New Village Transport
was a bright sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, and not a breath of wind
disturbed the air. It was the perfect summer’s day in which to spend the day on
the beach. No.2, and his assistant No.12, a man of medium height, dark hair,
dressed in a light blue blazer with dark grey piping made their way from the
back of the Georgian house, down the steps, through the pair of gates to the
road. And began their walk through the village, with No.2 happy to greet
citizens as they passed-by.
“I don’t quite get it” No.12 said.
“You don’t quite get it, what is it do not you get?”
“Why we are walking sir, when we could so easily take a taxi.”
“I like to walk through the village on occasion, to take it all in, besides exercise is good for one” No.2 explained.
“And we are attending this thing because?”
No.2 stopped “I am Number 2, Chairman of the village, and it is my public duty to put in an appearance.”
They went on their way, passed the statue of Hercules, up the steps, through a pair of turquoise gates opposite the Town Hall, and left, down the hill towards the Old People’s Home.
“It’s lucky the tide has remained out for the past three weeks” No.12 remarked.
“Yes, almost a month of perfect conditions” No.2 replied adjusting the old college scarf wound about his neck and shoulders.
“Otherwise the competition would have been a complete washout!”
“That’s right Number 12, keep looking on the bright side!”
There was quite a throng of citizens on the beach, some had taken advantage of the colourfully striped bathing tents scattered about the beach, now in bathing costumes sunbathing, or paddling in the gullies of water along the beach. There was a small group playing beach ball, others relaxing in deckchairs, and several stood admiring the display of sandcastles which had been carefully crafted specially for the competition. But whatever people chose to do, everyone was enjoying the day, even No.2’s diminutive butler was out for a stroll in black tails and bowler hat, carrying an open black and white striped umbrella. No.2 and his assistant having reached the quayside took the steps down onto the beach and made their way across the sand.
“I have to say the standard is very high,
don’t you agree Number 12?”
“Yes indeed sir.”
“You did not enter the competition?”
“No sir, you keep me far too busy to take part in such frivolous
“You can forget the sir, this afternoon we are off-duty. You may call me 2.”
“Thank you sir, I mean 2. But we should never be off-duty; we must be always on our guard and alert at all times” Number 12 told his superior.
“I’m sorry 2?” 12 asked, not understanding.
“What for, why do you think we have the Watch? After all what’s the point in the village if we cannot enjoy it. Look at them 12, citizens going about living their day to day lives, all happy and contented. Then we give them something like this, and they enjoy themselves all the more. Stand with me 12, look and take at it all in, breathe it in.”
“You give them a sandcastle competition” 12 said with an air of scepticism.
“Simple pleasures 12, simple pleasures, they have been preparing for this day for the past three weeks.”
No.2 is a man who believes in the village, who loves it with a passion, yet perhaps hates it even more seeing as to why he was brought here in the first place!
“Look 12, here come the judges” 2 announced proudly.
Three citizens, two women in their fifties dressed in bright striped capes and trilby hats, and a middle aged man in straw boater and piped jacket, each carrying a clipboard made up three judges of the awards committee. They came walking across the beach towards the line of sandcastles, as each of the contestants stood proudly by their creations.
Two watchmen ushered the citizens back a
pace or three in order to give the three judges plenty of room.
The first sandcastle by No.34 a beautifully crafted Green Dome, a large construction complete with balcony, balustrade, and pair of eagles which topped the arch.
“It’s very good” No.42 said, and the first judge made a note on her clipboard.
No.128 the second judge agreed.
“I wonder” said No.67.
“You wonder?” asked the first judge.
“I wonder if the annex could have been added.”
A look of disappointment crossed the face of No.34.
“The annex” said No.128.
“That’s where No.2’s butler lives” added 42.
Both the second and third judges studied the Green Dome from all sides, making notes on their clipboards.
“The lack of an annex doesn’t take anything away from the Dome.”
“I agree” 42 said and wrote a note on her clipboard.
The expression of disappointment was replaced by a large smile.
“Shall we move on?” 42 suggested.
The next sandcastle was that of No.274’s.
“This is No.247’s he’s called it the Georgian house” said the first judge.
