[Ennio Morricone’s classic For a Few Dollars More plays out from an old coffee shop on Southsea seafront and water from the heavens lashes down onto a lonely figure in a poncho-style raincoat. Tom is sat on a wooden picnic table bench combo, his wide brimmed hat dripping with lashings of summer rain. He is being overly theatrical, as he bides his time awaiting an epic showdown with a woodland animal. Biting into a soggy slice of Bakewell tart, a rustle in the bushes before him reveals a Badger. The creature is dressed in similar attire and squats down beside the bush and scratches his stomach beneath the cloth poncho]
So, welcome to the coffee shop, Badger, I thought it would have taken you much longer than it has to find out what I’ve been up to. I underestimated you, you furry flump.
I took the bus [says Badger, chewing on a piece of bark, as if it were a gunslinger’s tooth-pick.]
[Tom twiddles his own tooth-pick around his mouth and then spits it out as it nearly chokes him] So, I guess you’ll be wanting to know the whereabouts of that moaning missy of yours?
Don’t you speak about her like that! You have a point, but don’t you dare… Where is she? [Badger stares around the sodden green lawn at the empty picnic benches and flower beds, but there is no sign of Belinda. Although it is dusk, he is uncomfortable at being out in the open like this – it’s not in his nature. He has travelled a great distance, albeit by the bus that stops outside his woodland sett, and his paws are aching from padding on too many human floors of concrete]
I don’t know who you mean? [Tom laughs like a Bond baddie and strokes his arm, pretending there’s a white cat on it, mixing his film genres again, as more rain splashes down onto his spaghetti western style hat]
Where is Belinda, you nonce?
[Belinda by The Eurythmics is playing in the cafe now]
Oh, your Moaning Myrtle is alive – for now – but she doesn’t have long!
[Badger bares his teeth] Is that song that’s playing called Belinda?
Possibly – [Tom cackles, releasing a flurry of Bakwell crumbs from his mouth]
You’re sick! I always thought it was an odd thing for a human to employ an animal to run his blog for him. I always thought you were an idiot! You prayed on the fact that I’ve been trying to get on the TV and in the movies. When you offered me the gig, I thought why not… but how could you stoop so low? Kidnapping Belinda just to improve this crappy blog!!!
Stoop so low! I had to try something. Who wants to listen to a Badger talking to people every week. I needed to spice it up with a better back-story. Something to keep people interested. I take your wife, you suddenly become a more interesting character – not just a woodland creature who scratches, shits and loves peanuts but a broken, tormented soul who scratches, shits and eats peanuts.
You Muppet! She’s the love of my life! How could you do this to me? Do you know what I’ve been through?
No, not really I don’t read the blog myself… bit busy for all that stuff… but, you know that it’s all about entertainment these days, Badger! You’re the dreamer!
So, killing my cousin, Brock, is entertainment?
Oh, don’t be ridiculous, that was just good luck. He got run over. You lot do that, you know… if you didn’t the phrase ‘road-kill’ wouldn’t exist!
So, if you made everything up about Don Warren, he really doesn’t know where I am then?
No, I think if he did we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He didn’t send Helga the homeopathic hedgehog round – I did! She’s a friend’s pet! She’s actually been in a couple of movies and her owner didn’t mind helping out. Weasel found Vassily the Vole and the main reason he wouldn’t talk is because he knew nothing. I expect that once Don Warren finds out about what you did to Vassily, he’ll be paying you a visit though. I’d just keep moving on if I were you – you could learn a thing from The Littlest Hobo
[Tom laughs maniacally]
I thought you said you didn’t read the blog?
[Tom remains quiet and finishes the soaking wet Bakewell]
But how did you know that I’d testified against Don Warren?
Helga’s uncle Harry belongs to W.A.R.P – You know, the Witness Animal Relocation Programme. His owner filled me in, that’s why I chose you – you are an interesting character, Badger, if maybe a little boring and vulgar.
Belinda Carlisle’s Summer Rain is now playing.
[Badger snarls again and scratches, shrugging off his wide-brimmed hat, which looked pretty daft to be honest] Are you doing this on purpose. That’s Belinda Carlisle isn’t it? What’s wrong with you Tom – I mean what do you want? How do I find Belinda?
Good choice of title considering the weather don’t you think? Well, that’s the right question, stinky! The blog has finished so I don’t want you cropping up anywhere else and having a pop at me on the world wide web, so I just needed some reassurance, some leverage if you like. You say anything about this and my fiendish kidnapping plot to improve my blog stats and I tell Don Warren where you are! Capiche?
What do you mean – give my position away to Don Warren? This is going on the blog isn’t it! He’s bound to find me now, just by searching the woodland areas of the south coast… Not that I want to give him any tips or anything!
Don’t worry about that Dumbo, no-one’s really reading it – that’s another reason I want you out – I need to do something a little more interesting and sensible. But the main thing is I need you to resign as I can’t afford to pay out the rest of your contract – so do we have a deal?
