IT IS NEVER TOO SOON TO PLAY A RASPBERRY TUNE
‘Pressie, pressie, pressies…’ There was a loud thumping along the corridor as if someone was making double footed jumps. ‘Pressie, pressie, pressies…’ was accompanied with a series of claps. Tingle and Josh sat up in their beds. Sebastian had become a grown-up child and was jumping around clapping and singing ‘Pressie, pressie, pressies and… cake!’
Josh giggled at the strange man who was more excited than an excited dog after hearing the magic words ‘Doggy choc! Or walkies!’
Josh rubbed his eyes when Sebastian stepped into the bedroom doorway. He was wearing a silver velvet suit, with a very smart waistcoat, a turquoise shirt and a silver bow tie. On his head he wore a tall top hat with a badge saying ‘Birthday Boy’.
‘Ready for breakfast?’ he cried with a swish. As he rotated his silver cape lifted to reveal a turquoise under-side… He then tap danced around and Tingle noticed his shoes were silver and the undersides were also turquoise. He waved his staff dramatically as he danced around and then said ‘For the finale…’ As he swished lots of little lights glowed in his suit… On the back of his cape ‘200’ flashed made up of little lights.
Josh clapped, the strange man was very funny!
‘Come as you are,’ he said. ‘We will arrange some nice clothes for you once we have had breakfast.’
‘What is for breakfast?’ asked Tingle with a yawn and a stretch.
‘Anything you want. It is birthday time! If you want kipper and strawberry jelly it is yours because today everything is possible!’
Tingle and Josh climbed out their beds in their pyjamas and left their folded clothes on the chair. Sebastian glanced at the chairs and the clothes… ‘Hmmm,’ he said with a tone of suspicion. He then returned to his pressie dance and gestured for Josh and Tingle to follow him to the dining room.
‘Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!’ he cried bursting into the dining room! Balloons were everywhere, there were decorations and a large ‘200’ on the wall. ‘I can’t be that old? Can I? Two hundred? And I don’t look a day over 35. Of course I do know that I must be two hundred really! Yippee!’ he said breaking into another dance. He side-stepped with a series of twirls to a tall chair on the far side of the table. It had two smaller chairs either side. ‘Josh you can go on the right and Tingle the left… We will look out at the ballroom because I believe we have a bit of a breakfast treat to start the Stinkathon with. Before it begins… what would you like for breakfast? You can have anything you like… Cake, steak, hali-bait… Toast, cheese – whatever you please… Chocolate, pastry or anything tasty… Josh?’
‘Porridge, sultanas and honey please,’ Josh asked licking his lips.
Sebastian frowned, ‘That is a bit dull. You can have anything you like and you go for porridge? You do know your parents won’t know… You can have trifle… pastries or…’
‘Porridge please…’ Josh said rubbing his tummy.
‘Now Tingle… you look like a young lady who could be a bit more breakfast adventurous,’ Sebastian said hoping for something a bit more lively.
‘Yes Mister Stinkworthy…’ Tingle replied.
‘Oh good, now you can have anything… so what would you like?’ he asked.
‘Boiled eggs and soldiers please, Mister Stinkworthy…’ Tingle definitely fancied that!
Sebastian frowned… ‘Well I won’t be birthday breakfast boring… I would love trifle to start, followed by eggs Florentine and then a pancake with chocolate sauce… I said we could have anything and eat whatever we want,’ Sebastian glanced at the children in hope they might ask for something more thrilling.
Josh giggled and glanced at Tingle. ‘I like porridge.’
‘I like boiled eggs and soldiers…’ Tingle said with a grin.
‘You don’t even want a bit of trifle?’ Sebastian said turning his head to the side.
Tingle shook her head… ‘I think that is more a dessert after dinner Mister Stinkworthy.’
Sebastian made a loud sigh, ‘So I promised to tell you the final part of my story. While I share it with you there will be some wonderful music and plenty of expressive dancing from the Little Stinkers. We will look at their performance as a bit of a warm up for the Stinkathon.’
‘Mister Stinkworthy…’ Tingle asked trailing off.
‘Yes Tingle…’ he replied.
‘Can we invite our parents and Auntie Joanna? They will like it too,’ she asked hopefully.
Josh glanced at Tingle. Weren’t they supposed to be flushing the toilets to a tune?
‘Tingle… this is special breakfast without adults…’ Sebastian replied.
‘But you are an adult Mister Stinkworthy,’ Tingle replied.
‘Well technically yes, but I am now so old that I have decided that I am more of a child… Look at it as full circle and I can be whatever I want to be… on my birthday. If anyone asked me what I want to be when I grow up I would say a child. Children really do have the best lives… They can play, they get pocket money and they get really good pressies. When you are an adult it gets… well all a bit samey.’ He folded his arms and made a loud huff.
