by Bafflesby Beacon roving reporter Watt Ware
Tongues are wagging all over Bafflesby about the mystery construction that has been rising from the ancient dust of the now-demolished Shirehall Public Library And Theatre (SPLAT) like a phoenix from the ashes. Imagine a phoenix wearing a cool pair of shades and you might capture the soul of this new building with its opaque walls of mirror glass reflecting your own puzzled expression back at yourself.
Donning an appropriate pair of Ray-Bans, I venture out in search of Beacon readers through streets awash with wild surmise and afloat with a thousand theories. It’s time to test the water.
SPLAT near-neighbour Ria Wynn-Doe, 74, sounds relieved. ‘Well,’ she tells me, ‘anything’s better than having a horde of undesirables peering through your lace curtains. That arty-farty place lured them in like moths. Some days it was Night of the Living Dead round here. Beads, beards and bare feet – you know the type – and half of them only in there to warm themselves up for free and gratis, thank you very much! Rest of them was most likely gawping at naked bodies and glorying in smutty dialogue at the taxpayer’s expense! And as for all those books, I’d have had a bonfire!’
Si Knightley, 19, isn’t so sure. ‘I never went in but me and my dad used to walk his dog round the Shirehall and look at all those Greek statues on the outside. Frieze, he called it. I’m not surprised because they didn’t have no clothes on. Wonder what happened to them. Do you reckon they put them in there?’ He was pointing at the new building. ‘I would of.’
In the Culled Badger the ale is flowing, along with the conversation. There’s a copy of The Bafflesby Beacon on the bar. It’s a good sign. I ask them about the new building.
‘I got a mate in the know,’ Bill de Wall, 63, tells me, ‘and he says it’s a hostel for migrants. What it is, you can’t see inside so there’s no way of knowing how many are in there. But they can see out so they’ll be able to watch our every move. Plan their operations. That’s what my mate reckons. He’s got this mate in the know, see?’
Someone else, who won’t give his name but says he isn’t Joe King, will have none of this. ‘Nah, what it is, it’s a five-star prison for famous people who’ve been done for doing bad stuff to people who aren’t famous. All these left-wing luvvies, it’s one big club, they’re all in it together. They got secret signs and all sorts. Goes right to the top, too, that’s why you never hear about it. Hush-hush, see? You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Just behind that glass they’re living in the lap of luxury and laughing because nobody can see who they really are. You can’t hear a thing but they’re laughing at you, right now!’
At this point the pub landlady buts in. ‘A few pints of Old Conspiracy and these monkeys start imagining the mice behind the wainscot are plotting to pinch their peanuts.’ She glances around, leans towards me and lowers her voice. ‘No, sweetheart, if you want to learn the truth you must gain access to the Dark Web and ask for Daffy Duck. Don’t laugh, there are mysterious forces in this world and far beyond her that mean to rid the galaxy of humankind and all its idiot progeny. Next thing you know, these mirror boxes will be everywhere. Today Bafflesby, Tomorrow Never Knows. By the way, despite all appearances, this is Happy Hour. You can drink three pints of Old Conspiracy for the price of one.’
I make my excuses and leave without telling them the real truth, that The Bafflesby Beacon has just signed a rental contract with the owners of MirrorBox House and will be moving in before the day is out. I don’t tell them how its unique 360 degree all-round vista will facilitate our hi-tech sight-and-sound surveillance of Bafflesby now that the phone-hacking scandal has deprived us journalists of optimum listening capability.
Or it will do once we’ve cut down all those old trees. I don’t tell them that, either. Never mind. They can read all about it here.
The Bafflesby Beacon Says …
You can rest assured, Bafflesbytes, that the ever-watchful Beacon is on your case. Now, more than ever, we will guard you against those who seek to make unwanted intrusions into your placid lives. We are primed and ready to blow the whistle at the very first sign of the enemy at your door, be they false friends or foreigners or even foraging aliens.
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