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Thomas Mc Rae
[To Thomas Mc Rae’s index]

[Click here to read about Tom and Cuddle’s earlier adventures.]

Cuddles’ Travels

A Story Written for John
by Tomas Mc Rae, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, © 2008

After our adventure in Ca­bom­baland and the overthrow and capture of bad King Elo, Cuddles and I returned home to Brisbane for a rest. He remained a star of Australian television and I had a good income from his appearances. But for the next two years life was just a bit quiet. Cuddles and I did make two visits to Ca­bom­baland. Then Jennifer and Chris came to Brisbane to stay one year and Young Johnno and Amanda the next. I had great fun showing them everything and was sorry when they went back home. After all, I was their honorary uncle.

In the meantime the prosecutors at the International Court of Justice were preparing the case against Elo and his nasty henchmen. This was taking so long I had practically forgotten about it when a police officer came to my door one morning and delivered a large envelope for which I had to sign. What on earth was inside? I opened it to find a large sheet of headed paper.

International Court of Justice

The Hague
The Netherlands

Dear Mr Mc Rae,


You and your crocodile Cuddles are hereby summoned to attend this Court at 9 a.m. on July 12th to act as witnesses for the Prosecution in the case against the aforementioned King Elo and his men on charges of Usurping a State, Insurrection, Enslavement, Kidnapping, Robbery, Unlawful Imprisonment, Blackmail, Entering Ca­bom­baland without a Passport, and Extorting Beer.

Arrangements have been made for you to fly via Ca­bom­baland Airways, the only airline which accepts crocodiles as passengers. Two first-class tickets for the flight on June 30th are enclosed. Free accommodation will be provided.

Please be aware that failure to attend will result in severe penalties for you and your crocodile.

With very best regards,


Hans Hoppitt
Clerk of Court

PS: Please do not say Knees and Boompsadaisy when I introduce myself. That is not funny.


So finally Elo would get what he deserved. I returned the air tickets to Ca­bom­baland Airways because, if you will recall, I held a gold pass and Ca­bom­ban crocodiles travel free. There was a whole month to organise Claire to cat-sit for me and work out what I would take on my journey.

Another big surprise came next day, a letter from my pal President Johnno telling me that, not only would he and his lovely wife be in The Hague for the trial, but also that the Ca­bom­baland Army Band had been invited to perform at the Edinburgh Tattoo along with its team of dancing crocodiles. He suggested that after the trial we go on to Scotland as he would like Cuddles to do Highland Dancing as part of the Army display. We would all stay in the Ca­bom­baland’s Hague embassy first, then in their new one in Edinburgh. More great adventures loomed ahead I was yet to discover just how great and even scary they would be.

A few days later there was a knock at my door and a very scruffy African stood there holding out a piece of paper. “Pleesah. Dis lettah go come from King Elo for you Sah. He go sneak um out qui’et qui‘et an now Ah make foh deliber the ting.”

I read the letter, Good Grief! That villainous scoundrel had real cheek! It said …

I have honour mos respecfully beg inform you that I have pleasure to say I am in jail. Dey go say you be witness in dis case they go make foh me.
I respecfully oder you to no say things that make me look bad. Nossah. You go tell dem I was good for you like a brudder. Dey say me go for steal President Johnno’s children, Ha Ha! Nossah! I no go do dis ting. I go findem loss for Bush an was helpin dem go for home to dey Fadder. You go tell dem dose tings I go dash you two thousand dollars american.
You hear. Make you no go say I be bad man. You heeear.
Kindly dash 100 dollars for man wid dis letter.
Elo King of Elodea

Him Mark

I recognised the bearer of the note as one of Elo’s ex-thugs. How did he get into Australia? Give him $100?! I set Cuddles to chase him up the street ripping his trousers. I then rang Immigration who soon tracked him down as the police had arrested him for showing his bottom in public. He was deported to The Hague to face trial as well for trying to bribe a witness and illegal immigration.

