superhero

The lure of buried treasure

After yesterday’s post, I shall introduce today’s post by pulling back the curtain and saying “Ta-der”.

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The bull

It is a well established fact that Stoke City FC’s most illustrious player, Sir Stanley Matthews was known as the Wizard of the Dribble (and not just because of his excessive salivation). Less well known is that teammate Freddie Steele (pictured below) was known as The Bull. No one is entirely sure of the reason for this name but he did seem to chew an awful lot of cud.

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Free for all

Free to use story pitches for a variety of needs. Please help yourself.

1. Dafty Duck

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The story of a mentally ill mallard who frequently suffers from fits of rage.
Along with his friends Pokey Pig, an overweight porker with a debilitating, stuttering speech impediment and Elmo Thud, a huntsman whose speech impediments include an inability to pronounce the letter “r”

Speech impediment and mental illness based hilarity ensues.

The character Bigs Bunny is probably best left well alone, for reasons that those who have been following this blog for a while will understand.

NB I have a sneaking suspicion that this idea may already have entered pre-production.

2. Topper Tales

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A man keeps strange things hidden in his top hat. Hilarity ensues.
NB further amusement may be derived from the fact that his badly drawn muffler looks like a goatee beard tucked into his coat.

3. Monkey Go Bananas

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Highly stylised mismatched monkeys attempt to retrieve bananas from an off shore island which is just beyond their each. Hilarity ensues.
(May be a good basis for a film starring Sylvester Stallone and someone else with a hairy back.

Plus it’s a good title.

4. Screw Ball
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In austerity-ridden northern England, Arnold Mildew-Ball heads for Olde London Towne seeking his fortune. After weeks of futile searching, he is forced to cut off his left hand and sell his fingers and thumb as sausages on the black market (aka Spittalfields).
Bereft of his hands and bleeding profusely, he is found unconscious on the streets by Dr Frank Epstein who sews him back together fitting him with a prosthetic screw-headed assembly to which any number of tailor-made fittings may be attached.

Oh! Forgot to mention- hilarity ensues.

Now, pick up these ideas and run with them, you’re bound to make your fortune (I’ll take a 10% cut of your pre-tax profits).

Peasouper Man

Today we have another fact filled post… If that’s not what you want, scroll down, my friend.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the great smog of London.

In 1952, London was an industrialised, coal-powered city. December was a cold month. Cars were becoming more prevalent as a means of transport.

The cold weather meant that people began to heat their homes. This was done using coal fires. British coal for household use was the lower quality sulphur rich leftovers once the high grade coal had been sold for export.

London was famous for its pea-soup fog from Victorian times, named for its yellowy black thick, soot filled air. Londoners were born and raised to breathe the stuff. But 1952 was different.

The freezing cold weather trapped the noxious fog at ground level and continued to thicken for almost a week. Visibility during ‘daylight’ was around 1 metre. When night fell, the street lamps in use at the time failed to penetrate the smog, leaving pedestrians blind.

Driving became impossible. All ambulance services in the capital were cancelled, leaving the sick to make their own way to hospital. Public transport was cancelled (although the Underground managed somehow to maintain a service) but there was nowhere to go anyway as the smog penetrated theatres, concert halls and movie theatres which were all closed down due to the appalling visibility levels in the stalls. All sporting events were cancelled too as people began to feel the effects of the smog

London became a silent and still place, with only the explosion of railway warning charges breaking through the calm (as a footnote, these charges were placed manually by engineers at all signal posts and detonated beneath train wheels to give drivers an audible warning when approaching invisible junctions).

For the first time, Britain began to see that air pollution was not something to accept and ignore.

In one week, hundreds of thousands of Londoners were stricken with respiratory illness caused by the smog which had slipped its toxic tendrils into people’s homes, managing to kill some 12000 people by modern estimates.

Eventually, the weather broke and rain rinsed London clean, taking streams of odorous poison away with it. London got up from its knees and did what it does best, passing under-powered legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the City of London (Various Powers) Act, neither of which were enough to prevent more deaths 10 years later as similar weather trapped the pollution once more. Luckily the Beatles came along to save the world and everything was fine and dandy.

To leave some kind of positive note amidst this depressing post, these events kick-started environmentalism in the UK and lead to a new awareness of the dangers of air pollution.

Personally every time I return to London after a stay in my home pastures of the Staffordshire Moorlands or a holiday stay near the salt marshes of Norfolk, I can feel the London air seeping into my lungs as we drive back into the capital. It’s good to clean the air filters now and then but London is still a vibrant living city.

Having by now destroyed you with a tedious history lesson, I can reward those who have made it this far with the truth about the Great Smog.

The Great Smog was a super-villain of epic proportions. Think of him as The Joker and Victorian London as Gotham City. His evil plan? To turn the air from a gas into a solid. He would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those pesky kids (TM Hannah-Barbera) and Britain’s first superhero, the vaguely derivative and slightly tenuous Pea Souper Man.

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Abort! Abort!

Well, needless to say, it all went horribly wrong.

Aside from the fact that I was the only person that arrived to carry out the plan, a minor malfunction resulted in me being hurled into space while the nuclear explosion showered me with radioactivity and imbued me with the the superpowers of a carrot.

As soon as I defeat this very angry giant bunny and find a way of getting back to earth, I’m going to give the boffins at British Intelligence a stern talking to.

Until then, sayonara (1957, Marlon Brando).

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