Stephen Hammond's Work 1998-2003 Puff Puff the Magic Dragon versus Psychosaurus from the Dawn of Time. In this, the 1st Puff story, Valerie Singleton falls under the control of the Psychosaurus (the result of DNA manipulation). Many Henrys feature, and one Baghdad. A formal similarity with jazz was suggested - the way the piece returns to a theme before launching out on an improvisation. (Tim Love) Puff the Magic Dragon vs Psychosaurus A long buried dinausaur egg is hatched - Psychosaurus. He is mentally disturbed, and throws cruise missiles about indiscriminately. A bad cat had just bitten off the head of a bad mouse when a cruise missile lands on them. A bad rabbit and his bad chums were just breeding like rabbits when a cruise missile lands on them. Meanwhile, on Blue Peter, Valerie Singleton, controlled mentally by Psychosaurus, calls for a new world. Just then, Psychosaurus bursts through the shrubbery scattering the terrified animals. Puff the Magic Dragon bashed Psychosaurus so hard that his psyche shattered - thus saving the world. It was suggested that Stephen could give more shape and structure to his stories. (Jeane Underwood) Puff's Quest Episode two has Puff the magic dragon versus the wicked witch continuing the anarchic story with unabated energy. It is a quest to save the world with God coming the other way; an orphaned nuclear bomb from hell is an uncomfortable companion who complains it's not his fault. Steve promised us that these episodes will be collected together, and I, for one, don't want to miss that. (Jack Alster) Rereading of Puff 2 - #2 felt to be tighter and better-paced. (SH) Brian takes a trip was the fourth episode in the adventurous fantasy world which Stephen has built around the main character, Puff. Unpredictable as always and highly entertaining. A pity that one or two listeners found it a little out of their depth.(Alison Harris) Puff No.5 where Puff the magic dragon is confronted by a Nazi who has the power to annihilate all squirrels. He is rebuffed and the action turns to Puff's squirrel friend Brian whose eyesight has been damaged causing him to mistake a buttercup for his lady friend. It is impossible to precis Steve's stories, suffice to say this one had a happy ending and included the innermost thoughts of a buttercup.(Shirley Brown) Puff the Magic Dragon vs the Nazis . Short story, fifth in Puff series. Suggestions: ending could be rewritten, expanded to make more vivid on Ôshow not tellÕ principle; research market and publish as series?? (SH) Puff the Magic Dragon #6: more surreal adventures (Helen Culnane) The Puff Saga continues. In episode 7 Stephen Hammond recounted how God assessed the condition of post holocaust industry and how the power of music ("Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys) saved the world from aliens. Was the Old Testament style fresh enough? (Tim Love) Puff Chapter 8 - We meet Toilet Duck and Psycho Quack. Brain and Brenda Squirrel go to meet Santa Claus. On the way they meet a failed suitcase bomb. He has had a nightmare about ducks threatening civilisation. Toilet duck has a message from God. There is a feminist fairy tale. Annie Oakley was in analysis with Psycho Quack. The villains are killed by reading from a Bible - a present from Santa Claus. (Marilyn Glanfield) Episode 9 of the Quest of Puff, the Magic Dragon . This time Puff gets into a fight with God who decides he had enough of him and destroys him with a nuclear device. There is plenty of detail of the mechanics of nuclear explosion, some factual, some imaginary, in these philosophical reflections about faith and religion. Puff gets resurrected at the end as he is needed for another episode. (Ingrid Sahai) Puff the Magic Dragon #9: Puff is unimpressed with Mr Hope's evangelism. God throws a nuclear bomb at Puff who, despite Mr Hope's prayers, disintegrates horribly wanting his Mum. Mr Hope holds a memorial service and Puff is restored to life. We discussed the interplay of dream and reality. (Helen Culnane) Puff the Magic Dragon: the last episode . At Niagara Falls Rupert wants a story, not the 3rd world war one. A dragon lands to tell him a squirrel story then a squirrel lands to tell him a story of a nuclear bomb. Rupert wants a bomb but when it arrives there is a danger of it starting the 3rd world war so Puff and the squirrel destroy it to save the world. God arrives and fights with Puff, pushing him over the Falls. Then he annihilates Rupert's father and says that he is now his father. White horses rise from the Falls and drown out the word of God. We enjoyed the humour or this piece and discussed the prospect of Steve stringing his Puff stories together to form a complete entity.(Helen Culnane) Puff #10 The final chapter of the saga of Puff. We discussed what might be the best way of marketing the finished piece. Because it is so individual it was thought that an appropriate competition or the internet might provide more