Time rushed by. Then once again me and Cuddles were aboard a Cambombaland Airlines flight bound for Amsterdam and then on to the Hague a few days later. We were met at the Airport by Johnno and his entire family as well as a very officious Dutch official. “I am Hans …” He paused obviously anticipating. I said nothing. “… Hoppitt and it is just as well you came on demand as we have ways of dealing with people who do not. Welcome to The Netherlands. Make sure you attend court on July 12th. Before that you have my permission to travel around. But our laws require anybody owning a reptile of any kind to have a permit. Your animal must therefore return from whence it came.”

“May I point out, sir,” Johnno said icily, “that this crocodile is a legitimate citizen of Ca­bom­baland and is in possession of his own diplomatic passport. In addition, as a visiting head of state I expect courtesy, not obstruction, from minor officials such as yourself.” I sensed a diplomatic incident in the offing. Hoppit apologised profusely and said it had all been an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Pompous oaf! And most Dutch people are so friendly! That did it for me. I shook his hand saying, “Dank u, meneer Hoppitt. Rest assured I will not say ‘knees’ and ‘boompsadaisy’, which is not funny.” His face turned red and he strode away. My African family roared with laughter and we all went to our hotel to get over our jet lag.

Next morning after breakfast we took a walk around Old Amsterdam and its canals, Cuddles trotting happily along beside us. People seemed scared of him and some even shouted what sounded like bad words. Many even crossed to the other side of the street. The driver of a passing car took one look, swerved, skidded and ran the vehicle into a canal. It started to sink and we could see adults and children inside.

People started shouting what sounded like “Police!” But before any human could do something Cuddles had rocketed into the water and was pulling open a door of the sinking car with his front claws. He dragged two children out and swam to the edge of the canal with one in his mouth the other in his claws and delivered them into the hands of rescuers on the bank.

Back he swam as the car sank below the surface, dived down and came up with a lady who swam ashore herself as he returned to rescue the driver. People who had abused him just minutes before now hailed him as a hero. Police arrived then and took statements from witnesses.

“It seems, sir,” said a police officer, “that this animal is the hero of the day. It shall be reported.” He took down details of who we were and where we were staying. We walked on a little further. As we passed, everybody applauded Cuddles who looked very smug. Had he been able to speak I am sure he would have said “Shucks! It was nothing.”

We toured Amsterdam’s wonderful museums and, knowing how much Cuddles loves cats, we took him on a special visit to De Kattenkabinet, a museum devoted to cats and things cattish which he seemed to enjoy. News of his rescue efforts had quickly spread. Whenever we passed restaurants and cafes the owners would come out with treats of fish and meat for him.

A really big surprise came next day when we were all summoned to a special ceremony where Queen Beatrix herself presented Cuddles with the highest bravery award the Netherlands could confer. Not being able to pin it on his front it was suspended from his neck by a red collarette.

Our Amsterdam period passed all too soon. Off we went to The Hague for preliminary briefing on the trials. Lawyers took us through what to expect and told us we had nothing to worry about so long as we told the truth. At last it was 12th July. We were placed in the witness room where we waited to be called. Nothing happened on the first day, but on the second we were called up one by one.

When my name was called I entered the court to be greeted with “Eeeh, ma good brudder Tom! You are welcome.” In the dock sat the eight accused in prison clothes and a smiling Elo was having the audacity to greet me! The prosecution guided me through delivery of my evidence and the court was amazed at Cuddles’ sheep impersonation. The defense questioned the truth of this story so a sheepskin was found, Cuddles admitted, and we demonstrated what happened as well as we could without digging a hole in the courtroom floor. The defense tried to say this meant nothing and even the panel of judges laughed at that.

The leading counsel for the defense then asked me, “Is it not true that Good King Elo treated you as an honoured guest, yet you lied about his hospitality?” I denied this and the prosecution drew attention to photographs of the bruising I received from Elo’s thugs. “But” said the defense counsel, “I put it to you that you received that bruising by falling from a canoe and that Elo found you when he was taking President Jonathan’s children back to him?”

I replied, “As for the first, falling from a canoe does not give someone fist and club marks. For the second … please ask the children themselves.” That was the end of my time in the witness box.

The children then came in and all told the same story of abduction and beatings. Finally Johnno himself was called and the court rose in respect of a visiting sovereign. His account was the clincher, especially when he produced Elo’s threatening letter of demand. The judges retired until next day when several inhabitants of Elodea told how Elo and his thugs had just turned up one day and subjected them to years of brutal slavery.

