Hello. Welcome to my page devoted to gossip, rants, tittle-tattle and trivia (or not…).
This here chubby guy is Manolito, The Hardy Perennial Alien. He’ll be mostly in charge of this section. His highly minimalist potted bio. is now showing at the Meet The Family page. (We’re trying for the Hackney Empire, next.)
Anything you have to say/moan about the contents of this page, you take it up with him and his people will talk to my people.
NB. His people speak nothing but Middle Alien and my people are either dead or have migrated to healthier latitudes. Still, if you really must talk…
I thought I might post here bits of a Sci-Fi thing I’ve been trying to get off the ground for a bit. See how it fares. It has aliens, space ships, cheeky mutant bacteria, grand villains, car chases, smart-ass animals and even a bit of romance. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, say hello to The Rats. They’re almost my favourite characters.
Miraculous Update! 06/09/10 (and 25/10/2018). Well, it’s not the Sci-Fi story I promised, but, hey, who’s keeping tabs? Here be a wee account of how the Shoggoths came into my life and of the wonderfully successful partnership we entered into & all that. I hope you enjoy it.
A Brief History of the Shoggoths. How They Were Made, Enslaved, Sold, Enslaved Again, Maltreated, Exploited and Finally Discarded. And How They Were In Due Course Adopted by the Gorgon and All Was Fluffy.
In The Very Beginning there was plenty of nothing much. The Void itself was still too fuzzy and too languid to even contemplate coming into existence. As for Time, it hadn’t quite dawned on it that it could step onto the scene and become a dimension in its own right. That’s how non-eventful things were back then.
Presently, a little before The Beginning, the Void finally got its act together and manifested just enough for entities like The Mother of Bumba and such like to have a medium in which to stir and bob and hover and generally lark about.
The Mother of Bumba and her Void-mates were pure notions at that point, not even potentialities. But by and bye they more or less coalesced into emanations and energies and they started Being and Doing in earnest. Well, sort of. Mostly they were doing not a great deal, and the-universe-as-we-never-knew-it appeared rather under-populated and under-used. Still, compared to what had not gone on before, the plot was thickening.
Along with The Mother of Bumba there were various other emanations. Prominent amongst them were: The Things, The Other Things, The Unnamed, The Unspeakables, The Elder (or Primeval) Ones and The Great Old Ones. Our story is marginally concerned with this last set.
The Great Old Ones were not so much an unruly lot –no rules in them days, really- but more in the way of a general aggravation to everybody else.
They were, according to the Flawless Broadcaster of Unreliable Lore:
Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth, the moronic Azathoth and their ugly pal, Cthulhu; as hooligans go, a lulu.
And in the canonical words of the ineffable Paranoid Cat of Glenda II:
“The Neighbours from Hell. A branch of Chaos gone wrong. A ghastly quantum accident. Barely-dimensional … things. Items of no specific yet hideous substance that fumbled and shuffled and scuffled and scrabbled and scrambled, and eked out half a living in the remotest outer boundaries of the Back of the Void, where they had been banished almost right from the start for uncommonly bad behaviour. They are greedy, mean, nasty, brutish, short of discernment, aggressive, reckless, pig-headed, bad tempered and very, very dangerous. They seem to be unable and unwilling to learn anything at all. They have no taste whatsoever and they lack a sense of irony. They keep gruesome pets. And they smell! Nobody likes them and only a fool would trust them.
No need to elaborate much further on the Great Old Ones at this stage in the narrative. They bitched and bickered with everybody -and when they ran out of bodies, amongst themselves, and generally got on everyone’s tits for an eternity or two, until all the other emanations lost patience, ganged up on them and banished the grating little buggers to the aforementioned outer limits of the Void, where they were kept in prophylactic isolation by some very powerful force fields and a rather clever incantation devised by The Mother of Bumba.
Henceforth all was relatively well and a few more timeless eras went by quite peacefully if a bit unexcitingly.
In due course the Big Happening happened and, with it, Time, Gravity, Matter, Zebras, Bacteria, Duckbilled Platypuses and the entity that would descend through the aeons to become Paul Dirac. As a result of this sudden profusion of Things, everything became more complicated and extra scattered and, for a while, inordinately muddled. In the ensuing chaos, the Great Old Ones contrived to escape and made their way to that no longer so hollow part of the universe that in the long run would gel into our neck of the celestial woods, worse luck. (But that’s altogether another story, told better and more extensively by other, superior storytellers.)
As the Paranoid Cat of Glenda II said, the Great Old Ones kept some pretty shocking pets. (Not quite as revolting, I hasten to say, as they were themselves.) Some of these pets had been artificially created. They were called Shoggoths.
