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The Life and Times of Neil Lambess

Neil Lambess in an Exciting Adventure with the Lost Yeti Stories

11.30 AM
Caffeine Espresso Café
Water Street, Whangarei


“Yes thanks,” I said as I handed over my gold coins in eager anticipation of a bowl of foamy caffeine...

“There's something funny with the milk today,” Fleur, the Doctor Who fan/barista, squeaked. “It's foaming strangely.”

“Hmm... I see what you mean,” I replied as I looked into the bowl at the squelchy Brownian motion of the coffee atoms as they collided with the milk. “The cows must be eating duckweed again.”

Fleur shuddered, the memory of the Great Duckweed Scare of '97 still fresh in her mind. She had lost so many customers due to flat latte that the scars still showed. She changed topics quickly.

“Look - Quentin Crisp's just died,” she beamed happily, pointing at the front page of the morning's Herald. “He would have made a great Doctor.”

“Yeah,” I croaked, noticing the paper's date. “Tom Baker name dropped him to me once.” November 23rd - I had the feeling it was going to be one of those days...

11.43 AM

[Neil and his latte]

“This drawing sucks,” said the Latte.

“Ow! Watch where you're putting that sugar!” said my latte.

“Pardon?” I bemused. It wasn't often that my drinks talked to me - well, not since my doctors changed my medication at least.

“Oops, I shouldn't have said that, should I?” pondered my latte, as it looked up at me, the foam now becoming decidedly more sinister and menacing as it spilled out of the bowl and over the photograph of Quentin in the Herald. “I could have blown my cover.”

“Your cover?” I queried.

“Oh yes... If you'll forgive this small indulgence, please allow me to introduce myself. You may have heard of me - I am known as the Great Intelligence! I welcome you to my sixth invasion of Earth.”

Damn! I thought, as the foam in all of the latte bowls in the café started to expand, I should have ordered the Spirulina!

11.50 AM

“Your sixth invasion?” I queried, as the elderly lady with the heavy fur coat at table three became possessed and started stacking nearby tables into a pyramid shape...

“Uh oh... did I say sixth? I meant third... Yes, that's right, My third invasion of Earth, puny human.”

I suddenly realised that it was pension day and every one of the Caffeine patrons bar me were elderly ladies in fur coats. This could be serious. I had to stall for time, and I had to do it now.

“Are you sure you don't mean sixth? I mean I heard those rumours of the Scottish highland thing that didn't come off... And, um, every time they see a Yeti in the Himalayas I always think of you. Come to think of it, I always wondered about those silver balls in Georgie Pie playgrounds.”

“Damn,” cursed my latte. “I forgot about that one. That makes seven... Oh, all right, foolish human, I shall henceforth gloat maniacally about the secret lost Yeti stories quashed by the BBC due to a strange Quark of fate!”

“Don't you mean ‘quirk‘?”

“No, no, Quark of fate... It's entirely Haisman and Lincoln's fault. You see, mark my words human, never trust script writers to aid your plans of world domination.”

“I don't,” I replied. “They always get all post-modern on you in the third act. Actually, come to think of it, if you already know you're a work of fiction, in a work of fiction, about a work of fiction, how come...”

“We are talking about Season Six,” the Latte interrupted. “The Mind Robber called all bets off about the fiction/reality thing... Postmodernism, my spheres!”

My head was hurting. I needed to sort this out quickly. “Um, by ‘Quark’ I presume you're referring to the row over the merchandising copyright on the Quarks in The Dominators which led to Haisman and Lincoln scrapping their plans for a third Yeti story which was going to take place in Season Six?”

“Yes,” smirked my latte. “All very precise... but you see they actually started filming the third Yeti story. Think about what you need for a Yeti story and it becomes apparent. A human to be possessed by me, a vessel for my intelligence to hide in, someone to build an army of robotic Yeti, a way of attacking a city by surprise - preferably underground but not involving trains, say a sewer. A cliffhanger where a Scotsman with hairy legs wakes up in a packing crate next to a Yeti instead of a-”

“Cyberman,” I blurted out. “Oh my god, you're right - The Invasion is the missing Yeti story!”

