The Ramblings and Rantings - A LIfe Unreal

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This week, two Fantastic Ariel Leaders have arrived here at Farkham Hall Stores. They are both to be sold on as projects as both need work, but they represent a great opportunity to own a true piece of British motorcycling history.

The great news is that they are complete, original and unmolested in any way. Only time and neglect have caused them to be in need of work.

The red one has 47K miles and seems to have a seized engine, but is otherwise in fair condition. The blue one has just 3,500 miles on the clock and has the luggage pack of panniers and top box bed. Both have some rust on the bodywork and the chrome on exhausts and wheel rims is in need of refurbishment, the red one somewhat more so than the blue one. The only way to evaluate the true potential of these lovely bikes is to call in at our Chepstow showroom and take a look. We are here Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm. If you are too far away, keep an eye on this page for more pictures and information, when my camera comes back from repair…

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Just in today we have a very clean, low mileage 199 Harley Davidson Dyna Superglide 1450 FXD. Owned by the same person since import from the States in 2011, this bike has been looked after exceptionally well, and includes a lovely Screamin' Eagle exhaust plus genuine Harley Davidson leather panniers.

For those with more classic British tastes, keep an eye on our window as in just over a week, we will have two complete, original Ariel Leaders coming in…

Watch this space for even more exciting classic bikes in the very near future.

Meanwhile, take a peep at the Harley on this page.

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Here at Farkham Hall, we are now very proud to have become BikeTrac dealers and installers. The BikeTrac systems are quite simply revolutionary in terms of motorcycle security. The system is linked to your mobile phone and sends warnings if there is any movement of your machine while you are not with it.

Even if that deterrent doesn't prevent your bike from being illegally removed, BikeTrac has the technology to help you recover what is yours. Using both GPS (Global Positioning System) and RF (Radio Frequency) to pinpoint bikes that have been moved without authority, the system is monitored and can pinpoint locations to within a metre.

Once a stolen motorcycle is located, the authorities are automatically informed, and if they are unable to make a timely response, a Securitas recovery operator can be deployed anywhere nationwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There is a Bike Down option too. This will alert your nominated contact in the case of your bike being involved in an incident.

For competition bikes, off road bikes and less at-risk road bikes, there is an economy version, BikeTrac Lite, which has a package of features tailored for the different usage patterns.

BikeTrac costs just £299, with subscriptions from £9.99 per month (discounts apply for 1, 2 or 3 year packages). BikeTrac Lite retails for £199, subscriptions of £5.99 per month or £60 per year.

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Royal Enfield 250cc Crusader, 1961, Great Original Condition, Lots of History. Very good condition for its age with a patina that adds to its charm. Unrestored and original, apart from the addition of indicators (easy to remove for the purist) and LED bulbs. There is a small dent on the right hand side cover where the kickstart has been springing back to make contact.

The bike hasn't been ridden since its last MOT owing to the owner's less than perfect health, and there is a wealth of history with the bike including old MOTs, service receipts and a workshop manual, owners manual and parts book.

The bike starts on first or second kick, sounds sweet, without rattles, smoke or oil leaks. Viewing here at the Farkham Hall Showroom in Chepstow is by appointment and highly recommended. Payment terms are £250 deposit paid on successful completion of auction with balance in cash on collection please.

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Newsletter Items from July, 2023

The Next Chapter Begins

Day one, the new adventure begins. The gods of music have looked down kindly upon us as the scheduled concert by Lewis Capaldi has been cancelled, so people will be able to move around in and about Chepstow today.

The showroom is ready to go, with just a few key items still to source before the celebration opening day in a week from now. At least we have seven days in which to practice and make sure everything is right for our visitors. I hope that you will be included in their number, and are not too far away to join in the fun. The Discount Darts and Scalextric Sidecar Challenge need all the entrants they can get!

Other than that, catering will be courtesy of the legendary Sally from the Rose and Crown in Tintern, whose darts night spreads are still fondly remembered by all who experienced them.

The aim is to be the go-to place in Chepstow for anything from a Jubilee Clip to a complete new biker wardrobe and eventually bike to go with it. Product labelling and descriptions are all laced with a healthy dose of trademark Farkham Hall schoolboy smut, inuendo and humour. Buying bits for your bike should be fun too.

