the crocodile lived quite happily with me and my two cats after he was found
not guilty of trying to eat Mr Lamb the bus driver up. Claire came by every
day after school to play with him and take him for walkies. He was a popular
star on television with his dancing act and everybody liked him and no longer
thought he was dangerous. Somebody even said, “Cuddles would not hurt a fly.” That was not true though as he would often sit with his mouth wide open until
one flew by then —CLACK— it was gone. He seemed to think flies were airborne
snacks and I was happy as I never needed to buy fly spray ever again.
Of course, as you’ll remember, dogs are never safe around Cabomban green crocodiles.
This was a good thing as after the unfortunate affair of Snookums, Mrs Brown’s
Chihuahua, everybody did what they were supposed to do anyway and took their
dogs out on leads instead of letting them run around chasing poor pussy cats.
Mrs Brown’s chihuahua? Well, everybody had hated the brute as it was savage.
It used to run up mens’ trouser legs to bite their noses, chased cats and little
children, terrorised all the local Dobermans, and slunk about wherever he liked
frightening people. Ah, but one day Snookums came by our house when Cuddles
was sunbathing. The chihuahua rushed at him barking and snarling, then —CLACK— no more
problems with a savage dog!
Mrs Brown went to the police but Inspector Lockem told her she’d been
breaking the law by letting the beast run free and, anyhow, Cuddles had acted
in self-defence. The inspector was president of The Cuddles Club and Snookums
had even bitten policemen.
Cats loved my green crocodile and came from all around to sit on him in
the sun and purr. They took turns washing him so that he had to be the cleanest
crocodile in the whole world. The cats’ owners gave him lots of sausages to
eat because the evil chihuahua no longer frightened their kitties, and the
local postmen gave him 10 kilograms of best steak. Mrs Brown went back to England
and was never heard of again.
One day I received a letter in my mailbox from The President of Cabomba. It said …
A free flight and a chance to see Cuddles’ home land? What a wonderful
opportunity! Still, I worried in case my pet would be taken from me, but maybe
he would be happier back home in any case.
I packed our bags, bought a whole case of kangaroo tail soup, and on the
day after tomorrow Cuddles and I sat side by side on the aircraft as it flew
off to our destination, Cabombaland in Africa.
It was a very long flight, but we were well looked after. Lovely cooked
meals for me and raw meat and fish for Cuddles, served by crocodiles who’d
been trained as assistant cabin staff. The human air crew were happy, friendly
people who made me feel welcome. If all Cabombans were like them I was in for
a great time. What an adventure!
Much later I woke up to find myself looking down from the plane windows
at a lovely green land with lots of water … Cabombaland at last! When we landed
at the airport there was a big crowd waiting for us waving Australian and
even Queensland flags. Everybody wore brightly coloured clothes, and when one
small girl saw us get out of the plane she sat down on a crocodile and came
riding over. “Hi there! You must be Tom. Welcome to Cabombaland! I am Jennifer
Cabomba, the President’s daughter. You’ll be staying with us in our palace … Dad says did you bring the kangaroo tail soup? He couldn’t come ’cos he’s busy
but will see you later. I am to take you home with me.”
Jennifer then looked at Cuddles … “Werd d’ya wan, parra parra palace yo.” Cuddles nodded his huge head and stretched out. Jennifer fixed a saddle on
his back and told me, “On you get! I’ll soon have you home to meet my family.” And would you believe it? There I was riding through the streets on Cuddles’
back, my luggage and case of kangaroo tail soup behind me. Why had I never
thought of getting him to do this? The petrol money I’d have saved! People
waved and cheered as we rode by and I decided I really liked my new dark-skinned
friends as they smiled their welcomes.
The houses were well built and I looked forward to being invited to visit
some of the families who lived in them. We passed by one place where new buildings
were going up and I was amazed to see crocodiles shuffling up to the bricklayers
with mouths filled with bricks or buckets of cement hanging down. They seemed
to enjoy helping the humans do the building.
There were markets filled with lovely vegetables and fruits, many of which
I had never seen before, even in Queensland, and everywhere was a feeling of
happiness and well-being. I saw no dogs, but there were big fat cats galore.
I knew I would enjoy my visit to Cabombaland whatever happened with me and
At last we came to a large building set in a green grassy field filled
with grazing sheep. “We’re here,” laughed Jennifer, “Soon you shall meet my
family.” Without even being told Cuddles stopped beside her crocodile at the
steps of the palace. Two young boys and a little girl came running to meet
us. Jennifer explained, “These are my brothers Young Johnno and Chris and my
little sister Amanda come to welcome you. Please come inside, for you must
A lady stood at the top of the steps. When I came up she gave me a big
hug and said, “I am Angelica, Jennifer’s mother. You are very welcome in our
home. Please come and sit down.” I wondered about my luggage, but the two boys
had taken care of that. One had my suitcase balanced on his head, the other
the case of soup. Amanda went up to Cuddles carrying a bucket and fed him some
fish from it. He rolled on his back and she tickled his tummy.
