It was with great sadness that I last visited my old friend Nob Mouse for while in the past I have leaped with joy through the portal under my stairs, keen to partake in his village of strangely saccarine-scented hills and valleys, this time I was unfortunate enough to need somewhere to hide – and fast – because I’d forgotten to pay the latest instalment on my hired buttocks and now the Drumley Green Gentlemens’ Club were after me.

You’ll have to excuse the length of that sentence. I am not one for editing, what with it being bedfellows with effort and the ever-dreaded workplace.  That is not to say I am a skiver by any means, dear fellow.  It’s just that when it comes to work, I prefer to do it outdoors, which is why I am as yet unopposed in my mastery of both the 100 metre free-form hairdressing and the rhythmic balloon blowing competition.

Some people scoff at that but it is usually because they forget that in order to win, one must inflate the balloon and perform a dance with sufficient skill, precision and timing that you can complete five sockets before touching down.  Get it wrong and you’ll have a field in the face; as Charlie Thunkscurton would attest were he still with us.  Sadly, he has gone to Spain for tax reasons and the post office keep returning my mail so it’s impossible to get in touch with him.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes.

I arrived at Café Nob on a fine summer’s morning, to discover my generous host was in the middle of building a new form of transport to a distant moon.  He had perfected a complex system of pulleys, levers and reticulated Orvol panniers (which I’ll tell you about another time.  They really are fascinating) that he insisted on calling the net-launch-a-me-do although I think it was too similar to the Johnston System to be fully deserving of this new name.

‘What’s all this about, me lad?’ I asked.

‘Oh it’s really quite simple,’ he assured me.  ‘I want to settle a long-standing argument over whether there is a fresh source of cheese on the seventh moon of Edametrius; which I’m sure you’ve heard all about.’

‘Ah, yes.  The Pungent Planet.  I know it well.  Did my Masters on it, you know.’

‘You did?  I had no idea they had established a collegiate system, never mind a full university!’

I explained that this was not what I meant and after a while, he began talking about his contraption once more.

‘Anyway,’ he said.  ‘I’ve been busy making this thing and now it seems ready, I’m going to test it.  Will you accompany me?’

‘How can I refuse?’ I asked.  ‘You are undoubtedly aware of my situation with the fellows from Drumley Green?’

Before he could answer, the aforementioned gentlemen arrived at the Café.  In the ensuing struggle (during which I was able to demonstrate my immense skills in the art of soundly kicking a man’s backside while tripping over my own feet), our assailants found themselves caught up in the workings of Nob’s machine and before we knew what had hit them, the hot air basket had launched the poor sods into the atmosphere!

My eyes were glued to the fading image of three terrified old men being propelled into space in what looked very much like a bathtub, two springs and a packet of cheap scouring brushes.  Nob did explain to me what those were for but I’m sorry to say I was not paying attention.

‘Was that supposed to happen?’ I asked him.

‘Oh yes,’ he assured me.  ‘Of course, if I had known they were going to leap in there after you set fire to that man’s shoes, I’d have given them the instructions to build a return flight.’

And so, dear readers, the moral of this story is to always plan ahead.