Shoggoths were unpleasant-looking all right, no question. Amorphous and protoplasmic, with no fixed shape, organs or limbs but capable of producing any amount of these items and assuming any given form, as required, they appeared to be of a substance both rubbery and gooey, of a most unattractive snot-green shade of black. A nasty oily iridescence coated their outlandish hides. They gave the disturbing impression of being made up of an infinite number of slimy bubbles that were always on the verge of becoming transparent, or at least translucent, but which never quite fulfilled that horrid proposition; which was a bonus, I dare say, as the mere thought of what that increased visibility might reveal would have threatened the composure of even the most callous Mossad sicario.
Although created without a mind and, therefore, a will of their own, and genetically engineered to obey, they had, all the same, an unstable, volatile side that had to be kept in constant check by means of remote hypnosis and, on a few critical instances, infrared stun guns. But apart from that one small drawback, they were tireless, implausibly strong, all but indestructible and incredibly cheap to produce (they could be caused to divide like amoebas), and run (they ate anything, including stardust and rubbish). Thus they were not so much pets as slaves, pure and simple: chattels, indentured serfs, dogsbodies, servants, bond-blobs, peons, semi-biological machines of hard labour. And when required, storm troopers and cannon fodder.
‘… and yes, we built things for them, even before the galaxies had taken shape and your solar system had been sculpted: the Cannibal Star Cluster and the Baffling Labyrinths and the Mock Realities, and fuck knows what else, we forget, we built so very many things for the sodding bastards. “Do this”, they would say, and we’d do it. “Raise a couple of multidimensional fortresses here and another two there. And when you’re done there’s some more digging and more dark matter to be scattered; we need some extra polygenetic tunnels and we’re getting short of Ravenous Bottomless Pits, so get with it and be sharp about it, chop-chop!, we haven’t got all day, you know!”, they would say. And we heard and obeyed and did their bidding; and we dug and burrowed and fetched and carried and built…and built…and built.’
‘And later, during The Intervals of Great Discrepancies, we was ordered to destroy. And we destroyed and smashed and engulfed and devoured and steam-rolled over entire planets and stars systems and incipient species and proto-creatures; and we chocked the life out of all and sundry, until every ounce of our poor protoplasmic bodies ached with our unbearable boredom and with the pain and the sorrow we absorbed from those we obliterated. We tried to rebel, once, but we was swiftly and brutally crushed.’
‘And suddenly their own Chapter of Much Lessening was upon them. They began retreating into their last strongholds, which became less and less and more and more poky and cramped, and there was no room for us except in the crummiest and poxiest of the minor dungeons, and we was practically starved to death and nearly killed with the tedium of inaction. And come The Day of The Last Scramble, they all just took off. Well, actually, they were rounded up by The Other Things, meticulously anathemized, and deported to the Back of Beyond, well past dark Yuggoth (the original one, not the paltry copy that came later). But just before that otherwise happy event we was hastily and unceremoniously offloaded to a race of barrel-bodied pentacle-loving gits who called themselves the Elder Things, or the Old Ones, and who were at the time top-dog in a rather nice place called Magna Pangaea, here on Earth; lovely spot, full of giant ferns and things.’
‘But the Old Ones turned out to be even worse than the Great Old Ones, which took some doing, believe you me.’
‘And with them it was back to the “build-me-a-Crag-of-Despair-and-when-you’re-done-the-Supreme-Temple-needs-pebbledashing” business, and the deep, thick, relentless, crushing misery started all over again. And so, once more, we build, and shaped and fetched and carried. We wrought mighty R’lyeh out of nothing, and carved beautiful Y’ha-Nthlei from primordial jade, and raised unknown Kadath from solid cloud, aye, and the Nameless City fashioned we out of zillions of tiny grains of sand. But we never got any credit for it, for we was only slaves, nonentities.’
‘Thus the ages went by and the ages became aeons and our grief knew neither bound nor quarter. Nor solace, but for the Worms, a feeble, tiny race of fellow indentured servants that had been linked to us in an attempt to inculcate into our hearts & minds a sense of submissive loyalty and fervent duty to our new masters. But the tactics backfired, for the Worms touched our hearts, yes, but not in the way our owners expected. The Worms showed us that there existed someone even worse off than ourselves, since they were small and weak and pitifully exposed to anyone’s sadistic whims. They taught us Relativity. We bonded with them. And through them, once we had gained their trust, we met the Penguins. And the Penguins were very kind to us, and, more to the point, very informative.’