accessible routes to publication than a traditional publisher. (Helen Culnane) Episode 10 & conclusion of "Puff" sequence - Criticisms made of #10: stories-within-stories didn't go anywhere; just got interrupted; too many characters not earning their keep; disappointing as climax: hopes that 'all would be revealed' unrealised; too many obscure words.(SH) Supernatural Velvet. Rewrite of (final??) Puff episode. Starring 8-year-old Rupert, plus usual suspects; introduces Champion the Wonder Horse. Uses stories-within-stories technique. Needs further rewriting (e.g. Rupert's father jarringly appears and disappears).(SH) Supernatural Velvet - provisional rewrite Rupert (a boy ) and his father are at Niagara falls and he asks for a story. When he asks what a dragon is Puff appears and he asks him for a story. In the dragonÕs story is a squirrel, and Brian the squirrel materialises. His story is about a nuclear bomb which also appears and tells a story. Puff and Brian go over the falls and save the world from a nuclear Armageddon. God fights Puff and flings him over the fall. He annihilates Rupert's father. Multicoloured horses appear including Champion the Wonder Horse. Stephen is arranging the Puff stories into a framework. We found this sharp and well written (Marilyn Glanfield) Puff An episode that Steve thinks he will try to slot in early in the overall work. Brian the squirrel is suffering: his family has been killed by an Eddie Stobart lorry, Brenda has left him and he has lost his job. This causes him to question the love of God. Puff assures him that he has received a post card from God "with love to Brian": so they pray. Still unconvinced of God's love they go to visit Puff's Aunt Pricilla who has been accosted by a lemon that wanted to tell her about God's love. She thumped it. The lemon returns with a grapefruit and Brenda. Puff and Brian rescue her. A pacey pun-packed piece that had us all in stitches. Where does Steve get his ideas? We talked about the creative process and individual preferences for pens, pencils, typewriters or computers. (Helen Culnane) Steve Hammond offered us what to this reviewer seemed like a reworking of the Book of Job - with Brian the Squirrel in the role of Job. The beginning is tragic - with Brian losing family, fiance, job, house and collections, his tail and even his prize nuts - and is followed by a proper quest, both touristic and spiritual, including an exhilarating attempt at prayer. Brian is luckier than Job in having Puff as his guardian angel - and in meeting such interesting creatures as The Citric Fellowship of Christadelphia and Priscilla The Last Empress of Rome (Puff's aunt), through whose friendship with God Brian has all his lost property restored to him, including his nuts. Harry defined the story as "Voltairean", with Brian in the role of Candide and Puff in that of Pangloss. This reviewer found it not only amusing but also very moving - with its meditation on suffering and how this could exist in a world created by "a loving God in Heaven": "Puff, does God love a squirrel?" (Annalisa Robinson) PuffÕs Ordeal - All nuclear weapons were destroyed on behalf of the UN except a few Òreserved for nutters and asteroidsÓ .Puff and Brenda were captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham. There was a journey to Camelot in Cornwall and Puff was thrown into a dungeon and subjected to horrendous tortures, and Brenda, Lancelot and his mother do not save him. He didnÕt know what to confess to Guinevere was quite sure her husband must have his reasons. God asks to be absolved of responsibility and Puff falls over the cliff É..(Marilyn Glanfield) The Ordeal which was about how Puff the Magic Dragon was subjected to horrible tortures for no apparent reason (Margaret Carlton) Puff - Brenda the psychic squirrel's history of the world:- Suicide bombings, the Golden Jubilee, the World cup and Jason the builder finishes the job. Bush attacks Afghanistan in a war on terrorism that might last 50 years and there are bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover. God made squirrels with the gift of prophecy. It continues roughly backwards through such events as the Cuban missile crisis and the death of Grace Archer, the madness of King George and the death of the Cornish language, Romulus and Remus being raised by a squirrel, the 300 foot tall Squirrelosoaurus right back to God's original clear conception of the British Empire.(Marilyn Glanfield) Puff the Magic Dragon vs King Kong Brenda the squirrel uses the casting couch to get a part in the Sound of Music remake. Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart and Laurel and Hardy are in cahoots with the KGB, Afghanistan and aliens respectively. Brenda has her work cut out keeping them all happy. Meanwhile the battle of Stalingrad rages on. Steve Bell-esque? (Tim Love) Puff vs. the Millennium - The Prime Minister knows that only Puff can save the world from a nuclear nazi holocaust. His spiritual adviser tells him that whisky will open his eyes - he sees wonders and falls down. Brenda the psychic squirrel sails off in a pea green boat. A U-boat surfaces. The SS Auschwitz surrenders and the captain walks the plank. Allied ships are being sunk until a P.M. Winston appears. The HMS Compass Rose (Captain Jack Hawkins) appears. Himmler is still alive. A million depth charges are fired and the world is saved - among many other things. As usual Stephen's inimitable style and speed defeated the legibility of the handwriting. Why do characters always vomit carrots and could we read Bin Laden for Himmler?(Marilyn Glanfield)
