THE UNREASONABLE MONSTER
Sometime round about the early 1960’s a monster ran a market stall. A man he was, yet most certainly a monster. A monster of monstrous unreason! A monstrous monstrosity of a man who mons-terrified the poor shoppers of Buxton Market Square every Saturday… and every Tuesday... and most Thursdays... and sometimes on days you didn’t expect him to be there. Now how exactly can we reasonably describe this paragon of unreason?
Well, he was a towering, imposing, domineering, overbearing seven feet tall, a mass of folds, flab and hair. His black eyes glistened like tiny shiny pebbles on a moonlit beach, set so deep that you felt they could always see you better than you could see them. His fat square face was armoured by a beard which resembled hundreds of squashed nails, while his black, thick greasy hair splashed unkemptly around his forehead. He was bordering on obese, with arms like huge oak trunks smothered in dough, and the fat on his stomach bounced and rolled like oily jelly. It was rumoured that the Unreasonable Monster had a penchant for drinking Creme Eggs suspended in Guinness, and that his behaviour would be all the more unreasonable after drinking several pints of this mixture.
No indeed, the Unreasonable Monster did not look like someone you could ever reason with if he didn’t feel like it (which was usually), and he had become nastier and grouchier and more aggressive as the years had rolled on. I think personally that he saw unreason as an art form, and we shall see later how this seems to be so.
The Unreasonable Monster proved that looking as unreasonable as possible goes a long way in the quest to actually be unreasonable. It gave him a head start – few folks dared to stand up to him and most of us would be too scared to look him in the eye – particularly to complain! Even if at the time he was knocking or slapping you with his slabs of hands – which was something the Unreasonable Monster often did and found most enjoyable, particularly to complete strangers who had done absolutely nothing to offend him. If an unfortunate victim dared, for instance, to reply,
“Why are you hitting me and what have I ever done to you?” he would grunt,
“Question One – because I felt like it! Question Two – existed!”
Certainly no-one in their right mind would have dared to hit him back and if you saw him you’d know exactly what I mean. As you can see, reason itself was a useless weapon against the Unreasonable Monster, as the more reasonable your arguments were the more he enjoyed being unreasonable back.
The example of Syd Phillips and his ten-year-old son Bob is a case in point…
Every Saturday the Unreasonable Monster ran his stall in Buxton Market Square. The market opening hours were 8.30am to 5.30pm, but usually he would arrive at the crack of dawn to set up, and the other traders would be umming and ahhing about whether they could face turning up for work today. Occasionally they opted for the easy life and stayed at home. Sometimes the Unreasonable Monster would fancy a lie-in and turn up at about 10.30 to find every place taken. On these occasions he would go up very close to the face of another trader, slide his bottom teeth over his huge upper lip, brandish his knuckles and then jabbing his thumb back over his shoulder would say, “MOVE!” until the other trader packed up and trudged home.
He would also harass them to make sure they weren’t selling what he was selling – which was mainly cheap plastic toys and the occasional teddy bear or doll. Most of his goods were rubbish (you’d be lucky if they lasted a week!) and some were downright distasteful – such as the teddy bear he once sold to some poor kid. It had a button lodged under the fur on its back which said,
‘Press me, and I will speak to you!’
The poor kid would have pressed the button, but instead of speaking, the teddy bear’s head sprang forward before you could say ‘unreasonable’ and butted him on the chin! The boy’s father, who shall for obvious reasons remain nameless, actually summoned up the courage to report this outrage to the Police and the Department of Trading Standards, but nothing ever got done about it, and the Unreasonable Monster fobbed them off with some story about how it wasn’t his fault if he’d been sold faulty goods. In truth the local Police, just like the other market traders who would mutter under their breaths about how they couldn’t stand him but couldn’t do anything about it because he wasn’t actually doing anything illegal, were scared of him too! The Department of Trading Standards as well for that matter!