The president of the court declared it closed until next day. We returned to the embassy to rest. Next morning the court re-opened and the judges entered to pronounce that the defendants were guilty on all counts. Elo was sentenced to 40 years in jail, his thugs to 30 each, and they all were led off in chains. Justice had been well and truly done. Meneer Hoppitt came up and told me I was now at liberty to leave any time I chose. “Thank you Hans …” I replied wickedly.

We spent several more days in The Hague but visited other cities including Haarlem. Pity it was far too late for the tulips. One day we visited Volendam, a town of fisherfolk, full of tourists. Everyone regarded Cuddles with interest. One small boy threw a smoked eel at him. Quick as a flash my crocodile companion caught it in his mouth, tossed it in the air, and balanced it upright on his nose. Rising up on his hind legs he then did a dance while the eel stayed in place. Many a camera clicked, I can tell you.

Just beside The Hague is the fascinating town of Madurodam. Why fascinating? Because it is a wonderful collection of scale miniature buildings, including a replica of Amsterdam complete with canals. Cuddles crawled around the site to the delight of visiting children who kept yelling, “Godzilla!” Did he understand? Was that why he stood on his hind legs towering over the small houses? Cameras galore clicked yet again but. Unlike the real Godzilla, Cuddles did not leave a trail of wreckage behind him.

There was only one more incident during our stay in the Netherlands. On our last full day we visited Alkmaar with its famous cheese market where pairs of traditionally dressed porters carry sledges of round cheeses for sale. Cuddles watched the proceedings with great interest and all would have gone off well if somebody had not started to play one of those glorious Dutch street barrel organs. Caught up by the merry music my Ca­bom­ban Green got on his hind legs and began to dance spinning around the market square.

Everybody started to cheer. But then … disaster! His tail caught on a pyramid of cheeses and they scattered everywhere like wagon wheels. Chaos loomed as people ran helter-skelter trying to catch them.

Where there had been cheering minutes before there were now shouts of anger. Trouble was really brewing when Cuddles saved the day. Still dancing he swirled the tail that had wrecked the cheese pyramid, and he gathered up all the rolling cheeses and restacked them as they had been. We left to great applause. Some even shouted “Encore!”

Next day we boarded a flight for my birthplace, Edinburgh, where Cuddles would join the Ca­bom­ban Army Band and its dancing crocodiles for the Tattoo rehearsals. first at venues around the City then at Edinburgh Castle itself. Professor MacGregor was at Edinburgh’s Airport to welcome us all. He had brought along a large van so he could drive us and Cuddles to the Ca­bom­ban embassy where we would stay until the Tattoo finished for another year.

On that same day disaster struck. At The Hague officials had decided that, as Elo and his gang were too dangerous to keep together, they would send him and his two worst henchmen to a tough prison elsewhere. Scotland’s Barlinnie is one of the world’s most secure jails. So, while we were flying to Edinburgh, those three villains were in transit to Prestwick Airport. From there they would go to their new home for many years to come.

The villains seemed very subdued as they travelled, unchained, on a normal flight, each with two guards. On disembarking at Prestwick Elo collapsed moaning with pain. As concerned guards tried to assist him the other two moved in, overpowered their captors, stole their weapons and ran to the nearby car park with the supposed patient. There they stole a car. Police announced they were still searching for the fugitives but were confident they would soon be recaptured.

Over the next few days there were reports of the burglary of a gents clothing store in which extra large garments were taken. Later the robbery of two banks by three large dark-skinned men, thefts of cars by men of similar description, a break-in at a theatrical supplies store, then nothing at all. Things seemed quiet. Had they left the country?

The Tattoo was still some weeks off. But, as already mentioned, the performers had to attend daily rehearsals around the city. Apart from that the humans all explored this wonderful city, receiving warm welcomes wherever they went.

The Ca­bom­ban crocodiles of course could not be allowed to wander the streets of Edinburgh with its large dog population. Otherwise a few pet owners could soon have been dogless. Soldiers stationed at Edinburgh Castle with dogs were also instructed to keep their pets indoors when the crocodiles were in the vicinity. Thus there were no “unfortunate” incidents during the reptiles’ visit. The Castle cats of course soon be­frien­ded them.

