Bagenders – A Conspiracy Unmasked

Season 1, Episode 5

By Lady Alyssa and Random Dent

Disclaimer: JRR Tolkien owns all the characters used here: have just borrowed them, will be returned in almost working order. Debt to ‘Father Ted’ in the characterisation of Gandalf. General situation debt to the ‘Young Ones’. Mink bikini borrowed from ‘Round the Horne’. One scene blatantly plagaris- sorry, ‘inspired’ by ‘Red Dwarf’. Latin motto courtesy of the Emperor Vespasian. Mrs. Wainthrop appears courtesy of the WI, and both she and Julie belong to us.
Rating: PG (comedic violence; flatmate strife; language; gratuitous underpants)
Reviews: yes please, please or else it means we have to revise/work. Story notes: This episode is partly in response to two reviewers questions: Why do the sane ones put up with the rest of them? (answer: they don’t), and Can we have Legolas in only a towel? (answer: yes!) For non-Brits WI = the Women’s Institute; jam, jumble sales etc. Mrs. Wainthrop clones make up most of its membership.

Legolas stormed towards the sitting room, just out of the shower, wearing only a very small towel. Although the ‘dripping wet sex god’ effect was somewhat undermined by the towel wrapped like a turban round his hair. It was also spoiled by the expression on his face and the way what may at first have been mistaken for a sexy scowl became a mask of rage as his whole body began to shake with anger. Gandalf sat in his chair, seemingly oblivious to the display not four feet away from his chair.

“What. Have you done. With my uniform.” It was not so much a question as a series of short statements spat out with the greatest amount of venom that Gandalf had heard from someone who hadn’t later turned out to be in league with the dark powers of Middle Earth. Gandalf played what was his usual card in these situations and pretended to be deaf, turning up the volume on the TV to combat the ‘annoying background noise’. Seething, Legolas decided to admit defeat once again and go searching through the ironing basket for his spare uniform – if he was quick he might just have time to iron most of the creases out before it was time for work.

Although Gandalf had just won that small battle, what he was not aware of was the much larger war about to be fought.

“Frodo, sideboard, five minutes.” That evening Legolas began to put his plan into action by organising meetings with all the members of the fellowship.

Frodo looked confused. “But I’m fine today, I haven’t even been close to having another episode since Celeborn left.”

“I know, but you’re pretty good at faking it when you want to,” Frodo tried to look innocent. “You thought no one would notice? Look, I won’t give you away, just meet me in the sideboard in five minutes.”

The meeting was held, the plan was formulated and Legolas moved on to the next conspirators. As arranged he met Merry and Pippin in the bathroom at exactly seventeen minutes past eight. Just as discussions were getting underway there was a knock at the door.

“Who’s in there?” called Aragorn.

“Only me, can I no have a bit of privacy?”

Aragorn looked taken aback. “Pippin? But I thought I saw Legolas go in there?”

“Yer seein things.”

“Yeah.”

“Who the hell’s that then?”

“No-one, yer hearin things now.”

“No I am not. And you are all going to have to come out of there eventually. I can wait.”

There was some fast thinking in the bathroom.

“Okay. I lied. There’s Merry and Legolas in here wi’me, but I didnae say anything cos we’re having a discussion aboot hair care, and I didnae want ye to know. Getting in touch wi’oor feminine side and Merry doesnae want tae admit he’s got one.”

Merry seethed quietly as they sheepishly emerged from the bathroom some time later. The overall negative image was not enhanced by Merry re-adjusting his clothing, and the fact that Legolas was pulling his hair out of pigtails. There were only two conclusions open to Aragorn; either Legolas had just discovered that elves did in fact have a sex drive and was attempting to make up for the last 8000 years or they were all plotting to kill him. Both of them conjured up disturbing images.

Legolas sidled up to Aragorn.

“I need to talk to you. Meet me in the shed in 10 minutes?”

“What about?”

“You’ll find out then.”

Aragorn was left worried. All he could think about were the erotic or lethal uses of the tools in the shed, although he tried very hard not to consider the possibilities inherent in the lawnmower. He knew he had to go armed, but wasn’t sure whether to go for a kitchen knife or attempt to borrow some iron underwear from Gimli.

