Saturday, 29 October 2011

It's only Wordzzles, but Wordzzles are all I have...

I have been the very quintessence of laziness the last couple of weeks, so it's high time to make amends.

Raven, the creator of Wordzzles, is still bravely soldiering on with them and her blog can be found here, please pay her a visit or, better still, JOIN IN!

Here are a couple of minis I did earlier.

Challenge words: keen, swan, organ, champ, brush

“It’s never a good thing to champ at the bit too much where this job is concerned,” said Master Gottfried to his newest apprentice, a keen young fellow by the name of Otto.  “A grand old lady like this one takes many months of careful patient work to restore her lest, like the fabled swan, she should sing just once and then die.” He chuckled at his own bon mot and then handed the brush to Otto.  “Now, up you go, my lad.”  Otto looked doubtfully at the rickety wooden ladder leading up to a narrow hatch, beyond which was dust, darkness and all the myriad organ pipes and actuators he was going to have to clean.  He shuddered.  There would be spiders up there the size of dinner-plates, he was sure of it.  Master Gottfried smiled to himself  The pipe loft with its dark, cramped spaces was always the acid test for any new apprentice.  Otto took a deep shaky breath and began to climb.

Challenge words: flaw, filling, filter, flattery, fashionable

The d├ęcor was fashionable and the waiters kept the obsequious flattery to the barest minimum, what was not to like about Chez Dez, the newest bistro in town?  Alex scribbled a few notes into his notebook and glanced at his pocketwatch.  The deadline for copy was 4 o’clock.  Plenty of time.  His order arrived served in Chez Dez’s signature gleaming white crockery - a cup of filter coffee and a slice of Chez dez’s homemade apple pie.  Alex took a mouthful of pie and chewed on it thoughfully, before frowning and scribbling a few more thoughts.  He took a sip of coffee and raised his eyebrows in surprise.   Next day, the local paper’s food section carried the headline: Tinned pie filling and instant coffee – the flaw in Chez Dez’s perfection.

And, of course, Harold...... Catch-up link is top right, if you need it.

No sooner had the words left her mouth than India could have kicked herself – really, really hard. Unbelievabley, she had just blurted out to one of the Fallen that it had hold of technology that could render it completely undetectable as it went about its wicked business. Brilliant work there India, she told herself severely, truly outstanding!

She half-expected Harold to pounce on her mistake with an evil cackle or something, but the stupid demon just tugged of the ski-mask and carried on drinking its coffee like nothing had happened. Maybe she’d got away with it after all.

One look at the suddenly thoughtful expression on Teatime’s face, however, instantly disabused her of that notion; the demon may have been too slow-witted to realise the strategic implications, but the monkey-thing clearly wasn’t.

When the little monkey spoke, however, it was not to gloat over her foolishness.

“That might well be jolly useful, actually,” he said.

“Oh?” said Harold.

“Well,” continued Teatime, “I was wondering how we were going to get around the fact that these wretched people seem to have a way of detecting your kind, and this just might be it. If Agent India’s gift doesn’t work when you’re in that ridiculous getup, then perhaps the Infinity Recycling people’s machines won’t either.”

Keen to keep the conversation going down this particular track, India said.

“We have two of these suits, so we could both sneak in, couldn’t we?”

“Yes,” replied Teatime, “But as I said earlier, we still have the problem of physical obstacles and guards to bypass. Magic suits aren’t going to get us through locked doors. We will need a diversion, as I said.”

“It would have to be something pretty big,” said Harold, “those guards seemed quite professional and well-organised.”

“Then it sounds like we’re going to need some help.” said India.


“No, we do not give him what he wants,” declared Prada, folding her arms firmly across her chest. “India and the demon are the only ones who know what’s going on and where we are. We cannot possibly allow Moon and his friends to get hold of them.”

“Assuming the demon hasn’t just run off somewhere, of course,” observed Othello, “If it was looking for a chance to get away from us, it’s just been handed the best one yet.”

