[The third part of what may, somewhat to my alarm, become a series. See here and here.]
You will recall, I hope, the time when plucky tot Tiny Enid discovered the Waste Chute of History on the Large Flat Windy Uninhabited Plains. Well, to say she discovered it is something of a misnomer, for others had been there before her, not the least of whom was the very sensible Swiss researcher Erich Von Daniken (b. 1935).
As we know, by the time Tiny Enid came upon the Chute, it extended, as Rossi would put it, down, down, deeper and down, to the very centre of the Earth. So intent was she upon her mission that the wee adventuress never bothered to wonder when and by whom the Chute was built. Yet these were precisely the questions that exercised Von Daniken’s fizzing brainbox. Considering the matter with his characteristic cast iron logic, he worked out that there must have been a time, during its construction, when the Chute was much shorter, and only went a little way into the bowels of the earth. Could it have been, he asked himself, staring out of the window at Swiss cows in Swiss fields under the shadow of looming Swiss Alps, that the original Chute was in fact designed to terminate only a few hundred feet below the surface, at the point where it punctured, perhaps, the roof of a subterranean cave?
And if that were so, was it not the case that its purpose must therefore be not as a Waste Chute, but a Supply Chute? And whom else could it be intended to supply but a race of troglodyte beings inhabiting the subterranean cave, beings perhaps of extraterrestrial origin the velocity of whose spaceship, billions of years ago, had been so freakish that, when it crashed into our lovely planet, had simply kept going, boring through rock until eventually juddering to a halt in the cavernous underworld? Sipping his Swiss Schnapps, Von Daniken realised that his watertight theory actually accounted for the otherwise difficult problem of how the Chute had been built in the first place!
He was about to turn from his chalet window and sit down at his typewriter to bash out a bestseller when a further point occurred to him. As the years passed, the troglodytes, breeding like extraterrestrial space-rabbits, would surely have outgrown their habitation. They must have burrowed their way into other subterranean caves, setting up new colonies. Then they would have faced the problem of how to supply every outpost of their underground empire. Rather than building new chutes, was it not obvious that the simplest way was to retain the original Chute, but to fit it with a series of pivots, so that it could be directionally adjusted to serve each cave as required?
Clapping his Swiss hands with glee, Von Daniken was satisfied that his theory was utterly unassailable. In his mind’s eye, he could already see tottering piles of copies of his next bestseller, Chute-Pivots Of The Space Troglodytes?, eagerly snapped up not just by Swiss persons, but by his fans around the world.
What happened next was a circumstance even Tiny Enid herself would have been powerless to avert. Just as Von Daniken was about to sit down and begin typing, there came a knocking at his chalet door. He opened it and came face to face with a person from Porlock. Yes, that person from Porlock!
Unemphatic cove’s vest
R : Dammit!