Tuesday, 18 November 2014

110 – The Final Post of Justin Lobbos – The End of an Era

Malvolio Claxendell, the new eminence gris of Gwair, stops at the Snatcher on the Wye, and has a drink with Justin Lobbos who explains the intricacies of the restrictive covenants that were applied to the Iatroclinic deeds. He grins as he admits to having originally penned them himself. Around the village the mood is optimistic. The festivals will continue, but the people will be consulted. Claxendell smiles as he trudges back to the Yifitsin Print Bookshop, now well-established as a hub of the community. Soon Samuel Quinine will wish to return to Hove with his entourage, and then perhaps things will have to change, but for now all is well.

Monday, 17 November 2014

109 – The Council Meets

Finally the parish council meets. Everyone is delighted with the idea of the village taking over the Iatroclinic, the strange building, with shiny blue windows.  But debate about the new-fangled cultural developments continues. The council must decide whether to formally allow the huge raft of festivals that has exploded over the last few months.The debate rages for seventeen minutes, until Kolya (who should be in bed) puts in a brief appearance. Everyone ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as he recites some Oscar Wilde verses, and then a compromise is tabled by Abdul Hasib ibn Burd, the poet-philosopher. The Council itself will co-ordinate and oversee the Festival Programme. His proposal is overwhelmingly approved.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

108 – Consipriation

Although both T.E.A.Barrie and (for different reasons) Emile Kirsipuu, the surrealist architect, are contesting the requisition of the Iatroclinic, when the Parish Council checks out the deeds of the land involved, the lawyers discover an unusual restrictive covenant that confers on the parish council the overriding ‘consipriation’ to agree any building, or change in usage or ownership. In effect this means that neither Barrie nor Kirsipuu have any right to the land or property. The council still has to make a reasonable financial offer, but that offer has to be accepted by the other parties. The Iatroclinic is therefore declared a protected village facility (and secretly Kirsipuu is quite pleased).

Friday, 14 November 2014

107 – Waiting for Ambivalence

So the Gwair Architecture Biennial ends on an uplifting note, and brings the current cycle of festivals to a close. But some less perspicacious voices in the community still agitate for no change. They want no more of these unholy celebrations of culture. Even Mrs. Hwybren Masterson still trembles when she recalls the conversation she had with Dame Katlyst Brough (emeritus chairman of the renowned publishing firm, Ducats and Winoth), and poor Myfanwy Detroit can't bring herself to mention the name of Melanie Grintclaw, the splenetic literary agent. But both ladies are ambivalent about the future, and opinion in Gwair is still divided. Crisp winter evenings arrive and everyone waits.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

106 – Polychrome Interlaced Spandrels

The shaming of the sham doctor puts a shadow over the Gwair Architectural Biennial, but spirits are lifted when Abdul Hasib ibn Burd offers to give a talk about the development of Abbasid architecture (roughly 750 and 945) primarily in its heartland of Mesopotamia. He explains that the Abbasids inherited Persian architectural traditions in Mesopotamia, but evolved distinctive styles of their own, particularly in decoration of their buildings. 9th century Abbasid architecture had foliate decorations on arches, pendant vaults, muqarnas vaults and polychrome interlaced spandrels that became identified as typical of "Islamic" architecture. The Abbasid continued to follow the Umayyad rectangular hypostyle plan with arcaded courtyards and covered prayer halls. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

105 – Wrackham’s Razor

Wrackham demands that Kirsipuu cuts the house to half its planned size, and his conflict with the village dissolves. But Kirsipuu’s other project, the Iatroclinic, remains controversial. The Parish Council debates giving its permission late into the evening, but towards midnight news arrives that a fraud enquiry has discovered that T.E.A.Barrie is no doctor. His finances are being investigated. When confronted with his misdeeds he has a (relatively mild) heart attack. However this swings the debate in a new direction. If the soi-disant doctor has to sell, the village might benefit. Perhaps the council can purchase the nearly completed edifice, and the residents will have a brand new medical facility. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

