Friday, 16 March 2012

Five Minutes a Day: Six (The Travelling Salesman)

The Travelling Salesman

We’d been walking for six days, Bell, Barker and I. Six days trudging along this sandy road. It was, as I’m sure you can imagine, with great surprise that we greeted the sight of a large mahogany trestle table. It was just standing there, by the side of the road. As we approached, we saw that it was covered in small, shallow boxes. Behind it stood a man, tall and comically thin - a fact that his brightly-coloured cape, which fell in pleats over his shoulder, did little to conceal.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen!” he called as we approached.

“Is it?” Barker asked.

“It is, most certainly, my good fellow. For you have had the enormous good fortune to stumble across the finest travelling merchant currently this side of the River Tor.”

It was quite a relief to see this man. Our provisions were running low. It would be a good chance to stock up on food. It suddenly occurred to me that the mahogany table was slightly impractical for a travelling merchant.

“I can see” he said, twirling his moustache, “from your expression that you’re admiring my table.”


“And you’re right, my boy. A mahogany trestle table would be a tad cumbersome for your conventional travelling merchant. Not exactly conducive to travel.”

He rapped on the table with his knuckles.

“But this is no mahogany table.”

He winked.

“It’s teak with a varnish.”

We didn’t really know what to say to this.

“I surmise that you pray I am a purveyor of comestibles?”

“No, we’d hoped that you’d sell us some food” piped Bell.

“Forgive my friend,” I said. “He’s not the sharpest arrow in the quiver.”

“I’m not an arrow.” Bell said, indignantly.

“Well, you’re in luck,” the merchant said, addressing Bell. “For this week only, I have decided to diversify my skills base; I am a travelling baker.”

With a flourish, he reached onto the table and opened one of the shallow boxes.

“Behold!” he said “The Victorian Sponge.”

“Don’t you mean Victoria Sponge?” asked Barker.

“No, this is a Victorian Sponge. Two layers of vanilla sponge, with a filling of jam, cream, colonialism, the o-ppression of women, re-pression of men, and an o-bsession with ‘cleanliness’.”

He leapt forward, grabbing another box.

“Or if that’s not your proverbial cup of tea, how about a Rainforest Gateau? Chocolate, cream, cherries, and high rates of specific endemism.”

He grabbed another box, and offered it towards us

“Cinnamon Mobius Strip?”

He picked up another

“Billionaire’s Shortbread?”

Barker stood forwards.

“What’s that?” he asked, pointing towards a small, round cake

“A cupcake.” The merchant said, dismissively.

“Could we take three of those?” I asked.

“Of course, sir. Excellent choice” the merchant replied, “Can I interest you in a beverage to accompany your victuals?”

“He has a wife.” Bell chimed.

I gestured apologetically.

“What do you stock?”

“I have Lemonade, Lime aid, Cherryade, Live aid, Colonade, Arcade, Balustrade, Crusade, Escapade, Brocade, Masquerade, and Edmondson, Ade.”

“What’s that?” asked Barker, picking up a bottle.

“That,” the merchant said “Is invisibility potion.”

“What is it really?” I asked.


Bell began to drink.

“and dog’s urine.”


I probably won't have time to write over the weekend; I'm going to be taking part in a twenty-four hour film-making challenge. I'll start posting again on Monday, hopefully.

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