There are times when I wonder how I came to be where I am. Like now, for example, when I am strapped to the lining of a big pocket, dressed in a giraffe onesie, waiting to be flirted into an alternative dimension. The voice of Professor Moonbeam comes echoing down from a loudspeaker somewhere above me.
"Hey dude," he says. "Is everything ok?"
"My underpants are too tight," I tell him.
"Nothing to do with me, man," he replies.
"No, I know," I say. "I was just making a general observation."
"Cool," he says. "OK then, we're ready to begin the countdown. Here goes: ten, nine, eight..."
I mean, I won't repeat the whole thing. He basically counts down from ten to zero. You know how it goes. If he got any of the numbers in the wrong order, then it might have been worth mentioning. Or if he had mispronounced something - if he said "seben" instead of "seven", which is something I sometimes do, especially when I am tired. But he didn't do any of those things, so let's just take it as read that he did the countdown properly, ok?
"... two, one, zero."
Nothing. Silence. Darkness.
"Erm, I don't think it - " I began, then suddenly whoosh!
A multitude of flicking lights streamed past me, stretching backwards to infinity. A thunderous rumbling assailed my senses, pounding like the endless heartbeat of the universe. I felt myself being stretched in all directions at once, while simultaneously being crushed to a singularity. In that instant, all times, all places, all things were known to me, my head swelled with the accumulated wisdom of history and still my underpants were too tight.
Jez Moonbeam thinks that his big pocket is the gateway to another dimension. This is obviously a load of grotty old nonsense, but you have to humour these people. He then asks us for a volunteer to be his first interdimensional test pilot, and explains that he would go himself but he has an appointment to get his eyes tested tomorrow, and he can't guarantee that they will have a branch of Specsavers on another plane of existence.
He looks at us expectantly. There are no volunteers. He then offers half a Kit Kat and a bag of pickled onion Monster Munch, and I immediately stick up my hand. I'm no mug - you've just got to hold your nerve and wait for the right offer. He takes me to a special fitting room, where I am kitted out for the journey. I am put in a special "dimension suit" which will protect me on the journey through the interdimensional void. It looks like a giraffe onesie to me, but Professor Moonbeam assures me that it is actually a very specialised protective suit and that the fluffy horns on top are designed to short out the nul-reality zone differential in the interstitial void. That, and they will also receive Radio 2, so I can listen to Popmaster on the journey. I am also given a lunchbox full of cheese crackers and a spoon, in case of emergencies. I am then shown into the giant pocket, strapped firmly to the lining and left in the dark.
Jez Moonbeam is explaining to us why he has invented a giant pocket. He has got a blackboard and a pointy stick and he looks very professional, even though he is clearly some kind of looney nutjob. Anyway, he starts talking at us, and it goes like this:
"Why would anyone want to invent a giant pocket?" he asks, then goes on to answer his own question. "Well, very useful if you've got a giant jacket to put it in, but dudes who rock those kind of massive threads are thin on the ground. In conclusion: there ain't no bread in it, man. But pockets can be useful for other things, can't they?"
Oliver stuck up his hand. "Please sir, you can put things in them."
"Sure, but we've kind of covered that."
Dodger raised a hand. "Cor blimey, mate. If you had somefink really big, then you could stuff it in yer big pocket."
"Well," said Moonbeam. "That's sort of exactly the same thing your buddy said. No, you see pockets have a natural ability to produce pocket lint. And the bigger the pocket, the more lint."
There was silence. Professor Moonbeam obviously thought we would be impressed by this. We weren't. "Who the bleedin' 'ell wants pocket lint?" asked Dodger.
"Upholsterers," said Moonbeam. "Manufacturers of loft insulation. It can be used to stuff cushions, grit roads, all sorts of groovy stuff. But man, listen up, all this is just a by-product of the main research. Thing is, nobody knows where this lint comes from. It just appears in pockets spontaneously. Freaky, right? Well, one theory suggests that it's actually bleeding into our dimension through wormholes in the fabric of the pocket. Now, the bigger the pocket, the bigger the wormholes. Hence my work." Moonbeam paused and took a breath before making his revelation. "Yes, that's right. My big pocket is a gateway to another dimension."
We have met a hippy inventor called Jez Moonbeam, who makes three-way glass, but won't tell me what it is. I think you must need special brains to be an inventor. I mean, all these ideas go in, and they get all mangled up and whirled about in your brains, then a bell rings, a bulb lights up and out comes a mad new idea. Take for example the man or the woman who invented the electric tin opener. I don't know what the man or the woman's name was. Let's call him or her Professor Mary Spanners - that sounds like it could be on the money. So, one day Professor Spanners sits down and says, "I haven't invented anything for three weeks now. I'd better crack on and invent something today, because the rent's due. I know, tin openers! They're brilliant, but I'm sure they could be made more electric."
And that's the thing - tin openers are brilliant and simple and they work dead good. So what is the advantage of having an electric one that's more expensive, burns electricity, breaks down frequently and can't even open a tin of spaghetti hoops without getting stuck hallway round, mangling the rim of the can and ejecting the contents onto your worktop? Well, the advantage of it is that it makes a fortune for the inventor, regardless of how rubbish it is.
I tried inventing something once. I figured that if there was money to be made, then it might as well be me who makes it. Taking a leaf out of the electric tin opener book, I decided to invent the electric tin. It didn't go well. All that happened was that I fused the lights and my spaghetti hoops caught fire, so I gave it up as a bad job.
So, we were in this pocket and we thought we'd been miniaturised because this big hand came down. Only it was a fake and we hadn't been miniaturised at all, it's just that we were in a big pocket. What kind of looney-tune goes around putting people in big pockets? We were about to find out. The man in the lab coat showed us out of the pocket and when we had cleaned up he gave us some hot Bovril and sat us down.
"Hi guys, my name is Jez Moonbeam," said the man. "Sorry about the whole big pocket thing. Let me elucidate."
"You do and you clear it up yourself," I said.
"I am an inventor," he explained. "You may have heard of me. I am the dude who invented three-way glass. My latest invention is set to revolutionise the world, like for real. You are the first guys to see it - the giant pocket! Any questions?"
"Yes," I said. "What is three-way glass?"
Oliver put up his hand. "Please sir, how big is the pocket?"
"Good question," said Moonbeam. "On the inside, it's about twenty feet square. Any other questions?"
"Yes," I said. "Three-way glass - what is it?"
Dodger put up his hand. "Cor blimey, guv'nor," he said. "Does this mean that the pocket is bigger on the inside than on the outside?"
"Another good question," said Moonbeam. "No. Anything else?"
"WHAT IS THREE-WAY GLASS?" I shouted.
Oliver put up his hand again. "Please sir, what are the technical specifications of the pocket, in particular in respect of the tensile strength of the fabric and the load-bearing limitations of the stitching?"
"Another good question, dude," said Moonbeam. "Follow me and I'll show you." So saying, he led us through a door made of three-way glass into his laboratory.
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of the Bleeding Obvious
All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2021, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
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