Tuesday, February 21, 2006


In The Hall Of The Drinking King

The story so far: Kim Ayres has been arrested by truncheon-wielding gravatars under the command of the rodentophagic Christopher Walken, and stands accused of the diabolical crime of being El Barbudo. Read on…

“Court is in session! All rise for the Honourable Justice Lord Anti-Barney!”

Kim sucked in hard. Judge Anti-Barney was notorious, a hanger-and-flogger who was known to have sentenced members of his own family to the birch. Rumours abounded as to the events that had shaped his character, the most prominent of which postulated that the forced shipping of relatives of his ancestors to Australia had sown the seed of a genetic embitteredness which he had inherited wholly. The judge took his seat, his eyes invisible behind his shades, and stubbed the remains of a Lambert & Butler out on the bench before him.

“Fucking proceed.”

Kim stood when instructed, glancing across at the jury. There might have been 12 of them, more, or fewer; it was difficult to tell. To a man (and woman, and ape) they stared back at him, their foreman, Dr Maroon, looking dismayed and crazed.

The judge barked: “Kim Ayres, you face the charge that since September 2005, you have been blogging under the guise of El Barbudo. How do you fucking plead?”

“Not guilty, your lordship.”

He sat again and Binty gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. He couldn’t have asked for a better defence counsel. Binty was unusual among lawyers in that before coming to the Bar he had had a distinguished military career, serving in Gulf War One and Iraq under the command of the legendary General ‘Blood and Balls’ Challinor.

The counsel for the prosecution rose, collapsed again and was helped to his feet once more by court attendants. It had been generally agreed that in a trial of such import, only the best mind could be relied upon to put the prosecution’s case, and consequently the late United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammerskjold had been brought back from the dead using the latest in reanimation technology. Hammerskjold gripped the table in front of him and his staccato delivery confirmed the beliefs of those in the courtroom sceptical of reanimation science, namely that robotics had been heavily employed in the process.

“Item! Kim Ayres, your weblog is titled ‘Ramblings of the Bearded One’. ‘El Barbudo’ is Spanish for ‘The Bearded One’.

“Item! In September 2005 someone made enquiries on the weblog of Gorilla Bananas about what to call his new weblog as ‘The Bearded One’ was already taken. He was advised to use the title ‘El Barba’, meaning The Beard, but he forsook this advice.

“Item! You do not link to ‘El Barbudo’s’ site on your weblog despite linking to almost all others in the Blunt Cogs community. You have never posted a comment on the ‘El Barbudo’ site.”

There was a muttering amongst the prosecution team at this, and Kim wondered if the last fact had been checked properly.

“Item! In -”

“Hang on a sec,” muttered the judge; then, to the stenographer: “You fucking getting all this?”

Hynes looked up brightly. “Yeha you’re hounor, im doin fian! No nede ta wory bout a hting, yuo cna raly on me!”

“Item!” resumed Hammerskjold. “In a post on his site dated 15 January 2006, ‘El Barbudo’ says ‘I’ve decided to create Blunt Cogs, an online comic strip.’ There is no mention of any collaboration.

“Item! In a post on your site dated 5 February 2006, you set out in detail why you were ‘a part of’ the creation of the Blunt Cogs concept. Among the reasons you give is that you like the freedom of being able to swear freely at times as if with friends down the pub. What better way to do this than to assume the anonymous persona of an angry, foul-mouthed enigma?

“Item! Both you and ‘El Barbudo’ have posted on your respective weblogs sarcastic remarks about the benefits of global warming, suggesting that it would at least warm up the colder parts of Europe.

“Item! Your comments on various weblogs and those of ‘El Barbudo’ often appear suspiciously soon after one another. An example can be found on Dr Maroon’s weblog on 23 October 2005, in response to his bestowing of Maroon Awards, when you and ‘El Barbudo’ comment in quick succession.