Pop in and see us on the 8th for a cuppa, bun and good old fashioned chinwag on our favourite subject, bikes of all sorts. We hope you enjoy the day and become a regular visitor, both to the showroom and our online presence for more of the same.

At long last, the chassis and parts of the engine are in the same room. Today, we took a look at the crankcases to work out where to make the engine mount plates fit.l With that rough stage in mind, we can move on to the next step.

The rear subframe and footrest mounts have been removed to make more room to work and the chassis plus a built up dummy engine are on their way to the immensely talented Wayne Crosby of Croz engineering where accurate measurements to mount the engine and align the sprockets will be made before welding the engine mounts in place.

Unlike some variants of this conversion, we have decided to weld the engine mounts to the crossmember beneath the rear suspension unit, then use the spacer in our swing arm pivot to locate the fore and aft stabiliser bars bolted to the bottom of the crankcase.

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It seems like only yesterday that the frustrations of trying to find suitable premises for our new showroom were going to drive yours truly quite out of his mind. Now, all of a sudden it is July 1st and we are opening the doors at 2 Riflemans Way, Chepstow, NP16 5EJ at 10am.

As this weekend in Chepstow is going to be madly busy, the official opening celebration is scheduled for a week hence, on the 8th. We are hoping for a good turnout of people having fun. There are games lined up, spot prizes and catering by Sally from the Rose and Crown in Tintern, which in itself is always a highlight. Special deals on the day and ongoing discounts through instant membership of Club Farkham Hall will also add a bit of spice.

Two major deals for bikes and clothing still hang in the balance, but we are committed to offering the most comprehensive range possible to local bikers from occasional riders, commuters and urbanisti to the hardest riding rock-bottomed mile munchers. Not to forget our racing buddies of course. Farkham Hall only came about through bike racing, the name being thought up to stick up two fingers at the girlfriend who threw me out because I wouldn't quit. I am working hard to make great oaks grow from that little acorn.

For those who can't be there in person, we will be running Zoom meetings through the day and will publish a link here closer to the launch date. Whatever transpires, the welcome will be warm and the coffee will be hot.

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With just three weeks to go until the doors open at Farkham Hall Stores, the attractions for our opening day celebration are falling nicely into place.

Competitions will be running throughout the day with prizes donated by some key suppliers as well as the Farkham Hall teeshirts, mugs and discount vouchers as well as special surprises. You can show off your prowess at darts to win a discount on your next order, or at the Scalextric Sidecar Challenge to win the prize of Farkham Hall merchandise pack by setting the best time over five laps, or a mystery goodie bag as the most frequent crasher of the day.

Awards will be given for:

  • Furthest travelled
  • Oldest bike
  • Oldest rider
  • Smallest capacity bike
  • Youngest rider (or pillion)
With free tea, coffee and snacks all day, and plenty of visitors on interesting bikes, everyone gets the chance to talk over the subject closest to their heart with like-minded individuals.

I am currently busy restoring some 70 year old Post Office counters so there will be somewhere to lean and put down your cuppa while you join in. The fun starts at 10am and goes on until 6pm. See you there.

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With the opening day approaching fast, work has started on making the new Farkham Hall Stores showroom a place where fellow bikers can feel comfortable, relax and pick up the bits they need for their bike.

The coffee machine and water cooler have been ordered and the task of finding the stock items in our cramped office to move to their new home has begun.

The cement mixer in the pictures has now gone, which is a step forward and plans are afoot to make the best use of the space there. Progress will be posted here, so look back to see how it is going.

Don't forget the open day on July 8th for fun, competitions and demonstrations throughout the day.

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It is always a matter of great joy to see a new business join us in the Old Stable Block workshops. Even more so in such troubled times, with the state of the nation being uncertain and publuc confidence running at a low ebb.

This week, we welcome Sally and Champagne to the Farkham Hall family with their business It's a Wicked World, manufacturing and selling scented candles to personal callers and through their online shop, all over the world. They promise us some interesting scents 'With the Adult Touch' for all occasions, using the slogan "Wax Lyrical - Say it with Candles"

Unfortunately, Ivor Parrish, the Appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams seems to have taken umbrage and is objecting to just about everything he can find to do with their business. He has set out to blockade their premises, handing out hastily printed leaflets which spew religious vitriol in a tirade against the 'unnatural', 'unholy', 'pornographic' and 'inflammatory' nature of the enterprise.