Puff the Magic Dragon vs The Millennium - Puff, a spiritual advisor, Brenda the psychic squirrel, Gerald the Wonder Biscuit ... an intelligent paving stone.(Ruth Eastham) Puff the Magic Dragon vs Zombie Santa Claus . Puff has the 12 days of Xmas to save the world. The story had 3 clearly signalled layers and some topical references - "degraded and diminished". (Tim Love) The lion, the witch, and their husbands, wives and lovers. - ÒOne morning, Puff the magic dragon visited his widowed mother in New EnglandÓ, ThatÕs the start of another of SteveÕs firecrackers of anarchy. Cruelty enters when Rover the dog bites off its four legs. This is followed by contemporary references to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Alan Alda. But of course, King Arthur - a favourite of SteveÕs - canÕt be left out as he and his knights Ôquaffed ale and played Culture Club and made merryÕ. ItÕs all great fun and releases the imagination. Everyone likes these tales and thinks they should be collected - they are very original. (Jack Alster) Puff vs The Terminator - Puff visits his murdered mother in New England who reveals her life is in danger. A plutonium device has been stolen and Rover (only visible and audible to a select few) barks before biting all 4 legs off Tiddles the cat. Raymond Burr is an undercover policewoman who has escaped from Sardinian bandits. He meets Arnie who demands to know whether he is a rationalist. Boy George sings and Poldark and King Arthur disarm the terrorists. Buttercups smile.(Marilyn Glanfield) Puff vs the Eclipse. Needs more work: plot weak, needs a clear antagonist and high-stakes endings. (SH) Puff and the Doomsday Machine An enjoyable romp narrated by Ron the Lobster involving the late Mrs Simpson aka the Duchess of Windsor, Errol Flynn, Neddie the Steed, Robin Hood and his merry men, Apaches, etc in amongst other places, the Land of Moo and Rick's Bar in Casablanca. Had us all laughing. We were impressed to learn that this chapter had been written in three hours that very day, yet it was amusing and polished. We again wondered how this writing might come together into a book. (Jane Wilson-Howarth) Puff the magic dragon vs the Doomsday Machine Ron the lobster (red-faced, with a tendency to swing his arms around when he talks) starts telling a tale about a Doomsday Machine which, because it's unable to detonate, feels that Life is Meaningless. But Ron's story is interrupted when he's caught up in a net and whisked off to Ricky's Bar in the company of the Duchess of Windsor et al. Eroll Flynn charges in on a white horse to see off the Sheriff of Nottingham and sundry other cads. After a descriptive interlude in chapter 48 action resumes with Apaches and then the leather-overcoated Gestapo. All hell breaks loose - Ron bites an officer's nose off, Ingrid Bergman shoots Neddy the gallant steed but in the nick of time Puff appears to right all wrongs, returning the actors to Hollywood, the Doomsday Machine to Mrs Doomsday Machine and last but not least winning World War 2. There were (I later found out) numerous allusions to "Casablanca" (itself a heavily allusive film with themes of lost love, honor, self-sacrifice and romance within a chaotic world, the script being written from day to day as the filming progressed, no one knowing how the film would end). Puff this time was without a speaking part - pure deus ex machina, sanity's restorer. (Tim Love) Puff the magic dragon. Lobster Ron tells a story to his eggs. A doomsday machine is thwarted in its purpose and watches TV all day. The devil offers no help and wants to kick the machine. Meanwhile Ron the lobster is taken to the duchess of Windsor to be boiled alive and Errol Flynn rides in on a black steed to fall on his knees before King Richard (Marilyn Glanfield) Puff the Magic Dragon's Adventures in Sherwood Forest, a well-crafted 'Russian Doll' creation, with stories within stories within stories (It helps to make notes!) In the forest Puff and Brian the Squirrel encounter Eve under an apple tree, being pelted with fruit by Adam. Puff realises he has to save the day, or the whole human race will never exist and recounts 'The Story of Paul The Pony', in which the earth is taken over by aliens after the population is drugged by a surfeit of fast food. Publisher the Pony escapes to the hills and befriends Novel the Nematode Worm. He is inspired by the heroism in Novel's "Tale of Trevor and the alien" and by "Tom the Autistic Duck and the Mobile Public Library". Meanwhile Paul, who had galloped off after overdosing on ginger biscuits, returns from China with an arsenal of nuclear weapons to zap the aliens. Puff explains that saving the world does not have to be all toil and Adam promises to stop throwing apples. However, we are presented with an ambiguous ending as the fate of the human race after Adam slips on an apple: "'Bitch,' said Adam. 'Bastard', said Eve." (Will Tate) Puff the Magic Dragon vs Toilet Duck This story introduced a sad, unexploded bomb into his usual mix of fantasy and real world. So sad was the bomb at having failed to explode that everyone present wanted to console and comfort it. Stephen wants to re-write this story - what will happen to the bomb? (Ingrid Sahai) Puff the Magic Dragon Vs Toilet Duck. Puff and Brian and Brenda the squirrels meet the Bomb, a rather sad, sensitive unexploded nuclear device, the reluctant pawn of Toilet Duck and Psychoquack; several adventures ensue with a potpourri of characters and scenarios. What is the significance of the Cornish pasties, we wondered?
