The trench of bones was now working its way towards Boldon Colliery. And, at long last, ribs started to appear.

But at that point the money ran out. Finger in mouth, Dyspepsia glanced through the books and saw that she had spent a billion pounds.

How the money goes!

The scientists started packing their bags and booking flights home. Something needed to be done, and quickly.

A lot of the scientists were Chinese, and one day they came to her in a group and invited her and Spookie out to a Chinese restaurant in Newcastle, just off Newgate Street. It wasn’t just a dinner out. There was something they wanted to talk about.

Over peanuts and prawn crackers, the leader of the Chinese scientists explained that China was very interested in Dyspepsia’s dragon. They were certain it was a Chinese Earth Dragon, which made it very important to dig up.

So the Chinese government wanted to offer her another billion pounds to finish the excavation. In return she offered them a plastic replica of the skeleton. That started some hard bargaining. The Chinese wanted the actual bones.

They wondered if Dyspepsia couldn’t keep the plastic replica instead. They said they’d help her make it look so good that nobody would tell the difference.

In the end Spookie came up with the answer: perhaps they could mix the real bones and the plastic ones up a bit? (Spookie, you know, is clever with puzzles and uncertainties.)

The Chinese scientists looked as if they might go along with that. But first they said they ought to talk to their government.

Next morning the Chinese government wrote out a cheque with a lot of noughts in it, and the scientists went back to work and the ten-wheeled lorries began to roll again.

Dyspepsia put in an order for two big plastics factories to be built, one on Wearside, at St Peters, and another at Teesport. It would need lots and lots of plastic to make replicas of all the bones they’d found. But it would create jobs, which would make people happy.

People like having jobs to do, even if they don’t always like doing them.

It was best to build the plastics factories next to deep rivers, because oil tankers would be needed to deliver the oil to make all that plastic.

Dyspepsia also arranged to buy up every recycled plastic bag and water bottle in England over the following year, which would be better for the environment, besides saving an oil tanker or two.

She’d learned the hard way that money doesn’t grow on trees.

…to be continued.