104 – The Red Doors of Progress

The Parish Council is deliberating. Since Malvolio Claxendell arrived in Gwair, this tiny previously obscure quarter of Hay-on-Wye has seen the unbridled proliferation of  festivals and esoteric culture. Dido Doolittle of Back Room books defends her rival. Little that has happened recently is Claxendell’s fault. Many others however are bewailing the day that the hordes from Hove arrived with their lavish cultural tastes. The Chairman highlights the economic benefit that the influx has had. ‘More has been gained than threatened’. However like old-timers anywhere the original residents resent ‘thems as paints their doors red’. A decision on giving permanent recognition to the festival cycle is postponed for a few days.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

103 - Rapid Thought Displacement Therapy

There are few self-promoters as brazen as Doctor T.E.A.Barrie, the Alternative Therapist who claims that Rapid Thought Displacement Therapy (his  bowlderised rebranding of Mindfulness) will effectively cure a wide range of physical disorders. The rarely offensive Abdul Hasib ibn Burd calls this Instant Quackery. Doctor Barrie's talk at today's session of the Gwair Architectural Biennial is entitled 'Plans for the Iatroclinic', about the new centre he is building. In effect however his spiel is a sales pitch for Rapid Thought Displacement Therapy. Unfortunately for Ernesto Wrackham, the 'good doctor' has also contracted Emile Kirsipuu to design the new treatment centre. Now both buildings will be tarred with the same brush.

Friday, 7 November 2014

102 - Kirsipuu's Masterpiece

Tom's meeting with Malvolio Claxendell is more fraught than the pleasant tea-time he spent at Shambhala with Samuel and his entourage. No doubt this is due to the tensions over the planned development known now as 'Kirsipuu's Folly'. Malvolio Claxendell is giving his strong support to Wrackham, and has agreed to give a talk at the Gwair Architectural Biennial. He is presenting a survey of subversive architecture, hoping that this will increase support for what he considers to be Kirsipuu's masterpiece. Tom agrees to listen to Claxendell's presentation, even though he knows full well that Claxendell's talks are generally the same whatever the advertised subject. This one is no exception.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

101 - The Life Journey

All is peaceful now at Shambhala. Sonia has returned to her international high life, and Rabbi Oud Ramonides is administering the necessary post Sonia soothing balm treatment. Samuel is ever-grateful, especially today, for his old friend Tom Purdue is due to visit, and he wants the vibes to be just right. Kolya has been rescued from his treatment plan, and Lustral is happily locked away from other people, in his library. Tom arrives full of news from the folk at Seven Dials, and describes his journey through the Wye Valley, an account so detailed that it is effectively the story of his journey through life. Leporello Swinson serves the tea.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

100 - Tattlin's Tower of the Third Internationale

Kirsipuu is used to rabid opposition to his designs, but Wrackham is besides himself. As a self-proclaimed 'Travel Ecologist' Wrackham believes that he inhabits the moral green highground, and cannot understand the logic of the arguments against him. The wiley Kirsipuu however comes up with a canny strategy. He suspends work to allow the opposition to hold an enquiry, and meanwhile establishes the Gwair Architectural Biennial, a festival of all things structural. The speed at which this is organised outfoxes the opposition, and already today Radio Four is covering the first session, a multimedia presentation on Tattlin's Tower of the Third Internationale, the 400 metre spiral with rotating glass chambers.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

99 - Spelt Bread

Through the shimmering dawn Abdul Hasib ibn Burd, the Lebanese Poet-Philosopher, sees a distant figure on the horizon.  It is Tom Purdue who has been following the Wye Valley Walk, and has climbed up to the Begwyns in search of a close-up view of the rare and elusive Montagu’s harrier (circus pygargus) which he managed to photograph from afar, having recognised its elegant flight. Lapricia Organdy, who is spending a few days with Hasib, ties up her unfortunate hound, Sennacherib, who tends not to appreciate strangers. By contrast Hasib’s flirtatious cat  has perfect manners. Lapricia and Hasib welcome Tom with a glass of wine and a loaf of spelt bread.

