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Monday 27 August 2012

The Therapy Zone

Many Happy Returns

The Prisoner – Number 6

      Wakes to find that there is no electricity to his cottage and no water either!
And the early morning piped music which he found so irritating, he now misses, the black speaker now silent.
    On the door step are two bottles of Village milk, which would suggest that a milkman delivers the milk to the citizens.
He tours the village to find that it is completely and utterly deserted {except for a black cat}, his first and only thought is how to get away from the village himself!
    Not once does he consider what may have become of his fellow citizens, or where they could be, or how everyone has managed to leave the village except himself. How is it that he was left behind?
    Thinking that it’s all a trick and a deception of number 2’s, he goes to the green dome in order to find out what this particular game is all about!
He is surprised to find the green dome void of any life. This spurs number 6 on to escape.
    Finding an abandoned taxi, {its key conveniently left in the ignition} he drives off to find a road or track out of and away from the village. There isn’t one!
      He then shows his “raft” construction skills, first the felling of several trees, the stripping of their branches. The emptying of no fewer than 9 black oil drums, their contents poured down an open drain! Then using stout rope to lash the tree trunks and 6 barrels together, adding both a mast and tiller and using canvas or tarpaulin for a sail.
   The time taken by Number 6 is now brought into question. Exactly how long did it take Number 6 to construct his sea going raft? Probably 2 days, certainly more than one day. The prisoner’s eagerness to escape would no doubt spur him on to work harder and for as long a time as he could. However the hours of daylight would be the deciding factor.
    The sun rise would occur at 730 am {approx} GMT, and sun set would take place at 6 pm {approx} GMT. The prisoner arrived in London on Saturday, March 18th, the day before his birthday. 25 days at sea, would mean that he sat sail from the village on February 21st 1967, this not being a leap year! 
Number 6 takes supplies from the general store, leaving behind a signed I.O.U. 964,
No6? Almost a signature, almost a response to his number!

