Thursday, 31 July 2014

33 - Technodependency

In the Old Pull and Push tavern the good companions are sitting around, ignoring their pints as they tap assiduously at their iPads. Oud Ramonides is lost in an online yiddish translation of Eliot's long lost 'He do the Policemen  in Different Voices' whilst Samuel Quinine is updating his MySpace profile, wondering why no-one has contacted him there, and Hasib is scribbling obscure prose-poetry. The evening passes peacefully until Malvolio Claxendell looks up from his clockwork T-reader and mutters, 'Lucky we haven't got to talk to each other, innit!' However his observations are interrupted by a clatter of gold and plastic as he inadvertently drops his dentures. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

32 - Shut the blind

There were seldom ever any private or secret conversations between Ludwig and Wilfriede. The truth was that they were both a little hard of hearing, and would automatically increase their decibel level when talking to each other. On the odd occasion when confidentiality was indeed essential they would post messages to each other on Facebook, unaware that in so doing the whole population of Gwair was now able to eavesdrop. It was therefore no surprise therefore when the words 'Shut the blind, people can see your feet when you're in the toilet' appear on the social media above a retweeted mp3 track of 'Call us lot your builders?'  by the Iron Grunge band, Scabby Felix.

31 - Yo Mantegna!

There is a buzz around as Guiseppe della Rebina, the new Italian chef at the café, begins to bring about changes. First he gets rid of the old sun shades and buys new sunflower yellow parasols. Then he paints the chairs and tables black, and rebrands the café as a bar-bistro.   Finally he hangs old renaissance prints of works by Mantegna and Bellini. He explains to Hasib, the poet-philosopher, that he comes from the town of Mantua, where they know how to treat men. Hasib tells his friend Oud Ramonides who agrees that Guiseppe is a real mensche. Behind the scenes Hasib is still striving to create an agreement.

Monday, 28 July 2014

30 – Smoke gets in your eyes

The Hay and Gwair News runs an editorial by Antoine de Kunilemel, listing all the current  conflicts disturbing the village. Inevitably it is the latest conflict, the struggle against the new Hypermarket, that is causing the greatest concern. It falls upon the shoulders of poet-philosopher, Abdul Hasib ibn Burd, to try and mediate. He visits the Decorators, and discusses their demands, before walking down through the town with the Lower Herefordshire Morris Men, to The Snatcher on the Wye, where he sits with his friend Oud Ramonides and the irate Ludwig Organdy. While he tries to find some common ground no-one notices the acrid smoke wafting across the green fields.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

29 – At ‘The Snatcher on the Wye’

The mild-mannered and generally unopinionated Ludwig Organdy has always been a conventional man (other than his particular interest in nurses’ uniforms).  However the plan to build a Hypermarket has finally incensed him. His initial hesitation at socialising with Rabbi Oud Ramonides has been replaced by enthusiastic friendship. All this on the basis of seeing the Rabbi’s billboard publicising the campaign against the local decorators who are collaborating with the Hyperbusiness.  Ludwig is organising a demo, so he takes Ramonides down to the riverside pub ‘The Snatcher on the Wye’ to discuss plans. Meanwhile up the road, the ProHypermarket Campaign swings into action. Both sides now embark on a media blitz.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

28 - T-Readers

‘Elegant, schmelegant!’ says Dido Doolittle staring across the road at the new window display in Yifitsinprint Books.  The recent meeting of the Gwair Literary Gala Committee broke up in acrimony over the application by E-Bargum, retailer of e-readers, who was plotting (sic) to acquire the leasehold on number 26. Now Yifitsinprint has artistically designed notices promoting E-Bargum’s Earl Grady’s T-Readers. As she watches, Dido sees Oud Ramonides, still disorientated from his clove tea. He is carrying a billboard proclaiming alliteratively, ‘Punish patronising painters propping up perpendicular palisades!’ Obscurely it is publicising a petition against the local builders and decorators who have won the contract to work on the new Hypermarket.

Friday, 25 July 2014

27 - An Irrevocable Commitment

When Oud Ramonides, learned kabbalist,  meets poet-philosopher, Abdul Hasib ibn Burd, there is an instant rapport. In the noon-time sun, the two men sit in the shade of a purple rhododendron in the garden of the Frabjous Tea Rooms, drinking clove tea and discussing the ideas of Albert Einstein. At the next table, Leporello Swinson is showing his new tattoo to café owner Wilfriede Organdy. Hasib whispers to Oud, ‘A tattoo is an irrevocable commitment to eternal youth.’ Oud nods. Unfortunately it turns out that Oud has an unusual reaction to clove tea. As he peers at Swinson’s tattoo, the shapes swirl into elastic forms and glow with vivid colours.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

