Errors of Comedy - Chapter 2
Sprawling Metropolis was, literally, an architect's dream, or so the story went. One morning, Simon Burdon, a student working for a firm of architects, had woken up with an idea. For reasons lost to history, his bizarre, unworkable, unfathomable idea found an appreciative audience. An audience with money - possibly too much of it. And so a city was created and, in the absence of any other volunteers, young Simon Burdon became its first and, today, many years later, still its only Mayor. Geographically, it was an American city. Culturally - part British, part American, part... Well, why not consult the guidebook?
Welcome to Sprawling Metropolis - Four cities in one!
Yes, here in Sprawling Metropolis you can savour the delights of four entirely different cultures... without leaving the city! After arriving at Burdon Airport, in the central region of the city, you will be greeted by one of our highly trained couriers. Each of our couriers has undergone three years of intensive study just for you! They have an in-depth knowledge of the city's history and culture and are also trained in self-defence, hand-to-hand combat and the use of anti-personnel weapons, so you have nothing to fear from any of the less desirable inhabitants of our beautiful city. After meeting your courier and being issued with your emergency personal distress alarm you will be asked to sign a liability waiver. This is no cause for concern and is purely for insurance purposes. You will then be free to embark on the tour of Sprawling Metropolis.
The Simon Burdon Memorial Monorail
Yes, believe it or not, the first of the many highlights on this tour is your means of transport! The Simon Burdon Memorial Monorail was opened four years ago to commemorate Mayor Burdon's fifth consecutive appointment and is the most modern means of transport operating in the world today. Each monorail car is designed specifically to get you from A to B in maximum comfort and style. The upholstered leather seats are handmade by the city's finest craftsmen and each car contains a selection of the finest artwork the city has to offer. Poetry, painting and sculpture are equally well represented along with a selection of the world's greatest works of fiction. But it's not all culture! The Simon Burdon Memorial Monorail also represents the pinnacle of scientific achievement. The cars are propelled by magneto-nuclear induction coils situated at regular intervals along the five centimetre wide track. This allows the cars to travel at speeds approaching 250kph; useful when you're heading for some of the more remote areas of our colossal city!
Yes, the Simon Burdon Memorial Monorail combines all the best features of science and art so you can sit back and relax to enjoy your journey and marvel at the beauty of Sprawling Metropolis.
The Southern Quarter
Your tour begins in the most elegant part of the city. The Southern Quarter is the home of the most successful people in Sprawling Metropolis. Here is where the people who run the city, along with the doctors, lawyers, teachers and other middle-class professionals, rest and play. The Southern Quarter consists largely of housing estates, each with its own unique character and style. Don't be fooled by their identical appearance! Beneath these superficial exteriors lie hearts that burn with a fierce individuality! The residents of Estate 500 may look, talk, think, shop, go to the cinema, play football and have children exactly like the residents of estates 1-499 but the differences are there. They may be subtle, but there are certain things that instantly mark out a man from any given estate. His golf handicap, his car registration, the colour of his suit, the way he combs his hair, the name of his wife and many other distinguishing features. But the Southern Quarter is not just housing estates. Oh no! The entertainment possibilities are endless. The Southern Quarter contains shopping complexes, bowling alleys, cinemas, restaurants and fast food outlets. As you can see, the Southern Quarter is a place of endless variety and excitement and you will be able to sample it for yourself. That's right! The Sprawling Metropolis tour includes a three night stay in the Quarter's most luxurious hotel. The hotel has its own monorail station and leisure complex. There are also regular guided tours of housing estate 362 and a chance to meet some of the residents. This once in a lifetime opportunity should not be missed before you leave the Southern Quarter to continue your tour of Sprawling Metropolis.
The Western Quarter
Yeeha! Howdy pardners and welcome to the Western Quarter of Sprawling Metropolis. Yes, that's right! The old philosophy and culture of the 'Wild West' are alive and well, here in the Western Quarter. But it's not all Cowboys and Indians. The Western Quarter of Sprawling Metropolis is also the major agricultural supplier for the whole city. Whether it be acres of grazing land for the cattle or the endless fields of corn, the Western Quarter is a wonder to behold. And you will be beholding it! The tour of Sprawling Metropolis includes an extended stay on a cattle ranch where you will be able to see the cowboys at work. You will be thrilled by their display of old fashioned techniques; no cattle-prods for these ranchers! The only tool they use in rounding up their cattle is the good ol' lasso, complete with the revolutionary twirlo-matic rope-handling wrist launcher. You will be amazed as a mere flick of the wrist sends yet another steer crashing to the ground, ready for the abattoir. And after a hard day 'out on the plains' you will be ready for your evening meal, Western Quarter style. A plate of beans around the camp fire is provided for every guest and afterwards you are invited to 'take your partners' for a lively hoe-down. Those of you looking for something a little less energetic can sit and listen to 'Tales of the Wild Frontier', presented by 'Wild' Sven Hickock. Despite being born in Helsinki, Sven's heart has always been 'Home on the Range' and after hearing his epic sagas, you too will be entranced by the magic of the Western Quarter.