Ten minutes later he was standing outside the shed, Ranger instincts on full alert, when he was completely surprised to be bumped into by Sam in the dark, with a strange ‘bong’ noise.

“Aragorn!” He whispered. “What are you doing out here?”

“Me? What are you doing out here?”

The discussion was cut short by them both being dragged into the shed, where they both grabbed the first thing to hand to use as a weapon. Sam was attempting to do an Indiana Jones impression with the garden hose, which was somewhat stymied by the hose being, like all garden hoses, knotted around itself. Aragorn had honed warrior responses, but was not trained in The Path of the Plastic Watering Can, and frankly felt a bit of an idiot. Legolas looked at them bewilderedly.

“Am I missing something?”

“Why did you ask us to come here?”

“I wanted to talk about Gandalf. But before we get onto that, Sam, why exactly are you wearing Gimli’s spare iron underpants?”

Sam looked at them. Being 3 sizes too big and held up with braces did not really help the image. Aragorn was glad he hadn’t taken Sam’s precaution – iron underpants 3 sizes too big are one thing, 3 sizes too small quite another. Sam shifted uncomfortably and changed the subject. “Never mind that, lets talk about Gandalf.”

“I want to put Gandalf in a home.”

“Fine.”

“Suits me.”

“And I need your help.”

“Ah, well, there’s a lot of gardening needs doing.”

“Yes, and it’s busy in the forest too,” Aragorn started wildly improvising. “Lots of thefts.”

“Thefts?”

“Yes, of, of trees, yes trees. Never can catch the bastards at it. So I’m needed. A lot.”

“You two would happily face the depths of evil, sorcerers as powerful as Sauron and Saruman, the evil of orcs, uruk-hai and Iluvatar knows what else, and you will not help me put Gandalf in a home? Aragorn, you’ve gone soft in your old age.”

“Have not.”

“Have too.”

Sam interrupted. “Look Aragorn, he has a point. If we all get together we get rid of him. Permanently.”

“Will they take Merry and Pippin too?”

Sam did a distinctly feminine hip swing and whacked Aragorn’s kneecap with the iron underpants, causing him to fall over the lawnmower and swear loudly.

“Is that agreed then?” said Legolas, taking advantage of the confusion.

They both agreed, and Sam and Legolas helped Aragorn up. Aragorn remembered something; “if this is what you were doing in the bathroom, why was Merry so dishevelled when he came out?”

“When Pippin said he was getting in touch with his feminine side Merry took a swing at him, Pippin ducked and Merry fell in the bath.”

“And the pigtails?”

“I like pigtails.”

They left the shed, only to be accosted over the fence.

“Excuse me!”

It was Mrs. Wainthrop. Sam looked around to see that both Legolas and Aragorn had melted in to the shadows. He, through years of practice could just make them out, sneaking back towards house. He would have his vengeance later (in this life or in the Undying Lands). Mrs. Wainthrop was not one to be put off by people disappearing in front of her eyes. Not when there were rumours of ‘that sort of thing’ going on next door. Her neighbours were the bane of her life, the very antithesis of respectable. She knew it was all going to be truly terrible when she went round next door to visit them the day they moved in and the elderly gentleman shoved her into a corner and tried to sexually assault her, only to be pulled off by the worryingly effeminate one and the worryingly masculine one (according to Mrs. Heathcliffe down the post office they shared a room you know). Goodness knows what Mr. Wainthrop (mayherestinpeace) would have made of it. She didn’t want to think what the bearded one got up to, but he was out all night every night. Mr. Gamgee and Mr. Baggins were almost respectable, if it wasn’t for his ‘incidents’, but as for the other two short gentlemen, well! The stories she could tell, and quite frequently did, except for the ones which would not be believed. They’d become a bit of a spectator sport to members of the Women’s Institute.

“Are you having problems in your shed?”

“Oh, um, sorry Mrs. Wainthrop, I dropped a spade onto the lawnmower.”

“Only I thought I saw the other two gentlemen?”

“Oh, well, you know, I need help, um, lifting big things.”

“It must be such a trial for you, with your condition.”

“Condition?”

“You know, why you’re not normal, Mr. Baggins explained it when he came round for one of my WI meetings.”

