The Tony Oxtoby Show: Styx and Stone



-You’re listening to the Tony Oxtoby show on Trent FM and with news that the vole population in the river Dove has been decimated in the last 15 years, we’re talking about extinctions. On line 1, I have Ambrose from Stone.  Ambrose what do you have to say?

-Evening, Tony. I just wanted to pick up a mistake on your reporting.

-A sceptic eh, Ambrose? You don’t believe there’s been a drastic fall in the vole population?

-I don’t believe they’ve been decimated, no, Tony.

-You don’t?

-(Sighs) To decimate something is to reduce it by one tenth part. The vole population has been reduced by 90 per cent since 1990.

-Terrible, isn’t it Ambrose?

-I know. We’ll be speaking American English before we know it.

-Quite. So Ambrose, perhaps you could tell us what word should we use to describe the reduction of something to ten per cent of its former size?




-Ambrose?…He’s gone again. He always does. Never mind, listeners.  I’ve got Chris from Hanley on Line 2. Chris, I hear there’s an endangered species you’re doing your bit to protect.

-That’s right, Tony.

-Are you…are you going to tell us about it?

-Right…Well, it’s like this. I’ve got myself one of those Cerberus pups in me shed.

-A Cerberus? Guardian of the gates of hades?

-That’s the one, Tony. Got him in a basket next to me lawnmower.

-I see.  How’d you get hold of him, Chris?

-I got him off a bloke down the pub.

-A bloke down the pub gave you a Cerberus puppy?

-He did indeed, Tony.


-I lent him my strimmer, didn’t I? Only, when he gave it back, it were broke. I telled him to get us a new one but he said he were strapped for cash so he gave us the Cerberus instead.

-Sounds like someone got taken for a ride, Chris.

-I know.  The strimmer were already knackered.

-So, this Cerberus puppy, what does it look like?

-Well, Tony, it’s sort of orangey, like, with grey patches. Like a mongrel only sort of evil, like.


-Yeah, there’s something about its eyes.

-All six of them? (Laughs)

-Six, Tony?

-Well…er, Chris…apologies if I’ve put two and two together and made five but you’d expect a three-headed dog to have six eyes, wouldn’t you?

-This one’s only got the one head.

-A Cerberus should have three, though, surely?

-My mate says the other two’ll come when he hits adolescence.

-So, have you got long to wait, Chris?

-Well…They say there’s seven dog years to every human one so…I’d reckon on seeing something…about next August.

-But until then, you’ve got a one headed dog that looks like a mongrel.  With evil eyes?

-That’s right, Tony. Sort of like…

-I’m going to have to interrupt you there, Chris.  I’ve got a text from Ambrose. Again.  He says, “Your caller is mistaken. Young cerberuses are known as cubs, not pups. What do you think to that, Chris?”


-He’s wrong.  The plural of Cerberus is Cerberi. Ambrose from Stone, you’ve hoist yourself on your own petard and decimated your credibility in the process.

-I suppose  he has, Tony.

-So, Chris, this Cerberus? What are you going to do with it?

-Well, if I can get another one…

-Two Cerburi?

-If I can get another one, I’m going to breed them until I’ve got myself a pack so we can storm the gates of Hell.

-I can understand why anyone contemplating a trip to Newcastle-Under-Lyme would want to bring protection but why w…?

-I said Hell, not Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Tony.

-I know, Chris.

-Oh my God, were you doing a joke?

-That’s right, Chris.

-I’m so sorry, Tony.    Carry on…

-Never mind, Chris, the moment’s gone.  Why would you want to Hell with your army of Cerberi, anyway?

-So we can make off with all the Nazi gold.

-Chris…I don’t think the Nazis took their gold to Hell.

-Oh…Where is it then?

-I don’t know? Switzerland?.. Argentina, possibly.

-Maybe I’ll take the Cerberuses there.

-Cerberi, Chris.

-Cerberi then. Maybe I’ll take them there, see what we can sniff out.

-I think those countries have pretty strict quarantine laws, Chris.


-Actually, Chris, Ambrose has texted again. He says, “According to the OxfordDictionary of Classics, the plural of Cerberus is Cerberuses. You’re wrong again, Tony.  And it’s “Hoist with my own petard”.”  Well, Ambrose, at least I have a girlfriend.  Chris, before you check on flights to Buenos Aires, do you have anything to add?

-Well, Tony…

-Yes, Chris?

-Do you want to buy a dog?


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