So far, it seems to be creating more interest in the shop and driving customers through the door, thinking that he is a part of the promotion, but Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams has vowed not to leave until this blot is expunged from our commercial landscape, or Sunday morning just in time for collection at St Olav the Ignominious, whichever comes sooner.

In an effort to smooth over the disturbance, Dimitri gathered all parties concerned together at a meeting to clear the air and create a basis for understanding that can satisfy all parties. Don't ask me, he's been reading those American management books again. Present at the meeting were the two business principals, Sally Fawth and Champagne Hyde-Parke, Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams and of course, Dimitri himself.

In welcoming one and all, opening the meeting, Dimitri commented on Champagne's name, calling it unusual and poetic. She thanked him and explained that she had chosen it herself, being drawn from the reason behind and the location of her conception. At this point, Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams, already a little hot under the collar turned a particularly unattractive shade of puce and positively bellowed "See? Even their names are an insult to decency and godliness". "I'm surprised you didn't choose the name 'Raleigh' after the bike your father rode off on afterwards!". Champagne smiled and commented that it was an interesting proposition. However, had her father ridden off on a bike, it would undoubtedly have been a Holdsworth from their exclusive shop on the Upper Richmond Road. At that time, there were just no finer rides to be had, apart she smiled again, from her mother…

With some difficulty, Dimitri called the meeting back to order and managed to get enough of Ivor Parrish the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams' attention to stop him twitching. He then made the mistake of asking the reverend gentleman to explain exactly what it is about the busines that he found so objectionable. It was as though he had lifted the lid of Pandora's box. After several minutes of diatribe against everything unholy about two women sharing their lives, through scents debasing the holy rituals involving candles, to the sexual stimulation to which the scented air they produced would doubtless lead to just about everything short of Soddom and Gomorrah shortlyh followed by Armageddon.

Eventually, he came to their shop sign "It's pornographic, disgusting and will incite children to experiment with sex before they are 35!". Sally Fawth quietly asked "How so?". "Look at it! Just look at it!". Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams skin was losing the battle to stay puce and rapidly turning red. "You only have to glance to see that it is directly modelled on male genitalia, and not only that but erect too!". Champagne Hyde-Parke smiled again "Well, obviously, I will have to bow to your far greater experience of seeing such things. What is in the sign is a group of candles, we make candles, nothing else. I would suggest that you take a look inside your own head before making judgements. As in the spoken word, a 'Double Entendre' has nothing to do with the speaker, everything to do with the listener.". More smiles from Champagne and the words "It would seem that what you are seeing vicar, is the embodiment of your own perversion in a perfectly innocent sign outside our business. Your interest in, and experience of male genitalia is obviously far greater than that of either Sally or I. Now go home and put your own house in order."

Dimitri was in two minds over whether to hide under the desk or 'accidentally' trip the fire alarm to avoid the reaction of Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams. However, it didn't come, there was no eruption, no hell fire and brimstone response. The vicar simply gathered his papers with the words "If you are going to revive those old accusations, I would remind you that the Church Council completely exonerated me, and my Bishop at the time. If it is mentioned again, you will be hearing from my solicitor." and left the room.

Neither Dimitri, Sally nor Champagne had the faintest idea of what he spoke, but at least there is another new business in the Old Stables that can carry on normally now.

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Now that the case is no longer sub judice, we can reveal the outcome of the fire at last year's camp and cook out held by local scouts for their counterparts from Old Bishops Fancy. When the preliminary report was issued by Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Lyndon Bridge from Stopham Burning, it showed that the cause was not faulty wiring courtesy of the assumed incompetence of Paul Watt-Cable who installed the lighting and barbecues.

Admittedly, the report did point to contributory negligence on the part of Major Farr-Coope and Dimitri's Old Country contacts for providing and applying a wood preserver that was in itself an accellerant, likely to promote fird. However, that is more of an issue for them to take up with their insurers, than the actual root cause of the blazes.

