One really lovely way to spend time around Farkham Hall is to sit on a sunny afternoon and watch the river Poty flow lazily to its conjunction with the sea at Potymouth, just a few miles distant.
Potymouth is a quaint fishing village with secluded coves, many seafood restaurants and traditional inns, each with its share of gruesome tales of ghosts, smugglers and battles with the Excisemen.
It is also the location of what is now called Oilmen Acres Dene, a stately home that has seen better days. This had been the country seat of the Farqall family for many centuries and was renamed after the 8th Lord Farqall lost it in a game of poker to a Texan ex-pat at the Amble Inn. That was in the early 20th century. Since then, the Texan family moved on to pastures new and the house was left to rot.
Why am I telling you this? Good question. The story all started about five years ago when what's left of the hall was bought by some distant cousins of my pals, the Farr-Quinells with a view to making it a trendy country hotel and wedding venue.
So far, so good, but like all branches of the Farr-Quinell family, the new owners, Major Wright Farr-Coope and his long term lover, Helena Handcart were to money what the south pole of a magnet was to the south pole of another magnet. In short, investment capital was not available to see the plan through.
Being the decent egg that I am and hating to see the relatives of a good friend in such a plight, I loaned them Dimitri for a quick dose of marketing advice in order to set up a plan to obtain the necessary funds. His advice was to set up a charity to restore the hall, then seek donations as well as renting out the hall as is for television and film work while getting their ducks in line.
That is how Friends of Oilmen Acres Dean came to be.
Meanwhile in America… Television producer, Hiram N Firam was seeking locations for the next blockbuster production, USUK; The Real History of Britain, Built by Americans. He got in touch with the Japanese locations scout that had found him so many perfect filming spots in the past. Nakatome Fukuto duly set off for Britain and started on his research.
Dimitri in the meantime had been busy training the skeleton staff of young hopefuls who were to manage the phones in the charity's office, tucked away in a back room at Oilmen Acres Dene, or OAD as he had been teaching them to say it. Press releases had been sent out, strategic interviews with local and national media were set up, the web site was published and mailshots sent out to Dimitri's bigwig contacts in the media world. All that was needed was the phone to ring.
It wasn't long until just that happened. Nakatome Fukuto had seen the pictures on line and the dilapidated grandeur of the Dene was just what he had in mind for USUK. He tapped the number into his mobile phone. The young hopeful in question grabbed the phone and bellowed "F.O.A.D., Potymouth!"
There was a stunned silence at the other end while the excruciatingly polite Nakatome Fukuto tried to assimilate what he had just heard. "What?" The greeting was repeated with even more gusto. More stunned silence.
"I want speak to your boss - NOW!"
The young hopeful, seeing this as an opportunity to look good immediately summoned Dimitri to the phone. He grabbed it gleefully and confidently spouted "Hello, Varkov!". Before he could get to "and what can I do for you?", there was an explosion at the other end. Unused to such language, Nakatome Fukuto was seething. "Where you live? I come there right now!". Thinking only of an opportunity to meet a potential customer face to face, Dimitri gave the address of the Hall. He was a little surprised when the line went immediately dead, but nonetheless, patted the young hopeful on the back and looked forward to the meeting.
Dimitri was out when a very red-faced japanese TV location scout arrived on my doorstep with the intention of seeking retribution for the slight that had been dealt him from the office of F.O.A.D., Potymouth. Luckily, there is no shortage of charm in the Farkham gene pool, so he was quickly placated and we struck up a rapport in next to no time.
That, dear reader is how the multi-million dollar contract for locations of the next series of USUK came to be signed for Farkham Hall, and why Major Wright Farr-Coope has deleted me from his Christmas Card list.
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