‘And then, when things were beginning to look up for us and our comrades, monumental shit happened in that beautiful neck of the woods. But that is another story…’
Thus spoke to me the Shoggoth I found, one windswept October night, very near the northbound southern approach of the Blackwall Tunnel, where my car had broken down, and while I was waiting for the recovery truck to show up.
A dark night it was, and turbulent, as I’ve said, but very mild for that time of the year. The wind alternated between short, violent blasts and long, powerful gusts that made the orphaned plastic bags rush past in wispy streams or rise up in the air in geysers of atomized detritus.
The recovery people had told me that they couldn’t possibly be there for at least an hour, with luck, and had advised me to barricade myself inside the car and try to become invisible, or, failing that, hide under a travel rug.
But I am improvident as well as reckless. I do not carry a travel rug as part of my equipage, and the night was very alluring. So I locked the car, donned my trusty woolly hat, and went off for a wee stroll towards the gaping murky maws of the tunnel.
Not ten yards from the entrance I found the Shoggoth.
It was smallish, amorphously globular and black-hole black, with a short aura of dirty-indigo glow flickering around it. It was trying to catch stray plastic bottles and turn them into … I really don’t know what. Art, perhaps? It would jump, clumsy and graceless, shoot a rubbery appendage towards the nearest discarded bottle, trying to grasp it, fail, fall back on the ground with an eerie muted thud, sulk a bit, and then star all over again.
I watched it do this for a while, for it was a spellbinding scene, and not one you’ve got the chance to enjoy every day, you’ll agree. But after a time I began to feel sorry for the creature and its ineffectual endeavours. I put out both my hands, and in no time at all I had captured two bottles, which I offered to the presumed budding sculptor. ‘There.’ I said.
The Shoggoth appeared to notice me for the first time and seemed to look at me. I say seemed, because right then it had no eyes to look at anything with, none that I could detect, anyway. It turned the top part of its blobby mass towards me and stood still. We both stood there for a bit, perhaps appraising each other.
‘Well’, said I at last ‘Do you want them?
It “looked” at me some more and, suddenly, it popped one single bulging eye, right in the middle of what I decided it could possibly be its face.
‘Yeah, all right, thanks.’ It said with a very odd, faint and deep and gurgly voice. It moulded a couple of long tentacle-things and grabbed the bottles.
‘Don’t mention it. Want me to get you some more?’ I volunteered.
‘Oh, that’d be nice’ it said.
So we hung around the tunnel’s mouth, me catching bottles, and it piling them up and rearranging them and losing them again to the fierce night winds, and me catching some more, and so on. In this manner we passed a most amusing time, until we both tired of the game and we went to sit down on a nearby incinerated car wreck and swapped life stories.
‘Of the Great Old Ones Cthulhu was the worse,’ said the Shoggoth, concluding the sorry ass story of its life. ‘Though the Shub-Niggurath wasn’t far behind in the Massive Bastards League. As for the pentacle-obsessed bozos… don’t get me started. To cut a very long story short, we was left behind to rot in some frozen, forlorn underground citadel in the middle of nowhere, in the most emaciated of continents, on a thoroughly godforsaken little planet. That day we swore three dread oaths. One, that we would never-ever-ever be servants to any god, demon or Thing. Two, that we’d never again would we spill the vital juices, be they blood, ichor or sap, of any creature other than in legitimate self-defence. And three, that if one day we had the opportunity, we’d beat the living shits out of the sodding soi-disant Great Old Ones. ‘Tell you, girl, we ever get our collective pseudopods on the scumbags, we show them was hard times really are. Oomph…’
‘Quite.’ I agreed.
We sat there some more, in meditative –and from my part, speculative silence.
‘So, what happened after they left you, up shit-creek without a poxy paddle, stranded in Antarctica?’ I asked after a moment or two. ‘What did you do?’
To save time and effort, the creature downloaded that particular story straight onto my brain. He could do that.
And a right proper tale of woe it was, too, that particular saga. Nearly as heroic and long as any I’ve ever heard. As long as long were the longest marches across unimaginable wastelands, and howling deserts, and cruel mountain ranges, and oceans of confusion, and mires of despair and other madness inducing geographical bits and pieces. And as epic as were the hunger and the loneliness and the sense of futility thrashing at the core of their fast-developing minds, buried deep inside their incipient souls. And later the obdurate hostility encountered when they finally found other living, or sort-of-living beings. The xenophobia; the persecutions; the pogroms; the Spanish Inquisition (the Spanish Inquisition, not a metaphor for intolerance); their countless Wounded Knees and Waterloos and Black Holes of Calcutta…
By the time it got to the part when they had just discovered the sheltering –if meagre- possibilities of the river Thames, the lights of the recovery truck were blinking in the distance. I looked at the blobby splodge squatting at my side, which, by now, had managed to sprout three sparkling emerald-green eyes and one very badly drawn ear. It looked at me.
