Wrote this 5 years ago – can’t believe I had the energy! – and thought perhaps the time might be right for a re-run. I mean, if you’re looking for a post-lockdown mini-holiday and everywhere better is booked up …
Welcome, Willkommen, Bienvenue
This brochure celebrates Bafflesby-As-Tourist-Town Year (BATTY) and supports our bid to be included in the 2017 edition of 1001 Places To See Before You Can’t. The publishers of this influential list – Offshaw&Gonn – confirm they won’t be changing the title, so our bid has to be better than just one of the 1001 destinations in the 2016 edition. Put another way, 1000 places can be better than Bafflesby and we’ll still get in the book. You might think there’s time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards. We couldn’t possibly comment …
We can ask a question, though. How many resorts on the Costa Helluvalotta can boast world-class crown-green bowls clubs, eh? As a much-loved Irish comedian used to say, ‘Come here, there’s more!’
Not many people know that the inner linings of this funny guy’s distinctive hats were made in Bafflesby nor that he returned the favour in a memorable appearance at the since-demolished Variety Theatre. But the town has many other claims to fame.
Come here, there’s more!
Bafflesby is said to be named after the ancient king and self-proclaimed saint, Barf. Local tradition has it that St Barf’s remains are buried in one of the many caves that run beneath the town. It is believed he died after drinking bad beer. Local hostelries that celebrate the connection to this day include The Barf Tavern, The Royal Cascade, BarFly, The Crown and Bucket, Binge Inn, Hair Of The Lapdog and The King’s Head. Local hangovers are known as Barf’s Burden.
Wine Into Water
Bafflesby is renowned for what goes on after dark. The young-at-heart can groove on down to the Riverside Quarter, where swanky eateries – dine a la maison or faire le takeaway, the choice is yours – compete with pulsating nightclubs and chillout massage parlours to arouse their customers’ relentlessly fickle and rapidly fading powers of attention. Feel the frisson of excitement on the streets as Barflesby’s tradition of bad beer takes its toll on patience and self-control. Fight or flight – it’s up to you!
At the heart of the Riverside Quarter is Fossock’s Fountain, installed by Sir Henry ‘Fussy’ Fossock in 1856 to bring fresh water to the drinking classes. He was one of Bafflesby’s great colourful characters – teetotaller, evangelist, nature poet, butterfly hunter, slum landlord, slave trader, arms dealer and fondly-remembered town mayor.
Gang Aft Agley
It was also the birthplace of polymath and renaissance woman Mimi Scatterball who was described by HG Wells, after their brief love affair, as ‘quite good at everything she turned her hand to’. Who’s Who describes her as ‘artist, sculptor, playwright, poet, composer, choreographer, singer, musician, spiritualist medium and carpenter’, and adds that several one-woman shows recreating her carnal relations with the ghost of Scots poet Rabbie Burns were famous for their tiny audiences. Visit her home and marvel at hundreds of musical instruments, thousands of incomplete manuscripts and millions of unfinished pencil drawings. Blocks of wood and stone still wait in every room for the touch of hammer and chisel.
These days her grandson Giorgio lives in the family home, trying to ignore the streams of visitors who interrupt his obsessive blogging and interfere with his elaborate literary projects. To the delight of all, he has perfected the art of lobbing crumpled balls of paper into wastepaper baskets while cursing the rattle and roar of passing trains in fluent Italian.
Chuff Chuff, Me Old China!
The Bafflesby-Toffsham Railway, saved from Doctor Beeching’s chopper by a bunch of anorak-clad train-spotters, transports us back to a world of nostalgia. Experience all over again the acrid stink of coal-smoke in your clothes, the surly misdirections of peak-capped porters, the insolent curl of stale ham-sandwiches washed down with cracked cups of lightly-stewed lukewarm tea. Use your hand to wipe a hole in historic window grease and glimpse glorious passing scenery.
When you’re sick of travel or maybe travel-sick why not stop off at one of the lonely Halts along the way? Escape the stuffy air of Baffle Valley altogether by climbing steep Windy Hill to King Barf’s Column, popular local nickname for a 19th Century folly erected by Sir Kit Trayning to commemorate his failure to consummate a one-sided love-affair. Race up interior stone steps and gasp as you come upon a cracking view of three counties – when the prevailing mist allows – but watch out for descending sheep!
Not for nothing has the vista been called ‘Little Switzerland’! The prestigious PR firm Say What? who came up with the slogan a few years back certainly didn’t come cheap but we hope the extra tourism it attracts may one day help us break even on the deal.
While you’re up there, don’t miss the cave said to be the haunt of humorous highwayman Stan Dan De Leiver – real name unknown! – and his mare Gibbet. Some claim to have heard the clink of ancient coins but those spoilsport spelaeologists at Bafflesby University Museum (BUM) put it down to landslip proclivities in the overhead stratas – whatever that means!
Mimi Scatterball found the sensational scenery so distracting that she kept the curtains shut. Amusingly, she would then complain that she couldn’t see to work as her pet reptiles had eaten all the candles.
Visitors in August may be lucky enough to see The Parade of Purity, a ceremonial procession of virgins that dates back to pagan times and by tradition ends with a fertility dance. For some reason the numbers taking part in the parade have dwindled over the years. It has been decided that the next dance will be held in the church hall where it can be more easily supervised. The ceilidh band will once again be Mutual Climax.
The morning after – Barf’s Burdens permitting! – why not visit the festive fragrance of Bafflesby’s very own Wild Flower Show to witness a promiscuous profusion of nature’s endangered blooms – buttercups, daisies, dandelions, thistles, nettles and many more – delightfully displayed in a faux-natural meadow-style setting with specially-installed Sunlyte-Symulation (R). “A blaze of colour in a big tent” – Bafflesby Local User Radio (BLUR)
Town Arts and Country Crafts
Nip next door to the Ewell B Flush Art Emporium which features an ever-changing programme of exhibitions chasing while trying to lead the never-ending shifts in public taste. Upcoming shows include Replica Rooms from Reality Television, Famous Faces on Fabric (designer T shirts available) and the perennial Golfers Upmarket Fashion Fest (GUFF).
If you prefer your bric-a-brac with a rustic edge, why not pay a visit to the Bafflesby Seasonal Experience (BSE) and marvel how this once-quarantined dairy farm has turned itself around. Get up close and personal with the cutest creatures. Bet on the outcome of snail-racing or feed pages of this brochure to greedy goats – they’ll swallow anything! Try your hand at milking llamas or feeding baby creatures to our troupe of killer raptors. And your kids will love swimming with sharks in our bloodthirsty Jaws-style aquarium.
Splash Out On Yourself. Go on. You deserve it.
Way off the beaten tourist track, Bafflesby has plenty of surprises in store. You’ll be amazed at the amount of good-value accommodation, ranging from cheap and cheerful all the way down to miserly and miserable … Haha, just kidding, of course … a little taste of the local speciality, our cheery sense of humour in the face of impossible odds! Floods, ha, we’re a flood of merriment and mirth … geddit? And if you should ever weary of our relentless ribaldry, just ask a friendly Bafflesbyte to point you the hell out of town.
He’ll be only too happy to oblige.