Bagenders – The Karaoke of Elrond

Season 1, Episode 14

By Lady Alyssa and Random Dent

Disclaimer: JRR Tolkien owns the Fellowship. Debt to ‘Father Ted’ in the characterisation of Gandalf. General situation debt to the ‘Young Ones’. We don’t own Abba, Queen, Gloria Gaynor, Dr. Who and associated persons, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Gladiator, Captain Birdseye, Swallows and Amazons or Capability Brown. Colonel Melchett is the grandson of General Melchett, c/o Blackadder. The Hedgehog Song belongs to Terry Pratchett.
Rating: R (comedic violence; flatmate strife; Language; gratuitous lack of underwear.)
Story notes: ‘Abba Gold’ and ‘Queen’s Greatest Hits’ would be handy. Also a knowledge of who the following people are:
Isambard Kingdom Brunel: Victorian Engineer who did railways, boats (metal ones) and bridges.
Catherine the Great: Empress of Russia, notorious for her amount of lovers. Story about the horse though probably not true.
Cirdan: Elf. Built the ships that took the elves to the west, original possessor of the ring of power Gandalf ends up with. Appears in film for 2.5 seconds.
James Watt: Inventor of efficient steam engine.

Elrond’s stately pile is a splendid example of the late eighteenth century neo-classical revival in English architecture, the beautifully balanced wings creating a building perfectly proportioned, marvellously at home in its landscaped gardens, and not at all enhanced by a Forestry commission Landrover with so much dirt on it you could grow potatoes. They had intended to go through the car wash, but Pippin and Sam, who had drawn the short straw for travelling on the roof (Merry and Frodo were insisting on standing up in the back so as not to crease their dresses), had complained loudly. Pippin especially was adamant that if they went through a car wash he’d rust, and had threatened to do horrible things to Aragorn with his gladius if they did.

The Landrover was abandoned to its fate along with a large number of limousines, BMWs, Bentleys, and inexplicably one Soviet-era Lada. They proceeded to the entrance with as much dignity as they could muster. None.

“Do you think this split’s too revealing?”

“Not with your legs.”

“You are wearing underwear?”

“Yeah, have I got knicker-line?”

“Umm, did anyone suggest to you not to wear boxers with a skin tight dress?” Merry frowned and wriggled to try and smooth the boxers down a little.

“Why? You wear underwear rarely enough as it is?” Legolas was embarrassed enough as it was…

“Last time I wore this. Ummmmmm, well, last time there was some… exposure.”

“SOME exposure? He says SOME exposure?” said Frodo.

“Hang on. Last time?” Legolas wanted answers. However, as far as Frodo and Merry were concerned he was more likely to discover the secret of cold fusion while watching ‘Blackadder’.

The party was a high security affair; Elrond knew enough People who had Enemies, or even People who were Enemies of People, or People who had had enough People killed to start worrying about Knives In Backs. Or even being determinedly clubbed to death with a teaspoon (we meant the capital ‘E’ on Enemies). Therefore, there was a metal detector on the way in, and this being an elven party, a magical-items-of-possible-belligerent-use detector.

Frodo, Merry and Gimli fell at the first hurdle of the metal detector. The security guards had apparently heard of Pippin’s reputation beforehand, had decided they weren’t paid enough for that and just waved him though.

“It’s all the sparkly bits. They’re all metal. Can you let us through?”

“I’m afraid we will have to strip search you.”

Merry looked far too pleased with this state of affairs. Gimli, on the other hand, was exceedingly unhappy.

“Och, yer not strip searchin me. Not having strangers’ hands in unfamiliar places!”

Frodo sighed. “You’re wearing the iron underwear again aren’t you?”

“No.”

“Gimli…”

“Yes. Och.”

“Go and take them off.”

“I’m no goin in there naked under my clothes!”

“You’re wearing a full Victorian suit. It’s not exactly revealing.”

While Gimli was being talked out of his underwear Gandalf was having problems with the magic detectors.

“The staff is part of my costume! Do not meddle in the ways of Anne Robinson!”

“LET GO! NOW!”

Legolas and the two elves dealing with the magical items also had hold of the staff and were attempting to wrestle Gandalf for it. This was a course of action hindered by the fact that their heightened elven senses made them really want to keep their distance from Gandalf.

