Category: Bafflesby

Statue Strife Buffets Bafflesby

Wednesday

Concern is growing that this coming weekend could see rival groups battling over the bronze statues in Bafflesby Town Square, especially if the weather turns out nice again.

It is feared that the long-standing controversy about who gave our beloved borough its distinctive name may be about to boil over once more. The two candidates face one another, as always, from their respective stone plinths.

Local tradition has it that Bafflesby came from the ancient Briton Barfa, a tribal chieftain best remembered for his spirited but doomed attempt to block Roman road-construction programmes in the area. Ten centuries after his gory demise, when the invading Normans demanded taxes to fund their fancy castles and churches, the legend arose that King Barfa would return from a long sojourn upon the Isle of Aldilidl and rescue his people.

If he ever came back it was unreported and, if he did, it was to no avail. Forced to forget Anglo-Saxon – having long forgotten Latin – we had to learn French instead. But the power of Barfa’s legend persisted and to this very day every protest march on behalf of the unfairly disadvantaged starts at his statue and follows its stern gaze towards whatever wrongs are to be righted, whichever injustices and oppressions must be overthrown.

That gaze appears to rest upon the statue of Sir Basil FFlesby – occasional philanthropist, serial philanderer, gentleman philosopher – who many claim to be Bafflesby’s founding father and originator of its name. He it was who built the magnificent Fflesby Hall – the major visitor-attraction to our town – from the fortune he made ferrying slaves to the cotton and sugar plantations of the New World and carrying the products of their forced labours back to our home markets.

Sir Basil, known simply as Ba to his devoted family, somehow found time to write several books on political economy and also gave his name to Fflesbyism – an unshakeable belief in the innate superiority of the moneyed classes and their natural fitness to rule in perpetuity – a brutalist philosophy which has adherents to this very day, surprisingly many of whom have very little money at all. Fflesbyites who, in other words, could aim for a bigger slice of the cake if they could only bring themselves to be Barfans. But some traditions, it seems, fly in the face of common sense .

So, given that the urge to defend very little is disproportionally powerful, what does not surprise is that trouble can be expected on Bafflesby’s streets this weekend. Shop windows, freshly decked-out for their post-lockdown re-opening, have had to be boarded up. The town council has invested in several coachloads of private security officers who will form human barriers around both monuments to protect Bafflesby’s historic heritage, whatever that happens to be on the day.

We asked town mayor, Councillor Colin ‘Cully’ Culper, for his thoughts on the heightened tension in the town. ‘We are prepared for anything and everything,’ he said with a polished smile, pouring himself a very generous whisky. ‘Strictly by way of celebration,’ he added, downing it in one. ‘I’ve just been told they’ve got the very last strip of duck-tape in place! Same stuff you’re standing behind, as it happens.’

Looking down, we noticed the name Culper running across the carpet in all directions. ‘My brother’s firm makes it,’ said the mayor in reply to our unspoken question, ‘so I know it’s the best damn duck-tape bar none! We’ve used up a whole truck-full dividing the Square into two-metre, um, squares and expect the demonstrators to maintain social distance at all times. Two birds with one stone, you might say, a cheep way to keep both virus and violence at bay – if you’ll pardon the pun! And then, if anything does go wrong, those fake newspapers can’t say it was our fault. Well, they can but they won’t make it stick – unlike Culper duck-tape, if you’ll allow a cheeky advert. Press freedom, my arse! Present company excepted, of course, you guys are a beacon of truth in a fog of lies.’

Clearly delighted with his poetic turns of phrase, Mayor Culper poured himself another large drink and waved the decanter in our direction. A little intimidated by all the family duck-tape, we declined. Did he, by any chance, have a personal preference in the town-name controversy? He shook his head slowly.

