“There’s a Yeti on the loo in Tooting Bec!”
These nine words formed a sentence that, had a younger and less impressively mustached Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart but known its utterance lay in his future, might have turned his thoughts to how to best serve queen and country through an avenue other than U.N.I.T. Something marginally more dignified, like winning pie-eating contests or traveling to Mexico to compete in lucha libre under the sobriquet El Bigote.
Nonetheless, a Yeti anywhere was serious business, and he felt that he had barked the words with sufficient urgency for those within hearing distance to snap to attention.
The Doctor carried on reading his newspaper.
“I said,” the Bridgadier repeated, “there’s a Yeti on the loo in–“
”Tooting Bec, yes, yes,” the Doctor said distractedly. Then he sat bolt upright. “Good Lord, Harrods is having a sale on all formalwear!” He rounded on the Brigadier, eyes wide and concerned. “You don’t suppose they could be going out of business, do you?”
“Doctor,” said Lethbridge-Stewart in a tone that so completely redefined the phrase ‘long-suffering patience’ that academics could have written entire treatises on it, “you are employed as U.N.I.T.’s scientific advisor, not its fashion consultant.”
“I should hope not,” the Doctor retorted. “For one thing, I never would have gone for those berets.”
“Perhaps we could continue this discussion in the car. On the way to Tooting Bec. Where I do hope you will recall, Doctor, there is a yeti. On the loo.” Three times. Three times he’d had to say that now. He was not going to be responsible for what happened if the Doctor made him say it a fourth.
“Oh, all right,” the Doctor said. “Though I don’t know what you expect me to do about it now. I told Hogarth last night that the pears wouldn’t agree with him. Or the caviar. Or any organic material, really.”
There were times when talking with the Doctor was like slogging uphill through mud, only for the ground to suddenly vanish under your feet. “Who?”
“Hogarth. President Hogarth. Oh, for heaven’s sake, man, the Yeti!”
“The Yeti,” the Brigadier said flatly (saying things flatly being his go-to strategy for when he was seventy percent sure the Doctor was having him on). “President Hogarth, the Yeti. Of course. And what planet is he president of?”
“My dear chap, what are you blithering on about now? Hogarth the president of a planet? An academic like him? No, no, he’s the current president of the Intergalactic Floral Society.”
One of the Brigadier’s eyebrows made a slow but steady effort to become acquainted with his hairline.
The Doctor paid him no heed, bustling around the lab and packing various things into a satchel. “Hmm, not enough ball bearings…we’ll have to stop and pick some up on the way. And some diesel fuel, to settle his generator…” He looked up suddenly. “Well, what are you waiting for, Brigadier? A friend is in need! We must set off straight away.”
Alistair did the two things he always did at this point; namely, give up all hope of understanding what was going on in favor of trusting the Doctor, and double-check that his gun was loaded just in case the Doctor was wrong. “Lead on, then.”
The Doctor grinned and swung an arm around the Brigadier’s shoulders. “I do hope he’s not too indisposed,” he confided as he led them out the door. “If he can’t attend the meeting tonight we’ll have to vote in a new president, and I have a sneaking suspicion as to who’ll be nominated…”