Aragorn decided that it was time to use cunning.

“Gandalf… there’s free drink inside.”

“I know, if these fools of elves would give my staff back!”

“If you put the staff down, you can have the drinks.”

“I’m a very old man. Creation of the world? Been there, done that, got the live album. I need the stick to walk.”

“I didn’t know you were planning to walk further than the drinks table.” Legolas was acutely aware that they had now drawn a crowd and was sure there were some muffled sniggers of ‘Lars’ from the back of it.

Eventually, with the help of a waved bottle of Stolichnaya, Gandalf was disarmed. Gimli had been deprived of his underwear and was feeling distinctly uncomfortable and Frodo and Merry couldn’t stop giggling. They proceeded to the main hall of the party and, in the tradition of all truly expensive parties, they were announced.

“The Lord Aragorn, son of Arathorn, also known as Strider, Estel, Wingfoot, You Bastard and That-Useless-Dunadan-Gobshite.”

The announcer looked at the card Elrond had supplied him with with slight confusion, but the message seemed to have gotten across.

“Legolas of Mirkwood, also known as Lars, Romana, Lucinda and Tracey.”

From the other side of the room a group of younger Elves could be seen snorting into his champagne glasses and whispering.

“Gimli son of Gloin, son of – ” The announcer descended into laughter, only just turning off his microphone in time.

“Samwise Gamgee, Mayor of Hobbiton (retired) and winner of The Great North Show’s biggest marrow competition 1947-58.”

Next the announcer attempted to introduce Gandalf, but got as far as ‘Mithr- ” before the wizard himself knocked him over while foraging for more drink.

The announcer picked himself up again and tried for the last three. “Thain Peregrin Took, also known as ‘Have You Seen This Man’, ‘Wanted: Reward 10 Shillings’ and Tinkletoes. Meriadoc Brandybuck, Master of Buckland, also known as Dave. Frodo Baggins, former r-” The announcer doubled over, groaning as ‘Have You Seen This Man’ headbutted him between the legs.

Then announcer, however, was committed to his job and after a short recovery, carried on. “Also known as Case B, Patient X and Volume Two of the Complete Handbook to Psychiatry.”

********* *********

“Excuse me, but are you by any chance dressed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel?”

Gimli looked up. “And are you dressed as James Watt?”

“I have to ask you, but do you think the wide-gauge railway was the best missed opportunity in British Engineering?”

“YES!”

Gimli had found his new best friend. In the next ten minutes their conversation had covered the Great Eastern, the Great Western and the incompetent bastard who built the first Tay Bridge. Tristan, the James Watt look-alike was in the middle of a PhD in steam engineering and was almost bouncing off the ceiling with excitement at having found someone as enthusiastic about old engineering projects as he was. Gimli, being shorter, was bouncing off the walls at having found someone he could tell all his anecdotes about the engineering projects to.

“Yes, definitely, I’m sure the Victorian Hydroelectric systems are still here, Elrond had them unplugged because the national grid was more reliable.”

“Really?” Tristan was impressed. “The original system is still in the grounds somewhere?”

Gimli nodded

“We’ve got to go and find it. We simply must!”

“We’d better get ourselves some equipment first, I mean, there won’t be any lights and the doors are probably nailed shut.”

Tristan’s eyes lit up. “Adventures! Like ‘Swallows and Amazons’!”

“Yes…” Gimli had never been a terribly social person, dwarves never are, and although he’d never read ‘Swallows and Amazons’, decided to go along because it had to be better than the party and he could probably find a crowbar or something else heavy to hit Tristan with if ‘Swallows and Amazons’ was even filthier than he thought it sounded.

********* ******

“Samwise is such an unusual name! How delightful!”

“What?”

Sam had been accosted by a gaggle of women who would be beautiful were it not for their close resemblance to thoroughbred horses. They appeared to be attracted to him for some unknown reason. Perhaps it was hobbit pheromones, or perhaps they’d heard what it is they say about men with very big feet (they spend a lot on shoes), but whatever the reason they had latched onto him.

“Who aaare you dressed as? It’s a simply wonderful costume, and the wig sets it off perfectly!”

“Uuuummm, Capability Brown.”

“Oh, how lovely, he did our garden.”

“What, recently?”

“No, silly, in the eighteenth century!”

They laughed, or more accurately whinnied.

