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Sunday 28 February 2021

Who’s that On The Telephono?


    The yellow ‘L’ shaped telephono began to bleep, the supervisor picked it up.
    “Yes sir..........It’s Number 1.”
    Interim No.2 “Number 1, what’s he telephoning you for?”
    “It’s not me he wants” the supervisor said holding out the telephone.
    “Well ask him what he wants.”
    “I can’t do that.”
    “Of course you can....he won’t bite.”
    “Perhaps he’s heard that we’re behind schedule.”
    “Now where do you suppose he would hear a thing like that?” No.2 asked.
    “Someone must have told him!”
    “You don’t say!”
    “Well it’s you he wants to talk to.”
    “Yes I bet he does!”
    “Hello.....Number 2 here........well you know how it is sir, you can’t get the staff......yes sir.........”
    “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir...”
    “Haven’t you got anything better to do than to listen to other people’s telephone calls......oh no sir, I didn’t mean you sir.............”

Be seeing you

Thursday 25 February 2021

The Day After


    It happened the day after, the day after what? You might well ask. It had been a day just like any other day, no-one was expecting what happened to happen. Citizens going about their daily business, shopping at the General Store, promenading in the Piazza, or messing about in the swimming pool. Sunbathing on the beach, people relaxing as they sat in deckchairs listening to the brass band concert. And the administration going about its business in the Town Hall, a meeting of the welfare committee, a meeting of the  purposes committee maybe. But whatever the administrative machine kept on, just as surveillance work carried on in the Control room, except the supervisor-No.28, he had been promoted to an interim No.2 but just for one week which saw his assistant, No.60, temporarily to the position of supervisor in 28’s absence. But something didn’t feel right, nothing you could put a finger on, but something was instinctively wrong. Although at the time we didn’t know how wrong, not even when we couldn’t contact No.2 in his office. It wasn’t until the order to evacuate was given, then it seemed to be everyman for himself!
    A voice came over the public address system “Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!” the voice ordered.
   People started running in panic, I don’t know where they thought they were running to, or how they were going to be evacuated and to where. The Alouette helicopter took off, followed by a number of other helicopters, perhaps the people were running to try and get onboard one of those. But it was all in vain as there were not enough helicopters to evacuate everyone. I don’t know what security was up to racing through the village in a Mini-Moke with a siren blarring out, but it was much too late to perform trying to keep orderly evacuation, they certainly didn’t stop to help anyone. Perhaps they were simply getting away themselves. People were running this way and that, each man for himself. I was among those citizens who ran away from the village along the beach to where, to where…….and then came a deep rumbling noise, and we all stopped and looked back towards the village to see a large mass of flames, we all dropped to the ground as a rocket blasted off, rising high in the sky……
    We spent the night on the beach, some of use collected drift wood and we lit a fire, partly to keep warm as well as to act as a beacon. We thought M. S. Polotska might still be somewhere out here, but no, or at least if she were the crew failed to notice the beacon.
   Dawn broke into a fine day, there were a dozen of us, eight men and four women, and each one of us was hungry, and the only food was back in the village. A few of us were all for striking out on foot, but as it was pointed out without food and water none of them would actually get very far. If we all returned to the village, find something to eat and drink then they could decide what action to take. So we did, was walked back along the beach towards the village, because at the very least the village would provide sanctuary.
    The village was deserted, save for our group of survivors. We went into one of the larger cottages, there was still electricity so breakfast was made from the provisions in the kitchen, and after a hot meal we all began to feel better. Yet uneasy about what we should do next. We decided to remain in the village, for the time being at least. None of us knew where the village was, but thought we should make another beacon which we did. We took furniture from a cottage near to the bell tower, and having taken the wood up to the top we piled it all up and set light to it, and it was agreed that two of us should man the bell tower and keep the beacon alight through the night. No-one came, no-one was attracted by our beacon of flame, and the village which had been our prison for so many years was now our only refuge. We had food, water, the power was still on, and we made ourselves comfortable back in our cottages. Then one afternoon…………. There came a terrible scream, we all heard it, and found one of our number dead, she had been suffocated. We never dared think, not for a minute that the village had been evacuated and the Guardian left activated! We split up in small groups and thought as long as we remained in our cottages we would be fine. But then the idea came that perhaps we go to the Green Dome that it might be possible to deactivate the Guardian from there.
    First in the morning two of us made our way through the village towards the Green Dome, keeping a sharp look out. All was peaceful; the only sound was bird song. We reached the bottom of the steps leading up to the Green dome, and we made our way up. The front door we found open, we went into the foyer, the pair of French doors were also open, we walked through to be faced with the pair of blast proof steel doors, they remained closed. Marcus said he saw a gardener’s wheel barrow with tools in it, he said he’d go and find something we could force the doors open with. So I waited, I waited and then I decided to look for Marcus……I found him dead. There was no sign of the guardian, so I took a spade from the wheel barrow, I was determined to break into what had been No.2’s office and find a way to deactivate the Guardian.
    I ran up the steps, through the foyer, and faced with the pair of steel doors I forced the blade of the spade between the two doors to try and wedge them apart. The overhead lighting was still on, I approached the desk, the black global chair had its back turned towards me. Studying the control panel I failed to notice the chair begin to turn, it was the roar, the blood curdling roar that echoed and re-echoed around the chamber, sat in the chair was the white membranic mass of the Guardian. It was pulsating, it quivered and it shrank in size a little, just enough to free itself from the chair. In desperation I pressed a number of buttons and suddenly the dais upon which the chair sat dropped through the floor taking the chair, and the Guardian with it. I turned and ran, the doors still wedged open by the spade which I pulled away, the doors closed with a resounding clang.     
    Returning to my fellow citizens I told them of my encounter, it was not to be the last. The next day we discussed about building a boat, but to drag it all the way to the mouth of the estuary seemed too much. Had we a taxi it would have been easier. One of us suggested that we build a boat, then wait for the tide to return. However unbeknown to us time was already running out! It was one of the women who sounded the alarm……..
    “Guardians” she said “Coming along the beach towards the village.
    We rushed in a body to the outlook on the cliffs, and to our dismay there, rolling and bounding towards the village were a number of large white spheres. I counted at least twelve. We looked at each other fear written across our faces. What to do? We decided to return to one of the cottages and barricade ourselves in. But it was only a question of time……… Although the cottage was secure, and the fact that it had no chimney, you know how it’s possible for a spider to get into something through even the tightest gap, well that’s how it was with the Guardian, and once they were in they attained their full size, or there abouts. The screaming started in the night, three of us were dead within moments of their getting in, others quickly followed. We fought as best we could fending these balloon like creatures with chairs, anything. No.32 attacked one with a knife slashing the membrane which instantly sealed itself. She was backed into a kitchen corner, she dropped the steak knife as the membrane covered her face. The other girl snatched up the knife and buried it up to the hilt in the thing’s membrane, which then absorbed both knife and hand, then wrist, arm and eventually the entire body of the girl. The membrane of the Guardian took on a pinkish hue as it digested the body inside it had absorbed.