(Les Ray) Puff vs. King Kong (a new episode) - Puff, Brian, Brenda, Annie Oakley and the Bomb are staying at the Hilton in Hollywood. Outside - the Battle of Stalingrad. Brenda wants to be a star. Annie Oakley has sex with Brian. The Bomb is kidnapped by Iraqi terrorists. Clint Eastwood sleeps with Brenda. Humphrey Bogarte attempts to rescue the Bomb but demands sex with it (him, her?) and with Brenda. Laurel and Hardy rescue them both, but then demand sex with everyone. They make do with Puff until they have their heads bitten off by King Kong. And that's not all.. (Marilyn Glanfield) Puff - Brenda the psychic squirrel's history of the world:- Suicide bombings, the Golden Jubilee, the World cup and Jason the builder finishes the job. Bush attacks Afghanistan in a war on terrorism that might last 50 years and there are bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover. God made squirrels with the gift of prophecy. It continues roughly backwards through such events as the Cuban missile crisis and the death of Grace Archer, the madness of King George and the death of the Cornish language, Romulus and Remus being raised by a squirrel, the 300 foot tall Squirrelosoaurus right back to God's original clear conception of the British Empire.(Marilyn Glanfield)
Lone Ranger and Tonto The adventures of the Lone Ranger and Tonto. This fantasy had an interesting structure. One story inside another inside another, like a Chinese doll. As is usual with Steve's stories a great deal happened. World War three broke out, the planet was rent asunder by a chain reaction and an Angel of God came down in a flying saucer. Plenty of action and very tightly written. (Jeane Undewood) Adventures of Lone Ranger & Tonto, Conclusion. Lady Mary Archer, the philosopher Lone Ranger, the thug Tonto, and other villains squabble over biscuits and come to bad ends; the deserving Silver gallops off into the sunset and eternal bliss. (Jack Alster)
Adam and Eve Adam and Eve: Naked Against the Nuclear Holocaust: featuring Queen Elizabeth the Third, Adolf Hitler, an orangutan, a gazelle, Scuds & Patriots, several varieties of apples, etc. Adam and Eve to be developed as ongoing characters. (SH) Adam and Eve: naked against the nuclear holocaust Eve offers Adam "a Cox's orange pippin, atomic bomb of the apple kingdom". She visits her psychoanalyst, Dr Smectite, and tells him that Adam is "The apple of my eye." They marry and "...Eve filled the fridge and Adam clipped the hedge." They spend "long summer evenings in their garden as the Sun declined, and drank cider on the terrace as the Moon rose: 'Ah,' sighed Adam: 'this is Paradise.' " Perhaps all is not as well as it might be, for amid "the piping of elfin flutes...Newton sat under the tree..." The man on the tele announces the end of the world. Eve complains that "The serpent is having a hissy fit!" A loquacious, six inches tall, Adolf Hitler turns up in their fridge. "One evening the doorbell rang." Eve, "fresh from washing her hair, smiling" goes to answer it. It is "the missiles, Titans and Minutemen, Patriots and Scuds, dressed in festive Xmas garb.....The Earth moved." Later "youthful killers prowled through the smoking, irradiated ruins of Mayfair, the Strand, Oxford St....'Gosh!' breathed Eve: 'I believe there's been regime change!' " However, all ends well. Their daughter, "Elizabeth the Third grew up brave and strong and went to Harvard Business School and learned how to remake reality...and roses bloomed in Picardy; and they all lived happily ever after..." This summary has left out a number of subplots about an electronic brain that needs regular walks in the park, an infanticidal kangaroo etc. (Harry Goode) The Dragon of the Baskervilles - Steve read one of his self-contained stories with their kaleidoscopic array of characters, events and places. Adam, the Marquis of Nagasaki, employs Sherlock Holmes (who seems to speak with a Clousseau-ish accent) to help get past the laser-weapon wielding dragon, and be re-united with Eve, who lives in Eden in Cornwall.(Rik Gammack) The Adventure of the Westminster Dragon . Adam, the Marquis of Nagasaki (chest measurement 53", but 58" when he gently sighs) has to get to his Eve in the Eden Project to save mankind. Alas a teleporting Dragon intercedes. But don't despair, Holmes and Watson are on the case.(Tim Love) How we Won the War in Iraq - The timid blonde schoolmaster Adam meets a sobbing druid-robed Monkey who foretells disaster, nuclear storms, the planet Earth with post-traumatic stress disorder, a malign intergalactic serpent and what for us was an enjoyable romp through hell. In this episode we met a snotty Spot-the-dog and baby Queen Elizabeth III and a smiling nuclear bomb. I loved the description of the infant QEIII as 'little puke'.