“Precisely,” sighed the Latte. “Look at the continuity errors. The Cybermen didn't need Tobias Vaughn, or the Cybercontroller - which originally was how Vaughn was going to accidentally contact me in my - er - disembodied state. Through the wonders of transistors I would have made a pact with him for global domination. All he had to do was build my Yeti, stick them in crates and use International Electromatics to build the control spheres.” The Latte sighed. “Yeti shuffling down St Paul's steps, popping out of sewers... sitting on a loo in Tooting Bec!”

“Yes,” I continued, “it's nuts that the Cybermen turn up in London ten years before the events of The Tenth Planet. That's a pretty major continuity violation right off - and they act more like robots than their usual selves do. Also, they don't turn up until Episode 5 and there's absolutely no indication until then that the Cybermen are involved. Which means...”

“That the Beeb was still negotiating with Haisman and Lincoln for the rights to the hairy beasties right up until the last minute. When the deal fell through they went for the next best thing. The Daleks were out due to Terry Nation trying to float the series in the USA, so they roped in the Cybermen and hopped no one would notice that they were totally out of place...”

“Except the fan boys who wrote it into the continuity anyway. But hang on, what about Andrew Pixley? He's looked into the series exhaustively and hasn't turned this up...”

“I faked all the documentation,” said the Latte.

“Aha!” I espoused. “Andrew would have seen through it immediately.”

“He did,” the Latte gloated. “And for his silence I've traded off the commodity of Little Baisley-By-the-Sea and the location of the missing Troughton stories.”

[Little old ladies]

Guarding the pyramid.

“Fair enough,” I mused, “But what about the fact that the third Yeti story was supposed to farewell Jamie and introduce Pertwee's Doctor?”

“It did,” gloated my little nemesis, “but that was the fourth Yeti story. After The Invasion fell through, the Beeb still pushed for a Yeti story for Pertwee. The first publicity shots of him even featured a Yeti for heaven's sake... and what about the Tooting Bec quote? They still desperately wanted another Yeti story so they starting developing one called...”

Spearhead from Space,” I finished, “which opens with a Great Intelligence sending its control spheres to Earth - possessing the owner of a plastics factory who makes mannequins to house the controlling influence instead of Yeti...”

“Yes, I may be the Great Intelligence, but my friends call me Nestene.”

I glanced furtively over at the fur-coated little old ladies who had by now almost completed their tabletop pyramid. Fleur's outstretched hand was rising from a sea of foam produced by the coffee machine. I had to act now and I had to act fast - from the tabletop the coffee-soaked face of Quentin Crisp smiled up at me benignly from the Herald...

12.45 PM

“No wait! I haven't told you about my part in The Underwater Menace yet,” squealed the last bit of foam as I soaked it up with the seventh and last copy of the New Zealand Herald in the café.

“Wow,” that was a close one,” said Fleur as she dumped the soggy Heralds in a bucket and then helped a little old lady to her feet. I wasn't sure how we were going to get the other little old lady down from the top of the table pyramid but I was sure we'd figure something out. I briefly mused with Fleur about how the Doctor never actually stays behind and cleans up the mess after he saves the day.

“We've never seen him dumping dead Kaled mutants into a bin or anything, have we?”

“Maybe that's why he blew up Skaro... Oh well, that's the seventh Yeti invasion of Earth over with. I guess in a strange way Quentin did make a great Doctor after all. Pass me that last Herald will you.” One thing about Fleur - she took alien invasions in her stride.

“Yeah... Okay...” I searched the table in vain as the grim realisation sunk in...

“Fleur, it's gone!”

In the distance I could hear someone badly whistling a Sting song...

1.30 PM

The alleyway behind the café

The coffee-soaked face of Quentin Crisp smirked upwards from the battered copy of the Herald that was now squelching its way towards a sewer grill, quietly whistling Englishman in New York.

Cue End Title Music.


Quentin Crisp to the rescue.

This item appeared in TSV 59 (January 2000).

Index nodes: Life and Times of Neil Lambess