    I am the only one of my kind left in the village, as I write this account within the confines of the lighthouse set on the cliff. I managed to escape the village by dodging from cottage to cottage and only covering open ground when there were no Guardians to be seen. Eventually I made it to the other side of the village and into the woods, through which I ran from tree to tree, and using the undergrowth for cover until emerging out on the path on top of the cliffs. Having made it to the lighthouse, my first task was to gather some dry twigs, and brushwood. Then I managed to secure the doorway and window, there is a cave below, and the bell chamber above, but I was confident they couldn’t get in. I built a cone out of the twigs and brushwood, and using two of my four matches I now have a fire, wishing to save the batteries of my torch, although the smoke is a little irritating. I have a little food, and a canteen of water which I managed to bring with me.

    The fire died a few minutes ago, and I have no more material with which to make another. So now I sit here in the light of my torch. I can hear the mass of Guardians outside, their constant roaring filling my ears, and playing on my nerves, there is no rest from it. I finished the tin of corned beef, but I do have a little bread and water left. So far they have been unable to get in, but equally I am unable to get out. I hear them at the doorway trying to get in.

   Today I have eaten my last piece of bread washed down with the last of my water, and the batteries of my torch give off a dim light, it cannot last much longer. I listen at my barricade which began to creak and strain, it must be feared that outside the Guardians are exerting pressure against it. Suddenly the torchlight gave out leaving me in the darkness. I heard the final creaking of my barricade as it finally gave way…………

   {This is dedicated to my good friend Pat Powers, who is probably Rover’s greatest fan}

Be seeing you

Monday 22 February 2021

Further Tales From The Village

     It was a day much like any other, and it brought with it a new interim No.2, who having attended to his ablutions, dressed and ate a hearty breakfast. He was just about to leave his room when the grey teleprinter began typing out a message, he stood in front of the machine and when it stopped typing he tore off the message and read it. It was not simply a message, but an instruction. Crumpling up the piece of paper he crossed the room to the door which lead into a corridor of the Town Hall, from there he made his way down to the grey walled underground corridors. At the end of one corridor was a dais upon which was a black global chair, he sat in it and the dais moved upwards through a hole in the ceiling which then became a hole in the floor of his office in the Green Dome. A man of medium height with dark hair, wearing a dark coloured piped blazer, stood by a desk.

    “Good morning Number 2” the man said.
    “A good morning is it?”
    “Something wrong sir?”
    “You might ask, who are you anyway?”
    “I’m Number 20, I’m here to assist you in any way sir.”
    “My assistant you say, good” he said still grasping the screwed up piece of paper “Well I should like some tea.”
    No.20 checked the time of his watch “Its rather early sir, a good 2 hours before elevenses.”
    “I……should care for some tea if you do not mind.”
    “Is there something wrong sir? If I may say you seem to have got out of bed the wrong side.”
    “I received an instruction this morning from our masters.”
    “Not from Number 1?”
    “Number 1?”
    “Yes, he usually gives instructions via the red telephone.”
    No.2 looked at the over-sized red curved telephone, then handed No.20 the crumpled sheet of paper who opened it and read the crumpled instruction.
    “And you received this, this morning sir?”
    “A few minutes before I came to this office.”
    “You know what this means sir?”
    “I’ll ask the butler to prepare some tea” and with that No.20 crossed the floor and walked smartly up the ramp and out through the opening steel doors.
    It was at that point the red over-sized curved telephone began to bleep, it took him a little by surprise, but then he picked it up “Number 2 here…………yes sir I have received the instruction…………..will you be there?........That is a pity sir, I had wished you could have been with us……yes sir I’m sure it will.”
    The pair of steel doors opened and No.20 entered the office followed by the diminutive butler pushing a breakfast trolley.
    “Well Number 20, I have been brought here to organise a village fete!”
    “Yes sir.”
    The butler busied himself putting out the tea things on a small table which has risen up through a hole in the floor.
    “Tell me Number 20, do we have any coconut shies, or hoop-la, hook a duck, and tombola stalls in storage?”
    The butler poured out two cups of tea then wheeled his trolley across the floor, up the ramp and out through the opening steel doors.
    “We do have a side show artist in our little friend” No.2 suggested.
    “And me as a bearded lady I suppose!”
    “Do not tempt me Number 20. What about amusements, slot machines and all that?”
    “I’ll have to check, but where exactly will we hold this fete?”
    “Its traditional to hold such an event on the village green is it not?” No.2 asked sipping his tea.
    “Yes it is” 20 said stirring his tea “but have you seen the size of our village green?”
    “Well it will be a very small village fete that’s all.”
    “Why do we have to hold a village fete at all?”
    “You read the instruction.”
    “Yes but I still don’t understand.”
    “It’s all the fun of the fete, cake stalls, homemade wine, tea and scones, shocks and surprises.”
   “For who sir, you, me…..Number 6. Now drink your tea, we have a great deal of work to do, or rather you do.”