******* *******

Meanwhile, the rest of the Fellowship, apart from Gandalf, had elbowed someone dressed as Darth Maul out of the way in an attempt to get better acquainted with the drinks table. Gandalf, having managed to hide three magnums of champagne and bottle of very good vodka packed in ice in his costume, was really starting to get into the business of getting seriously drunk, when he heard the voice from under the drinks table.

“Whashall we do wi a drunken sailor, washall we do wi a drunken sailor, washall we do wi a drunken saaaaaaaaaaaaailor, early in the mornin’.”

Gandalf was pretty sure that Elrond would never shame himself by serving vadko at one of his parties, so the voice under the table must be real. He lifted the tablecloth to reveal a bearded elf dressed as ‘Captain Birdseye’.

“Cirdan?”

“Mithrandir!”

“How’s it going? How’s the boats?”

“Boas? Don’ talk to me abou’ boas. Wood! You make em out of wood, not metal. I thought I saw Kingdom Brunel go past. If I see him again, I’ll punch the fecker. Iron clad, my arse!”

This statement caused Gandalf some confusion, but he let it pass. He crawled under the table and offered Cirdan some of his vodka.

********** ************

Aragorn and Legolas seemed to have found their niche in the party. Aragorn had acquired a glass of port and was talking to a group of men who had even more facial hair than he did, or at least longer facial hair. The conversation had quickly got round to Big Dogs, landrovers, and killing things, subjects which Aragorn could quite happily talk about for hours, although he did get a bit lost in the bit about the cost of re-roofing the west wing because the last time there had been a west wing to re-roof the bill had come in guineas.

Legolas would have wandered off to find a more interesting conversation, but he was having trouble with his drink. It wasn’t so much that he was drinking Pimms and lemonade, but attempting to suck a fruit salad lubricated with a dash of Pimms and lemonade through a straw, and there was cucumber in it, which wasn’t really helping.

There was the strange noise of metal grating against metal under great strain.

“What was that?”

“Sounds exactly like m’Poppy did when she was giving birth.”

“Your wife?”

“No, m’ best hunter. Had a terrible time of it, never going to breed with her again.”

Legolas was snapped out of his fruit salad-induced reverie by a large hand landing on his shoulder.

“Veronica!”

Legolas turned round to see the large red face atop a large red uniform attached to the hand and politely tried to explain that he was not, in fact, called Veronica.

“Of course you’re Veronica, could never forget your face, or the rest of you. You haven’t aged a day since I last saw you in ’89. You can’t say you’ve forgotten your old Colonel Melchett.”

“My name is not Veronica.”

“Course it is, or perhaps, you’d prefer Lady Gallsworthy, you liked it when I called you that before.”

“Please, go away and stop bothering me.”

“You didn’t say that before.”

Legolas decided to have a go at changing the subject. “So why haven’t you come in fancy dress?”

“I have, I’ve come as Colonel Armstrong, artillery chap, borrowed his uniform. He’s come as me, you know, floating round the party somewhere.”

“I see.” Legolas was attempting to signal to Aragorn to come and rescue him. Now.

“Would you like another drink, m’dear. You seem to just be sucking on the fruit salad.”

For a second Legolas thought about refusing as rudely as he could while still staying within the boundaries of polite in case he led him on, but then decided to let him do it as it might give him the chance to run away. However, this did not go entirely as planned.

“Oh sorry.” Legolas apologised to Darth Maul, whom he had just tripped up. Darth Maul gave him and Aragorn a filthy look and hissed.

“Legolas!”

Legolas turned round at the sound of his name to see Galadriel sweeping in in full hostess mode, dressed in an 18th century ball gown.

“Galadriel…is that your Catherine the Great costume?”

“Yes, wonderful, isn’t it. It’s modelled on one of the originals, you know.”

Aragorn and Legolas exchanged Looks. Aragorn had Met Catherine the Great and had spent the next fortnight riding sidesaddle.

“Legolas, there’s someone over here who you really have to meet, why don’t you just come with me…”

********* ********

Frodo, Merry and Pippin had all managed to use their height to their advantage when it came to getting nearer the drinks table and had spent most of the evening so far sitting on chairs piled high with cushions drinking flaming B52s through straws.

“Ha! M’strws leeeeest burnt n’so I win.”