Friday, 31 October 2014

98 - The Three Degrees

Word spreads quickly throughout Gwair. There is little enthusiasm for Kirsipuu’s radical sliced conical design concept, and the suggestions for the Piranesi rear raise deep concerns amongst the more conservative residents. Ernesto Wrackham however is oblivious to the disapproval and submits his plans to the parish council. However the parcel of land in questions is subject to a border dispute, and no-one knows under whose authority the planning permission should fall. As a result there are no formal objections and building starts without significant delay. The Three Degrees Protest Group mounts an immediate campaign to slow the construction process, and again tractors are deployed to block access to the site.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

97 - Bridge over the River Wye

The Wye Valley Walk stretches 136 miles from Chepstow to Rhyd-y-benwch (Plynlimon), but the section that Tom Purdue is following starts at Brockweir near Tintern, and takes him through to Hay, a distance of about seventy miles. It is a trek through time as well as distance, for his early days were spent dreaming on the banks of the river near Tintern Abbey, and his later days imagining how his friends were managing with their new lives in Gwair. He climbs the rock above Symonds Yat and spots a Peregrine Falcon, but by the time he finds his camera it has flown. On Friday he is due to reach Gwair. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

96 – Based on a design by Piranesi

The owner of Wyenao Meadow Farm is selling off a paddock opposite the Old Pull and Push tavern.  The estate agent, Leroy Fingal, takes Ernesto Wrackham to see it. Wrackham is entranced. The view across the valley reminds him of an old print of celestial rays from heaven by Gustave Dore. Later in the sauna at the Eiger Vault Club he discusses the options with his surreal friend, the architect. Kirsipuu proposes a radical sliced conical design, with extensive glass walls that allow the floor space to flow out from the interiors to the patios. The rear aspect of the building, visible from Gwair, is based on a lithograph by Piranesi.

Monday, 27 October 2014

95 – The Cognitive Strategies of Kolya Quinine

Following an urgent assessment by an Educational Psychologist, Kolya has been invited for Happy Plus Sessions where attempts are being made to recalibrate his cognitive organisational strategies. Pelligrina (the support friend) has managed to survive the first three appointments, but is beginning to suffer from stress. Kolya does not give her an easy time. He is actually not being contrary, but simply does not understand why so many people can be so unbelievably thick. Pelligrina grimaces before opening the door of the activities room. She is carrying a book of colouring adding-up puzzles, but Kolya is busy reading about the evaluation of Clebsch-Gordan Coefficients in his book on Quantum Mechanics Symmetries.

Friday, 24 October 2014

94 - With ceaseless turmoil seething...

The peace of Shambhala has been a little fragile in recent days. Since Rabbi Oud Ramonides moved in to the attic room, there has been a calming influence to settle hiccups whenever Sonia Quinine thunders in and tramples over the quiet sensitivities of her menfolk. But currently the venerable Rabbi is away in Hereford where he is researching the history of a Chinese city. Shangdu (known in the West as Xanadu) was designed in the 1250s by Chinese architect Liu Bingzhong, and shortly later was visited by Marco Polo, who described its ‘stately Pallace’.  Alas, when tensions rise at home, the experimental creations of child-genius Kolya Quinine become highly erratic.

Monday, 20 October 2014

93 - Five hundred and twenty three builders of distinction

As if rolling in from the 1960s, the yellow Volkswagen van, blooming with psychedelic designs, parks outside the Snatcher on the Wye. Scabby Felix, Iron Grunge Band, has been asked to accompany the final event of the All About It festival - a talk by the surreal Estonian architect, Emile Kirsipuu. His book ‘523 builders of distinction’ has become the surprise bestseller of the season, and is in line for the Adler Dewar prize for non-fiction confection. Fearing that overindulgence may result in a largely uninhibited performance by Scabby Felix, the Festival organisers ban alcohol for the duration. Unfortunately it is Kirsipuu who overindulges, and his talk is a riot.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

92 - Words of a Feather

As the poet Abdul Hasib ibn Burd gallops down from the ridge above the Begwyns towards the riverside fields, he is aware that this year there are fewer black-tailed Isabelline wheatears than in the past. He mentions this to Lapricia Organdy who in turn decides to follow up the matter. She takes the problem to one of her colleagues at the Borders University. Since it is that time of year for the submission of applications for academic grants, the University immediately sends out a research team to do some initial studies on the ornithology of Gwair. When properly formatted these will be submitted to the prestigious journal ‘Words of a Feather’. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

