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Sunday, 18 December 2022

Village Day Chapter 14


Raspberry The Flavour of The Day

    On the morning of Village Day in her office in the Green Dome, Number 2 sits watching the wall screen from the comfort of her black global chair and Popsey the clown stands in attendance as Number 6 rose from his bed tired and irritable, and donning his orange and black striped dressing gown over his blue pyjamas. Downstairs in the kitchen he made himself a cup of coffee, in the lounge he threw the curtains open and peered out into the cloud covered Village. Suddenly ubiquitous music began to play through the black speaker and the television flickered into life, pictured on the screen was Number 2.

    “How did I sleep?” he asked, looking at the television screen.

    “You had a disturbed night” she told him “another bad dream?”

    He scowled at the woman on the screen “And you would know all about it, wouldn’t you. How was it done, something in the water?”

    “Perhaps you need a check up, you’re irritable this morning” she suggested “or perhaps you simply need taking out of yourself. Feel free to enjoy the day…. be seeing you.”

    And with that the television screen went off. He went back up stairs to the bathroom, showered, shaved and then got dressed in his usual attire, watched of course by Number 2, who was speaking on the telephone.

    “Yes splendid, everything is ready….. oh he’ll be no trouble…….oh yes I’m sure that it will come as an immense shock to him, I’d be disappointed if it didn’t……. he’ll not believe it of course, and no doubt will deny it to the last breath in his body, but we are well prepared for any such act of denial behaviour………..yes sir the Masque Ball should prove to be a grand affair….. yes sir, I’m sorry too” and at that Number 2 replaced the telephone upon her desk. She sat looking thoughtful for a moment revolving her chair and said “Run along Popsey and see that all is proceeding as planned, the celebrations are due to begin soon, citizens will be starting to enjoy the Village fete, and remember to keep a sharp eye out for Number Six.”

    Popsey said nothing, she simply bowed and took her leave up the ramp and out through the open steel doors, through which the butler wheeled his breakfast trolley for his mistress.

    Number 6 was having breakfast at the same time as Number 2, just toast and coffee this morning, after such a disturbed night, he couldn’t face anything else. He carried the tea plate, cup and saucer into the lounge and placed them down upon the coffee table, then taking the two copies of the Tally Ho he began to study of them.



    The first Tally Ho ‘No 6 Speaks His Mind’ was obviously a clue to say that he had been here, but the second newspaper was a mystery to him, there was nothing to indicate anything about Number 6, just No 2 calling for increased vigilance from the citizens. But most of the text was gobbledygook, a number of different stories cut up and pasted back together in higgledy-piggledy fashion! Folding the papers he donned his piped blazer and went out into the Village. Citizens were up and about early this morning, all in their variety of fancy dress costumes, all determined it seemed to enjoy the village Day celebrations, this as well as the fete, of which all the stalls were already manned and beginning to do business.

    “Roll up, roll up, three shy’s a credit unit” called out the man at the coconut shy.

    There was a feeling of excitement about the Village, the Brass Band was already out and playing at the bandstand, it was something called ‘Here Comes The Band’ as Bongo Bolero and his Jumping Jugglers all trooped passed, dressed in sparkling silver and black leotards and sporting thick black moustaches and waving to the citizens as they passed by, and the Punch & Judy’ man busy putting out the sign ‘Punch & Judy Show at 10:30am.’ Then there came a fanfare over the public address system, followed by the following announcement.

    “Good morning, good morning and congratulations on yet another day, Village Day. The weather forecast is that the weather will remain fine and dry, with sunny spells later in the day. The Village fete is already under way, and later there will be the grand parade. Your chance to show off your fancy dress costume, and there is a prize of 2,000 free work units for the best costume of any category. A speech is to be given by Number 2 herself, followed by the unveiling of a special Village Day commemorative bust. This evening there is the Masque Ball in the Town Hall. There will be fun and frolics for all throughout the day, don’t forget the Punch &Judy show, at 10:30, and Bongo Bolero and his Jumping Jugglers, and of course the ‘What the butler saw!’ Ice cream is now on sale, raspberry is the flavour of the day. Listen out for further announcements and have a very happy Village Day.”