Jennifer showed me to my room. I felt tired and dirty after my long journey,
so after having a shower I decided to lie down for a few minutes. I was awakened
by a man laughing as he said, “Don’t you think you’ve slept long enough, Tom?
Dinner will be ready in about an hour.” At the door stood a large smiling African.
It was President Jonathan Cabomba himself, and the clock told me I had been
asleep for six whole hours.
I jumped to my feet, “Mr President, I …” “No need for all that formality
here, Tom, my friend. Just do what everybody else does around Cabombaland:
call me Johnno.” He shook me warmly by the hand, “Now you have another shower
I’ll send my son Young Johnno to bring you downstairs when you are ready.”
So it was that an hour later I sat down to a wonderful meal with my new
friend Johnno and the family I was already feeling a part of. Angelica cooked
and served the food herself and it was gorgeous. First off we had huge bowls
of kangaroo tail soup that everybody agreed was really great. (I promised to
send more tins when I got home). Next we had a wonderful spicy mutton stew
because sheep supplied wool and meat to the Cabomban people, and the floors
of all the rooms in the house were covered in sheepskin rugs. All too soon
finished with a mixture of fresh local fruits. The children sang some songs
for us, then went to bed, and Johnno called me into his study.
“Sit you down, Tom.” I sat me down and began, “All right, Johnno, about Cuddles …” “Plenty of time for that, Tom. We’ll settle that in the next few days. But
for now please tell me all about what has happened in Brisbane since I was
back last year to become President.” So I brought him up to date with all the
exciting things that had happened in Brisbane and also in our sunny state of
Queensland. After a few cups of local coffee it was time for bed and despite
my long sleep earlier in the day I had a great night’s rest.
When I awoke next morning Angelica cooked me a luscious breakfast of pancakes
and fresh fruit. Then the children took me for a long walk around the town.
Everybody greeted me with smiles and handshakes. How I loved this little country!
But I’d still miss my Cuddles when it came time to go home.
We walked far from the town and came to a river. Flowers grew along the
bank and the children made some into necklaces which they hung around our necks.
On the other side I could see badly built dirty houses with smoky fires all
around the place. “That’s Eloidaland over there,” said Jennifer, “They’re a
very bad people because of their king and they want to eat up all our crocodiles,
so we never allow them over on this side.” It certainly did not look like a
very pleasant place to live. There seemed to be no fruit trees and very little
in the way of food crops. Skinny cows and goats roamed around and I never heard
any laughter coming across the water. We quickly left to get back among the
happy Cabombans, but
we never knew that we were being watched by unfriendly eyes in the bushes on
our side of the water.
Suddenly with fierce shouts six huge men jumped out at us and began grabbing
the children. I tried to fight them off but was quickly knocked down and tied
up. We were dragged to a canoe hidden on the bank and soon found ourselves
captives in Eloidaland.
The children were hustled into a hut and I was left tied to a tree in
the hot sun. Oh, the horrible smell of that place—bad fish and cow dung! Poor-looking people gathered all around. They offered
me no violence, just stood
looking at me talking quietly among themselves.
A group of tough-looking villains pushed through the little crowd and
stood laughing at me waving huge pistols. Up swaggered the biggest man I had
ever seen, wearing a very ornate army uniform with lots of medals. “Hi, you
prisoner man, you look at me!” he shouted as he towered over me. “Me, I am The
of the Great: King Elo of Eloidea, and them mans thair are my polices. Oh,
how they keep my foolish peoples in order for me and now they bring me a biiiig
present: all the children of that baaaad man Jonathan. Oh, now we shall see.
Yes, we shall.”
He waved an even bigger revolver than any of those his police had in my
face, “As for you, you shall be my frien’ or else. I give you very big work
for to do.” He jabbered at his thugs in the local language and they cut me
free and gave me some dirty water from an even dirtier cup. I was so thirsty
I drank it anyway. “You, my frien, shall be my official messager. You hear?” He thrust an envelope into my trouser pocket and his men tied my wrists,
gagged and blindfolded me. What now? “You will go back an give dis important
lettah to foolish Jonathan from me. The lifes of all them children will be
lost if you do not.”
I felt myself being hustled into something that floated then we seemed
to be travelling over water. I was hustled along on land again, then my wrists
were untied and I was thrown violently into something soft that scratched my
face. I took of the blindfold and found I’d been thrown among bushes on the
Cabomba side of the river. I tore off that gag and staggered towards the town
where people rushed me to the Presidential Office.