The judges made a careful study.
rather good, nicely detailed” said the first judge.
“Complete with steps and a pair of gates” added the second judge.
“The Georgian house, a little unimaginative I would have said” remarked the third judge making a note on her clipboard which looked to be an X.
“Its No.2’s residence” said the third judge to the second, who both made equal marks on their clipboards.
Next up was No.71’s sandcastle of a castle!
“How unoriginal is this?” asked the first judge.
“It’s a sandcastle of a castle” said the second.
“It’s the hospital” said the third “It’s very well detailed, look there’s an ambulance outside and a patient is being carried inside on a stretcher.”
“Oh yes” said the second judge eagerly “and there are other patients sitting in deckchairs on the lawn.”
All three judges then wrote a mark on their clipboards, said well done to 71 and moved on.
“Now what have we here?” 42 asked the elderly man wearing a white naval cap.
“It’s a representation of the raid on the dry dock at St Nazaire in Normandie” the ex-Admiral explained.
Two lines of turrets and fortifications of
a harbour had been constructed either side of a dry dock by a shallow gully of
sea water. There were two towers protecting the mouth of the harbour.
“Why the plastic boat?” one judge asked.
“That represents the obsolete destroyer HMS Campbeltown” the ex-Admiral explained “which crossed the English Channel to the Atlantic coast of France and was rammed into the Normandie dock gates. The ship had been packed with delayed-action explosives, well-hidden within a steel and concrete case, which detonated later that day, putting the dock out of service.”
“It’s very good” said No.128, and all three judges were in agreement.
Moving along the line the three judges were astonished to be confronted by No.106 and his sandcastle of a full-size vehicle.
“What is it?” No.42 asked the man standing beside it.
“It’s an Austin Mini-Moke” No.106 said proudly.
“How long did it take you to build?” No.67 asked.
“A week and a half” 105 told the judges.
One of the judges decided to test out the vehicle and sat on the front passenger seat, she was impressed. So was No.2 and stepped forward to examine the Mini-Moke sandcastle for himself.
“Look said” No.128 “There’s something
etched on the bonnet, and the license plate reads Taxi.”
The judges were impressed, and so was No.2
who closely examined the sandcastle for himself.
“Do you know Number 12 I’ve just had an idea for how we can replace our fleet of old jeeps!” he took a small recording device from the pocket of his blazer and recorded a memorandum to himself.
“Really sir? That is good news.”
If the full-size Mini-Moke wasn’t remarkable enough, the final sandcastle was even more so….a diorama of the village.
“How remarkable!” said one judge.
“The bandstand, café, Town Hall,
“And so well detailed, there’s a chap being pursued by the Rover machine” said the third writing something down on his clipboard.
“The judges should knock points off for that!” No.2 commented.
The judges walked away in order to confer, then after a few minutes later returned with the result.
“In third place the Admiral with his World War two diorama.”
The proud Admiral stepped forward, as the spectators applauded, to accept his third place rosette and the Judges congratulations, and to the applause of the crowd.
“In second place, with his full-size Mini-Moke, Number 106.”
No.106 stepped forward shaking the judge’s hand and taking his rosette, as the crowd applauded.
“And finally in first place Number 234 with his diorama of the village.”
No.43 stepped forward with pride to the applause of the crowd, shaking the judge’s hands and waving the red first place rosette in the air.
“Finally, we come to the special merit award of 2,000 free work units, which goes to Number 106.”
The crowd applauded No.106 as he stepped forward to accept the special merit award.
And with that the crowd dispersed, the judges walked back to the quayside, leaving Number 2 and his assistant standing examining the Mini-Moke.
“You seem fascinated with this sandcastle” No.12 said.
“It’s not a sandcastle” No.2 replied. There was the spark of an idea visualizing itself inside his head “have No.106 brought to my office later this afternoon” he told his assistant.
“Why, what has he done sir?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. I simply want to speak to him” No.2 replied, turning and walking across the sand back to the village.
That afternoon No.21 took a light blue
coloured Willys jeep from the motor pool, taking along too strong arm watchmen
with him to call on No.105.
