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Don't Ask Me What This Even Is...

Pros snippet, inspired by ushobwri (You Should Be Writing) asking its members for comic/funny snippets and stories.

This is not a fic. It's barely even a snippet. It's not even really *writing*, just me telling an old joke using Ray and Bodie.

I have no idea if this even works. Tell me what you think?

Fandom: The Professionals
Characters: Bodie and Doyle
Gen. PG.
Humour

Un-Beta'ed. Untitled.

Ray leaned over the back of the rest-room sofa to pass Bodie – who was lying there like Lord Muck, with his head propped against one arm, feet against the other – a mug of builder’s tea, the way he liked it, milky and thick with sugar; and two Bourbon Creams which had by some miracle been left at the bottom of the packet. Bodie dropped the magazine he had been browsing, open, into his lap to leave his hands free for mug and biscuits, and Ray saw that it was the single copy of National Geographic that had appeared among the random assorted magazines and newspapers which habitually littered the table. The open pages displayed a double-page spread of illustrations: various extinct birds, Dodos, Moas, Terror Birds, and the like.

He made a long arm for his own mug and perched one bum-cheek on the back of the sofa – his thigh almost brushing Bodie’s head – and leaned over to have a closer look. “The names they give these things! Will you look at that one?!” He reached over to poke the relevant picture where the magazine rested on Bodie’s thigh. “The Elephant Bird, for God’s sake. And they’re s’posed to be scientists naming these things.” He took a long slurp of his own tea then cleared his throat.

Bodie looked up at him, expectantly. “Yes? Something to say, Raymond?”

In his best diction, Ray recited, as if it were Shakespeare or one of Bodie’s poets, “Ah-hum. The elephant is a graceful bird – it flies from bough to bough. It builds its nest in the rhubarb tree and whistles like a cow!”

To Ray’s immense pleasure, Bodie choked on his tea and had to use his handkerchief to mop up. “Give over you… berk. I’ve spat tea all over this now.” He slapped Ray’s thigh.

Unseen, Ray grinned, as he remembered another old joke. “Make me think of the Rare-y Bird, that lot do.”

“The what, now?” Bodie looked up, apparently honestly confused.

Ray hid his grin in his mug. Oh, if Bodie did not know the story… all he had to do now was keep a straight face. “The Rare-y Bird. It had one of those Greek or Latin nomen-whatsits, but that’s what they ended up calling it. Cos it was rare, y’see. Only one ever known about. This guy, bird-bloke, orni-whatyamacallit—“

“Ornithologist,” Bodie corrected him.

Better and better. “Yeah. That. Anyway, he lived in the middle of nowhere, forget where – You sure you never read about this?”

Bodie shook his head, looking at Ray, even while he dunked a Bourbon in his tea.

“Well he dies and leaves his collection to a museum – eggs and stuffed things and a bloody great aviary. And this massive great bird, nearly as big as some of them,” Ray indicated the magazine, “that’s a complete unknown to science. It’s a meat-eater but flightless – like a cross between an eagle and an ostrich or something. And the weirdest thing – whether cos it was captive bred or something, I dunno - it talks. Like a parrot. Anyway, they get it back and it’s got this voracious appetite. Never seems full. Bit like you—“

“Oi!” The slap to his thigh came again and actually stung this time.

“Sorry.” Ray rubbed his nose. “Well, you know... It’s eating them out of house and home. And they show it to the public and have a collection and stuff, but that soon runs out and they aren’t making enough from it to feed it so they just can’t afford to keep it – this is going back a few years, you know? Passenger Pigeon and Tasmanian Wolf went extinct in me Dad’s lifetime – anyway, they can’t let it free, they reckon, in case it goes after some farmer’s sheep or kills a kid or something. So they decide – I guess they tried everything else first – but they decide they have to put it down.”

“They didn’t!”

Ray sniffed and shrugged, willing himself not to crack up. “Did. But well, they’re soft gits, really. Don’t fancy shooting or injecting this thing they’ve been looking after, what says ‘Hello!’ when they go into its cage. And the best they can come up with, is drive it out to the coast and push it off a cliff somewhere a bit deserted.”

A suspicious look – finally. “You’re having me on.”

As seriously as he could, Ray shook his head. “No, really, that’s what they decided to do.”

“Did they go through with it?”

“Yep. Got it out there in an old army truck, opened the back and got ready to give it the old heave-ho. And the Rare-y Bird looks at them and looks at the sheer drop and says,” he paused for a moment, “‘It’s a long way to tip a Rare-y!” Even as he said the last word, Ray was up off the sofa and across the room, laughing at his own joke as usual.

Bodie put his mug and the magazine down with slow deliberation. “I. Am. Going,” he got to his feet, “to get you for that!”

But Ray was already out the door.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
byslantedlight
Sep. 16th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, very cute! *g* I can totally see Doyle so chuffed to tell Bodie a tall story he's never heard before - I do get the impression it's usually the other way around!

And I would say it was a ficlet... *g* (It tells a complete story, after all, so it's definitely a fic!)