 “Good afternoon everyone, good afternoon, I have some exciting news for you. A village fete is to be held three weeks this coming Wednesday, there will be stalls, games, entertainment, thrills, frolics, and excitement for all.”
    “Here Number 234 have you read this in The Tally Ho?”

    “No, 235 I haven’t, when do I ever have time to sit about reading the daily broadsheet?”
    “Well your tea’s ready.”
    “Oh good, any biscuits?”
    Suddenly the office door opened and the figure of No.20 stood framed in the doorway.
    “There’s no time for biscuits” he said entering the office “in fact there’s no time for tea.”
    “Here who are you to just walk in here?”
    “I know him, he’s No.20, the new No.2’s lackey!” 234 said
    “Well he’s got no right coming in here laying the law down….what do you want?”
    “There’s to be a village fete” No.20 said.
    “I was just reading about that in The Tally Ho” 234 said.
    “Village fete, what’s that to do with us?”
    No.20 looked about the office, then out of the office door into the warehouse where a number of men were working “How are you fixed for tents and fairground stall type things, you know.”
    “We’ve got  some striped changing tents, I dare say we could knock up a few stalls.”
    “Coconuts, what do you want those for?”
    “And plastic yellow ducks with numbers painted on them, for the hook a duck stall, and rings for the hoop-la” 20 ordered.
    “Look where am I to get coconuts from?”
    “That’s not my problem, there’ll need to be some amusements slot machines and the like.”
    “Slot machines, where am I to get slot machines?”
    “I know where we can get some slot machines” 234 said.
    “You do?” 235 asked.
    “We could borrow them from the Palace of Fun” 234 replied eagerly.
    “Now that’s what I call initiative” No.20 said.
    “That’s all very well” 235 said “but we’ve got other urgent work to be doing you know, the cottage 109 Private has to be fitted out and some of the fixtures and fittings have to be hand-made here by my lads, as well as the procurement of some of the more unusual items of antique furniture, silver ornaments I’ve got a list as long as your arm here, and the stagecoach is in for refurbishment….”
    “Well you’d better crack on then, hadn’t you!” No.20 ordered.
    “That’s what I call initiative, well you’d better crack on, I’ll give him crack on…..put the kettle on!”

    The pair of steel doors opened and No.20 marched smartly down the ramp.
    “Well Number 20?”
    “As well as can be expected sir, bit of a twinge on my right knee this morning…….”
    “I’m not asking about you, how goes it with the village fete progress?”
    “They are a surly bunch in Warehouse and requisition, if I had my way…..”
    “I hope you haven’t been antagonizing them, they do good work, can’t afford to have those lads upset.”
    “No sir, certainly not.”
    “The village fete will take place on time sir, you have my word on it.”
    “I do not wish for words, only deeds!”
    “Yes Number 2.”
    “But why bother about a fete in the first place?”
    “I have not the foggiest idea. But there was a further instruction this morning, Morris dancers?”
    “I beg your pardon sir?”
    “Are there any Morris dancers in the village?”
    “Not that I’m aware sir.”
    “Well find some, and get them practicing for the village fete.”
    “Why sir?”
    “Because it has been decreed in instructions, that’s why. If you asked less questions we might get more done!”
    “Sorry sir, I’ll attend to it straight away…..Morris dancers, I don’t know!”

    “Good morning, good morning, congratulations on yet another day. The weather will be fine and dry, although a fresh breeze will pick up by late afternoon, and there is the possibility of intermittent showers this evening. For your information the village fete is but two days away, candy floss, toffee apples, there will be side shows, Hook-A-Duck, Hoop-la, test your strength, and amusements aplenty, and the excitement of Morris dancers. Come one come all, be seeing you.”

    The village green was taped off, and there was great activity as workmen erected stalls and colourful striped tents, bunting fluttered in the breeze and the village fete was beginning to take shape. The test your strength machine was in place, and the amusement arcade was filled with one-armed bandits borrowed from the Palace of Fun, there was even a Palmist tent where one could have one’s fortune told.
    “Here 212 have you heard?”
    “Heard what, here pass me that hammer” 212 said holding out his hand.
    “That the village fete is going to have Morris dancers” 134 said picking up the hammer and passing it over.
    No.212 looked at 134 “Morris dancers, where are they going to find Morris dancers?”
   “Beats me!”

   “Well I’ve put our names down!”
   “You’ve done what…..!”

    “Good afternoon everyone, good afternoon. The village fete is now open, peruse the stalls, win a coconut, hook-a-duck and win a prize. Candyfloss, hot dogs, and ice cream are now on sale, and later we are to be entertained by the village Morris men…..come one come all, roll up and have fun, be seeing you.”

