ONCE: a bedtime story

Once upon a time in 1961 there was a group of  boys and nice boys they were too who lived in a place called Liverpool which is near Manchester which isn’t all that far from Sheffield which is where we used to get our knives and forks from once upon a time.
The boys or young men for that is what they were numbered four in all because they thought that four was a nice round number and they were nice round boys or young men don’t forget. They had tried being five for a while but that didn’t work out too well because one of them died rather tragically in Germany which is next to France which is just across the water from England unlike Birkenhead which is just across the water from Liverpool which by a strange coincidence or perhaps even divine providence is where this story is set.

After that sad experience they agreed to remain as four b y a majority of three to one in favour and so was therefore carried which was a very democratic way for them to behave and only goes to show what nice young men they were which is just what I’ve been saying all along. Then they moved on to the next business on the agenda which was to get rid of the one who disagreed because they didn’t want disagreeable people in their group in case anyone got the impression that they weren’t nice afterall which would never do and this was agreed to by a majority of three to one in favour also and was therefore carried as well. But now the four young men were only three because the one who always disagreed was gone which was most unfortunate since they had already decided to be four and so they thought and thought and finally one of them had an idea which was agreed to by a majority of three to none and was therefore unanimous.

And so it was that a new young man was approached and asked to join the group and was only too happy to accept the very kind invitation and thus proved by his exemplary behaviour that he was a most agreeable young man and not a bit like the other young man whatsoever.
The four young men were pleased to be four again and not three or five or any other number for that matter and now that this was settled and out of the way they decided to get on with more important things like finding something that the four of them could do together. They thought and thought and one of them had an idea but that wasn’t much use because none of them knew how to build an aeroplane anyway and even if they could none of them know how to fly one so it would just be left on the ground to turn rusty in the rain unless of course they covered it over with a plastic sheet but none of them thought of that. So they had to think again which was a little unfair since they had all thought quite a lot already but they persevered nonetheless in the hope that inspiration might come. Needless to say it wasn’t long before their efforts were rewarded and they thought of a new idea which was much better than the first idea because they all knew how to drink beer and so they went to the pub and ordered a pint of bitter each to drink while they were thinking.

Not long after the very same four young men were walking on their way home feeling slightly depressed because they hadn’t thought of anything they could do despite the fact that they had drunk themselves drunk in the process. In order to cheer up his companions and take their minds off things for a while one of the young men who also happened to be the oldest of the young men and was considered by the rest to be the leader of the group because he could fight them and would punch them in the eye if they didn’t consider him to be the leader suggested that they should buy some chips and fish from the fish and chip shop. And that is just what they did for they were always eager to please their leader and also very hungry for it is a well known fact that drinking alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach doesn’t stop you feeling hungry although some people dispute the basis of this argument and claim that alcoholic drinks do make you forget about feeling hungry  and everything else for that matter which only goes to show what a contentious issue it is. However these particular young men at this particular point in time felt particualry hungry and didn’t care what anyone else thought on the subject so good for them.

When they had consumed their respective fishes and chips and disposed of the empty papers by crushing them into a ball and throwing them on the ground which would of course not be tolerated in this day and age but don’t forget that this was once upon a time they decided to return to the problem which they suddenly remembered they had left outside they fish and chip shop. Summing up their predicament they reminded each other they needed to find a solution to their predicament and then they reminded each other that their predicament was that they couldn’t find a solution. So they began to feel depressed again and were almost at the point of total despair when something completely unexpected happened which took them all by surprise all that is except the newest member of the group who didn’t know that the others considered him incapable of having an original idea so he went ahead and had one. ‘I know’ he said in a nasal tone that people from Liverpool use as a result of talking through their noses which is a very difficult thing to do and requires centuries of practice to perfect ‘why don’t we become famous‘ and since none of them could think of a good enough reason why they shouldn’t become famous they agreed to give it a try. But first they all went home to bed because they were very tired as you can well imagine having taxed their brains to the absolute limit which is a tiring thing to do even when sober.

The next morning bright and early or thereabouts they began being famous even though they had terrible hangovers and found it difficult to concentrate on what they were supposed to be doing.
But with a will and determination and a belief in themselves that hasn’t been seen on these shores since Dunkirk though to be absolutely accurate Dunkirk isn’t on these shores they triumphed over all adversity and soon news of their fame spread far and wide and even reached Manchester. Before they knew where they were the young men found themselves in London which was a bit cheeky really because they only paid the train fare as far as Crewe but they convinced the ticket-collector that they had fallen asleep and missed their stop and didn’t want to be in London atall and so he let them off. And like all famous people who find themselves in London because London is full to the very brim of famous people they exchanged funny stories and joked about being famous and being in London and fooling poor gullible ticket-collectors. The four young men from Liverpool caused quite a sensation among all the other famous people in London because their stories about being famous sounded so much better as a consequence of their nasal accents and so popular were they that pretty soon they were asked to go on television and speak through their noses to the whole nation.

In less than no time atall the four young men from Liverpool became a household name in everyone’s household throughout the length and breadth of the country and from corner to corner too.
Then something amazing happed for without any warning young men everywhere began to imitate the four young men from Liverpool and formed themselves into groups of four and practiced being nice and tried to talk through their noses so that they could become famous too. And when all the young men in the country had finished forming themselves into groups of four they found that there were five young men left over and rather than leaving one young man  on his own these five young men decided to form themselves into a group of five which they thought was terrifically unconventional and outrageous and so as to stress their unconventionality and outrageousness they also decided not to be nice and not to talk through their noses and so they became infamous. But to return to the main thrust of the story the four young men from Liverpool now decided to go to America because you can get a lot more money for being famous in America than you can in England and would you believe it the same thing happened there exactly. So now the whole world knew about the four young men from Liverpool except for the Chinese who said they didn’t but I suspect they did secretly.

Year after year the four young men went on being nice and being cheeky and being famous and talking through their noses until one day everyone in the world woke up in a bad mood and decided they were bored with the four young men from Liverpool including I might add the four young men themselves who weren’t so young anymore and they decided that enough was enough and that putting up with each other for any longer was more than anyone could reasonably expect and since nobody expected it anyway they didn’t have to. By mutual disagreement the four older men decided not to be nice anymore especially to each other and they all went their separate ways and soon they were just a fond memory in people’s minds. Which just goes to show doesn’t it.