“I don’t think it will do that, somehow.” Said Mercury. “It has been pretty helpful thus far, besides which, the Reckoner made it quite clear that he would take it personally if the demon betrayed our trust in any way. No I suspect it will follow the plan and go back to the -” He stopped himself and grinned ruefully. “Oooh, I nearly blew it then, didn’t I? Heh, I bet Moon’s got this place bugged in some way – I would if I were him.”

Moon did indeed have the place bugged, and could not help but smile at Mercury’s stopping himself from blabbing at the last moment. He leaned back in his chair, away from the security console. A small screen showed a grainy video feed from the conference room with the three OGS agents in it. It was clear they were not going to give anything away for free, but Moon had just that moment had an idea. He picked up the phone and dialled a number. He drummed his fingers lightly on the arm of his chair as the call went though.

“Hello?” came a woman’s sleepy voice. It was, after all, the middle of the night.

“Dr Flowers? This is RolexBoy. Can you come down to Infinity Recycling right away please?”

Friday, 28 October 2011

A New Home in the Sky - A Simple Question

It’s a quiet day here at Klueless Support, the sand falling silently and tranquilly through the hourglass, until a soft ping announces the arrival of an email.


The report I ran today is showing the same figures as yesterday.  This is wrong as the numbers are always different.  Please can you fix it.


A User

Now I like a challenge, but there really is precious little to go on here, so there follows an email trail, summarised below:

Me:   Which report is it that’s incorrect?
User:  The Open Calls report
Me:  OK, where in Klueless is that, is it in the public folders or your personal folder?  Do you extract it yourself or get it by email? (Note: there are literally hundreds of reports, some of which the users create themselves.  With the best will in the world, we can’t know all of them.)
User:  As it stands I’m asked to run a report for the Service Desk that generates data pulled from Klueless.  I’ve attached a list of reports that get sent to me if that’s any help?  (6 attachments)
Me:  So, is it one of the sent ones that’s not showing refreshed figures for today?
User:  Thanks for getting back to me. The 2 spreadsheets attached show the same data sent for two different days. We know this is a fault as no two days will be the same as calls get opened and closed continually.  (2 attachments)
Me:  Yes, but I need to know the name and location of the actual report that’s wrong.
Some time goes by and I do some digging around on my own, eventually managing to locate a scheduled job that automatically generates a report called Open Calls.  I see one bit of it has failed, so re-run that.  This does not, however, explain why today’s and yesterday’s figures are the same.
Out of boredom, I open the two spreadsheets that the user claims contain identical data, just in case. 
They do not contain identical data – not even close. 
Puzzled, I email the user and ask him to check again and, lo and behold, it turns out he’s got confused; the two spreadsheets ARE different, but he is sure they were the same earlier.
Hmmmm.  Yes, maybe the little internet pixies altered them or something.

This is a not untypical exchange between us and our beloved user community, more's the pity.  I have to say our lives would be easier if users:

- did not assume we in support have the same knowlege of their reports (or anything else) as they do
- gave us clear information about where they got the report in the first place
- double-checked before firing off an email

We in support are users of other systems, with their own support teams, so this is probably good advice for us too.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Something for the Weekend

Hope you'll all be as happy as this guy is.....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Someone to Watch Over Me

My friend believes in angels.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with people believing in angels per se; they feature in several religious traditions and I’m perfectly happy for folks to embrace that kind of thing if they so wish. 

This post is about beings known as angels, though, not about God as such.

My friend, however, takes it a step further (as indeed do lots of other people) and claims that he has a personal guardian angel looking out for him – we all do, apparently.

Angels on 24/7 security duty? 

Not sure about that.  I have questions.

Firstly, why would powerful supernatural beings (they must have some power or there would be no point them guarding us) take it upon themselves to watch over us mortals?    Don’t they have anything else/better to do?  Do they not have interests and relationships of their own to pursue?  Are they able to interact with others of their kind?  If not, then it would surely be a lonely vigil.  Most of us live unexciting lives which, while they inevitably contain some element of risk, are probably not going to tax the abilities of a supernatural being overly much.  So it would be a boring vigil as well.