    Number 2 and his assistant No.20 were mingling amongst the crowd of people enjoying themselves, and looking at the stalls.
    “You managed to find them then” No.2 said resisting the temptation to try and win a coconut.
    “Yes, I didn’t want to let you down” No.20 said, he was feeling pretty pleased with himself.
    “The people are enjoying themselves.”
    “Yes sir, it’s a real morale booster.”
    “Where did you find them?”
    “Who sir?”
    “The Morris dancers.”
    A tall man in a dark piped blazer walked passed “It’s all too absurd, don’t you think?”
    “Yes, if you say so Number 6.”
    “You were going to say………”
    “I’m sorry sir?”
    “About the Morris dancers.”
    “Well sir you can see for yourself.”
    At that moment on another part of the green a number of men in white cowled gowns were taking up their positions, one man was playing a flute while at the same time beating a small drum.
    No.2 and his assistant stood watching amid a small crowd that had gathered “These Morris men.”
    “Yes sir.”
    “How did you come by them?”
    “How do you mean sir?
    “They don’t look much like Morris dancers to me…………”
    The Morris men began to dance, their bells jingled and jangled, and they banged and waved sticks in the air.
    “They look more like members of the Klu-Klux clan!”
    “Oh I don’t know sir, they have painted their faces half black half white.”
    “What are those sticks they have called?”
    “They’re wiffling sticks sir, they bang them together like that to ward off evil spirits.”
    “Fascinating, that one there…..”
    “Where sir?”
    “There, the one with the number 1 on his robe.”
    “What about him sir?”
    “Why the number?”
    “I really don’t know sir, he’s probably the boss, the leader of these Morris men” No.20 suggested.
    “I want to talk to him.”
    “Now sir?”
    “No after the dance. So how did you come by these so called Morris men?”
    “Well I put out a call for volunteers for Morris men, then one day I got a call from someone who said he could provide such Morris men to dance at the fete. I didn’t ask any questions and well sir here they are.”
   The dance came to an end, No.2 indicated for them to pick up the Morris man with the black number 1 on his robe, but after a search there was no number 1. And then……
    “There he goes!” one of the guardians shouted and ran off in pursuit with No.20 and others following close on their heels
    The chase was on! It wasn’t easy to outrun someone in a long robe, he hitched it up like a dress and dodged about this way and that between the stalls, then set off running along a cobbled path towards the Town Hall, through the turquoise wrought iron gates, down the steps across the road, up the Town Hall steps only to be stopped dead in his tracks by an electrical force-field.
    “You alright mate?” a gardener asked “its fussy about who it lets in, this is the Town Hall.”
    The man in the white robe began to run when he saw the pursers, up the road, round the bend, passed the café. He thought about dodging into the Gloriette, but they would catch him there so he ran on, on to the Green Dome and sanctuary. Running up the steps he found himself on the balcony, then through the arch and the open front door. In the foyer he brushed the butler aside, then rushed through the pair of French doors, the blast-proof steel doors slid open and he ran through and down the ramp and into the purple domed chamber, the steel doors sliding behind him. Behind the desk was a black global chair, the man turned the chair around.
    “And where do you think you’re going?” asked the smiling face of No.2.
    No.20 arrived on the scene with the guardians, the man in the white robe was seated in a chair, and No.2 conducted the inquisition himself.
    “Do you know who we have here Number 20?”
    “No Number 2.”
    “Go on, have a guess.”
    “The chief inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition?”
    “No, try again?”
    “A Benedictine monk?”
    “Almost, he’s certainly something of a recluse. He tells me he’s Number 1!”
    “Number 1, he’s a bit pathetic for Number 1.”
    “Yes I thought that, he’s a bit of a weasel if you ask me. I would have expected Number 1 to be more of a wit, skilful, intelligent, a big brain to come up with something like the village. But what have we got?”
    “A 5 feet nothing, 9 stone weakling. Who made this poor exhibit Number 1?”
    “Apparently those Morris men that were dancing out there a few minutes ago.”
    “Except they’re not Morris men at all, they are delegates of an Assembly which is responsible for every aspect of society!”
    “Who told you that?”
    “Our friend Number 1 here.”
    “That’s right, and you had better let me go, otherwise…….”
    “Otherwise what?”
    Just at that moment the red ‘L’ shaped intercom began to bleep, No.2 picked it up.
    “Number 2 here……….yes……..I see………..what shall I do with our friend here?............really, very good sir.”
    No.2 replaced the intercom on his desk “That was, well let us say that you have been dethroned. Our friend here has been nothing more than a communications medium through which orders are transmitted. I have news for you, do you want to hear it?”
    No.1 was busy using his robe to wipe the black and white paint off his face “Tell me the worst.”
    The delegates of the Assembly have found themselves a new Number 1, and you’ll never guess what he wants done with you. Take him away Number 20.”
    “And do what with him?”
    “Apparently a new old village custom is to be implemented, a pair of stocks is to be erected on the village green, put him in it!”
    The former No.1 protested “The stocks, why, what is my transgression?”
    “You became involved!”
    “Cooped up in that damned cavern day in day out, and forced to wear this get-up, so would you. So I thought pretending to be Morris men, well why not, a bit of a laugh, but what about the others?”
    “Take him away, I understand the citizens are ready to show Number 1 here their own particular brand of appreciation!”

Be seeing you

Saturday 20 February 2021

Who's That On The Telephono?


    “Fotheringay here yes…….yes I’ve seen a copy of the deciphered message……………what time would you say?............good….yes I can’t wait to see him, we were at school together.”
   So who was that on the blower Fotheringay? The Colonel, I shouldn’t have thought so he could have told you that in his office. What are you doing in the Colonel’s office, where is the Colonel why isn’t he there to answer the telephone? I can’t see it being No.2 on the telephone, unless it was he who telephoned you to say the crate was being moved, which it was, supposedly being loaded onto a cargo plane, and that your old school chum should arrive about which time. But then why should No.2 bother to do that would you say? Because as long as you are in the Colonel’s office it doesn’t matter what time he arrives. Anyway where is the Colonel, he should be there in his office. In fact if the Colonel was in the office instead of you Fotheringay, there wouldn’t have been any need for your presence, unless they knew that our friend No.6 would expect to see you. So where is the Colonel Fotheringay…….not talking eh? Oh I forgot, he was occupied with organizing the arrival of the crate, leaving you to mind the phone!
   I know he resigned his job, and now being an ex-colleague, but if this is the way you treat an old school chum I don’t think much of it myself! So off you go now, back to London before any embarrassing questions are asked, what……..they don’t know you and the Colonel were away from the office! Well that makes you both nothing more than a pair of traitors! Mind you I think you got off pretty lightly me old Fotheringay, because I’m not so sure the Colonel was allowed to leave the village, having failed in his assignment!

Be seeing you

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Village Life!


     “Tell me something.”
    “Is it information you are after?”
    “It might be.”
    “Why are we walking this way?”
    “We are walking this way because the hearse wouldn’t start!”
    “Why do you think that is?
    “Someone has stolen the battery!”
    “Now who do you think would go and do that?”
    “Probably someone who needs a battery.”

