THE SHIFTING SANDS
GOON SHOW: TLO 21509
7TH SERIES: No 17
BROADCAST: 24 Jan 1957 
By Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens
GREENSLADE: This is the BBC light programme.
SELLERS: (American-style game-show host) …is the correct answer! And you win the spon prize of a pair of revolving cardboard socks!
SEAGOON: Mr Sellers, kindly remove that Hughie Green disguise and give a rapid impression of the oozalum bird.
SEAGOON: “Gone, and never called me ‘mother’.” 
“Dirty British coaster with a salt caked smoke stack…”
BLOODNOK: You filthy swine!
SEAGOON: As I was saying;
“Dirty British coaster with a salt caked smoke stack,
butting through the channel in the mad march days.”
GREENSLADE: Isn’t that by the poet laureate?
SEAGOON: Nonsense. It’s by Masefield – Jim Masefield.
BLOODNOK: I know another one of his by Kipling. (sings)
the road to
Where the flying fishes play
and the dawn comes up like thunder…”
MILLIGAN: (sings)… “out of
BLOODNOK: Got him! I couldn’t resist him, he was so beautifully marked!
SEAGOON: Naturally – he was just back from the laundry.
BLOODNOK: Oh ho ho! So gather round me lads while I recount it.
OMNES: Soldier-like grumblings.
BLOODNOK: “There’s a little green-eyed idol to the north of
but the wind blew up the chimney just the same.
And when it came to water, we……”
ORCHESTRA: Military link.
GRAMS: Fade in sounds of marching.
GREENSLADE: The tale Bloodnok told was of
SEAGOON: Yes. I
was fresh out of
WILLIUM: I see you worked your way up from the bottom sir. Congratulations on you becoming a second Lieutenant.
SEAGOON: Yes! To think just a month ago I was only a Brigadier. Now let me view myself in the ‘commissioned ranks only’ mirror.
GRAMS: Glass smashing.
WILLIUM: Oh! It’s never done that before sir.
SEAGOON: Well, I’ll make damned sure it doesn’t do it again. Take it out and shoot it! (Swaggers) Ha ha ha ha ha, e-gad! Yuech yuech yuech yuech! How I look forward to a day on the battlefield!
SPONLEY: (approaching) I say! Seagers old chap!
SEAGOON: Why, it’s Nigel Sponley the third long things.
SPONLEY: Yes. Grand news!
SEAGOON: What Nigel?
SPONLEY: The regiment is sailing tonight for active service.
SEAGOON: Active service! Does that mean fighting?
SPONLEY: Uggh! Yes!
SEAGOON: (Faking pain.) Oh my leg! – My leg… it’s gone!
SPONLEY: Quick – after it!
SEAGOON: In a few bounds Nigel Sponley had the leg trapped by the throat and returned it to me. But it was a close thing.
SPONLEY: Damn close!
WILLIUM: Pardon me Lieutenant son...er...sir, the C-O. wants to see you in his dressing gown.
SEAGOON: Right! I’ll change at once.
ORCHESTRA: Further military link.
FADE OVER: Milligan doing idiot Sergeant Major in the distance
FX: Door opens then slams shut.
SEAGOON: Seagoon reporting, sir!
C. O: Come in.
FX: Door opens then slams.
SEAGOON: Thank you.
C. O: What’s your phone number?
SEAGOON: Spon, three-four-nine sir.
C. O: Spon, three-four-nine.
FX: Phone rings.
C. O: Answer that, Seagoon.
FX: Phone lifts.
SEAGOON: Hello. Seagoon here.
C. O: Seagoon, come over to my office right away.
SEAGOON: Right sir.
FX: Phone down.
FX: Knock on door. (Brisk)
C. O: Come in!
FX: Door opens then shuts.
SEAGOON: Seagoon reporting, sir.
C. O: You’re a devilishly difficult chap to get hold of.
SEAGOON: Yes sir – I always grease myself as a precaution.
C. O: (Laughter)
SEAGOON: (Joining in) Ha ha ha!