‘Strictly neutral, of course, but between you and me they’re barfing up the wrong tree with that Barka chappie. Know what I mean, all that people about him being a man of the piffle? What I heard was old Barfa develops a taste for plundered prosecco and Roman slave-girls and ends up in a designer villa with natty hypocausts and naughty floor-tiles and the whirl’s first-ever worldpool bubble-bath. So much for da great rebel hero, yeah? Not exactly a martyr to victimhood, was he? No, you won’t find it on Widipekia, that’s local knowledge! Handed down by word of mouth, see? Do yourself a favour when the pubs open up again and get yourself down The Dancing Bear. Ask anyone in there, come closing-time, and they’ll tell you all about bloody Barfa!’

The mayor went on to deny he was a closet Fflesbyite, as some had suggested, dismissing such claims as the politics of envy. ‘And, anyway, I no longer need to make money,’ he added, ‘because nowadays my money makes money for me!’ Ethical investments, we wondered? Now you’re talking political correctness,‘ he laughed, ‘so all I’ll say about my investments is that they’re certainly right for me!’

We wished him continued good luck for the weekend. ‘May the best man win,’ he grinned, ‘or woman! Wouldn’t want the equal-opportunity brigade breaching my social distance, now, would I? Oh, that reminds me, do you need any duck-tape?’

 

Thursday

An incredible sight greeted Bafflesby street-cleaner Hugh Broom (64) early yesterday morning when two bronze statues scheduled for bird-dropping removal in preparation for the large public gathering expected this weekend were not where he expected them to be. Instead, he found two empty plinths. ‘I gave them a bit of a tidy,’ he later commented, ‘but it wasn’t really the same, was it? You just do your job to the best of your ability, I suppose, come what may. On the plus side, it did give me a bit more time to clear all that loose duck-tape out of the drains so there won’t be another flood if it pisses it down. I think the weather forecast is quite good for Saturday but you never know in this country, do you? I mean, what kind of idiot buys duck-tape that doesn’t stick? Some faceless pen-pusher, no doubt, what gets off scot-free while the likes of you and me get it in the neck every bloody time! Writing this down, are you? That’s Hugh with a gee aitch …’

A police spokesman confirmed that they were making inquiries into the statue disappearances. It was also hoped that people would stay away from Bafflesby Town Square on Saturday morning as there will be very little, if anything, to see.

 

Friday

In what amounts to a worldwide scoop for this newspaper, we are delighted to report that we have tracked down the missing statues to the secluded garden of a Bafflesby home. Sensational news of their whereabouts came as a 71 year-old sculptor, Polly Tapping, walked into our office late yesterday afternoon and said she wanted to make a clean breast of her crimes.

Our first thought was that Polly had mistaken us for the police station but she soon made it clear she wanted a much wider audience. She preferred to talk in her back garden, she said, and was happy for us to make a recording. What follows is an unedited transcript of our conversation:

