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Thursday 11 December 2014

An Italianate Village

    I asked “What are we doing here?”
    “Why, don’t you like it here?”
    It was okay I thought, quiet enough, secluded, a little out of season in late October. It had been raining, it had rained yesterday, and the day before that. It’ll probably rain tomorrow, when didn’t it rain in
North Wales? It was the mountains I suppose.
    I sat at the window looking out. There was no-one much about, and yet there was this figure standing on top of the stone Bandstand, he was…..he was staring right back at me! The rain stopped, I said I was going out for a walk. The voice from the kitchen said lunch would be in half an hour. I replied that I wouldn’t be long.
    I walked down the wooden steps and stood gazing into the water of the pool and at the fish swimming about. Then there was a splash and I saw to men in the water, they were fighting. Two other men in greyish overalls got into the water and hauled the other two off and marched them away.
    “Disgraceful behaviour” said one woman.
    “Shouldn’t be allowed” said her companion.
    “It isn’t” said the other, and together they continued their walk.
    I noticed that there was something lying on the grass. I walked over and picked it up. It was a white disc, about two inches in circumference. On one side was a pin. On the other a Penny Farthing bicycle with a canopy and a red numeral in the penny wheel, 42.
    “What you got there?” a man asked.
    “I just found it” I said holding out the badge, and noticed that the man was wearing the same badge, but with a different number.
    “What’s your number?” the man asked me.
    “I haven’t got a number” I replied.
    “I can see that.”
    “What do you mean by that?”
    “You’re not wearing a badge. Dropped off did it? You had better pin that badge on. You don’t want to be going about here wearing no number.”
    I pinned the badge onto the lapel of my jacket.
    “That’s better lad. Now no-one would think you were not one of us.”
    “One of us? Where is this place?”
    “You know where you are, you’re in The Village.”
    “The Village? But that’s not possible!”
    Just at that moment two burly set men in red jerseys came along and manhandled Forty-two into the back of a taxi, and was driven off. Eventually the taxi pulled up at the bottom of a set of steps. Forty-two was then manhandled out of the taxi and up the steps to the Green Dome. Through the opening front door, into and through the foyer where a diminutive man in black tails bowed. Then through a pair of open French doors, and the pair of opening steel doors, and into the domed chamber, and pushed roughly into a leather chair. A lean man wearing a plain double breasted blazer and grey flannel trousers sat in a black spherical chair behind a curved desk.
    “Look Forty-Two, we’ve had just about enough of you. I have had just about enough of you. If you’re not ready to talk we’ll make you, I shall see to it personally that you talk.”
    “Look I’m not Number Forty-Two. This badge, I found it lying in the grass, I picked it up and pinned it on.”
   “Why did you do that?”
   “There was this old man…….”
   “I’m not interested in the old man. I’m interested in you Forty-two.”
    “Look I don’t know what’s going on here, I came here for a holiday. Now something’s happened………….”
    “You came here for a holiday, that’s a good one!”
    “You can’t hold me here, I’ve done nothing wrong.”
    “Of course you have Forty-two, otherwise you wouldn’t be here, we’re all Prisoners!”
    “I am not a prisoner, I am a free man!”
    Suddenly he was no longer in the domed chamber. He stood in what had been the foyer. But which was now a plain room, with paintings set along the walls, and picture card filled racks.
    “Are you alright?” the sales assistant asked.
   He went running outside onto the balcony, then down the steps, across the street and into the cobbled square. Looking up at the Green Dome, he saw that it was brown!
    “There you are Timothy” said a woman’s voice “what have you been doing?”
    “Nothing, I was just…….”
    “Well never mind. Look what I’ve bought you, they sell them there in that shop over there. I know how much of a fan of the series you are.
    Timothy took the gift out of the brown paper bag, it was a ‘T’ shirt with the  design of a Penny Farthing with a canopy. Two words blazoned across it ‘the Prisoner.’ He put the ‘T’ shirt back in the paper bag, and dropped it into a litter bin!
    “Let’s go and listen to the Brass Band concert dear.”
    At the concert a middle aged woman, wearing a red trilby hat, and colourful striped cape came and sat next to me.
    “I want to help.”
    “I know a way out” she said.
    I was taken aback, this couldn’t be right. I glanced around for the cameras. The woman opened the book she was holding.
    “In here you have only so much time to give them what they want before they…take it from you. Can you fly a helicopter?”
    “Do I look as though I can fly a helicopter?”
    “Pity” said Number 9 getting up out her deckchair and walking away, I must have the wrong man!” and hurried away.
   “Where are you going?” I shouted after her. I knew of course, but followed her anyway and watching from the top of the steps, as Number 9 made her way to the Green Dome. The dome was green again. Well I say green it was more of a turquoise colour.
    “Who was that you were talking to?”
    “No-one really dear. Who‘s anyone here?” I couldn’t believe I had just said that. All I could think about was Saturday, when we would be leaving this Italianate village called Portmeirion. Once I’d swept the dust from this place, wild horses wouldn’t drag me back!
   My wife passed me my jacket, and went back to the Brass Band concert. Later that day
Sofia and I sat together by the pool and fountain in the Piazza, while a gentleman took our picture together.

Be seeing you

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