Thank you - just the thing to go to bed on!
natsuko1978
Sep. 16th, 2014 10:08 pm (UTC)
Thank *you*. :D The naff pun of the punch-line seemed far more Doyle's sense of humour ("All the nudes that's fit to print", "9-W" etc) than Bodie's, which is why I gave him the joke. (Bodie doesn't seem so... naff, IMO. You know?)

I'm not happy with the "end", though. It needs editing and character work to even be a ficlet IMO, though I'm glad you enjoyed it! And as it's two-thirds Old Joke, I feel uncomfortable saying, "Here's a thing what I wrote," you know? (I also have a vision of them both, later on, in the Capri, ear-wormed with "It's A Long Way to Tipperary" and driving each other insane. :D)
byslantedlight
Sep. 17th, 2014 07:44 am (UTC)
It needs editing and character work to even be a ficlet IMO
But that's conflating two things - the quality of the work (how happy you are with it) and the format of the work. It could be awful writing (which it isn't) and it'd still be a "ficlet". For example: I'd say it wasn't a "fic" because it's short, it's not a "snippet" because it's complete, and it's not a drabble because it's not 100 words exactly. None of that has anything to do with whether the characterisation is any good! *g*

It's certainly a thing that you wrote, because although the joke might be old as the hills (and how many jokes aren't?!) we borrow jokes (and plots and the lads' characterisation and setting) all the time for stories. I'm certainly not saying I didn't write 'Just Enough Rope' because I had Bodie telling a well-known joke in it (and used someone else's characters and universe etc). Even Shakespeare did that, if you want to go with the cliched argument! *g* As long as the way we have the characters tell those jokes is our original writing, and not copied from someone else, then it's a thing what I wrote.

Okay, there's bits of it I'd beta, but I'd say that about almost any story, including my own (I fiddle and fiddle!). You could certainly post this now to the_safehouse and many people would love it (bear in mind we're not quite as big a fandom as Sherlock, of course... *g*)

And hee - I agree about Doyle being a bit more naff in his sense of humour, bless 'im. It's one of the things I like about them - neither of them is a superhero, they're just ordinary blokes with all their flaws and sillinesses... *g*

Edited at 2014-09-17 07:45 am (UTC)
natsuko1978
Sep. 20th, 2014 07:31 pm (UTC)
None of that has anything to do with whether the characterisation is any good! *g* - My worry was less the quality - though that too! - and more the quantity: whether there is *enough* Bodie and Doyle and interaction around the joke.

Okay, there's bits of it I'd beta - Such as...?

(bear in mind we're not quite as big a fandom as Sherlock, of course... *g*) - Thank God - Sherlock fandom is terrifying. 100 fics-a-week on AO3 at one point. *Too* big!

I still don't feel comfortable posting this - or anything unbetaed - to a comm, but thank you so much for your support! Look - I've unlocked it! :)
byslantedlight
Sep. 20th, 2014 11:26 pm (UTC)
Sorry I've been so rubbish about getting back to you - my life at the moment is even more all over the place than usual (though I feel like I'm always saying that, it hasn't usually involved having to move house twice in a row - well, not for years...) So...

whether there is *enough* Bodie and Doyle and interaction around the joke
Enough for what, I suppose would be my question. Is there enough for people to enjoy reading it? Yes, I'd say so, cos I did. *g* Is there enough to make it a big thing about developing character and plot and so on (okay, I must have read that in another post of yours, cos it's not below in answer to MLM after all! Or the other bit that I was going to reply to! Right - I shall go and find that in a minute, now I'm all awake and not working and in front of the computer and all... *g*)

Okay, there's bits of it I'd beta - Such as...?
That's cheating... *g* I'd have to actually do a beta to tell you that - and I'm a pernickety beta, so you probably wouldn't like it anyway *g* But for instance...
Bodie dropped the magazine he had been browsing, open, into his lap to leave his hands free for mug and biscuits, and Ray saw that it was the single copy of National Geographic that had appeared among the random assorted magazines and newspapers which habitually littered the table.
I'd probably cut slightly to Bodie dropped his magazine into his lap to leave his hands free for mug and biscuits, a copy of National Geographic that had unexpectedly appeared among the usual litter of the table.
Because if Bodie's dropped a magazine then we know he's been browsing it, because what else would he be doing, so you don't need to tell us. And why do we care whether it's open at this point - you tell us much more effectively and to the point in a few sentences. "Unexpectedly" sums up much of the rest of your sentence without feeling as if we're being told what's on the table, and readers don't (usually) like being told things if they can imagine/figure it out for themselves instead, which makes them feel clever = happy.

See - pernickety. *g* But it depends what people want from a beta - I've had people who've really just wanted "It's ace!" and people who say that like me they want to know everything people might blink at (not that it means then/I won't blink when someone/me tells them...) and people who've ignored things I've suggested and people who really just want the corrections done for them, and everything in between...