  • Hello, Polly, how on earth did you manage to remove the statues?
  • Brute force and ignorance, I suppose, with some help from an industrial metal cutter!
  • Did you have any help?
  • That’d be telling, wouldn’t it? But I’m not on the scrapheap just yet, you know!
  • Were you aware trouble was expected in Bafflesby this weekend?
  • Yes, I overheard two people talking about it. I was working here as usual and their voices came floating over that big hedge. No statue is worth fighting over.
  • Your garden is a very private place, isn’t it?
  • Oh yes, ideal for a pet project like mine. Though it is rather crowded now, don’t you think, with Barfa and Basil? And I’ve not even started their history plaques yet …
  • Yeah, maybe time to describe what we can see here – phew, where to start? OK, Polly’s garden is full of life-size effigies. Wood, stone and metal. I recognise quite a few famous figures and …
  • Only a few?
  • Well, quite a few! Lots of them, really …
  • Don’t worry, I struggle with faces! They’re a work in progress.
  • But this must be the work of a lifetime!
  • Some call it a hobby. Others call it an obsession. I call it a homage. Every single person represented here has a story to tell us, which is the whole point of all those big plaques. Half the work is researching and constructing those, which is why so many of the likenesses are incomplete. For some reason I have to wait for the story before I can get the expressions. The history is the mystery, you might say. Never mind, I’m only 71 …
  • Is that why you took the statues – because you wanted to add their history?
  • Well, you don’t want people fighting over figments of imagination. Besides, they complete my collection. I’m ready for the Grand Opening, or I will be by tomorrow, which is where you come in.
  • The Bafflesby Bugle?
  • Look up there! I want you to trumpet my true exhibition of Bafflesby history over those hills and far away. We open 8am Saturday, last entry 8pm. Numbers limited to ensure social distance. Put it through every letterbox. Hire one of those dreadful loudspeaker cars, if you must.
  • Sure, no problem, online too! Only …
  • Only there is a problem. Oh dear!
  • No, no, it’s just … these figures of yours from all round the world … won’t people wonder why on earth they feature in a history of this little town?
  • Of course they will. And when they read the plaques, they’ll find out. Every single statue has some local connection. Let them discover how much more there is to their town than whether it got its name from this or that local bandit. Nobody really lives in Bafflesby, you know, who doesn’t also live in the world with all her myriad beauties and terrors and wonders. Imagination can take you anywhere, everywhere, even into the heart of your worst enemy. But if they still want a fight, tell them the town was named after the River Baffle – so-called because of its infuriating tendency to meander. I haven’t lost you, have I?
  • No, I’m still baffled by Nelson Mandela’s local link.
  • His autobiography outsold everything else in Bafflesby Books for a whole week in the summer of 1994, I think it was. Some local schoolkids had written to him and got a lovely letter back, which may have helped sales of the book. I was their teacher.
  • That must have been gratifying. 
  • Mandela was my very first statue. I’m gratified you recognised him.
  • The shirt was a giveaway.
  • Oh …
  • And the plaque.
  • Well, there you are, then! Knowledge is power.
  • How about Barfa and Basil? Will their plaques be ready by Saturday morning?
  • No, but I’ll cobble something together. Did I just say that out loud?
  • Loud and clear!
  • Finishing anything is a problem when you’re a perfectionist. Sometimes you have to seize the time – or else, a couple of old statues! Do you think anyone will come to see them?
  • You’ll have them queueing round the block.
  • Oh, that’s a worry! Only two of us here and the garden looks crowded. I haven’t any duck-tape.
  • Worry not, I know a man who has. Anyway, there’s a much bigger audience online …
  • Oh yes, I keep forgetting all that. Funny to think it’s just been my little secret up to now! Barfa and Basil have a lot to answer for.
  • I’m sure you’ll help them tell their story, Polly. 

 

Tuesday

Business returned to Bafflesby yesterday as shops opened their doors to customers for the first time since lockdown. Mayor Culper was keen to take full credit for the queueing system in the Town Square, where the two-metre rule was enforced by a large quantity of duck-tape. ‘It just goes to show the value of getting ahead of the game,’ he commented, perhaps mindful of the widespread criticism that he tended to take action after an event and only jumped on a bandwagon when other people had pointed it out to him. ‘And tomorrow,’ he promised, ‘I am going to present Polly Tapping with the keys to the kingdom, as we call Bafflesby round here.’

 

What are the Keys to the Kingdom? Biblical Meaning & Understanding

Life’s A Beach!

This newspaper – unlike far too many others in these trying times – has a firm policy of seeking out good-news stories. We are therefore pleased to report an overwhelming consensus of opinion amongst Bafflesby residents that the huge influx of visitors to Baffle Bay over the weekend was a disgrace or an outrage or even, to several people we canvassed, a disgrace and an outrage. Such a measure of agreement has, alas, been rare in recent years and any cessation of local hostilities – however temporary – is surely to be welcomed.

It seems that most of these sun-worshippers were, as Bafflesby folk might put it, ‘not from round here’. Why else would they not have read and heeded our clear and unequivocal warning in last Wednesday’s edition, also published on the Come to Beautiful Bafflesby webpage?

Our usual warm welcome to Baffle Bay and its wonderful, world-famous seven-mile stretch of soft sands and rolling dunes with the elegant River Baffle gliding majestically past the historic walls and quaint quays of Old Bafflesby Town into that glorious estuary with its unforgettable views is on hold this weekend as some facilities will be closed.