Anyway, we must get to Syd Phillips and his son Bob. One Saturday in 1964 Syd and Bob were browsing the Buxton Market, when a particularly smart-looking teddy bear caught Bob’s eye. Bob dropped some pretty strong hints in a round about way that this teddy bear would make a fantastic eleventh birthday present (his next birthday was just around the corner). Syd said he wasn’t sure as money was tight and it would depend how much it cost, but they decided to take a closer look anyway. They were too engrossed with the bear to notice the Unreasonable Monster slumped idly in a leather chair behind the counter. He looked bored and he looked irritated. From what little you could see of his face among the piles and hills of hair that adorned it, it was obvious he was frowning. Now Syd Phillips was a gentle, slight man of about 5’6” and no match for the bulk of the bearded giant. It would have surprised no-one who knew the Unreasonable Monster when he leapt like lightning from his chair and grabbed the hapless Syd by the scruff of his neck and shouted,
“Er, yes, well, um, well, how much is that teddy bear over there?” asked Syd.
“NOT FOR SALE!” roared the Unreasonable Monster.
By now Syd was scared and in some pain and just wanted to buy something cheap to get away from this madman.
“W-W-Well what about the plastic machine gun then?” he uttered.
“DITTO!” snorted the Unreasonable Monster.
Finding rising courage Syd told the Unreasonable Monster he couldn’t see anything else he’d be interested in buying... then almost immediately wished he hadn’t.
The Unreasonable Monster inhaled a huge angry wheeze and blurted,
“GOT NO CHOICE, MATE! BUY SUMMAT! B – U – Y!!”
Poor Bob was by this time becoming very afraid for his Dad and felt his hackles rising at this outrageous brute. He was right to be scared as the Unreasonable Monster tightened his grip on Syd’s jacket collar and drew back a huge fist as if to plant an almighty smacker right between his eyes. He was just about to pummel him when Syd shouted,
“OK! OK! I’ll buy something – anything, whatever!”
However, every time Syd and Bob (who was becoming more and more angry with this bearded bully) made a suggestion as to what they’d like to buy, the response was always the same, whether it was the set of plastic cutlery, the rubber bouncy ball, the build-your-own paper aeroplane Origami set, and so on and so on…
“NOT FOR SALE! ‘OW MANY TIMES DO I ‘AVE TO TELL ‘YER!”
…and every time he said it the Unreasonable Monster was being more and more threatening – as unreasonable as even he had ever been in his life. Finally, young Bob said,
“What can we buy then, if none of this is for sale?! Seems unfair to…”
“SHUUUUUUDUP!” barked the Unreasonable Monster as if he had been badly insulted. He continued,
“APPLES AND ORANGES!”
“R-right,” stuttered Syd who just wanted to go home and forget this nightmare,
“A p-p-pound of apples, please!”
“Got none.” grumbled the Unreasonable Monster.
“A p-p-p-pound of oranges then, if you please, sir!”
“Sold out!” huffed the Unreasonable Monster.
Bob couldn’t believe his ears and the situation dawned on him – you weren’t allowed to buy anything that WAS there yet what you were allowed to buy WASN’T there and if you didn’t buy anything at all you were going to get knocked into the middle of next week by the nastiest piece of work you’d ever met!
Eyes glinting and beard bristling, the Unreasonable Monster pulled poor Syd right up to his face and drew back his knuckles, grunting,
“Right! I’m gonna count to ten, and if you haven’t bought anything by then I’ll knock you halfway to London and yer lad’ll do some cleaning for me – ONE!”
“But how can I buy anything?!!” panicked poor old Syd Phillips who was now
“when there’s nothing to buy and there’s no oranges and…”
“BUTTON IT, CRETIN! – TWO!”
“Look” said Syd, “here’s two quid – just take the money if that’s what you want.”
But as Syd took a handful of coins from his pocket the Unreasonable Monster unclenched his fist and slapped the money to the floor.
“DON’T WANT IT! – THREE!”
“I’ll get the law on your for this.”
“I’ll have you for assault I tell you!” Syd had nothing to lose now.
