Sunday, 29 June 2014

12 - A Meeting of Minds

Augustus Albe has a rival. Samuel Quinine is out walking on the Begwyns with Lapricia Organdy. As they reach the circle of trees, they spot a distant figure on horseback. Lapricia explains that it is Abdul Hasib ibn Burd the reclusive Lebanese poet and philosopher. Known to everyone as Hasib, he spends many hours riding across the wild hillsides as he composes his linguistically complex but elegant verses.  Lapricia is well acquainted with him, as he visits her student blacksmiths when his horse needs shoeing. Further along the ridge, their paths cross, and Hasib stops and dismounts. He greets Lapricia, and bows deeply to Quinine. They are soon close friends.

Friday, 27 June 2014

11 - The Enemy of Sennacherib

Whilst Ludwig Organdy is watching the World Cup on the downstairs TV, his wife Wilfrieda is engrossed in Wimbledon upstairs in the Den. 

Their daughter Lapricia however is enjoying afternoon tea with Augustus Albe in the Gwair-on-Wye market cafe. Augustus is wisely ignoring the dog Sennacherib which has fixed him with the evil eye. 

He has already learned that his companion works as Chief Consultant Metallurgist at the Borders School of Blacksmithing,  and that her main interest is in Copper-nickel alloys. 

When she tells him that her uncle is Alphonse, the taxidermist, he wonders if he should volunteer to take Sennacherib for a stroll. However he doesn't have Alphonse's address.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

10 - Beyond the Begwyns

The old crowd are meeting up for a couple of days to check out how things are progressing with Malvolio Claxendell’s branch of Yifitsinprint  Books at Gwair-on-Wye. Of course Yevgeny Huxtable and Guthrie Cotton head for the real bookshops of Hay, but Augustus Albi, a little reticent because of his lexical difficulties, has opted to explore the countryside. He heads up to the hills and wanders across the Begwyns. He reaches a high clump of trees, then descends to a serene lake where he encounters a vision of beauty. Her name is Lapricia Organdy, and she is walking a dog of most unfortunate appearance. He smiles and strokes the cur.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

09 - The Stock Exchange

Sadly, even before the new shop is fitted out, a dispute has arisen between the irresistible Malvolio Claxendell and the unmovable Samuel Quinine. The former, eager to get everything up and running, has been busy buying up stock by the yard. The latter, a dealer of integrity, arrives at the shop on Tuesday and is horrified to see boxes of cornell red, celadon green and phthalo blue books piled by the counter. He pays Leporello Swinson a fiver to get rid of them. When Claxendell returns with another 25 kilos of books, Quinine gives him an ultimatum. A top level meeting is arranged to decide who ultimately makes the decisions.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

08 - Vegetation Ceremonies

Behind the scenes Dido Doolittle is planning her strategy. How can she boost her bookshop before Malvolio Claxendell opens the new branch of Yifitsinprint Books in the old taxidermist’s emporium opposite. 

By chance she meets her friend, Myfanwy Detroit,who is organising a weeklong celebration of the New Age, and is scouting around for venues. It is agreed that Sister Ada Sommos, the wise but confused clairvoyante, will conduct free tarot readings throughout the festival. 

Dido also recruits her other friend, Hwybren Masterson, to serve tea and bara brith for the duration. Finally she unveils a range of children’s activities and special offers. All is now ready to meet Malvolio’s threat.

Monday, 23 June 2014

07 - Oh ye venerable and decrepit of Taos, beware!