"Item! On 31 January 2006 a cartoon appears on the Blunt Cogs site with the title 'The Sordid Truth...?' At the foot of the cartoon appear the words 'posted by Kim Ayres'. However, a Technorati search of links to Foot Eater's site reveals that this post is by 'El Barbudo'."

Kim felt a chill in his gut. With such overwhelming evidence it wasn’t looking good. There was more from Hammerskjold – the fact that Kim Ayres and El Barbudo are anagrams of each other when translated into Elvish, for instance – but he barely heard it. Hammerskjold’s voice became progressively deeper and slower until his power ran out and he collapsed.

Binty stood to present his case but proceedings were interrupted by a disturbance in the jury box: Gorilla Bananas and LindyK, two of the more potty-mouthed bloggers among Kim’s peers, had started a drunken brawl and had to be removed by the rather prim but heavily-armed bailiffs, Sarah and FatMammyCat. Judge Anti-Barney announced a recess for lunch and Kim was led away to his cell, the heavy weight of dread dragging him down at each step.

Next: the case for the defence.

I shouldn't comment before all the evidence is in, but it's looking very black indeed.
Where do we sign the guilty bit?
You've even got me thinking I'm guilty. I'm looking forward to what the defence has to say.
The defence team are wasting their time,He IS going to be found Guilty.There must be a glarking,at the very least.
Make him say "Fucking cunt", if he cannot, he is clearly innocent of being El Barbudo.
Oh Kim! Say it ain't so! I shall follow proceedings-as Sarah and I drag you to and from the stocks - with great interest.
This has inspired me for another strip:
Footsie, the sheer comic proportions of my drunken brawl with GB are a bit of genius... well done on the series!
i'm a prim but heavily armed bailiff..

Foot.. you gaddamned conspiracy theorist!

i especially liked this: "the fact that Kim Ayres and El Barbudo are anagrams of each other when translated into Elvish.."

thas hardcar evadance rit thar.
Dr Maroon: patience, man...

SB: thanks.

Kim: you know very well what the defence is going to say...

AB: I somehow think you shouldn't be saying things like that at this stage in the trial, being the judge and all.

Dr E: good tip, but by saying that, even in quotes, you've made me wonder if you are ElB.

FMC: stocks? If he's found guilty the punishment will be far worse than that.

Kim: excellent.

LindyK: thanks.

Sarah: you were going to be the prosecutor at first but I thought that might sour relations between you and Kim.
Yeah! And have you ever noticed that you NEVER see them in the same room together?!?!

OKOKOK... so Dr. Maroon may be the only one who has ever really been in the same room as Kim, but...

HEY DOC!!! Was El Barbudo EVER there in the same room as Kim?

Me think me proved me point.
He's guilty as fuck. Hang the cunt, m'lud.
What an absolute fool I've been. Monstee's right! Now I remember it, there WAS a strange silent hooded man who sat in the corner watching us.
He was bearded and called himself Unbarhill. I didn't like the look of him one bit!
wouldn't want that. Kim is like a nice considerate teddy bear! ya just wanna SQUEEZE him!
Dr Maroon already knows the truth of the allegation because he has Haloscan and has received comments from both Kim and El B. He is therefore collaborating with the accused, who is therefore guilty as charged.
I know I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but I couldn't find any comments at Dr Maroon's on 23rd Oct. Besides, people are commenting near the same time all the time with blog comments. I mean, Anti-barney and Dr Evil commented within 3 minutes of each other in this set of comments.
El B: hanging's too good for someone guilty of being you.

Doc: as foreman you're expected to show a sharper memory than that. You can't just introduce new evidence like this so late in the game.

Sarah: don't know about that, but clearly I made the right decision not casting you as counsel for the prosecution.

GB: now you should have been prosecuting this case.

Jokemail: you're not slow at all, and in fact your first point forms part of the defence's case. All will be revealed tomorrow.
Hynes as the stenographer - a stroke of genius, sir, I laughed out loud!

Doc, that hooded man cannot have been El B - he hates hoodies, as his latest post showed!
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