Monday, 13 June 2011

Lost and Found and Ker-nockers and Fish

'I have lost my ker-nockers,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'Your what?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'My ker-nockers,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'You know, my little hard balls on strings that you ker-nock together. They make a ker-nocking noise.'
'You're telling me,' says Mrs Pumphrey, who has oft wanted to grab them and wrap them securely around Mrs S's neck.
'But I need them!' says Mrs Slocombe, who is starting to sound a tad hysterical, which isn't difficult giving she is a highly strung chicken and spends a majority of her life on the edge of hysterics. 'It's the National Ker-nocker Championships in three weeks' time and I need to practise.'

Before I continue, I think I should explain to the uninitiated and bemused exactly what ker-nockers are. Back in the Seventies, when I was at primary school, a craze arrived, as they do. The craze of ker-nockers. Ker-nockers were two little, rock hard balls made, it seemed, from some concrete/ iron amalgam, attached each to its own string which were in turn connected at the top to a small plastic hoop with a diameter just big enough to fit a chubby primary school finger through. What you had to do was set the balls knocking against each other in a Newton's Cradle kind of way, so that they banged inwards and outwards in a loud and rhythmic way. Once you'd mastered the basic ker-nock, you could go on to perform various ker-nocking tricks. You had to have your wits about you along with hands and face of steel. Health and Safety would have had a pink fit if they'd known about the playground shenanigins of many sets of ker-nockers ker-nocking about in the hands of an excitable and often fiercely competitive gang of eight year old girls. Boys didn't play with ker-nockers. I think it set off some deep-seated fear of de-masculisation within them.

You can get something similar these days. Only they are called 'Klackers' and they are made of plastic. Light-weights!

And since Mrs Slocombe found my ker-nockers in the loft, when she was up there looking for back-dated issues of 'The Crocheted Egg and Other Mythical Socks,' she's been ker-nocking mad.

'What you need,' says Mrs Pumphrey, 'is to send a prayer to Saint Antony of Padua. And today just happens to be Saint Antony of Padua's Day.'
'Is it?' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Now there's a co-incidence!'
'Would you like me to tell you the story of Saint Antony?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'If you must,' says Mrs Slocombe.

'Saint Antony is the patron saint of lost things,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'He died in 1231, but in 1991 thieves stole his relics from Rome.'
'Did they?' says Mrs Slocombe. 'So who did the Romans pray to return the relics?'
'The Mafia, I expect,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Anyway, back in the 1200s, after Saint Antony died his body returned to dust all except his tongue and lower jaw which remained fleshy and intact.'
'Eeuch!' says Mrs Slocombe. 'That's gross!'
'It was testament to Saint Antony's verbal eloquence,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Once, he managed to shame a lakeful of irreligious fish into repenting their sins.'
'That's quite impressive,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Pointless, by impressive.'
'Souls of fish need saving as much as anyone else's,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'Was that meant to be some kind of pun?' says Mrs Slocombe.
'It's been a long day,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'Anyway, Saint Antony wasn't the only one able to talk to fish and find lost things...'
'Shouldn't that be 'lost soles?' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Ahahahahahahahahahhaha!'
'Do you want to find your ker-nockers?' says Mrs Pumphrey.
Mrs Slocombe nods and shushes.
'The Celtic god, Nodons, often used to commune with the Salmon of Knowledge,' continues Mrs Pumphrey.
'You're having me on,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'The Salmon of Knowledge??'
'Uhuh,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'He knew all the secrets of the Universe and gained his wise learnings from eating hazelnuts that had been left as offerings at his well.'
'Hazelnut stuffed salmon,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Sounds delicious. So, will this Salmon of Knowledge know where my ker-nockers have got to?'
'He might,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'He is, after all, the fount of all Universal wisdom. Got any nuts?'
'As it happens I do,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'You'll need to drop them down a well and make an incantation,' says Mrs Pumphrey.
'I don't have a well,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Will the lavatory do?'
'I suppose,' says Mrs Pumphrey. 'You drop and incant, I'll flush.'

And so that is how I came to find two hens in the downstairs loo, dropping hazelnuts in the pan and chanting thusly:

'Oh Nodon, Nodon, Wise Fish of Lost and Found,
Find my Ker-nockers Please,
Have Some Nuts
Half a Pound.
And If You Are Very Busy
Can You Ask Saint Antony Too?
Only Someone's Ker-nocking at the Door
Wanting to Use the Loo.'

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