It is the unfortunate Leporello who breaks the news to Dido Doolittle. They meet on the riverside walk below the Warren at Hay. She recognises the young man who she has seen wandering around the neighbourhood, and he tells her that Samuel and Malvolio are turning the taxidermist’s emporium it into a book shop. She is not pleased. Meanwhile all is going well with the new house. The infant genius, Kolya, has named the building Shambhala, and before his mother disappears to New Mexico for a Third Age Trade Exhibition, she plans the décor of the ground floor. When she finally departs however Samuel gives the decorator his own plans.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

06 - Shambhala

Today, Leroy Fingal, principal operative at the Cave Estate Agency, is busy preparing for the various clients who are visiting in the wake of Malvolio Claxendell’s investment in the area. Samuel Quinine is the first to arrive, together with his son, Lustral (a very quiet scholar, researching medieval Magyar Literature), his daughter-in-law, Sonia (designer of trendy ‘supportwear’ for the fashion-conscious over eighties), grandson and infant genius, Kolya, and the lodger, Leporello Swinson. He takes them to three properties, two of which are (in the words of Sonia) worse than falling down. The third however is  generally considered to be a veritable Shangri La. They agree that this is the place.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

05 - The Back Room

In the Gwair quarter of Hay-on-Wye there is only one bookshop - The Back Room. The owner, Dido Doolittle, is happily picking at her crochet, unaware that Alphonse, the taxidermist opposite, has sold his shop to an Outsider. As yet she does not know that the new buyer intends to establish there a rival literary emporium. It is therefore with pleasant attentiveness that she greets Malvolio Claxendell as he enters. He introduces himself, mentioning that he is an inventor, and a member of the Institute of Lyrian Archeology. He is however a canny operator, and does not yet disclose that he is the new owner of the neglected shop opposite.

Friday, 20 June 2014

04 - A way. A lone. A last.

Far to the South (well Hove actually) Rabbi Oud Ramonides is perplexed. He assumes it is the tikkun. Leporello Swinson has turned over a new leaf, and withdrawn from his age-inappropriate entanglements with Prigentia Colswain, and her mother Grapella. He is seeking a celibate and contemplative life, and asks the old man for advice. Oud feels ill-equipped to advise on celibacy. He suggests that perhaps a period of chaste meditation in a rural setting away from temptation might be a reasonable strategy. When he learns of Samuel Quinine's plans, he suggests that Leporello accompanies the bookseller when he moves to Gwair-on-Wye. Leporello agrees and goes home to pack. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

03 - The Old Chapel at Gwair

The plan, in so far as there is a plan, is for Malvolio Claxendell to turn his new acquisition into a bookshop, and persuade Samuel Quinine and his entourage  (primarily grandson Kolya, the infant genius) to move to Gwair-on-Wye and manage it. When Samuel hears of the plan he is understandably perturbed. He is reluctant to leave his current bookshop in Hove (Yifitsin Print Books) which he owns, for a manager's post two hundred miles away. Anyway, he is proud of his shop. However the small matter of the huge overdraft he is about to default on, is playing on his mind. He decides to consult his lodger, Leporello Swinson.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

02 - But not Gabbana

As agreed, Alphonse (the taxidermist) and Malvolio Claxendell meet at the Cave Estate Agency, where the receptionist informs them that her boss, Leroy Fingal, was out of the office at an assembly of the Dulas Meet, the animal protection society that celebrates all horseless and non-vulpine hunting. Founded in 1832 by the cousin of Roderick Murchison (the geologist), the group aims to retrieve fossils (currently their quest is to discover Eumetopian subfossils). Luckily just then the Dulas Meet is gathering in the village square, and Fingal agrees to draw up the paperwork enabling Alphonse to transfer ownership of the shop to Claxendell. Alphonse is wearing a magenta Domenico Dolce outfit.

Monday, 16 June 2014

01 - The Shop at Gwair-on-Wye

Seismic events have brought Malvolio Claxendell to the shops of Hay-on-Wye. Few things can take his mind off the recent unpleasantness as effectively as browsing along meandering shelves. Yet he will not easily escape the problems that drove him here. Already, as he trudges around looking for a copy of Torsvik’s recent volume on Tectonic Instability, the Urim and Thummim guide his feet to unwritten pages. At the far end of the main street, he reaches a lesser-known quarter known as Gwair-on-Wye. Here the future awaits him. A dusty shop catches his attention, and he is called inside by the owner, who it transpires is a transvestite taxidermist called Alphonse.