CANON DIAL35  F2.8, 28mm. 5-element lens surrounded by a distinctive CDS light meter is the camera number 6 uses to take photographs of the village. These will act as pictorial evidence of the village.
    As Number 6 prepares to cast off, there comes the sound of broken crockery. When number 6 hears this, he stops and as he turns to look up, you can see the cruel disappointment in his eyes. As if to say, they have been watching all the time, it was some kind of perverse game, letting him get so far, before taking away the chance of escape right at the last moment.  But then as he looks up and sees the black cat, hope is once again restored.
    As much as this was a risk for the village authorities, to have number 6 set sail on a sea going raft {however well built} it was also a voyage of dicovery for the Prisoner. Yet anything could have befallen him. Swept from his raft by an angry wave, killed by the two gun runners, if they were gun runners!
    So easily could he have fallen from the chalky cliffs he climbed and lay there to die with a broken back or worse. But the prisoner is indeed a most resilient fellow, and any match for any such adventure.
      Once the Prisoner has set sail, he demonstrates yet more of his ingenuity. He fashions himself a home made compass, from a jam jar partly filled with water, apiece of cork or wood for the face of the compass, North South East and West and some degrees between. A magnetised village needle, magnetised via the magnet of the loud speaker! And two lengths of wood with degrees marked on each. These are strapped to the jam jar at angles, and the whole contraption suspended from a spar.
    The Prisoner is also a proven navigator, able to use the simplest navigational aid, such as his home made compass to navigate himself safely across an empty sea, on a North Easterly course. His navigational log is written on the back of a copy of the Tally Ho.
    Then later, to use charts and a stopwatch, in order to make sweeping searches for, and eventually to find the village.
    The Prisoner also shows great stamina and endurance, able to sleep 4 hour out of each 24. That really is quite remarkable. But even the prisoner has his limitations, for on the 25th day he does finally collapse from exhaustion!
    With only one hundred hours of sleep during the twenty five days at sea the prisoner suffers from sleep deprivation, you can see that in the changes in the prisoners printed handwriting of his log from day five. He also does his best to keep up appearances by shaving, well up to day five anyway.
    But even after that when aboard the gun runner’s boat, there is no rest for him. It’s a case of deal with the gun runners before they deal with him. Tired, cold and soaked to the skin, the prisoner shows more of his ingenuity and quick thinking.
When in the galley he sets light to a frying pan of old rags. Then allowing the rags smoulder, the smoke filtering up into the wheelhouse drawing the attention of the two gun runners. Each one easily dealt with in turn, then securely locked in the cabin!
    Then just when the prisoner is at the helm of the boat and all seems under his control, having already gone through so much, he has to fight for his life, the gun runners having escaped the cabin.
    Finally the Prisoner jumps over board and swims away, as he is fired at by one of the gun runners from the boat.
   So 25 days at sea, sleeping only 24 hours out of each 24, over powering to gun runners, now the prisoner has to swim at least perhaps 2 maybe 3 miles to the coast line and the light he had spotted ahead of the boat. Such is the stamina and endurance of the prisoner. Not to mention his more than adequate survival skills.
   He is also described by the Colonel as “On occasion could be a little sceptical, that’s what made him such a good man, why they were so sorry to lose him”.
     A question does arise at this point, ‘why did the prisoner not take advantage of one of the various guns found in the crate?’
    Perhaps there was only the guns and no ammunition.
    Perhaps as with John Drake, he did not like using guns!
    Having swam some distance of perhaps 2-3 miles, the prisoner is washed ashore, at “Beachy Head” on the East Susses coast.
      The light which the prisoner observed from the boat, and steered toward, was that of a tall red and white stripped lighthouse, situated just a little way off the beach and cliffs.
    Such a short distance, the prisoner could have easily sum out to it, having swum so far to reach the coast line in the first place. Or failing that, close was the lighthouse that he might in some way have attracted the attention of the lighthouse keeper.
Either way the prisoner did seem to consider the lighthouse for a moment, but then turned his back upon it.
    Waking up on the shingle beach, he is now faced with the problem of where to go now? In the end there is only one way, to scale the chalky cliff face! But luckily for him there has been a recent land slide or cliff erosion. This makes the climb a little easier for the prisoner, but even so the going is difficult.
He is a born survivor, possibly having been trained in the art of survival.
    The Prisoner then meets with some rather un kept gypsy’s. Although the prisoner himself cuts something of a raggedy figure, in his navy blue pullover and torn fawn trousers, dishevelled hair and unshaven appearance.
Then after some refreshment from a kind young gypsy woman, the prisoner sets off again on a long walk. It was the first act of kindness shown to him since his abduction to the village. And so feeling a little refreshed, the prisoner goes off on his way.
    The Prisoner encounters a police road block, obviously it has nothing to do with him and the prisoner would have known this. However it appears that the prisoner is very much paranoid and untrusting. For had he gone to the police who would most probably have found his story hard to believe, he would in fact have been safer with the police than his ex colleagues.
   So cunningly he runs after and clambering aboard gets a ride in the back of a Bedford Luton van, unbeknown to the driver of course.
    Finally running after and leaping into the back of the Bedford van, the prisoner can rest. In fact he falls into a well earned and deep sleep.
Suddenly a police siren, this wakes the prisoner, he is startled and leaps into action. In fact he leaps out the back of the Bedford van and out into the road, Park Lane, London to be exact.
