Clive. “This is the very first theatre I’ve ever been in, and I’ve decided that I’d like to live here. That is, when I can find the boots” continued Clive, “You know the big furry ones that the cat’s wearing, in the picture outside.”
“Well if you’ll take my advice deary,” replied the mouse, “You’ll forget all about boots, and cats for that matter, after tonight there won’t be any cats or big furry boots.”
The mouse scratched its ear, and looked as if it was smiling to itself.
“But let me see now” continued the mouse, “there may be the odd glass slipper or two, or of course you could consider residing inside a pumpkin”
“A pumpkin?” repeated Clive
“Only you see, Cinderella’s on next week!” blurted the mouse, breaking into screams of laughter before dashing off into the wings shouting “Boom! Boom!”
Clive shook his head as he watched the mouse scurry away, wondering whatever the strange little creature found so funny; besides he had no more idea than a fly who Cinderella was and as for pumpkins they usually had big smiling faces and candles inside. Not at all the sort of place a spider would choose to live.
He was by now beginning to feel a little rejected and all he wanted was to find a nice quiet place where he could be alone with his thoughts and maybe build a web that he could call his own. He slowly heaved himself to the top of a large black lamp standing at the side of the stage, crawling beneath some metal louvers away from the noise and the glaring lights.
The thought of living in a theatre was not quite so appealing after all. It seemed that things were here one day and gone the next, when all he really wanted was the same thing that every other spider wants, just the reassurance of knowing that the same old paint tins will be on the same shelf, and the same boots will be hanging on the same nail this year as they were last.
The cat lady had stopped singing, and the audience screamed and clapped loudly, when all the lights on the stage slowly began to fade, until the whole theatre became as black as night. Clive guessed that the show must have ended and decided this would be a good time to start building a web and catch something for his supper.
However, no sooner had he fixed the first piece of his cobweb to the front of the spot light, than an earsplitting crash of cymbals sent him rushing back to his hiding place. But it was all too late. He wasn’t even half way across the glass before the spot light flooded him in brilliant white light, casting his giant black shadow onto the scenery at the back of the stage.
The audience gasped as an enormous black spider suddenly appeared above the ogre’s head. Clive was so shocked by the searing heat of the lamp he began jumping up and down and dashing from one side of the big glass to the other in a frantic attempt to stop his toes tingling from the heat.
The performers, horrified at suddenly seeing such a huge spider dashing across the stage, rushed among the sheaves of corn, scattering them in all directions and knocking over a large cardboard stagecoach as they scrambled to get to safety.
The audience roared with laughter while the man conducting the orchestra spotted the viola player pointing at the giant shadow with his bow and threw his baton into the air with fright, before tumbling backwards off his pedestal, making the audience scream and applause even louder.
Clive rushed this way and that on the hot glass almost blinded by the brilliant light until he became so dizzy he just kept running round and round the front of the lamp in circles, making the audience roar and clap with delight as the monstrous shadow appeared to chase the actors in circles around the stage.
Then, to their amazement the Marquis of Carabas suddenly appeared from behind the windmill and began leaping over the toadstools, before jumping into the orchestra pit.
The crowd could hardly contain their delight, and shrieked with laughter as he landed sidesaddle on the double bass which gently wrapped itself around him before collapsing onto the floor in a heap of splintered wood.
One after another, the farmers and the men with rabbit’s ears sprang from the stage dragging the cat ladies after them and scrambled over the seats towards the exit,
The kids yelled and screamed with joy while the men booed and whistled excitedly. Even the old ogre finally lost his nerve, springing onto the grand piano and sliding down the polished lid with both legs frantically waving in the air.
By now most kids were leaping up and down on the seats shouting ‘More! More! We want more!’ Then the manager suddenly dashed onto the stage yelling at the top of his voice,
“Stop this insane nonsense at once I tell you. Curtain! Curtain! Will somebody please drop that confounded curtain! “
Then a brandishing a large feather duster on the end of a bamboo stick he began striking wildly at the spot light knocking Clive onto the stage and chasing him up and down the steps to the windmill.
The audience continued to applaud shouting ‘what a great show mister,’ while the men booed and whistled loudly every time the manager rushed from behind the windmill jabbing at the floor with his duster, until with one tremendous flourish he flicked Clive off the stage and into the auditorium.
A huge sigh rose from the crowd as the manager finally dashed triumphantly to the middle of the stage waving the feather duster above his head yelling. “Quiet, quiet, please I must have quiet.”
However at that very instant the safety curtain dropped like a roller blind, propelling the poor demented manager into the orchestra pit, potting the piano player into the outstretched arms of the trombonist who was attempting to play God Save the Queen on a badly twisted horn.
The audience could hardly contain themselves, yelling and screaming with delight as the dignified looking pianist suddenly snatched up the trombone and folded it in half over his knee before leaping up and down on the bell until it was almost flat.
All the kids began jumping around on the seats chanting. “We want more! We want more!”
Clive, however, could barely hear the screams and laughter as he sailed above the audience with his fingers poked in his ears and both eyes tightly shut.