For whatever reason, this message didn’t appear to get through. There they were, in their hundreds and even thousands, sweltering in the sunshine while contributing very little to the local economy. To find out why, we sent our roving reporter to the beach with his voice-recorder on a high setting to pick up sounds two metres away.

Coronavirus: Resort locals 'shocked and angry' at beach crowds ...

What follows is a faithful transcript of his recorded conversations:

  • Hello, sir, may I ask what brings you here today?
  • Car, mate! Thought I’d test my eyesight with a short drive.
  • Was that wise?
  • Calm down, matey, just a little joke! Hey, you a policeman?
  • Newspaper reporter …
  • Liar!
  • No, I am!
  • Yeah, I believe you. That’s why I called you a liar.
  • Well, sir, anything you say here will be faithfully reported.
  • Taken down in evidence and used against me, more like! I know your game! You’ll twist my words to make me sound ridiculous!
  • That won’t be necessary, sir, have a nice day! Good morning, madam, enjoying your day out?
  • Well, we would be if it wasn’t for all these people. We came expecting a deserted beach like that fantastic photo on Come to Beautiful Bafflesby. They’ve got us here under false pretences.
  • Are you thinking of packing up early?
  • No way! We were here first. And if you’re from the town council, get your tape measure out. None of these are keeping their social distance.
  • I think your dog might deter them from coming much closer. Didn’t you see all those NO DOGS signs back there?
  • Don’t care, seen a person walking their dog along this beach when it was deserted.
  • I reckon that fantastic photo was taken in winter. 
  • Never mind trying to be clever, young man, you want to start measuring the gaps between people round those toilets up there.
  • Right, yeah, thanks for the heads up. Have a nice day!
  • Fat chance of that, you chump! Get down, Buster!
  • So, heading up the beach to the promenade now, can’t see any public conveniences but there’s a big queue for the ice-cream van. Excuse me, my friend, would you mind me asking you a few questions?
  • Buy me a Magnum and I’m anybody’s!
  • Er, sure thing, no problem … so aren’t you worried about catching the virus in a great big crowd like this?
  • Stay alert. That’s what they tell you. Keep a sharp look-out.
  • What for?
  • Well, er, people who cough. Or sweat. The shiny ones could be running a temperature.
  • What if they’re asymptomatic?
  • Whoa, yeah, you really got to steer clear of those!
  • But how would you … ?
  • Know where it’s safe? Let me tell you. Safest place is right here!
  • You mean, queueing for an … ?
  • Ice cream, exactly. One thing you know for sure about the people in this queue is that they haven’t lost their sense of taste or smell.
  • That’s two things.
  • Even better!
  • What if they’re only queueing for a friend?
  • Hmm, that is actually a very good question … You’re not as daft as you look … Listen, if you really are buying, why not take my place in the queue? Maybe buy something for yourself …
  • Actually, I’m not very hungry.
  • Know what? Me neither! Bet they don’t have Magnums, anyway. See you!
  • Er, ‘bye! OK, going back down on the beach now, seems even more crowded. Thing is, the people sitting or reclining might be two metres apart but walking around is bound to bring you much closer, even if you try your best to maintain an equidistant line between them and … whoops! Sorry, was this somebody’s sandcastle?
  • That’s my little daughter’s, that is, took ages to build!
  • Oh dear, will she be very disappointed?
  • She won’t give a monkey’s, pal, because the hard labour was all mine!
  • That’s good, well, not good but … don’t know why I didn’t spot it, really, with all those patriotic flags stuck in it!
  • know why. You was talking to yourself.
  • Yes, I’m a rep…
  • First sign of madness, they say, that and obsessive handwashing.
  • Well, everybody’s washing their hands more these days, aren’t they? 
  • Oh yes?
  • Singing Happy Birthday twice and all of that, er, silly stuff …
  • You reckon?
  • Come on, you can’t turn on the telly without …
  • Stop right there, pal, stop right there! Open up your true senses to the hidden truth. The reason you talk to yourself and can’t stop washing your hands is they got you brainwashed.
  • Who?
  • Exactly. Nobody knows. All we can do is stay well away from their beacons of transmission.
  • Beacons of …
  • Look around you. What can you see?
  • Hundreds of people all trying to …
  • Forget them for a moment. Lift your eyes to the hills. What can you see?
  • Well, lots of trees and a couple of phone masts, if that’s what you …
  • Been asking myself all morning if they’re 5G masts.
  • Have you?
  • Have I come up with an answer? The answer is Yes.
  • They’re 5G masts?
  • Keep up, pal! Yes, I have come up with an answer. The answer is No.
  • They’re not 5G masts?
  • Correct. Hardly be worth their while, would it, half their signal going out to sea? No, they’re only interested in 360 degrees. That way they get maximum virus transmission.
  • Coronavirus? 
  • Welcome aboard, pal, better late than never!
  • You catch Covid-19 from people, not machines.
  • Ever heard of computer viruses? The clue’s in the etymology.
  • But a computer virus is just a metaphor.
  • It can make your laptop very poorly.
  • That’s just another metaphor!
  • No smoke without fire.
  • OK, if we’re doing proverbs, a little learning is a dangerous thing.
  • You know your trouble, pal?
  • Too clever by half? 
  • I’d say that was an underestimate. Actually, your problem is that you believe everything you’re told by so-called experts.
  • You mean, like, stay away from crowded beaches?
  • That kind of nonsense, yes, interfering with our natural instinct to assemble wherever 5G emanations are at their weakest. You never heard of herd impunity? Learn to trust the evidence of your eyes, pal. Do any of these people look sick?
  • Not yet, I have to say. Well, nice talking to you. Please convey my apologies to your daughter for the, you know, sandcastle. 
  • Lucky I sent her a photo of it before you went and wrecked it, then, wasn’t I?
  • She isn’t here?
  • Lives with her mum in Western Australia. I’d Skype them if the broadband round here ever got up to speed.
  • But isn’t that where 5G could … ?
  • Don’t start, pal!

