Kifffarces (3): Kiff does the Lambeth Walk

One fine day, the infamously bloodcurdling rock act Kiff was strolling down Lambeth Road, doing the Lambeth Walk, or, as the case might be, to the degree their Scary Outfits allowed them to.

Passers-by reacted appropriately: elderly ladies shrieked and hid themselves, Japanese tourists took pictures, and one strapping lad from Inverness had jumped into the Thames. As might be expected, all this had attracted the attention of Police Constable 2nd class Q.D. Barrington, who happened to be on duty in that district.

“Blimey!” he thought by himself as he approached the Diabolical Foursome, who seemed to be engrossed in an introverted tripping-foxtrot, “the missus’ never going to believe this!”

“Now then, now then now then!” he exclaimed in the most amiable tone of his professional repertoire, “What’s all this then, lads? Going to a ball all dressed up, are we?”

The Dismaying Quartet clattered to a halt and leered at the policeman with eight eyes. The drummer started to giggle, and then spoke: “Grunt rhârh BRÂHPS grunt… snorrrt, groinc.”

The bass player raised his index finger: “What he’s trying to say, Sergeant, is that we’re doing some mighty fine sightseeing in your wonderful city!”

“Sight-seeing?” Q.D. Barrington repeated surprised, “Blimey! I’ve never seen such sight-seeing before and the missus knows I’ve seen some!” He turned towards the other two: “You there, gents, can you offer any explanation regarding the extraordinary circumstances of the remarkable proceedings, such as I’m observing at this very moment, being right now?”

The lead guitarist, definitely the most scary of the four, looked taken aback despite his make-up, and said in a contemptuous tone: “Glabl blahw hluhl izz ‘eah owtoh hwâ-ingg seehdr! Llôlb ohtôhl blol.”

“Sir?” Q.D. Barrington inquired, raising his left eyebrow.

“He’s saying, ehm, that we have got every, ehm, flopping, eh, right to walk here on this, eh, wonderful street” the bass player translated helpfully. “You see sir, he’s got his tongue extended to about a foot long.”

Up went Q.D. Barrington’s other eyebrow as well: “A foot? My, what on earth is that good for?”

“Well”, the bass player answered, “don’t you Britons know that saying over here … ’whoever wants to be beautiful has suffer limiting their speech to postalveolar sibilants and labial consonants ?”

Q.D. Barrington nearly choked on that one, but he managed to hide that thanks to years of ruthless facial expression control training that was the pride of the Greater London police force. “Well, well …. *cough* … I’m sure you do” he said, “still, I say we all have a little chat at the office about the whole matter, sibilants notwithstanding. That way, gents, if you please?” He pointed west with his baton.

The Intimidating Foursome  stood indecisive for a moment.

“All right then, come on, there’s a good sport, chop chop!” Q.D. Barrington insisted, and the Terror-oozing Rock Giants dilly-dallied reluctantly down the street towards the Tower, with their spikes and chains rattling, softly cursing and grumbling to themselves.


One and a half hour later they found themselves locked up in the “Suspicious Aliens” block of the London Tower.

“Here’s another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into”, the bass player grumbled. The three others said nothing, but sat defiantly on the wooden benches, arms akimbo, doing their best to project an intimidating kind of affronted dignity.

Suddenly, there was some consternation in the next cell: a large looming figure was shoo’d inside and the iron bar door was locked again.

“GASP!!”, the Fourfould Angst-projectors gasped in unison, as they discerned the hulking figure in the cell next to them.

Their new neighbour turned towards them and they heard a tinny voice that sounded:

[BEEP] Houston, we DO have a problem [BEEP] I repeat: we DO have a problem CHCHT Report back, running full diagnosis on sub-systems, confirm roger alpha in fourteen hundred [BEEP] CHCHT  [BEEP]”.

“It’s the Spaceman!” the drummer exclaimed. “Again!”

And, as they eyes slowly adapted to the low light again, they could see that he was right: it was an astronaut, in EVA suit and all – but this time he carried a rusty plumber’s toolbox that looked strangely old-fashioned and inept contrasted with the bulky high-tech outfit of the Spaceman.

[BEEP] Well, actually, I am a plumber [BEEP]”, the Spaceman replied, “[BEEP] although I’m specialised in Space-plumbing: zero-gravity toiletry, vacuum hot water tanks, you name it! Your request is our demand.[BEEP]

His large silhouette sagged a little.

