Search This Blog

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Tales From The Village

    In the orange walled committee chamber 9 men in striped jerseys and black top hats sat around a round, segmented green baize topped table. In the centre sat No.5, a middle aged man of medium height and build, with dark hair, and dressed in grey flannel trousers and a dark blue piped blazer.
    The Chairman of the committee, No.18 spoke “You know why you have been brought before us Number 5.”
    “No…do tell.”
    “There have been a number of complaints levelled against you” the Chairman said accusingly.
    “Complaints….don’t you wish to hear my complaints?”
    “Complaints, you have complaints?”
    “I have several.”
    “Gentlemen I think it’s time……. I think we’re more than ready for a tea break. This session will resume once we have had time to assess the psychological reports regarding Number 5.”
    “But what about my complaints?”
    The Chairman of the committee stared at the prisoner through his round lens spectacles “If there are any further complaints against you we shall have no alternative but to declare you as disharmonious!”
    “But I have complaints!”
    “You have complaints?!”
    “Yes.”
    “Well fill in form B24681/2H-473Z, then we can take your complaints into consideration at the next session of this committee.”
    “When will that be?”
    “Next Tuesday afternoon at two-thirty.”
    Suddenly the lights went out, then an instant later the chamber was illuminated again and the members of the committee…..they had gone!
    The week passed slowly, with each day more or less the same as the one after and the one yet to come. The only curious thing was the complaints, and there were several laid against me! Complaints that I ignore people and do not acknowledge their greetings, one chap battered and bruised stopped me in the street and accused me of picking a fight with him and beating him up! I looked at my hands, there was not a sign of broken skin on the knuckles! I called at the kiosk to buy a copy of The Tally Ho, a bar of soap and a chocolate bar. The stallholder accused me of theft saying that I went to his kiosk and walked off with a copy of the broadsheet, a bag of sweets, and four packets of village cigarettes.
    “It was only two moments ago” the stall holder said.
    And now he demanded payment or he’d call a guardian, I mean I don’t even smoke! Later in the afternoon, I walked down to the Old People’s Home for a game of chess with my old friend No.73.
    “What you’ve come back have you, looking for more pain, two losses and a stalemate not good enough” 73 said busy setting up the board “oh well sit ye down, I’m white this time I think.”
    I didn’t understand, and told the old man that I had just come for our game of chess, and to my memory I had yet to lose a game against him.”
    “Well certainly you were off form today me boyo” 73 said chuckling to himself “your move!”
    And so it went, whatever happened, happened but a few moments of my being anywhere, I couldn’t understand it unless…………….
    I went storming up the road to the Green Dome, across the square, across the street, up the steps and into the foyer where that diminutive butler stood waiting. I told him, I told him good, well my dander was up you see. He showed me into the large domed chamber that is No.2’s office.
    “What’s the game Number 2?” I barked out across the desk.
    He sat there in that black global chair staring at me “Game, what game?”
    “You know, oh you know alright!”
    “All I know is, you burst into the foyer, verbally abuse my manservant and demand to see me. Then you storm into my office and demand to know what the game is!”
    “You have set your creature upon me!”
    “I have…….what creature?!”
    “Everywhere I go, no matter what I’m going to do, I find I have already been there and done it!”
    “And you have no memory of having done anything?”
    “There’s someone going about the village impersonating me!”
    “You don’t say, why would anyone do that?”
    “To send me over the edge!”
    “You must be mistook, you’ve been over doing it. Why not see a doctor?”
    “Complaints have been levelled at me; on Tuesday I’m to be brought before the committee to answer those complaints. I shouldn’t wonder that it’s my doppelganger who is to blame!”