He was quite amazed when he finally tumbled into a profusion of warm, soft feathers instead of the bag of sticky toffees or potato crisps he’d been expecting.
He was of course, still most upset after his ordeal with the spot light and the indignity of being tossed off the stage like a discarded apple core. However, after a few moments he decided to peep cautiously over the feathers, desperate not to be spotted by the red faced manager who had just clambered onto the conductor’s podium and was still leaping up and down like a spoilt child.
“That’s it! That’s it!” he began, screaming at the audience, “That’s it! Shows over! Good night! Good night!”
However, for some reason, a very faint smile began to creep slowly across Clive’s face as he noticed the plastic cherries and grapes all around him and recognized the familiar, dusty aroma of lavender.
To his astonishment he’d landed on top of Albert Spindler’s sister’s hat, the very hat he’d slept on so many times before on cold winter afternoons, the hat she wore only on very special occasions.
Pushing the feathers to one side Clive could clearly see Albert with two fingers in his mouth whistling at the cat lady, who had finally reappeared on the stage and was blowing kisses at the people as they slowly filed out.
Clive soon lost interest in what was happening on the stage and snuggled down in the soft feathers. He was quite content to listen to the familiar sound of Sis telling Albert to grow up and stop acting as if he were still a teenager. He didn’t even mind being bounced up and down as Sis prodded Albert with her umbrella, telling him to get down off the seat and stop behaving like a hooligan.
Even as they stood waiting for the bus Albert continued to giggle like a schoolboy, repeating over and over what a great pantomime he thought it was.
“The best flippin’ Puss in Boots I’ve ever seen,” he kept saying, “and what about that spider gag? I thought that was great crack.”
“And the shortest flippin show I’ve ever seen,” snapped Sis. “It was hardly worth dressing up for, and as far as I’m concerned you can keep your slapstick comedy nonsense.”
It was still dark when Clive woke, a little startled at the strange new surroundings.
He remembered being chased and flicked off the stage, even landing in the feathers on Sis’s hat and waiting for the bus, but after that he must have fallen asleep.
He slowly climbed down the hat stand to have a look around while Albert and Sis were still asleep.
Everything smelt of paint and furniture polish and the new pot plant on the window sill was made of plastic.
Strangely, there was no sign of Albert’s Doc Martins that usually lay in front of the telly and to his amazement all the plates and cups had been washed and put away.
That’s when he discovered the broom cupboard next to the kitchen and Albert’s old football boots hanging from a nail on the back wall.
Clive was delighted to see such a familiar pair of boots. Even if there were a few studs missing and a large hole in the sole they would still make a perfect place for a spider to live.
He’d climbed about half way up the broom handle before he noticed that some whipper-snapper of a spider had already started making a web and was no doubt thinking about turning Albert’s boots into its new home.
Well we’ll see about that” mumbled Clive as he clambered to the top of the handle as fast as he could, quite prepared to fight it out if he had to. However, he soon discovered that it wasn’t just any old spider that was standing on the toe cap nibbling an earwig and he almost tumbled off the broom handle when she turned and fluttered her long eyelashes at him.
That’s when he made his long-pondered snap decision, that as there were two boots, and he only needed one to live in, perhaps she’d like to live in the one next door. You never know, they may even become friends.
Nufink for Nufink is an amusing little cautionary tale. When the Reverend Blackstone sets out to show how kind the people of Ditmus really are, things don’t exactly go to plan. Hilarious!
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Clive is a spider who is rather more intelligent than the owner of the boots in which he lives. Grandad's old boots hang in Albert Spindler's wash-house and when Albert spots the label 'Montgomery's, he is convinced they were once worn by the world famous General Montgomery. Being an avid watcher of 'Flog it' he determines to take them to Sotheby's for a valuation. Clive's rather peaceful life is set to get a great deal more exciting, but a whole lot less comfortable. Being a very resourceful and courageous spider, not only does he survive but quite unbeknown to Albert manages to manipulate events to his own advantage. His resourcefulness is needed again when the council threaten Albert and his sister with a compulsory purchase order so that they can demolish the house to make way for a supermarket. By using his artistic skills he manages to convince the man from the council that he is a very rare spider. The expert from the Natural History Museum arrives to take photographs so that he can check it out. However, even though Clive's scheming doesn't quite work out as planned, through a series of unexpected occurrences the Mayor issues a decree that Albert and his Sister can stay in their home as long as they wish. Clive settles down once more to life in Monty Towers as he now calls his boots until, that is, one day two men from Jacko's Bargains turns up to clear the wash-house of rubbish. Albert has finally been persuaded to move to a new flat although the fact that it overlooks the football ground may have had some influence on his decision. Clive is thrown onto the pick-up truck along with the boots and resigns himself to never seeing Albert or Sis again. Once more, however, fate takes a hand and after a starring role in a performance of a Puss in Boots pantomime he amazingly finds himself lobbed into the feathers and plastic fruit sitting on top of Sis's hat as she and Albert enjoy the mayhem he has just caused onstage. There is lots of humour and some great characterisation in this book. It will be enjoyed by the young at heart of any age.