Giving up your own interests and relationships for what could be an extremely boring and possibly lonely assignment is a big sacrifice, so why would they do it?

Perhaps they don’t have a choice: whichever supreme being is running the show could order it to be done and, obedient servants that they are, angels would (joyfully) comply.  So maybe they get gratification from serving.  Perhaps they are in constant communion with others of their kind and with the supreme being and so are not lonely after all.

Also, I guess if you’re an eternal being, the lifespan of a mortal is pretty insignificant and it would not feel to the angel like much time had passed before the next mortal to be looked after came along.   Maybe that keeps it interesting for them.

So, OK, let’s assume there are guardian angels who are content to look after each one of us.

From what are they guarding us, and how far does their remit extend?

Now if we go with the whole benevolent-angels-exist scenario, then it might well be the case that there are evil supernatural forces at work too – perhaps angels are warding us from these.  

This is a tough one to prove either way.  Most of us are about as psychic as a teaspoon (ordinary teaspoons, mind you, not the ones that hang out with Uri Geller; those guys can predict the Lottery and everything) so we are usually not able to sense these threats for ourselves.  Science has yet to prove or conclusively disprove the existence of supernatural entities of any kind.  We are not, therefore, in a position to confirm or deny the existence of these evil forces. 

I suppose we’ll just have to leave that as an open question for the time being and move on.

We do, however, have solid empirical evidence of evil in the physical world, so how much do our guardian angels protect us from this?

Not so much, it would seem. 

History is jam-packed with war, genocide, cruelty, crime, destruction, etc. 

Where were the guardian angels of those people trapped in the World Trade Centre in September 2001, for example?  Come to that, if everyone has a guardian angel, where were the guardian angels of the people flying the planes on that day?  The people in the building’s angels would presumably not have wanted the buildings to be struck by the planes.  The pilots’ and unwilling passengers' angels likewise.  So how did it happen?

OK, everyone has to die some time and maybe it was those people’s time to go, the angels knew it and so allowed it to happen (this is very fatalistic, incidentally, and whole books could be written on determinism and fate – and have been).  How do the angels know it’s someone’s time to go?

Maybe the angels were over-ruled by a higher power – a power whose motives here are questionable, surely. 

Now, at this point in any discussion like this, somebody usually advances the argument that mankind has free will and for angels to have prevented the planes hitting the towers, for example, that would be a breach of the terrorists’ free will and so is not allowed.

So the free will of a few terrorists carries more weight than the lives of thousands of people?


Would it have been an infringement of anybody’s free will if the buildings had stayed up for just a bit longer instead of collapsing?  Some people would still have died, inevitably, but nothing like as many.

Alright, what about non-lethal threats, are we protected from them at least? 

A few weeks ago, while out walking, I tripped and twisted the ligaments in my foot so badly that seven weeks on they’re still not right.  Should I have been prevented by my guardian angel from tripping?  If not (which presumably is the case since I did in fact trip) then why not?  How was the decision made?  Was I supposed to learn something valuable from this accident?  I must be a very dull pupil then because I’m not sure that I have – other than to wear stouter shoes next time I go walking (for the record, I was wearing trainers, not six-inch stillettos or anything like that - sensible enough shoes, I’d have thought).  Maybe I’m being unkind.  Maybe my guardian angel did intervene and stopped me from breaking my leg or neck or something.  (Aren’t I just the crummy ingrate?)

Maybe our angels guard us only from malevolent acts, not random accidents.  Tell that to the woman whose kid has just been mown down by a drunk driver (assuming the driver did not set out to kill, and so was acting irresponsibly rather than out of malice).

It could also be argued that life would be boring without some adversity in it.  Perhaps we need challenges to keep us on our toes (not my toes though, they’re still sore).