Accommodating the crocodiles posed a problem which was solved by placing them in special quarters at the Edinburgh Zoo. They wandered happily around the area and soon became a big hit with the visitors. This zoo is famous for its huge colony of penguins and each day the large king penguins go for a walk led by a keeper. They and the crocodiles became great friends and after a few days they joined the parading birds in their march to the joy of spectators.

Cuddles of course stayed with us at the embassy and joined us as I showed my African friends around the wonderful city of my birth. Children made a great fuss of him. Younger ones cried their eyes out when told they could not take him home. I took him swimming in the three lochs at The King’s Park and even to local seaside resorts. He had a ball!

Rehearsals proceeded apace. But there was a most unfortunate incident one evening when a piper who was a little drunk decided to teach one of the dancing crocs to play his bagpipes. Holding the mouthpiece towards the croc he said, “Here Jimmy, gie us a blaw!” Alas, there was a loud CLACK and a shattered mess of tartan cloth, ribbons, wood, and silver ornaments fell to the ground.

The poor piper was marched off to the cells by a very angry sergeant and charged with causing the destruction of government property, namely a set of bagpipes. Professor MacGregor and Johnno managed to save his skin by explaining that in Ca­bom­ban the words for “Here is a special treat” were actually “Gee issa blaow” and that the croc had thought he was being fed.

The soldier was let off with a reprimand but required to pay several hundred pounds for the bagpipes. Hearing of this the Ca­bom­ban Army Band held a special benefit performance in a local soccer stadium and raised more than enough to buy several sets of pipes. The army was so pleased it made the piper a sergeant immediately. Thus it was that the Ca­bom­ban Band members were very heartily entertained by Scots wherever they went, long before their Tattoo performances. Tattoo time was fast approaching and the first full rehearsals on the Castle Esplanade began.

Initially soldiers wore their normal uniforms and the civilians street clothes as they practiced their entrances and exits over the Castle drawbridge. As they rehearsed seating was installed and lights began to be set up and tested. Could all this work be completed in time for the opening?

One morning I stood with our band and its dancing crocodiles when a blond woman went up to the band master rudely shouting, “Hey you! Git those igly bists out uv the wey of us girls or we’ll knock yew fir sex.” New Zealanders from the accent, although rudeness is usually rare among those lovely people. She pushed past the Ca­bom­ban soldiers, a gaggle of other girls followed her smiling sadly at the Ca­bom­bans and mouthing, “Sorry”. Turned out this was Rayleen, their team leader.

I wondered what they would be doing when a military band started up and the girls started wandering around in drill formations that would have given any sergeant major an epileptic fit. At times they stood quite still apart from wagging their heads from side to side. Marching girls! I cringed, can’t stand them at any cost. And here they were at the Castle.

I must admit that, apart from their domineering leader, the other lasses seemed to be friendly enough. They watched the Ca­bom­bans practice, then went over to chat to them trying to make up for Rayleen’s rudeness while she stood aloof scowling.

Suddenly full dress rehearsal day was upon us. I joined Johnno’s family in a special guest area to watch what is actually the first performance of the Tattoo. The grandstands were filled with members of the British military, The Territorial Army volunteers, ex-military, and pensioners. By tradition things start with a wonderful display by the massed pipes and drums then on come other participating groups one by one. What a show it proved to be!

Mellowed by discovering what a great group the marching girls really were I was still horrified by the brigadoonery of their costumes. Very, very short tartan skirts and disproportionately huge tartan bonnets. Nonetheless they are always popular, particularly with male attendees for some reason. Just as odd is the way many female spectators look daggers at them.

After their contribution, on came the Ca­bom­ban Army Band followed by their dancing crocodiles, and led by no less than Cuddles. The band played traditional Ca­bom­ban music which went over well with the audience. Then the crocodiles did an amazing dance standing on their hind legs.

The crowd went crazy. Then the other reptiles moved back so Cuddles could do his solo Highland fling. That really got them going. But then attendants brought over four swords and placed them crosswise points inwards. The walls of the Castle shook as they had not shaken in centuries when Cuddles, tail held high out of the way, completed his difficult sword dance without touching a weapon. Band and crocodiles exited to the loudest applause of the night and this was repeated at every other performance.