91 - The Surreal Architect

Following the talk on his book ‘Send me back to Peking’ the travel writer, Ernesto Wrackham, has stayed on in Gwair to enjoy the rest of the festival. Though bemused by yesterday’s political shenanigans, he is nevertheless engrossed in the literary richness of the community. As he sips a rather potent country cocktail (Flaming Whistlewart) with the Estonian architect Emile Kirsipuu (who designs with a distinct surreal style) Wrackham mentions that he is exploring the possibility of buying a small cottage in the area.  Kirsipuu, never one to miss an opportunity, suggests that instead he buys a small parcel of land, and offers to design him an exquisite rural lodge.

Friday, 17 October 2014

90 - Seeking to benefit scroungers and hard-working terrorists

There are no events today in the ‘All About It’ festival as various local dignitaries are campaigning for the forthcoming by-election. A rickety stage has been erected in the public gardens,  and a jostling crowd is heckling the speakers. A rather unprepossessing dog called Sennacherib has escaped his owner (Lapricia Organdy) and has gathered up and chewed the carefully prepared notes of the speakers. Lapricia tries to make amends by hastily photocopying some of the rescued scraps of paper. In the confusion, all the copies are the same. As a result each orator starts by insisting that the government addresses the problems of ‘hard-working terrorists’ and seeks to benefit scroungers

Thursday, 16 October 2014

89 - A Working Wage

Today’s ‘All About It’ festival talk features a presentation by Elgin Nutwood of his  acclaimed biography of Asaph Hall. ’When in 1877, Hall discovered the Martian moon, Phobos, he was said to have explained that it was a mere diversion from his favored activity of experimentally determining the value of Pi using fine steel wire. It was in fact only under pressure from his wife that he applied himself to looking for Martian satellites. In fairness to his wife, it should be pointed out that she did a lot of the work, and only withdrew from the project when he refused to pay her a working wage for her efforts.'

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

88 - Ernesto Wrackham's Writings

The ‘All About It’ non-fiction festival kicks off with Axel Sanciere’s long and rather indigestible explanation about the workings of his book ‘The Invention of the Blue Fish Tipple’ – a poor opening for what was (dubiously) billed as the most important literary event in the Wye Valley. Nevertheless things brighten up with the arrival of a trio of travel writers on Wednesday. Their works are titled ‘The Colourful Villages of Lake Garda’ (Priscilla Fonteneau), ‘Huguenot Amsterdam’ (Letitia Thwaite) and ‘Send me back to Peking’ (Ernesto Wrackham). The talks given by these authors are extremely well-received by the audience, and the oddly spiced brew and buns served afterwards warm the atmosphere.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

87 - Today's Restaurant Review

The Hay and Gwair News and Gazette (aka Hagnag) finally reappears after the long term strike. It is under the stewardship of a new editor, and Antoine de Kunilemel has been given the brief of Food Correspondent. He decides to institute a Restaurant Review. For his first piece, he has chosen the most prestigious establishment in the district, the Maison D’Hote, which offers a good but tightly defined menu of international cuisine. For his visit tonight, Antoine dons his new white tuxedo, over which (during the main course) the waiter, unfortunately and inadvertently, spills a large serving of bright red hot chilli flavoured ratatouille. The resulting review is not complimentary.

Friday, 10 October 2014

86 - Blue Fish Tipple

In a further gesture of reconciliation, Dido Doolittle, the owner of the Back Room bookshop, and Samuel Quinine, the acting manager of the Gwair-on-Wye branch of Yifitsinprint Books, meet to plan the approaching ‘All About It’ festival of non-fiction books. The first problem is how to tactfully let Malvolio Claxendel know that he cannot front the event in order to publicise his latest turgid book on ‘The Third Epoch of Lyrian Archeology’. Dido favours offering the job to Abdul Hasib ibn Burd for his ‘Shorter History of  Psychiatric Misdiagnosis’, whilst Samuel’s preference is for Axel Sanciere in recognition of his latest volume ‘ The Invention of the Blue Fish Tipple’.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