Sam chalked up ‘not normal’ for future reference. And made a mental note to ask Frodo about the WI meetings later. “Um… thank you?”

“You’re ever so welcome. Oh, by the way, how do you keep the caterpillars off your geraniums?”

Sam did not feel that Mrs. Wainthrop was ready to be let in of the secret of what a great organic insecticide elf pee was, or how they had discovered this. The Fellowship,however, did and refused point blank to eat any of his cabbages, including Legolas, which he found confusing.

“Can’t go giving away information like that. Family secret that is. I’ve got to be going, supper’ll be ready soon.”

“You’re eating awfully late.”

Sam just smiled and ran away.

*****

After a week of waiting by the letterbox, the brochure and application form from ‘Sliver Trees Retirement Community’ (motto: vae puto deus fio) arrived and was quickly hidden by Frodo on the off chance that Gandalf might get up on one of his occasional strolls around the house and find it. That evening, the other members of the Fellowship convened in the cupboard under the stairs; even Gimli got up an hour earlier than usual to take part.

“I’m not so sure about this any more,” said Frodo after looking through the glossy leaflets. “I think I’d just end up feeling guilty about it.”

“What?” asked Legolas. “This is Gandalf we’re talking about. We want to get rid of him remember.”

“Oh I don’t feel sorry for Gandalf. It’s the people who work there, they all look so friendly. Sending him to them wouldn’t be fair. It would be like putting a tiger in a petting zoo.”

Frodo was quickly silenced by the others and they moved on to the forms. There seemed to be rather a lot of them, most of them attempting to politely enquire about their financial status. As Legolas was considered by the rest of them to have the best (i.e. most legible) handwriting, he got the job of writing Gandalf’s details down.

“Surname? I know he has a lot of names, but he only ever used one at a time. We’ll go for ‘Grey’, will we?”

There were nods of agreement from all of the Fellowship, except for Frodo, who asked “With an ‘e’ or with an ‘a’?”

Sam kicked him. “Does it matter?”

“First name?” continued Legolas. “Well, mostly he answers to Gandalf these days.”

“He also answers to ‘beer’ these days.” Sam had to kick Aragorn as well.

“Date of birth?” The questions were starting to get a bit more difficult, so Legolas just made a random guess based on how old he thought Gandalf looked.

“Current address, fine. What about medical history? Let’s just put nothing serious.”

“But there was that time he died.”

“Yes but he got better.”

“I’ll just put that he’s delusional. That should take care of some of his more obvious eccentricities.”

“What about ‘molests anything with breasts’?”

“I think they see a lot of that, they probably think of it as an occupational hazard. It’s called being a dirty old man.”

“Previous occupation?”

“I’m not sure when the last time Gandalf was occupied was.”

“What about that business with Mrs Wainthrop the day we moved in?”

“I’ll just put conjurer and firework manufacturer, shall I?” There were more nods of agreement.

“What about his staff?”

“We’ll take it off him and break it.”

“But we’ve tried that before, you know he can just make another one.”

“When he gets into the home he’s their problem. Let’s just hope they don’t let them do any woodwork.”

*****

A few days later there was a telephone call.

“‘Silver Trees Retirement Community’, may we speak to Mr. Grey please?”

After the first syllable Frodo had dived with the phone to the cupboard under the stairs, closely followed by Legolas, who listened in to the conversation.

“Ahm, no, er, no sorry. He’s busy.” This was broadly true, since the last time anyone had got between him and ‘The Weakest Link’ they had suffered. Lots.

“Well, it is normal for our prospective residents to look around before they arrive.”

Frodo decided to go for honesty. “The thing is that we’re putting him into the home because we can’t look after him, and he’s really not very happy about it.”

“Well, in that case we shall have to make an assessment visit.”

“Really? Is it necessary? He really can’t look after himself.” This was also broadly true, with the substitution of ‘won’t’ for ‘can’t’.

“I’m afraid so. Mr, um?”

“Baggins.”

“Ah, yes, you’d be the one listed as his carer wouldn’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I can reassure you that our assessment visits can be quite discreet. We really do not advise people being put into homes who don’t want to though.”