Something snapped in Bob and he scrambled furiously onto the counter and tried to pull his Dad away from the Unreasonable Monster, but found a huge hand had gripped his jumper and lifted him several feet off the ground. The Master of Unreason now held Syd and Bob, one in each giant palm.
“SIX!” bellowed the Unreasonable Monster.
Pause that seemed like years.
“SEVEN!” he screamed.
“EIGHT, PRATS!” he snarled, now thoroughly enjoying himself and lips twisted into a kind of smile.
Bob decided there was nothing to lose anyway and started insulting the Unreasonable Monster, calling him a hairy ogre and an ugly monster and the worst person he’d ever met and the fattest person he’d ever seen and the foulest-smelling person he’d ever smelt and…
Bob closed his eyes and scrunching up his tense body said his prayers. He expected to wake up several days later with cartoon stars buzzing around his head, but to his surprise felt himself being lowered roughly to the ground. After what seemed an age he found the courage to open his eyes once more. He saw his poor old Dad about twenty feet away groaning in pain and holding his nose. The Unreasonable Monster, who was now packing up his stall and looked ready to leave, had clobbered him good and proper. Soon the other market traders gathered around Syd Phillips to see if he was alright, and they were saying things like,
“Happens every week – he should be locked up!”
“Ruddy disgraceful, it shouldn’t be allowed!”
“No excuse for it!”
“Sooner he’s out of here the better!”
But for all their indignation none of the other traders had tried to stop the Unreasonable Monster during Syd and Bob’s ordeal. This was because they were too scared and made excuses to each other like,
“Best keep out of his way.”
“Nothing we can do.”
“He’s beyond reasonin’ with.”
This way they made each other feel better about not doing anything to stop the Unreasonable Monster, and it was the same thing week in, week out. Deep down they felt guilty because they knew that if everyone in this sleepy town clubbed together…
Bob, despite being only ten years old, also knew this and decided that if they wouldn’t do anything, then he was going to stop the Unreasonable Monster from terrorising the shoppers of Buxton!
It was the last week of school before the summer holidays - Bob turned eleven on the Tuesday and his present was a brand new leather football which had claret and blue panels in homage to his favourite team, Aston Villa. However he didn’t play with it much that week or with anything else for that matter. The easy last week at school rolled by uneventfully with Bob taking little notice of what was going on around him. Every night poor Syd had his nose tended to with an ice pack from Bob’s Mum Norma and the pain from the Unreasonable Monster’s wallop eventually subsided into the ether.
Anyway, I suppose you want to know how Bob was going to go about stopping the Unreasonable Monster. Well, he thought about it and he pondered and he scratched his head and he picked his nose and he looked out the window in class and he reflected and he turned his mind over and over again searching for an ingenious plan and he didn’t find one. It was going to be hard work – good job the summer holidays were here!
...In fact Bob never did come up with an ingenious plan but he did work incredibly hard and the result was this.
(For residents of central Buxton only)
IMAGINE BOB’S DRAWING OF THE UNREASONABLE MONSTER BELOW.
Calling all residents………..calling all residents………………..
Do you want to get rid of this bearded bully?
Are you fed up that he hits and threatens people every week?
Have you had enough of his rudeness?
Do you want this man out of town?
If so, meet at the Methodist Church Hall at 4.30 am next Sunday morning.
Bob had scraped together nearly a thousand flyers and then crept out of the house in the middle of the night and put them through people’s doors, including his own. He didn’t want his parents to know he was behind it. He had hand-written and drawn every single one – he’d had absolutely no cash to spend on photocopying (which was still quite an impressive technology in the 1960’s) or printing. Sometimes he used the back of flyers advertising local events like flower shows or plays which he’d managed to pick up on shopping trips with his parents. Another time he tore down a giant poster advertising a concert in Manchester which was peeling off a blackened wall, and cut it into thirty parts. Lined pads, plain pads and even tissue paper made up the rest. Bob had certainly been handed a lucky break one afternoon a few days after breaking up for summer.