Okay, then, okay… Where do I sign? [Badger ambles towards Tom, who throws a damp piece of paper towards him – Badger shrugs off his poncho and shakes it in his mouth for a while like a playful dog. He stamps his paw print on the document, picks it up in his teeth and drops it onto the table]
Ta! [Tom pushes the contract inside his poncho and gets to his feet]
So tell me – where is Belinda?
She’s at Hot Rocks – I’ve tied her to the sea wall for dramatic effect, but as we’ve over run a bit, I may have messed up… the tide is coming in quicker than I thought. You should be okay though, just hurry – so long you furry idiot! [Tom laughs and walks off into the distance to continue his pitiful existence as For a Few Dollars More plays out again…]
You Dingbat! [Badger screams and wiping down his wet fur, darts off into the gloaming across the seafront. He races past a few startled onlookers across Southsea common who are all pointing at the strange sight of a Badger racing across the wet grass. Suddenly, Badger can hear Holding Out For a Hero by Bonnie Tyler. He stops and looks around, confused by this seemingly magical soundtrack that seems to be following him across the common as he races to save his one true love] I’m coming Belinda, just hang on!
Intermission… as we wait for Badger to get across the common – dum, de dum – right, on we go.
Fifteen minutes later – Hot Rocks, Southsea seafront:
[In the dip of a wave created by the plundering Isle of Wight Ferry, a furry black and white face bobs above the waterline.
Badger is astonished to now hear the Baywatch Intro playing. He recalls the farmer watching this on his own whenever his wife went out shopping. With the music and the waves pounding in his furry ears, Badger swims to the rescue of his beloved Belinda. He sees her. She is tied against the sea wall in chains as seawater laps against her furry legs. The beach is deserted, but by the light of street lamps along the promenade, Badger is guided towards her] I’ll be there! [he grunts, swallowing seawater] I’ll be there! [he sings as the music plays on. There is a muffled response from Belinda, who is chewing at her ties. It sounds as if she has already eaten her way through her gag]
What bloody well kept you! You halfwit!
Coming my [Badger swallows seawater] little Buttercup!
Don’t rush will you, love… I’ve only been missing for about three months!
Be there in a [swallows some seaweed] tick, Angel-cake!
Angel-cake!!! I would have been fishcake if you’d left me any longer!
[Badger dips beneath another wave and resurfaces, riding the swash onto the shore. The water is smashing against the seawall and has now reached Belinda’s waist. He dives down and bites away the ties around her legs before surfacing and then shaking his fur in slow motion, paying homage to The Hoff. Finally, the rope comes away and Belinda is freed – she farts and scratches and together the two of them paddle to safety, until they crash out on the pebbles further up the beach. The music abruptly stops]
Oh, Belinda, I’m so pleased to see you’re okay
No thanks to you! Where have you been anyway?
I, I, thought you’d left me, you know for Brock… who got run over by the way…
Then I got Weasel to look for you, and then he used Ron and Reg to track you down and here I am, rescuing you.
And all that took months did it? Bet you’ve been having a great time with the new job and all that, hardly missed me, I bet.
Now that’s not true my pretty Pumpkin. I’ve been a total mess without you – the sett is just not the same without you.
Isn’t that a line from Shrek?
You’re hopeless but you’re my hopeless, I guess. Come on, we’ve got a long walk back to the sett…
[Badger smiles and nuzzles his wife – she nuzzles him back and then nips him] Ow! What was that for?
That was a love-bite, dear!
Ahh… thanks my fluffy bundle of cuddles.
[Badger and Belinda waddle off up the beach as night falls on Old Portsmouth. Down the road, they see that the bus that stops at the edge of their woodland home has pulled up at the kerb. The driver runs out and heads behind some bushes near the Cathedral, he looks panicked as he races behind a bush and pulls down his trousers…]
Quick come on, there’s no one on that bus… come on, hero, let’s sneak a lift home.
[Badger smiles and so does Belinda. Tired and weary they sneak on and hide underneath the back seat, until the driver gets back on board. As the bus starts up, Belinda nuzzles up to Badger]
So, when have you next got to work?
Erm, about that. It looks like I might have to go and sign on the Mole!
What? You’ve lost your job! We’re living off peanuts as it is… how are we going to survive?
Well, a few of my guests didn’t take their peanut treats, so I reckon we should be okay for a while, and something will come up, it always does!
[As the empty bus makes its way out of the city, Badger and Belinda resume married life and continue to argue their way to their own happy ever after.]
Well now those furry idiots have gone, I can get on with another blog. If you really want to know the latest on Badger, he has just signed off the Mole and is due to start filming the first episode of the brilliant Tim Burton’s Animal Crimewatch on Channel 4 – his first role will be to play a murder victim in the reconstruction of Brock’s death.
Here’s the footage –
See you all soon for something a little more serious and interesting… well sort of…