“We really can’t look after him. It’s that or,” Frodo briefly flirted with the truth which would have been ‘or kill him, and we couldn’t even be sure then that the old sod wasn’t going to come back again’, but settled for the less controversial “or hand him over to Social Services.”

“As bad as that?”

“YES.” Possibly with a little too much vehemence in the voice.

There was a pause. “You have actually told him about this?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Hmmmm. You are going to have to tell him at some point you know.”

“We already have told him.”

“Yes, and I’m the head of the Royal College of Nursing.”

“We have told him.”

“We can send an assessor round this week, do you have a time preference?”

“The evening would be best, everyone’s home.”

“Wednesday evening? Around 8?”

“Fine.”

Frodo ended the call and looked at Legolas. “They want to assess him.”

“Oh. That might be a problem.”

“Yes, but if we can persuade him just to be a dirty old man, it’ll be OK. It’s the first step to being rid of him.”

Legolas smiled. Rid of Gandalf! He couldn’t help but hug Frodo. At this point the door opened to reveal Gandalf.

“Sneaking in corners, conspiring against me? Oh.”

The sight of Gandalf’s expression sliding from vengeful to leering was not one Legolas wanted to see ever again, so he slammed the door shut. Frodo whispered in his ear. “What now?”

“What do you mean?”

“He thinks we’re, you know.”

“We’ll just wait a bit and then leave.”

“What if he’s listening?”

“No one would be that sick – no, wait, this is Gandalf.” Legolas’ elven senses knew that Gandalf was still stood outside the door. “What shall we do?”

“Tell him I’m a respectable hobbit and wouldn’t do that on a first date?”

“Why would we be in the cupboard then?”

“We could tell him we’re trying to develop photos.”

“We’re just putting off the inevitable aren’t we?”

“Yes.”

“We’re going to have to pretend… to have sex.”

“How would that be possible in here anyway?”

Merry and Pippin were somewhat disturbed to come down the stairs to the noise of Frodo slapping the sloping roof of the cupboard with his hands and moaning, while Legolas kept to the same rhythm banging against the ironing board, alternately sucking his hand and gasping. The sight of Gandalf wheezing and leering outside the door only added to the disturbing image.

“Frodo pulled an elf! That’s a 1000 pointer.”

“No it’s bloody well not. Pulling Galadriel’s a 1000 pointer, any other elf it’s 500 points.”

“Good job he’s no playing the game then. We’ve only scored 72.”

“Yeah, but we did come to the agreement that anyone coming under the heading of ‘complete slut’ didn’t count and they’re our kind of women.”

*****

Wednesday came, and Gandalf was confused as to why the rest of the Fellowship were wearing their ‘respectable’ suits. The look was somewhat odd. Merry and Pippin’s suits dated to the 1950s (the last time they’d felt the need to look respectable, and that was only an attempt to dodge National Service). Both Frodo and Aragorn’s suits had 1970’s flares, pointed collars and were made of nasty synthetic material. Legolas had looked at his good suit and decided that turning up in a full Edwardian Morning Suit was going to arouse suspicion, and had decided to keep wearing his uniform since it was reasonably smart. However, he would have had to have been wearing a mink bikini to look suspicious next to Gimli, who was wearing what looked like a combination of an ill fitting Marks and Spencer suit and 14th Century tournament armour. But the armour looked a lot more sensible when the assessor arrived, was let in and swept into the sitting room, trailing a short and slightly built man in her wake.

“My name is Miss MacBeth, but you can call me Matron.” The Fellowship found themselves backing into a corner. “They send me out for all the Difficult cases. This is Mr. Penfold. Where is the gentleman in question?” They mutely nodded towards the chair. The penny dropped with Gandalf.

“You are attempting to put me into a home are you not?”

The Fellowship nodded. For once Gandalf was not the person in the room they were most afraid of.

“I can assure you all of MY residents are perfectly happy.” The Fellowship felt that was probably the case, the other option probably being a long, lingering death.

Gandalf began to reach for his staff, but found Miss MacBeth’s hand had clamped around his wrist. “And I DO NOT take kindly to any kind of misbehaviour.” She turned to the other members of the Fellowship. “I can quite see why you can no longer take care of the gentleman. I think I have seen quite enough for my assessment. Mr. Grey will be at the ‘Silver Trees Retirement Community’ at 8.00am sharp on Monday morning. Good day, gentlemen.”

