Monday, 16 September 2013

Introducing Ughtah

Sometimes a writer finds inspiration where none can be expected. The little automatic codes accompanying comments (e.g. on blogspot) have always intrigued me. There's probably some little guy making them up who gets paid by the hour and never gets tired of the task! So I started collecting the ones I thought were particularly charming or funny or horrible. Then I thought to myself (which is the way things often get going, of course): Now I've got quite a long list. Why not turn some of them into characters i.e. let them work for a living? Here's the first story. It's written in a naive style, but it isn't specifically a story for kids, but for people who can remember their childhood delight at discovering the world of fantasy. 

Ughtah's big day

Ughtah is the leading man
Clesvita is the girlfriend
Diddle is the friend!
Nunsha makes the donuts
Oviganim sells old food and drink

Ughtah is a big guy. He has a big feet and a big voice, but most importantly, a big heart.
When he enters a room he has to duck so that he doesn't bang his head on the top of the door frame.
When he sits down, he takes up two-thirds of his sofa. Everyone looks up to Ughtah but you can't see what's behind him without running round him.
His problem is that he looks up to everyone else, so he is often scared when someone gets angry and shouts at him because they think he won't hear them otherwise, and he is so tall and round that he cannot always discern where a voice is coming from.
This makes life difficult for Ughtah because he never knows who is not angry with him and who is not hiding behind him.
One day Ughtah decided to go for walk, the sun was shining and the birds were singing. Ughtah thought the sun was shining especially for him so he said a loud THANK YOU to the sun and smiled with as much warmth as someone does who is not the sun himself. When the birds saw Ughtah, they each sang a special tune for him. The one that sang the best song was the cuckoo with his ugh-tah, ugh-tah, tea-time, tea-time. The other birds did not care much for their fat feathered friend. Instead they sang tunes like Ugh-ugh-ugh-tah after Beethoven, or Ugh-tah-tah-tah, like 'silent night', or even tah-tah-ugh-tah-tah, tah-tah-ugh-tah tah, as in the flea waltz.
If it was raining, the birds did not stick around to get wet, and neither did Ughtah. Instead, he listened to music at home. His favourite tune was by a guy called Beethoven and went Ugh-tah-tah-tah because it sounded quite familiar and reminded him of something, but sometimes he plays music himself on his old upright piano. Tunes like Ugh-ta-ugh--tah-ugh-tah-tah-tah (Half a pound of tuppenny rice…) are his favourites.
He also likes to play music when his friend, who was named Diddle entirely by accident, is over for a visit. Then they play Diddle-ugh-tah-tah (which is much the same as the flea waltz) four-handed, and Diddle, who is very little and has very little feet, but a big heart like Ughtah, but not quite as big, of course, winds the revolving piano stool as high as it will go and sings along to their piano-playing.
When they have finished making music they open a bottle of dandelion and burdock from Oviganim, who runs a shop for old-fashioned food and drink, and quench their thirst.  Dandelion and burdock tastes like Coke. It's the same colour, too, but it costs less.
Then they go into the kitchen and retrieve the donuts someone baked for Ughtah every day, and eat them all up to the last crumb, leaving nothing in the dish, but with a frame of icing sugar round their mouths.
One day, Ughtah said to Diddle 'We're getting fatter and fatter on these donuts. We must find out who makes them and ask them to make only half as many in future.'
It was true. Ughtah now not only had to bend over to avoid the door frame, but he had to squeeze himself through the door opening with a push that ended with a boing as he emerged the other side.
Diddle was not happy at all. He resented the royal "we". He needed the donuts to keep his weight up. It was bad enough being extremely short, but if he didn't eat enough donuts he would probably waste away altogether. However, he didn't waste time arguing with Ughtah. He knew where the donuts came from. They came from Angel's, the lady confectioner's, whose name was Nunsha Ailkens, as befits someone from foreign parts, was sweet on both Ughtah and Diddle. Ughtah didn't care much for Nunsha, but Diddle was prepared to smile at Nunsha occasionally in return for as many donuts as he could wrap himself round. Nunsha would take either or both under her wing, if she had a chance. 
But she might have to make do with Diddle because Ughtah already has a wonderful girlfriend. She is a head shorter than Ughtah, but that does not mean she has no head, it's just that the rest of her is not as long. Her name is Clesvita Eckelie.
When Clesvita crosses the threshold of a room, she does so proudly, with her head held high, though it is heavy with all the clever thoughts that are crossing her mind. Clesvita is more of a thinker than Ughtah, which is just as well.
Everyone says it's a good job Ughtah has Clesvita to watch over what he eats, but although she has blind trust in Weight Watchers, and serves only small portions of Weight Watcher portions, she cannot understand where all Ughtah's spare tyres come from. In fact, the whole of him is expanding alarmingly.