A friend of the family, the local Methodist minister Reverend Trimble-Tumble Mungbean-Brown had come round for a cup of tea. With Norma in the kitchen Bob found himself all alone with the Reverend, and already feeling awkward he felt even worse when a half-written flyer tumbled onto the floor right in front of the man’s eyes. At this stage Bob had some half-baked plot, but a drawing which was unmistakably of the Unreasonable Monster sent the Reverend into a wild, silent excitement. He jumped up and down on the sofa, arms flailing, legs cavorting, and hair flying everywhere around his contorted face. The Reverend knew and intensely disliked the Unreasonable Monster and at that moment an understanding passed between them. However absurd you may or may not find their theological views, like most men of the cloth Mungbean-Brown was not wanting when it came to courage. Hence the loan of the Methodist Church Hall for the all-important meeting, and the active part he was determined to play! Significantly, he also happened to know where the Unreasonable Monster lived…
It was 4.20 am on a fresh Sunday morning and eleven-year-old Bob Phillips and the Reverend Trimble-Tumble Mungbean-Brown were rubbing their hands over a wholly inadequate radiator in a draughty Methodist Church Hall. A few hand-drawn posters of the Unreasonable Monster were dotted around the hall, with the words Time to take action! written underneath. It wasn’t looking good. Not one person had turned up. 4.25 am. Still no-one. Same at 4.35!
“Never mind,” said Mungbean-Brown to a thoroughly downcast Bob, “we’ll find some other way, son. Let’s give it another ten minutes and then I suppose we’d better turn in.”
At about 4.43 am the Reverend Mungbean-Brown was about three seconds away from switching off the lights and calling it a day when he and Bob heard a shuffle of feet in the foyer. A bald head and toothless mouth appeared at the hall entrance.
“I thought you’d copped out, Fenton!” barked the Reverend.
“Not me, Tamber-Tumber,” said the man affably…
“Trimble-Tumble!” corrected the Reverend snappily.
“If yer like,” said the bald man. “Anyway, I’ve brought almost the entire male population ‘o’ Compton Road wi’ me. A few ‘o’ the ladies as well.”
64 men, 18 women and 12 adolescents tumbled into the hall, many sporting bruises recently acquired at the hands of the Unreasonable Monster. There was a hubbub which levelled off quickly on account of the hour, and the Reverend spoke,
“I think you all know why we are here. Young Bob here has drawn up a petition.
We, the undersigned, it says, demand that you, hereafter known as the ‘Unreasonable Monster’, never again work in Buxton Market Square - or in any part of town for that matter - that you never again threaten, harass or bully any fellow member of the public. Failure to sign this formal agreement will lead to immediate and effective physical action against you. We, the citizens of Buxton, therefore ask you, the ‘Unreasonable Monster’, to sign at once…
We march upon his house at 12.00 pm sharp. In the meantime we’ll stay here and discuss tactics. Those of you who don’t feel up to facing him better leave now. I’ve got six kettles on the go in the back room if anybody wants a cup of tea…”
One by one the 96 people present signed the petition and chatted and drank tea. Some nodded off and one or two snored while others bit their nails and prayed they wouldn’t be singled out for a pummelling by the Unreasonable Monster come noon!
But not one of them, perhaps inspired or shamed by the bravery and effort of young Bob Phillips, gave in to cowardice and trudged home. As if Bob wasn’t proud enough already, at 9.37 am, in walked his parents Norma and Syd! A thousand odd flyers, 98 people! Not brilliant, but surely too many even for the Unreasonable Monster!