Agreed.  I suspect, however, that someone whose family has just been wiped out by disease and starvation could do with a lot less adversity and still be kept on their metaphorical toes.  Do the starving millions of Africa have guardian angels?  If so, what exactly are they doing?

Do they protect us from ourselves?

My angel-loving friend is a longtime smoker who has tried on numerous occasions to give up.  Now, we know that smoking is bad for health – a real threat to one’s wellbeing.  My friend desires to quit and be rid of this threat.  Cannot his guardian angel help him out with this?  It would be a protective act if ever there was one, and would be well aligned with his own desires in the matter, leaving his free will still gloriously intact. 

When all’s said and done, there can be only two possibilities why a guardian angel does not act to protect its charge from harm:

It is unwilling to.

It is unable to.

If the former, then we would have to hope that its decisions are both guided by our best interests and that they are sound.  Angels must have access to a great deal of information (both past, present and future) to know what’s ultimately in our interests.  What if my interest conflicts with yours?  Whose angel wins that one?

If the latter, and they are unable to act, then I’d have to ask what/who is preventing it and why.  I’d then want to address the questions above to that entity.

On balance, I’d have to say I’m not convinced we have personal guardian angels – if they exist in a universe with no supreme being then their actions seem rather arbitrary and their motives puzzling given the state of things.

if there is an omnipotent being, why would he need assistants anyway?

Apologies for a very long rambly post.

Does anybody out there have any opinions or experiences to offer?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Why I can't get nuthin' done around here

It all started with a perfectly innocent order from Amazon. 

I wanted Simon's Cat.  If you've not come across this YouTube (and now three-book and heaps-of-merchandising) phenomenon, I urge you to get yourself over to YouTube and search for Simon's Cat - the animated cartoons are priceless.

But I digress.

The box came with Amazon's usual efficiency and I opened it to reveal...

Hmm, that explains the mewing noises and the unexpected weight, I suppose.

Maybe I should have been more specific with the wording of my order.  I should have said 'Simon's Cat BOOK III' or something.  Computers are, after all, nothing if not maddeningly literal-minded.

Anyhow, he was just so cute, I had to keep him.  Besides, have you ever tried to work your way through the complexity of Amazon's returns process?  Stephen Hawking, arguably one of the most giant brains we have around here, has this to say on it:

"It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years."

(OK, he was probably talking about quantum gravity or some such, but he would have said this, I'm sure).

So now he (the cat, not Stephen Hawing.  Goodness, how weird would THAT be?) has insinuated himself into every corner of my life.

So now, whenever I open a drawer...

I've no idea how he gets in there and closes it behind himself - one of the world's great mysteries, I suppose.  Perhaps he knows a few things that Stephen Hawking doesn't.

If I try to go out shopping... 

I think he wants to come along to make sure I get the right kitty treats.  I'd take him, but honestly, I simply could not bear all the cat-is-out-of-the-bag type puns.  Besides which, he probably has expensive tastes.

Maybe I should just stop fighting it and settle down with a nice book...

If only I could....

At least, when my boss asks me why I haven't completed an assignment, I can show him this - not that it'll be any excuse, mind you.  There needs to be a new timesheet booking code: 'Feline-induced downtime' or something.

And the thing about kittehs is that you can't stop at just one....

And that's why I can't get nuthin' done around here.

Hapy Friday everybody!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Gary's Coming

The following is a shortie I wrote back in 1999.

‘Gemma, we’re going now. You be a good girl for Grampy, won’t you?’

Mrs Haines bent down and pecked a lipstick kiss onto her eight-year old daughter’s cheek. The smell of her perfume enveloped them both like an invisible scented cloud.

‘Don’t go out tonight, Mummy.’ Gemma begged, ’Pleeeeease.’

Gemma hated it when Mummy and Daddy went out for the evening and left her with Grampy. She didn’t like Grampy: he was old and scary and smelt of wee. She threw her arms around her mother’s legs to stop her going.