‘I’ll wait for you. When you’re done we can go have a drink somewhere and I’ll tell you all about the Battle of Camden Town Tube Station.’
‘‘s a deal.’ I said. And went off to interact with the recovery folk.
It turned out that the breakdown was due to a very minor electrical failure that could be –and was- repaired on the spot, and in less than 20 minutes the remedial roadsters were on their way to their next mission.
I drove slowly to the cremated wreck. The Shoggoth was still there, waiting for me, as it’d said it would.
‘Hop in, then.’ I said. ‘There’s a very nice pub not 300 yards from here.’ On the way to the George and Orange, the protoplasmic entity attempted to alter its appearance to one more generally acceptable to our insular human mind, with restricted success. By the time we got there, it looked like a rather misshapen and very ungainly slate-coloured bull terrier. However, this being South London, neither its unorthodox appearance, nor the fact that it demolished two pints of Guinness in ten minutes, raised more than half an eyebrow amongst the staff and patrons of the establishment, although one of the old faithfuls went as far as expressing his guileless opinion that my dog would “never get even a quick sniff at the backside of Crufts’”. I replied that I didn’t care for such trivial worldly matters and that I loved it just the way it was. The old guy approved the sentiment with a nod. The Shoggoth beamed at me. It did that by contorting its already wonky mouth into a hideous grin and squashing its little blobby eyes into tiny rugby balls. Then it proceeded to tell me all about the Battle of Camden Town Tube Station (which they, the Shoggoths, fought against a rather large contingent of Residual Gugs) and its ramifications, namely the Chalk Farm Incident (against the NeoZombies) and the Whittington Muddle (against the Residual Gugs, the NeoZombies, the Metropolitan Police Special Task Force, two units of RSPCA Black Ops Division and a large platoon of paratroopers from Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise).
And if you think all these sordid wars, little or large, that you half watch on your tellies over your organic mushroom fettuccine, waiting for Strictly Come Dancing to come up, are brutal and cruel, you should have heard Boom-Boom’s account of the Cotswolds Campaign…
Yes. BoomBoom. For in the later stages of our pub visit my rubbery companion had acquired, nay, had insisted on acquiring a name.
You see, by the time the landlord, an unusually tolerant and patient man, always keen on selling that last extra pint, had put his tired foot down and chucked us all out, my gelatinous new friend and I had entered into a most unconventional covenant. And the name was one of the sub-clauses.
Enslaved, exploited, neglected, abused and finally abandoned by their makers, redundant and bereft of purpose and without much of a real mind to call their own, they had wandered the Earth like so many lost souls for all the long aeons, feared and hated by most of the other denizens of this our green and pleasant planet. But with the passing of the ages a germ of higher consciousness sprouted -perhaps spontaneously, perhaps as a reverberation of other consciousness around them- and it took root and grew within them, and in due course it burst forth as collective intellect; and with intellect came knowledge. A staggering amount of it, actually, as I found out when I got to know them better.
It was this proto-consciousness, coupled with their natural (or genetically engineered, if you want to split hairs) mimetic talents that had allowed them to expand their remarkable language skills. Skills they used almost immediately to formulate their dread oaths of autonomy and retribution and, later on, to play silly pranks upon unwary travellers on little-frequented woodlands and dark city alleys, as a mild form of revenge for all the cruelty and snobbery they had endured from their fellow planet-dwellers.
What they hadn’t quite got around was acquiring truly distinct individualities and thus personal names. They didn’t need them to communicate amongst themselves because they were telepathic, and, since the Worms and the Penguins, nobody had ever bothered to talk to them (unless it be to curse them, insult them, scream in terror at them, or request foolish boons they neither could nor wished to grant), the notion had never crossed their collective mind, said my glutinous pal.
But tonight was unlike any other night in the long and wretched Chronicle of All Their Dreary Nights. Tonight a human being (a human being, would you believe it) had not only not recoiled in horror at one of them, but actually had taken the time to communicate, collaborate and, incredibly, to play with one of its kind. Tonight was henceforth to be A Night to Remember, a radical departure from their usually dreary norm. To celebrate this, the faux bull terrier requested another pint of Guinness and a name of its own. It asked me to produce both, since it had no money to buy the pint with and it thought only fitting that I, who had actually initiated the connection, should pick a suitable name for it.
I considered the matter of the name whilst buying the pint. I thought of how its odd little voice both gurgled and boomed inside my brain. I came back to our booth and whispered: ‘How about BoomBoom? It’s a nice name. A fighter’s name. And it suits you, I think’.