The Unreasonable Monster yawned and stretched and went over to his bedroom window. It was 11.10. He’d overslept a little. It didn’t matter; everything was prepared. It had been for days. Showering vigorously and changing into his best suit, shirt and tie, the Unreasonable Monster couldn’t stop laughing for 10 minutes solid. And if you’ve never heard the Unreasonable Monster laugh, well I can tell you it is indeed a singular and somewhat brutal noise. A din! A racket! A cacophony ! A riot of discordant rumbles! Bits of housework were all that was left to do, and as he was doing it, those huge hams of hands clutching a dainty and vulnerable dustpan, he continued to snigger away in snorts and snuffles. Without the sight of his sneering smile that made a tiny cleft in his black forest of a beard, anyone hearing him chuckle softly would have imagined a wild pig in a state of permanent ambivalence. He opened the dining room door and had another peek to wallow in his fine work. He could hardly wait. To stay calm, he went and lounged on the sofa, his giant frame wrapped around the cushions and arms like a throw carelessly tossed and abandoned. He decided to read his favourite book, Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Age of Reason. It was his favourite book because he disagreed with almost everything that the author espoused. He would mutter interjections such as ‘what a load of crap’ or ‘he’s talking out of his backside’, and he enjoyed doing this very much. He even found it badly written in places, so thought that having it as his favourite book was deliciously unreasonable. As the Unreasonable Monster sighed a hoarse and exasperated ‘what on earth is he going on about now?’ he glanced up at his clock. It said five minutes to twelve.
It wasn’t often that 98 people were walking the streets of Buxton, Derbyshire on a Sunday lunchtime in 1964 but that’s exactly what a couple of bemused passers-by saw as an eccentric Methodist vicar led his flock seemingly away from the House of the Lord. The Right Honourable Reverend Trimble-Tumble Mungbean-Brown had received quite a turnout for the mid-morning service – at least ninety-odd larger than usual in fact! He had found it difficult keeping his concentration; the Unreasonable Monster’s face imposed itself on every bearded member of the congregation and on a couple of occasions he’d paused inexplicably or fluffed his lines. His sermon had been on clemency, tolerance and consideration for others – a clear reference to the Unreasonable Monster’s lack of any of those qualities. After five minutes they arrived at the corner of Darwin Avenue, the street on which the Unreasonable Monster dwelled. A leafy, peaceful street it was, utterly at odds with the moral ugliness and violence of one of its residents.
“Is everyone ready?” Mungbean-Brown asked, knowing that the moment they turned that corner the Unreasonable Monster would be able to see them should he happen to be looking out of the right window. He lived only four doors down.
Young Bob felt so nervous that he had to take a deep breath and count to ten before catching up with the striding reverend and leading the way beside him, his parents just behind.
“Don’t worry, son,” said Mungbean-Brown, “you’ll be fine, he can’t be that strong. He’s no Incredible Hulk, you know,” he added, winking at the lad. The idea was straightforward; they would ring on his bell, say very little, hand him the petition and wait for the explosion, ready to defend themselves if necessary. However, as they neared 21 Darwin Avenue, a small and pretty terraced house built from local limestone bricks, a man in a smart dark suit emerged and stood to face them on the pavement. He was smiling warmly, his huge presence exuding hearty, paternal benevolence. The 98 muttered and mumbled. They hadn’t expected this. Nevertheless, Mungbean-Brown and Bob approached him warily with one hand each on the petition, and handed it to him with a simple “Please read this, sir, and let us know your thoughts.”
“Dear Reverend,” replied the Unreasonable Monster cheerfully, “there really is no need to present me with that. I unequivocally comply with your demands and what’s more I would like to make it up to the citizens of Buxton. Please, everybody, come this way,” he went on, beckoning the crowd into his house. At first nobody moved.
“How do you know what our demands are?” asked the reverend.
“You want me out of town, do you not? To stop trading altogether. To never set up another market stall again. Word gets around, you know. In order to express my very sincere contrition, I wish to invite those I’ve offended into my humble abode.”
“Ok,” said Mungbean-Brown after a moment, “I’m all for giving people a second chance. I was only preaching about it this morning. Can’t be a hypocrite now, can I? Come on, young Bob, in we go.”
Mr and Mrs Phillips followed but kept a couple of paces behind the others – after all Syd knew how it felt to get on the wrong side of the Unreasonable Monster’s knuckles. Others muttered and mumbled, some turning away.
“It’s a trap,” said one.
“It’s fishy and it stinks,” another added.