(Jane Wilson-Howarth) How we won the war in Iraq is a story of love and tribulation - with one of Steve's most endearing heros, the " timid schoolmaster, named Adam [...] young and tall and sandy-haired ". With the blessing of Merlin he falls in love with his boss's wife, Eve - from whom he's promptly separated by nuclear war, sinking of continents and looming, hostile powers, such as a giant serpent from heaven and its US-based chief executive The Shadow (son of Superman) murderer, propagator of new gods, spreader of misinformation and lies). Both lovers embark on a daunting quest which will not reunite them, but will bring happiness anyway - which means a feisty girlfriend for Eve and new-manhood + baby (called Queen Elizabeth III) for Adam, in a world free of evil. From this reversal of roles Adam emerges as the nurturing one, while Eve emerges not only as the hero (she kills the serpent and drinks its blood), but also as an incarnation of the Eternal Feminine principle sung by J.W. Goethe (she heals the shattered planet from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). The triad Eve-Adam-QEIII also has Christian overtones (Eve = Mary who crushes the serpent; Adam = Joseph, who finds himself saddled with a child without having had much to do with his wife; Pierre the Fisherman ..). The name chosen for the child, QEIII, illustrates effectively the point made by Tomasi di Lampedusa in The Leopard: " If we want everything to remain as it is, it will be necessary for everything to change ". Plus •a change .. the future is Windsor (which is OK with me). The quest took the listeners through both and familiar experiences (such as "wild nuclear storms") and among both new and familiar figures (Spot, the Monkey, smiling nuclear bombs, mutant ponies, Captain Kirk, Pierre the Fisherman, his wife Marie, and their poodle). Embedded in the story - which we received with the usual relish - were several little pearls, some amusing (as the ideal of " justice and therapy"), some topical (" there are alternatives to war and violence "). The usual Happy End had a cathartic function. (Annalisa Robinson)
Monkey Monkey episode (no dragons!) the magical monkey is visited on his desolate mountain peak by three witches, to whom he tells the stories within stories, all set within the context of a mother telling stories to her bored children on a long journey. (Will Tate) The Monkey and the Serpent. Another well-structured fairy tale in the manner of the Brothers Grimm, in which all the bits make sense but the overall sense is shrouded in mystery. But the ironic view of contemporary life presented by fantasy characters and situations make it very entertaining as well as thought provoking: 'don't judge by appearances'. Stephen wove poetic images and phrases from Chinese poetry into his story, like 'the moon was full on the sea like a tear on a pearl', which we enjoyed very much. (Ingrid Sahai) The Monkey and the Serpent. After many years in the army, monkey returns to Crabtown - where a serpent has been locking up the virgin girls in a warehouse. All rescue efforts have failed. The people of Crabtown make Monkey their Mayor and he leads them out of the town to a red barn. Two angels appear. Monkey then speaks to the spirit of Apeman, who tells of many terrible events, but also tells how the Serpent can be killed. So it all ends with them living happily ever after. (Jeane Underwood) The Monkey's Magic Foot was a modern fairy-tale, employing a good many fairy-tale features, e.g. three wishes (unwisely used), witches, speaking animals. It is coherently structured like a fairy-tale and even has a sort of happy ending. But hidden in the story are troubling questions about war and peace, power, greed, betrayal. (Ingrid Sahai)
Spot the Dog and the Monkey City in Fear Further adventures of Spot the Dog and The Monkey, dipping into nuclear physics and dodging - or not - nuclear annihilation. The tale was wonderfully unpredictable and had us all chuckling as we listened to the quest of Bond in search of a brain, with guest appearances from Adam and Eve, Laurel and Hardy and a poem about hyacinths. Steven is working on developing The Monkey as a key character. (Jane Wilson-Howarth) It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is very difficult to grasp all that there is to STEPHEN HAMMOND's stories just by listening to them - as they are so multilayered. It is one of the privileges of my task that I can rely on their written versions - and also my curse, as it is virtually impossible to sum them up and do them justice. Whatever emerges from this write-up - the story is bigger and better, and contains a few snappy jokes. Anyway: City in Fear! features some characters of our acquaintance, such as the Monkey, Spot, and Kylie + bottom, as well as a chainsaw-wielding Einstein, a horse named Final Solution, Laurel and Hardy, GW Bush, Colin Powell, 007 + Q, a gerbil called Solzhenitsyn, rogue microscopic physicists, a radioactive snail, a Chinese spy, Adam + Eve ... (the story is unusually rich in couples). They move among suicide nuclear terrorists, substances with complicated names and frightening potential effects, parallel universes, "superkiller diatomic nanocar automobiles", etc. Among
the facts: loss of legs, loss of plot, death by 340 kiloton doggiebuster bomb, kidnapping and retrieval of bottoms, a poem about hyacinths (by Adam), paddling up the Nile, the saving of the world, resurrection, an inheritance, and the inevitable happy end. Reader, I reviewed it! in my fashion. If you want to know more (and there is more), get in touch with the Author. He's kindness made flesh. (Annalisa Robinson) The monkey versus the Cornish pasty A three legged dog meets a red skinned one-legged ape. The dog's name is Spot . They get very drunk together, ask God about the riddle of the sands, encounter Geoffrey Archer, and live 17 years underground entirely on bubble gum because of a nuclear war. The pasty is killed and Dolly married William. (At least I think that is what happened because I was writing so fast to keep up with the mesmerising flow of ideas that at least half of it is illegible - there is something about Peter Cushing but I can't decipher what, and who is Albert?) (Marilyn Glanfield)