C. O: A jolly good one that is. By jove! Ah ah ah – oh dear! Seagoon – this is Commander Greenslade, R.N.
GREENSLADE: Seagoon, I have here the editor of the NAAFI quarterly.
GRYTPYPE-Thynne: How-do-you-do. Gentlemen I have here in this cardboard suitcase Count Jim ’Thighs’ Moriarty, confidential bus-conductor to the President of France and war correspondent of ‘Health and Sun'.
FX: Suitcase catch opens.
gentlemen. I have news – an outpost of the
SEAGOON: Tell us something new mate.
Seagoon, we have it on good authority from our milkman that the besieged
SEAGOON: You mean our troops don’t know what side they’re on?
C. O: They know which side they’re on but they can’t prove it.
SEAGOON: Gad – it must be hell out there.
C. O: It is. Now then, what we’ve got to do…
ECCLES: Here, here, here! What’s going on here?
ECCLES: Oh, I’ll clear off then.
Sea-june, we want you to take the plans of a union jack to
SEAGOON: The plans?
C. O: Yes. You must realise Seagoon that all union jacks are made from an original set of rare plans left behind by King Arthur in an early British waiting room, circa BC.
SEAGOON: You mean – and
I say this on behalf of the bewildered listeners, that without those plans
C. O: Exactly.
SEAGOON: (Choking back tears) I say…
GREENSLADE: (Emotional) Easy old man.
C. O: (Tense) Steady Commander.
SEAGOON: I’ll be alright… What was that all about then?
C. O: Seagoon, don’t spoil everything so. Without these carefully rehearsed moments of dramatic tension, where would the empire be today, sir?
SEAGOON: Where it’s
always been – in
ORCHESTRA: Tatty chord in C with cymbal snap.
SEAGOON: So gentlemen this is where the story really starts, and here to hold it up is Max Geldray. Alright lads! Round the back for the old brandy there!
GRAMS: Boots running away.
MAX GELDRAY “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (to be Caught in the Rain).” 
ORCHESTRA: Dramatic link.
SELLERS: The Shifting Sunds of Westziristoon, part pflin!
SEAGOON: With the
plans of the union jack secreted in the hip pocket of my hat, I set fire to my
socks and set off hot-foot for
ORCHESTRA: Bloodnok Theme
BLOODNOK: Ohohohohohohoh! Ohohohoh! Ohohohohoh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ohoh!
FX: Cork popping.
BLOODNOK: Ohoh – that’s better! Now…
GRAMS: Extended sounds of pouring.
BLOODNOK: (Drinking sounds.)
SINGHEZ-THINGZ: Major! Major Bloodnok sir – the Colonel is coming! Tottenham three, Arsenal two. Snow on high ground.
BLOODNOK: Thank you… The Colonel? Chain the brandy to the wall – I know his sort.
CHINSTRAP: (Entering) A glass of port? I don’t mind if I do.
BLOODNOK: By the great leather puttees of Gemard R. Goldstein! Colonel Chinstrap – it’s you sir!
CHINSTRAP: Yes sir. Colonel Chinstrap is always me.
BLOODNOK: What a fortunate co-incidence for you both.
CHINSTRAP: Well, if you insist Dennis – just a chota-peg.
BLOODNOK: Yes, yes, yes.
CHINSTRAP: Just a spot more.
BLOODNOK: Yes, yes.
GRAMS: Further pouring.
FX: Glasses clink.
(Sounds of drinking.)
BLOODNOK: Have another?
CHINSTRAP: Ah – just a small one please.
GRAMS: Further further pouring.
FX: Glasses clink.
(Sounds of further further drinking.)
BLOODNOK: Spot more?
CHINSTRAP: Err, no, no. I think it’s about time you had one.
BLOODNOK: Yes, yes, yes! I will then.
GRAMS: Further further further pouring.
(Sounds of further further further drinking.)
BLOODNOK: Does you good you know, doesn’t it?
CHINSTRAP: I say, Dennis…
BLOODNOK: Yes, yes?
CHINSTRAP: Anything happen during the night?