“We can’t trust him and anyway how on earth will we all fit in the house? ” grumbled another.
In total 74 of the petitioners eventually joined the Unreasonable Monster in his house. They shuffled in, finding spaces in the hallway and on the staircase, spilling over to the kitchen, lounge and the upstairs landing. The downstairs front room was, however, locked, the host pressed against it.
“Are we all squeezed in?” asked the Unreasonable Monster genially. “Good, now maybe we can begin.”
“Begin what?” interrupted Mungbean-Brown. “Why are you being so reasonable?”
The Unreasonable Monster put a finger to his lips and winked at the reverend. His jocularity seemed most genuine.
“Ok everybody, to compensate for all those times I’ve thumped, cracked, whacked, pummelled, clobbered, offended, insulted, demeaned or denigrated you, I have laid on a little surprise.” He made a mock fanfare noise and put the key in the lock of the shut door.
“Voilà!” the Unreasonable Monster gestured for his guests to enter.
“Hang on, we’ll never all fit in there!” growled Fenton.
“He’s got a point,” whispered Mungbean-Brown.
“But isn’t that so wonderfully unreasonable?” said the Unreasonable Monster excitedly. “Seventy odd people in one room, and anyway, that’s just the beginning. I assure you there are more surprises to come and they’re all good.” “Go on, young fella, you can lead the way,” he said, smiling at Bob, his eyes warm jewels where once they’d been cold, dead stones.
They all followed Bob into what was the dining room and huddled against walls and into corners. In the centre of the room there was a table, laid with a most wonderful-looking buffet.
“Tuck in!” roared the Unreasonable Monster. The guests had to wriggle and manoeuvre themselves skilfully to serve themselves, but sure enough, once things had settled down, everybody had a plate full of delicious cold food, ranging from olives stuffed with anchovies to petits-fours; from best beef with honey and mustard dips to Parma ham with red peppers; from asparagus and broccoli tarts to potato salad pie. The preparation, taste and presentation were immaculate.
Checking to see everyone was finishing off their food by squeezing between people and mingling, with surprising dexterity, the Unreasonable Monster made an announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention and your ears. I do not wish you to lend them to me as Caesar did because I’m probably too unreasonable to give them back. Right, everybody, watch THIS!” “Can I have everybody off this wall please?” he requested, pointing to the side that joined the house next door. Then, with a mighty monotone noise somewhere between a wheeze and a grunt, so maybe a whunt or a greeze, he lifted back his tree trunks of arms and smashed the walls with his fat fists. He repeated the action several times, to the gasps of his audience, until the wall crumbled and in it appeared a hole about the size of a television.
“One moment!” he woofed and disappeared. People began to mutter and mumble; some were afraid; others streamed out, and one man said, “He’s completely barking, you don’t know what he’ll do next, I’ll go to the police, I reckon.” About fifty of the petitioners remained.
The Unreasonable Monster re-emerged from the hallway with a mallet whose head was the length of a tea chest and almost completely obliterated the wall. “Follow me through,” he said, with a sprightly gentleness which was diametrically opposed to the violence of his plaster-smashing.
“Now that’s what I call unreasonable! Could have just walked next door but preferred to BASH the wall down! Good work even if I say so myself.” The Unreasonable monster guffawed good-naturedly.
People started to walk through into the other house, where a table was beautifully laid with silver cutlery and china plates of the highest calibre. Wine and champagne glasses stood in front of twelve places. Gasps of further astonishment pricked the air, but before the Unreasonable Monster had time to explain this latest unexpected revelation, the police arrived. The man who left had been as good as his word.
“What’s going on here? What’s this vandalism?” said one of three bobbies.
“Nothing amiss, officer,” replied the Unreasonable Monster. These houses are both my properties, you see,” and without giving the policeman a chance to get a word in, he whipped the title deed out of his inside pocket.
“There you go, officer. All above board. You know what, I bought the house just last week and spent every last penny I had on it and a few pennies more on a little house-warming. Please help yourself, officer, if you’re feeling peckish.” The Unreasonable Monster grinned contentedly, basking in the sheer unreasonableness of emptying his bank account for a second home he neither needed nor could really afford.