“Ok, Ok, lesh say best of 14 then…”

“Bu’ tha means I’ve still won.”

“Not if we drink another 14 it doesn’t.”

“Nonononono. Nearly set m’bosoms on fire last time, no more flames.”

“Wha was tha noise?”

“Wha noise?”

“Like when we put Gimli’s iron underpants in the washin’ machine.”

“Souns’ more lie a cheese grater to me.”

“Doing what?”

“Being cheese-gratery. With another cheese grater.”

“So thas’ where you get baby cheese graters.”

“Frododododo, why’ve you grown.”

“Not grown. And not over there either…oh. Ello Elrond.”

Elrond and Haldir were stood, arms folded looking at the hobbits. They were angry. Very angry.

“I thought that there was to be liaison so no-one had the same costumes.”

“Sorry. Din thin you’ do Abba as well. Niice dress Haldir.”

“This is embarrassing. This is my party, and you, you turn up having stolen my costume idea!”

“Stolen? Nah, no’ stolen. Jus coincidence.”

“I demand you go and change.”

“No way. We’re a better Abba than you. Been Practicing.”

“Yeah. Can do… stuff.”

“That is beside the point…”

“No, is not. We put time’n effort into this. Important.”

Frodo had a determined gleam in his eye. “We’ll show you what Abba should be like…” He scuttled over to the string quartet, dodging Darth Maul, while Merry started stretching. Pippin knew what was coming and decided this was the moment to make his exit, muttering about how little alcohol it took to make Frodo sing on tables.

Frodo had finished his negotiations with the sting quartet and made his way back to Merry. There was some muttered planning, then they got up on the nearest table that was unencumbered with alcohol.

The strings launched into a very familiar pizzicato opening. Frodo and Merry stood back to back on the table, heads turned to face the audience.

“Mama Mia. Here I go again..”

They were not just, in the best drag act style, mouthing the words. They were actually singing it, in very convincing and tuneful falsetto. They had also got a very good dance routine going on. The rest of the Fellowship were watching them open-mouthed. Sam decided that this was really a very good time to show the horsey women round the garden, although their agreements to this were just a little too enthusiastic. Gandalf and Cidan left, drunkenly leaning on each other and saying things about a “boainlak”. Aragorn seemed to have evaporated. Pippin, who had been chatting up a chambermaid built like a prehistoric fertility goddess, decided that this was the time to steer her out of the room and in the general direction of the shrubbery. Legolas, however, much like witnesses to a car crash was possessed with a horrified fascination.

Elrond and Haldir were not pleased. They knew they could not compete with such a professional Abba. Frodo and Merry decided to follow up ‘Mama Mia’ with an energetic version of ‘Waterloo’, before heading back in the direction of alcohol again.

************ ***********

Out in the garden things were getting busy. Gandalf and Cirdan were heading towards the boating lake carrying a Louis XIV writing desk and an Edwardian hat stand. Pippin was in the process of seducing Barbara the chambermaid, using up some of his best chat up lines.

“Has anybody ever told ye ye’v got great knockers?”

“Ta. Well, actually just ‘bout everybody says that.”

“Yeah, well, ah dunnae just mean great knockers, ah mean truly enor- wonderful knockers.”

“Look I don’t come out ere for conversation.”

“Look, ah wuz just tryin to create an ambience.”

“Shurrup and get yer shortarse over ere.”

Pippin liked this woman.

On the other side of the rhododendrons Sam was having a far less pleasant time. The horsey women had all disappeared, save one. Sam was feeling like he was being hunted, like a lone wildebeest who can smell lion, but knows there is nothing they can do about it. Frodo and Merry were going to suffer. It was only embarrassment that had caused him to leave the herd, and now he was alone. Prey.

“Do you have a girlfriend Samwise?”

“Ummmm, no, not at the moment.” Sam realised as soon as he had said this that this had been the wrong answer.

“I can’t imagine what someone like you is doing still single…”

“Oh, you know, bachelor lifestyle. Yes, that’s it. Like being free and single.”

“But surely the joy of going home to a home cooked tea, a warm house.”

Sam couldn’t imagine that she knew which way up a saucepan went. “But I go home to that every night..”

“Oh, yes, the cook, but its not the same as having someone to share it with.”

“Frodo’s not the cook. He’s my friend.”

