So I hanging out at Cowley Printing Works, minding my own business, when Capo Huhne, 'The Carbonator', tap me on shoulder and say,
"Liberali come with me, we're going to take a ride in the Batmobile."
"You mean you sold your Toytown Prius and got hot new set of wheels?" I say excitedly.
He freeze and give me acid look.
"It maybe a humble Prius to you, Liberali, but I like to call it the Batmobile. Do you wish to imply my hybrid-electric dream-motor is in some way less miraculous and exciting than the fictional companion-chariot of the fabled Dark Knight?"
"No, no" I say
"Very well," he say "you may hum my... I mean his theme tune."
"Er... o.k... dina... dina..."
"Not that one" he interrupt "Do I look like Adam West to you?"
"George Clooney you fool, possibly with a touch of Michael Keaton and Christian Bale, although none of them could have coped with the cut and thrust of being an enforcer in the European Family, do you not agree?"
"Er... dum... dum... dum... dum... da... dum..."
"Eccellente Liberali, shall we go?... oh and keep humming"
So slightly unsettled we go to find his car... I mean the Batmobile... and soon we motoring out of London Territories, at fuel-efficient 56.6 mph, to secret location somewhere near Eastleigh.
Soon suburbs give way to green fields which crease up to rolling hills and winding tracks. We turn down old lane with rusting RAF sign on listing gate, and pull into a flat plateau occupied only by aircraft hanger nestling under rotting camouflage netting, surrounded by the rusting frames of what look like old Spitfires.
The Carbonator reach into glove box, click switch, and concealed doors open for him as we drive under netting. Inside is deserted, however we drive onto metal plate near centre. Click of other switch and plate descend with car... into darkness.
"Liberali... welcome to the Huhne-Cave."
As he speak, we stop descending.
"Prepare to be dazzled" he say. I shield eyes preparing for unwelcome return of daylight from dozens of high-powered halogen flood-lights that will no doubt illuminate this glorious palace in rock.
Instead, as he claps his hands, slightly dim yellow hue trickle through windshield enabling me, just, to see outline of The Carbonator's awe-struck visage.
"Low-wattage bulbs," he say "powered by solar panels on the roof of the aerodrome and a wind farm on the old runway. Are they not magnificent?"
"I am quite literally unable to see anything more brilliant." I say
"We will now visit project 'x'," he say ignoring me, opening the door and stepping away from the vehicle. I follow, tripping over the uneven surface and bashing my head on stalactites in the gloom. The Carbonator though is in rapture. This is his home, well one of them, and in here, he is prince of all he surveys.
We enter laboratory, this I ascertain when I trip over cables and narrowly avoid impaling myself on pile of old turbine blades and a bunsen burner. The Carbonator ring a bell and soon we are joined by an avuncular old man who appear to be dressed in ermine.
"Ah Chidgey, fetch an organic spritzer for my guest and a virgin mary for me we have work to do."
"Yes master Chris," he mumble and shuffle away into the twilight. Seconds later I sure I hear bumping noise, tinkle of broken glass, and what sound like curse aimed at in direction of missing light bulbs. I no that thirsty anyhow, so it no problem.
"Liberali," say The Carbonator, "you are privileged today to witness the fruition of a dream. The Huhne-Cave is hope, a beacon of light, shining through the fog of our polluted world. For today my lonely crusade against the forces of enviro-crime is lonely no more. The Liberali family, under the wise stewardship of Don Campbell has committed today to a world without petrol-cars by 2040. In this very laboratory I am developing the fuel cells, biomass and nano-tube paper-batteries that will transform the way we travel." A tear well up in one eye.
I no understand a word of what he just said, but bashing my head of low ceiling against cause my eyes to water as well and he seem touched by my appreciation.
"It all clear now." I say "I no understand what Don Campbell was doing yesterday, but now I do. I walk into office where he and Letteropener were deep in conversation. It appear they will be helping your scheme and legitimising a lot of the Family cash by buying up shares in the energy companies Letteropener used to work for. These companies no doubt invest heavily in your new technologies making huge return for Family twice over."
The Carbonator seem suspicious. "Did you say energy companies?...", he say "...What energy companies?"
"Oh Shell, Exxon, BP, Chevron... you know energy companies..." I say
He seem momentarily lost in thought "Bastardos! Liberali you idiot, they're buying oil shares on the assumption that this technology will take years to work. In the interim, the price of oil will go through the roof and every set-back or false dawn will be accompanied by a huge boost in oil company share prices. With that capital they won't invest in me and my cave, they will buy me out..." he seem very angry, and he doing that crazy economic talk-thing he do that make my eyes glaze over.
Still Chidgey has returned with half a pint of something sweet-smelling in a chipped glass so I happy. The Carbonator is always happy when busiest and he now stomping around his lab with some big clamps, wires and raving something about the market-case for euthanasia and not raising the retirement age for certain individuals... so he clearly happy as well.
My eyes now accustomed to the cave-light, I settle back and dream of a world of high ceilings without batmobiles.