[BEEP] Here’s another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into [BEEP]”, he added. “[BEEP] What are you guys in here for [BEEP]?”

“Well, nothing, actually”, the bass player replied. Just doing the Lambeth Walk, but that isn’t illegal, especially in London it ain’t, one would think.”

“[BEEP] I hear ya mate. The only thing I did [BEEP] CHCHCHT Houston? Roger! X-2 report due please! [BEEP] CHCHT was to land my LM on the premises of Buckingham Palace to study the historically significant plumbing they reportedly have there.[BEEP]”

“Yep.”

The space-man ambled up to the iron bars that separated their cells.

[BEEP] Hey guys? Mind if I ask you a personal question? [BEEP]

The bass player reluctantly turned towards his scary comrades, who looked as if they had been offered a plate full of stir-fried black liquorice in sugared mustard gravy.

So he answered: “Eh, as long as it’s not too personal, you know. We’re sort of bound with these … eh … non-disclosure things … music business stuff, that sort of thing. You know.”

He looked at his colleagues, hoping for some support. But the drummer only spat on the floor. “I’m sure you understand…” the bass player concluded hopefully, addressing the space-man.

He couldn’t help wondering how someone in such a bulky outfit managed to look so eager.

[BEEP] No worries mate [BEEP], no worries at all [BEEP] I’s just that your unusual outfit had got me thinking [BEEP] so I had a couple of them white-shirted dudes in Houston [BEEP] – you must have seen ‘m on tv … they’re all sitting [BEEP] behind those rows of computer monitors and button panels all the time [BEEP]anyway[BEEP] … I asked them to look closely at my live helmet video feed [BEEP] and one of them said: ‘hey’ … [BEEP]  ‘isn’t that that pop group Alan’s such a huge fan of?’ [BEEP] ‘Who signed his [BEEP] records?’ … … … [BEEP]

The bass guitar player didn’t quite know what to say.

[BEEP] CHCHCHT Pullulating Pinkerton, Pullulating Pinkerton, over CHCHT [BEEP] Pullulating Pinkerton here, Houston CHCHT [BEEP] Roger! Any news yet on the ID of incarcerated act? CHT [BEEP] That’s a Z-negative, Houston. I repeat, a Z-negative. [BEEP] CHCHHT Roger [BEEP] CHT They somehow don’t seem to appreciate the question, Houston [BEEP] CHHHT Okidoki, over CHHT [BEEP] They seem to be … sulking [BEEP] CHT *crackle* Pullulating Pinkerton, what was that? Over CHCHT [BEEP] CHT … that’s … Sierra, Uniform, Lima, Kilo, India, November, Golf, Houston, over CHHT [BEEP]

To the immense, though, as it shall turn out eventually, premature relief of our Champions of Brutish Macho-Musicianship, there came Q. D. Barrington walking up to their cell’s door, with jangling key ring. He proceeded to unlock the door of their cell.

“Good afternoon gents! It seems today is your lucky day! The judge happens to be a great fan of yours – she even showed me one of your albums, that she’s got framed on the wall, for mere decorative purposes, as it were. So!”

He postured himself in the door opening, beaming brightly.

“Being charged, as has been confirmed, with a trespassing of the Greater London Municipal Civil Act, chapter eighteen, paragraph twenty-three to twenty-seven: disorderly conduct in the open during daytime, causing a slight case of ensuing panic amongst citizenry and / or touristry in the district of Lambeth as per the morning of today, including one (1) incident involving one (1) person going a bit nutty requiring the attention of the Central London Thames Rescue Services plus subsequent counselling. This is punishable with one (1) day, being eight (8) hours of community service, by the kindness of Judge Her Honour Felicity Tummyfridge personally tailored to this speciality of yours, as can be assessed by pondering the titles of your albums and songs for a moment. Therefore, the verdict is: you shall per direct, being right now, or, the closest approximation thereof, taking local circumstances into consideration, be transported to the gardens of Buckingham Palace to do weeding for the aforementioned period of eight (8) hours. The details of which shall be left to the discretion of the Palace Gardener, in the person of Sir Geoffrey Rosebud-Bloomington-Spade, esq., after which you are free to go as you please.”

“Though, it would be my advice”, he added in a slightly more personable tone of voice, “that you would do so dressed in a less obtrusive manner, as to avoid further legal complications.”