‘Now come on, darling, don’t be silly.’ Mrs Haines chided gently. She prised Gemma’s hands loose carefully so that the child’s nails didn’t ladder her stockings. Gemma burst into tears.

‘But if you go, Gary will come and set our house on fire.’ she whined.

‘What?’ Gemma’s mother was surprised. Gemma always played up when she and Richard were going out for the night, but then usually went and cuddled Big Ted and cried herself to sleep. This was a new tactic.

‘Gary said he’s going to set our house on fire.’ Gemma repeated.

‘Gemma, who’s Gary?’ Mrs Haines knelt down so that she could be face to face with her daughter.

‘A boy.’ Gemma mumbled.

‘From school?’

Gemma shrugged. Gary was just Gary, she didn’t know what school he went to. Mrs Haines gently held her daughter’s shoulders.

‘Answer me, Gemma. Is Gary from your school?’

‘I don’t know.’ the little girl answered in a small voice.

‘What’s his second name?’

‘I don’t know.’ she repeated.

This is serious, thought Mrs Haines. She would have to phone the school tomorrow.

‘Well, don’t worry, darling.’ she said in a reassuring voice, ‘I’ll talk to your teacher tomorrow and we’ll find this naughty boy, OK?’ Mrs Haines gave her daughter a hug and another kiss, and stood up to go.

‘Remember,’ she said, ‘Grampy’s here so nobody’s going to do anything to hurt you. Now say bye-bye to Daddy.’

Mr Haines had just come down the stairs and was standing by the front door, jingling the car keys.

‘Ready?’ he asked brightly.

‘Yes, let’s get going.’ his wife replied, preceding him out the front door. ‘You’ll never guess what Gemma just said to me.’

‘Tell me in the car.’ he said, ‘We’re late as it is’

Mummy hadn’t believed her. Gemma knew she wouldn’t. She had gone out with Daddy anyway just like she always did, and now she was all alone with Grampy with his wee smell and his cold hard hands.

The next day, Gemma’s teacher, Miss Bean, took her to one side.

‘Gemma,’ she said, ‘your Mummy’s just phoned and told me that you said a boy called Gary threatened to set your house on fire. Is this true?’

‘Yes, Miss Bean.’

‘Which Gary was it. Was it Gary Powell?’
Gemma shook her head.

‘Gary Summers?’

Again no.

‘Gary Hurst?’

‘No, Miss.’

‘Well, that’s all the Garys in the school, are you sure it was one of them?’

Gemma shrugged.

‘Would you recognise him if you saw him?’

Gemma shrugged again.

‘Gemma,’ Miss Bean said in her Serious voice. ‘You’re not making this up are you?’

‘No, Miss.’ Gemma replied.

‘Alright. Go and sit back down.’ Gemma did as she was told.

Miss Bean sighed as she watched the little girl return to her seat. The child was probably lying – she was certainly being evasive. Perhaps she was just looking for a bit of attention. It was a shame: she was such a bright child and a hard worker too.

Miss Bean decided she would phone the child’s mother and reassure her, encourage her to maybe lavish a little extra affection on the child for a few days, that should sort it out.

Gemma sat in her seat. Miss Bean was nice, but she couldn’t tell her about Gary. Gemma toyed with the idea of telling Miss Bean that it had been Gary Summers after all, who had made the threat, but she was an honest child at heart and didn’t want to get the boy into trouble for nothing. Perhaps Mummy and Daddy would stay at home tonight and she wouldn’t have to talk about Gary any more.

‘OK, Gemma, we’re going. Have you got a kiss for Mummy?’ Mrs Haines bent down and pecked a lipstick kiss Gemma’s on cheek, just like last night.

‘But Mummy,’ Gemma protested. ‘Gary’s coming!’

‘Now Gemma,’ said Mrs Haines firmly, ‘Miss Bean told me you made that story up.’ Miss Bean had not actually said that, but Mrs Haines was impatient to get away and could not think of a better way of putting it.