As we said at the start, this newspaper is committed to publishing positive and uplifting stories in difficult times. One such story we hope to bring you in future weeks and months is that our esteemed national government, guided at all times – as it so frequently reminds us – by the science, will be in a position to enlighten ordinary citizens like those who were interviewed above as to the precise scientific principles and practices that have so successfully informed its every action.

The Bafflesby Bugle

 

image: BBC.com

The Big Ask

It was two years ago today that Bafflesby Borough Council – responding to the widespread perception that it was doing nothing much about anything at all – voted to hold a people’s plebiscite that posed a single, seemingly-simple question:

Are you in favour of change?                Yes                No                (tick one only)

The result was famously close. After several recounts Bafflesby’s Returning Officer, a very weary Ida Clare, gave the victory to Yes by one vote.

In keeping with the Town Motto Better Late Than Never, Bafflesbytes then began a furious debate which – arguably – they should have conducted before the vote, about how much change they actually did want when push came to shove. Some thought lots, lots thought some and lots more thought none. The only area of agreement was that nobody trusted anybody else either to change anything or to keep it the same.

Ever happy to serve our fellow citizens, we at the Bafflesby Bugle are throwing open the pages of our publication for all and sundry to have their four-pennyworth! Not getting your point across in the pub or over the breakfast table? Bursting with big ideas? Well, friends and readers, here’s your chance to let rip!

Today’s precious print platform goes to Curio Corner proprietor and part-time local historian Luke Backwoods, who reckons we can learn a thing or two from the distant past:

My big idea is to rebuild the medieval walls that used to go right round Bafflesby. Can’t beat heritage, can you, when it comes to pulling in the tourists? You could vet them at the gate to keep out undesirables. Any of them turn up with foreign bugs you just keep them in the gatehouse till they get better.

