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Look Before You Leap or The Time Professor Yaffle Nearly Blew Up Cardiff

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Bagpuss and his friends had settled well into Torchwood, finding themselves truly useful again for the first time since Emily was a little girl.

Once a week, Ianto would come down to visit them and would check that Madeleine and Gabriel didn’t need stitching, and that Professor Yaffle and the Mouse Organ had a fresh coat of polish. Bagpuss himself had never looked better, although he still somehow managed to just be a saggy, old, cloth cat, despite the repairs and attention.

One day, Ianto brought an artefact down to their sub-basement, but instead of giving it to the toys to mend he placed it on a high shelf and left without a word.

“How very curious,” Bagpuss said once Ianto was gone. “Why do you think he did that?”

Madeleine stretched in her rocking chair and had a little think before speaking.

“Perhaps it’s something dangerous?” she suggested.

“Fiddlesticks and Flapdoodle!” Professor Yaffle proclaimed as he jumped down from his bookend. “Clearly this item is badly broken and they don’t think we’re up to the task.”

“But we are!” chorused the mice and off they danced in the direction of the artefact. Bagpuss, Madeleine and Gabriel all tried to stop them, but they couldn’t be heard over the mice’s singing,

“We will fetch it,
We will mend it,
We will make it like new, new, new
We will look at it,
Every little bit of it,
Find out what to do, do, do.”

The last line faded as they came to a stop in front of Bagpuss and placed the item in front of him.

“Well, you’ve brought it now, we might as well take a look at it,” he said and peered curiously at the object in front of him. “Whatever do you suppose it is?”

It was not a large thing, about the size of a child’s shoe, and made of some kind of metal. It was oblong in shape, with two round buttons, one at either end, and a light in the middle on top. It was covered in some sort of design or pattern, which was perhaps alien writing.

“It’s quite simple. I recognise this writing,” declared Professor Yaffle. “This device is medical and it would be very useful to the upstairs people.”

Everyone agreed that it would indeed be useful and so they set at once to mending it. They worked long and hard, into the night, until finally the mice stepped back from the device.

“Ta-dah!” said Charlie Mouse with a bow.

“Well done, all of you. We shall show it to Ianto next time he comes down,” Bagpuss said.

“Wait, we should test it first. They would be annoyed if we haven’t fixed it,” reasoned Professor Yaffle and before anyone could stop him he waddled forward and pushed one of the buttons with his beak.

The light on top of the box began to flash blue.

“That seems to work. Perhaps you should shut it off now?” suggested Madeleine nervously.

Professor Yaffle made his way around to the other end of the device, flapped his wings once and pushed the other button, this time with his left leg.

The light turned red.

“Oh dear,” sighed Bagpuss.

Suddenly the lights in the basement began to flash and a loud alarm sounded.

“No need to panic,” shouted Professor Yaffle over the din. He was hopping about on one leg, with his wings spread wide. He was, quite clearly, panicking.

A few moments later, Ianto came running into the room, a scanning device in one hand, closely followed by Jack.

“It’s this way, sir,” Ianto said and indicated in the direction of the toys.

“How did anyone get this far past our defences, Ianto?” Jack said. The question sounded rhetorical, but Ianto answered anyway.

“I think I have an idea, sir. Look,” he said and indicated the blinking device in front of the toys.

Jack ran forward and examined the blinking box. With a growl of frustration, he ripped the cover off, exposing a network of wiring, before ripping out two of the wires. The blinking light went out, and a few moments later the Hub alarm went off too.

Jack let out a sigh of relief and then rounded on the toys.

“Why on Earth did you repair a Sontaran self-destruct device? You nearly blew up Cardiff!” Jack said to them with a shake of his head. It was difficult for the wooden bird to look abashed, but Professor Yaffle hung his head and did a pretty good job.

“Sontaran? Oh dear.”

Jack looked really angry, but Ianto just smiled and turned to Bagpuss.

“Thank you for repairing this, but please, in future, don’t touch anything I put on that shelf, okay?” he said as he placed the device back up on the shelf. Bagpuss nodded. “No harm done then,” Ianto added and began to guide Jack toward the stairs.

“No harm? Ianto, if that thing had exploded…”

“But it didn’t. They were just following their programming, they didn’t know,” Ianto could be heard as they ascended the stairs. Fortunately, the door then shut and Jack’s reply was too muffled for the toys to hear.