    “You think you have a double.”
    “Yes.”
    “And he’s going about the village impersonating you.”
    “Yes.”
    “Why?”
    “Haven’t any of your Observers picked anything up?”
    “No.”
    “They haven’t spotted anything out of the ordinary?”
    “No.”
    “Is that what it’s all about?”
    “Is what all about?”
    “Doubles, doppelgangers, twins, look-a-likes, and the like.”
    “I think you had better go, before I call security” No.2 said his hand moving towards the yellow ‘L’ shaped intercom.
    “I’ll go, tomorrow I’ll face your welfare committee and this time I expect them to listen to my complaints!”
    It was a slow walk back to his cottage; he wanted to lose the anger inside him before he arrived home. He opened the door and went inside. He removed his dark grey blazer and was about to hang it up on the coat rack but the exact same blazer already hung there. Music came from the lounge, Wagner. Slowly he approached the door, which was slightly ajar; putting a hand to it he pushed it open and stood framed in the doorway. Across the room a man sat in an armchair.
    “I expect you’d like a drink, scotch?”
    Entering the room I said “You’re fee with other people’s drink.”
    “Whose drink?” he asked filling a glass “I’ll make it a large one, you’ll need it.”
    “Your face is familiar to me” I said.
    The man stood opposite me and offered me the filled glass, a man with my face! The glass slipped from my hand smashing on the carpet the drink splashing out everywhere.
    “Now look what you’ve gone and done” I said….he said taking a handkerchief from his pocket and mopping up the spilled drink “I suppose I cannot blame you” I said….he said “I’d probably do the same in your shoes” I said…..he said.
    “W….who are you, why are you doing this?”
    “I could ask the same of you. I put it down to one of Number 2’s little games, but I’ve long since realized it isn’t.”
    “It isn’t what?”
    “One of Number 2’s little games.”
    I poured myself anther drink and handed it to myself.
    “How came you to be here?”
    “Don’t you know, you of all people should know. If it hadn’t been for you resigning that job of ours we wouldn’t be in this predicament now!”
    “It was a matter of conscience.”
    “So you say.”
    “You talk as if you were there.”
    “In a way, certainly I would have handled it differently.”
    “So what now?”
    “I came here, so now you must go there.”
    “Go there, go where?”
    “Well we can hardly both go on living here.”
    “What like Box and Cox?”
    “How do you mean?”
    “I have the cottage during the day, you have it at night.”
    “Oh I see” I said….he said a little slow off the mark “sadly that is impossible, you see both of us can no longer live in the same existence.”
    “You mean one of us has to die?”
    “Not quite, but don’t worry I’ll live our life here for the both of us, you never know I might even manage to escape, wouldn’t that be nice?”
    I suddenly began to feel light headed, and things seem to be receding, a darkness swooped over me, and suddenly I was looking at myself in the mirror with fresh eyes.
    “Now Number 5” the Chairman of the committee said looking at my open file “seeing as the psychoanalysts have concluded your report we can continue with your complaints.”
    “You don’t….we’re not here to discuss your complaints Number 5. Oh, I see according to the report you’ve had a change in attitude towards your fellow villagers.”
    “You could say that.”
    “In a previous meeting of this committee you suggested that you had complaints of your own, did you will in form B24681/2H-473Z?”
    “No.”
    “You didn’t?”
    “I have no complaints. I like it here, everyone has been really kind since my arrival.”
    “Well gentleman seeing as that is the case I think we can make an early day of it. Well done Number 5, keep it up.”
    No.5 made his way through the village and back to his cottage, there was a smug if not a smile of deep satisfaction on his face. He was going to like it here in the village, he felt the village to be a place of possibilities for a man who wanted to get on. It was stupid of him not to have seen that before.