There was a sharp and sudden knock to the cottage door, upon opening the door No.106 saw three men standing there “What do you want?”
“We have come to take you for a ride,
Number 2 wants a quiet word with you” No.12 told him.
“And these two?”
“He looked at his two companions “They’re here to help you into the jeep, should you resist.”
“Me, what does Number 2 want with me?”
“Come with me and we’ll find out together” No.12 told him.
“I can’t for the moment, I’ve a soufflé in the oven.”
No.256, a burly set man in a red and black striped jersey stepped forward, passing 106 into the cottage, in the kitchen he turned off the oven. A moment or two later he returned and nodded at No.21.
“And now you can” No.12 said leading the way.
The two men took 106 by the shoulders and marched him out of the cottage and along to the jeep, No.2 sat behind the wheel and started the engine. No.106 was bundled in under the grey canopy and they all drove off together.
Stepping through the open gates No.12 led the way up the steps. 106 followed, the two Watchmen bringing up the rear, towards the impressive façade of Georgian house which had become No.2’s temporary residence. However there being no front door, No.106 was taken round to the back of the building and bundled in through an already open door where the diminutive
“Are there you are Number 106, do sit down”
No.2 offered indicating the black leather chair.
The two watchmen sat 106 in the chair and left the office, while No.21 stood close to hand.
Number 2 sat in a brown leather chair, behind an oak desk.
“My apologies for this, but my office in the Green Dome is currently under going reconstruction, and the decorators haven’t finished yet” No.2 said with a warm smile “perhaps you would like some tea.”
The butler wheeled in the tea trolley and proceeded to pour out three cups of tea, bowed, and left the room.
No.2 sat in his chair stirring his tea, No.21 leant up against a wall, and 106 sipped his tea wondering why he had been brought before No.2.
“Now 106,” No.2 said enjoying his tea “tell me about the Mini-Moke.”
“What makes you think I know anything?”
“The sandcastle you created suggests you do. Tell me why you etched the image of a Penny Farthing on the bonnet?”
“I don’t know, I think it was there all the time, and I just brought it out, it seemed right somehow, 106 told him.
“And the Mini-Moke?”
“The Austin or Morris Mini-Moke was
originally developed for the army by
“For the army, oh of course, you worked in the Home Office until…..”
“Do we have to drag all that up again? I’ve cooperated, I’ve told you everything I know.”
“Yes and now you have revealed a little more” No.2 said smiling “So the military gave up Mini-Moke.”
“Before I was brought here plans were being laid down to make it a civilian version, as a run-about, and beach buggy, and was to have gone into production last year” 106 explained.
“Good, you may go” No.2 said with a look of satisfaction.
“Go, is that all?” said 106 placing his cup and saucer on the desk.
“Did you want there to be more?”
“No, no not at all.”
“Then go and enjoy the day” No.2 told him.
No.106 got up out of his chair to find the butler waiting to escort him out of the Georgian house.
“What are you up to Number 2?” asked his assistant putting his cup and saucer down.
“A special import, one more in keeping with the village than old Willys jeeps” 2 said with a wry smile, and picked up the receiver of the red telephone, “Number 2 here sir……….”
Two green Scammel Highwayman
transporters travelling in convoy, tuned off the motorway, and onto a long
winding B road. On the trailers their cargo was covered by tarpaulin and
secured by heavy duty ropes. It had been a long and tedious journey, but now
they were approaching their destination. Ahead the driver and his mate saw the
large wrought iron gates closed across the mouth of the dark tunnel.
“You got the key?” asked the driver.
“Yes I’ve got the key” said his mate.
The first Scammel transporter came to a stop, and the second close behind. The driver’s mate climbed out of the cab and walked round to the front of the vehicle key in hand, unlocked the large brass padlock securing the gates and swung them open. The driver turned on the headlights, and lorry moved forward, the mate climbed back into the cab and the two lorries drove slowly along tunnel.
In the now reconstructed and renovated Green Dome No.2 sat in a black global chair within a large, futuristic looking, purpled walled domed chamber, behind a grey curved desk. The yellow telephone began to bleep somewhat impatiently, he picked up the receiver.
