Season 1, Episode 3
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’. ‘Bona’ language borrowed off Julian and Sandy from ‘Round the Horne’. Pencils up nose and underpants on head borrowed from ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’. Concept of the Lasagne Sandwich invented and eaten by Lady Alyssa (Random Flatmate entirely denies responsibility. Lady Alyssa would like to take this opportunity to say that, as the inventor and sole known eater of tikka masala cheese on toast, Random Flatmate is in no position to comment.).
Rating: PG (comedic violence; flatmate strife; language; elf campness)
Reviews: yes please, please or else it means we have to revise/work.
It began with a simple thing. A knock at the door, but it bred a much more complex evil. The kind of evil that takes a long time to get rid of. The kind of evil that uses your bath towel and borrows your socks. The evil of uninvited guests.
The knock came during teatime and the task fell to Frodo, former ringer bearer and Hobbit of not inconsiderable bravery to answer it.
The friendly greeting was cut off by a horrified piercing shriek and the sound of large hairy feet running at full speed up the stairs. Legolas sighed, Frodo’s hiding places around the house were limited and if he had headed upstairs he was probably on top of Legolas’ wardrobe and it always took ages to get him back down. Usually he had to stand with Sam on his shoulders for a few hours. And Sam was most definitely not the lightest of the four Hobbits.
Aragorn got up to finish the business of answering the door before whoever was there became concerned enough about Frodo’s welfare to decide to call social services. That would mean filling in all of those forms again.
“Celeborn. How…nice to see you.”
Legolas and the three remaining Hobbits simultaneously sat bolt upright and stared at each other. There was an unspoken agreement between them, and that agreement was ‘sideboard’. As one being they got up from the table, silently laying down their cutlery (although Pippin had the foresight to try and grab all the ingredients for a lasagne sandwich as he left) and crept into the sitting room. Gandalf had already reacted to the news and like lightning had rammed his chair into recline, spread a copy of The Sun – open on page three – over his face and was snoring unconvincingly.
“It’s been such a…long time since we’ve seen you. Just a flying visit?” The note of hope in Aragorn’s voice was mirrored by the desperate hand clasping and upward gazing of the new inhabitants of the sideboard.
Celeborn put his hand on Aragorn’s shoulder. “I seem to have fallen on rather hard times, dearest Grandson – because that is how I still see you, even after that dreadful business with Arwen – but would you mind terribly if I were to impose myself on you for a few days.”
Aragorn squirmed away. “I don’t really know, I mean, we’ve only got the three bedrooms and it’s a little crowded as it is.”
The sideboard sighed with relief and offered up thanks to anyone who had heard their earlier pleas.
“Oh, don’t worry about me, Arrie, I can bunk in with Legolas, I’m sure he won’t mind,” said Celeborn, pushing his way into the house and mincing into the kitchen.
The Hobbits in the sideboard became aware of Legolas tensing every muscle in his body. And the way he appeared to beginning to hyperventilate was not helping their rapidly depleting oxygen supplies. The situation was starting to get desperate, but just as they were about to make their escape upstairs they heard the door open again.
“Ooh, I do love what you’ve done with this room. It’s so wonderfully retro, I had no idea 1940s utility furniture was back in fashion.”
Foiled again, and the situation inside the sideboard was starting to get really desperate. Frodo was really starting to be a bad influence on the rest of the group; they should have tried to get upstairs, where there were at least windows to use if necessary, but here they were trapped like animals. Just when they thought they would have to announce themselves to their new guest Sam came up with an idea of such simplistic brilliance that Legolas was ashamed not to have come up with it, but then he was an Elf and they were not the most practical of beings, he reassured himself that his mind was designed for higher thought and went back to feeling smug (the natural state for an elf). The idea which Sam had had was to remove the hand-drill from his tool belt, which had still been around his waist when he came in for dinner and to drill upwards into the surface of the sideboard. As one by one the little holes appeared the Hobbits shoved each other around in the hope of getting closer to them; although they were immortal the idea of near-asphyxiation in a sideboard did not seem like a productive way to spend their Thursday evening, and Merry could be unmanageable for days if he was denied his weekly dose of ‘Peak Practice’.
With the door open just a crack Legolas could survey the scene in the room. Gandalf was still feigning sleep and ignoring Celeborn, who mercifully had his back to the sideboard and was somehow managing to chatter insipidly to Aragorn and devour the entire contents of the biscuit tin at the same time. Even the 4-month-old Garibaldi biscuits that had been bought by accident. It took a well placed pre-emptive kick to the nearest available part of Pippin’s anatomy to stop him making verbal protest when he peeked out of the other end, to see the last of the Caramel Wafers disappearing into Celeborn.