The 3 little pigs The Three Little Piggies of the Apocalypse - For Steve's fans (and we are legion - or should that be "we are Legion" ?) this is Steve at his most complex best. "The Three Little Piggies" is a set of nested stories. These stories are paradoxically referential to the meta-stories of which they are part. To relieve the tedium of a car journey, a mother commence to tell her son a story. The son takes over the telling. It is a tale of three witches, who are sent dreams by a conjuring monkey. The monkey tells the dream of the first witch, Nellie. In it we encounter a drunk Aslan, from the Tales of Narnia, who is telling a story of a storytelling mouse, called Heebiejeebie. He is interrupted by a boy, Eustace, and then overcome by alcohol falls asleep. The mouse, Heebiejeebie arrives to tell the dream of the second witch, Hettie. In it Eustace is caught up in a nuclear war (no story by Steve is complete without one) and to cheer him up Lassie, the dog, tells him a story. This is interrupted by a herd of zebras and Yuppie Rupert, riding Champion the Wonder Horse. Rupert promises a story but in fact rushes off with the herd. Lassie's recommenced story turns out to be about a herd of zebras,but Lassie dies before completing it. Psychobunny Black Roger arrives to tell Eustace the story of the third dream of Dot, the third witch. No sooner has this started than the young boy in the car (see commencement) interrupts his mother, who now seems to be the storyteller. We learn that the mother is taking the child to visit a psychiatrist. When she is able to restart the tale, it turns out to be about King Eustace, who after various adventures in the cave of Lady Dot encounters a muzzled boy being tortured by electrotherapy apparatus. "..they were saving his soul," Clever stuff and also very dark and disturbing. (Harry Goode) The Continued Adventures of the Three Little Pigs . As in all good fables the three little pigs are disguised human characters exhibiting feeble, cruel and touching human traits. Stephen usually sets himself a task and this time he tried to tell a story within a story which tells a story within a story and so on. What makes these stories so enjoyable, amusing and thought provoking are the numerous, often satirical allusions to everyday events, people in the news, and their often absurd settings and juxta-positioning. In due course he might assemble his stories into one book, but whether in book form or singly they should be published.(Ingrid Sahai)
Miscellaneous The Story of the Wicked Corgi who Received her just Desserts : (Steve gave us all copies of his fairy story, which helped a lot). This time corgis and bats survive a nuclear holocaust and have one of those cosy, down-to-earth relationships beloved by Steve. It is interrupted by a sniper who kills (Fred) the bat. A plethora of characters, such as Dr. Ace, the Chief magician, King Violent and Etheldreda play out the easy live/easy die struggle of ruling the world. There's a premise of good and evil in Steve's fantasies, and in this one the 'good' guys live happily ever after. Some ironic politically-spiced comment added to this rich mixture which we all enjoyed, and there was one excellent joke about Princess Margaret. Of course Queen Victoria plus the Family Bible and 40 regiments saved the world! As one adjusts to Steve's anarchic imagination, one sees that this is one of the best. (Jack Alster) ÒOnce upon a time there was a sock. The sock was called Callard and BowsersÓ. With that kind of start things can only getting more chaotic. The sock manages to get away from its owner ÒThe PratÓ and tried to get back to its origin in China (being a silk sock). On the way he meets a Ôone-legged one-eyed AtheistÕ who he shoots dead and then, becoming a girl, he joins a llama to save the world. Lovely stuff, full of vivid pictures and verbal felicities. (Jack Alster) The Story of a Sock . A parable about a sock that escapes from the foot of A. Pratt and travels around the world in search of its roots. Packed with action, cartoon characters and a couple of good jokes -- could also provide themes for a longer work. (Zoe Swenson-Wright:)
Leonard the Lemon Saves the World. Following the October workshop led by Teresa Benison, where a piece of fruit or veg was used as a stimulus for writing,'Leonard the Lemon Saves the World' was created. Steve entertained us with his usual anarchic wit and political satire. The group felt that this piece had a shorter, clearer narrative line than other work, and the parts linked well. (Ingrid Sahai) Leonard The Lemon Saves The World. this story returns to the theme of a nuclear holocaust (after the Puff stories) the first lines being: "Once, there was a nuclear holocaust . . '. Superlemon prevents a nuclear holocaust "and thus saved the world, and everyone lived happily ever after". This story had three stories embedded in it, which seemed a bit excessive. It had a great number of quips and thought provoking lines - not easy to explain: come and listen. (Ingrid Sahai) John Wayne and Prehistoric Bird protect L.A. from shocking Atomic Carrot met with general approval, dissolving the boundaries between the real and imagined, the concrete and the self-reflexive. A dragon called "Percy for Short" appeared. Maybe try "The Big Issue"? (Tim Love) A Brief History of World War II. The piece explored deeper pools of plot before leaping off at tangents. Written a year ago, it was felt that some of the political content was in need of updating. (Ruth Eastham) A Harrowing Tale Of A World Gone Mad And On The Brink Of Total Destruction , this story returns to the theme of a nuclear holocaust (after the Puff stories), the first lines being: "Once upon a time, shortly before the nuclear holocaust. It had good characterisation, esp. of the vet Peter, and believable dialogue in a fantasy setting. At the end the holocaust happens and everybody lives happily ever after. It had a great number of quips and thought provoking lines - not easy to explain: come and listen. (Ingrid Sahai) A Harrowing Tale Of A World Gone Mad And On The Brink Of Total Destruction! The nuclear holocaust, one of Stephen's recurrent themes, returns, but not before some ways of spiritual salvation have been explored and found wanting. However, after the nuclear holocaust "everyone lived happily ever after". Stephen