‘But it’s true!’ insisted Gemma, tears springing to her eyes.

‘Now settle down, or Mummy will get very cross.’ Mrs Haines said firmly. ‘Say bye-bye.’

Gemma said the hated words and watched her mother close the door.

A few moments later, she heard the car start up and drive away, carrying off the two people in the world that she wanted to have close by, that could keep her safe. Why wouldn’t they stay with her?

Not long after, Gemma noticed that Grampy had fallen asleep in the chair She tiptoed over to the little side table next to him.

She picked up the box of matches that Grampy used to light his smelly old pipe. She opened it, took out a match and struck it.

Gary’s coming, she whispered to herself, letting the burning match drop from her fingers.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Jubal - In the Wild

Here as threatened promised, is another one of my old cartoon strips, digitally remastered for your viewing pleasure.

Think Dungeons & Dragons....

Happy days...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What's in a Wordzzle

Again with the Wordzzles!  Created by Raven of Raven's Nest.

I reverted to a 5 word challenge this week, wuss that I am.

Challenge words are: bank, lotion, carpenter, slick, cheek

They were having some building work done at the bank and, as I approached, one of the builders – a carpenter of sorts by the look of him – appeared to nudge his fellow and whisper something. Now, I’m sick of this kind of thing happening. I mean, the cheek of people who think they can pass comment on others’ appearances in public like that! OK, I take good care of myself without being a slave to every new lotion or miracle cream that comes on the market, sure, but still… “Just who do you think you are!” I yelled, “keep you damn comments to yourself why don’t you?” His face was a picture of surprise. I guess he’d never been confronted before, ha! Just as I entered the building, my foot shot out from under me on the unexpectedly slick floor and down I went like a sack of mortified potatoes. “See?” The carpenter said to his mate. “Told you she wouldn’t see the ‘wet floor’ sign! Seriously, Stu, you need to reposition it before we get sued!”

And Harold (catchup link top right, folks)

India flung open the door before Harold even had a chance to ring the bell. He allowed his hand, with finger extended, to hang in the air for a moment for comic effect.

“Get in here, demon, and tell me everything that happened!” she barked.

“Pleased to see you too, Agent,” Harold replied, which earned him a Look.

Between them, and with many an irascible shouted instruction from Teatime, Harold and the little monkey had managed not only to get into the car (Mercury had the keys), but also to get it going and to pilot it back to Mr Teeth’s swiss-cheese house without crashing into anything or drawing unwanted attention from the police. Quite an achievement, Harold thought.

He recounted the night’s events in detail to India, a mug of steaming coffee in one hand. He purposefully left out anything about the two silvery cases he had liberated from the crashed truck. He wanted her to ask about them. When he was finished, she obliged him. She pointed to the silvery cases.

“What are those things, then?”

“Well,” replied Harold, lifting one on to the table and opening it, “they might just be the answer to our prayers.” He lifted a bundle of sleek, silvery material out of the case and shook it out for India to see.

“OK” she said carefully, eyes narrowed, “I’m seeing a fancy-looking oversize romper suit. How is going to help us?”

“This is what the guards who captured us – or should I say Prada – were wearing that allowed them to sneak up on us.” Harold explained.

“Seriously? They were dressed in a thing like that and you didn’t see them coming?”

Harold set aside the clothing and reached into the case a second time, lifting out an object the size and shape of a small backpack – complete with straps. “I think this is the power unit or something. When it’s switched on, you can’t be seen or heard, it’s really spooky!”

“Leaving aside for a moment the ironic fact that one of the Fallen thinks something’s spooky, how can we make use of it?” India had reached out and was rubbing the cloth between her thumb and forefinger, like it was a blouse she was considering purchasing.

“Well, I thought we might wear them and sneak back into Infinity Recycling, rescue our people, put an end to whatever’s going on and every one lives happy ever after.” Harold said, brightly.