85 - The Infamous Leecock-Proust mechanism

The astute reader will recall that many years ago Malvolio Claxendell invented a strange object popularly known as the Leecock-Proust mechanism.  Together with Myfanwy Detroit he is today coordinating a workshop at the Institute of Lyrian Archeology on the cultural heritage of Gwair-on-Wye (a heritage which some ignorant academics have questioned). Myfanwy’s contribution is a dynamic hip-hop reconstruction of a forgotten short story by Franz Kafka called ‘Halleluiah’.  The audience find this work approachable and energetic. By contrast Claxendell’s attempt to make his  practical history of the mechanism interesting, presents it through a manga illustrated powerpoint. In a post-seminar debrief, the Director of the Institute is completely lost for words.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

84 - Leroy's oniomania

Cecily and Leroy Fingal are reunited. Although Cecily’s indiscretions are now safe thanks to the timely strike at the local paper, Leroy’s secrets are less securely concealed. Whilst at the Management Seminar in Ystradgunlois he formed a friendship with a querulous artisan horologist called Anthony Rieussec, a descendent of the venerable royal watchmaker, Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec of no. 14, Rue du Marché-Palu in Paris. They stayed up at nights discussing the intricacies of Tachymeter bezels and Rattrapante chronographs. Now Leroy is hiding from his innocent wife the fact that he has been spending hundreds of pounds on rare antique watch mechanisms. He is indeed totally addicted to his new oniomania.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

83 - Rough Winds

‘Methinks that summer's lease hath all too short a date' quotes Leporello Swinson as he struggles across the ridge near the Begwyns. It is rainy, and the rough winds have  interrupted his trek to collect rare late flowering plants for Xuan Ma, Gwendolyn Thorogood’s colleague who coordinates the Botany Research Group at the Borders University. Amongst the sample he has managed to collect however is an unusual  variety of utricularia gibba, a carnivorous plant that feeds off small aquatic invertebrates. When Malvolio Claxendell meets him and spots the killer plant, he is overwhelmed. At last an effective way of exterminating the garden snails who have made mincemeal of his begonias. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

82 - On the bookshelves

In his ongoing quest for self-clarification, Rabbi Oud Ramonides is looking through the shelves of Yifitsinprint Books, when he comes across an old volume on management theory (Semantics and Semiotics in Organisational Efficiency and Beyond). His son-in law Etrog Zinfandel once mentioned to him the business guru Walid Pfefferdinger who co-authored this book. In chapter seven he discovers the maxim he has long been seeking. ‘Every word counts - and that makes seven’. As he flicks through the pages he is aware that a pair of enquiring eyes is focussed on him. Aron Cledgling is of course looking for illustrated books about Afrofuturism, of which Pfefferdinger is the main man.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

81 – The Disappearance of Purple Prose

Although she is only Emeritus Chairman, when Ducats and Winoth Publishing bids to take over the Hay and Gwair News, it is Dame Katlyst Brough who heads up the campaign. The staff of the newspaper, led by Antoine de Kunilemel, calls an immediate strike. Luckily for Cecily Fingal, the newspaper cancels all articles, including the eloquent but somewhat purple essay by Melanie Grintclaw blaming Leroy Fingal for his wife’s stockpile of pornography. Cecily’s friend, Dido Doolittle, in whom she has confided elements of the situation (without detailing the more salacious bits) tells her to be very careful in her future dealings with Melanie Grintclaw. ‘She’s a Gwair-hating busybody,’ she declares.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

80 - The Purple Rhodedendron

As Rabbi Oud Ramonides falls asleep, images of his two grandfathers haunt his thoughts. In the half state between wakefulness and sleep, he hears their voices in discussion. The Ashkenazi patriarch gives the Thanatos view. Yield to the inevitable. Decay is your fate. Accept it. His Sephardi ancestor, the old Sage of Turkmenistan, the Eros of Bay’ramali, gives answer. Seize the day. Be the rare purple Trilby rhodedendron that survives despite all that threatens it. And letting that floral image fill his mind, the rabbi falls into a deep and untroubled sleep. With mindfulness, he has made his way through the troubled trajectory of the day. The rhodedendron rules, okay. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

