9. Let loose the dogs of war! Have at ye, varlet!

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself



Let loose the dogs of war! Have at ye, varlet!

In the Olden Days, soldiers used to say things like that. They also said “Lay on, Macduff” and “I want my mammy”.

The Nosepipians’ journey across the sea was total chaos, with quite a few of the ships being sailed by people who had only done wind-surfing before. There were no signs or anything to give them directions, and the weather got worse and worse.

They thought they were sailing sort of out a bit and kind of south-ish, but couldn’t even be sure of that. How the fleet did not scatter into single ships all going different ways, nobody ever knew. It must have been good luck. It was certainly not due to good management among the sailing fraternity.

When the rain stopped, the winds calmed down and the mist and the clouds cleared, they could see land and a biggish kind of a town on the starboard bow.

“Biggish kind of a town on the starboard bow, aharr, Jim lad,” called the look-out from the crow’s nest.


The King looked out as well, then looked at Tracy, and she looked at him, but they didn’t know (a) if they were bobbing about off the coast of Ang Gonnasec, or (b) if it was half past a quarter to cheese by the village pump.

At that very moment, the tide turned to ‘IN’ and a stiffish breeze began to blow towards the shore. Without really meaning to, the Nosepipian fleet sailed, almost half tidily, into the harbour.

The town seemed like a fairly busy spot with quite a lot going on. There was a castle up on top of the cliff and, below it, plenty of nice houses with red-tiled roofs. Next to the harbour were some interesting little wooden huts painted white, but the Nosepipians couldn’t tell what they were because they could only see the backs of them.

When the Nosepipians got off their ships onto the quay, the townspeople thought they were tourists and started trying to sell them ice cream, postcards, caddy spoons and small painted statues of horses.

The women in the white wooden huts offered various kinds of miniature curly pink and brown things on saucers with pepper and vinegar. Voices boomed from big, glitzy, open fronted shops over the road, suggesting that the newcomers should immediately come in and sit down to a game of bingo.

“We’re not flipping trippers!” thundered Tracy. “We don’t want your cockles and your rotten One Win prizes! We are invading you! Where is King Canoe? We shall do battle!”

“Ooer,” said Mrs Avril Burblebottom of 33B Gladstone Road, Scarborough, and ran to the telephone box (they didn’t have mobiles in the Olden Days).

Aaarggh! It was one of those stupid ones you need a card for, so she ran to the next, put in her money and dialled 999. In her excitement, she had quite forgotten that you didn’t need any money to dial 999.

The person on the other end said “Emergency. Which service do you require?”

“The King and the Army,” said Mrs Burblebottom. The person wanted her address and everything first, and then she was put through to the King.

“This is King Canoe,” said a voice. “I’m sorry I’m not here to take your call, but if you leave a message with your name and number, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Please speak to me, after the funny noise. Beeeeep.”

“Hello, hello. This is Mrs Burblebottom, you know, from Glaggy Road, I mean Gladstone Road of course, sorry, your, er, majesty, I hate these answer thingies, anyway, look, how long have I got? You see, there’s been (and here her voice went to a whisper, in case she was overheard by the enemy) an invasion, you see. With an army. In Scarborough, for goodness’ sake (her voice went loud again as she suddenly became annoyed). It’s those Nosepipians, that’s who it is, pretending to be tourists. Anyway, they want a battle, so could you…”

And here the answering machine went click, so that was it. Mrs Burblebottom thought she’d done her duty. She went to the butcher’s on North Marine Road and treated herself to a nice pork chop for her lunch.


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