employed believable dialogue in a fantasy setting and used alliteration to good effect. (Shirley Brown) A Harrowing Tale of a World Gone Mad and on the Brink of Total Destruction had the usual mix of tragic, surreal and moving events - including several nuclear holocausts, miraculously effective restorative cosmetic surgery, a Cruise missile landing on begonias, crying for 40 days and 40 nights, marriage and the birth of the human race (generated by Adam and Eve making passionate dry martinis upstairs). The setting is a farmhouse on the Yorkshire Moors. The main characters are Eve, described initially as a girl and later as "the Mother of the Human Race", her pig, and Adam the vet. Around them move: Rover the Cat, Percy the Porker, the inevitable monkey (who, after 100 years encased in ice, turns into a nuclear submarine), attackers from outer space, a dragon with an unhappy bottom, the Wicked White Witch, God (coming out of the telly), a rat ("old and sad and sour"), a harvest mouse named Ronald (who is "a quarter pig on his mother's side"), and Adolf Hitler. The plot focusses on the pig finding God - an awakening triggered by a meeting with "a pig named Siegfried", which leads him to elaborate the theory that the nuclear holocaust is one of God's "many ways to purify a rotten world": "whate'er befalls, beatification or baconisation, is God's will". This contrasts nicely with the rat's view that "everyone stuffs everyone". Eventually the pig, armed with an internal ticking nuclear device in the oesophagus, turns against Eve and is killed by Adam, who also defuses the bomb. The end is a macabre version of Feydeau: Adam finds Hitler in Eve's wardrobe and proceeds to blow her and his own brains out, curiously leaving the intruder unscathed .. The story is funny and more light-hearted than other things by Steve. The characters are "more rounded, more fleshed out" (Will): e.g., Eve keeps Bacon Recipes and The Joy of Sex on her coffee table - a very clever combination. Harry was unsure about the ending (an endless alternation of human race and nuclear holocaust) but praised the wealth of quotes and echoes "of all sorts of things" embedded in the text, in which there is "so much more [.] than comes across in reading" (e.g. "meditations on the nature of human suffering"). There are a lot of exclamation marks as well. (Annalisa Robinson) Rough Guide : In this extract, Fred the Policeman caught his man in the aftermath of nuclear war, and Puff the Dragon made a guest appearance. (Rik Gammack) Rough Guide to Nuclear War : post-holocaust, murderer takes hostage Godsquad Jolene, followed by cop Fred into wilderness; J harangues M; F captures M, frees J, M executed; justice prevails, but, suggested (sympathy for the murderer), at some cost. Needs work. (SH) Drink your Blood. This was a story within a story within a story which at the end, however, linked neatly with the beginning. The devil threatens to destroy the world, but issues a challenge to God: if a coward could show courage, and a 'no-one' could make a difference to the course of history, the world would be safe. They did - happy ending! Well structured and fun to listen to. (ingrid Sahai) Drink Your Blood : A story within a story within a story ... in which Peter seeks to save the world from nuclear
bombs with the help of God. We were struck by the effectiveness of humour being used to convey an anti nuclear message. There was some discussion about the layered structure of this piece and the problems that switching situations and times can raise regarding continuity. (Helen Culnane) Peter and Mary: two passages concerning the pivotal characters of his planned work. In the first there are delusions post the nuclear holocaust, in the second Peter and Mary meet, marry, separate and are reconciled and it all turns out to be Mary's dream. Listeners considered the second more effective because of its use of humour to portray a darker message. (Helen Culnane) Adventures ... Concluded : an old story slightly rewritten. Mary Archer is unhappily married to a highbake water biscuit.(SH) untitled episode which might slot into longer story: Ethel and Ethel's celtic hols: they're kidnapped to Camelot, where Sir Bedalot rides Trevor the Slughorse and King Arthur keeps his old Granny under lock and key in castle's topmost turret; Granny is kidnapped, found, lost again; and the Knights of the Round Table perform an act of vengeance; Ethel and Ethel learnalot. Needs rewriting: e.g. add Merlin and Guinevere; repetition of "quaffing" tedious? (SH) Ethel and What Ethel Did Next . A couple, both called Ethel, are travelling to the 'Celtic lands' searching for their roots. They are kidnapped and taken to Camelot. The reason for the kidnap is not obvious but it takes them to where they wanted to go. King Arthur's granny, named Medea, is also kidnapped but dies at the hand of baddies during the rescue attempt. The rest of the story describes the horrific scenes of revenge by the Knights of the Round Table, which leads to their own demise. We wondered whether it had been written after the 11th September (it hadn't) because it describes the insanity of revenge so clearly, so hopefully not prophetically. (Ingrid Sahai) Little Red Riding Hood - only 4 words long, but each word led to a footnote, and those footnotes led to further footnotes, etc. (Annalisa Robinson) With Slaughter on Main Street, Steve Hammond gave us a story that Harry described as "profoundly imbued with postmodernist thought" and "rife with intertextuality". More modestly, this reviewer found it well written and full of humour, with several deliciously surreal moments. The plot, not really suitable for a concise summary, revolves around elderly, would-be rich romantic novelist Dot Matrix from Kingston-upon-Hull. At her side are first her goldfish Godot, then a Monkey, then a battered haddock called Henry (the last two come directly from the sky). The events include a nuclear war which may be "a work of fiction" but proves fatal for Godot; much talk about writing, competition rules, and shortlisting rules for literary prizes; the bestowing of the Booker prize on "the USA's nuclear deterrent failsafe flexible response hairtrigger device, prophylactic against evil weapons of mass destruction", that is to say "AN APHRODITE