It comes out in the report that in the roof space of the temporary accommodation block that caught fire first, directly below the seat of the blaze, some traces of a wax mixture were found. On analysis, the proportion of paraffin wax to soy and beeswax was exactly the same as those found in the Church of St Olav the Ignominious, in fact every church in the Diocese of Farkham, Upham, Rogerham and Upper Self, as they are purchased centrally and distributed to the churches on request.

But what does that have to do with the Potymouth fire? Well, it seems that DCFO, sorry, DBM (The Fire Service has rebranded the ranks. I guess they didn't like the FO on the end of the abbreviation). I digress, Deputy Brigade Manager Lyndon Bridge had gone on to demonstrate how a relatively simple device could be constructed to light a candle when something else was turned on. This in turn would burn slowly, leaving the culprit time to clear the scene before setting fire to any flammable material placed above it. In this case, it was the wiring installed by Mr Watt-Cable and then the roof beams, all treated with nicely flammable Pentachlorophenol in No2 fuel oil.

While this looked very suspicious, there was nothing more to tie the blaze to any one suspect. Meanwhile on inspection of the Potyford fire site, DBM Bridge found evidence that the barbecue to be used by the scouts had been tampered with. Being a gas unit with a piezo quarts ignition device, hastily assembled the afternoon of the event, it may have been negligence, if not for the discovery of a small hole, neatly made in the gas hose, near to the top, with a small piece of wire, shorting out the piezo unit to a nearby piece of bare metal. From this it once again became clear that the much-maligned Mr Watt-Cable was not to blame. This was a deliberate act!

Suspicion immediately fell on Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams, who had been at both fire sites on the evening in question. However, it was witnessed that the Reverend Parrish had been in full view at all times, so wasn't absent in either scene for long enough to set up such a trick. Before the event, he was engaged in choir practice for the afternoon's community singalong. It seems that the appallingvicarbastard was not the culprit.

In a breakthrough moment, the forensic scientists examining the scenes found a small disc of pink rubber embedded in a characteristic footprint, which also contained traces of the wax mixture found at the Potymouth scene. At last! Evidence to tie one person to both scenes with the materials that were being blamed for both blazes. So, what was so characteristic about the footprint? Well, it seems like the shoes involved in making it were a particularly expensive hand made type only available from 'You Shoes' in Rogerham, just around the corner from the Cathedral of St Pendulus the Hung (named after the manner of his martyrdom in 1142AD). Coincidentally, this is the home church of Bishop Ian Flagrante-Delicto. Things were starting to add up in the mind of Sergeant Constable of the local station. He dispatched Constable Sargent to the church armed with the scientists' report to see what was afoot.

Ah yes, the foot that wore that shoe leaving the print was what made it distinctive. The wearer favoured the outside of the foot, leaving characteristic wear marks on the soles and creating a characteristic footprint. All that was needed was to match this up with the walking characteristics of a suspect, and the fly was in the trap. Excitedly, Inspector Sargent called Deputy Commissioner Tickette, his predecessor to warn of a likely high-profile arrest in the Potymouth Arson Affair. "You had better be right" warned Deputy Commissioner Tickette, "As if this goes wrong, your son won't be the only Constable Sargent on the force…"

Constable Sargent was waiting in the cathedral when the Bishop arrived. Looking at a particular candle on the altar, which was at least twice the length of its fellows, the Constable turned to watch the Bishop limp the length of the aisle. "Hurt your leg?" enquired Constable Sargent. The Bishop replied that it was an old injury sustained while playing rugger at ecclesiastical college. "Looks painful" the Constable went on. "Does it make you favour the outside of your foot?". The Bishop looked a bit strained and shuffled a bit before answering in the affirmative. PC Sargent produced a plaster cast from the bag he was carrying "Does it make you leave footprints like this?". "Perhaps we could have a look at your shoes?". "And this candle seems to have been replaced way ahead of the others around it, is that normal?". Faced with too many questions at once, and forgetting to maintain an air of innocence, the Bishop turned and bolted toward the heavy cathedral doors.