Out of curiousity, if you don't feel comfortable posting something unbetad to a comm, why not ask for a beta...? *g*

But yeay - unlocked! Wee steps at a time - well, I say that cos it's what I do... *g*
natsuko1978
Sep. 23rd, 2014 12:34 pm (UTC)
Out of curiousity, if you don't feel comfortable posting something unbetad to a comm, why not ask for a beta...? *g*

Because I don't know anyone in this fandom well enough to ask. I do like a beta to be more than SPAG but I also need someone who I know gets *me* and has a feel for the story that is in my head which I'm trying to get on paper. While I am the first to admit I can have problems with pacing and structure, some choices of detail and words and not being minimalist are part of what makes my writing *by me* - my style and my voice. With a beta I know I can also say (or they can tell) when that "extra" is my *choice* - and thus feel comfortable taking some advice and leaving others, you know?

I don't believe I'm ace so won't believe anyone who tells me that - "Only God gets A's!" as my old English teacher used to say - and with anything I write I have a list of worries as long as my arm, but I've had betas not *get* what I was trying to do and make me paranoid that I'm not achieving *anything*.

Which relates to your beta question in the other post: betas are great at helping with the details, but most of them cannot help with the big picture stuff, such as a very necessary scene, which they feel is boring; or how to make three story threads - say: Bodie's past, Bodie and Doyle getting together, and a case - braid into a single fic.

To me, a relationship with a good beta is very much a partnership and you can't partner strangers. Does that make sense? My past betas have been people for whom I have beta'ed previously, or people with whom I have co-written.
byslantedlight
Sep. 23rd, 2014 12:47 pm (UTC)
Fair enough - it takes time to get to know people to the different levels we all want... *g* Have you seen the list of betas over at ci5hq? It's not been updated for a while, but it might give you an idea of what people are about, who and how and that sort of thing, for when you do feel as if you know people a bit better.

Sounds pretty much what I'd want from a beta! *g* I can't remember what I said in the other post, or if we were talking about someone in particular, but I reckon a good beta will understand that someone's put in a scene for a reason, even if they don't feel it works the way it is, and be able to suggest ways to change it to fit both not-boring (!) and what the writer wants to do... Some people use different betas for different aspects of a story, depending on their strengths - but of course you need to get to know people to find out what those are, as well!

"Only God gets A's!" as my old English teacher used to say
Ha - untrue! (And among other things, I work in education, and assessment... *g*) People can absolutely get As - it doesn't mean their work is god-like, but it means they've done at least the best it's felt should be achievable. I've suffered teachers at various levels who've said that - I end up thinking they're afraid to feel as if they've been surpassed...

sc_fossil
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:22 am (UTC)
*snirk* I enjoyed that and the punch line. It was funny. I could see Bodie's face when Doyle says the punch line. Nothing wrong with this snippet at all, from my POV. :)
natsuko1978
Sep. 19th, 2014 08:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
moonlightmead
Sep. 17th, 2014 10:02 am (UTC)
Haha, nice one!

Why is it not a fic? How might it not work? It is the lads, and it is in character, and it is complete in itself and has a start and a middle and an end, and it is funny. Also, it may be an old joke, but I have never heard it before :)

There is no reason to keep this locked, honestly.
natsuko1978
Sep. 19th, 2014 09:20 pm (UTC)
You've never heard the story of the rare-y bird?! /incredulous.

Why is it not a fic? How might it not work? Since you asked, things I was worried about:
- there being no point to this except the joke: no reveal, no character development, no story etc;
- whether Bodie is *there* or just a foil to the joke (also, would he ever buy it??);
- whether B and D are in character or just two faceless talking heads;
- whether I captured Ray's voice, or the voice of the person who told me this joke some 30 years ago (my Dad);
- the end still bugs me...

Glad you found it funny, though. :)
moonlightmead
Sep. 20th, 2014 08:13 am (UTC)
Never heard it, no!

And nothing wrong with stories that are jokes. I think it's entirely in character for them to be good at telling shaggy dog stories and dreadful jokes. Especially on long drives and stakeouts and when they're bored in the rest room.
natsuko1978
Sep. 20th, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I was - am - so nervous about this - thanks for being so tolerant and reassuring. And look - unlocked.
moonlightmead
Sep. 21st, 2014 10:56 am (UTC)
Yay!
sunray45
Sep. 22nd, 2014 12:01 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you unlocked this as I have had a rotten day and this has perked me up considerably.

You have the Lad's banter down perfectly. I can just hear them talking like this, and that joke! I've not heard it before either, so thank you.
natsuko1978
Sep. 23rd, 2014 04:06 am (UTC)
Thank *you*, so glad you liked it and thrilled that it could perk you up. :) Hope you had a better day today.

I'm wondering when and where my dad got the joke from as so few people know it...
murphybabe
Sep. 23rd, 2014 08:57 pm (UTC)
Haha - that was really funny! Like others, I hadn't heard it before either. I liked the whole thing. I liked your characterisation, I liked the pace of the whole thing and I liked the shape of it all. Great! Thanks for making it available via the newsletter. Might you put it somewhere like the Safehouse?
natsuko1978
Sep. 24th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
I feel like scuffing a shoe, rubbing the back of my neck and saying, "Aw, shucks!"

Thank you so much for such kind praise - I'm so glad this little ficlet worked for you!

As I said above, I'm not comfortable posting this anywhere else at the moment. It took me several days to take the f'lock off! Like my other Pros posts, I'm not ready to go to comm or archives, yet.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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