    As Number 6 strolled casually amongst the stalls and attractions on the chess lawn, amid citizens decked out in their fancy dress costumes as they paraded around the piazza, round and round the free sea, and as the brass band played and the citizens cheered, there seemed to be a real atmosphere of gaiety about the village. And for a moment, just for a split moment he couldn’t help himself from thinking what an idyllic place the Village was. Everyone seemed to be happy, their every needs taken care of, nothing to worry or vex the citizens, just as long as they gave them what it was ‘they’ wanted! This though soon snapped Number 6 out of his melancholy state of mind, because as he looked about the seemingly happy smiling faces of the citizens he thought to himself that “there are none so blind as cannot


see.” Because as he looked about the citizens he could see only bland expressions upon their faces, and the sound of their cheery happy laughter, came not out of the citizens mouths, but carefully positioned speakers!

    Standing by the free sea of the pool and fountain in the piazza was the diminutive butler, he and Number 6 appeared to be the only ones wearing their usual garb, and in so doing stuck out like two sore thumbs. He in his piped blazer, and the butler in his brown cape and black bowler hat and black gloves, carrying his open black and white striped umbrella aloft he and Number 6 paying cursory glances as the two parties passed by. It was at this point that he espied the red and white striped ‘What the butler saw’ tent, and being the curious sort, he opened the tent flap and ducked inside. There was a red mechanical machine, circa 1920’s standing in the centre of the tent. Number 6 approached it, a large drum with a handle set upon an iron framework of legs. Placing your penny into the slot and looking through the visor, turning the handle at the same time, an action which inside the drum flicked a circular set of cards, each one in turn giving you the sight of what the butler saw. Each viewing lasted only a couple of minutes, and usually ended before you got to the juicy bits! But Number 6 had no penny, he had no coin of any kind, and it was at this point when he was searching the tent for just such a coin, that the flap opened and a gentleman in Victorian costume, top hat and black frock coat, entered carrying a black Gladstone bag.

    “Not open yet sir” the showman said somewhat hastily, putting his Gladstone bag down upon a table, opening it and looking inside at its contents.

    “I was curious that’s all” Number 6 said.

    “Not the best frame of mind to be in young man” the showman replied “especially here in the Village.”

     “But I haven’t a coin” Number 6 added.

    The man looked up from his Gladstone bag “Coin?”

    “For the machine.”

    “Ah,” said the showman raising a finger “you need a token!”

    “I haven’t one of those either.”

    “I have, I have several” the showman told his customer, turning

his attention back to the Gladstone bag and delving inside and from which he produced a white token, a white token with a black penny farthing set on either side “a private preview for you young man, what say you to that?”

    “A pleasure I’m sure” said Number 6, taking the coin and dropping it into the slot of the machine.

    “I’d be careful what you say young man” said the showman with a knowing smile “you haven’t seen it yet!”

    Number 6 bent down and looked into the viewer whilst at the same time turning the handle, and was truly amazed at what the butler did see!

     It was nighttime as the figure stood on the patio of the roundhouse cottage,


there was a sign outside the door, 6 Private. The figure of a man he recognised, the same man as in his photograph was now sitting at a table with a rather attractive young woman. She had a kind and beautiful face, with the most feminine eyes and shoulder length auburn hair. The man wore no badge upon the lapel of his piped blazer, but the woman wore a penny farthing badge pinned to her blue cardigan with the red numeral 8. The man and woman sat at the table facing each other, music was playing through a black loudspeaker. The man ran a finger along the curl of her auburn hair, they were close enough to kiss, but didn’t. They appeared to be whispering to one another, certainly they appeared to be getting very close to one another as they gazed into each others eyes. Then they stood up together and strolled up and down the short patio in each others arms. The man finally picking up the black speaker and with it under his arm walked with the young woman to the door of his cottage, and as it opened automatically for the couple, they walked together inside. The man placed the black speaker upon the coffee table, then taking the young woman in his arms they embraced and kissed passionately, the man’s hands running down the length of the blue skirt and then… click!