The Fellowship felt as if they had survived some natural disaster. They awaited vengeance from Gandalf, but none was forthcoming. He seemed to be giving it consideration and this was even more worrying.

*****

Sunday. They knew Gandalf had to be separated from his staff before going into the home. Aragorn had been ‘persuaded’ into doing this, with Legolas as backup. The hobbits were to wait in the kitchen. The plan was to take advantage of his customary sleep in the middle of ‘Antiques Roadshow’ to take and break his staff. Aragorn had gone into full Ranger mode, and looked quite fetching in his cloak which matched the 70’s clashing orange floral patterned curtains. He had blended into the sitting room and was waiting to be sure that Gandalf was asleep.

Then Julie turned up. “Afternoon Frodo, ‘ow’s it goin’, I were just off t’Asdas so I thought I’d drop in and ‘ave a luke at you. Bin OK recently?”

“Yeah, fine, no problems.” Frodo knew he had to get Julie out of there, but had no idea how.

Aragorn saw that Gandalf was asleep and took his chance and went for the staff. However, Gandalf was not really asleep, and seized his staff and aimed it at Aragorn. Aragorn expected to find himself pinned to the ceiling, but was not. There was something worse going on. His underpants were shrinking. Aragorn started pulling at his trousers and yelping, at an increasingly high pitch.

“Underpants shrinking!” He yelled to Legolas as he fell to the floor. Legolas tried to help with the removal of the pants, kneeling between Aragorn’s legs and grappling with them.

“Is everythin alright in there?”

“Yeah, fine?”

“Sounds like someone’s in pain. I’ve got baaasic medical trainin I’ll pop me head round the door.”

“Noooooooo!” But Frodo and the other hobbits were not enough to stop Julie in full determination mode.

The sight of Legolas and Argorn bucking together on the floor, then with a ‘Yes!’ of triumph from Legolas, holding up a pair of very, very small ‘Captain Scarlet’ boxer shorts, did something strange to Julie. It made her shut up. But not for long.

“Eee, I ‘ad no idea you two were a couple.” Aragorn had curled into the foetal position, but Julie didn’t seem to notice, “Cos I were going to set you up with me mate, Stacey, I showed her that picture of you out in t’garden, she really fancies you, she’s gonna be dead disappointed when I tell her. ‘Ere, are you alright?”

Gandalf began to laugh. Aragorn managed to squeak, “I’m fine.”

“Dunt sound like you are.” She looked at the boxers. “Wearin’ them boxers I’m not surprised. Tracy’s little brother’ll be disappointed an all. Said you looked like you had big feet.” Gandalf had progressed to near hysterics.

“Ere, laughing at other people in pain’s not nice y’know.” She started to go over to remonstrate with Gandalf, but tripped over Aragorn’s leg and fell onto the staff. Which broke in two.

I’m really, really sorry about that. Dun’t look expensive, was it? Can get you a new one if it wan’t expensive.”

“Oh, no that’s fine, we were going to be throwing it out anyway,” said Sam.

*****

Monday. Aragorn could barely walk and could definitely not drive, so Gandalf was delivered to the ‘Silver Trees Retirement Community’ by taxi, with Frodo as chaperone. Well, ‘prison guard’ would be a better term, ensuring Gandalf was not going to escape on the journey, because they knew he would turn up back home sooner or later. He was safely given over to the care of the formidable Miss. MacBeth, who, judging from the flying tackle she gave Gandalf as he tried to escape, would have a promising career as prop forward on the Scottish International Rugby squad, should Gandalf get too much. Frodo then went home, to savour having the house to himself without the sound of daytime television. Well, that is with the exception of Aragorn sat on the sofa with his legs a very, very long way apart.

Will Gandalf stay in the retirement community? Will Aragorn regain the ability to walk? Why exactly has Frodo joined the WI? Join us for the next exciting episode.

Latin motto: vae puto deus fio is the dying words of the Emperor Vespasian; ‘Alas, I am becoming a god’. Ah, yes and we know that no-one as daft as Julie could get to be a psychiatric nurse, but we liked the character, so sorry.