The Bells (and other wotnots) #writephoto

This week’s writephoto prompt is

‘It’s a little known fact,’ intoned the guide as he pointed to Tower, ‘that the designer, Augustus Pugin, handed his plans to the chief architect, Charles Barry and then went bonkers. Some say it was the stress of the responsibility, some say he’d contracted, with ease, a funny disease and it’d turned his mind and some say he’d been present when they tested the big bell and it did for his mental corpuscles, all that dinging and donging…’ He lowered his voice. The crowd moved closer, hanging on his every syllable. ‘The truth is more prosaic. He had been taken over by aliens, when he’d won the commission to design this here tower and they’d finished with him. They didn’t want no-one knowing of their involvement so they twisted his faculties like a spongy Rubik’s cube and that was that; warm soup and dribbles into his pillow until he pegged it.’

A youthful looking lad near the back, who’d picked his nose for most of the guided tour stopped his excavations and addressed the guide. ‘If they’d wanted to keep it quiet, like, how’d you find out?’

The guide, rather than be put out, turned to face the callow youth. ‘I am glad you posited that question. It is indeed a question many have posed since this knowledge came into my possession. Recently the tower was shut and the bells silenced while everything was repaired and upgraded.While that was going on, certain unexplained features were uncovered in the lower levels. Using my contacts…’

‘How’d you have contacts in there? It’s only ponces and toffs what gets to go in there.’

The guide looked at the youth, wondering what re-runs of 1970s dramas he’d been watching to pick up such terminology. ‘My brother worked on the refurbishment. He was sworn to secrecy but he can’t hold his drink. He let it slip.’ He paused. ‘He went mad, too.’

‘What evidence like?’

‘Oh. Things. Para.. para…’

‘Psychology,’ a man in a green tweed kaftan proffered tentatively.

‘Phenalia. Switches and levers and wotnot.’

A woman who’d been filming the guide on her phone peeked round the side of her android, who’d been carrying her shopping for her. ‘How do you know it was an alien?’

‘There weren’t much by way of switches and levers and wotnots, back in the 1850s. So they got in an expert and he opined on its overall alienness.’ Once again he lowered his voice and once again the crowd surged forward, like a boil about to burst. ‘There was a piece of rock. Had ‘Mars’ written all over it.’

The woman and the tweedy man both blinked and looked about to demur, but a tall rather flat gentleman who’d seemed likely to be blown away as they walked along the Embankment got in first. ‘You’re pulling our legs.’

Those unaware of such colloquial epithets checked to see if unwelcome hands were attaching themselves to their trousers. Others nodded. One even muttered, ‘bloody pisstaker.’

The guide maintained his sangfroid. It had threatened to be a touch sangalittlebitchaud but he pulled it back from overheating. Straightening his official tunic, emblazoned with ‘guide’ in a rather chic gold braid he smiled. ‘Who thinks I’m making a joke?’

Three or four hands went up. Then a few more. Eventually only the woman with the android kept her hands in her pockets. The guide looked at her. ‘You believe me, madam?’

She looked shocked. ‘What? No, but if I let go my tights, they won’t be.’

‘Won’t be what?’

‘Tights. More looses.’

‘Right. So you all think I’m jesting?’

There were several nods, but most just waited.

‘With me.’

The guide set off, relying on the crowd to follow as best they could. He flashed a small laminated pass at a policeman, who seemed disinterested in the gaggle of people coming behind. Through some large oak doors, he led them, down steps and up slopes, across walkways and down more steps. Eventually as the corridors narrowed and the air became stuffy, the guide reached a large black door. He turned to the sea of faces. ‘Behind here are switches and levers and, especially, a series of wotnots. Please don’t touch anything. It’ll take a few moments but you’ll soon get used to the light.’

He didn’t wait but swung open the door. Standing back, he ushered the people inside. Eagerly everyone moved forward. When the last had crossed the threshold the guide shut the door and slid a bolt across.

As promised it took the crowd a few moments to adjust to the gloom. Once they did, they saw the promised switches and levers and wotnots. For a few minutes no one moved but eventually the woman with the android put her hand on a switch, while the man in tween gripped a lever and the youth grasped a wotnot.

‘He said not to touch them,’ one of the others complained.

The youth looked sceptical. As he rotated and defrumbligated the wotnot, he said, ‘Come on. What’s the worst that can happen?’

For a few seconds, no one knew and then the worst happened

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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19 Responses to The Bells (and other wotnots) #writephoto

  1. An excellent tale – if only for the wonderful crowd/boil surge simile

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The para, para, phenalia was straight out of the Two Ronnies Cook Book and, if I’ve told that youth to stop defrumbling his wotnot once, I’ve told him a hundred times.

    A brilliant read Geoff. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. noelleg44 says:

    Love this and you left us hanging out to dry with only our imagination to save us! “Intoned the guide?” and there were bells!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another plank walked like an innocent dolt. Well done, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bridgette says:

    Oh, I love the cliffhanger ending! Such a great story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I have this picture of a wall of rock draped over a hanger in this enormous wardrobe, trying to let the creases drop out before some troll wears it as his cloak for a evening at a rock opera…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. willowdot21 says:

    Utterly believable Geoff…
    Were you there! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: #Writephoto Round-Up – Ben – New2Writing

  8. Jemima Pett says:

    Wonderful. Looking forward to more, Geoff 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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