79 - Vendetta

Cecily Fingal is keeping a low profile. Riddled with guilt she suspects that the local Detritus and Materials Officer has found the hidden pornographic photos of her, and is now stalking her for nefarious reasons. Her husband, Leroy (the estate agent), is currently at a Management Seminar in Ystradgunlois which gives her a couple of days to sort things out. Disastrously she decides to seek help from Melanie Grintclaw, the greatly feared splenetic self-publicising literary agent. Grintclaw decides to exploit the situation to further her current vendetta against estate agents. She writes an article firmly blaming the innocent Leroy which will appear in tomorrow’s  Hay and Gwair News and Gazette.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

78 – The Mask of Utility

Under the pretext of contributing to the Community Recycling Facility, Cecily Fingal (the local crochet expert, and owner of ‘Tight Knit’, the extreme haberdashery and wool store) dumps six years worth of ‘You had me in stitches’ – the western region newsletter of the British Knitters League. At the neighbourhood dump the local council detritus and materials officer gives her a dubious nod and allows her to pass. However he notes her name in his blue Filofax. She is mortified by his doubts and questions, for amongst the piles of purl and plain patterns, and double-stitch waistcoat templates are a large number of pornographic publications in which she had once appeared.

77 - Powys Blue Mountain Gin

The plan is for Malvolio Claxendell to take his visitors for a final stroll along the banks of the River Wye, and to stop at the Old Pull and Push for some light refreshments. However due to a severe discrepancy between intention and performance (as a result of last night's overindulgence in Powys blue mountain gin) the proposal is put on hold, and the travellers spend the morning prostrate on the sofas at the Eiger Vault, the local Club for Rest and Recuperation. At ten thirty Claxendell just about manages to struggle across the road to feed the neighbour's pet ocelot  Meanwhile Rabbi Oud Ramonides is off somewhere being spiritual.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

76 – Seeing is believing

There is a knock at the door, and Justin Lobbos shuffles through from his parlour. At the door is Alphonse Callooh with his sketch of the cuneiform patterns. Lobbos looks at it and shakes his head, muttering ‘No good at all!’ He shuffles back to the parlour. ‘You see,’ he explains to Callooh,’ there may well be lines or markings that you have missed. That makes all the difference.’ He tuts and hurrumphs for a while. ‘No. I’ll need to see the original.’ Callooh tries to persuade him to return to Gwair, but after his embarrassing experience last time, he is reluctant to go within twenty  miles of the village.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

75 - Mascarene Swiftlets - a threatened species

With the departure of Carmel Weinz  and the end of the Bookfest, the nascent relationship between Clarissa Thorogood  (horticulturalist) and Agnieszka McFarlane (librarian) finally has a chance to be nourished. Deep in conversation, they stroll across the hills to Ritileine Clump, the ridge of trees above the Begwyns. As they descend to the serene lake, they meet up with Abdul Hasib ibn Burd who has returned to pen his amorous quatrains and sketch his ornithological line drawings. He gives each of them a tiny ink drawing of a mascarene swift (that he drew in the island of Agalega in Mauritius). When they return to Gwair they have the pictures framed.

Monday, 22 September 2014

74 - Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong

The good residents of Hay-on-Wye sigh with relief at the end of the Autumnal Bookfest of their little neighbour Gwair. The chaotic festival is over and the clear-up begins. Volunteers fan out through the streets of the town, and across the surrounding fields. In the course of this operation Wilfriede Organdy (from the Frabjous Tea Rooms) finds the stone. It seems to be an ancient piece of pottery. She puts it in her apron pocket, and later shows it to her brother, Alphonse Callooh, the taxidermist. He takes it home and sits up all night tracing its intricate designs onto paper. It is a cuneiform critique of Hegelianism as irrational. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

73 - It’s all gravy

The final event of the Gwair Autumnal Bookfest should have been a literary-musical soiree, but instead Melanie Grintclaw has invited Aron Cledgling whose gig is now taking place in Capite Knoll, a large paddock just past the village hall. As the crowds jostle in the mud, the lights dim, and the squeal of feedback introduces the star of the evening. However as he starts to speak there is a flash, and sparks fly. The system has crashed again. As a stream of damp spectators begins to drift away, Cledgling jumps up and screams ‘Don’t jet yet folks, we have an obese robni which is off the hinges. It’s all gravy!’ 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