Be seeing you

Sunday, 28 June 2020

THE TALLY HO

             “I Didn’t Do It! Says Butler”

                              by our own reporter 

   So the butler says he didn’t do it. And yet since the writing of murder mysteries there has been the expression “The butler did it,” which is used to describe an ending or resolution to a fictional mystery that is stereotypical, predictable, or contrived. It is based on the murder mystery clichĂ© of revealing that the butler was the one who committed the murder. The concept of "the butler did it" is commonly attributed to Mary Roberts Rinehart. Her otherwise forgettable 1930 novel, “The Door,” is notable for the ending, in which the butler actually is the villain. However the actual phrase “the butler did it,” never appears in the text.
    We know absolutely nothing about the butler which makes him the most enigmatic character in ‘the Prisoner. He serves each new No.2 with an unquestioning loyalty, and carries out his duties impeccably, he can also pilot a helicopter. He is thought to be mute because he is never heard to utter one single word in the entire series, but perhaps he has nothing to say for himself, or has nothing interesting to say. And yet he must speak on at least two occasions, the first in ‘A B and C’ when No.2 is speaking on the telephone “Is he. Send him in.” it’s the butler who shows No.6 into the office so it must follow that it must have been the butler speaking to No.2 on the telephone informing him of No.6's visit. And again in ‘Its Your Funeral’ when No.6 goes calling on No.2 he said “I thought I told you that I didn't want to be disturbed. Tell him to go away.” Who else is there to tell No.6 to go away but the butler!
   The butler has something in common with No.6, he doesn’t wear a numbered badge, and wears his own clothes, well at least he is not forced to wear the usual colourful attire, although he does wear a cape…inside out, perhaps because he doesn’t want to look ridiculous! Symbolically the butler is seen to be the “silent majority” those citizens who do not have a voice. And yet he is always at the heart of things, such as the award ceremony at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition, and can be described as being “the Keeper of the Great Seal of Office,” seeing as it’s the butler  who presents the Great Seal of Office on a crimson cushion during the Appreciation Day ceremony. He also enjoys a game of chess, as in ‘Checkmate’ he follows the game which uses human chess pieces, from the top of the bandstand reproducing the moves on his own chessboard. Some people have come up with the idea that it’s the butler who is manipulating the moves on the human chessboard as he makes the moves first on his own board! And ‘A Change of Mind’ no doubt it was the butler who set out the tables in the committee chamber, and when the Chairman of the committee said “Gentlemen its time, I think we’re more than ready for a tea break,” in all probability it’s the butler who has made the tea! During the week in the Embryo Room the butler is there alongside his master, cooking meals, keeping the cage neat and tidy, as well as serving his master, as No.2 and No.6 carry out their deliberations. And then there’s ‘Fall Out.’ The butler seems to know a great deal about what’s going on, he sees the former No.6 as being his new master, so he’s quick to see its time to change sides judging by the way he takes part in the violent and bloody revolution. Not only does he kill with a Thompson machine gun, but at one point in the rocket, he can be seen strangling someone with his gloved hands! And the question has to be asked, how did the butler know about that Scammell Highwayman transporter? At the very least the foot pedals of accelerator, brake, and clutch would have had to have been adapted in some way in order to suit the Butler's size, ordinarily his feet would not have reached the pedals. Or if they did he wouldn’t have been able to see over the steering wheel, meaning no disrespect to our diminutive friend. And then back in London the butler accompanies his new master to his home in London, and as he stands on the steps of No.1 Buckingham Place the front door opens automatically and the butler goes inside the house. It is because of this that people have arrived at the conclusion that the butler did it, and had been No.1 all the time.

Be seeing you

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Caught On Camera!

    Here we have an agent working for the village, he is generally dressed as an undertaker, and drives a black hearse. We saw him earlier in the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling’ as a waiter working at Janet’s birthday party. He later followed both ZM73 and Potter to the barbers shop in Kandersfeld where he encountered ZM73 and Potter fighting in the basement. But who is this agent supposed to be now? I thought he looked rather like a chauffeur, suggested by the peaked cap. But then who would he be chauffeuring? My wife suggested that he’s probably posing as a coach driver driving tourists on a tour of Austria. Looking at that jacket she could be right. What’s more he’d need a bus to take everyone back to the village, Professor Seltzman, ZM73, as well as Potter. Unless of course Potter was left behind after all he wasn’t all that important. But if he were left behind, unconscious in the basement, when he eventually arrived back in London he would certainly have some explaining to do to Sir Charles Portland! As for the coach driver here, how he got at least two bodies out of the barbers and into a coach or other such vehicle in broad daylight without being seen without questions being asked by passers-by, will forever remain a mystery!

Be seeing you

Back On The Chessboard!

   It was the black gloved hand of the butler which returned the pawn {symbolizing No.6} to the chessboard. However others were not so lucky. The shopkeeper No.19 is replaced by the time of the following episode ‘Hammer Into Anvil.’ Perhaps they decided to carry out an audit of his books, and found some discrepancies! No.14, the ex-Count, he’s another one from ‘Checkmate’ never seen to be seen again in the village. No doubt he paid the price for teaching No.6 how to tell between guardians and the prisoners! I sometimes wonder if No.14 had once attempted his own teaching himself, and for some reason it had not worked. But perhaps he thought if he taught the trick to No.6 he might have better luck, and manage to carry out an escape plan successfully. But every plan has its flaw, on this occasion it was No.6’s own air of authority that let him down!
   No.8, I hope they reversed the hypnotism, poor woman. Although something must have happened to see her wiped from the board, we do not see her again in the village. Although she can be seen during ‘The Chimes of Big Ben’ following No.6 as usual! Also she is the last No.8 we see in the village before No.8 of ‘Living In Harmony.’
    As for the chessboard, it’s taken away almost as quickly as it’s laid down on the village green. Perhaps it’s taken up as No.14 is taken away, after all he’ll have no further use for it!
   Some have it that the butler is the instigator of the chess match, that the players actually follow the moves the butler makes on his chessboard. Personally I do not subscribe to that theory, as the butler is merely following the moves on his own chessboard, being a student of the game!