“Hmm, no, it’s alright, sir, I’m on duty. Be seeing you, do have a pleasant afternoon and just make sure those fists stay confined to things that don’t feel no pain from now on. We’ve had our eye on you, sir. Just to let you know. Good day, everyone.”
It transpired that the Unreasonable Monster had laid tables with places everywhere in his new house; in the kitchen, upstairs in two of the bedrooms and also out in the garden. He cooked, he fussed, he socialised and generally made each guest feel utterly welcome. The reverend Mungbean-Brown was hailing a real-life Christian miracle of atonement and redemption.
“There you go, it’s never too late,” he was telling his flock as they tucked in to lunch, as the Unreasonable Monster flitted between rooms and his stove.
A young lady philosopher called Beatrice Duval said to the reverend,
“Indeed, reverend, a remarkable transformation from brute to gentleman seemingly overnight, but I still feel an actual murderer cannot ever be granted forgiveness since they are unable to love themselves, unto eternity. It’s all in Macbeth.”
“Well, I hold out more hope than you, Beatrice,” countered Mungbean-Brown.
“What I want to know is what prompted the Unreasonable Monster to change his behaviour?” Mrs Phillips chipped in. Do you think he heard about the petition and realised his goose was cooked?”
“Perhaps,” replied Mungbean-Brown, “but that doesn’t explain the excesses he’s gone too. He’s going way further than just saving his bacon. He could have just disappeared, after all.”
The meal could not have been better prepared. A cream of cep and chanterelle soup with garlic and pepper was followed by a lobster thermidore, all washed down with champagne and an expensive red wine from Côtes de Rhônes. The Unreasonable Monster even went to the trouble of rustling up a very fine omelette and spinach dish for three guests who couldn’t stomach seafood, despite their protestations that they had already eaten well following the buffet and the soup.
“Let’s not be too reasonable,” he’d said, “I insist you enjoy this special day as much as the others. Anyone object to eggs?”
During the meal, the Unreasonable Monster spent some time at every table chatting to guests, telling them gripping stories about his time in the navy and the ghosts he’d seen on his travels. Once he was sure everyone had finished off their meals, he clapped his slabs of hands together and belted out,
“Can I have everybody’s attention, please? The weather’s fairly fine, so let’s all convene in the back garden for cheese, dessert and perhaps a little liqueur.”
The Unreasonable Monster moved all the tables and chairs outside with the minimum of effort. He could balance a chair on one fat finger and he could lift a full-length table above his head one-handed.
Once outside, while tucking into various cheeses and appreciating them more than many eleven-year-olds would, Bob managed to catch a minute alone with the Unreasonable Monster.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why are you being so kind to us? he asked.
“Guess.” he said, somewhat curtly.
“I’m really not sure. Maybe because you realise you’ve treated people badly in the past and want to make up for it. Is it that?”
The Unreasonable Monster blurted out a couple of sharp, staccato chortles, before coughing violently as a piece of cheese went down the wrong way.
“Are you alright?” Bob enquired.
“Yeah, just that you made me laugh, I’ll get some water.”
“You asked me why I’m being kind and your guess is way off the mark,” the Unreasonable Monster said, somewhat unkindly. “I’m doing it, son, so as to be as unreasonable as possible. Nobody expected it because I’m usually an obnoxious ogre and frankly I’m quite proud of that, by the way, so bending over backwards and wildly exceeding all possible expectations of kindness is without doubt the most gloriously unreasonable thing I’ve ever done in my whole life.”
“I see,” said Bob, not really seeing. He was only just eleven, after all, and the idea of a life dedicated to the perfection of unreasonable behaviour went somewhat over his head. He no longer had anything against the Unreasonable Monster, but trying to understand him was akin to trying to make head or tail of Dad’s dull conversations with other adult males about politics or economics. He switched off and went back to mingle with his parents and Mungbean-Brown.