    “You take too many risks!”
    “Let me worry about that!”
    “Are you sure no-one saw you lugging that great big battery through the village and down onto the beach?”
    “Mayday, mayday, mayday any station receiving come in please mayday. This is a mayday call, this is a mayday call, any station receiving come in please…are you sure this is the right frequency?”
    “I’m certain.”
    “Mayday to Polotska, mayday to Polotska this is trans ocean flight D for delta 250 zero starboard engine in flames port engine oil pressure dropping rapidly three thousand feet and losing height over.”
    The Polotska responds by asking for the aircraft’s position.
    “Mayday to Polotska, mayday to Polotska our position is {crackle} minutes longitude {crackle} degrees latitude over.”
    “Polotska to mayday, Polotska to mayday we’re not reading you say again please.”
    “Mayday to Polotska {crackle} mayday to Polotska too late port engine in flames losing height rapidly, will have to ditch will have to ditch closing down.”

Be seeing you

Sunday 14 February 2021

The Chimes of Big Ben - That Painting of A Sea Battle!

     True I had ceased writing about the Prisoner series, however I should like to note something I read about via facebook this afternoon, and it is worthy of mentioning,  as I myself did not know the origin of that painting.

Be seeing you

Saturday 13 February 2021

The Tally Ho

 Local Seascape Competition

by our own reporter

    Those of an artistic bent have been encouraged to take part in a great new painting competition “seascapes.” At least that is a fresh subject, and will cut out endless paintings, sculptures, and general art work of one subject…No.2! Readers of the Tally Ho will remember the Exhibition of Arts and Crafts when the majority of entrants used No.2 as their subject, which I have always seen as being sycophantic! Although there were a number of entrants who did express their artistic tendencies in other ways, No.38 for example worked tirelessly on her tapestry, and yet even she used No.2 as a subject. But I did think she made No.2 look very Vikingesque. Others had worked in surrealism, and the abstract, who can forget No.6’s own abstract sculpture which puzzled the awards committee. The first piece represents a church door, the second of the same shape but more abstract in its design representing freedom or a barrier, depending on how you look at it. But why the crosspiece, well no crosspiece would mean No.6 would have had nothing to hang a sail from!
   Being artistic, the arts and crafts exhibition would have been right up madam Professor’s street, and the evidence of the plaster bust of No.2 in her house would be proof that she now only knew No.2, but also entered one of the categories of the exhibition. Not only that, but she also sculptured a number of classical heads, also that of No.2 of the time. But No.6, I couldn’t see him sitting for Madam Professor while she rendered No.6’s noble head in clay. And yet he did humour the eccentric artist No.118. So being an artist who works in different mediums Madame Professor might well enter the seascape competition. But not so No.118 who paints only in the surreal, and yet he has the ability to see into the very soul of his subject. No.6 for example, the artist painted the subject as a circle being made to fit, not simply in one square, but two squares!
   As for seaescapes, No.6 attempted four such escapes via the sea, all of them different. One was elaborate, well thought out, planned and executed, however as it turned out it was like a taxi ride, in that you can go anywhere you like, just as long as you arrive back in the village in the end. The second was by speedboat, although this was more of a spur of the moment thing, which resulted in No.6 being half drowned and suffocated in the attempt.
  Then one morning No.6 was nowhere to be seen, I learned late through journalistic investigation, that No.6 had been allowed to go on a voyage of discovery. There was no mention of escape as No.6 had been allowed to leave the village in a demonstration of manipulation and control. But that wasn’t enough for our friend No.6, in his final seascape he gathered men about him he thought he could trust, but once aboard M. S. Polotska the truth of the matter was quickly drawn to his attention, and in the end he only had himself to blame.

