20. The Exploding Maggot and Other Stories.

Nickytams20_524Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself.




Life is never dull with Tracy around the place.

At first, and building up to the coronation, Tracy was happy being the power behind the throne. There were many things to do, especially after the fantastic mess she made of her Economic Community.

You see, Tracy had persuaded Nicky Tams that the Kingdoms of Nosepipe and Ang Gonnasec should be made into one, with the same laws and everything. They couldn’t agree on a name for the new set-up so they called it the Economic Community, or E.C. for short.

Tracy appointed many important people to be Regulators of the E.C. and, as they would, they spent their time thinking up many important Regulations.

Nobody is sure which Regulation it was that eventually caused the riots. A chap in the pub said it was either E.C. Regulation 597 (b) concerning the universal standard distance between the prongs of garden forks, or E.C. Regulation 631 (c) concerning the number of ladies’ hairdressing shops allowed per 100 population. Or, it might have been E.C Regulation 2098 (p) forbidding the term ‘licorice torpedo’ on the grounds that they are not literally torpedoes. They are incapable of self-propelled travel through water and are not carried on submarines for warlike purposes, but some people might buy them thinking they were. Anyway, whichever was the Regulation, the riots showed that the people clearly had had enough.

Tracy had to undo the E.C. and go back to the original ways, during which tangled and headache-making process she convinced herself that it was all Nicky Tams’s fault. She began to wonder why there was a mere male on the throne anyway. Why not a female?

She decided to get rid of Nicky Tams. She would promote herself from Power Behind The Throne to Queenly Personage Sitting On It.

Her first cunning plan was the Exploding Maggot. It worked, to a certain extent, in that it did explode, but not in the fishing-bait tin while in the King’s pocket as intended. It exploded in the River Derwent near Wrench Green on the end of Nicky Tams’s fishing line (yes, yes, it’s private fishing there, we know, and fly only, but he was the King).

There was a terrific sploosh when the Exploding Maggot went off and a trout leaped out of the water and landed on the bank. Nicky Tams had never caught such a big fish before. It weighed half a pound (that’s the Olden Days equivalent of 226.8 grams). He was very pleased with it.

Next, Tracy tried the rocket propelled bicycle. She went to the hardware shop and bought some sodium chlorate weedkiller (such a thing could be done by young persons in the Olden Days). She mixed this half and half with caster sugar, which makes an explosive kind of rocket fuel, and then went quietly one night to the shed where Nicky Tams kept his new dropped-handlebar racing bike.

Tracy unscrewed the bell and drilled a hole in the handlebars where the bell sat, and took the bungs off the handlebar ends. With great care and patience she packed the handlebars full of her weedkiller and sugar mixture, put the bungs back in, and got to work on the bell. She rejigged the insides of the bell with a battery and wires, so that when you tried to ring it, you produced an electrical contact instead.

The contact was fixed to a little bit of soldering she had made earlier, and this was of wires to a torch bulb with the glass very, very carefully broken off so that only the fragile filament remained.

She inserted the filament with extreme caution through the handlebar hole into the explosive mixture. When Nicky Tams tried to ring his bell the contact would be made, the bulb filament would glow red and the rocket fuel would ignite. She hoped.


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