“Good Heavens, Tom!” yelled Johnno, “What’s happened? Where are my children?” I gasped out my story and put the envelope in his trembling hands. He read
the letter, then passed it to me. It was very badly written and would have
made anybody’s teacher very angry. It said …
President Johnno was very upset, “My Goodness, Tom! Whatever shall I do?” But
the beating I had received from King Elo’s policemen began to take effect
I fainted at his feet before I could answer his question. I woke in the palace
in my room where a doctor was cleaning and dressing my wounds. As I lay there
I began to think about how to rescue the children. What could be done? I
noticed all the sheepskin rugs on the floor and suddenly had my great idea,
call the President immediately,” I asked the doctor.
A very worried Johnno came to my bedside, “Well, Tom, it seems that I
must surrender to that evil king’s demands. There is nothing else we can do.” “But there is,” I replied, “Just disguise Cuddles as a sheep and all will be
well.” Johnno looked at me sadly. “Oh, poor Tom! That terrible beating has affected
your brain. How could a huge crocodile be made to look like a sheep?” “Honestly,
Johnno. I am O.K. Please just listen to my plan. We have nothing to lose.” As I explained he started looking calmer. When I had finished he started to
“Tom, we can do this thing, but I’ll need your help. Are you fit enough to
I told him I was and for the rest of that day and night Johnno and his
people worked hard in the field beside the palace preparing for the morrow.
As things progressed I called for Cuddles to be brought over. He walked past
me and rolled at Johnno’s feet.
“Ah! I was right,” said the President, “This was once my pet when he was
very small. When I left for Australia I could not bear to leave him behind
so I smuggled him past the customs hanging down my trousers. For the three
years I stayed in Brisbane he shared my flat and he grew and grew. Every night
when there were few people around I would take him down to the river for a
swim but as I had to work hard at my studies I started letting him out on his
own for he always came back. One evening two of my countrymen came to tell
me my father had passed away and that I was now President and had to leave
them immediately. In
all the confusion it was not until we were in the plane that I remembered poor
Cuddles. I often worried about him until I heard about your adventure.”
So that explained why a Cabomban green crocodile was wandering around
we had still work to do. Johnno issued commands to Cuddles and he went straight
into action. Doing what? Ah you’ll find out when I’m ready.
Next morning everything had been prepared in the big field. There were
500 sheep clustered in the middle, guarded by two sheep-herding crocodiles.
Over to one side 300 crocodiles were lined up ready to be taken away. It was
sad to see the poor things so full of trust. On the other side of the field
a great barbecue pit had been prepared and joints of lamb were just starting
to cook in readiness for lunch. Several large bins were filled with ice and
bottles of beer … Everything was ready to receive our guests.
“Time for you to go down to the river, Tom,” said Johnno, “May God be with
us all!” Angelica came running up, “Please, Tom, save my children and our beloved
country!” “I’ll do my best,” I answered as I limped away. Would my ideas work?
We’d soon find out.
I reached the river bank with four of the Presidents advisers. We could
hear drums beating on the other side where they were trying to organise large
rafts for crossing over. People
were being pushed and herded on to those rafts by the police thugs.
decorated canoes were launched and I could see bad King Elo getting into one
of them. Two of his police came along dragging four small children and
they also boarded the canoe. Several other police got into the other two
boats. Then all started to cross the river followed by the rafts of people
who showed no enthusiasm for what was happening.
The canoes reached our bank well before the rafts and the police got out
first waving their pistols as they checked for ambushes. The two in Elo’s canoe
then stepped ashore dragging the four children. “Oh, Tom! It is good to see
you. It was horrible over there,” cried Jennifer. “Shuddup, you!” yelled one
policemen as he cuffed her on the head. Elo stepped ashore as arrogant as ever,
“Ah! It is my frien. But, please, where is Foolish Jonathan and all my gifts?”
I explained, “The President has put all your gifts outside the Palace where
it is fitting for a king such as you to receive what he deserves. After the
delivery of the gifts he has prepared lots of roast mutton and beer for you
and your people. I and those advisers are to take you there. Please also bring
all your people.” By now the rafts had arrived and the people who had crossed
on them were standing looking very worried.
“O.K., O.K. We will follow you. But no tricks, or I go break both your arms.
I like the bruises on your face very much. Would you like if I give you more?” With those words Elo and his gang swaggered behind us dragging the children
along. They were followed by his poor subjects, been dragged along to witness
their king’s triumph. Policemen beat them if they felt they were moving too
slowly. I felt really sorry for them.