If only he had known that in his new role, replacing Colin Allcars, Ray Dio had contacted the police stations at Upham and Upper Self, so that when he wrenched the doors open, the only thing the Bishop saw was a wall of blue serge. After a brief struggle, he was helped into the first car and driven away. After that, the assembly of evidence supported a cast iron case and in front of Justice Way-Home, despite the best efforts of his counsel, Mr Petty himself of Small & Petty Solicitors in Far Kington, the Bishop's defence crumbled and he was found guilty.

Bishop Ian Flagrante-Delicto has been remanded in custody for six weeks pending sentence at the next Farkshire County Assizes. Keep an eye out for up to date reports in Tintern Pravda.

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Newsletter Items from December, 2022

Season's Greetings from Farkham Hall

With all good wishes for a peaceful, happy Christmas, Yule, Hannukkah, Bodhi Day, Pancha Ganapati, Hogswatch, or whatever you celebrate at this time of year. Thank you for all your help and support through 2022, we have ambitious plans for 2023 and look forward to working with you more when the new year comes.

However, for us the next few days will be taken up with celebrating wildly, over-indulging and observing all the other December customs. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we diet!

Catch you on the flip-side!

Target:  Preventing offensive complainants from dividing society. Creating peaceful, harmonious co-existence.

Affected Group:  Those who buy a house next to a race circuit that was there before they were born, then try to close it down by complaining about noise. Likewise, those who move to the country and complain about noise and smell from the farms that produce their food.

Proposal:  Anyone purchasing a property adjacent or close to a facility that existed before they arrived, and who subsequently complains about the activities at that facility, will have a compulsory purchase order placed upon their house.  This will be at the minimum market value agreed by a parliamentary committee made up of motorcycle racers, car racers, farmers and shooting club members.

On completion of the compulsory purchase, the property in question will be converted to apartments, let out on a free of charge basis to struggling racers and agricultural employees.  All removal costs for those are to be met by the outgoing incumbents. 

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No! I said I wanted an illustration of a mammoth task, not tusk! I really shouldn't let Dimitri order things over the phone. Anyway, disregarding imagery for the moment, we are thrilled to now be able to offer the Wassell range of parts and accessories for classic British bikes as well as quite a few classic European and Japanese models.

As Wassell is the undisputed #1 source for British bike spares, adding their vast catalogue to our online site is a mammoth task, which we are getting on with as quickly as possible. Take a peep at our Bits for Brits section to see how this is going on. However, if you are looking for something particular that we haven't added yet, please drop us a line or call. We will construct a quote for the required items by return.

There's even a form to make it easier still if you prefer. You can find it here Get a Quote. Give us a try, we think you will enjoy the blend of value, convenience through technology, and old school courtesy that we endeavour to offer.

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Having posted recently about the availability and cost involved in a number of radial master cylinder options, we have been chatting to quite a few people about how the choice is made. As Scottie would say, "Ye cannae beat the laws a' physics Jim", so hopefully taking a peep at the immutable laws behind what happens when you squeeze the lever may be useful.

First of all, the choice between the type of leverage employed. The axial type of master cylinder is based on a first order lever, like pliers. A radial master cylinder is based on a second order lever, like nutcrackers. To compare the ease by which effort can be applied using each sort, crack a nut with a pair of nutcrackers, then try cracking the same type of nut with a pair of pliers. No contest! So, it is easy to see that with a radial pump it is easier to apply load to the piston and get a bigger return in terms of braking effort to the force applied by your fingers.

From a manufacturing point of view, it is also easy to adjust the load ratio of a radial type by moving the load point towards or away from the fulcrum. This is why you will see in some cases, the 'size' of a radial master cylinder quoted as 17 x 18 or 17 x 20. The first figure is the diameter of the piston and the second is an expression of the movement ratio of the lever, giving a longer or shorter stroke to adjust the volume of fluid displaced.

Whichever type of pump you have, the key to it all is in the above sentence; volume of fluid displaced. It is this factor that decides everything to do with your braking effort and feel at the lever. When you get to 'feel' the hard and fast rules begin to blur a little as some riders prefer a firmer feel and some prefer a little more movement. Hopefully the chart below will help with this aspect of choice.