“Number 2 here.”
“I thought you would like to know, the special imports are about to arrive” No.12 reported “I thought you would like to meet the delivery.”
“Yes, yes I would, I’ll be right there” No.2 replaced the receiver,
pressed a button on the control panel of his desk, and sat back in his
chair as it descended through the floor.
At the bottom of the shaft No.2 climbed out of the chair and walked along a corridor. At the far end he stepped up onto on a round dais which then descends through the floor carrying No.2 down another dimly lit shaft at the bottom of which he stepped off the dais and in front of him a pair of steel doors which slid open at his approach. He stepped through and into a rock lined tunnel, at the far end was an old wooden door with a large rusty lock and rusty hinges. He took a large key from his blazer pocket, put it in the lock and turned it.
“Ridiculous!” he muttered sliding the key out of the lock.
There was an electronic hum as the old wooden door opened automatically revealing the large cavern beyond. No.2 stepped through the open doorway, the wooden steel clad door closed behind him; the electronic neon sign displayed the words
“Ah there you are sir” said No.12 crossing the floor of the cavern, he was accompanied by two such figures in white robes, their faces obscured by black and white theatrical masks. No.2 found the figures disturbing, as though they belonged to some secret society who meet in secret without knowing or seeing the faces of their co-members.
“The transporters should be here at any moment sir” No.12 announced.
Lights appeared at the mouth of the tunnel
as the first of the two Scammel transporters entered the cavern with the second
parking alongside it, this caused quite a commotion, and several white robed
figures stood looking on. The two drivers and their mates stepped down from the
cabs and confronted No.2 with a delivery note.
“Sign here mate” said one of the drivers.
No.2 looked at the invoice marked ‘Special Import’ “I’m not signing anything until I’ve seen the goods, what’s more I am not your mate!”
“Alright governor, keep you hair on. Alright Sid, lets get the covers off.”
The four men began to untie the ropes securing their loads; steel ramps were secured to the rear of the trailer, and the tarpaulins were removed from the four vehicles.
“Well Number 12, what do you think?” No. 2 asked.
“I’m impressed sir.”
“And so you should be” No.2 said with a feeling of pride.
On the trailer four gleaming white Mini-Mokes, two with white, yellow and brown striped canopies, the other two had orange and white canopies.
“Right” said No.2 “let’s get the job organised, and the Mokes off-
The two drivers climbed aboard the trailers, whilst their workmates stood at the back of the trailers. Engines of two of the Mini-Mokes started, and were carefully driven backwards off the trailers, and were parked up side by side. The same with the other two Mokes.
“Right governor, if you sign the delivery note, we’ll be on our way, we have a long way to go” said one of the drivers offering No.2 a pencil.
His three colleagues tidied up and made secure the tarpaulins and ramps with ropes.
“Oi Fred” the other driver shouted across
the cavern “There’s a spare canopy here.”
“Oh I’d forgotten about that.”
“Forgotten about what?” asked No.2.
“It’s a spare canopy, it’s marked on the
delivery note, spare black and white striped canopy” Sid said pointing out the
“What’s it for?”
“Its convert’s one of the Mokes into a hearse” Sid explained.
No.2 examined the delivery note “I don’t see the two Red Cross trailers marked down.”
“We couldn’t bring those; they’ll be arriving separately in a week or so.”
“All ready here Sid” the other driver shouted.
“So if you’ll sign your number there.”
“I’m not signing for anything, not until me and
my mate, I mean my assistant have checked the vehicles
No.12 was doing just that “They’re a bit sporty, much better than the old Jeeps” he said climbing in behind the wheel of one of the Mokes.
“They’re very nice, look at the wood panelling, they’ve made a terrific job of them” No.2 said poking his head under the canopy.
“They’ve aerials but no radios” 12 observed.
“That would break the rules, as well you know 12.”
“Yes sir, quite” agreed No.2 climbing out and walking round to the front of the vehicle “the license plates read taxi.”
No.2 checked the rear of each Moke in turn, all four fitted with a tow bar.
A group of white robed figures had stepped forward and were also interested in the four vehicles.
“Well that’s what they are, taxis, village transport, ambulance…..” No.2 told his assistant.
