The show was far
more popular than expected with the excitement and
thrill of The London Inventors Fair filling my
body with excited nerves. The crowds were vast making
it difficult to hear giving me inspiration of
creating an automatic ear trumpet for the next event,
but in the meantime I had to make do with my latest
invention, a speaking toilet paper dispenser.
roll up, ladies and gentlemen, I called out
while waving my arm at the vast amount of people
passing by my stall.
challenging to say the least to gain attention with
so many people walking in either direction, causing
difficulty for the few who wanted to marvel at my
amazing creation. I was sure many of the attendees
were really only there for the enjoyment of a day out
visiting the splendour of Crystal Palace, but even so
the many oddities of an inventors fair were
enjoyable in themselves. There were a number of
businessmen too, eager to get their greedy mitts on
new ideas, intent on selling new products. Luckily I
had already protected my genius invention with a rock
solid patent so I actively sought such people rather
than avoided them.
gentlemen! I called out again, How many
times have you paid a visit to the lavatory and
realised you ran out of paper? Well now that is a
thing of the past with my speaking paper dispenser.
Switching on my
invention, and intentionally ignoring the smoke
wafting from its innards, I pulled out a sheet of
velvety soft toilet tissue while the dispenser
uttered the words twenty nine with a
right ladies and gentlemen! I said with a tone
of authority, There are twenty nine sheets left.
Twenty nine bottom wipes.
A large woman
among the crowd, wearing a lopsided bonnet, shook her
head in disgust before making her way through the
vast group of people towards the next stall. I couldnt
tell if it was due to being offended at my choice of
words or with the invention itself. I guessed I
should have rehearsed my speech beforehand.
As the hours
quickly passed by I felt I still hadnt gotten
my message across as to how truly wonderful my
creation was. Part of me felt the public were
ignorant when it came to hygiene and their toiletry
needs, preferring instead to wipe their filthy
bottoms on used newspaper. In fact some of them
likely never cleaned that part of their anatomy at
all, instead waiting for their monthly bath. It was
at times like those that I despised the lower classes.
Maybe I was feeling sorry for myself. I must have
gotten through to at least some people considering
the vastness of the crowd.
ladies and gentlemen! I boomed out yet again
with my tired voice almost croaking, How many
times have to paid a visit to the lavatory only to
discover youve run low on
I was interrupted
by the crowd as a commotion began to form at one of
the other stalls further up my row. No doubt it was a
hack inventor showing off something gimmical and
useless, attracting impressed gawkers. I attempted to
times have to paid a visit to the lavatory only to
discover youve run low on toilet paper? I
said to the crowd, How often have you had to
I quickly turned
my head as the crowd around me began hurrying over
the to stall further up.
I said under my breath.
One of the show
staff opened a large glass side door allowing some of
the public to make their way outside causing a cold
draft to waft against my thin waistcoat.
The staff member said with an authoritative tone.
I took a large
intake of breath wondering as to what was going on. I
hoped to dear God that it wasnt a fire, but
then again I wondered how a glass building could
possibly burn down. That was something unlikely to
man, a woman in the crowd said as she made her
way out the door.
It was only then
that I noticed a man being carried by stretcher
clutching his chest. From the look of his attire he
must have been a fellow inventor overwhelmed by such
a popular event. For a moment I was tempted to
continue my presentation but decided to remove my hat
and wait a few moments out of respect.
The remaining few
hours of the show were a total washout to use a
colloquial term, which in turn gave me inspiration to
invent an automatic washing machine for a future
event. The crowds had quickly made their way outside
the building after the unfortunate incident, many of
which never returned under the belief that the show
had been cancelled. I too called it a day and took a
wander around the stalls along with other exhibitors
who had chosen to do the same. It wasnt long
before the event was officially closed and it was
time to pack up and head for home.
So what do
you believe it is? I heard a female voice as I
approached the stall of the inventor who had
The woman wore a
long brown scarf, covering her dark leather jacket,
tapping against the bum of her tight trousers as she
walked. She appeared to be talking to a fellow
inventor who too appeared baffled as to the objects
use that was displayed upon the stall. I wondered if
the woman was from the press in which case I felt the
need to step in on the off-chance of being mentioned
in the newspapers.
too large for a lamplight, said the man
stroking his pointy black beard, Maybe its
to keep the flies away, like a bug zapper perhaps.
inventor was holding it up before his collapse,
the woman said, It was vibrating back and forth
like it had a mind of its own but now its
motionless. I guess its out of power.
Keeping my eyes
firmly upon the eight inch brass object on display I
too guessed as to its function as I approached.
How is our
fellow inventor who created this fine instrument?
I said under the guise that I cared for my fellow man
as well as not giving away that I had no idea what
the invention was for.