Be seeing you 

Wednesday 10 February 2021

Further Tales From The Village

    It’s funny when you think about it, and when I think about it I realize just how funny it is. And if it wasn’t funny it would be tragic! They got the wrong man you see, I shouldn’t be here at all. There I was, feet up in front of the telly, bottle of pale ale watching Armchair Theatre. The next thing I know is I wake up here……in this place. But the joke’s on No.2, because they got the wrong man!
  “The joke will be on you if you don’t get a move on; we’ve got to give the Stone Boat a refit today. So get about up there in the rigging!” No.212 ordered.
    There were five men in overalls who set about painting, re-rigging, fixing a new ship’s wheel, giving her a fresh lick of paint in order to make the Stone Boat ship shape and Bristol fashion. She was to have a new sail, and be decked out with bunting, and have a new dingy hanging from her davits. And No.29 found himself amongst the work gang taking down the old rigging.
    “Come on lads look lively” 212 ordered “we haven’t got all day.”
    A man in a white cap came walking passed.
    “Nice to see the old ship getting a refit, she’s good in any weather, sailed her many a time” and he carried on his way humming the tune “what shall we do with the drunken sailor” as he went.
    “Silly old fool” said one of the workmen.
    “A little eccentric perhaps” I said and climbing the rigging I busied myself securing a red and white life belt.
    The refit of the stone boat took us a couple of days, but by the end of it she certainly looked the part, even though the stone boat was part of the quay and couldn’t sail anywhere!
    The next day I was given the job of draining and cleaning the pool in the piazza, the Free Sea it was called. I never could make head nor tale of that sign, it was like the one inviting citizens to walk on the grass, that seemed a bit on the contrary side, surely that should be don’t walk on the grass. Anyway I switched off the fountain and let the water drain away by opening the two drain holes of the pool, then taking a brush I scrubbed the empty pool and swilled away the green algae which had begun to accumulate. This was all the time citizens whiled away their time promenading in the Piazza while I was working! Had they nothing better to do with their time, when it might have been better spent in attempting to escape? But perhaps they had once upon a time, perhaps no-one had come up with the perfect escape plan, meaning there was still such a thing as to find a perfect means to escape. I allowed my mind to drift but was quickly snapped back to reality by the voice of No.212 the foreman.
    “When you’ve done there 29, you can help 110 with the drains, alright?”
    “Okay” I heard myself replying, then I heard myself thinking about the drains, surely there must be a sewage outlet pipe. Coastal holiday resorts usually had sewage outlet pipes leading out into the sea.....I bet no-one’s thought of this before!
    Drains and sewage can be a very nasty, dirty, foul smelling business as No.29 soon found out spending time with 110 clearing a blockage. In fact the next day he volunteered to work with No.110 maintaining the drains on a permanent basis. No.29 found stooping along the drains an education plus he was free from surveillance, and the attention of the guardians. Then one day when he was carrying out an inspection of a main sewage conduit he stumbled on the main sewage outlet pipe that led out to sea. The far end of the pipe was covered by a rusty old grill, rusty yes, but still sound, he would need a hacksaw to cut his way out. And there was also the danger of the sea, a high tide filled the pipe and effectively flushed it out. His escape plan would take careful timing, but first to lay his hands on a hacksaw.
    Later that afternoon No.29 lingered about the maintenance workshop, and when no-one was looking he helped himself to a small hacksaw which he easily hid in his overalls. It was close to knocking off time and the foreman was eager to lock up, so No.29 went round to the back of the maintenance workshop and waited, he waited until he was sure the village was quietening down. It was early evening when he finally made his move, he quietly made his way through the woods to the other side of the village, and at the back of the Town Hall he raised a square manhole cover, and eased himself down into the sewer, replacing the manhole cover above him. He took his torch out of his pocket and made his way along the sewer in the direction of the main sewer outlet and then along to the rusted old grill. Cutting through those four rusty bars cemented in across the end sewer outlet pipe was hard work, but eventfully the grill was cut free, and with a kick of the foot it fell into the water.
    No.29 emerged from the pipe to breathe the fresh clean air of freedom, before dropping into the sea and swimming a short distance along the coast before crawling out of the water to rest on the rocks. There was a path leading up to the top of the cliffs, from there he made his way inland across open fields of green pasture. Crawling through a private hedge he stumbled on a narrow track way which led the way in either direction. Either way was as good as the other, and so he walked on for a couple of miles until he reached a wooden gate across the track. Climbing over the gate he walked on a little further and then saw a plume of smoke in the distance.     “Hello” he shouted at a man tending a bonfire.
    The man looked up at a man standing on the track.
    “You’re trespassing, didn’t you see the sign?”
    “No, I’m sorry, but can you help me?”
    “What do you want?”
    “Some food, water, and directions if you would be so kind” he asked.
    As it happens the farmer’s wife was kindness itself, she fed him stew and boiled potatoes, bread and butter pudding, and a large mug of hot tea.
    “Where have you come from?” the farmer asked.
    “Don’t bother the man Josh, he’s a raggedy man who looks like he belongs nowhere but in need of a helping hand.”
    “I know but he could be anyone, an escaped prisoner perhaps!” the farmer suggested.
   And yet the farmer’s wife told her husband not to be so daft, and continued to look kindly on this raggedy man. After a bath and clean clothes he began to feel himself once more, and less like an escaped prisoner! He thanked the farmer and his wife for their kind hospitality. It was then that the farmer turned on the television, and the face of a middle aged man appeared on the screen, he was sat in a black global chair.
    “I’m sorry to have to tell you this Number 29, but the farmhouse is an outpost of the village” No.2 told him “That was rather ingenious of you, no-one has thought to try the sewers as a means of escape. If you will remain where you are please, village transport is on its way to pick you up.”
   No.29 stood there in shock, then glanced about the room and saw the coal in a scuttle by the fire place. He leaped at the chance and threw himself forward then a piece of coal smashed the television screen. The farmer’s wife was brushed aside, as the farmer went for his shotgun. At the door No.29 found his way blocked by two burly set guardians, who with the help of No.12 escorted the prisoner to the waiting white Mini-Moke.
    “You were right my dear, he was an escaped prisoner” the farmers wife said standing at the farmhouse door.
   She watched as No.12 got in the taxi and started the engine as the guardians helped No.29 into the vehicle, and then drive off out of the farmyard and back along the track.
    “And you are too generous with your kindness” the farmer told his wife.
    “Yes but he was so raggedy, and looked to be in such desperate need of help, and I believe he still is. Where are you going?”
   “Back to the bonfire, I’ll take my gun, might bag a rabbit or two.”

Be seeing you

Monday 8 February 2021

Who's That On The Telepnono!

  “I’ll call you later.”

    Who is your confidante No.2? Who was that on the telephono, and did you call him or her later? As far as I can see you don’t have a friend in the village, you’ve managed to alienate almost everyone, and now you’re about to, not only alienate No28, but remove him from his position as supervisor! So who were you talking to? Someone you felt you could trust, so much so that you felt you were able to tell that person all your troubles. Someone with a sympathetic ear obviously, but whom…………not the wife, they didn’t let you bring the wife to the village with you. Who else would you be telephoning, who else would have such a sympathetic ear? The trouble with that is I cannot imagine a man like you being married; if you were you’d probably alienate her as well. And I don’t expect it was No.14 as you’re not treating him with kid gloves! What I will say is this; life in the village has not been kind to you…..well not since you began to mix it with No.6! Never mind you’re busy, call me later!

Be seeing you

Thursday 4 February 2021

The Six Against The 6

     Where is No.6? I say again where is No.6? No-one seemed to know where No.6 was. Ah there he is.