“Well, I could hardly stay there after the incident with their dog; you know what gerbils do to my allergies, and then there was the whole problem with the fact that I’m legally Belgian. And with my financial situation being what it is, you know dear, since I lost all that money in my investments I simply couldn’t get a ticket to New Zealand to stay with Arwen. Oh, I’m so sorry. How terribly insensitive of me to go bringing that up again.”
“Think nothing of it,” Aragorn forced out past his clenched teeth. “Incidentally how is Galadriel these days?”
Celeborn seemed oblivious to this none-too-subtle dig at his personal life; it couldn’t have been terribly important, as he hadn’t said it. At this point in the proceedings Aragorn noticed the drilling from the sideboard and started to try and fight his giggles and his annoyance that he hadn’t taken the hint from Frodo’s disappearance and tried to get in there with them. Then again he took into account the size of the sideboard, and the number of people in the sideboard and felt that he was probably better off out here. But only probably.
Then it all went pear shaped inside the sideboard. What Sam hadn’t taken into account with his hand-drill plan was the sawdust, which was beginning to get up all of their noses, and into Pippin’s lasagne sandwich. It was Pippin who finally lost control and sneezed and Merry’s rather uncharitable response to this was to shove him out in an attempt to protect the other three by detracting attention from the sideboard. Pushed into the spotlight and with the gazes of Celeborn and Aragorn on him he began to wildly improvise and, as so often seemed to happen in the company of Celeborn, lose complete control of his wrists.
“Celeborn!” Pippin dropped the remains of his sandwich on the floor as his legs seemed to be carrying him forward to present him for a hug at arm’s length and a kiss on both cheeks. “So bona to vada your dolly old eek again,” he enthused, making faces at Aragorn over the Elf’s shoulder as he fussed over Pippin’s hair, and seemed completely unaware of Pippin’s sarcasm overdrive.
“What do you wash this in, Peregrin?”
“Well, generally ah don’t.” Celeborn hastily let go and tried to lean backwards in a manner contrived to communicate inoffensiveness, while radiating polite disgust.
Behind him, Pippin heard Merry and Sam pull the sideboard door closed just a little too late. Caught in the grip of Celeborn’s stare and camp persuasion they were forced to reveal themselves and were subjected to a similar humiliating display of affectionate greeting. But there was worse yet to come as they were then expected to sit making polite conversation and listening to long rambling accounts of Celeborn’s activities over the last three centuries. It was only when Gimli came in from the nightshift and tactfully ran in terror upstairs claiming that his bedroom was on fire and he had to deal with it, that Celeborn finally relented and let them all go to bed, feigning guilt at having kept them up so late when they had to go to work the next morning. He really shouldn’t have worried though because Merry, Pippin and Sam had all nodded off on a number of occasions, but had been kicked awake by the other two when they noticed out of a bloody-minded desire to see that each of them suffered equally.
Upstairs in the bedroom, Frodo was still on top of Legolas’ wardrobe, as he was asleep and looked quite peaceful they decided to leave him where he was, although Aragorn and Legolas grudged him his peace and quiet; if being insane was what it took to avoid his in-laws, Aragorn was quite happy to put underwear on his head and pencils up his nose.
In deference to their now modernised sensibilities, Aragorn and Legolas faced opposite corners of the room to change into their pyjamas while Celeborn stood right in the middle and stripped entirely, leaving his clothes in a heap where he had stepped out of them and jumped into Legolas’ bed. Legolas looked round and shuddered.
“That’s my end of the bed.”
“Eaww, but I do so like having my head next to the window so I can see the stars. Don’t they so remind you of the… old times?” Celeborn threw Legolas the thin, lumpy pillow and a pleading look. He relented and got into the other end.
Legolas tried to stretch out into his bed, but soon met with a problem, Celeborn’s feet. “He’s a bloody toenail biter as well,” thought Legolas. Elves do not sleep in the same way as the other races of the world, and all that business with kicking and snoring and sleep talking was considered… unnecessary. By every Elf Legolas had ever met except for Celeborn who seemed to make up for his complete and utter lack of activity during the day by causing as much of a disturbance as possible at night. He was even keeping Aragorn awake. The only person getting a decent night’s sleep was Frodo. So eventually Legolas decided to go stand in the hall for half an hour before his alarm clock went off in the hope of catching a few minutes.