BLOODNOK: In the night? Oh – the night, yes. Well Humphrey, the fort was attacked by fifteen thousand tribesmen but they were driven off by a frenzied shrieking figure waving a whiskey bottle.
CHINSTRAP: Good heavens. Who was it?
BLOODNOK: You sir!
CHINSTRAP: Are you sure Dennis?
BLOODNOK: Am I sure? Of course I’m sure! You weren’t the only one in that night-shirt you know! Ohhh! It was hell in there!
GRAMS: (Further further further further sounds of pouring.)
BLOODNOK: Well – bottoms up!
(Sounds of further further further further drinking.)
GRAMS: Further further further further further pouring.
FX: Glasses onto table top.
CHINSTRAP: I have a toast.
CHINSTRAP: Here’s to the old country sir!
FX: Glasses clink.
BLOODNOK: Mm? What old country?
CHINSTRAP: Any old country. Cheers!
(Sounds of further further further further further further drinking.)
BLOODNOK: Well now Colonel, I suppose you’re wondering why you sent for me.
CHINSTRAP: Yes, I say – just a minute, just a minute my boy – (to audience) QUIET OUT THERE!... Blasted goldfish.
BLOODNOK: They should wear slippers you know.
CHINSTRAP: Well, if you insist – just a nip.
FX: Door opening.
ECCLES: Here! What’s going on here?
ECCLES: Well I’ll clear off then.
FX: Door closes.
GRAMS: (Further further further further further further sounds of pouring. Mix in distant sounds of gunfire.)
BLOODNOK: Look – the relief column’s arrived!
CHINSTRAP: Send her in.
FX: Door opens.
GRAMS: Tram arriving at junction.
BLOODNOK: Great Scott! It’s a 49 tram!
CHINSTRAP: Then it’s one of ours.
SEAGOON: (Entering) Gentlemen, here are the plans for the union jack you so desperately need.
BLOODNOK: Hurray, hurray!
SEAGOON: Sorry I’m late gentlemen, but your fort is twenty miles further north than it says on the map.
CHINSTRAP: Twenty miles further north? Then it’s happened again. This fort was built on shifting sands, and your combined extra weight must have set it going north again.
BLOODNOK: You’re right Colonel – look out of the wall!
SEAGOON: Great spons
of galloping hearn! The fort’s crossing the frontier into
FX: Door knock.
BLOODNOK: Ohohohouuuahhhhohhhuuuuah! Ohohohohuuuuuahhhhhhhohhh! I recognize that knocking. It’s the devilish Waziric tribal chief ‘The Wad of Char!’
FX: Heavy knocking.
ELLINGTON: Let me in Bloodnok, or I’ll open this door cor blimey!
FX: Door opens
BLOODNOK: Curse! He knew the combination of the hinges.
CHINSTRAP: I say sir, ask him what he wants while I climb out the window.
ELLINGTON: Come back! Your fort now resting on my father’s domain.
BLOODNOK: How painful for him.
ELLINGTON: I warn you Bloodnok, your fort is now in the sacred car-park of El Bow – cost you seven and six an hour mate. Pay by cash cheque at sunrise or we attack.
BLOODNOK: I’m warning you Wad of Char, unless you withdraw that threat by dawn - we’ll pay.
ELLINGTON: Alright, mate. And now my latest number. Yim bom bulla boo!
BLOODNOK: You filthy swine you.
RAY ELLINGTON – “All of Me” 
ORCHESTRA: Military link.
GREENSLADE: The Shifting
SEAGOON: (Excited) Quite right yes.
GREENSLADE: Through the night…
GREENSLADE: …on the fort’s battlements…
SEAGOON: Yes yes yes?
GREENSLADE: …British soldiers…
SEAGOON: Oooo, yes?
GREENSLADE: …stood to for the expected attack.
GRAMS: Howling wind
BLUEBOTTLE: Are you wearing your long winter drawers, Eccles?
ECCLES: No, I am not wearing my winter-drawers-eccles. No, I never wear them bottle.