    “No.2 wants a word with you” the first guardian said sternly.
    “Because she does, and that’s reason enough” said the tall well built guardian.
    “Well it’s not good enough for me!”
    The Prisoner was taken away by the guardians and manhandled into the purple walled domed chamber, and bundled into a black leather chair.
    “You wanted a word with me?”
    The black haired woman sat staring at No.6 from the comfort of her chair “I do” she said in a Glaswegian accent.
    “You’re Scottish” he said “we haven’t had a Scottish Number 2 before, we had one who was Welsh.”
    “What is it with you Number 6, refusing to wear, observe, or respond to your number, you refuse to settle down, to take part in anything.”
    “That’s not quite right, I joined in with the local council election to vote in a new Number 2, and I created a piece of abstract sculpture for the Exhibition of arts and crafts, you can’t get more involved than that.”
    “What is it you want Number 6?”
    “For you to release me from the village!”
    “You know that’s not going to happen.”
    “Why not?”
    No.2 rose out of her chair and walked out from behind her desk.
    “You’re not as tall as I imagined” he observed.
    “You know what you are don’t you Number 6.”
    “I feel sure you’re about to tell me.”
    Just at that moment the pair of steel doors slid open and the diminutive butler appeared pushing a trolley down the ramp.
    “Aha! Elevenses as you English say” and she stood watching the butler set out the tea things on the desk, and he poured out two cups of tea, adding milk and sugar to one, and a slice of lemon to the other.
    “Are there biscuits?” No.2 asked.
    “The butler picked up a tea plate, upon which were four digestive biscuits and held it out.
    “Are there no proper biscuits, the ones with cream inside?” No.2 asked.
    The butler looked at the biscuits then placed the plate back on the desk.
    “Oh well if there isn’t there isn’t” she said.
    The butler took his leave and No.2 handed the Prisoner his cup of tea, and quietly sipped her own, helping herself to a biscuit.
    “You were about to tell me what was wrong with me” he said sipping his lemon tea.
    “You’re your own worst enemy” she told him.
    “I suppose it’s my fault I’m here in the village in the first place!”
    “Well isn’t it?”
    “What exactly are you, a psychologist, sent here to analyze me?”
    “If you like” No.2 said finishing her biscuit and talking a sip of tea.
    “Freud would have been better at it.”
    “The trouble with Freud is he put all our troubles down to sex, or the lack of it!”
    Perhaps you would like to go for a walk with me?” No.2 asked.
    “Now why should I want to do that?”
    “It’s a nice day, the sun is shining, the birds singing” No.2 said.
    As she rose out of her black global chair two men in black and white striped jackets and shorts pushed the grey desk out of the way, while another furnished her with a cap, the old school scarf, and shooting stick. She held out her arm and reluctantly No.6 took it, and another man in white took the black leather chair away. No.2 and No.6 went on their stroll around the village. Down the steps of the Green Dome, across the street, down more steps, and along the cobbled path. A game of human chess was taking place, and on another lawn the croquet players played their game.
    “Very pleasant wouldn’t you say?”
    “Perhaps we could stop for an ice cream?”
    “My treat” she said.
    Two ice creams were purchased and they continued their walk.
    “Shall we sit upon a bench and watch the World go by?” 2 suggested.
    “Your world” he said.
    “You created it, and put yourself in it!”
    “What do you mean by that?”
    “You think I don’t know? I’ve heard that voice on the other end of the telephone, yes Number 1, no Number 1, three bags full Number 1, and all the time……..”
    “What, all the time what?”
    “It’s doesn’t matter, let us finish our ice creams and enjoy the afternoon” she told him “shall we take a turn around the Piazza and then back to the Green Dome for afternoon tea.”
    He did finish his ice cream, but during that promenade he felt he was being softened up for something, well whatever it was he’d face it like a man. It certainly couldn’t be any worse than the time No.2………
    “Let us sit down a while” No.2 said.
    The two men in black and white striped jackets and shorts hurried along and placed a table and two chairs in position, and No.2 and No.6 sat down.
    “I thought we were going back to you office for afternoon tea?”
    “Well I thought we might as well have it here at the café.”
    The two men placed tea things on the table.
    “Shall I be mother?” 2 said pouring out the tea.
    “So what is it you want?”
    “It’s not a question of what I want, but what you want. You want to know why, why you? Well I could tell you, but perhaps it would be more to the point if I actually showed you. Finish your tea and we’ll go.
    They stood up and left the café. Back in No.2’s office the two men in black and white striped jackets and shorts appeared once more, putting the grey curved desk in place, and the black global chair behind the desk. No.2 sat down and No.6 stood there waiting in dramatic fashion.
    “You want to know who is responsible for your incarceration in the village. You want to know who put you here. You want to know who Number 1 is. You want, you want, you want, you want, you want to know who Number 1 is then I will show you!”   
    No.2 rose out of the black global chair, on the desk a mirror, she picked it up, walked out from behind her desk and approached No.6 handing him the mirror.
    “You said you wanted to see Number 1.”
    The Prisoner held up the mirror to see his self staring back at him
    “See!” said No.2.
    The face he saw had a grim expression No.6 dropped the mirror it broke to pieces on the floor and collapsed on the floor in the sudden realization that he had done it all to himself, a persecution complex or mania. What’s more he and he alone was responsible for the village, and all that went on within its confines of his subconscious!
    “Take this poor wretch away” No.2 ordered.
    The two men in striped black and white Jackets and shorts picked the man up and manhandled him away and the curtain came down. The cast lined up to take the applause, the curtain was raised and the cast bowed much to the applause of an empty theatre……….as was the stage!

 Be seeing you

Tuesday 2 February 2021

Further Tales From The Village

     “Do you think we can get this business with Number 6 cleared up within the next three days 14?”
    “I don’t know Number 2, why the sudden rush?”
    “I’m due to leave in three days, and have been told to have this business completed by then.
   “You mean your term in office will be over.”
    “No, I’m due to go on leave!”
    “You mean on holiday?”
    “Yes, an interim Number 2 will take over from me until my return.”
    “Well it’s alright for some, you’ve only been here a week and here you are going on holiday. Come to think of it, I’ve never known any Number 2 to go away on holiday; they’ve never lasted long enough to be given any leave. And when they do leave they’re hardly ever known to come back!”

   In the Green Dome an interim No.2 is on a yellow ‘L’ shaped  telephone, as the helicopter takes off from the lawn by the sea wall and flies out across the estuary towards the hills and the landing stage beyond.
   In the control room the supervisor watches the departing helicopter on the large wall screen and then quickly picks up the grey ‘L’ shaped telephone.  
    “Get me Number 2….quickly.”
    The grey ‘L’ shaped telephone on the desk began to bleep, No.2 looked at it “I’ll talk to you later” he said and putting down the yellow ‘L’ shaped telephone and picked up the grey one.
    “Number 2 here.”
    “Supervisor here sir, I thought I should report the helicopter that just left…..its coming back!”
    “What! It’s not supposed to do that is it?”
    “No sir.”
    “Contact the pilot and ask him what he thinks he’s doing.”
    “Its too late Number 2, the helicopter is about to land.”
    “Well send a security team and secure the helicopter immediately.”
    “At once Number 2.