He stirred as Celeborn went past with a large bag of perfumed bottles, heading for the bathroom, but wasn’t properly awoken until the rest of the household were queued noisily outside the door. It was not until Gimli did his Jack Nicholson impression with his axe (heere’s Gimli!) on the door and then threatened to do the same thing to Celeborn that anyone else got to use the bathroom. This was one of the few days that even Merry and Pippin were glad to go out to work, and muttered something about volunteering for overtime. Unpaid overtime.
Legolas came through the door that evening with a due sense of dread. The second thing that struck him was that there was something subtly missing from the house; he really could not place it, just a sense of there being something wrong. The first thing that struck him though was Kate Bush. Apparently being played at full volume somewhere in the house, and being sung along to with a deeply inappropriate harmony. Even though he knew that with his elven hearing the act was pointless he stuck his fingers in his ears. He went into the kitchen and found Frodo preparing tea. Salad again. It had taken several severe warnings from the fire brigade (“I sincerely ‘ope this is not a desperate attempt to get onto ‘999 Lifesavers’, cos we’ve warned Michael Burke about you lot”), social services (“who was doing the cooking at the… aha, could you please ask the elderly gentleman in the reclining chair to let me down off the ceiling?”), the local Accident and Emergency Department (“not you again Mr. Aragorn, are you trying for squatters rights?”) and Mrs. Wainthrop (“if my washing’s smoke blackened again the council will hear of this, you mark my words!”) to persuade Frodo that actual cooking whilst he was a little, how shall we say this, shaky, was bluntly stupid. In retrospect letting someone with a terror of being watched by a giant flaming eye try his hand at flambeL was a little misguided. But no-one could have really foreseen about the seared tuna, or the char grilled peppers. Well, except that is for Gandalf, who was found by the fire brigade on both occasions still sat in his chair, wearing a gas mask, holding a fire extinguisher and with a fan turned on so the smoke was clear enough for him still to be able to see ‘The Weakest Link’.
The main difference to normal was that Frodo was wearing a pair of industrial ear defenders. He turned round to Legolas and nodded and passed him another pair of ear defenders. He picked up a dry wipe marker and wrote on the board on the fridge (normally used for the shopping list).
/ It’s been like this all afternoon. I phoned Aragorn to ask him to borrow some more ear protection from work, but I don’t know if he could hear me /
He wiped this off and passed the marker to Legolas.
/ Gandalf? /
/ Shed. /
Well, that explained what was missing. Gandalf’s peculiarly disturbing smell had gone, along with the sound of daytime TV punctuated by swearing. Frodo was looking close to another episode, and Legolas knew he had to do something.
/ I’ll try and talk to him. /
/ I tried. He only wants to talk about the ‘old days’ and I could feel my brain going all tight and throbby. Good Luck. /
Legolas went upstairs, to find Celeborn in his room, using his stereo. He turned it off, and only then took off the ear defenders. Celeborn initially looked surprised, but then went back into full on camp mode. “Legolas! I only saw you last this morning and it seems like an age away already. How was work my dear? Kept all those wonderful passengers happy?”
“A baby was sick on me, I had my ears abused by a group of schoolchildren, and had to deal with the hatred of an entire train full of commuters directed at me when we broke down.”
“Oh, wonderful darling.” Celeborn was not listening. “If I could just put my music back on again?”
“NO. I don’t even know why you came here. You know we all hate you, we established that the last time you turned up.”
Celeborn started blubbing. “It’s true then. You do hate me. I thought there would be something left for me, the loyalty of my in-laws, or even some fellow feeling from another elf. But no. You all hate me. Galadriel hates me you know. Everybody hates me. What did I do wrong Legolas, darling, to offend everyone? Oh, sweetie, tell me how to be loved!” At this Celeborn burst into tears and threw himself onto the bed and sobbed. Legolas began to leave the room, knowing it was either that or deck Celeborn, but then darted back, threw the Kate Bush CD out of the window and then stormed out of the room.
Downstairs, the other hobbits and Aragorn had arrived home, and Frodo was giving them the full rundown of exactly how irritating Celeborn had been throughout the day. Gandalf had only gone out into the shed after Celeborn had attempted to join in with his game shows with wildly inaccurate guesses, made irritating and constant questions about what was going on in ‘Crossroads’, but the very final straw was his persistent and drawn out wailing over how “terribly, terribly cruel” ‘The Weakest Link’ was. Gandalf had tried his usual trick of pinning him to the ceiling, but this had only caused him to make a most irritating squeaking noise and continue his comments so Gandalf had given up and left.
Aragorn squared his jaw. “I’m going to get Gandalf out of there. He’s not abandoning us here to torture and torment.”
“Can’t we just leave him out there?”
