Bagenders – Shortcut to Whitby

Season 1, Episode 4

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’, and interminable family car journeys. The ‘long bent thing with a sort of a knob on the end’ borrowed from Goon Show episode ‘The Great International Christmas Pudding’, owned by Spike Milligan, who probably doesn’t know what to do with the ‘long bent thing with a sort of a knob on the end’ any more than we do. Songs owned by artists credited in story.
Rating: PG (comedic violence; flatmate strife; language; gratuitous hobbit nudity)
Reviews: yes please, please or else it means we have to revise/work.

“Merry, Pippin, Frodo, Sam!” yelled Aragorn. “Get out of bed, we should have left the house 15 minutes ago!” Gimli and Legolas wandered past him, muttering something about coffee. Legolas was not a morning elf. Aragorn turned to him “Could you see to levering Gandalf out of his chair?”

“Why me? And why do we have to take him with us? And hang on, it was me who got him up last time!”

Aragorn just looked at him. “This was your idea.”

“My idea? It was your idea that we should do something as a Fellowship!”

“I most certainly did not. I merely commented that I had not seen Gimli in person for about three months.”

“Auch, now you’ve got me out of bed we’re going to the bloody seaside, OK?” He turned to Legolas. “I’ll give you a hand with Gandalf.” They went downstairs.

Aragorn resumed hammering on the Hobbits’ door, to have it opened by Frodo, who had quite stupendous bed hair. Being that he was only wearing boxer shorts there was also quite a stupendous amount of bed hair going on. It was only after Aragorn had known hobbits for some time that he had managed to stop being amused buy the state of their foot hair in the morning. Frodo glared at him, “Wha’ time d’you call this? We’re going to the seaside, not on another bloody quest.”

There was a muttered comment from inside the bedroom.

“I heard that Meriadoc. Going to the seaside with me is not a quest and you are getting up, or you are going in your pyjamas.”

Pippin stuck his head out from under the duvet and grinned. “I’m no wearing any pyjamas.”

Aragorn was shaking with anger, and used the best comeback he could find. “Well, you’ll be going to the seaside like that then.” He started to storm off, and then shouted back “Remember that you and Merry are doing the food!”

Breakfast. Merry was involved in the preparation of enough food to feed about 3 Mongol Hordes, and for once they had managed to get Gandalf to the table to eat real, solid food. A diet of slim-fast milkshakes, kebabs, deep fried pizza (he had an arrangement with the local chippie) and beer does not count as real solid food. Pippin was standing on a stool to reach a shelf, but what was truly disturbing was that to prove a point to Aragorn he was naked. Aragorn gripped his cereal spoon and said through gritted teeth, “Pippin, please put some clothes on.”

“But you said ah’d be going tae the seaside like this, so ah am.”

Sam blushed and studied his breakfast in detail. Frodo and Legolas had made accidental eye contact across the table and were having a losing battle with the giggles. Merry looked vaguely exasperated, “Please, Pip, just put some clothes on. Before that Mrs. Wainthrop from next-door sees. You know she’s on t’resident’s association, and after t’business with ‘er garden gnomes she’s been lookin’ to get dirt on us.”

“On the contrary ah’m quite clean.”

“Yes, preventing those of us who actually make some money for the house from getting into the bathroom,” growled Gimli.

Four arguments, a terrible amount of bad language, Pippin having to be held down and forcibly dressed by the other three hobbits, problems loading the vast amount of food into the roof box (involving Merry, Pippin, a ladder and a crowbar), Legolas using all his diplomatic skills to persuade Gandalf that his staff was safer strapped to the roof rack, and there really wasn’t room for him to wear his hat inside the car, and Legolas also going into full on maternal mode ensuring all members of the Fellowship had visited the bathroom, taken travel sickness pills and were fully dressed; later and they actually left the driveway, pausing only to go back when they realised they had forgotten Gimli.