Josh was confused… how could an adult be a child?
Tingle studied Sebastian intently, she had never met a two hundred year old child.
‘Anyway – regarding your parents… They will be escorted to the viewing room to watch the festivities when the time is right. It is across the other side of the ballroom. We will all view the global proceedings from there…’
‘Mister Stinkworthy how are we going to view it if we are underground and you don’t have a television,’ Tingle questioned.
‘Magic my dear… So… here is your breakfast and I will tell you the rest of the story…’ He gestured at the porridge and boiled eggs.
‘So you asked me if I had a girlfriend Josh… Well I fell in love when I was living in the forest. I think you could guess who with? In fact it was love at first sight for me!’ Sebastian appeared all dreamy as he remembered that special moment.
Tingle glanced at Josh.
‘The Faerie Queen?’ Josh said with excitement.
Sebastian nodded sadly.
‘Was she married because she was a Queen?’ Tingle asked.
‘Ah Queens don’t have to be married to be Queens. They don’t even have to have Kings. They can be Queens without all that malarkey. Now, as a man, I had witnessed the most beautiful woman to cross my path. Not only was she beautiful, she was intelligent, fun and had wonderful wisdom. No wonder I fell in love instantly. Now let me tell you that falling in love can lead to a kind of madness and I desperately wanted to see her again. The thing is I could not make it happen. I had to let her come to me. So I carried on making my perfumes with her in mind. At the same time I had to learn how to use my new magic. That is when I first started creating creatures.’
‘You learned how to do magic by creating Stinkers?’ Tingle asked dunking a soldier in her boiled egg.
‘Not in the beginning. At first I wanted to make creatures who could go and gather the right flowers for me. When I found a scent I liked, I would ask them to gather the flowers and then asked them to plant seeds of those flowers… Those little creatures were poppets. They were just the sweetest little creatures, like small squirrels with wings. It then occurred to me that I actually didn’t need to have creatures gather the flowers because I could use magic to make lots of flowers without upsetting nature. I began to create rows of beautiful flowers in the meadows nearby. That is when I noticed Queen Lydia watching my antics with some of the other faeries. At the same time I noticed how trees blossomed and those blossoms created beautiful scents. I used the magic to grow thousands of blossom trees, I would use magic on the wind to collect the blossoms and blow them to special areas to contain the blossom made of giant webs. As I practised I realised I could use my magic to create trees with sap like maples and pines. That sap could be used to make beautiful scents…’ Sebastian waved his arms pretending to make magic. His trifle arrived so he calmed his waving. He didn’t want to knock it all over the place.
‘Every time I found a beautiful scent I would create a magical tree that made sap with that perfect smell. That was when I made my next little creatures who were like hummingbirds. They had cheerful little faces, long arms and humming bird wings. They would hover around the trees and collect the sap and put it in small magical containers and create storage for them. Every magical tree was carefully looked after by a group of flutterers. Each flutterer had a series of colours in their wings which correlated to a specific tree that they worked with.
‘I like that idea,’ said Tingle admiring how clever Sebastian was.
‘Did the Queen come and say hello?’ asked Josh after he licked his lips. The porridge was very tasty.
‘Queen Lydia asked if she could take some of the perfume back to the faerie kingdom and I of course said yes. She asked what I wanted in exchange…’ He said and smiled to himself. ‘Well I blushed and she blushed.’
‘What did you want?’ Tingle asked.
Sebastian’s cheeks turned a dark shade of pink. ‘A kiss? I croaked, hoping that she wouldn’t turn me into a frog.’
‘Ha croaked and frog,’ said Tingle smiling.
‘Oh very clever. I hadn’t realised my own joke there. So Queen Lydia smiled at me and said I wondered when you would ask…’ With that she kissed me and I was transported away. I couldn’t have loved anyone more in that moment.’ Sebastian became all gushy and awkward.
‘Yucky!’ said Josh.
Sebastian sat up abruptly. ‘How is that yucky?’
‘Kissy…kissy… kissy… dribble…’ Josh replied and stirred his porridge. He lifted the spoon and a large dollop plopped into his bowl. He glanced at Sebastian and giggled.
Sebastian began to chuckle… ‘Oh Josh… you are a funny little chap.’
‘You fell in love with the Queen of the faeries?’ Tingle was amazed. ‘She… kissed you too?’
‘Well it seems that I had surprised her on a number of occasions. She had watched me use the magic to make beauty… Also because I was going to live forever and I was now a wizard, we were actually quite compatible. Also later on she said she found the usual male faeries boring and that I was ‘different’, even if I was a bit weird. I liked that about her. She was very honest.’
