In this fourth post, we meet one of Ace’s five associates, the one nicknamed Gooper. Our normal interviewer, Mr. Bigg Faquir, is not available. I read in the paper this morning that he has been arrested on charges of graft and corruption. I can’t say that I’m truly surprised, but it does leave me without an interviewer. Therefore, I, personally, will have to ask the questions.
A wide gentleman in a tweed coat arrives, removing a bowler hat. He has massive shoulders and very little neck. His uncombed hair and mustache blaze a vivid red, but his pallid skin tones are fish belly white. His smile is friendly, but the chair groans under his weight.
GW: Hello, Gooper.
Gooper: Cheers, mate.
GW: What’s your full name?
Gooper: Me name’s Phileas Locknard, one o’ the Locknards of East London. Of which not a one of us is famous, exceptin’ p’raps Uncle Wobble, ‘oo is locally famous for ‘is appetite. ‘E can eat ‘alf ‘is weight in beef at a sittin’, ‘e can.
GW: Fascinating. How did you come to the nickname Gooper?
Gooper: Ow, that. Well, it was at uni. The rugby team called me Stinky for me interest in biology.
GW: Biology. Right.
Gooper: But there was a chemist on the team, so ‘e became Stinky, an’ I became Gooper, on account of microorganisms bein’ slimy, an’ amphibians bein’ slimy, an’ most things biological bein’ slimy on the inside.
GW: It sounds a little insulting to me. Did you resist that name?
Gooper: Naw. Oi got lucky. Team captain was Oinker. We ‘ad a half-back named Dough-head an’ an ‘ooker name o’ Muddy. Short for muddy-pants, meanin’ ‘e couldn’t ‘old ‘is fudge.
GW: I’m not sure I understand. I think I’m a little lost in your accent. It’s quite thick.
Gooper: Too right, guv.
GW: How did you meet Ace Carroway?
Gooper: The Great War broke out an’ I joined the Regular Army. After a few skirmishes, Oi got sent ter Soissons, just ahead of the battle. Met Tombstone there. ‘E’s an American bloke, an’ one o’ Ace’s crew. Bloody battle, Soissons. Tombstone an’ Oi got captured an’ sent to Camp 68, an’ from there to St. Vith, to the airplane factory. Ace rode in the truck wif us, from the prison to the factory.
GW: You were prisoners of war?
Gooper: Aye. But yew can read about all that in ACE CARROWAY AND THE GREAT WAR.
GW: True! So, when you retire, what do you think you’d want to do?
Gooper: Well, maybe Oi’d work at a zoological garden. Oi do love animals.
GW: I understand. Any other part time jobs you might like?
Gooper: P’raps a game warden of some kind. Protect the elephants or somesuch.
GW: Sounds noble.
Gooper: Plus, Oi could break th’ arms an’ legs of some poachers.
GW: The way you smack your fists together is intimidating, sir.
Gooper: Does that mean the arm-wrestling match is off?
GW: What? What arm-wrestling match?
Gooper: Ow, come on, guv! Give it a try. Oi’ll go easy on yeh.
GW: Ack! No!
Because the interview broke off ahead of schedule due to one of the parties fleeing the room, we’ll just run the quotes and the limerick.
- On his ‘frenemy,’ Tombstone: “Tombstone? Blimey! Eject the underweight debauchee!”
- On a job accomplished well: “Oi! Done! That’s that. Fastidious as a royal nanny.”
- On German accents: “Pardon, guv’nor! It’s yer accent. Blinkin’ ’ard ter understand yeh!”
- His opinion about not blowing up the fuel depot: “Conservatism? Bah! Can’t abide the stuff.”
- On finally getting a bath: “Oi almost feel loike an ’omo sapiens again!”
- On the biological sciences: “When I was small, me mum took me to a park. She could ’ardly get me ter leave. I was strokin’ the grass and watchin’ bugs crawl. I ’ave loved biological science ever since. That, an’ rugby.”
- On life, with a rugby metaphor: “Them blokes are bein’ obtuse ’bout it, but they’re tryin’ ter cheer you on, Ace. Dive inter the ruck and slug it out!”
And a limerick:
Gooper is broad and hirsute
Biology’s his main pursuit
He’s rough in the ruck
He’s built like a truck
But he melts in the presence of ‘cute’
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