Or say the police are looking for shoplifters in Bafflesby. Put the word out. Lockdown. Besides, building up the walls again means jobs for local people. And you could stop all these cheap memorabilia products flooding the market. Charge them tariffs when they come over the drawbridge. Plus you’d have a portcullis when  things start to kick off with other places. 

Improve morale no end. Peace of mind all round. Easy.

 

Image result for medieval walls

 

Image: Bluffton University

100 word story: Roots Stew

“You not from round here, then?”

They surrounded him, their faces tight and closed. A truthful answer might be his death warrant.

“As a matter of fact, I was born in that house over there. Local boy, me! Well, I had to come back and see the old place once more before I … ”

Their eyes widened. He pressed on.

“Six weeks left, the doctors say. But standing here in Bafflesby beside you guys is a tonic all by itself. No place like home, eh, rubbing shoulders with your own kind? Gotta tell you, feels so good!”

“We in Dumbleton, fella …”

 

Image result for surrounded

 

Image: iStock

Vox Pop

You wanna know what’s wrong with the world? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the world! What’s wrong with the world is that the world isn’t Bafflesby!

Take my word for it. I know all about this stuff. Bafflesby born and bred, that’s me, man and boy! Never set foot outside the sound of her ancient bell tower, as it happens, and never wanted to. You can’t get lost here, see? The streets tell their own story. Witchfinder Way, Gibbet Gardens, Bedlam Bridge. You can’t move for history.

I’m like a stick of rock, I am, Bafflesby through and through. I got traditions built in. That’s what these Outcomers can’t understand. They’re not like us, are they? Smell different, for a start.

Old Barry Cade says they look different, too, but I wouldn’t know. To be honest with you, I can’t bear the sight of them. Last thing I wanna see is them curling their lips at our old ways, sneering at our customs. Forever asking the rules of Bladderball when any fule no there ain’t none! You either get it or you don’t.

Same with the Festival of the Flaming Firkin. Spot a stranger a mile away by his singed whiskers, the Old’uns used to say. Used to. Not no more. Six foot under, most of them, and their wisdoms buried with them! The good old days is gone for good. Anyone says he can bring them back gets my vote, even if he is pissing into the wind.

See that mausoleum through the mullion window? That was our old Squire, that was, bless his brutal heart! Time was when every job in town was in his pocket. If you wasn’t true-blue Bafflesby, you never got a sniff. He knew we was born to it, you see, it was in our blood. Natural aptitude, he used to say, comes with the territory. We didn’t need telling what to do, all that nonsense! Nowadays it’s all, What do I have to do?

They tell them, too. Waste of money even if they are paying them less! Back in the day we never needed no training up. Hit the ground running and – Bob’s your Uncle! – you got a job for life. Not just your life, neither, the job were yours to pass on. Keep it in the family, they used to say, and the family will keep you.

Not no more. These days the thought police are everywhere. They got to have interviews. All these Outcomers talking stuff they don’t know. Asking things. We never had to ask nothing.

Same as the Facts of Life. No one said nothing. You kept one eye open and your ear to the ground in them days, then if something arose you jumped at the chance. You don’t have to go to college to cook a pie, they used to say, may they rest in peace …

Ha, fat chance of that, they’ll all be spinning in their graves! They wouldn’t recognise the place now. All these new estates, you get lost on them, with their Anyroad Avenues and Whatchamacallit Walks. Go to the end of your street and you don’t know where the hell you are. No point asking a constable because there aren’t any. And the ones in cars don’t like you flagging them down. It’s a war-zone out there.

Worst of it is, the enemy don’t wear different uniforms. Muggers, rapists, murderers … they look just like you. Once upon a time there was just the village idiot and the old witch who used to shout things at you. You knew who they were because their jobs ran in the family. They came from a long line of idiots and witches. They just knew what to do. Now they got to have interviews. Political correctness gone mad, I call it, taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. And you can’t crack a joke without po-faced prudes breathing down your neck. Anyone who gets those creeps off my back can have my vote.

