Authors: Duncan Ball
Readers of these stories will know that they are really Selby’s stories and not mine. He rings me up — usually late at night when his owners, the Trifles, are sound asleep — and tells them to me. I write them down as best I can.
Recently I hadn’t heard from him for a while. I thought he’d finally run out of stories. Then one night there he was on the phone again, his voice trembling with excitement.
‘Guess what?’ he said. ‘I just travelled back in time.’ ‘But that’s impossible,’ I said. ‘It’s true! Honest! Scout’s honour!’ he said. ‘Since when were you a scout?’ I asked.
‘Okay, so I was never a scout but I did actually travel back in time to when there were knights and that.’
‘And I suppose there was a damsel in distress too?’
‘A princess locked in a tower.’
‘Yeah, there was one of them and there was a castle and a dragon and all those fairytale things.’
‘Now I really don’t believe you,’ I said.
‘Do me a favour,’ he said, ‘let me tell you the story and then you can make up your mind.’
For the next half hour I felt my scalp tingle and the hairs on my arms begin to stand up as Selby told me the most amazing tale. It’s the last story in this book. Do I believe it’s true? I’d better not say anything because I’d rather have you decide for yourself. But I will say this: it is easily the most fantastic adventure he’s ever told me.
And I thought Selby had run out of stories.
BOGUSVILLE’S BIG BELLY BUSTER BASH
‘The computer has done it again!’ Selby thought. ‘It just scrambled all my emails! Now they have the wrong addresses on them. How will I answer them? I hate this computer! When are the Trifles going to get a new one?’
Selby was taking a big risk. Mrs Trifle was at home and if she saw him using the computer his secret would be out. But he was very behind in answering his emails to kids.
‘I’ve got to at least make a copy of the ones that aren’t scrambled,’ Selby said, getting a floppy disk out of a drawer and putting it on the desk.
Suddenly the doorbell rang. Selby heard Mrs Trifle’s footsteps coming out of the bedroom and down the hall.
‘Come on Scrambler, die!’ Selby thought. With this Selby snapped the Shut Down button with a toenail. ‘Quick! She’s coming!’
The computer screen faded to a dot just as Mrs Trifle walked by. All she saw was Selby lying innocently on the chair.
‘Gary! How nice to see you!’ she cried as she opened the front door to her old friend the comedian, Gary Gaggs. ‘Is something wrong?’ she asked.
‘It’s this friend of mine,’ Gary said.
‘Really? What happened to him?’
‘He was dying of thirst in the desert,’ Gary explained. ‘He rang me on his mobile phone.’
‘And what did you do?’
‘I sent him a get-well card.’
‘A get-well card? What good is that?’
‘It was perfect: he got a well, had a long drink, and now he’s okay,’ Gary laughed. ‘Get it? Hey, I got you that time! Woo! Woo! Woo!’ he added, strutting around like a chicken.
‘Oh, I love this guy’s jokes!’ Selby thought,
trying not to laugh out loud. ‘He’s soooooooo funny!’
‘Oh, Gary,’ Mrs Trifle said. ‘That joke was terrible!’
‘Seriously,’ Gary said, ‘this morning I found a kangaroo that had fallen into a hole and hurt itself.’
‘Yes, I took him to the vet for a hoperation. Get it, a
‘That’s worse than the first joke,’ Mrs Trifle laughed.
‘The vet ended up covered in fleas.’
‘Did he really?’
‘So then he had to start from scratch! Get it?’
‘Oh, no! He had to
start from scratch,’
Selby thought as he covered his smile with his paw. ‘That’s great!’
‘Oh, Gary,’ Mrs Trifle said. ‘Thanks for coming. I really needed cheering up. I’m ready to quit my job.’
‘But why? You’re the best mayor Bogusville has ever had.’
Mrs Trifle heaved a sigh. ‘I can’t deal with all the problems. It’s not just Bogusville’s problems.
I’m expecting the mayor of Poshfield at any minute.’
‘Who, Denis Dorset? Dismal Denis? The dullest mayor in the bush?’ Gary said. ‘What does he want?’
to pay to fix the road from here to Poshfield.’
‘Don’t do it,’ Gary said. ‘Poshfield is rich. Let them pay for their own road.’
‘That’s what upsets me,’ Mrs Trifle said. ‘The law says that we have to do it because most of the road is
Bogusville. I just don’t know where we’re going to get the money.’
‘Which is exactly why I’m here,’ Gary said, handing Mrs Trifle a floppy disk. ‘This is going to make Bogusville rich.’
