The other week, as an amusing one-off , Tim Matthews wrote a silly short story spoofing some of the more ridiculous exploits of various self-styled big cat researchers over the years.
It was so popular that he wrote another one and now - by public demand - it has become a serial. Every few days will see an episode of Timmo's new Fortean soap opera The Cats of Upper Minster. And having read the first few episodes I can confirm that it is bloody smashing and highly amusing. "I'll carry on until it stops being funny," says Tim, and you can't say fairer than that!
“Look at this,” insisted Robin Fox as he sat in conference with his fellow conspirators, Frieda, Florence, Tom, Anna and Nicola Ridley, Ellie, Jason Smith and Jonathan Wilson. The latter were hired hands or “tech help” as Anna called them (“But they’re trustworthy and will do as I ask as they love the village and both hate outsiders,” she would tell the rest). “This is www.minstercats.co.uk and as you can see, the domain name is parked ready for use...used by US!”
“Wow, you have been a busy boy,” said Anna, giving Robin a hug, which made him slightly embarrassed but also quite happy. “It is all here and ready to go. What we need to do is start putting what little we have together and then doing interviews.”
“And it must be done under their radar, too,” added Ellie. “That moron General has got more aggressive and paranoid since his bad time at the meeting and his credibility wasn’t helped when a member of the local journalistic community caught him reading those pornographic magazines in his command centre - sorry Burger Van. Apparently he claimed it was a plot to destabilise the ABC Team but I think he’s just a perv. Gives me the creeps.”
“Indeed,” replied Frieda. “The man is clearly a total waster but he is a problem for all of us; Ellie especially. For some reason, the largest part of the media wants to keep this story going. Probably not much political news as it’s summer time. Even if they only keep it going a week or two further the damage will be done so we must act quick.”
“We need to start filming,” said Anna. “I can work with Robin to put some simple questions together. Now, who are we seeing as well as Marj? She’s lovely, isn’t she, and that dog of hers is manic...but quite fun.”
“Well, I asked Jenny earlier about Tony East,” said Robin, “But he’s gone all camera shy now that locals know he’s in with The General. I can’t believe Jen has to work with him at the pub. At least she gets to do two jobs – the cafe and the pub – and only has to see the idiot at the evening time. In fact, Tony’s more than half the reason that crew of clowns arrived here; him and his big mouth and bigger ego. Grr!”
“We need,” he continued, “to do what other documentary people would do – set the scene, speak to local people for their opinions...so I reckon the Reverend Harrison and Lady Penelope would be good. What about Brigadier Jones? He’s a bit eccentric but Jack says that he used to hunt for tigers in India or something equally mad!”
“He did,” said Jack, coming into the room with a tray of drinks and snacks. “And he is quite famous. Despite his 90 years of age he still gets around – last time I saw him he was driving at around 70 miles an hour in a sports car on a single lane track nearby – and until recently he allowed children from various backgrounds to work on his land to gain a better understanding of country life. So he is an all-round good egg. Mind you, it is said that he used to be the best shot in India and could bag a tiger from 200 yards; not that I condone that sort of thing but he’s from a different world really. Anyway, how are you getting on?”
Upper Minster’s Jack was a popular figure and his work on local farms and keen eye for garden designs meant that he rarely sat still. He did love what the children were doing, though and was eager to help them if he could.
“Well, we are making a film and putting it on the Internet,” said Florence, determinedly. “Robin says it will kick ass.”
Everyone laughed, Jack included. “Manners, young lady. No need to use Americanisms and profanity when the English language will suffice. A film does sound good though. Something needs to be done about these damned outsiders and day-trippers. I’d put some lovely hanging pots outside old Mrs Wilkinson’s cottage and some bloody townie stole them. She actually saw them but couldn’t get out of her house quick enough. They put the pots in the back of their car and she knew why they were here because another neighbour said that the people who’d done it had been acting suspiciously earlier and were wearing those ever so naff Minster Beast T-shirts. ‘Have You Seen The Beast' or whatever. Idiots! I’d love to get my shot-gun out on them,” he added, forgetting himself.
“Well, Jack; I am most appalled,” said Florence, playing at being all high and mighty. “Violence is not the answer when we have our website. Our method of activity will go further than your shot-gun pellets.”
The children laughed and Jack looked slightly embarrassed. “You kids are far too clever for your own good,” he answered, smiling. “Just make sure you get rid of that General before the farmers skewer him and feed him to their pigs!”
As the children ate and drank it was decided that Frieda would accompany Anna and Nicola to Marj Seaton’s later on with the Tech Helpers Jason and Jon, while Robin would start writing an introduction for his website that, he hoped, would “go live” in a few short days time.
“I don’t care if I get no sleep. We need to do the media’s job for them because they’re not doing it,” he fumed.
“What can we do?” said Tom, feeling left out. “Florry and I never have as much fun as you older ones,” he moaned.
“Fear not,” replied Robin. “I have a very important job for you and that is to take this here local map and mark down all the places that people, including yourself, have claimed to see this big cat. I have a partial list here for you. As we know it’s real, we need to work out the extent of the area it inhabits and as much good information that we can get. From what Jack says, I think an unannounced visit to Brigadier Jones is in order. He is as mad as a hatter, I believe. Although we don’t want him to shoot this cat, we could certainly ask for his knowledge in how to track it. He might be just the person we need and he hates outsiders more than we do.”
“Ace,” said Tom. “We could ride our bikes over there tomorrow and hammer another nail in The General’s mouldy coffin....”