26 - The Small Faces

Rabbi Oud Ramonides, truth-seeker, renowned kabbalist and man of peace, has been so taken with the buzz of the Upstart Gala that he has extended his stay in Gwair-on-Wye. He moves out of the upstairs luxury room with en-suite at the Old Pull and Push Tavern, and rents a small apartment by the river. He is currently deeply engrossed in unravelling a difficult passage in the book known as the Idra Zuta. As he walks by the rapidly flowing waters, he sees an orchard on the other bank, and he recites 'Behold the dew dropping to the field of apples, and all the field of apples shines from that dew'.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

אַ העלפט ענטפער אויך זאגט עפּעס - 25

The heatwave over Gwair is causing problems for many. In the cool of the shaded Hotseplots  Woods, Lapricia Organdy and Samuel Quinine are relaxing over tall glasses of Italian Semillon, whilst a few yards away the Infant Genius, Kolya, has finally managed a successful test run of his tabletop ponderomotive synchrotron. In his childish imagination he wonders if he could use it to create high-aspect-ratio microstructures using Lithography, Electroplating, and Molding, but Lapricia, having abandoned her attempts to use Raman spectroscopy to detect copper resinate pigment in the painting of Tintern Abbey, thinks it might be possible to exploit Kolya’s invention for the purpose. Half an answer also says something.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

24 - We'll get there

It is lunchtime at the Old Pull and Push. Antoine de Kunilemel, news journalist from Hagnag (aka the Hay and Gwair News and Gazette) is drowning his sorrows with poet-philosopher Abdul Hasib ibn Burd. They chew over the cud of local issues, and Hasib suggests to his companion that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be better served if instead of dubious truths, Antoine would pen words of inspiration and hope. Antoine looks at him in confusion. After all surely the job of the journalist is to spread despair. The landlord looks over, a few minutes later, and sees they are both asleep, heads together, nodding and snoring.

Monday, 21 July 2014

23 - Leonard Woolf's Kindle

The Upstart Gala is over, and following an unexpected but inevitably temporary rapprochement between Dido Doolittle (Back Room Bookshop) and Malvolio Claxendell (Yifitsin Print Books), a literary gala committee is set up, in order to coordinate the development of literary establishments and services in Gwair. After dealing with sanctions against Kolya (the Infant Genius) for the misuse of his table-top synchrotron, the most urgent issue on the agenda is the application by E-Bargum, retailer of e-readers, who wants to acquire the leasehold on number 26. ‘Well we should at least consider it,’ Malvolio insists.  Dido looks at him in scorn and asks, ‘But what would Virginia Woolf think of e-books?’ 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

22 - The Prime Cause

The sunny weather has tempted thousands to Gwair to celebrate the Upstart Gala. The shops are doing brisk business and the street food outlets are spreading their fragrant smoky vapours around the quaint streets.  All would be well, but just as Kolya activates his ponderomotive synchrotron, the skies cloud over and a hard rain starts to fall. This signals the start of a dramatic mass  departure, leading to traffic jams exacerbated by a breakdown in the traffic light system. Malvolio Claxendell curses the weather, but Abdul Hasib ibn Burd, the Poet-Philosopher, suggests that  the responsibility  (though not necessarily the blame) may  be laid at the door of the Infant Genius.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

21 - A Bug in the Works

In the water meadows beyond the Old Pull and Push Tavern in Gwair, ‘The Upstart Gala’ weekend kicks off  with an extraordinary  joyous rendition by Scabby Felix, the iron grunge octet,  of their best known track ‘You will be mighty’. (Some sedate visitors look a little alarmed).  At Yifitsin Books, Samuel Quinine is hosting the colloquium ‘Writers in their Landscape’ featuring Abdul Hasib ibn Burd, which has been scheduled to end in time for  Dido Doolittle’s specially commissioned oratorio ‘The Seven Muses’ (by Myfanwy Detroit). However Kolya’s test running of his ponderomotive synchrotron is delayed when he opens up the Lobachevsky diode and discovers a tarantula in the plasma channel.