BLUEBOTTLE: Cor. Aren’t you afraid of going around without wearing any of them?
BLUEBOTTLE: Oo – what courage! Do you know that you’re a second Wyatt Earp?
ECCLES: Doesn’t Wyatt Earp wear long drawers?
BLUEBOTTLE: I do not know. I have never looked up his trouser legs.
ECCLES: I’ll tell you something – I looked up my dad’s trousers once and I discovered something.
ECCLES: That’s where he keeps his legs. Bottle, you ever seen your daddy’s legs?
BLUEBOTTLE: No. He always takes them to work with him.
ECCLES: Oh! What for bottle?
BLUEBOTTLE: He uses them to stop his trousers from bending.
ECCLES: Oh fine. Dat’s good. Dat’s good… Um - (Sings)
A letter to a dustman who takes my dust away
A letter to a dustman…
BLUEBOTTLE: (Scared) Eeeeeeeeee! Eccles! Do not look now – right behind you there’s a pair of great big naked legs.
ECCLES: Oooooo! Legs? Whose are they?
BLUEBOTTLE: I’ll look up his trousers and see. Ohhhhhhhh! It’s Ray Ellinj-ton.
ELLINGTON: Yes, but me playing part of ‘Wad of Char’.
BLUEBOTTLE: Oh-hohoeeei! The enemy! Immediately attacks for Enj-land. Hit, hit, fight! Hit, hit, hit, strike! Hit-strike, hit-strike, fight-hit!! Hit hit hit hit hit hit hit HIT! Knees fall off – collapses – loses.
ELLINGTON: Listen little spirit of empire. You give me the key to fort gates and me give you four ounces dolly-mixture.
BLUEBOTTLE: Hoi hoi hoi hoi hoi hoi! Every man has got his price. Here is the key.
ELLINGTON: And here is four ounces dolly-mixture. Goodbye mate.
BLUEBOTTLE: Puts leading dolly-mixture into dinner hole. Savours morsel. (Chews) Ahi hoo hooi! Huh hu hu hui! I have been trickéd! These dolly-mixtures are forgeries made from compressed senna-pods. Faints with horror – faint, fall, thud.
SEAGOON: What’s going on here? Who’s this soldier sleeping on guard? Good heavens – Private Bluebottle!
BLUEBOTTLE: Captain, I have done a terrible thing! I gave the key of the fort gate to the dreaded ‘Wad of Char’.
SEAGOON: What! You’ll be shot for this. Take aim, fire!
FX: Pistol shot
BLUEBOTTLE: Thank you Captain. Can I go home now?
SEAGOON: Colonel – what are we going to do?
CHINSTRAP: We’ll have to drink our way out.
GRAMS: Machine gun fire. Bugle playing advance over. Sounds of battle.
BLOODNOK: Ooooooh oooh! The Waziris are attacking.
CAST: (Variously) Oooohh! Ahhhww! Ooooooh! Ahhhww!
BLOODNOK: Anybody got a hole in the ground?
SEAGOON: Bloodnok, this is a fine time to turn coward!
BLOODNOK: I know – that’s why I chose it.
FX: Cork popping.
CHINSTRAP: Gentlemen, we’ll drink our way out!
BLOODNOK: Good idea.
CHINSTRAP: I’ll lead the way.
GRAMS: (Further further further further further further further further pouring.)
SEAGOON: You can’t drink your way out of this. These tribesmen are tough. There is only one language the Waziris understand – Waziri.
CHINSTRAP: Splendid. I’ll address the hoards from the battlements in their own language. (Slightly off mic.) I say – you Wasouries! Sum junjum pukeum chikpittu salveum deum, hai spon. They’re not answering.
BLOODNOK: What? Let me
try Humphrey. (Slightly off mic.) Atorum
makkhin torey char,
CHINSTRAP: Perhaps it’s their half day closing.
SEAGOON: No. Wait! Wait! Ehehehehehehheie-wait!
CHINSTRAP: Yes, I couldn’t agree more.
SEAGOON: What are those lumps at the bottom of the foothills?
