In the summer of 1979, between dreaming of better tomorrows and finding a path to the rainbows, Sir Peter Ustinov could not help but fret about how intolerably hot it was. To make matters worse, the dratted mice were into everything. Mouse fur in the ice-cubes. Rodent scat on the tablecloth. Which was not particularly out of the ordinary, but the summer had been ever so much hotter than normal, and Peter’s temper was beginning to fray. His tenuous grasp on reality was, likewise, unravelling.
Sir Peter was so shocked at discovering that whole waterways had dried up, he thought nothing of the cuckoo in full post-master’s uniform who fell from the sky and crashed on to his picnic table, nor the coveralled badger who abused frogs while he busied himself with the task of cajoling reluctant streams and consoling anxious creeks; rivers and tributaries refusing to come out of their springs for fear of disappearing into great holes in the sea.
‘Once we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our mind,’ Sir Peter told the frightened river, ‘our duty is to furnish it well.’ But the river was not a hermit at heart, and after he was told how important it was that he should go out that afternoon, as usual, and told how all the animals and flowers were in trouble without him, he began to come around to the idea of flowing once more. ‘Besides,’ Sir Peter explained, ‘if you don’t go out, you will never meet the sea!’
But even then, once at the sea, the scale of the river’s fears became evident.
A pogo-umbrella-duck journey through the ocean and a master-class in inter-species diplomacy involving the French king of some obscure colonial outpost and a misunderstood Big Dipper Bunny Beast lead Sir Peter and his entourage to take a most disturbing journey within the guts of a giant whale. And still those blasted mice continued to trouble Sir Peter! ‘If only that incompetent Miss Nettles or useless old pile of scrap metal, Matilda Junkbottom, would call an exterminator,’ thought Sir Peter.
Along the way, Cockney shark messengers alerted Uncle Bill (a.k.a. Jack Albertson as “Grandpa Joe”) to Sir Peter’s impending arrival and soon after the champagne was flowing in a worryingly half-flooded lobster submarine, and pretty soon things had descended into a hasty lesson in flying fish flying, a chat with the Cosmic Cat and a trip into outer-space on Dreamy Boom-boom.
Things get sloppy after this in Sir Peter’s memory. Carting polluted water across the galaxy with his coal-powered spaceship because the aliens who stole it no longer wanted it and dumping it into the Earth’s oceans so that his old friend, a giant camel living in the clouds with a herd of sheep, could have a cup of tea? Oh, Sir Peter!
Amundsen Bryggeri Intergalactic Thunder Juice NEIPA
Amundsen Bryggeri, Oslo, Norway