Immediately after assuming their positions in the car, they assumed the appropriate roles. Aragorn, the only one in possession of a driving licence was hunched over the steering wheel, knuckles white, muttering about how they should have been gone hours ago. Legolas, in the passenger seat, was navigating, trying to keep the peace and acting as Hobbit riot control. In the next row of seats back were said hobbits. Frodo, chin in hand was looking out of the window, while Sam (who had been deliberately sat between Merry and Pippin to split them up) was playing on a Gameboy and trying to ignore the bickering between Merry and Pippin. In the two seats in the very back were Gandalf and Gimli who were very deliberately looking out of opposite windows and ignoring each other.

Pippin began arhythmically kicking the back of Aragorn’s seat.

“Please stop that,” Aragorn spoke levelly but had never taken such a threatening tone with orcs.

Pippin ignored this. “Ah’m booored.”

Legolas turned round. “Sam could you let him play with your gameboy for a while.”

Sam did not look up from his game of Tetris. “No. It’s mine.”

Legolas looked desperate. “I know, lets play ‘Queen Beruthiel’s Cat’. Lets everybody play Queen Beruthiel’s cat. Remember, everyone has to think of an adjective beginning with each letter.”

Aragorn groaned. “I can’t play, I’m concentrating on driving.”

Legolas looked huffy. “Well everybody else is playing. I’ll start. Queen Beruthiel’s cat is an ambitious cat. Your go Merry.”

Merry gave Legolas a death stare but gave in. “Queen Beruthiel’s cat is an awful cat,” trying to pronounce ‘Beruthiel’ as close a possible to ‘brothel’.

“Queen Beruthiel’s cat is an awestruck cat,” said Frodo staring out of the window in a spaced fashion.

Legolas was wearing the fixed, immobile grin of someone who knows this is going to be an extremely long journey. “Gandalf, your go.”

“ARSE!”

That about finished it for Queen Beruthiel’s cat as the hobbits collapsed into laughter, which kept them occupied for all of two minutes, ignoring Legolas’ injunction that swearing was neither funny, nor clever.

Pippin started squirming. “Ah’m uncomfortable. This shirt doesnae fit.” He pulled the collar round to look for the size, “See, its no mine. Its got Merry’s nametape in it.” Pause. “Hey, why’ve you been going roond putting nametapes in yer clothes?”

“I bleeding well did not put a nametape in it. What’s tha doin in my shirt anyway? Legolaaaaaaaaass, he’s wearing me shirt, s’not FAIR!”

Legolas turned round. “Look, you can wear one of his shirts when we get back.”

“All ‘is clothes are ‘orrible.”

“What do you mean, you dress like twins anyway!”

“Yeah, but heeeeeee’s been wearin them. Yeuch.”

Sam butted in, “Hey, my shirt’s got a nametape in as well!”

“You wearing one of me shirts an all?”

“No, it’s my nametape. But who the hell’s been name taping our clothes?”

Frodo turned round, looking confused. “What’s wrong with name taping your clothes? I thought I was being helpful. You’re always having arguments about whose clothes are whose, I had some time on my hands yesterday so I put nametapes in them all.”

The other hobbits stared at him. “Look, we’re all over 6000 years old. Aren’t we a little old for nametapes?”

Legolas butted in, “We’ll treat you like you’re 6000 years old when you ACT like you’re 6000 years old.” Spoken as only an elf with a couple of millennia on them could say. Legolas’s attention was however distracted by a scuffle from the seats behind the hobbits.

“You’re a dwarf, you don’t need legroom!”

Gimli had his axe raised to Gandalf’s throat and it was weaving in a way that suggested homicidal intent in its wielder.

“And Ah suppose I won’t need headroom either, so why don’t we even things up a little.”

It took such a stretch of Legolas’ diplomatic skills to calm both of them down and to eventually confiscate Gimli’s axe that he was even a little impressed himself. He sunk back down into the passenger seat rubbing his temples. His increasingly frequent stress headaches were starting to unnerve him because that sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to Elves, but then they were supposed to live out eternity in peaceful forests, in the company of other Elves, not in overcrowded people-carriers with childish halflings and loony old men. He definitely had to get something done about putting Gandalf into a home.

At the point when he had just begun to relax in what wishful thinking made more than just a temporary silence there was a loud thump and a scream from the middle row of seats. He turned round to see Merry and Pippin laying into Sam with feet, hands and anything within reach.

