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Sunday, 7 April 2019

The Village

    It’s not everyday you wake up here, but most times it’s like coming home, and then another time it’s as though you’ve never been away, that is the effect Portmeirion has had upon me over the years. And now here I am again, this time for a Convention, you know for that 1960’s television series ‘the Prisoner.’ There’ll be about 200 of us here for the weekend. I’m talking part in a re-enactment this year, No.6 in the Election parade. As I stand here drinking my morning cup of coffee, I can feel the excitement building, looking out of the window at the central piazza, with it’s pool and fountain. The Village with it’s dome and bell tower, it’s bright coloured cottages, the chessboard laid out on the lawn. One could almost believe…………
    So I washed, shaved, dressed, breakfasted, donned my piped blazer, and went out into the Village to see who was about at this hour of the morning. The Village was eerily quiet, there wasn’t any sign of anyone, which was surprising really. I walked passed the café, which was just being opened up. There was a woman, a waitress “We’ll be open in a minute” she said, as a gardener busied himself by washing down the black and white tiles of the patio. Curious I thought and walked on. Then I heard a car, a Mini-Moke appeared from around the corner, the driver sounding it’s two-tone horn warning pedestrians of the vehicle’s approach. I stood to the side of the road to allow it to pass by, the Mini-Moke came to a halt. “Where to sir?” the driver asked. “Take me to the nearest town “I said climbing into the taxi. “Oh we’re only the local service” the driver replied. “Of course you are” I said, and falling in with the game said “take me as far as you can” and sat back to enjoy the ride. Eventually the Mini-Moke pulled up at
Battery Square where I alighted the taxi, the driver of which said “That will be two work units.” I replied something of the norm and the taxi driver said “Oh well pay me next time, be seeing you.” I thought how well it was that that person played her part, throwing herself into the theatre that is the Village today, and for the whole weekend as it happened.
    I thought to take myself off to the Prisoner shop, some of the old faces would surely be in there…… I looked for the bay window, there was no bay window, there was no shop! The door was secured against me, and outside the door was a sign, it read 6 Private! Then I saw a passerby wearing a multi-striped cape and a red trilby hat. “Pardon me” I said as the woman approached “could you tell me what they have done with the Prisoner shop?” The woman looked at me in a curious way, and simply walked on without saying one word. Then I saw a man walking across the square, I stopped him and asked him where was the Prisoner shop. “That’s no shop sir” the man replied “that’s Six Private where Number Six lives.” It was then that I looked up from the square to the Green Dome it was green, when it should have been a mucky grey colour!
    The morning was getting on, still the chessboard had not been laid out, and what’s more I didn’t recognise one single face of the Conventioneers, they were all strangers to me. Dressed in Village attire all of them, piped blazers, striped jerseys, colourful striped capes, even tall gaunt men dressed in black overcoats and top hats! I asked one or two where they had come from, why they were here if not for the Prisoner Convention. Do you know what they said……..”Don’t enquire!” It was soon after that that two burly men manhandled me up the steps to the Green Dome, in through the automatically opening front door, into the foyer and through a pair of open doors, and finally through a pair of opening steel doors into a circular domed chamber.
    “You’ve been acting rather peculiar this morning Number 5. I expect that things must seem very strange for you” said the man sitting in the black spherical chair “Well it can be like that after a long stay in the hospital. The doctors said it might take time to adjust to Village life again. You may sit down if you wish.”
    The man pressed a button on the control panel with the tip of his umbrella shooting stick, and a leather chair rose up through a hole in the floor, I crossed the chamber floor and sat down. Suddenly the pair of steel doors opened and in walked a dwarf butler pushing a breakfast trolley.
    “You’ll take tea of course” No.2 offered.
     “How have you done this?”
    “Done what?”
    The butler began pouring out the tea.
    “This, this interior?”
    “Is there something wrong Number 5?”
    “I, I am not your Number 5, I am Silas Jones. I came to the Village to attend a Prisoner Convention…….”
    “Oh please, why do you persist with such delusions.”
    The butler finished, and pushed the trolley up the ramp and through the open pair of steel doors.