The man with the
pointed beard looked at me before tilting his hat.
been taken to St Bartholomews Hospital,
the man said, I suspect he was overwhelmed by
the sheer size of this extravaganza due to his
I nodded in
to be a collection on his behalf and Im sure
many of us will pay him a visit once hes fully
recovered, the man added causing me to repress
my annoyance at having to pay a single penny for
I looked up at
the item on display once more trying to gain a little
insight as to its function. I will still totally
flabbergasted yet didnt want to appear foolish
in front of my fellow peers so tried to sound
knowledgeable while still inquisitive as to its
purpose. Reaching out I picked it up from its display
stand and held it up before noticing its slippery
that earlier, the woman said, Its
coated in a sheen of oil, you may wish to wipe your
I placed the item
back upon its stand then retrieved a handkerchief
from my waistcoat pocket quickly wiping the sticky
oily substance from my hands. However it proved
difficult and I only hoped the oil wasnt
sealed at the base, I said taking a closer look
but daring not to touch it again, But Im
sure it unscrews. Maybe its a container of some
sort for storage. Possibly an oil container thats
sprung a leak.
said the man with the pointed beard, Something
along those lines anyway. There are a lot of amateur
inventors at these events parading all kinds of
novelties as true inventions. There was even a guy
with a talking toilet paper dispenser of all things.
Both the man and
the woman let out a chuckle having no idea who I was
or what I had been showing.
Dr Ulysses B. White, I told them offering my
hand before realising it was still coated in an oily
The Bearded man
was hesitant as to whether to attempt to shake my
hand then held his arms to his sides instead.
Sherwood Lantry, he said giving his beard a
Inq Mary-Jane Ukridge, said the woman holding
out her gloved hand for me to shake.
I responded having no idea what she meant while
taking her hand and gently shaking it.
she added, Im not an inventor per se. Im
more of a representative, an agent if you like, of
manufactures looking for new products.
My face lit up
then suddenly remembered how she chuckled when my
lavatory paper dispenser was mentioned. I made a
mental note to not mention my invention if pressed to
do so. We all looked at one another while Mary-Janes
eyes glanced back toward the mystery invention. For a
moment it looked as though she blushed but it may
have been a trick of the light.
just realised what this is, she said softly as
she leant closer to Sherwood and myself.
We were puzzled
as to her quieting voice as though she was reluctant
to reveal the secret. There was silence for a few
moments while Mary-Jane gave off an air of
embarrassment licking the side of her mouth unsure
whether to reveal her theory.
I quickly said causing Sherwood to frantically nod
its a ladies personal item, she
In what way?
I quickly asked.
her head around making sure that we werent
being overheard then leant closer again.
just my theory I might add, she said, I
have no real evidence, its just due to its
elongated shape and the fact that its
I said while waving my hand in a rolling fashion.
Mary-Jane took a
large intake of breath.
item, she said, When a woman is alone and
she needs a certain problem dealt with, a need if you
like, that she cant perform if her husband is
I was still
understand, Sherwood said calmly, And I
can see why the object has the need to vibrate whilst
performing such an action.
gentlemen can make use of it too if they are, well,
that way inclined, she said with a smile.
I opened my mouth
hesitating whether to inform them that I had no idea
what they were talking about or to fake that I did.
Sherwood leant closer to whisper into my ear.
clearing the pipes, Mary-Jane continued.
Sherwood took a
step back having not told me anything.
down the plughole of a bathtub to clear out hair that
may clogging it up, she said red cheeked
looking down at her feet, Ladies often shave
ones bodies in the tub.
what I thought you meant, Sherwood quickly said
whilst nodding, I agree. Thats my theory
until much later that day that myself and many of the
inventors made our way to St Bartholomews
Hospital to pay a visit, as well as a little money,
to the creator of the unusual item. A dozen of us
crowded in his small private room ogling him as he
sat up in bed while we wondered if he was a genius or
just another hack.
Oh my word,
he said as we wished him well, You are most
kind and I can see the inventors community is
one that takes care of its own.
The jar of coins
had already been placed at his bedside while I stared
at it wondering how much the others had donated,
while certain I had inadvertently donated the most.
happened to you? One of our fellow inventors
do not worry yourselves, he replied, Im
to make a full recovery. I just need plenty of bed
rest and to take a break from the labours of
invention what was that device you had on show?
I asked him, Weve been speculating as to
His grin was wide
pleased to be asked such a question.
Is it for
clearing bathroom pipes? Mary-Jane asked him.
Or a back
massager, hence the warming oils? Another of
the inventors asked.
The man sitting
in bed let out a chuckle.
fellows, he replied gazing his eyes at us in
turn, That was merely a prop. A miniature steam
pump. It serves no purpose other than to demonstrate
the wonders of steam power.