“What just happened?” enquired Legolas with all the composure he had left.

“Sam tried ter ‘it Pippin,” shouted Merry.

“Only because he tried to take my Gameboy. And I missed and hit the door. And then he hit me and made my nose bleed.”

Aragorn glanced up at the rear-view mirror. “Put your head back, Sam.”

“Isn’t it supposed to be forwards?” asked Frodo.

“Not in my car,” Aragorn replied. “If he gets blood all over the seats I’ll kill him.”

“Just settle down in the back, we’ll soon be there, we’re taking a shortcut across the moors,” said Legolas as the car turned off on to a side road.

“But I think I broke my hand on the car door,” moaned Sam.

There had been an impressively loud noise when Sam punched the door. “Move your fingers,” commanded Legolas. “See, you can move your fingers, you can’t have done too much damage, so you’re just going to have to grin and bear it. Well I heard you, up till all hours last night, so you’d better ALL try and go to sleep, otherwise you won’t enjoy it when you get there.”

Although there was much grumbling they couldn’t deny the inherent logic of this, and tried to settle down to sleep. After a while Legolas was relived to hear the sounds of sleep. But a little later he found that hobbits can even be vexing in their sleep. Gandalf and Gimli were merely snoring, although the word ‘merely’ is not really suited to their snoring. It’s like saying it was ‘merely’ a force 9 gale. The hobbits were somewhat more… active. Frodo was thrashing about so much in his sleep he looked like he was in an aerobics video, but did not seem to be distressed so probably was not having a nightmare. The other three had fallen asleep in a tangled heap and were mumbling. Legolas’ elven hearing was picking up such random comments as ‘not t’mushy peas!’, ‘Welcome to Gardner’s question time’ and ‘oh yeah, Gail Porter, ah’m yer baby!’. This lasted all of half an hour. Legolas vaguely wondered, as the hobbits awoke, if Merry knew it had been Pippin nibbling his earlobe but decided, on balance, not to say anything.

Pippin sat up, still bleary eyed. “Need the toilet.” The other hobbits and Gandalf chorused in agreement.

Aragorn looked yet more exasperated. “Look, there’s nowhere to stop.”

Sam said “I feel sick and all.”

Aragorn said, “Open a window Pippin.”

Pippin wound down his window. “Ah’m cold.” He squirmed in his seat. “And ah really need the toilet now.”

“I already told you, there’s nowhere to stop.”

Pippin squirmed some more. “Don’t care, just stoap.”

Legolas sat in the car alone valuing the peace and quiet after the rest of the Fellowship had disappeared to ‘stretch their legs’. After much grumbling, swearing and comments about thistles they eventually started off again. Legolas wondered why everyone was looking at him until he realised he was humming Cliff Richard’s ‘Summer Holiday’. Then he wondered why on earth he was humming ‘Summer Holiday’… it was a cold, damp day in April, and as much as he would have liked it (as a lifelong fan of Cliff’s work…that is Cliff’s lifetime) the fellowship could not afford such a spacious mode of transport with hobbit and wizard segregation opportunities as a double decker bus.

Legolas was staring into space when a thought struck him about Sam’s punching the car. He may have been the most muscular of the hobbits but Legolas was fairly sure he wasn’t that strong. And another thing – there hadn’t just been one loud noise but several, and each one had sounded quieter and further away than the last… “Aragorn, stop the car!”

They pulled over on to the entrance to a farm track and Legolas, followed by the rest of the Fellowship, got out to check on the roof box. Or rather the complete lack of roof box. However, Gandalf’s staff was there and seemed to have a suspicious number of fasteners attached to it. Legolas decided to chalk this one up to the cause of Gandalf going into a home because with the wizard in such a foul mood he didn’t dare accuse him of anything, although he would probably have enough time to run out of range before the staff was retrieved. Aragorn refused to go back and look for the roof box, he said they didn’t have time and anyway, they’d still been on the A-road then and if it hadn’t already been salvaged by someone it had would probably have been run over by a lorry.

