Stromboli was fuming this week Madder than I have seen him yet. He practically short circuited his new laptop firing off e mails hither and yon.
The reason for his hyperactivity? Of all things, a pair of clowns shoes.
A young man called Valerik Kashkin, employed by the Moscow State Circus, has been told by Elf and Safety that he can no longer wear his size eighteen clown shoes as they constitute a health risk.
It seems that he was performing in a show at Sefton Park when he fell off a ten foot high wire while wearing the offending articles and ended up spending a week in hospital. The young man did not hold the shoes personally responsible and was perfectly willing to put them on again when he resumed his duties. In fact, he insisted that they were a vital part of his act - his personal signature, if you like, but the superannuated gnomes were having none of it.
Well that was more than enough to press Stromboli's buttons. "Nanny state gone mad!" he yelled in the Daily Mail. "An unwarranted interference in the artistic process", he expostulated in the Guardian.
It was a difficult time, I can tell you, but he was just beginning to calm down when he had the bad luck to run into Beppo; head clown, head union negotiator for his compatriots in mirth, and........headcase!
Beppo is a fool. Yes I know he is paid to be a fool but he's a fool even when he is not being paid and very good he is at it too. He's argumentative, hot headed, a disruptive influence and, altogether, quite unstable. I should think that the only other type of employment open to him would be a post in Gordon Brown's cabinet.
Anyway, he had heard about the Russki's unfortunate accident and was in a right three ring flap about it.
Apparently, he was on his way to see Pettigrew to tell him that he would be handing in his comedy shoes because he feared his own fall from a great height. The fact that the "highest" he has ever been was when he got his hands on that cheap Paraguayan Rum seemed to have slipped his memory. In any case, from what I know of Beppo and the way he rubs people up the wrong way, his own fall from a great height will come from behind, caused by a determined push and will have nothing to do with comedy shoes.
Apparently, Stromboli was close to punching him on the nose - the real one, not the prop - but given Beppo was still wearing the big shoes he would just keep springing back again and again and again.
It just goes to show there is always some clown ready to spoil your day.
STROMBOLI'S AUNT SALLY
Labour Bribes Public Sector
I would like to nominate Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer and the P.M.'S right hand man (but only cos' its Brown's right hand that's operating this puppet) for this week's spot in Stromboli's "Aunt Sally".
Shortly after midday on Wednesday April 22Nd, 2009 he got up to tell us how he planned to get Britain out of its worst financial mess since the end of the Second World War.
Anyone expecting some brilliant and dashing strategy, or even a modicum of common sense, was to be sorely disappointed. Such strategy as there was seemed to consist of "max out the nation's credit card and keep your fingers crossed for a new Gold Rush. Oh, and on no account ask public sector employees to shoulder any of the burden.
He played that loathesome Labour trick of talking of the Public Sector as if it was made up entirely of selfless nurses, brave policemen and dedicated teachers. He, of course, made no mention of the army of pen pushers, trampoline instructors and general busybodies.
Oh how Labour love the Public Sector. They are joined at the hip. The Public Sector is Labour's largest and most easily identifiable constituency. They win elections don't they?
A final word to Mr. Darling: Bailing out banks and car makers is bad enough, but being pushed further into penury so that you can buy Labour their next General Election victory is just too much!
Now is not the time
3 months ago