“Ooooooh, you mean the man dressed as… Abba?”

“Yes, that’s him. He practices that a lot.”

“Really? And, and the other… gentleman being Abba?”

“That’s his cousin. He lives with us too.”

Were it not for the self control which is in-bred into the truly posh she would have run screaming. “I am sorry to have got the wrong impression…”

“What wrong impression?”

“That you were, um, single.”

“I am single.” Damn. He’d told the truth again and really hadn’t intended to.

“Then you aren’t… a, a, a non-hetrosexualist then?”

Sam had no idea what she was getting at; he just nodded in fear.

“So glad to have cleared up this misunderstanding.” She started to advance on him. Sam started to retreat, but tripped and fell backwards into the bushes. She was still advancing. Sam closed his eyes. This was the end of any shreds of self-respect he still retained.

By the boating lake Gandalf and Cirdan were attempting to remember the principles of buoyancy. A drawer from the writing desk floated perfectly well on its own, but when Gandalf got in it had a tendency to sink. When Cirdan got in it also sank, but rather more slowly since he didn’t have several magnums of champagne secreted about his person. They had gone back to the house to test the theory that all they needed was a bigger drawer, but this was hampered by it still being full of Galadriel’s underwear. However, this had inspired the next plan, of making a boat from bits of the writing desk held together with knicker elastic and bras.

Activities in the Rhododendron bushes were just starting to get energetic, whether this was lewdness or in Sam’s case the fight for life, when a large group of figures appeared at an upstairs balcony, holding powerful torches, floodlighting the spectacle of Pippin conquering the lower slopes of Mount Barbara.

“Ahhhhh, you gonna take me home tonight. Ahhhh down beside your red firelight. Ahh, fat-bottomed girls you make the rockin world go round…!” This was sung with gusto by a group led by two sets of dangerously swaying Abbas who had apparently made their peace.

The horsey woman shrieked. She obviously thought this was in reference to her, and ran off, because those diet pills had been exceedingly expensive. Sam took his chance to slink off to any safe looking place. Hanging round with Frodo and Merry was embarrassing but less humiliating than this.

On the other side of the Rhododendron bushes neither Pippin nor Barbara seemed to be showing any signs of shame. They finished, and the audience on the balcony held up scorecards for technical execution and artistic interpretation. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to be heading even for a bronze medal place on the basis of those scores.

“Ah demand a stewards inquiry!”

************ **************

Legolas was starting to wonder whether someone had been putting something illegal into his drink because he didn’t think he could get into a situation like this under any other circumstances. The room was full of Doctor Whos, Doctor’s assistant and various bad guys. At the back of the room there was a Dalek, apparently trying to down shots of vodka through its sink plunger. Legolas waded through the sea of long scarves and frock coats until he eventually found a hairy, disreputable looking Doctor Who watching recorded episodes and playing the Doctor Who Drinking Game.

“Assistant screams, take a drink everyone!”

“No, that’s a male assistant screaming, two shots!”

The assembled Doctors knocked back their shots and one of them slid under the sofa.

One of the Cybermen looked in Legolas’ direction. “Lars! What brings you to my Tardis?”

“Glorfindel? This is all yours I take it, including the full size replica tardis and cut-outs of the assistants?”

“Well, I have a lot of time on my hands, I need a little hobby. Actually, I was having the most interesting conversation with Aragorn about how Doctor Who is really just a Ranger in space…”

Legolas had heard this all before. In fact he’d been hearing the full hour- long lecture version every few months since the BBC had first commissioned the series.

Aragorn perked up at the sound of his name. “Romanadvoratrelundar! You’re looking particularly Galifreyan tonight!” He put his arm around Leoglas’ shoulder, more to hold himself up than as a gesture of friendship.

“Aragorn, we should really get back to the main party, the Hobbits are…getting up to things.”

“But, but, but, we’re nearly up to the episode Mary Whitehouse tried to ban!”

“Look, I’ll buy you the video, just come and help me stop the Hobbits from embarrassing us any further.”

“You never let me have any fun.”

Legolas dragged Aragorn away from the mini Doctor Who convention and out into the corridor and was about to try and find his way back to the main hall when Frodo and Merry crashed into him.

“Gandalf! Cirdan! Lake! Knickers! Sinking!”