    “What’s going on, it’s stopped!” Number 6 shouted out, looking in annoyed frustration at the showman.

    “That’s right sir, the token’s run out, always does when it gets to the good bit!” returned the showman.

    “What do I do now, have you another token?” he asked and holding out his hand.

    “That I do” replied the showman “but you’ll have to wait, come back later.”

    “Why should I wait, I could just put my hand in that bag of yours and…..”

    “You could, but are you prepared to pay the price?” said the showman snapping the Gladstone bag shut.

    Number 6 thought for a moment, did this man know something or was he just showing me something and if so why? And what was it he was seeing anyway, could it be trusted to be the truth, or something cleverly put together to look like something it wasn’t? And in this

place was such intimate privacy allowed between two people?

    “I’ll be back later, don’t change that drum, or it will be the worse for you!” snapped Number 6, lifting the flap and taking his leave.

    “Very good sir” said the showman, opening his Gladstone bag and lifting out a fresh drum of cards for the machine.

    Number 6 decided that his next port of call should be the hospital, it should have been his first, but that is often the way of things in the Village, one gets waylaid! But now he needed transport, a taxi he could drive himself out to the hospital, and he needed to consult the Village map. This he did via the electronic ‘Free Information’ Board, this to place the hospital on the outskirts of the Village. From there Number 6 crossed to the taxi rank, but instead of a white Mini-Moke with candy striped


canopy, there stood a black two wheel hansom cab and black horse. There was no driver, the horse had its head in a nose bag. Number 6 went to try and find the driver, the café being the most likely place. A sturdy looking man with a big bushy moustache, dressed in a long grey coat and brown bowler hat sat at one of the tables.
    “I say cabbie” Number 6 said approaching the man, “can you take me to the hospital?”
    “I could.”
    “Will you?”
    “I’m having me’ lunch, come back in five minutes” the cabbie told him.

    “But I want to go now!”
    “Why is there something wrong with you?”
    “Then anther five minutes won’t matter either way then will it?”
    “Look I need to go to the hospital.”
    “You will in a minute mate, to have my fist removed from your face!”
    “You’re a surly brute!”
    “Yes, one who’s having his lunch!”
    Number 6 backed away.
   A few paces from the café was the ice cream stand where Number 99 was busy serving a customer, a woman dressed in her ‘Good Queen Bess’ costume took her raspberry cornet and having paid with her credit card strolled slowly away.

    “Busy Ninety-nine?” Number 6 asked.

    Number 99 was also in fancy dress, as a Venetian Gondolier, blue trousers, deck shoes, red and white striped jersey and straw boater with a red bow, much like his normal attire really!

    “Y, y ye yes nu Number 6” he replied with his usual stammer.

    “Tell me Ninety-nine, is there a clown standing on the opposite side of the road watching me?” not wanting to attract the clown’s attention.

    Number 99 turned and looked directly at the clown, who turned instantly away “Yes, yes Number 6, it’s pop pop pop popsey.”
    “Popsey, Popsey the clown!” said Number 6 “and who exactly is Pospey the clown?”

    “N n no one knows n nu number Six, that’s the whole p p point” 99 stammered out.

    “Yes, but I wonder what face lies underneath all that make up?” Number 6 asked 99 quietly.

    “I don’t know Number Six. P perhaps, she’s an ob observer seeing she’s still watching you” 99 suggested “will there be an, anything else, nu, Number Six?”

    He looked at the selection of ices “I’ll have a ninety-nine cornet, chocolate.”

    “Rasp, raspberry is the flavour of the d day Number Six, it’s very good for you, I recommend it.”



    “Chocolate” replied Number 6 adamantly.

   “As you wish, nu Number Six” said 99 handing his customer a filled cornet.