The show ended with fireworks exploding overhead as all participants marched from the Castle down the Royal Mile. Transport was parked at the bottom in a special area from which all would be taken to barracks and other accommodation arranged for them. Thus great friendships developed between people from many nations.

As we walked down with the rest of the exiting crowd I was amused to hear an angry woman say to her husband, “Sandy! I saw you looking at those New Zealand lassies’ legs through your binoculars, you wicked man!” Sandy sheepishly answered, “Honestly, Jeannie! All I was doing was trying to identify the tartan they were wearing.” I think Sandy stayed in the dog house for a week as did many other male spectators on each night of the Tattoo.

Word of the Ca­bom­ban performers quickly spread and demand for tickets to the already sold-out Tattoo grew. Many were sold at huge profits. But there were also reports of some people being dragged into the dark alleys Scots call “closes” and mugged for their tickets. Unfortunately, very few of the robbers were caught despite police efforts. Trouble was so many victims did not know their seat numbers.

Professor MacGregor and I often used to discuss the possibility of the crocodiles communicating with one another. Some incidents did suggest such a thing. But surely it was not possible, was it? An unfortunate event at a performance during the Tattoo Season confirmed our suspicions.

On that night the marching girls came on to the Esplanade and started their performance. As the band began to play the audience was amazed to see the crocodiles, led by Cuddles, march across the Castle drawbridge and merge with the girls, duplicating their formations perfectly. The girls’ reactions ranged from marching on, running off in terror to collapsing in fits of the giggles. Blond Rayleen was not amused although the crowd roared.

Nothing like this had taken place at any previous Tattoo. Even the band stopped playing largely because its members were so convulsed with laughter. Ca­bom­ban soldiers ran up and herded the crocodiles back over the drawbridge and the girls re-started their routine. The Ca­bom­ban Army Band and dancers received even bigger applause that night. But there were repercussions.

Leader Rayleen demanded that the Ca­bom­bans be removed from the programme. The New Zealand consul held an urgent meeting with the Ca­bom­ban ambassador and President Johnno. All ended satisfactorily with formal apologies and naughty crocodiles being commanded to behave in future. This did not satisfy the leader of the marching girls. But she was over-ruled. Little did she know that it would not be too long before she would have cause to bless those self-same crocodiles. This incident proved to the Prof and me that the animals could, and did, communicate.

On one memorable night towards the end of the three weeks President Jonathan of Ca­bom­baland was invited to take the final salute. This was a great honour indeed and he looked most impressive in his full dress uniform. With fireworks bursting in blazing glory overhead he led the parade down the Royal Mile past cheering spectators. When we reached the vehicle pickup area and people looked for their transport a voice called, “New Zealan’ ladies, dis way pulleeze!” and a large dark-skinned man with a huge beard came up waving a sign.

The girls dutifully followed him towards a bus. But why, I wondered, did that voice sound familiar? As he climbed up the steps and sat down in the driver’s seat I saw two other dark-skinned men inside at the back. I realised what was happening and yelled to Johnno, “Get the police fast!” I ran in front of the girls shouting, “Stop! Do not board that bus!” before I could say anything else the abominable Rayleen shoved me brutally aside, “Outta our wey, yew!” and the girls dutifully trooped aboard.

As the engine started Johnno called to the crocodiles, “Werdya wanna rubba flubba!” They divided into four groups and started biting the tyres of the bus which collapsed with loud hisses. The vehicle moved just a few feet, then ground to a halt. There was a moment’s silence. Then the door opened and out came none other than Elo wearing a false beard, a huge revolver in one hand, the other round the neck of a screaming hysterical Rayleen. The other two thugs stayed in the bus but moved just behind him. The air was filled with screams from the terrified girls.

Where were the police? Elo looked at me, “Aha, it is my brudder Tom! How happy I be for see you! I have deemans foh to make an’ yew will tell dem to the pulleece, or we go shoot all of dem luvvly girls we like tooo much. Lissen! We want plane at airport to take us to Elodea with hunderd million pound on board. First we stop for Hollan’ an’ my men dere will be at airport for me to take wid me. Den we go fo’ home. I go be King again and United Nations see dis is so an’ make promise for go leave me alone.”