    Lucky for the prisoner that he was not run down by the passing red London bus, or a one of the black taxis, or indeed any one of the busy London traffic, as he lay sprawling in the road. So easily could he have been run over by some passing traffic!
Still being something of a nervous disposition the prisoner standing at Marble Arch, spins round as a man shouts ‘hold it’.
      But the Prisoner need have no fear, he is back home in London. And so being there is only one place for this now well raggedy man to go, back to his home of No1 Buckingham Place, Westminster.
    Having approached his house and knocked on his door, the prisoner finds there is a new occupant, a Mrs Butterworth, she even has possession of his car, KAR 120C.
A Lotus 7 kit car which the prisoner built with his own hands, who knows every nut, bolt and cog! Not to mention the engine number 461034TZ.
    The fact that this woman is not only living in his home, but is also in possession of his car, would so well infuriate mot people, sending them off into a blind rage. But not The Prisoner, he apparently takes this all in his stride, calmly and with good grace.
      The Prisoner is kind enough to be invited inside what was once his own home, by Mrs Butterworth. He states that he is an exile, and that his name is “Peter Smith”. But that is not his real name of course!
Being unsure of the date, he asks the new resident of his once house.
The date is March 18th, tomorrow is the prisoner’s birthday.
 Inside the study of his once home, the Prisoner is unsure of his surroundings. Either mistrusting them or himself, perhaps both.
    He peers out of one of the study’s windows, out into Buckingham Place, and at the skyscrapers. They were the last things he saw as he was being gassed at the time of his abduction. Now he was seeing them again for the first time.
   He checks the black telephone, listening to its reassuring dialling tone.
The Prisoner even goes to great length to describe the repaired dry rot behind the bureau, the sliding door of the bathroom together with the fact that the hot and cold taps of the shower had been put on the wrong way round.
It was perhaps not just Mrs Butterworth he was trying to convince, but also himself maybe!
    He also has something of an enormous appetite, finishing off not only a plate of rather small cut triangular sandwiches, but also the entire contents of a three tier cake stand!!!
    However two strange occurrences, firstly on the log book of the Lotus 7 there is only one name, no indication of the previous owner!
  Secondly it was an estate agents called “Stumbell & Croydon” with whom Mrs Butterworth did business, Mr Croydon himself in fact. However this was not who the prisoner did business with!
    Any of his private and personal possessions would have had to have been removed from wherever they were found in the house and replaced with those of Mrs Butterworth’s. Then once the Prisoner had gone and once Mrs Butterworth vacated the house, the Prisoners private  and personal possessions would be put back.
    A third and final strange fact, the estate agents also arranged the sale of the Lotus to her, they said it was available!!!!!!!
Since when do estate agents become car sales men?
    As Mrs Butterworth living in her house with a maid to too would the prisoner have a maid, because Peter Smith or whatever his name is he is certainly not the domestic type to be doing his own housework.
       The Prisoner takes it all very well and in his stride, finding that there is now someone else living in his house when there was still 6 months to run on the lease!
And that someone else now claims to own his Lotus 7, in fact the prisoner is very calm about it all. In fact the prisoner calling himself Peter Smith is extremely polite and apologetic about it all, he tells Mrs Butterworth that she has been very kind!!!!
    What would have happened I wonder if it had al gone pear shaped for the village, would {Peter Smith} simply have returned to Mrs Butterworth and handed back to her the keys of his own car?
     Perhaps this calmness has something to do with what has happened to him in the past months, his experiences in the village. It could be that he has bigger fish to fry, his house and Lotus being now small fry and not quite so important to him as they obviously once were.
    He has been shown a second act of kindness since his escape and an act of co-operation which he has not been used to since before his abduction to the village.
      The Prisoner has two calls, one in the country and one in town. Having no money he tells Mrs Butterworth that it’s perfectly alright, he has no money and will have to get about on foot, but he can manage.
    As regard to the question of money, what about the safe behind the television set?
But it is wearing a two piece suit {once of Mrs Butterworth’s deceased husband} and with the loan of “her” Lotus that he is helped by Mrs Butterworth. He is both stubborn and proud. As well as calmly accepting that someone else now lives in his house and owns his car. His name removed from the car’s log book!
    But as he drives along the open road, the prisoner’s face is set in a grimace, but at the same time he must feel something being once again behind the wheel of his kar.
      The Prisoner returns first to the underground car park in Abingdon street. And then to the office where some months previous he handed in his letter of resignation, the same balding, bespectacled man sitting behind his desk.
    The second call is in the country, the home of the Colonel, his once immediate superior. The prisoner has perhaps made a grave mistake, he has returned to his old colleagues of the department which he once worked for. He has no intention of going back to work for them, even if they would have him back. However he does need their help, and is prepared to work with them to prove his story and confirm the existence of the village.
    He tries to convince both the Colonel and the Sceptical Thorpe, about the Village. Showing them ground photographs of the village and explaining the village to them.
   “The Village is a place where people turn up, people who know too much or too little……” he begins.
   Why should anyone who “knows too little” be taken to the Village?
    Can the Prisoner trust the colonel and Thorpe? After all we have already seen how old friends and colleagues so easily betrayed him in the past. Perhaps the prisoner doesn’t trust them, but there maybe no other place to start looking.