“Ach weell, look oan the bright side,” said Pippin.

“And why should I do that, pray?” Legolas asked through gritted teeth.

“Because it was only the food.” Legolas was confused; this was an unusual response from a Hobbit. “It was a lot of food, mind you, but at least none of the deckchairs, buckets and spades or other stuff was in it.”

“And would you care to enlighten me, master Took, as to why they were not?”

“Because we emptied it into t’shed t’make room f’t’food,” said Merry.

“You took everything out of the roofbox?”

“Not quite.”

“Not quite?”

“Well, there were this long bent thing wi’sort of a knob on the end. We left that in.”

“What long bent thing with a sort of a knob on the end?”

“Dunno. There were instructions in there wi’it. We’ll never know now though.”

Legolas and Aragorn had returned to the car, and were staring fixedly out of the window. Legolas let out a heartworn sigh. “We’d better be going then.” He yelled out the door. “Everyone back here!”

“Heeeeelp!”

Legolas got of the car, to see Merry being pursued by a sheep. And the other hobbits sat on the ground, doubled up with laughter. “Come HERE Merry!” Both Merry and the sheep stopped and looked confused. The sheep, seeing Legolas’ expression decided that there were sheepy things she needed to be doing. Elsewhere. Probably in Kent, or, for safety, Shetland.

Eventually, everyone was back in the car, and they were moving once more. Legolas felt a tap on his right shoulder, and looked round to see Merry holding a tape out with a hopeful expression. “Just one song? Please?”

Legolas took it, with bad grace. “One song only.” And rammed it into the machine.

As the strains of House of Pain’s “Jump Around” came out of the stereo he realised the car was bouncing, and turned round to see all 4 hobbits attempting to mosh whilst sitting down and bopping left and right to the music. More worrying Gandalf and Gimli appeared to be doing the same, Gandalf having his own somewhat inventive hand gestures for the lines ‘Jump up, jump up and get down’. All that could be seen of Gimli was his helmet, bobbing. Legolas quickly looked forwards before he completely lost it and burst out laughing, and hoped they were far enough away from civilisation for there to be no CCTV for them to appear on ‘Police, Camera, Action’. However, Aragorn did not appear to be amused.

At the end of the song he wrenched the cassette from the stereo and hurled it randomly behind him. “You’re listening to some of my music, before you completely bugger the suspension.”

The sound of Glenn Miller produced dejection among the hobbits. That was until half way through ‘In the Mood’ the music suddenly stopped, there was the sound of muffled swearing in interesting languages, a burst of static and a cry of ‘Wimmin’s Knickers!’ then came, at twice the volume of the previous music…

“Ahhhm a lumberjack and aahm OK…”

Aragorn hit the off button, but it was too late. Gandalf was in full song “I sleep all night and I work all day.” The hobbits, both liking singing and keen to get in on Gandalf’s ‘little prank’ obediently joined with “He’s a lumberjack” and so forth.

Gandalf directed the singing, adding two new verses, directly attacking the Forestry Commission and Aragorn’s facial hair. Aragorn’s shouts, abuse and eventual pleas for mercy went unnoticed. They continued singing random snatches of Monty Python, culminating in an unending 5 part round of the ‘Spam Chorus’. After this had gone on for ten minutes Aragorn did an emergency stop and left the car, closely followed by Legolas. They both began to walk back the way they had come. Frodo shouted after them, but they ignored him. Only when Gandalf got out of the car and headed for the driver’s door, with a cry of “I’ll drive” did they stop, look at each other and in mutual agreement sprinted back to the car. Aragorn wrestled Gandalf out of the driver’s seat and said “Sod Whitby. I’ll drive, but we’re going HOME.”

Epilogue: In a Little Chef near Pickering a family is sat at a table, holding a long bent thing with a sort of a knob on the end.

“It’s a pity the instructions blew away before we could get to it. It looks really useful for something.”

(Note: even though they never got there Whitby’s a nice place to go. A Seaside town with 33% extra Goths free (it’s the Dracula connection). Last time I went there it was on the bus, so I take no responsibility for any geography mentioned in this story.)