    Number 6 took the cornet and paid for it with his credit card, which was duly clipped and handed back to him. He saluted 99 and quietly strolled off, knowing full well that Popsey the clown was only a few paces behind.

    “Be seeing you” 99 saluted in return, but Number 6 was gone.

    Popsey had been busy checking that all was going according to plan for Village Day, and it was whilst she was carrying out these duties that she observed Number 6 leaving the ‘What the butler saw’ tent and had decided to follow him. Later she would speak with number 235, the Victorian showman to ask him what went on between himself and Number 6, she even may have to report him to Number 2. But for now she contented herself with following Number 6. She danced and clowned around hitting citizens with the balloon tied to a stick. At one point picking up a bucket by a wall, a bucket of suspected water, but when she threw it over some citizens sitting on a bench, silver and gold ticker tape flew everywhere, this much to the delight and enjoyment of the onlookers. But all the time Popsey was clowning around she never once took her eyes off Number 6, well not until he went through an archway, then she had to finish her act quickly, this so as to be able to follow him as he walked at a leisurely pace and in no particular direction, slowly licking and nibbling on his ice cream cone.

    Number 6 went up the three steps at the back of the Gloriette and stepped out onto the balcony and stood there looking out over the piazza where citizens were promenading around the pool and fountain in finery and costumes. He waited, waited, as Pospey waited in the road for Number 6 to reappear. When he didn’t she danced her way onto the balcony……..he was not there!! He stood in the Piazza looking up at her and gave a cheery wave.
    Having finished his ice cream he moved away to the far end of the Piazza, down the steps and across the lawn, round the wishing fountain, past Hercules with the World on his shoulders, up the steps and through the gates opposite the Town Hall where he as accosted 
by a Tally Ho vender.

    “Copy of The Tally Ho sir?”
    Number 6 looked at the man, then at the strange looking broadsheet dispenser, it put him in mind of his grandmother’s washing mangle. The device stood on four wooden legs, had the usual candy striped canopy, and two white rollers operated by the turning of a handle. On the top roller were words “Village Day Celebrations,” and the vender tore of a copy of The Tally Ho from the second roller, and handed it to his customer.
    “That will be two units please.”


    Number 6 took the offered broadsheet and paid with his credit card. He walked away glancing at the headline Founders Day Statue to be unveiled by No.2. It was accompanied by a picture of a most severe looking Number 2. He began to read the article “Today is Village Day, when we celebrate the founding of your village and its community. Citizens are invited to join in the celebrations, and to enjoy the freedom of the Village.”

    “What utter tripe!” he thought to himself as he rolled the broadsheet up and went on his way.

    Ahead of him was the taxi rank, he was pleased to see the hansom cab had left the rank, and only two regular white Mini-Mokes stood there. He strolled passed the two female drivers sat on a bonnet of one of the taxis talking, a photographer stood there taking pictures. He stopped suddenly, and turned sharply. Popsey the clown had not expected this, having caught up with him, and walked straight into his arms. She hit him on the head with her balloon, spun and went on her way, as he went on his way towards the blue and red stagecoach. Opening the door he climbed inside, the stagecoach being the perfect place to observe the taxi rank, without himself being observed.

   The photographer thanked the two girls and walked away, they slipped off the bonnet and walked towards the café leaving the two taxis unguarded. This is what Number 6 was waiting for, and so made his move. He stepped out of the stagecoach and quickly glanced about him before crossing the street and getting behind the wheel of the second taxi on the rank. The key had been left in the ignition, he turned it firing the engine into life. Engaging reverse gear the taxi backed away off the rank, backing round until it faced the large yellow and white Triumphal arch. Then first gear, foot down on the accelerator, the clutch depressed and the taxi sped forward through the arch and along the tree lined road. There came a bend in the road, where he turned right over a stone bridge, then followed the winding twisting road which straightened and took the taxi out beyond the Village.
    Following the road there was a large grey structure on the left, a castle. Number 6 slowed the taxi until he could read a sign, hospital. He turned the vehicle onto the gravelled forecourt and parked at a discreet distance from the grey turreted hospital building, as he did not wish to attract attention.