    As the helicopter circled the village a white Mini-Moke was speeding through the village its two-tone siren blaring out, and No.14 accompanied by two burly set guardians in red and black striped jerseys were sat waiting in the Mini-Moke as the silver grey Alouette helicopter landed back on the lawn. The turning rotor blades slowed and a cabin door opened, No.14 and the two guardians alighted from the Moke and stood waiting on the lawn as a well built man with thinning grey hair stepped down onto a grey float, then down onto the lawn. The pilot handed him his brown suitcase, then the man turned to face his welcoming committee.
   “I’ve arrived” No.2 said announcing himself, as though just arriving at the coastal resort of the village-next-the sea.
    No.14 stepped forward somewhat confused “Number 2?”
    “I changed my mind” No.2 said.
    “I can see that, what are you doing back here?” 14 asked.
    “I’m on holiday” No.2 replied with a smile.
    “On holiday?”
    “Yes, this is as good a place as any to spend my leave” No.2 said putting his suitcase into the back of the taxi.
    No.2 was made comfortable in a vacant flat opposite the fish pond, where he stood looking out of the window at the citizens promenading in the Piazza.

    The next morning a house maid brought him his breakfast.
    “They tell me you’re on holiday sir” the housemaid said setting out the breakfast things.
    “Who are they?”
    “Oh its just gossip sir, but it’s a strange place to have a holiday if you don’t mind me saying sir.”
    “Oh I don’t know, I can think of worse places to spend a fortnight’s leave.”
    “And what are you going to do with yourself sir?”
    “Listen to the brass band, relax, and perhaps attend a production of the local amateur dramatic society. There is always the Palace of Fun, spend a day relaxing on the beach, and go walking. Lunch at the café, a drink in the evening at the Cat and Mouse, there’s the library, I like reading. And perhaps a round or two of clock golf” he said.
    “Lucky you!” the housemaid said taking her leave.
    After breakfast No.2 slipped on his blazer and boater, and went out for a walk. As he closed the door behind him he couldn’t help but notice the black and white striped signpost and the sign which hung below the candy-striped canopy just outside the door, it read ‘23 Private,’ as did the badge now pinned to the lapel of his blazer. He decided to pay a call at the Green Dome.
    Standing at the front door he tugged on the black wrought iron bell pull, seeing as the door would not open for him. There came the deep toll of a bell and the diminutive butler opened the door.
    “I’m Number……I wish to see Number 2” he said.
    The butler showed the caller into the foyer then to an open pair of French doors, up a ramp to a now opening pair of steel doors, and into the domed purple walled chamber that is No.2’s office. Then he saw the tall figure of No.14 standing by the desk.
    “Well, what do you want?” said the bearded man sitting in the black global chair.
    “Come on man speak up, we’re all friends here” No.2 said.
    “I am Number 2.”
    You, you are Number 2, who do you think I am?” the man in the chair said “look come closer we cannot talk like this.”
    No.2 walked down the ramp and approached the desk he looked at No.14 who showed no emotion at seeing his old boss, but simply stared straight ahead.
   “Now tell me.”
   “I am Number 2, I left the village to go on leave.”
   “On leave, really!”
   “I presume you then took over as an interim Number 2.”
   “Interim, I like that, there’s nothing interim about it” No.2 told him   “you say you left the village to go on leave, but you’re here, how do you account for that?”
    “I came back.”
    “Listen to him 14, he came back. Why did you come back, forget to turn off the gas did you?”
    “I came back here because its different, and I wanted to spend my fortnights leave here, ask Number 14 he knows.”
    “You came back in order to spend your fortnights leave here in the village, you expect me to believe that?”
    “It’s true, tell him 14, tell him how it was.”
    No.14 remained silent.
    “Look Number 23 I’ll tell you how it is. If you cause any more trouble I’ll have you up before the welfare committee so fast your feet will not touch the ground. Right 14.”
    “Yes sir, feet will not touch the ground.”
    “And I thought you were loyal 14!”
    “I am loyal” No.14 replied.
    “I suggest you go and get on with this leave you like to talk about, and let there be no more escape attempts from you” No.2 ordered.
    “Escape attempts, when did I ever try to escape?”
    “I don’t know what gave you the idea that you could escape in such a way. You must have realized we would have twigged what you were doing.”
    “I am Number 2, I decided to spend my fortnights leave here because it’s different, a place which can serve me for a change, instead of my serving it!”
   No.2 sat in his chair and smiled “Oh I see, you’re on a busman’s holiday! Well feel free to go and enjoy your holiday.”
    “And in two weeks time?”
    “We’ll see what happens” No.2 told him “perhaps when my term in office is over they’ll take you on as my replacement, as an interim Number 2!”
    “Of all the nerve, I protest!”
    “Protest all you wish 23. Now get out of my office, show him the door 14.”
    “Yes sir, this way.”
    No.14 led his former superior to the opening steel doors and through into the foyer.
    “I’m surprised 14, I thought you were loyal.”
    “Circumstances alter cases. Look sir I know you were trying to escape.”
    “But I came back of my own free will!”
    “And why was that?”
    “Because I knew they would catch up with me sooner or later, no matter where I went.”
    “And now?” 14 asked showing his former superior to the front door.
    “I can live out the rest of my life quietly. But for now I’m on holiday, and think I might enjoy a walk through the woods and along the cliffs, I’ll be seeing you.”

    No-one knew what had happened that day along the cliffs; perhaps No.23 simply got too close to the edge and slipped, perhaps he was pushed by person or persons unknown. What is known is that two beachcombers found the battered and broken body of a former No.2 lying on the rocks below the cliffs. And No.2, well he was eventually replaced by yet another interim No.2, seeing as the position was never deemed as being permanent!

Be seeing you