Friday, 18 July 2014

20 - Leftovers

While those involved in tomorrow’s ambitious Upstart Gala are busily making final arrangements, few people have noticed that today the Village Hall is hosting the annual conference of the  West Herefordshire Theraphosid Society. The blinds are drawn, and the heating is set to high. The delegates are now parading along the rows of black- topped tables and closely examining the prize tarantulas on display.  Alphonse Callooh (the transvestite taxidermist) has organised this years’s event. Luckily this doesn’t involve too much unpleasantness  since tarantulas produce negligible amounts of faeces, although when they have finished feeding they do leave small balls of indigestible leftovers which have to be removed from their tanks.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

19 - Remote Osmosis

Word about the new July festival has spread quickly, and visitors are flocking into the village. Even the rest of Hay-on-Wye has noticed the buzz in the Gwair quarter, and concerns have been expressed about this ‘upstart festival’. It is  Hasib, the reclusive Poet-Philosopher, who recognises the PR value of this intended insult, and he encourages the organising committee, led by Myfanwy Detroit, to rebrand the festivities as the Upstart Gala. Malvolio Claxendell sends out invitations to his friends in Seven Dials, but sadly, they are delivered to Covent Garden instead of Hove, and they end up as part of a multi-thematic collage of paper and glass called Remote Osmosis.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

18 Synchronicity

After a searing attack from the Hay and Gwair News and Gazette (aka Hagnag), and fearing a copycat plot plagiarism in the Archers,  the local  farmers decide to end their demonstration. The slurry trailers retreat and during the day the air freshens. The village council, and the league of pub and tavern owners, vote to sponsor a Fête de Juillet (фестивал юли). In a complete volte-face, an accord is agreed between Malvolio Claxendell and Dido Doolittle so that the Gwair-on-Wye Literary Gala can be held without rancour. Overhearing the plan to commence the delayed festivities this coming weekend, Kolya decides that will provide a fitting opportunity to test his synchrotron.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

17 This really isn't a working trebuchet

A journalist from the Hay and Gwair News and Gazette (aka Hagnag) has arrived to cover the extended demonstration by local farmers. He experiences the full force of their argument when the slurry trailer passes. His subsequent report strongly favours the other side (you will recall that the demonstration is a protest against the public workers strike.) As he scribbles his copy, the shadowy figure of the infant genius (Kolya) passes behind him on his way to test his new tabletop synchrotron. None of this offers any consolation to the two rival bookshop owners, still waiting for the opening festivities delayed by the farmers’ demonstration. Perhaps Kolya has the answer.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

16 - Counterpoint

It is the evening before the great day. At the Gwair branch of Yifitsin Print Books Malvolio Claxendell and Samuel Quinine are finalising the ‘Writers in their Landscape’ exhibition for the next day’s grand opening. In the corner, the infant-genius, Kolya, is constructing a prototype of a tabletop synchrotron, however he has encountered problems with the the ponderomotive force of intense short laser pulses. Meanwhile Dido Doolittle is working late at the rival Back Room Bookshop with a final rehearsal of the Seven Muses oratorio which opens the week-long New Age celebration. However when dawn breaks they discover that the Gwair quarter has been cut off by the tractors and trailers of local farmers protesting against the public workers strike.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

15 - O Muses - aid me now!

Dido Doolitle's plans are brewing well. She has assembled the young women farmers chorale who are preparing to enact an oratorio by Myfanwy Detroit called ‘The Seven Muses’. (Poor Rabbi Oud Ramonides, already confused by the idea of Bara Brith, is puzzled to astigmatically read about ‘The Seven Moses’). Myfanwy herself will perform the part of Terpsicore, and Hwybren Masterson will be Calliope. Poor Sister Ada Sommos, who wanted to take the role of Erato, muse of Lyric Poetry and Porn, is persuaded to sing as Euterpe so that she can play her sackbut.  With only seven ladies singing in the chorale, the composer has dispensed with Urania and Polyhymnia).

Thursday, 3 July 2014

14 - The Art of Ramon Spectroscopy

Using Raman spectroscopy, Lapricia Organdy is working on a puzzle presented to her by the New Herefordshire Gallery of Beaux Arts. As Chief Consultant Metallurgist she has been asked to see if it is possible to detect copper resinate pigment in a painting of Tintern Abbey attributed to the sixteenth century artist Uriah Claxendell. (Although as yet no-one has made the link, the artist is indeed an ancestor of Malvolio). Little could be further from the mind of the aforesaid descendant, who is currently organising the celebratory opening exhibition of the new Gwair branch of Yifitsinprint Books early next week. He is planning an exhibition of ‘Writers in their Landscape’.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

13 - My night was not long, yet I have not slept

Abdul Hasib ibn Burd is sitting by the serene lake composing quatrains of love  poetry whilst above him swifts and sand martins trace intricate line drawings of embracing lovers in alpine leaved borders. Nearby, Samuel Quinine is taking photographs of the poet in the countryside for an exhibition of the writer’s work which is to feature in the opening celebration of the new branch of Yifitsinprint Books. When the sky clouds over, the two men head back home to Gwair-on-Wye, and discuss the gloomy headlines that have characterised recent news bulletins. ‘At the end of the day,’ says the poet, ‘I am an optimist. I have to be.’