Our Michael has put most of my little homilies out on that Internet now. He takes great delight in looking up all the statistics on his computer; Who has read what, and where they were when they read it and how they got there. All the ruddy useless whys and wherefores. He reckons that there are two articles that people keep coming back to and looking at again and again: “They Died Toto Young #18: Howard Carter” and “That’s Swearing #4: Hells Bells and Buckets of Blood.”
“If you could somehow combine those two posts” he says. “You would go viral! The Internet would be at your command!”
To be honest with you, I don’t really fancy the idea of going viral. It sounds like it might be uncomfortable and involve Beechams powders. I never did like Beechams powders. And as for the Internet being at my command, well, I thought that it already was. I thought that was the whole point of the Internet, as opposed to the ruddy television, which makes its own mind up what it’s going to have on it, and even that’s mostly repreats.
Any Road, just to shut him up, I said I would have a go at it. So here, for your delight, is the first instalment of a work of fiction that I call. “Howard Carter and the Bells of Hell”
It was the autumn of 1932, some time since that messy business in the Valley of the Kings, when Lord Carnarvon had bled to death after cutting himself shaving. My friend, the eminent Egytologist, Howard Carter had long since returned to London and was back in his rooms in Soho, being looked after by the very capable Mrs Wiggins.
And in case you were wondering, “looked after” means that she cooked his meals and did his housework. And that was all it meant, so don’t go getting any funny ideas. she wasn’t that sort of a woman. She was actually a relation of my Raymond’s, she married one of his uncles’ cousins or something. And another thing, she wasn’t any relation of that cycling Wiggins either, if you must know. He doesn’t even know the words to the ruddy national anthem, so you can tell he didn’t come from the same family.
Any Road, it was the Autumn of 1932 and Carter was pondering over 19 down in the times crossword. “Within the canals, explorer is entering a forbidden passage 4,3” A tough one that. Second letter ‘N’ second to last letter ‘E.’ Suddenly his pondering was interrupted by a frantic knocking at his door. Eventually Mrs Wiggins ushered a distraught looking gentleman into his rooms.
Carter recognised the visitor at once. It was his old colleague Francis Ambrose Penshaw, who, with his eye for detail and neat penmanship had recorded and catalogued every item that had been found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen, from the smallest of knick knack to the magnificent gold sarcophagus itself, and everything in between. However, Penshaw did not look the calm, collected man that Carter knew of old. Far from it, his eyes stared wildly, straining against the confines of their sockets. “Howard!” he cried, staggering towards his old colleague and placing sweaty hands on his shoulders “you have to help me man! It’s the bells! Hell’s Bells and Buckets of Blood! You have to make them stop!”