What’s wrong with the world is too many creeps. Anyone takes a sledgehammer to my back door has a surprise coming, I can tell you. Can’t tell you what it is, so don’t ask, but let’s say I’m good and ready. Fort Knox has nothing on me. Time was when you could leave your back door open in case Old Mother Hubbard came round for a cup of sugar. Now you don’t know who is outside your house trying to sell you exploding clothes-pegs  and foreign encyclopaedias. And if Ma Hubbard gets both barrels, tough!

So anyone says he’ll Bring Bafflesby Back gets my vote, even if he just wants to turn it into a theme park. He doesn’t need to change anything much, as long as he shoots his big mouth off about people I don’t like so that I can too. Time was you could say whatever you wanted. Now it’s all, button your lip in case you upset every little waif and stray in the big cruel world.

Well, losers, get used to it! The candidate who gets my vote will shoot first and ask questions later. The candidate who gets my vote will always say the first thing that pops into their head just like I do. The candidate who gets my vote will promise me the moon without waiting to commission a boring old feasibility study. And after no consideration whatsoever, I have decided that the only person worthy of my vote is me. My election campaign begins here.

Image result for vote meImage: Clipart Kid

The Next Step Forward?

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.

Image result for mirror building

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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Our Boy Done Good!

Although we won’t be blowing our own trumpets any time soon from the top of BLAG Towers, spiritual home of the Bafflesby Lifestyle Advisory Group, please allow us a brief moment of smug self-satisfaction. Like fond parents we watched from the wings as the very first graduate of our brand-spanking-new leadership course – Special Panic Attack Social Management (SPASM) – took to the stage before a big Bafflesby audience.

The room rippled with rage and resentment but young Mickey Finn managed to stun everyone into silence with a sustained barrage of banality incorporating the very latest techniques of seated crowd control. People found themselves nodding for no reason and many fell asleep long before our protégé had finished speaking.

Here is a transcript of his speech to aid politicians of the future in their quest to suppress  despair whilst stifling specific hopes of anything better:

“To hear some people talk, my friends, you’d think we were all caught in the eye of a terrible hurricane. Now I’ll admit the water has grown a little choppy of late but it’s only a storm in a teacup. We just need to wait till the clouds roll by and ignore folk who pour cold water on everything and want to sit around in wet blankets. At the end of the day we’re all in the same boat and we sink or swim together.

Oh, the gloom and doom merchants will tell you we’re up shit-creek without a paddle but that’s only mud-slinging. And when we make landfall and begin to blaze a trail with best foot forward, you can bet your bottom dollar that your common-or-garden naysayer will be up there on his high horse like a cat on hot bricks with his tail between his legs, his heart in his boots, bees in his bonnet and bats in his belfry.

Whatever else we do, let’s keep the pot boiling. This is no time to throw in the towel when our backs are to the wall and our future is in the soup. It may only be cabbage and potato soup but there are several excellent recipes to choose from. And there is always alcohol. Let our glass be half full rather than half empty. There may be trouble ahead but while there’s music and moonlight and love and romance, let’s face the music and dance.

Yes, my friends, spend any loose change on dancing shoes. Our more patriotic celebrities are hoofing for everything they’re worth, showing all of us the way. Dance marathons could be the leg-up that the man in the street is begging for. And remember, it could always be worse. In some countries they shoot beggars, don’t they?

So come on, Bafflesby, play up and play the game! The lion’s share goes to the lion-hearted. Seize the time and take the bull by the horns. Strike while the iron is hot and devil take the hindmost. But let us not throw caution to the winds. We must play our cards close to our chest, keep our powder dry and never let the cat out of the bag.

May your upper lip be stiff, your feet up to the mark, your shoulders to the wheel and your ducks forever in a row. By hook or by crook we will come out on top … don’t forget the glory days when good Queen Bess knighted Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh for their services to international piracy … while never, of course, condoning anything below the belt. Nip that in the bud tout suite, I’d say – if it wasn’t French! After all is said and done, that just wouldn’t be cricket, would it?”

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