SEAGOON: Shut up Eccles! Gentlemen – look, they’re hauling ‘Thin Tom,’ their long range cannon, into position.
BLOODNOK: They’re loading it…
CHINSTRAP: By gad, sir, they’re lighting the fuse…
SPONLEY: They’re… they’re pointing it at us!
BLOODNOK: They’re going to fire it.
SEAGOON: I wonder what they’re up to.
GRAMS: Shell dropping
GRAMS: Explosion followed by hen clucking
SEAGOON: That’s no duck. That’s a chicken.
CHINSTRAP: By gad, sir, they’re firing hens at us.
BLOODNOK: A FOUL trick.
SPONLEY: We’re being SHELLED.
SEAGOON: Stop cracking YOKES!
ORCHESTRA: Thin chord in C. Cymbal snap.
GRAMS: Massed rifle fire.
GREENSLADE: Through the long night the Waziris attacked, firing their bullets from the hidden position inside their rifle barrels. Then at dawn – good tidings.
OMNES: Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb
CRUN: Gentlemen of the fort, we have worked all night and completed a union jack. Owing to the shortage I was forced to build it of wood.
CHINSTRAP: Wood? How is it going to wave?
CRUN: I put hinges down the middle.
SEAGOON: Great news! Hoist it up the flag-pole.
CRUN: We can’t do that. You see I used the flag-pole to build the flag.
BANNISTER: Yes, yes. He…
GRAMS: Distant avalanche. (Try rolling a grand piano across stage.)
BANNISTER: What’s that? Ohh! We’ll be….
CHINSTRAP: I say, what’s that?
SEAGOON: The fort!
It’s sliding back on the shifting sands towards
FX: Quick knocking
SEAGOON: There it is at the back door now.
FX: Door opening
CYRIL: Good morning gentlemen. British Customs Officers.
SPRIGGS: Yes indeed – that’s who we arrrrrrrre!
CYRIL: Are you bringing any wines or spirits into the country?
CHINSTRAP: Only a flask full of brandy sir.
CYRIL: How much does it hold?
CHINSTRAP: Forty-eight gallons.
CYRIL: I wondered why your trousers were round your ankles. Forty-eight gallons eh? That’ll be seventy-five pounds in annas.
SEAGOON: Anna doesn’t live here anymore.
CYRIL: I was told that Anna-stays-‘ere.
SEAGOON: A magnificent film!
CYRIL: You can’t
take this fort across into
CHINSTRAP: …we’ll have to drink our way out of this.
SEAGOON: Right. Volunteers, one pace forward – march!
GRAMS: Regiment coming to attention
CHINSTRAP: Chinstrap, late of one pace back. Good health!
GRAMS: Liquid bubbling out of a thousand bottles.
GREENSLADE: That was all fifty-scree years ago, but to this day a white stone marks the spot where Chinstrap saved the day.
BLOODNOK: Yes, and it carries this simple inscription;
“Here lies Colonel Chinstrap,
Drowned – from the inside.”
SEAGOON: That’s it. All round the back for the old Marlon Brando there!
GRAMS: Massed boots running away.
ORCHESTRA: Closing theme
GREENSLADE: That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded programme, featuring Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Jack Train, with the Ray Ellington Quartet, Max Geldray and the orchestra conducted by Wally Stott. Script by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens, announcer Wallace Greenslade, the programme produced by Pat Dixon.
 For me the most evocative and enthralling episodes of the
Goon Show are those set in the land of Milligan’s birth – colonial India. The
British conquered India in reverse order – business came first, then military
came later; that is to say they conquered it by greed, held it down by force,
then stripped it under cover of ‘empire’. There they found a land locked in a
perpetual power struggle between the Maharajas and the local landlords, steeped
in a rigid caste system (which amongst other things allowed Brahmins to beat
any commoner who was careless enough to allow the shadow of a Brahmin to fall
upon them), and hopelessly thralled to a feudal system which demanded that
produce of any sort rose to benefit the higher orders in a ceaseless gravy
train of social, cultural and fiscal offerings.