    The Prisoner has a problem, he doesn’t know which side runs the village. But it is a problem which he is going to solve. If not here then elsewhere!
    He has photographic evidence of the Village and the navigational log to help prove his case.
      So it is with the help of his ex-colleague together with a naval Commander and group captain that work begins on checking every detain contained in their ex-colleagues report. The dice have become loaded in the Prisoner’s favour.
    Calculations are made from the figures of his log, these are only rough figures worked as close as could be. Because however good a navigator the prisoner is, having no charts or way to asses the tides, his log cannot be one hundred percent accurate, so it is enough!
    With the help of both the Naval Commander and the Group Captain it is and so a search area for the village is soon mapped out as being “Coast of Morocco, South West of Portugal and Spain
      And as navigator the prisoner is flown in a Gloster Meteor Mk 71/2 jet, as they begin to make sweeping searches of the 750,000 square mile search area!
And it must be in the correct search area, the prisoner being such a good navigator, he would have known if the supposedly group captain was flying in any other area, in an attempt to deceive him. And besides there is the refuelling at Gibraltar to take into consideration, so the prisoner is in the correct search area.
    But where is the Village?
    Looking out through the canopy of the aircraft, the prisoner finally sees something below on a coast line which looks familiar to him.
    “Could be it, go closer” he orders the group captain
    “There it is, we’ve found it. That’s it!” exclaims the prisoner to the supposedly Group Captain.
    Only it isn’t the Group Captain! The prisoner has been tricked again, with victory snatch away from him at the last moment, just as he thought it had been back in the village!
    “Be seeing you” says the pilot pulling the ejector seat handle.
       Number 6 is ejected out of the aircraft and retuned to the village. But even as the prisoner slowly descends to the sand of the estuary bellow beneath his parachute, he still seems to be trying to defy the invertible, by drawing up his knees about him, in a vein attempt to delay the inevitable……. his return to the village. Where below the black cat, still sat upon the table, looks up awaiting his return!
      What must the prisoner be feeling as he walks across the wide open sand, back towards the Village? Anger, frustration perhaps, incensed outrage, indignation possibly, rancour. Or maybe disillusionment, disappointment, despondent and lacking all hope, disheartened, broken perhaps, deceived yet again, disgruntled at the very least!
    The only sign of violence offered by the prisoner, is when he threatens the Colonel with a bout in hospital, after the Colonel had called him Number 6!
     Perhaps in the end none of the above, the prisoner is calm as he walks along the still deserted streets of the village back to his cottage. Well where else can he go?
Then the surprise and astonishment as the electricity is turned back on, indicated by the light of his free standing lamp. The coffee percolator bubbling away! Then the water spouting out of the shower he didn’t turn off!
      The black cat meows drawing the Prisoner’s attention, the door to his cottage opening, the figure of Mrs Butterworth walking toward him carrying a birthday cake.
   “Many happy returns” smiles Mrs Butterworth broadly.
    Yes Number 6 takes it very well, calmly and in his stride, self-controlled and not giving vent to any such anger within him. He is placid, self-possessed, at least on the surface, showing no signs of outrage, anger or indignation.
    How many of could have resisted so, from slapping the smiling face of the new Number 2?
    Perhaps The Prisoner is too used to the manipulations and machinations of the village, to get angry about them. Besides what could he do about it?
For the prisoner, there would always be another day!
      It was all another of their games, he was not free at all, even in London. Perhaps the only time he was truly free was while alone aboard his raft. And the gun runners boat of course, if they were indeed gun runners, at that point the prisoner had the chance to go anywhere.
From beginning to end the prisoner was under the control of the village authorities, by some means or other. He was playing their game all the time and didn’t know it!
Perhaps he might have saved himself the trouble and simply stopping in the village, calling their bluff so to speak.
      Strange, that upon his return to London and his home in Westminster, that he did not at least telephone his fiancé Janet Portland, to inform her of his return. More over, perhaps it would have been an advantage to him to meet with her, especially when he had his own car at his disposal.
The prisoner can be single minded at times, perhaps he didn’t even give Janet a single thought. Too much involved with seeking out those responsible for the village and incarceration there.
      There is an interesting thought which may be explored at a later stage. What might have happened if the Prisoner had not returned to his home or indeed to seek out his ex-colleagues, those who had imprisoned him in the first place?
Would he possibly remained a free man?
But then where else did the Prisoner have to go?
    It is also demonstrated that all of the furniture, fixtures and fittings. The pictures, paintings, ornaments and knick-knacks in the prisoner’s house in the village, are careful reproductions. As it would have been a monumental task to more the prisoner’s possessions from the village to London and then back again to the village!
      On a more important note, when the prisoner set out, he said that he did not know which side runs the village. Now surely after his latest adventure there can be no mistake about which side runs the Village, the Prisoner must surely realise that it is his own people!
However perhaps more importantly, the prisoner now knows the exact location of the village, exactly what good that information will do him or how he can put such information to good use, does remain to be seen.

Many Happy Returns continued next time

Be seeing you

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