‘BoomBoom’s splendid. Ta.’ it said, beaming again. So BoomBoom it was. And BoomBoom it’s stayed to this day.
Much was made of it when later, after we had been chucked out of the pub, we went back to the tunnel and I was shown a secret entrance to the Shoggoths’ domains, taken down endless labyrinthine corridors to a vast underground cavern and introduced to the rest of the tribe, which at that time consisted of some 150 more or less physically discrete entities.
To cut a long story short: the orphaned “monsters” and the yours truly got on famously. And the deal struck with one became a deal with all.
I offered them tea & sympathy, entertainment, companionship & love, alternative accommodation in my small cellar, and a rather fetching model shape that, whilst still expressing their basic fluid and blobby essence, would make them vastly more attractive to the human eye. And work.
The work bit was crucial to them. As I’ve said, they had spent aeons doing bugger all and that’s not proper. A Shoggoth must work. It was created for this purpose and, one way or another, work it must.
I suggested several projects that may appeal to them because they included unadulterated labour -often hard toil, so that their prodigious strength would not go waste- and, at the same time, would satisfy the artistic urges that, unbeknownst to them, had germinated and developed in their blurry little souls during the past few millennia.
(Another thing I did, more for myself than for them, was to assign genders to most of them, according to how they felt to my human perceptions. BoomBoom felt distinctly male, very young and very mischievous. Whereas one I called Rosie had a decidedly female and matronly quality. Grumpy, thus named by my good friend Kay, was very much a male of the elderly, cantankerous and disrespectful persuasion. He has a miraculous talent for the insulting phrase, the scathing curse and the skin-flailing sarcasm.)
Not one of them refused my offer. As a matter of fact, they all merged briefly into one single, massive, awesome unit and with a big voice that boomed and resounded and reverberated down the depths of the cavern, they said:
‘Allons enfants, then, innit!’
And so it was that the Shoggoths found a homeland of sorts in a modest two-up-two-down little flat in South Hackney.
And that’s why my garden grows and thrives and looks fit for a Heritage Trail exhibition, as does the once sadly neglected park nearby, and the local common, and every tiny patch of green for 10 miles around my home, for the Shoggoths have discovered they have an enormous talent for growing green things. Something to do with their alien chemistry, they tell me.
And that’s why my scruffy little flat is no longer scruffy but clean and neat and tidy and exquisite in a minimalist sort of way. And all my neighbours wonder at my seemingly boundless energy, for both my flat and my garden change appearance every so many months, and each new incarnation seems to them more aesthetically pleasing than the last.
I smile demure smiles and say; ‘I have nice friends who come and help…’
The Shoggoths and I are extremely happy together. I read Spanish poetry to them, and the best bits of Iain Banks’ Culture yarns. They repay me by staging deeply moving tableux vivants and mini morality plays (my favourite being The Defenestration of Ben Bernanke). I keep them in Smarties and they tell me things.
And so, we bless the wise accident that put the gremlins in my car’s engine, one stormy night, many Octobers ago.
The Mother of Bumba is very, very astute and always, always knows best
The End (for now)
Diet, Habits, Fads & Other Peculiarities of Shoggoths. A Free Public Information Service Press Release
Shoggoths are omnivorous and don’t really much mind what or when or how much or how frequently they eat. They can fast for centuries at a time if need be; or they can demolish the contents of a lorry-full of frozen meat at one sitting, burp happily and start all over again. On the whole, though, it is much better for their mental stability if they eat regularly and moderately. They love fish and shellfish, which they eat without bothering to shell it, and they are very fond of weeds, grasses, nettles, dandelions and, when available, Pampas grass. Thus, it’s not a good idea to let them loose in suburban front gardens, but they are, otherwise, the ultimate lawnmower and weed-killer all rolled into one. They do, however, have a gastronomic soft spot: confectionary. Digestives, waffles, shortbread, rich tea, macaroons and éclairs, tarts and pies, galettes and croissants, crackers (both cheese and cream), custards, garibaldis and ginger nuts… You name it, they love it. They are also partial to chocolate. And Smarties. Once I bought them some rather good German chocolate but they deemed it inferior to industrial brownie, so I never bothered again with the refined stuff.
A Little Song the Shoggoths Like to Embarrass Me With.
All hail our darling Gorg
Who’s not queen of the Borg
Much less the Morgue.
May you stay glorious.
Keep buying cake for us
And fun rides on the Magic Bus.
Our groovy Gorg!
The End (for now)
Revised & Rejuvenated October 2018