Tingle frowned, ‘So where is she?’
‘Oh I am coming to that…’ Sebastian took a large spoonful of trifle and shoved it in his mouth.
‘Well, being in love does strange things to a man. I wanted to create more flower fields and more magnificent perfume trees. I realised that I was happy and content in the forest with nature. I spent my day making lovely perfumes for the faeries and the evenings by the fire dreaming. I didn’t need anything… I had everything I had ever wanted and more. Being banished from the kingdom turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Unfortunately that was going to change.’
‘Oh Mister Stinkworthy,’ Tingle said with a look of concern.
Josh shook his head and looked gloomy.
‘Was that when the hunters came?’ Tingle asked eating her last soldier.
‘There were a couple of other things that happened before the hunters came…’ Sebastian studied the two children. ‘The flower meadows were making a beautiful scent that was carried on the wind. So some of the Londoners became curious. There was talk of a fancy fragrance being carried on the breeze. News reached the royal court and the Queen asked some of the knights to locate the smell. Of course I didn’t know about this. It was only later after the incident with Sir Gilbert and the deer that it made sense.’ Sebastian shook his head as he remembered. He then had some more trifle.
Tingle was thoughtful. ‘How did they catch Lydia then?’
‘Well they had been spying on us and of course Sir Gilbert could not abide me being happy. He certainly didn’t like me being in love with the Faerie Queen. Since he was a jealous man, he researched faeries and found their weakness: glass. So he had a glass bead necklace made. That night, when I was tied up, he went to the meeting place where Queen Lydia and I often sat and looked at the stars. He had taken my clothes and pretended to be me.’
‘Uh oh,’ said Josh scraping his dish.
‘She flitted and sat beside him, he turned to her reached out and placed the glass bead necklace around her neck and she instantly fell asleep. She shrank to her small size and he placed her in a glass jar. He then took her back to the Tower of London. That is where she has been ever since. I had no idea until news came from the faeries that their Queen had gone missing. When I thought about it then it all began to add up.’ Sebastian smoothed his hair. He looked very upset. ‘So not only did I want to create a great stink as revenge… I wanted to create a distraction so I could get to the Tower to free my Queen Lydia. As you may have noticed it didn’t work. I am here and she is there…’ Sebastian made a couple of gulps and took some deep breaths. He then shovelled some more trifle in his mouth.
‘Mister Stinkworthy, if we got Queen Lydia back would you keep the stink to yourself. Surely you just need to talk to the Queen…’ Tingle suggested.
Sebastian sighed, ‘It is too late… The stinkathon has begun. There is no turning back.’
‘Stinky, Stinky, stinkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkky?’ Josh cried putting down his spoon.
Tingle didn’t like it. ‘Mister Stinkworthy… You are not a proper baddy. You are just a bit weird!’
‘Yes Tingle… It happens…’ With that Sebastian waved his arms and a number of presents were paraded in. The dancefloor burst into song and Sebastian lifted his arms in the air. The Stonkers stomped and the Warblers warbled and the whole floor began to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in harmony.
At the same time a huge birthday cake in the shape of the Waftness Monster was wheeled in on a trolley. Sebastian grabbed his heart and grinned like a small child.
‘Happy Birthday to you…
The world will smell of poop
Happy Birthday dear Sebastian
Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!’
Sebastian took a deep breath and blew. He managed to blow a few candles out. He then blew again and again. Finally he glanced at Tingle and Josh. ‘I might need some help,’ He said gesturing for Tingle, Josh and to join in. When the final candle smoked, and there were no more flames, there was applause in all directions. Sebastian ripped open his first present with a thrilled expression and paused. In fact he froze. ‘Is this what I think it is?’ he cried with tears in his eyes.
There was a unanimous warbling. Tingle peered over, there was a large metal key.
‘What is it?’ asked Josh.
Sebastian was so emotional he could hardly talk.
‘It’s a key,’ said Tingle, glancing at Josh, who peered over.
Sebastian nodded and took deep breaths. ‘Thank you so much… Thank you… Finally!’
‘Is it a key for your freedom?’ Tingle asked.
Sebastian shook his head. His lip trembled. ‘No… It is the key to free Queen Lydia.’
‘From the Tower?’ Tingle asked.
Sebastian nodded, ‘It is the best present anyone could give me…’ he wailed.
Tingle watched Sebastian shaking with emotion, the revenge wasn’t for Sebastian. It was for Queen Lydia. The question was, if he was imprisoned then how was he supposed to get to the Tower of London to free her?