    “The doctors helped you as much as they could. Have you not been taking your pills?”
    “This, cannot be happening.”
    “You were brought here, to the Village because you wanted to serve. Aren’t you happy here anymore?”
    “I, I want to leave.”
    “My office, there is the door, please feel free to avail yourself of it, should you wish.”
    “The Village, I want to leave the Village!”
    “That will not be possible I’m afraid, you know too much. But even if it were, how would you leave the Village?”
   “By taxi, to the nearest town. It’s only a  mile or so, less, and from there I can get a train.”
    As it happens, I wasn’t allowed to leave the Village, I was taken to the hospital for treatment. They put me in the Aversion Therapy Room. Dressed me in orange pyjamas, an eye mask, and headphones, through which they constantly played nursery rhyme music, the same tune over and over again for day, after day.
    The doctor told me that I was suffering from delusional fixation complex. He tried to tell me there was no actual place called the Village, where people with a certain kind of knowledge inside their heads are taken to. Abductions simply do not happen the doctor told me, and even if they did, why would they abduct a 38 year old man with a fixation about a television series?
    After a time the doctor discharged me from the hospital, he said there was nothing he could do to treat my fixation. But suggested that I go away somewhere for rest and relaxation. He suggested I go away somewhere different, somewhere quiet and forget my fixation about ‘the Prisoner.’ So here I am, sitting on the lawn of the hotel in my piped blazer. Everyone seems to be having a good time, what’s more everyone is in costume. And to think that I made it to the convention after all. There’s a film crew, I don’t know from what television company, but I’ve been watching them filming all day. I even managed to get in to some scenes as an extra! You wouldn’t believe it, but there’s this chap who looks exactly like Patrick McGoohan. It’s not possible I know. But I think that , well I think that time travel might be in it as well!
    “David”
    “Yes Patrick.”
    “That chap sitting at the table.”
    “Where?”
    “Over there, the chap dressed in a piped blazer.”
    “Oh him, he‘s one of the extras I think“”
    “He keeps following me about, asking when I Intend to try and escape!”
    “Really.”
    “He didn’t ask you for your autograph?”
    “No. He told me not to trust Nadia, or those two other two the Colonel and Fotheringay.”
    “Do you trust him?”
    “He’s a nutter, he’d better not come anywhere near me!”
    “This is only the beginning Patrick, you know he’s the first, but he won’t be the last. When this series is finished and screened on television and the people who watch it, well you’ll be messing with their minds!”
    “Excuse me, but you’re Number Nine.”
    “Yes I am.”
    “You were assigned to Cobb. Now Number 2 has assigned you to Number Six over there.”
    “Number Six? Oh yes I see what you mean……….”
     “Bloody hell David, he’s with
Virginia now, get that idiot away from her!”   
    With that David Tomblin motioned two burly set men in black and red striped jerseys to manhandle the guy in the piped blazer away from the hotel.
    “You see what they’re doing! I’ve blown the cover of one of their plants, don’t trust her Number Six. Number Nine, she’s one of them!”
    “I haven’t been back to the Village for many years, not since the evacuation. I and the lucky ones like me were air lifted out of the Village by helicopter.”
    “The Village?” asked the doctor.
    “Yes, it’s a place where people turn up. People who know too much or too little, a place that has many means of breaking a man!”
   “I see. Where is this Village?”
    “
Lithuania, on the Baltic, thirty miles from the Polish border. No, I mean south west of Portugal and Spain, perhaps on the Moroccan coast, it could be an island!”
    The doctor made a note “it’s a physical place the Village?”
     “Yes, but some think its all in the mind!”
    “Well you are in the right place now. A little sedative tonight, and tomorrow we can begin your treatment.”
     “Yes tomorrow and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Tell me doctor will it be in the Aversion Therapy Room?”
    “Where?”   
    “You can put me in a room with violet lighting. Dress me up in orange pyjamas. Put goggles over my eyes, and play the theme music of ‘the Prisoner’ to me over, and over, constantly for hours until I’m sick to the stomach of hearing it!”
    “No, no we are not going to do anything like that. Whatever gave you that idea? No, I am a neurologist, there is quite obviously pressure on the brain. We shall operate first thing in the morning to relieve that pressure. After that you will be a new man!”

Be seeing you

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