WHOSE BEAUTY CALLS URGENTLY FOR FULFILMENT", that is to say "ELVIS"; the double marriage between Dot and her Cousin Dick and between Henry the Haddock and Wanda the Whale; the reconstruction of the devastated world, and the compulsory happy end. Any comments would sound rather colourless in comparison with this subject matter - now that this reviewer comes to think of it, the story reminds her a bit of The Magic Flute - the quest through tribulation, the helpers, the Forces of Darkness and the Forces of Light, and Henry and Wanda in the roles of Papageno and Papagena, spawning "many hales and whaddocks" .. (Annalisa Robinson) GONE WITH THE WIND is a parody of the book/film with the same title, written in Stephen's usual style, also involving a multitude of characters. A number of our old friends are there, notably Puff the Magic Dragon and Brian the squirrel, joined by a bunch of Hollywood filmstars. Best for me were the two poems Stephen had incorporated; they had rhythm and rhyme and were funny. (Ingrid Sahai) Another amazing concoction involving (very briefly) a version of WWII with a happy ending. In another version Brenda 6 and Brian 4 survive the war despite a "doodlebug" smashing their house. Brian (6 inches tall) meets Tom who digs for spam in bombsites and hears his version of the reasons for the war. Explanations involve God and the deathbed ramblings of Simon Peter. Tom tells a story of meeting a ruling haddock who is later killed. We are introduced to a vacuum cleaner- selling Churchill and Hitler's plan to send mutant killer sealions There is a dragon called Jack Hawkins (Puff in disguise?). This may be fitted in with the Puff stories. We found it rather more satirical although we would characterise all of the writing as satire. (Marilyn Glanfield) A brief history of World War Two by Kylie Minogue Brenda and Brian are living in a refrigerator on a bombsite and things move along at a helter-skelter pace to the End of the World and a subsequent redemption (of sorts). This has to read slowly to catch all the jokes. ".. telling how Moab of the Cushites smote Cyrus of the Tribe of Din and how God, pleased at the spectacle, instituted regular warfare among humans, for his amusement... like many an addict, came to require an ever stronger fix. "More blood", God would say." Later, in a raid on Occupied Europe "I'm cold" [says Brenda] "I'm scared." "That's what wars are for." said the Dragon. A brand of acerbic humour that is all Steve's own. (Harry Goode)
A Brief History of the World, by Brenda the Squirrel A history of the world with biblical overtones, sweeping backwards from the present day to the Primeval Atom and the mind of God. G.W. Bush, Tiddles the Cat, Prince Albert, The Venomous Bede, Achilles and Hector are among the links of a long chain reaching back in time to Brenda's ancestor the mighty Squirrelosaurus and the idea of the British Empire, the idea of which precedes Creation and "towards which all things in the universe tend". This was Steve in sparkling form, and the group loved the piece ("really magic"; it would even be suitable for the stage e.g. as "a reduced British Empire" ...). It was suggested that Steve employs his highly personal point of view as a columnist. (Annalisa Robinson) Story of Ronald the rabbit : short story re neurotic nibbler; also Tiddles the cat, Ernest the earnest sole, Rover a putupon hound, a spider in a deerstalker hat. First draft, needs some tightening. (SH) How to Write Stephen has been reading from a number of these books and decided to write one himself. This was in two parts. Part one - How NOT to write. For example by encouraging Writers Block or illiteracy. Not writing avoids the pain of rejection and so makes one happy. Part two - persistence. Never mind what is happening nuclear war, pestilence, famine, ignore it all and WRITE. Thus persistence becomes personified, is eaten by dragons and so becomes incorporated into oneself - at least I think that is the theory.(Jeane Underwood) STEPHEN HAMMOND gave us an (untitled) departure from his usual "philosophical pieces", with a technically interesting structure and an entirely different cast of characters. The frame is the conversation between a mother who is driving her son to see a child psychiatrist, and the pestering child himself, who interrupts the story she's telling him to narrate the story of three witches who lost their dreams. After this point the piece develops as a series of Chinese boxes: the first dream is a story containing the second dream, which in turn is a story containing the third dream and so on .. The finale comes as a surprise - not Stephen's trademark happy ending. The piece was a feat of storytelling, featuring the Monkey, a Lost Tale from Narnia, Aslan the Lion, a talking bear and a talking mouse, "the nuclear funeral pyre of millions of humans", Lassie, a King who drinks beef broth and rides an Arab called Destrier ... It also showed knowledge of conversing with children. Steve is expanding his range - and we really like this. (Annalisa Robinson) Alice and the Jabberwock - A surreal fantasy of nasty Nazis, post apocalyptic despair related in a humorous fashion and including talking animals and people. Alas, there wasn't a single magic dragon. (Warren ScottMorrow) "Alice and the Jabberwock". Alice (yes, that Alice !) has been holed up in a bunker for two years following a nuclear war - "she still had 6000 cans of baked beans." King Arthur and his Knights are keeping her company. They say that shortly they will go out and save the country but, in the meantime, "they'd drunk all her gin and eaten all her ship's biscuits and they never lifted a finger to help." Alice leaves the bunker with a handsome doctor named Harold and the Cheshire Cat. They kill the Jabberwock and settle in a Marrakech casino, where Alice dances nightly. The Cat explodes and it is revealed that it has been killed by Curiosity. "The Cat was a spy for the Space Aliens from Alpha Centauri and sold them atomic secrets for an infinite supply of Whiskas." The Space Aliens are persuaded to accept Curiosity as a human sacrifice and drop their plans for world domination. Alice marries Harold "and renounced existential angst and original thought....and King Arthur and his Knights are just about to rescue Britain.."