“Remember what happened last time Samwise? When he stayed down there two weeks? And took the phone with him? ‘The Gandalf Modelling Agency’? I don’t want to have to pay out that amount of money again to stop people going to the papers.”
The hobbits followed him outside, knowing when to expect a good show.
Aragorn did his ‘king of Gondor, kneel before me’ stride across the garden, full of purpose. That was until he hit the invisible barrier.
“We have got tae get oorselves a camcorder.” Said Pippin to the accompaniment of maniacal laughter from the garden shed.
“Yeah,” Agreed Sam. “That would definitely have got us 200 quid”
“Definitely. That were a classic, would ave been repeated. It were the way he fell over wi’out bending.”
“Masterpiece, that expression of complete and utter surprise.”
“Not forgetting the impressiveness of t’way he managed to get ‘is whole arm sliding under t’compost heap as ee went down.”
“His heed bouncing off the flagstone was really just the finishing tou-” He tailed off to see Aragorn staring at him.
“Did you think that was funny?” Pippin found himself being picked up by an arm covered in the drippy decomposing bits found in the bottom of a successful compost heap.
“Master Took, I think YOU should be more cautious in future.” Pippin was terrified but managed to nod. “You four are going to have to find a way to get him out of there. I am going to have a shower and when I get back I expect both Gandalf and the TV in their usual place. UNDERSTOOD?” The hobbits nodded in mute fear.
Aragorn squelched inside, and bumped into a seething Legolas. “He won’t leave. He says we hate him.”
“We do hate him. And we’ve managed to put up with Gandalf. Surely he wants to leave, if he knows we hate him that much.”
“Apparently not. He’s a complete, complete…”
“Yes. Why don’t you try and talk to him? Is that smell coming from you?”
“Yes,” said Aragorn and stomped upstairs.
He found Celeborn still weeping melodramatically on the bed. He decided that an ultimatum was the best way to go.
“You’re leaving. Tomorrow.”
Out in the garden the hobbits had hit upon a subtle psychological plan to get Gandalf out of the shed. And their TV back before ‘Buffy’ started.
“What a shame.”
“Such a terrible waste.”
“All Gandalf’s beer. Wasted.”
The hobbits were opening cans of beer loudly and emptying them into the compost heap. This had gained them some reaction, in that the volume on the TV had gone down considerably.
“If he was to come back of course…”
“Bringing the TV with him…”
“Naturally, and his chair of course…”
“Yeah, back into the sitting room…”
“Then maybe we wouldn’t have to be doing this.”
“He can’t even do the pin us to the ceiling trick cos we’ll spill it.”
“And there isn’t a ceiling, of course.”
Dinner was somewhat more normal. Gandalf was back in the sitting room, and Frodo was back under the table. The message of ‘house meeting in cupboard under the stairs when Celeborn’s in the bath’, had been successfully passed around without his noticing.
“Such a lovely salad! How nice that Frodo can still manage to cook in such a state!”
“Ooooooooooooh but he’s a fantabulosa cook!” Merry had gone into full on sarcasm mode, and both he and Pippin were flapping their wrists as if they were trying to take off. This made no impression on Celeborn.
“Its soo nice that he’s down there under the table, little Frodo, it’s like having your own little pet.”
Being labelled mentally ill has a great number of disadvantages, and a tiny number of advantages, so when a chance to use one of the advantages came along Frodo grabbed it with both hands, or in this case his teeth, which he sank into Celeborn’s ankle. Celeborn howled in anguish, and nearly upended the table. He was eventually calmed down by Legolas who suggested that he had a nice relaxing bath.
The household convened, (with the exception of Gandalf who’d already had his monthly exercise going out to the shed and back and had fallen asleep) in the cupboard under the stairs. The plan was formulated, the tea was drugged. Legolas was volunteered and had to deal with getting Celeborn to shut up for long enough to actually drink it.
Celeborn woke up the next day on the Hull-Rotterdam ferry, in possession of a one way ticket and a passport stapled to his lapel.
That evening they were sat having dinner. Merry had something on his mind. “Legolas?”
“Well, you know ’bout elves.”
“What about elves?”
“They’re not s’pposed, y’know, to like that sort of thing.”
“What sort of thing?”
“Y’know.” Merry made an extravagant arm gesture.
“Oh! You mean sex. What about it?”
“You don’t have, y’know, urges?”
“Noo..” Legolas was worried as to where this was going.
“Then why on earth is Celeborn so camp?”
Legolas sighed. “I have no idea. I’ve always wanted to ask him and never had the courage. He’s always been like this. I think the only reason Galadriel married him was that he’d be so busy choosing curtains for Lothlorien that she could get on and run it.”