In this entertaining collection of short stories you will meet a host of engaging characters. There's King Albert, who has a harem of 500 wives, and serious problems in keeping them all happy; then there's a young lady whose Granny asks her to sleep with a ghost; Budgie Bill, who prefers a feathered bird to the charms of Miss Samantha Ramsbottom; and many others. This box of narrative delights contains flavours to suit every taste. Readers who have enjoyed the work of such famed short-story writers as Somerset Maugham, Saki, and Roald Dahl, will find much here to entertain them.
Excerpt from King Albert’s Words of Advice:
As is fitting, the first story in this collection features a man who tells stories in return for pints of beer: pretty much what all writers do, really. In this partic-ular instance, the story that he tells is about travel through time and space. Well now, if H.G. Wells could write a successful piece of fiction entitled The Time Machine in 1895, then there is no earthly reason to suppose that the Sony Corporation of Japan could not be developing a real-life time and space machine in 2003. Is there? After all, Sony did help to invent the modern version of Michael Jackson.
THERE’S A BLOKE DOWN OUR pub – name of Bernard – who reckons he’s got a time machine in his shed. If you buy him a pint, he’ll tell you about places he’s been to in it. And some of them are really weird.
Course, there’s other blokes who reckon that Bernard’s just making these stories up, so that blokes like me will buy him pints. But I’m not so sure. I’ve been and had a look at his shed. He keeps it locked, naturally, because they’d nick anything round here – but he’s definitely got something in there. It’s got dials and that. You can see it through the window.
Like I say, not everyone believes what Bernard says, and I once heard a bloke with red hair tell Bernard to his face that there’s no such thing as a time machine. But Bernard wasn’t having any.
‘Listen, smart-arse,’ he said. ‘If H.G. Wells could build a time machine in 1895, there’s no reason on earth why the Japanese can’t build one today. They just take a little while to catch up with western technology, that’s all. And as a matter of fact it isn’t just a time machine. It’s a time and space machine. It can visit parallel universes.’
Well, this bloke with red hair never said a word after that, because he didn’t know what a parallel universe was. I don’t either, of course. But Bernard’s mum told my mum that Bernard has a GCSE in physics, and he uses a com-puter at work, so I reckon he knows what he’s talking about.
‘This machine I’ve got is made by Sony,’ Bernard said. ‘I’m beta-testing it for them.’
Well, this bloke with red hair looked dead impressed when Bernard said he was beta-testing this machine. Be-cause this bloke didn’t know what beta-testing meant. I don’t either, of course.
‘Yes,’ said Bernard. ‘It’s all very interesting really. I reck-on it’ll transform society, once it becomes generally avail-able. Bit like the internet. And of course I can go to all sorts of interesting times and places in it. Watch the French Re-volution, visit Queen Cleopatra. All sorts. I had a really in-teresting experience just last night, as a matter of fact.’
‘Oh yes?’ said the bloke with red hair, who had stopped not believing in time travel. ‘Where did you go to?’
Bernard pushed his empty glass towards this bloke. ‘Buy us a pint,’ he said, ‘and I’ll tell you.’
Well, the bloke with red hair said sorry, but he’d run out of money, so I bought Bernard a pint instead. And this is the story he told us.