    There was a taxi with a Red Cross trailer in tow parked at the

entrance to the hospital, a bearded medic with a clipboard was busy supervising the removal of a patient from the white canopied trailer. Two male orderlies lifted the patient out and onto a trolley, which they pushed into the hospital. Number 6 sat observing this, and when the bearded man went into the hospital he took his chance. Climbing out of the taxi he calmly crossed the courtyard and entered the hospital, if challenged he would simply say he was a visitor to one of the wards.



    The reception area was deserted, much to his relief. On a stand behind the reception desk hung a white coat, stepping round the desk he took the white coat and slipped it over his piped blazer. In the breast pocket he found a pair of black rimmed spectacles, he put them on, but being unable to see a thing, slipped them off and back into the pocket. In another pocket he found a stethoscope and this he hung about his neck, it seemed to give him confidence and completed his disguise as he strode along the grey wall lined corridor, now able to move freely amongst hospital staff and patients alike.

    In the control room the supervisor-Number 25, a tall slim man with black hair and dressed in a plain black blazer was about to make a report to Number 2, he picked up a blue ‘L’ shaped telephone.

    “Number Two, it has been reported by Popsey that Number Six has stolen a taxi.”

    “Don’t worry he can’t get away, there’s nowhere for him to get away to!” Number 2 replied with confidence.

   “Observers report Number Six driving out to the hospital, the taxis parked on the hospital forecourt and he’s gone inside” the supervisor reported.

    “Perhaps he’s feeling unwell!” Number 2 quipped in cruel jest.

    “Sticking his nose in more like!” offered the supervisor.

    Number 2 leaned forward in her black spherical chair and pressed a button on the control panel of her desk, and the wall screen depicting Astro Lamp effects switched to that of the hospital forecourt and the white Mini Moke taxi parked there.

    “Yes, but do you want us to do anything about it?” asked the supervisor.

    “No, wait a minute” said Number 2 pressing another button on the control panel “doctor.”

    “Yes Number Two” said a disembodied voice.

    “Are we clear at the hospital, I mean there’s nothing to find?”

    “Who is there to look?” the doctor asked.

    “No-one, thank you doctor” said Number 2 “you heard that?”

    “Yes” the supervisor replied.

    “Take no action” Number 2 ordered “let Number Six look, he’ll soon learn that there’s nothing to find.”

    “Yes Number Two.”

    “I want to see you in my office, say in fifteen minutes.”

    “Yes Number Two” said the supervisor.

    “Three bags full Number Two” he muttered to himself.

   At the hospital Number 6 walked the entire length of corridors on

the ground floor. All looked normal, nothing out of the unusual or untoward, until he saw the room marked Aversion Therapy. Looking through the observation window he saw some poor soul sat strapped in a chair, electrodes taped to his forehead and wrists. The man was looking at a screen and became quite an agitated as he strained against the restraints holding him.



    “Can I help you doctor?” asked Number 71, the matron of the hospital.

    Number 6 stalled, unable to speak.

    “No one is allowed in the therapy room during a therapy session” the matron informed him.

    He turned from the door to face the middle aged woman in white cap and dark blue dress. Removing the stethoscope from about his neck he handed it to the matron, this along with the white coat.

    “You’re no doctor of this hospital” observed the matron “who are you?”

    “Forgive me matron, but I’m on a fact finding mission” Number 6 replied, making it up as he went along.

    “Fact finding mission….. for whom?”

    “Number Two” he told her in his best authoritative voice “tell me matron, is there a short, stout and severe looking doctor here at the hospital?”

    The matron, somewhat severe herself said “I can assure you that there is no such doctor at this hospital.”

    “Not carrying out such therapy as this?” asked Number 6 again looking through the observation window.

    The matron thought for a moment “Come with me into my office would you, I think I should speak with Number Two.”

    “I shouldn’t bother her” he said brushing passed matron “I’ll be seeing Number Two myself later today.”


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