“And a hearse” No.12 added, and releasing the two bonnet hooks he examined the 850cc engine.
“The jeeps needed to be replaced, and what
better to replace them with” No.2 said with pride.
“With a Mini-Moke.”
“Yes, it was originally designed as an all terrain vehicle for the
“The army wanted a small, light vehicle which could be dropped by parachute. Unfortunately in designing the Moke they used an 850cc engine, and parts from a Mini van. The design’s small wheels and low ground clearance made it unsuitable as an off road military vehicle.”
“It seems progress has taken a backwards step” 12 suggested.
“How do you mean?”
“Well a perfectly good off road vehicle like the jeep has been replaced by a Donkey!”
“What’s that?” No.12 asked pointing to the
bonnet of one of the new taxis.
“It’s the village emblem” 2 replied.
“Village emblem, we’ve never needed an emblem before, who thought that one up?”
“The general purposes committee.”
“A Penny Farthing with what looks to be a canopy.”
“What’s the thinking behind it?”
“Does there have to be thinking behind it? It’s a logo, or trade mark. It will be on everything, including the tinned village food” No.2 announced.
“When you two are completely finished, we’ve got to be going” Sid shouted.
No.12 closed and secured the bonnet of the Moke “Just a minute sir, this one’s got a black front bumper.”
“So it has” observed No.2.
“What about it?” Sid said aggressively, suggesting that they could soon match that up with a bit of white paint.
“What about our four Jeeps?” No.2 asked.
“What about them?” Sid asked uninterested.
“Are you taking them back with you?”
“I’ve got no return note for any Jeeps, you’d best keep them.”
“But we don’t need them now” No.2 told the driver.
“Not my problem mate!”
Finally No.2 put pencil to paper and signed
the delivery note and handed it to the driver.
“Right lads, we’re on our way out of here” Sid said walking back to his lorry.
“Just a minute, do you think you’re leaving” said No.2 “what about security?”
Sid opened the driver’s door “Don’t worry about that mate” he said climbing into the cab “we’ve all got top security clearance for a job like this. We’ll most likely be back next week with the trailers.”
The drivers started the lorries engines, turned the vehicles around, and back along the tunnel.
“Right No.12, better get the drivers introduced to these taxis and on
“What did you say?”
“Right away Number 2.”
Three female taxi drivers collected three
of the Mini-Mokes from the motor pool, and having given them the once-over,
they drove them from the motor pool through the village to the taxi rank. The
three Mokes already looked very much at home, and quite the part in their shiny
white paint and candy-striped canopies. They caused quite a stir amongst the
The fourth Mini-Moke was collected by two watchmen who were under No.2’s instructions to give the vehicle a thorough off-road test. Into the woods and along the tracks, then out into countryside, and finally back through the village, down the slipway and out onto the sand of the estuary.
Two men busied themselves with folding down the canopy.
“I’m going to enjoy this” 256b said climbing behind the wheel.
“Who said you were driving?” 256 protested.
“Well we’ll take it in turns; you drive
through the woods, and taking the track out into the countryside. Then I’ll
give her a final spin on the beach” No.256 said with a smile.
“And if we get stuck?” 256b asked.
“Well one of us will have to get out and push, won’t you! Now get in and let’s go” No.256 said switching on the engine.
The Mini-Moke performed well on tarmac as 112 expertly drove the taxi at speed through the streets of the village, sounding its two-tone horn to warn pedestrians and cyclists alike of the taxis approach. They took the track leading from the back of the Town Hall into the woods. There had been no rain these past weeks, and the going was good, even on the soft ground, and showed no signs of its four small wheels becoming stuck in the soil due to its low ground clearance. But true to form the Moke was better suited to the hard ground of the rutted track leading into the countryside and towards the mountains.
With 256 now behind the wheel, he drove the Moke back along the track, through the woods and through the village, turning heads of pedestrians as it passed by. One citizen tried to flag the taxi down, but it simply drove passed.
“Well I’ll be damned” said No.38 cursed turning to other pedestrians “did you see that? He didn’t stop, I’ll complain to someone about that you see if I don’t!”