I realised I had to try delaying things until help arrived. Looking around all I could see was one policeman speaking desperately into his radio. I asked Elo, “But what will happen to those New Zealand girls if this is agreed to?” Elo laughed, “Ah, dese be fine, fine wimmen. You no ’gree, dey go get shot. You ’gree, dey go foh Elodea wit me an be my wives. I like dem toooo much. Three time I go thief tickets for Tattoo from foolish men and go watch dem. All dem girls be for me myself, you heear!”

The screaming from the bus grew louder. Rayleen fainted with terror. I looked at the two huge thugs standing behind Elo. They looked angry. I devised a cunning plan. I asked him, “But surely you will give some of those lovely girls to your two mighty men and also give them a share of that money?” Elo did not seem to know his huge ruffians were standing at the bus entrance listening as he answered me, “As fo’ dem, dey be foolish bush men who no sabby nuff-in. Give dem money an’ girls? Not at aaalll. Dey go get nuffin. Dey jus’ be my small boys foh do what I say.”

The two bully boys leapt from the bus steps on to Elo and began beating him. One shouted, “You no give us nuthin’!? We go take eberyting, foolish man!” The gun fell from Elo’s hand and the three fell into a punching brawling mass as Rayleen came out of her swoon and ran free.

It was then that Johnno gave the crocodiles a very secret attack command and they all joined in the fray biting and clawing the evil men. I ran to the rear of the bus and opened the emergency door. The girls had been too panicked to even think about. “Out, lasses, out fast!” They crawled out one by one and I caught each as she jumped.

Above us two large helicopters appeared. The policeman fired a flare to show where the trouble was and two teams of Special Air Service soldiers came sliding down ropes only to find three very bruised and battered African criminals after Johnno called off his reptilian guards.

The helicopters landed as the villains were put in chains by the soldiers and pushed towards them. “Pleesah!” moaned Elo, “I be beaten proper and be very sick. You no go take me to hosipitah, I go die.” A soldier I took to be the commander laughed, ”Don’t you worry! We will fly you to a very good hospital right now. the special one at maximum security Barlinnie Prison.” “Oh, Sah, foh myself I no go do nuffin. Dose two bad mans do all. Me? I jus’ come look what go happen.” All the soldiers laughed as they herded the kidnappers on board and the helicopters took off.

I looked around. A busload of young Edinburgh policewomen had arrived and were comforting the New Zealand girls who quickly recovered. Two entered the bus and found the real driver gagged, trussed up, and shoved under a seat. Rayleen, however, stood apart screaming hysterically. She was taken to their embassy for treatment. Unable to ease her hysteria they flew her home and one of the nicest of the other girls was appointed the new team leader. The brave lasses insisted that their show must go on the following night.

I was embarrassed by all the praises heaped on me. After all, I just kept Elo talking. The Lord Provost (Mayor) of Edinburgh granted the Ca­bom­bans, their crocodiles and yours truly, Freedom of the City. After a big parade along Princes Street we attended a wonderful party where Cuddles, naturally, did some Highland dancing.

The final few performances of the Tattoo were legendary because, not only were the Ca­bom­bans given an even more rousing reception, but beforehand the crocodiles joined the New Zealand girls in their marching routines to tumultuous applause. The girls even placed floral garlands around the necks of their saurian saviours.

All too soon it was the final performance of the year. Everything went exceptionally well, although the marching girls all burst into tears when they realised they would soon part from their crocodilian heroes. The massed pipes and drums marched on to the Esplanade. Then, at a command from the Director, all music stopped.

A spotlight suddenly shone on The Royal Box, and there was Her Majesty and Prince Phillip. The crowd cheered. Then a kneeling stool was placed before the box and a microphone set up. An aide appeared carrying a sword as the Queen descended and stood before the kneeler. What was going on?