“If I might inject a much-needed note of reality,” said Teatime, who had been watching. “Even with your magic suits, you can’t just waltz in there. There are still physical obstacles to overcome – locked doors and suchlike.”

“But, I can deal with those,” said Harold, “I – “

“Yes, old stick, I’m sure you can, given time.” Said the monkey patiently, “But don’t you think someone will notice a door opening all by itself – they’ve clearly got cameras all over the wretched place and probably heaps of guards. No, we’re going to need a diversion.”

“Actually, before we all rush down the road making plans,” said India, “we should probably make sure the suits actually work. We might need a special code to operate them or something. If we can’t get them switched on, there’s no use wasting time planning to use them.”

“You make an excellent point, Agent,” said Teatime. He turned to Harold, “Well, off you go old shoe.”

“You sure you want me to do this?” asked Harold.

“Well, the suit’s too big for the monkey, and if it goes bang or something, I’m not indestructible,” retorted India, “so, yes, demon, you get to do it.”

Harold was secretly rather pleased. He’d been itching to try out this clever bit of human technology. Yes, ok, he was a demon and many demons could and did make themselves invisible at will, but he’d never had the time to work on that – and probably never would now. He slipped off his jacket and began to undress down to his underwear. India took one look, blushed and stalked out of the room.

Harold grinned. Teatime sighed and rolled his eyes.

Harold wriggled into the romper suit which was quite stretchy when it came to it, and fitted his six-foot frame quite well. In addition to the suit, there were bootie-like things with soft soles, gloves and a ski-mask. Harold donned all of these.

“It’s safe to come back in now,” he called out to India. “I’m decent.”

“That’s something you’ll never be,” she muttered as she came back into the room.

“Aww, I’m hurt!” said Harold, mockingly, placing a hand over where his heart would be.. “Just when I thought we were beginning to get along and all.”

“Hmph!” was India’s only response. She walked over to the empty case and looked inside. “Hmm, I guess it was too much to hope that they’d leave a handy instruction booklet lying about.”

Harold had picked up the backpack-like object and was examining it.

“There’s a cable here,” he said, “Maybe it connects to the suit somehow.” He ran his hands over the suit until he found a hard lump in the collar of the romper suit. He teased it out between finger and thumb and slid the jack on the end of the cable into it until a soft click told him it was seated correctly.

“Am I invisible yet?” he asked.

“No.” chorused India and Teatime.

“Hmm, obviously, there’s a switch somewhere that’s easy to get to – it would need to be. There’s not one on the backpack, so it must be around here on the suit somewhere.” He put his arms through the straps and shrugged the backpack into place, being careful not to pull the connection apart. He cast his mind back to when the guards had first magically appeared. They had drawn weapons, but before that they’d been apparently clasping one wrist with the opposite hand.

“Got it!” he cried in triumph, pressing the small stud located on the left hand cuff.

He felt a soft vibration start up in the backpack. The biggest change though was that the world had suddenly been re-rendered in weird colours – all purples and greys in lower definition than normal.

“How bout now?” He turned round to see a look of utmost surprise on India’s face, and Teatime bolt upright on the table, his tiny teeth bared – an instinctive monkey reaction to the strange, no doubt.

“Very well, turn it off, turn it off, old sock!” urged Teatime, “We don’t want to run the battery down, do we?” Harold pressed the stud again. The vibration stopped and the world returned to normal colours.

Now he could see her again properly, Harold could not but help notice that India had gone very pale and very quiet.

“Agent? Are you alright?” he asked. “Shall I get you some water?”

“Turn it on again.” She said faintly.

Harold shrugged and did as he was told. The purple-o-vision bloomed silently, filling he field of view once more.

“OK, off again.” India’s voice was firmer now.

Harold complied.

“That is so weird,” she said, shaking her head.

“What is?” asked Harold. “Didn’t the suit work properly? Was I still visible?”

India wiped a hand across her forehead.

“Not only were you not visible, demon,” she replied grimly, “but my teeth stopped itching. I couldn’t sense you at all.”