72 – Greek myth of Hephaestus

Agnieszka McFarlane is fed up with the daily appearance of Axel Sanciere who arrives at the library in an array of unconvincing disguises asking to borrow his own best-selling volume ‘Smash the Education System - Why the Zone of Proximal Development is a Teachers’ Con Trick’. He is clearly trying to boost his Public Lending Rights. Another of his schemes is to crowd-source the funding for his planned tome on Russian beverages (‘The Wygotsky Tea Years’) but Agnieszka is refusing to let him publicise this in the Gwair-on-Wye library.  The resulting argument is disturbing Rabbi Oud Ramonides who is in the reference section researching the theology of closed timelike curves.

Friday, 19 September 2014

71 – The New Dawn

When he behaved so badly during his time in Hove, Hamentash Yumble acquired the moniker ‘the Prince of Sharpness’. Now however his backing of the ‘Better a Part’ campaign has led to calls for his exclusion from future literary events in Gwair-on-Wye. Malvolio Claxendell who has a long record of opposing cultural boycotts, is torn between two stools (though he had hoped that his recent operation had solved that particular problem). However his business partner, Samuel Quinine is very definite. Although he disapproves of Hamentash’s life-style, he sees the proponent of the chiaroscuro drip method as a beacon of artistic innovation, and Gwair would be lesser place without his presence. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

70 – The ‘Better a Part’ Campaign

‘It's a Mr. Shem,’ says the receptionist with an unpleasant sneer. He hands the receiver over to Agnieszka McFarlane. She looks startled. Julio Shem, who is Melanie Grintclaw’s toy boy, is fronting the ‘Better a Part’ campaign, and is phoning to get Agnieszka’s support. The demure librarian however is a strong opponent of the referendum, and gives him short shrift. Then after further consideration she gives him long shrift. Predictably, in a place as claustrophobically constipated as Gwair, the emotional febrility of the local independence referendum campaign raises shackles everywhere, and as the day proceeds the temperature soars. The rioters are out singing literary songs in the High Street. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

69 – Secession

It is an awesome morning. With only another few days of the Gwair Autumnal, today’s speaker  is Aron Cledgling, who addresses the central issues of Independence for Gwair. His talk on the cultural aesthetic of Afrofuturism is accompanied by a loose-framed soundtrack which he composed whilst climbing in the Samazar Valley of the Jebel el Kest Massif. Two of the three members of the audience have nodded off, while the third listener is Malvolio Claxendel, who is impatiently full of questions. He is demanding to know how this relates in practice to secession from Hay-on-Wye, Powys and Herefordshire. Cledgling retorts, ‘Stop twerking me, Mal boy, and do the right ting!’

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

68 – The Independence Debate

Only today does Katlyst Brough realise that she’s been used. The aim of Kunilemel’s interview was to undermine the credibility of the splenetic self-publicising literary agent, Melanie Grintclaw. By claiming that Gwair parish council is wasting money by arranging its independence referendum on the same day as that of the more widely publicised Hay-on-Wye referendum, Katlyst is in fact making a stand against the partisan views of Ms. Grintclaw (she frequently stresses the title Ms. as she herself has been elevated to the damehood). The two camps are at daggers drawn as Thursday’s vote gets closer.  Both banks, and both minisupermarkets are on opposite sides and sport their respective banners.  