I soon found out when Her Majesty said, “Call Thomas Mc Court Mc Rae to my presence!” Who? Did someone else have the same name as me? Two army officers approached me. Me! They led me before Her Majesty, commanded me to kneel, and, taking the sword, she created me Sir Thomas Mc Court Mc Rae of Buccleuch Street where I was born. I confess I blushed with embarrassment. She spoke of my heroism in rescuing the girls then the aide asked me to stand back beside Prince Phillip who muttered in my ear. “I say, old chap, Jolly good show what? Tell me, do you think those crocs of yours would be better at hunting deer than our dogs?” I pretended not to hear. But the Queen was far from finished.

The entire troupe of dancing crocodiles, Cuddles included, was paraded before her and each of them had a ribbon bearing the Dicken Medal, Britain’s highest award for animals, placed around their necks. Finally she requested President Johnno to come to London so the Order of the Bath could be conferred on him with full ceremonial. She and Prince Phillip then returned to the Royal Box. Johnno and I resumed our own seats.

As the crocodiles prepared to march off Her Majesty requested that Cuddles stay and repeat his sword dance before her with music by her Royal Piper. Swords were placed before the box and Cuddles danced as never before.

At last all was complete and the massed bands gave their closing performance for the year. The Lone Piper played from a high point in The Castle. Fireworks blazed, flashed, crackled, and banged. The performers marched off down The Royal Mile to the strains of “The Black Bear,” a pipe tune traditionally played when troops marched back to barracks. The Tattoo was over for another year. What a time we had had!

The Royal Party drove off in a special car. Johnno and I went back to the embassy exhausted but jubilant, had a very good night’s sleep and prepared for what lay ahead. You see, yet again it seemed we would have to act as witnesses in new trials of Elo and his henchmen. Would we have to return to The Hague?

Fortunately, the judges there decided The Terrible Three were too dangerous to be transported back and there was more than enough evidence against them already. Judges were flown to Edinburgh and it proved unnecessary to call any witnesses, they were sentenced Never To Be Released.

A bearded Elo remained in Barlinnie. He had stuck the false beard on with superglue so nobody could get it off. Not only is he jailed for life but bearded as well and it itches terribly. The other two were sent to the bleak secure Dartmoor, a far-from-happy place. The police discovered that the fugitives had been living in tents at a camping area on the fringe of the city with regular bus services to and from the city centre. They had stayed there undetected for more than a month.

Johnno’s great honour was scheduled for two weeks after the Tattoo’s end. So preparations were made for the army people and crocodiles to return to Ca­bom­baland. There was however a complication with the crocodiles. You will recall that a great friendship had developed between them and the king penguins. Somehow the animals realised they would soon be parted and showed signs of being very upset. Johnno then had a great idea. Why not send six crocodiles to Edinburgh Zoo every six months while six penguins went to Ca­bom­baland? Zoo officials readily agreed and the scheme was put in place.

A few days before the crocodiles left they were, as usual, marching down to the Zoo bus stop with the penguins when IT happened. A group of people called “End Animal Exploitation!” love causing trouble with illegal demonstrations. They chose this moment to invade the Zoo without even paying, and march along with banners saying, “SET ZOO ANIMALS FREE”, “END ANIMAL EXPLOITATION” and “EAT MORE BEEF”, this last from another group who got into the wrong demonstration.

Up the hill they marched, shouting slogans and pushing Zoo patrons aside. Down the hill marched the penguins, crocodile friends in tow. The groups met and the demonstrators tried to push their way through the penguin column. The crocodiles, thinking their friends were being attacked, began biting the demonstrators. The penguins joined in pecking their bottoms as they ran back down the hill where waiting police rounded them up.

Six crocodiles stayed on in Edinburgh while six penguins flew to Ca­bom­baland for six months. Everybody was happy.

We flew down to London where Johnno received The Order of the Bath at West­minster Abbey. Her Majesty also invited Ca­bom­baland to join the Com­mon­wealth and Johnno gladly accepted. Me and Cuddles were invited to return to Ca­bom­baland. But we missed Claire and our cat friends and had had enough adventures for a long time to come.

We farewelled our friends. Then back we travelled at long last to Brisbane, a place where I could be just plain Tom. Hopefully we would have peace and quiet there for a very long time to come.


Dedicated to John, my young friend in Virginia —
May his every day be filled with wonder as he grows in new life!

[To Thomas Mc Rae’s index]

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