Be seeing you

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Tales From The Village

    The man lying on the couch opened his eyes, and sat there looking  about the room. Standing up he opened the blinds and looked out of the window at what he expected to be the house across the street. But instead the view was one more picturesque than that of the house opposite. He spun round, he was in the lounge of his London home, yet not in London. He crossed the room and opening the doors stepped out into the village!
    “I know him” the bald-headed man said staring at the wall screen.
    No.2 glanced at the Supervisor “I should think you do, he’s been here before.”
    “Why has he been brought back, is he on assignment?”
    “No” No.2 said pressing a button on the control panel of his desk “He’s resigned his job!”
    “He resigned…….things haven’t gone according to plan then?”
    The camera changed and panning tracked the Prisoner across the lawn, through the Piazza to the cafĂ©.
    “We’ll be open on a minute, do you want breakfast?” the waiter asked.
    “How very perceptive of you.”
    “Why, what went wrong?” the Supervisor asked.
    On the wall screen the Prisoner and the waiter were seen to be engaged in conversation.
    “We don’t know that’s why he’s been brought back here to discover the reason behind his resignation.”
   “If he’s been here before, why is he so confused?”
   “Surprise I suppose, perhaps he never expected to find himself back here again!”
    “You had best get back to your control room.”
    “Won’t that make your task more difficult?”
    “How do you mean?”
    “Well he’ll have no idea which side runs the village, he’ll think he’s been brought back here to have information extracted, not that he’s supposed to simply tell you why he resigned!”
    No.2 pulled a face “Let me worry about that, just get back to your control room, and let me know the moment he decides to try and escape.”
   The black spherical chair turned and No.2 looked at the man standing in front of his desk “Do you remember your first day here?”
    The memory was still painful even after so many years.
    “It wasn’t what you thought it was going to be was it?”
    “No Number 2.”
    “You were a mediocre Civil Servant back in those days, but you soon grew into the part.”
    The steel doors closed, the man stood at the top of the ramp.
    “Ah good, there you are. Would you like tea or coffee?” offered No.2.
    The man walked slowly down the ramp and across the floor. Standing at the grey curved desk he looked at the man sat in the black spherical chair.
    “Neither!”
    “I realize how you must be feeling.”
    “No you don’t.”
    “Believe me I do, because there was a time when I stood in your shoes.”
    The man changed his mind, and poured himself a cup of coffee, adding just two lumps of sugar.
    “Tell me now, why did you resign?”
    “Why should I tell you, why should I tell you anything?” the man asked stirring his coffee.
    “No reason, no reason at all, only if you tell me now it will go much easier for you.”
    “I’m over whelmed by your kindness.”
    “People like you are brought here because they have a certain kind of knowledge inside their heads, knowledge that is to be either extracted, or protected.”
    The man sipped his coffee “Which category do I fall under?
    “You have been here before.”
    “Yes, it wasn’t a nice experience as I recall.”
    “That’s why you said you would work for us, rather than spend the rest of your life here, in the village.”
    “I would have agreed to anything just to get out of here.”
    “And yet here you are” No.2 said menacingly “your mistake was to resign your job.”
    “Well if one can’t chuck up a job things have come to a pretty pass” the man said finishing his coffee.
    “Your only value to us was for you to remain in your position. From there to gather information, and stand in readiness should we call upon your services in other capacities” No.2 instructed.
    “I took against my new masters.”
    “Is that why you resigned?”
    “If you like” the man said placing his cup and saucer on the desk.
    “Now you are here, here you will stay. We have no need for a rogue agent.”
    “You don’t think I can escape?”
    “Ask Number 8, she can at least tell you what not to try” No.2 informed him “Good day Number 5.”
    No.5 turned his back and walked across the floor, up the ramp and through the opening steel door. In the way out he passed a tall fair-haired man entering No.2’s office. They glanced at each other but that was all.
    “Is that him?” No.14 asked approaching the desk.
    “Yes. I want you to keep an eye on him.”
    “I’m surprised they had him sent back here. You realize he could have turned.”
    “Gone over you mean to the other side.”
    “Resigned and planted here in the village!”
    “A double agent you mean.”
    “It’s an idea” No.14 said happy with his suggestion.
    “Then what does he do?” 2 asked.
    “What?”
    “Then what does he do?”
    “He reports back.”
    “How?”
    14 thought for a moment then said “That’s his problem!”
    “It’s true that the village has been the object of another department’s desire. They have at least once attempted to have it shut down, simply because they couldn’t get their hands on it.”
    “Perhaps this plant will attempt to bring the village down from within.”
    “Well he’s told me why he resigned, and that’s all we really wanted to know. So if he were to suffer a fatal accident, there’s no-one here will ask any embarrassing questions.”
    At that moment the red ‘L’ shaped intercom began to bleep. No.2 did not hesitate to pick it up “Number 2 here………yes sir……..I understand sir…….of course sir. That was a stupid idea!” No.2 said putting the intercom back on the desk.
    “I don’t think you should say things like that sir” 14 said “you never know who might be listening!”
    No.2 looked at the intercom then at No.14 “Yours is the stupid idea 14, nothing is to happen to Number 5. If anything happens to him our masters will get to hear about it and we’ll both be for the high jump!”
    No.5 wasn’t a plant, double agent or anything like that. Nor did he have the wit or the ability to escape. Instead he spent the rest of his life in the village. Prior to his having been brought to the village, he had been a Civil servant who was duty bound to serve without bias no matter which party was in office at the time. It was after a recent General Election that a question was asked in the House of Commons about an installation called the village. His new masters wanted to know all about the village, and it was through his resignation, No.5 had avoided any embarrassing questions.