Soon we reached the field by the palace. Elo roared with joy when he saw
the sheep but yelled even louder when he saw all the crocodiles. “Tonight I
shall eat very, very well,” he sniggered, “Foolish Jonathan, I, your Ruler am
here for my gifts.” “Give me back my children and you shall have them,” said
Johnno. “Ah, no! First I must look at my presents and see they are all there.” Elo marched up to the sheep just as I had hoped he would, “Now let me count
them. Polices, bring the children over here by me! One, two, three, four,
eeeeeehhh … seven. Kings do not need to count things. You polices do it
One of the policemen holding the children began to count aloud checking
there were five hundred sheep in the flock. As he counted the other thug had
to move among the animals and the children were dragged along as well. I felt
the time had come … “Cuddles, werd d’ya wan now!” I yelled and an amazing
There was a great shower of earth below one of the sheep which flew into
the air. It was only a sheepskin and below it Cuddles had been hiding all night
in a long shallow pit he had dug. Out he rushed knocking one policeman down
with his nose and the other with a flick of his tail, just as we had rehearsed
the night before. At the same instant Johnno shouted commands and the three
hundred crocodiles rushed into the fray attacking the other policemen, shouted
to the children, “Run to your father!” and watched with joy as they ran into
his arms. I could see Angelica running up to them and I was so happy I did
not pay attention to what was happening around me.
Without warning an arm was pressed hard around my neck and a huge
revolver was thrust in my face. I could not see my attacker but from his voice
I realised it was the evil King. “You, you, very bad foolish man! Now I shall
blow off your head unless you shout to that crocodile to attack Foolish Jonathan.” I had to think very quickly as he eased the pressure on my throat. “Oh, great
king,” I whispered, “I cannot shout at all as you have damaged my windpipe.
I will tell you the command and you can shout it. He must obey any order.” “Then you will whisper it to me and maybe I will not shoot you later,” shouted
I whispered the necessary command and he threw me to the ground. He laughed
as he yelled, “Cuddles, werd d’ya wan na go!” and we all know what that means,
do we not? Before he could fire his pistol Cuddles had rushed at the villain
and knocked it far away with one blow of his tail. His jaws went CLACK as he
snapped at Elo who turned and ran. Cuddles ripped out the seat of his trousers
and people laughed as he ran, bare-bottomed, to try and escape.
Cabomban crocodiles run very quickly and Elo was soon on the ground with
Cuddles ready to eat him up. Johnno shouted a command and Cuddles backed away
but kept a close watch on the king. I became aware of a lot of noise and turned
to see King Elo’s subjects beating the policemen who had survived the crocodile
attack. Elo himself was grabbed by four of the president’s guards and rushed
off to jail along with his policemen. The Eloidean people began to dance and
laugh. It was the first time we had ever seen them happy. “We are free!” they
shouted, “Oh, thank you! Thank you!”
“As soon as my children and my friend Tom get cleaned up we shall have
that feast I have prepared,” laughed Johnno, “You Eloideans can celebrate with
us. We also have plenty of soft drinks.” And so it was that what had promised
to be a tragic day ended in great joy. Johnno promised the Eloideans he would
help them make schools and hospitals and that his people would teach them proper
farming methods. They were a very happy people when they crossed back over
the river that night, laden with gifts and with a happy future ahead of them.
The rest of my stay in Cabombaland was wonderful. Johnno awarded me The
Order of the Golden Green Crocodile, his country’s highest honour. Much more
important to me, though, was when he appointed me uncle to his children. They
all thought this was a great idea and I promised they could come and visit
me in Australia.
What about Bad King Elo and his gang? Johnno decided that their crimes
were too serious for him to handle. So he flew them to Holland to appear before
the World Court of Justice. They remain in prison there awaiting trial as I
write and I shall be a witness when the case is ready.
My time in Cabombaland was coming to an end. But what about Cuddles? He
and I travelled all over the country and everybody loved his dancing act. It
would be really sad to leave him behind. On my last day the President called
an assembly of the people. Before that Assembly he told me, “You must realise,
Tom, that our ancient laws make it an offence for anybody but a Cabomban to
own one of our crocodiles. You as an Australian therefore are not entitled
to take Cuddles home with you.” I felt very sad and tears came into my eyes.
But what was this?
continued, “We, the people of Cabombaland, in appreciation of all your
bravery and help, hereby create you an honorary citizen of our nation so long
as you shall live. Cuddles may therefore return home with you if he so wishes
and we present you with a Golden Pass for our airline so that you and he
may come to your other home whenever you want to.” Everybody cheered and
we all had another great party, my last for the time being.
Next morning I boarded the aircraft with Cuddles trotting behind me. After
another pleasant flight we were soon back home with lots of presents for Claire
and our other friends.