Monday, 15 September 2014

67 - So the lady thinks

It is no doubt a risk for Katlyst Brough (Grande Dame of the literary world and emeritus chairman of the renowned publishing firm, Ducats and Winoth) to subject herself to an interview with gossip columnist, Antoine de Kunilemel, during the last night symposium of the Gwair Autumnal Bookfest. His last sensational scoop, readers will recall, brought down the poet, Carmel Weinz, and malevolently besmirched the reputation of the naive Rabbi Oud Ramonides, and the story of his run in with the splenetic self-publicising literary agent, Melanie Grintclaw is legendary. The interview however passes blandly, and Brough is delighted for the publicity without having revealed a thing. Or so she thinks.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

66 - The Burghers of Stonehenge

The poet and thinker, Abdul Hasib ibn Burd, is talking today about his adventures studying the standing stones of ancient Britain.  In the audience Rabbi Oud Ramonides is listening perturbatively as he continues his cognitive quest to interpret  (through Reikarial introspection and a weekly dose of Neshamah Yeseira) the Book of Future Creaivity. He believes   that ibn Burd has stumbled across the key elements  that will unlock the secrets of the scroll which Ramonides discovered in the Paduan villa. Sitting next to him, a squirming (as a result of a severe attack of haemorrhoids) Justin Lobbos is also scarlet with embarrassment after yesterday’s unfortunate incident at the village community centre.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

65 - The Enigmatic Shape

Today's speaker at the Gwair Autumnal is the Art Collector Hans van Bonvol who Malvolio Claxendel met recently in a coffee bar in Amsterdam. Whilst bonding over an enigmatically shaped joint, van Bonvol explained that he is the leading authenticator of Mantegna engravings. Despite the current controversy (between those who doubt if Mantegna ever made any engravings himself and those who believe he spent most of his life, when not eating licorice gelato, deeply immersed in engraver's acid) van Bonvol is with the majority who suggest that Mantegna made only seven engravings. As an authenticator therefore today's speaker has little to occupy his time. He therefore dabbles in van Goghs.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

64 – The Consumate Self-Deterrent

After visiting Hamenstash Yumble in the West Herefordshire Benevolent Infirmary, Rabbi Oud Ramonides trundles along to the dusty mansion on the far side of Lateral Gardens. He is carrying the ancient scroll which he found in Padua, and is hoping that the cryptologist, Justin Lobbos, will be able to help him. Lobbos is an elderly man with a wrinkled demeanour. He studies the fading inscriptions, and nods. Oud shakes his head. In unison they both utter a single word. ‘Incredible!’
At that exact moment, in the Gwair Assembly Rooms, Melanie Grintclaw assures her audience that she is proud to be self-interested, and is herself (by definition) an amazingly hallucinatory phenomenon.

Monday, 8 September 2014

63 – The Importance of Small Things (especially if made of wire)

When Cecily Fingal prepares, she does so properly. No detail is overlooked. For today’s talk (which is similar to the one she gave to the Llustat Women’s Institute last year) she has selected two hundred and fifty colour slides from her archive showing her at work with the disadvantaged of Herefordshire, the alienated young women of Shropshire and the underprivileged of Monmouthshire. Each image is accompanied by a short explanatory sentence (16 seconds) so that the whole presentation should take almost an hour and five minutes (including questions).  As she starts, a small wire in the projector overheats, and there is a delay of twenty seconds in changing each slide.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

62 – The collapse of the state

The coming week’s star activities at the Gwair Autumnal include talks by Axel Sanciere (Deconstruct the Scaffold), Melanie Grintclaw (The Amazing Morality of Self-Interest), and Cecily Fingal (A Fidget’s Guide to Knitting). There will also be a Pasolini film-evening (sponsored by the Gwair Communist Alliance) at the Village Hall with organic refreshments served by Wilfriede Organdy during the interval at Frabjous Tea Rooms. Sadly however the week starts with a minor catastrophe when Hamentash Yumble, already disconcerted by the reaction to his talk, is giving an animated tour of his exhibition on the third floor gallery of Yifitsinprint Books, when the floor collapses as a result of chronic woodworm infestation. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

61 – The gradual decline of Hamentash Yumble

Is it not surprising that the audience are not swooning over Hamentash Yumble (which is the normal reaction he expects). For a start the Gwair Autumnal enthusiasts are not run-of-the-mill colour supplement readers. They are discerning. And today they discern very clearly that Yumble has a hangover, has lost his notes, and above all is unable to present any of the original works for which he has made his name. The fate of the chiaroscuro drip images is unfortunate.  After child genius Kolya hung them out on the washing line, the weather turned and a heavy downpour drenched the canvases, changing the style to extreme drip and very blurred chiaroscuro.