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.

Friday, 5 September 2014

60 - Dirty washing

The visit of Hamentash Yumble causes ripples across the staid life of Samuel Quinine. Together with Malvolio Claxendel, they sit discussing zoology over vodka and smoked salmon bagels until four in the morning when they all collapse incoherently into beds in the garden shed at Shambhala. Unlike his companions, poor Quinine has to rise early to prepare breakfast for the infant genius, Kolya. The child is interested in Yumble’s portfolio of chiaroscuro drip images (passé work of course, but Kolya likes it). When Samuel goes out to hang out the young one’s nappies to dry, he discovers that the infant genius has already filled the washing line with Yumble’s masterpieces.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

59 - Beetlemania

Today marks the beginning of the Gwair Autumnal Bookfest. The first speaker is Hamentash Yumble, who has been invited down by Malvolio Claxendell to speak about the role of eccentric art in resolving propaganda conflict. Having prepared assiduously all morning by scribbling down a few words, and then spending four and a half hours choosing a downmarket outfit at Aberystwyth and Crotch, Yumble is now speeding westward to Gwair in his new purple Bugatti Veyron. Meanwhile, the staff at Yifitsinprint Books are preparing a bijou exhibition of Yumble's work in the tiny third floor gallery, unaware of the recent hard-work undertaken by a discerning community of Hylotrupes bajulus (woodworm beetles).

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

58 - A Self-Defeating Strategy

The central problem for Axel Sanciere is that Katlyst Brough, grande dame of publishing, having promoted his previous best-selling volume ‘Smash the Education System - Why the Zone of Proximal Development is a Teachers’ Con Trick’, is now less interested in his proposed history of Russian beverages, called ‘The Wygotsky Tea Years’. Samuel Quinine nods as the professor explains his difficulties. They agree that Brough is only interested in sensationalism. For a moment they consider approaching Brough’s arch-rival, the splenetic Melanie Grintclaw, but decide that this would be a self-defeating strategy. Tentatively, Samuel suggests that the professor might consider self-publishing, and that the infant genius Kolya may be of assistance.

Monday, 1 September 2014

57 - It’s just short-sighted

The myopic Axel Sanciere has been directed to Dido Doolittle’s shop by the porter at the Old Pull and Push Tavern. He has miraculously found his way to the high street only once losing his way when he stumbled into Tight Knit, the extreme haberdashery and wool store next to the post office. Cecily Fingal (the owner of Tight Knit, and local crochet expert) redirects him to Back Room Books, but somehow he ends up in Yifitsinprint Books where for the first time he meets Samuel Quinine. There is an immediate meeting of minds and it is agreed that they should meet up for lunch, and discuss Axel’s forthcoming book.