He held the iron-bar door open and nodded at his clientele.

“Do you gents have any questions? If so, now would be a convenient time to ask them.”

It would have been clear to even those with a limited exposure to the ways in which the Heavyweights of Rock tend to express themselves, that the rebel-rousing quartet at hand experienced considerable difficulties digesting all the ramifications of what Q.D. Barrington had just presented them with.

In fact, they had barely moved at all from their affronted-dignity-projecting defiant poses, though a careful observer might have noticed an increase of teeth-gnashing.

The bass player however, more often than not the most flexible of the four, walked up to the door and clapped his leather-with-spikes-gloved hands together in a gesture of cooperative anticipation.

Once outside the cell, he turned around to look at his Black Studded Brethren, jerking his head as to encourage them to follow.

“Are there any questions?” Q.D. Barrington repeated.

They had none.

Behind his bars, the space-man looked rather blank; though, as said before, his suit seemed to default to rendering that impression.

“Now then, let’s go gents, follow me please: Black Bertha’s waiting!”


After the sound of grumbling, teeth-gnashing and post-alveolar sibilants set to an ostinato of clattering polyester, rattling spikes, jangling keys and the occasional reverberating crash of metal-barred doors slamming shut in iron frames had died away, the space-man still stood in the same pose, as if pondering the meaning of existence.

[BEEP] CHCHT Pullulating Pinkerton, Pullulating Pinkerton, this is a test message… please ignore CHHT {tinny music} It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go … {music cut off} … testing channels twenty-three and seventy-four on voice bandwidth starting O hundred fifty-five with sinus wave frequency sweeps {bip}{bip}{bip}{bip}{bip}{bip}{beeeeep} cht alpha tango UHWOOOOOIIIITT crackle UHWOOOOOIIIITT

… etcetera.

Half an hour later the metallic jangle returned. Q.D. Barrington opened his the cell door: “Now then, for you Sir. The Judge, being in aforementioned good mood, and while being on the phone with Buckingham in any case, informed whether there might be any need for the service of a plumber. Which, I’m glad to say, turns out to indeed be the case.”

He stood in the door opening, beaming again: one didn’t get the chance to resolve two such remarkable cases in such an elegant manner every day. 

“Therefore, the charges being held against you, being the trespassing of the Royal Palace Premises Act of 1779 section VII, paragraphs thirteen to twenty-one, concerning the unauthorised gaining access to the premises or adjacent properties as specified in appendix eleven, without the obvious intention of perpetrating criminal acts such as (but not limited to) inflicting damage to Royal Properties or either bodily or mental harm to members of the Royal Family or personnel, their visitors or passers-by; but having no particular end as could be concluded from interviewing the suspect in case, being yourself – will be made punishable by performing public services in your supposed capacity as a professional plumber, to the effect of successfully unclogging the clogged drain pipes as can be found in the Tudor wing of Buckingham palace, first floor, rooms five and six, until successful as judged by the Palace Master Rougefriand of Technical Installations in the person of Sir Matthew Godfrey Pepe St. John, or for the duration of eight (8) hours – whichever of these two criteria is first met.”

He stepped aside and gestured:

“This way if you please, Sir, and don’t forget the tool-box.”

The space-man picked up his toolbox and ambled out.

[BEEP] CHCHT Houston! Come in Houston, this is Pullulating Pinkerton, over … CHT [BEEP] Pullulating Pinkerton, reading you loud and clear, four out of five, please commence [BEEP] CHT situation now firmly under control, Houston. Please disregard formerly reported problem status .., I repeat, disregard formerly reported problem status. Proceeding now as planned, over CHT [BEEP] Pullulating Pinkerton, A-OK, that’s fine and dandy. Alan says ‘Try and book Hark Cloggo & dudes for NASA party!'[BEEP]

Any time you’re Lambeth way,
Any evening, any day,
You’ll find us all
Doing the Lambeth Walk.

Every little Lambeth gal,
With her little Lambeth pal,
You’ll find them all
Doing the Lambeth Walk.

Everything’s free and easy,
Do as you darn well pleasy,
Why don’t you make your way there
Go there, stay there.

Once you get down Lambeth way
Every evening, every day,
You’ll find yourself
Doing the Lambeth Walk.oi!


Book and Lyrics by L Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, Book revised by Stephen Fry, Music by Noel Gay