The only part of the sub-continent which held out against the British was Afghanistan – not a real nation but a fabricated country, more a leftover bit of land between the Hindu Kush and Persia, and its associated tribal areas in the north of present day Pakistan. Three times the British attempted to subdue
The tribal lands of northern
 It is almost impossible to describe this human being. He was a TV host, an actor, a liar, a fraudster, a right wing bigot, a pilot, an inveterate litigant – he smoked, drank and took barbiturates and died a lonely death in 1997.
 The oozalum bird is a mythical creature. The legend says that it flies vainly around in ever tightening circles until it disappears up its own backside. It was the subject of at least one ‘Carry On’ movie.
 Not a quote from “East Lynne” (1861) a Victorian novel by Mrs. Henry Wood as is often supposed, but most probably from a stage version of the book, which became terribly popular as a theatrical melodrama later on.
 “Cargo” (1917) by John Masefield (1878-1967) poet laureate, writer and playwright.
 “The Road to
 A totally fabricated version of the original monologue by J. Milton Hayes (1884 -1940) – “The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God.”
 Milligan. Spike mostly performed NCOs with upper class effete voices. Many times he would make them stammerers, though Nigel Sponley appears free from this vocal malady.
 C-O. = Commanding Officer.
 In the distance one can hear Jampton joining in. Which is surprising, as no-one knew he was in the scene.
 I am not sure if Milligan means “Sunshine and Health,” a controversial nudist magazine from the 40’s and 50’s, often in conflict with the censers. It was the journal of the ‘National Nudist Council’ and the ‘American Sunbathing Association.’
 A mountainous region of north
 Opened as a variety theatre in 1884, rebuilt by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1927 as a cinema.
 An Irving Berlin standard. The song featured in ‘Top Hat’ (1935) sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and was later covered by renowned artists like Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
 Jack Train, (1902-1966) British radio and film actor; a well loved star of radio during the war. He appeared regularly in ITMA with Tommy Handley playing the same character he plays here – a slightly pickled Indian Army Officer who opened most scenes with the line “I don’t mind if I do.”
 Putties, from the Hindi putti (bandage), was a 9 foot length of cloth woven round the legs of infantry from ankle to knee. Used by the British army until the 1920s.
 Chota-peg, from the Hindi meaning small drink.
 I think that Train improvises here and Sellers follows along. It is not clear when they return to the script, but I suspect that one or two lines were omitted in the meantime.
 Milligan contorts linguistic facts
to get a laugh. ‘El bow’ is an imitation Arabic word. The language of
 “All of Me” by Marks/Simons (1931) – one of the most recorded songs of its era. It was a major hit for Louis Armstrong in 1932 and again for Johnnie Ray in 1952.
 This reference to Wyatt Earp is part and parcel of Milligan’s concept of his father. Leo was fixated by the Wild West. See ‘The War Memoirs’ volume 3.
 “Cassia angustifolia,” traditionally used as a laxative for children, an anti-inflammatory and for hemorrhoids.
 This is a Milligan fixation. The
hole in the ground appears often in the Goon Show, and seems to have originated
from a WWII incident in
 The British did use a cannon they called a ‘Long Tom’ though it was earlier than this date. Milligan actually includes an etching of soldiers struggling to get a huge piece of ordinance up a mountainside in ‘The War Memoirs’ book 2.
 The Indian Anna was part of the ancient Muslim monetary system, equal to 1/16 of a rupee. The coin has not been used since the decimalization of the Indian currency in 1957.
– a 1956 film starring Ingrid Bergman (returning from a self imposed exile from
the screen), Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes, concerning a young woman who passes
herself off as the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of
 This ending – concerning a white stone marking the spot of a soldiers death, is replicated in ‘Dishonoured’ (12/5th and again 13/9th.)
 A Goonesque code word for brandy. Brando = Brandy. Marlon Brando was at the height of his fame during this period, having starred in ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ (1951,) ‘On the Waterfront’ (1954,) and ‘Teahouse of the August Moon’ (1956.)