After a good night's sleep, it's up bright and early for the rodeo. Yes, it's another chance for the ranchers to show off their skills. They'll be doing all the things you saw them do yesterday, but this time it's just a bit of fun and you might even be invited to join in. Ever wanted to rope a steer or break in a bucking bronco? Well, this could be your chance, but take it easy! You don't want to injure yourself. There are still two Quarters to go on your tour of Sprawling Metropolis.
The Northern Quarter
Some people have said that the Northern Quarter of Sprawling Metropolis is where the 'real people' live. Whilst not denying the existence of the inhabitants of the other Quarters of Sprawling Metropolis, it has to be admitted that the residents of the Northern Quarter seem somehow more solid. The 'real people' of the Northern Quarter also carry out the 'real work' of Sprawling Metropolis. Here you will find all the heavy manufacturing industry of the city. If it's dirty, noisy, smelly, radioactive, toxic or just plain dangerous, it will be found in the Northern Quarter. To minimise personal inconvenience, the factory workers all live in the Northern Quarter, usually within walking distance of their factory. Because of this closeness, the residents of the Northern Quarter have developed a community spirit unlike that seen anywhere else in the city. Their arms are always open and their doors are never closed (except in the event of chemical spillage or radioactive fall-out). With the emphasis placed firmly on industry, the facilities in the Northern Quarter, such as schools, hospitals and the like, are somewhat limited. Despite this, you'll never hear the residents complain. They're a hardy bunch in the North and they'll take whatever life throws at them and if they don't like it then they can always throw it back!
Due to the potentially hazardous nature of the Northern Quarter, the tour does not include an overnight stay as standard. Those brave souls who have signed up for the 'Adventurer' package will be issued with an air filter and three pairs of rubber gloves. The water is drinkable and the food is generally edible but electricity is only available every other day between 9am and 7pm except for the operation of a small 'wireless'. The monorail service ends at the southern edge of the Quarter. Access to the interior is generally on foot. Good luck!
Those of you with an interest in the industrial side of the city will be able to meet the directors of the companies concerned. The directors rarely visit the Northern Quarter itself (current practice is to schedule an inspection tour every four to six years) but they will be happy to see you in their offices, located in the central region of the city.
So take a last look from the Monorail car as you speed out of the Northern Quarter and on to the final region of Sprawling Metropolis.
The Eastern Quarter
Now we come to the most beautiful part of the whole city. The mysteries of the Orient have found a new home in the Eastern Quarter of Sprawling Metropolis. As you wander the fragrant gardens, your mind will transcend earthly matters and enter another plane of existence. Well, so much for your mind, but what about your body? The Eastern Quarter is home to some of the finest cuisine available in Sprawling Metropolis. Whether you prefer Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian Vietnamese, Laotian, Burmese or Sri Lankan, you'll find it's available here. If you're looking for something a bit more down to Earth, you'll be pleased to know that the World's largest fast-food chain has just opened a branch in the Eastern Quarter, just a minutes walk from the 'Garden of Fragrant Lotus' monorail station.
So, after your body and soul are equally well nourished, what else is there to do in the Eastern Quarter? How about trying your hand at one of the ancient martial arts. No matter what your standard, one of our instructors will have you flat on your back before you can say 'Bruce Lee'. And speaking of being flat on your back, why not try an Oriental-style massage. There are massage parlours on every corner with professionally trained masseurs and masseuses waiting to soothe away your aches and pains. Readings of Eastern poetry and philosophy are also available to while away the time as you sit in the beautiful and tranquil surroundings of the 'Garden of the Aromatic Dragon'. In the evening you can visit the theatre. There's no theatre like Noh Theatre, and tickets are included in the price of the tour.
Because there's just so much to do here, the tour includes a five night stay in the Eastern Quarter before we have to tear you away to complete your tour of Sprawling Metropolis.
The Central Region
And so the tour of Sprawling Metropolis comes to an end where it all started. The central region is, quite literally, the hub of the city. The directors of the hotels and entertainment complexes of the Southern Quarter, the ranches of the Western Quarter, the factories of the Northern Quarter and the restaurants and massage parlours of the Eastern Quarter all have their offices here. The centre-piece of the central region is the magnificent Burdon Stadium, home of the Metropolis Magpies Football team. Despite having never won a major tournament, or indeed a match, the Magpies are confident that this season will prove a turning point.
Situated next to the stadium is the Sprawling Metropolis Presidential Theatre, which has seen some of the greatest entertainment the world has to offer. Currently appearing is the brilliant young comedian, William Randall. The winner of several awards, William has appeared here every night for the last five months and shows no sign of running out of steam. When you arrive in the central region, your courier will offer you a choice of a ticket to see William Randall or a season ticket for the Sprawling Metropolis Magpies and a selection of Magpies Merchandising.
After spending the night in the central region you will be escorted to the airport. We hope you have a safe journey home and that you have enjoyed the tour of our city: The one and only Sprawling Metropolis.
What the tour guide failed to mention was the presence of the two ghosts, who had taken up residence in the central region of the city and were even now wandering out of the Sprawling Metropolis Central Hospital.
'Hospitals are such ghastly places, I do declare,' said the English ghost.
'I have nothing to declare except my genius,' said the Irish ghost.