Be seeing you

Friday, 19 June 2020

Out of the Archive!

    Having had a few hectic days working with ‘the Prisoner’ I decided to take a couple of days off in order to clear my mind, and have a rummage in the archive. I was looking for a particular file containing the following advertisements.

   From April, through May and June 1996 ‘Lombard Business Finance’ ran an advertising campaign with a number of different newspaper advertisements using images and text from ‘the Prisoner.’ These appeared in ‘The Times,’ ‘The Financial Times,’ and ‘The Daily Telegraph’ newspapers.
   Over that three month period I managed to collect all of them. I have trawled the World-Wide web and could find not trace of them, either image or text.
   There was a time when I used to collect anything and everything connected with ‘the Prisoner’ I found in newspapers and magazines. I don’t know if anyone recalls these advertisements, for all I know I might be the only ‘Prisoner’ enthusiast with copies of them. I’ve certainly not heard of anyone mentioning them before.

Be seeing you

The Therapy Zone?

    “You…of all people, I’d never have believed it.”
    “Roland Walter Dutton!”
    “Who was he?” 
    “His body was washed up on the shore, how long have you been here?”
    “You don’t know?”
    “Would I ask?”
    “It’s difficult to say, a couple of months……and you?”
    “Quite recently.”
    “How’s
London?”
    “About the same.”
    “Places don’t change, only people.”
    “Some people.”
    “I want to talk about it anyway.”
    “Let’s go inside.”
    “I told them.”
    “What?”
    “Everything I know, the irony of it is they don’t believe me, you know I didn’t have access to the vital stuff.”
    “Yes.”
    “They’ll take me back to the hospital….and by the time they realize I’m telling the truth it’ll be too late.”
    “When?”
    “They’ve released me for 72 hours so that I can reconsider in the peaceful atmosphere of the….of the village.”
    “Still hope.”
    “No my friend not for me, such noble thoughts are long dead. Soon…… Roland Walter Dutton……will cease to exist.”
    I like the way the interior of the cave has been paved over, much like the interior of the cave, the Therapy Zone’ in ‘Free For All.’ In fact the interior of both caves are mostly likely the same, it’s just the location that’s slightly different.
    Dutton is like Cobb in a way, it being difficult to say just how long they have been in the village. No.6 knows because he’s only quite recently arrived, and hasn’t undergone interrogation techniques like Dutton and Cobb. At first, Dutton seeing his old colleague and one time friend, he must have thought he must be one of them, perhaps being assigned to him. Otherwise what’s ZM73 doing there? And I’m afraid Dutton got it quite wrong, places do change, and not always for the better.


Be seeing you