Legolas went into schoolteacher mood. “Slow down, take deep breaths and tell me calmly what happened.”

“Gandalf and Cirdan made a boat out of a desk and knicker elastic and they got out into the middle of the lake and now they’re sinking.” Frodo finally stopped to take a breath just as he was starting to go blue.

“They did what? No, don’t repeat it, if you collapse it’ll only make things worse.”

They strode out towards the lake, pausing only briefly at the gamekeeper’s shed to pick up a coil of rope, which just happened to have a gibbering Sam attached to it and since he couldn’t be persuaded to let go, they took him with them.

“Rope. Rope good, always need rope, very useful.”

“Yes, but you don’t need to hold on to it so tight. Nothing bad’s going to happen if you let go, I promise, Scout’s honour.”

“Scouts?”

“Brownie’s honour.”

Sam eventually let go, and luckily they were just in time. A few minutes previously the desk had snapped in half, and now the remaining stern-end was bobbing up and down on the surface, about to begin its slow descent into the deep, with Gandalf and Cirdan balanced precariously on top.

“Don’t let go, Gandalf!”

“I can’t let go, you’ve tied us together because you know I’m the only one who can swim!” Gandalf thought about this for a moment. “Why the hell didn’t you learn to swim, anyway, you’ve been around water your entire life you stupid bastard!”

“I have confidence in my ship-building abilities!”

“So did Ismay when he built the Titanic!”

Legolas considered throwing them the rope, but realised that they were bickering too much to catch the rope, so tied it into a lasso and dragged them back to the side of the lake.

Gandalf recovered first. “It is customary to offer those who have been near death a brandy.”

********** *********

Gimli and Tristan were starting to really look the part of Victorian engineers. Lit by the flickering light of oil lamps, they had long since discarded their jackets and were working with their sleeves rolled up. They were covered in oil and the dust that had gathered in the room since anyone was last in it and enjoying every second of it.

“And if we just hit it with the spanner like so, and leap back in case I’ve got this wrong and anything drops on us, we should be able to put the water in and see if it still goes.”

Gimli hit the side of the strange mechanical beast in a very precise and calculated way and they both sprang back. Nothing fell off.

“I think there’s a stopcock here to let in water from the lake…”

“Shall we?”

“Och, I think we shall.”

Tristan turned the stopcock and set the entire hydroelectric system into motion. There was a moment of silence while they waited to see if it leaked. But the system was sound and working perfectly and Tristan and Gimli leapt around the room in triumph. <palign=center>******** ********

Unbeknownst to the budding engineers, Elrond had never actually got round to disconnecting the hydroelectric system from the house’s fuse box – he hadn’t seen the point since it was going to be switched off.

“Does anyone else think the lights in here are getting a bit bright?” asked Legolas.

There was a whirr, then a blinding flash and many small explosions joined together as the hydroelectric system gathered momentum and the power surged, blowing every lightbulb in the house.

“Well, now you come to mention it, no.”

Sam made a grab for Frodo.

“What on earth are you doing?”

“Well, there’s people out to get me. They might find me in the dark.”

“People out to get you?”

“This woman, she looks like a horse and she tried to molest me in the rhododendrons.”

“Ah, the worst place to be molested.”

“Stop taking the piss, this is serious.”

“Alright, if she finds us you can pretend that I’m your boyfriend, but I do draw the line at kissing you.”

“Agreed.”

Aragorn and Merry had managed to find torches on their trip to the gamekeeper’s shed, but instead of trying to look for other lost people, they were reflecting them off the mirrors, intoning ‘this is the voice of the mysterons’ and giggling. Legolas cuffed Aragorn round the side of the head and took the torches.

“Sam, Frodo, take these and go and find either Elrond or Galadriel to see if there’s any emergency lighting.”

As if on cue, Galadriel appeared at the other end of the corridor and started weaving towards them, giving occasional cries of ‘aiyah!’, ‘wsnihahaha!’ and ‘neiiow!’ between giggles.

“Galadriel…? Are you alright?”

Pippin emerged from underneath Galadriel’s skirts. “She’s fine, just a bit pissed. However, the doonstairs bathroom is fillin up with horrible green slimy water, exactly like this stuff that we’re covered in.”

Merry temporarily lost the power of speech. “Wsnip? Hut? Haveyousl- I mean, you and Galadriel, have you got the thousand points?”