As the hubbub rustled in gentle waves up and down the garden, nobody noticed that after a few minutes or so outside that the Unreasonable Monster had sloped off alone. He was tired, and extreme tiredness knew only one solution. He’d crept back – if it’s at all possible that a seven foot man with size fourteen feet can in any way be stealthy enough to creep – next door and was raiding his fridge. He poured himself a pint of home-brewed Guinness and unwrapped four creme eggs. In they plopped. The Unreasonable Monster downed the mixture in one long gulp, leaving slops of undissolved sticky toffee and chocolate clinging to the side of the pint glass. He burped loudly. ‘Ah, that’s better,’ he thought.
He went back to the fridge in his new house and took the fifty plus slices of home made lemon meringue pie he’d lovingly prepared the day before.
“Time for dessert!” he announced, casting a fresh shadow as he re-entered the sunlit garden. That shadow, a huge distortion of his giantesque mounds of meat, seemed to engulf the entire lawn.
“More goodies!” said one, merry from wine.
“Why, thanks a lot, mate. You’re too kind!” another said, tapping the Unreasonable Monster heartily on his back, causing an ugly look in the monster’s eye which only lasted a split second.
“This looks smashing, once again,” chipped in Mungbean-Brown. “On behalf of the residents of Buxton and the congregation of its Methodist Church, I would like to express our gratitude for this fine day.”
Yet no longer had the guests started tucking into their pies before there was a crash. Lemon meringue was sliding down the outside wall of the house while a plate lay shattered on the ground just below it. Standing a few yards away, grimacing and sneering, was the Unreasonable Monster.
“You know what?” he growled, “I’ve done the unreasonable reasonableness to death now and I’m FED UP! You expect me to be nice now, don’t you, so guess what, I’m going to be TOTALLY, DOWNRIGHT HORRIBLE AND AS UNREASONABLE AS POSSIBLE, ONLY NOW BEING UNREASONABLE WON’T BE WHAT YOU REASONABLY EXPECT.”
He started jumping up and down, which felt to the guests like a minor seismic event, shouting rhythmically as if performing a Mantra to invoke the God of Unreason,
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE – GET OUT OF MY HOUSE – GET OUT OF MY HOUSE...!”
It sounded something like a cross between a jaguar, a bison and a furious simpleton. It people hadn’t been so afraid it would have been curious or even comic to behold. People started filing out, but not quick enough for the Unreasonable Monster’s liking.
“COME ON! COME ON! GET YOUR BACKSIDES OUT OF HERE SHARPISH BEFORE I KICK ‘EM OUT!”
As Mungbean-Brown and the Phillips family made it out onto the street, they could still hear roaring and groaning rupturing the peaceful Sunday air.
“What an odd day that was!” said Bob.
“Yes, I don’t know what to think. It was kind of him to do what he did, nonetheless. Wherever you stand on the Unreasonable Monster, I think it’s fair to say the world would be a far duller place without him. Our Lord was certainly pushing the boat out when he created that one,” mused Mungbean-Brown.
One wag heard and said, “I thought He created us in His own image.”
“Not now!” snapped Mungbean-Brown. “Sunday afternoon, remember, is my time off. I’ll have to think about that one.”
The Unreasonable Monster was as good as his word and was never seen running a market stall in Buxton again. Whether that was because he didn’t want to get into trouble with the law (reasonable sentiment though that is), or because he thought people would expect him to resist and therefore not doing so would be unreasonable, at least to his way of thinking, nobody knew.
In fact, he was never again seen anywhere in Buxton. When the dust had settled
from that extraordinary Sunday afternoon, Mungbean-Brown and Bob went round
to call on him a couple of times. The first time there was no reply and the
second time both houses had a FOR SALE in their front windows. Just a glance
inside suggested the Unreasonable Monster had moved all his affairs out. How
do you like that, though? He buys a house he can’t afford and doesn’t need,
yet puts it back up for sale within days or weeks of the purchase. I find that
somewhat... unreasonable behaviour.