“They looked to be in a hurry” No.27 observed.
“You think they’re after someone?” 213 said
“Bound to be” 27 agreed.
“Just as long as it’s not us!” No.63 added.
The Mini-moke carried on down road passed the Town Hall towards
Old People’s Home, then reaching the bottom of hill slowed and took the
hair-pin bend just before the Old People’s Home. Turning on the siren, then taking
a sharp right hand turn and down the slipway onto the beach, putting his foot
down hard on the accelerator.
The officer of the watch-No.28, together with No.2, and his assistant stood watching the large wall screen, in the domed chamber of the Control Room, as the Mini-Moke sped out across the wide expanse of the sandy estuary.
“So far so good” remarked the officer of the watch.
“The sand’s hard, the tides been out for weeks” said No.12.
“Yes, but it does get softer the further you go out” the officer of the watch replied.
Numbers 256 and 256b were enjoying themselves, the moke sped across the hard sand, the driver pulled hard on the steering wheel, first left then right, the vehicle responding well, leaving tracks in the soft sand but showing no sign of bogging down. Ahead was a shallow gully of water, the Moke headed straight for it splashing through it, sending water cascading into the air drenching the Moke underneath, its two-tone siren still sounding as the vehicle survived the water test, and continued on its way out across the sand as though in hot pursuit of an escaping prisoner!
“A satisfactory test I should say” remarked the officer of the watch turning away from the screen.
“Indeed, the Mini-Moke is the perfect vehicle for the village” said No.2 wearing a satisfied grin on his face. He was also wearing a badge.
“Serving as a taxi” said the officer of the watch.
“And ambulance, once the Red Cross trailers arrive......” began No.2
“And as we have witnessed as a pursuit vehicle for security to use” added No.12.
“Well quite” No.2 finished mounting the steel steps onto the mezzanine, the pair of thick steel doors opening automatically, he paused and said looking again at the screen “Just make sure that when those two clowns have finished fooling about, they return the Moke to the motor pool and give it a good wash and polish!”
“If you don’t mind my asking, what’s
that?” the officer of the watch asked pointing to the white disc pinned to the
lapel of 2’s jacket.
“It’s a badge” No.2 replied, we’ll all be wearing them soon.
The white badge was 2 inches in diameter, with a black Penny Farthing bicycle on it along with the red numeral 2.
“Here” said putting a hand in his pocket “you may as well have yours now.”
The officer of the watch took the offered badge, black with a white Penny Farthing and the red numeral 28.
“I’m to wear my number?” asked the officer of the watch.
“No need to smirk 12, you might as well have yours as well” 2 said handing his assistant his badge.
This had not gone unnoticed by other members of the watch.
easier for matters of identification, now we’ll know who everyone is” No.2
“I don’t understand the reason for the canopy sir” 12 said pinning the badge to the lapel of his blazer.
“The canopy keeps the rain off, and it’s symbolic!” was all 2 said.
“Symbolic of what sir?”
“Of the protection we offer” 2 said.
On the wall screen the Moke could still be seen racing across the sand, splashing through water turning this way and that before finally turning back towards the village and back up the slipway.
The next day No.2 attended a meeting within the Town Hall with members of the General Purposes committee. On the agenda were a number of proposed changes that were to come to the village which were quickly approved and adopted.
A week later saw the arrival of two, two wheeled wooden sided Red Cross trailers complete with white canopies, together with a number of bicycles. Metal large frames had been attached to the rear of the bicycles and they were complete with candy striped canopies, these to be attached behind the seat of bicycles and the canopy affording protection to cyclists against the elements. One of these specially designed canopies was attached to the postman’s Penny Farthing bicycle. However this proved to be impractical for the rider, making the contraption top heavy and was quickly removed! Also a large consignment of black and white striped signposts topped with an orange and white striped canopy, under which were blue painted numbered signs with the number of each private cottages, or signage depicting for example, the Labour Exchange, Town Hall, hospital, Café. More than that, citizens were served notice to attend the Town Hall, where they would each receive a badge which they were to wear at all times. The badge denoting a citizen’s personal number, and make for instant identification.
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