Mrs Trifle read the label.
‘Joke Fest?’ she said. ‘What’s this?’
‘Pop it into the computer and have a look,’ Gary said.
Selby watched Mrs Trifle as she turned on the computer and inserted the disk. A page came up on the screen that said:
Bogusville’s Big Belly-Buster Bash
The first ever country joke festival
‘A joke festival?’ Mrs Trifle said. ‘Is this your idea?’
‘Yes. Some towns have flower festivals, some have arts festivals, and some have music festivals. But how many have joke festivals? Let’s have one in Bogusville. People will come from all over and spend lots of money.’
‘It sounds good,’ Mrs Trifle said, ‘but we’d need money to start with. We’d have to hire a big tent and chairs and all those festival things. We’ll have to order lots of food and drinks.’
‘Borrow it from the bank. You’ll make it all back. Then Bogusville will be rich! And all the people from Poshfield will wish they lived here.’
‘It’s a good idea, Gary,’ she said, pacing around the room. ‘But how about hiring comedians?’
‘You don’t need comedians,’ Gary said. ‘On this little disk are all my very best jokes. I’ve spent a lifetime collecting them. The people of Bogusville can tell them.’
‘Who, for instance?’
‘Anyone who wants to.
could tell some.’
‘Me? I can’t tell a joke to save my life.’
‘Of course you can. These jokes are so good they practically tell themselves. They’re absolutely people-proof.’
‘But it takes so long to memorise things.’
‘The people who tell you the news on TV don’t memorise it. They read it from a little screen. Have a look.’
Selby watched as Gary Gaggs showed Mrs Trifle the jokes. There were two columns. On the left were the jokes and on the right were all the punchlines.
‘We’ll put the computer where only the person telling the jokes can see it,’ Gary said. ‘Go ahead, give it a go.’
‘Let me see now,’ Mrs Trifle began. ‘I used to work as a vet in an aquarium. One day I wanted to see how much the whale weighed so guess what —?’
‘Now read the bit on the right,’ Gary said. ‘That’s the punchline.’
‘Okay. I took it to a whale weigh station. Oh, I get it, a
whale weigh station.
That’s good, Gary.’
‘Try another one,’ Gary said. ‘This time say it loud and proud.’
‘Sure. After the aquarium I got a job in a zoo. There were a lot of sick birds. They all had to be tweeted.’
‘They had to be
Selby thought. ‘That’s great! Mrs Trifle is almost as funny as Gary!’
‘The other day I went to the dentist,’ Mrs Trifle continued. ‘I said, “Do you take teeth out painlessly?” And she said, “Not really. The other day I was pulling a tooth and I sprained my wrist.”’
‘Oh, I love it!’ Selby thought. ‘I love Gary’s gags!’
‘Then I asked a gardener why he never bothered to water the grass. He said “Don’t worry, it’ll all be wet in
‘You see?’ Gary said. ‘All you need are good jokes and you’re a comedian.’
‘You’ve convinced me. We’ll have the joke festival on Bogusville Day, June 14th,’ Mrs Trifle said writing June 14th on a pad next to the computer. ‘But we have to keep it absolutely secret till we start advertising. I don’t want some other town to steal the idea and get in first.’
‘Right you are,’ Gary said. ‘Keep the disk. It’s just a copy. Hey, there’s old Dismal Denis’ car pulling up right now. I’m out of here.’
Selby watched as the big, black limousine pulled up outside. The driver ran around and opened the car door. Out stepped a grim-looking man in a grey suit. Mrs Trifle met him at the door just as Gary was leaving.
‘I’ve come about the road, Mayor Trifle,’ Mayor Dorset said in a flat voice. ‘I am here to inform you of your obligations under Section Seventeen of the Highways and Byways Act of 1904 and —’
‘We’ll pay to fix the road,’ Mrs Trifle interrupted him.
‘Yes we will,’ Mrs Trifle said cheerfully. ‘Is there anything else?’
‘That shut him up,’ thought Selby. ‘Now he doesn’t know what to say.’
‘I-I-I-We will have to have that in writing,’ Mayor Dorset said, finally.
‘If you wish,’ replied Mrs Trifle. ‘Just a sec. I left my pen and paper in the other room. I’ll be back in a tick.’ Mrs Trifle left the room.
‘I don’t like the look of this guy,’ Selby thought. ‘He seems shifty.’
The mayor looked all around him and then noticed that the computer was on in the study. He tiptoed in and read what was on the computer screen.