"I think I'll take a holiday from serving cake," said Clesvita one day. "I want to supervise what you are eating, Ughtah. I don't want you to roll up the aisle when we get married."
"I don't think you should do that, Clesvita," replied Ughtah, thinking of all the anonymous donuts that turned up every day. He was not sure if he could give up donuts for domesticity.
"All the more reason why I should," replied Clesvita, whose brain-cells were now working overtime, trying to fathom out why Ughtah should want her out of the house all day. Did he have another girl friend?
"But you must go to work. We need the money, Clesvita." said Ughtah, not without sadness in his voice.
As you have probably guessed by now, Ughtah is not an all-the-year-round worker. In fact, he only ever works when the circus comes to town. Then he paints his nose red under the red nose with the spectacles that are propped up by his ears, paints rest of his face white with one big black tear rolling down his cheek, puts on a spikey wig, squeezes himself into the oversize clown outfit that had sat loosely over his paunch the previous year, grabs his hat with the wobbly flower sticking out of the top, and, under the pseudonym "Roly-Poly", entertains the children and everyone else in the audience.
Ughtah performs his clown act to music played by Diddle, who can eat as many donuts as he likes without gaining an inch. Clesvita stands by in case of emergency, though she would be hard put to define what she meant by the word. A clue to what an emergency could entail is, however, apparent from the large safety-pins she has pinned to her Red Cross uniform. For if Ughtah should burst out of his costume she would be on the scene to pin him in again.
One day, Ughtah, having had a text from Diddle to say that he would not be visiting him for a week or two, went for a lonely walk. Imagine his surprise when a voice addressed him by name.
"Ughtah, Ughtah, at last we are alone."
It was Nunsha. She had heard that Diddle was going to be out of town and had immediately decided that she preferred Ughtah. All she had to do now was persuade Ughtah that he preferred her to Clesvita.
The only problem was how to get round Ughtah's height and girth.
Nunsha had several brainstorms deciding what to do. Then she heard that Ughtah would be taking his usual walk but without Diddle, so she went ahead and climbed a tree on his route and waited.
"Ughtah, Ughtah, my one and only love," she called as Ughtah approached.
Ughtah thought a female giant was talking to him from above, unless it was Mrs God, of course.
Ughtah stopped in his tracks and waited for the voice to call again. He did not have to wait very long.
"Will you marry me, Ughtah?" it said.
"How can I marry you? I don't know who you are."
"I am the spirit of the donuts," answered the voice. "Marry me and you will swim in donuts for the rest of your life."
"I can't swim," said Ughtah in desperation.
"Then I will fill the Eiffel Tower with donuts," came the voice.
"I can't speak French," said Ughtah, who would have liked the donuts, but didn't care much for the idea of marriage to a complete stranger in order to get them.
"Or I will fill your larder with donuts every day," came the compromise.
That was more like it, but then Ughtah remembered Clesvita. He couldn't just marry a voice without knowing who it belonged to, and Clesvita was his girlfriend, after all.
"Who are you? Where are you?" Ughtah wanted to know.
"I've told you that. I am the spirit of the donuts."
Ughtah had now realised that the voice came from the top of the tree he was standing next to.
"I don't believe in spirits. Come down out of that tree and let me look at you."
There was a lot of rustling and bustling before Nunsha dropped rather ungraciously out of the tree onto a pile of leaves. Rubbing her backside and head simultaneously because she had fallen first on her head then vaulted onto her bottom, Nunsha uttered language not normally heard in polite stories.
"Oh, it's you," said Ughtah, not really hiding his disappointment. He was not sure what he had been expecting, but certainly not Nunsha. "W-w-w-what a surprise," he stuttered.
"Well, will you?" Nunsha asked.
"Will I what?" queried Ughtah, who had forgotten the question.
"Will you marry me in exchange for a life full of donuts?"
"If you don't, I will put a black spell on you," she said.
"Go ahead. I can see in the dark," said Ughtah, who was now much more afraid than he would have admitted to. "And I know who you are. You are a wicked lady making threats like that."
Nunsha had to admit that she had gone a bit too far. She made Ughtah promise not to tell Diddle, who was now moving into main focus.
"What shouldn't I tell him, Nunsha," he said.
"Nothing," replied Nunsha, and still rubbing her derrière she attempted to beat a dignified retreat.
Battling with the double negative, Ughtah made his way home. He would marry Clesvita next day, before Nunsha thought up a new trick to ensnare him into accepting her proposal.
"I'm sorry about the donuts," said Clesvita, as if she knew what had happened in the forest.
"I'm sorry, too. I shall give them up," said Ughtah remorsefully. "On one condition," he added.
"What condition, Ughtah?"
"That you never, never climb a tree," said Ughtah.

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