“Nah, when the bathroom starts filling up with horrible green slimy water it kind of pits ye aff, and noo she’s too far gone fir it tae count.”

Merry visibly relaxed – he was currently leading by 6 points, even taking Barbara into account.

Elrond and Haldir came round the corner, armed with a large supply of candles and followed by a crowd of people dressed as various Doctor Who characters complaining about the lack of videos.

After much mutual effort the house was lit with candles and Galadriel was put to bed, without any help from Pippin whatsoever. Then Aragorn had a good idea.

“We should sing to keep our spirits up. It’ll be like during the blitz.”

“Which, as I recall, you spent in the Highlands of Scotland,” said Legolas.

“I listened to it on the radio, all of Churchill’s speeches, and I was digging for victory and making do and mending.”

“Yes, but digging yourself an air raid shelter and making do and mending because you’d rather sell your clothing rations doesn’t count.”

Aragorn steamrollered this. “Anyway, it’s the principle that counts. Anyone want to have a sing-song?”

“I know a song about a hedgehog,” volunteered Pippin.

“Anyone want to have a sing-song that doesn’t involve hedgehogs?”

The rest of the party all looked at their shoes and pretended Aragorn was talking to someone else.

“Alright then, I’ll start, and since there are so many of my ex-wife’s relatives here today, I want to dedicate this one to her.”

Aragorn took his position at the foot of the staircase, adjusted his scarf and tipped his hat to a more rakish angle.

“At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”

Frodo, Merry, Elrond and Haldir knew what was coming next and, not seeing any point in trying to go against it, assumed the role of backing dancers behind him on the stairs.

Aragorn was really getting into it. “But did I crumble? Did I lay down and die? Oh no not I, I will survive!”

At this point he was joined by two cybermen, inexplicably doing the staying alive dance. Legolas just sat down with his head in his hands and waited until he died of embarrassment.

Now that everyone was starting to get into the spirit of it, Elrond took over at the piano and Haldir borrowed a violin from one of the string quartet.

“Master Took, I hear you do a very good, or at least passable, Freddie Mercury, and since Galadriel is indisposed, would you oblige us with Bohemian Rhapsody?”

Pippin leapt to his feet and a choir of Elves assembled behind him. “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality…”

The rendition continued with increasing gusto, until the high point of the performance.

“Beelzebub has the devil brought a son for mee, for meeee, for meeeeeeeeee!”

At this point the massed elves began to headbang wildly to Haldir’s attempts to do the guitar solo on the violin. Pippin would have been in the position of ‘laughing until he was sick’ were it not for the fact that he was headbanging along with the best of them. The song ended, leaving Pippin collapsed in a dramatic heap on the floor. Merry went over and kicked him, saying that he was exposing rather more than everyone wanted to see. This notwithstanding it was going to be pretty hard to top that piece of entertainment.

One of the elves was staggering off, the headbanging having been a little inadvisable in his drunken condition. He tripped on the trailing robes of another of the guests, inadvertently ripping off the entire costume, including the mask. There was a gasp and the room went silent. Then up came the cry: “SARUMAN!”

This was closely followed by Pippin’s “hey, Ah’ve got some Homer Simpson boxers just like that…”

Gandalf strode down the stairs, his six and a half thousand-year alcohol problem forgotten. He was the all-powerful Gandalf the White once more. Even though a more accurate description of what he looked like would be Gandalf the Very Stained And Covered In Big Green Drippy Bits Of Pondweed.

“Saruman. Why have you returned?”

“Heard Galadriel was having another one of her parties…”

“Begone, servant of the Dark Lord!”

“Why?”

“What do you mean ‘why’? You’re a servant of the Dark Lord. Sod off.”

“Make me. I am also a powerful wizard!”

Gandalf drew himself up to his full height, rearranged the wig, pulled a spare pair of glasses from his pocket and looked at Saruman witheringly over them. The elves were shocked to see darkness amongst them once more. They would fight the Dark One, as they had fought alongside Aragorn and Isildur. Glorfindel, still in Cybermen regalia sidled up behind Saruman. He tapped him on the shoulder gently, and with the elven combination of grace and brute strength, headbutted him as he turned round.

Gandalf walked over to the prone Saruman.

“Saruman. You are the Weakest Link. Goodbye.”