In considering which pump goes with what caliper set up, I have considered some of the more common installations, from single caliper with one large piston up to two calipers with six small pistons each. Changes in piston diameter have a huge effect on overall area and thus the swept volume of fluid that must be moved to bring the pads into contact and start the braking effort.

Consider a pizza restaurant. You order a 12inch pizza. The waiter brings you two six inch pizzas, explaining that they have run out of 12 inch bases. Has he robbed you? Yes, of course he has. Taking a simple version of Pi at 3.142, we divide our 12 inches by 2 = 6 inches. Then square the result = 36. Multiply by our simple Pi and we get 113.112 in2 of pizza. Taking a 6 inch pizza, our radius is 3, squared that is 9 and multiplied by Pi we have 28.278 in2 per pizza. OK, so the nice waiter gave you two of them, so that is 56.556 in2, so quite a big difference eh?

Converting that to metal, and taking a benchmark of fluid volume for 1mm of combined pad movement for example, our single piston single caliper at say 48mm diameter, you will need to move 1.809792 ml of fluid (((2423 which we divide by 1000 to convert to ml. Working that back the other way, take the area of the master cylinder piston and divide it into the required volume, which will give the required piston travel to displace that amount of fluid. As an example, if we take a 13mm master cylinder, the piston area is ~ 132.75mm2, which translates to ~13.633mm of piston travel. At the other end of the scale, if we applied a 20mm piston master cylinder to this caliper, the required movement would only be 5.76mm.

That is piston travel though, so the length of our brake lever and distances between the load (master cylinder piston), fulcrum (lever pivot) and effort (your fingers) are the factors that turn piston travel into real live lever movement. Taking my own bikes as examples here, I have one radial master cylinder with a lever length of 180mm and fulcrum to load length of 24mm, giving a movement ratio of 7.5:1. Taking the movement of the piston and lever as isoceles triangles of different height, our 13.66mm piston movement equates to 33° vertex angle, while at the other end of the scale, 5.76mm gives us a vertex angle of 13.78°.

Meanwhile back in the real world… applying those angles to the triangle described by the end of the lever, we have movement of 102.2mm at one end of the scale and 41.7mm at the other. Don't forget though, that is at the very tip of the lever, which is very rarely where you will find your finger, so measuring to where you prefer to apply force is handy. Measuring this on my own bike to a point where the slack is just taken up gives me a reading of 70mm, which is the feel that I like.

In our theoretical caliper range, for the sake of simplicity, I have just considered the setups of 1 caliper, 1 piston (48mm), 1 caliper, 2 pistons (48mm), 1 caliper, 4 pistons (30/34mm), 1 caliper, 6 pistons (35mm) and the two caliper equivalents. Assuming the lever mechanical advantage of my own (Frendo) radial pump, it seems that the mechanical advantage calculation of 7.5:1 holds fairly true, so the assumption is made for the sake of simplicity that each mm of piston travel needs 7.5mm of lever travel. The table below is my best guide to travel with common setups, but takes no account of feel, which is personal. My best advice there if you are undecided is to talk to fellow riders, ascertain what setups they have and ask for a grope to see if you like it.

Of course, then we have to throw a few curve balls into the mix like the likelihood of needing a bigger initial movement with calipers made to wider tolerances, or the single piston design where you are moving the body, all of which are going to have an effect on travel to the first bite and the amount of foce then required for full pad contact. Add to that the theoretical size may not be a commercially available piston diameter and you still need to do a bit of head scratching when starting with a blank sheet of paper.

Still, I hope that this information, intended purely as a rough guide and written from a personal point of view helps. Please feel free to call or email if you have any questions and we will always do our best to point you in the direction that suits you best.

The columns labeled 'firm', 'medium' and 'soft' relate to the pump diameter that will give that type of feel. For these purposes, firm is approximately 40mm end lever travel, medium is 70mm and soft is 100mm. The bottom two rows are for calipers with dual piston sizes, in this case 30/34mm.

Pistonsdia.piston areavolFirmMediumSoft

It's a busy morning here at the Hall. The first round of items have been sold through the new auction facility on our web site so there is parcel tape, bubble wrap and cardboard being furiously wielded on just about every horizontal surface.

First of all, a huge thank you to the clients and buyers who have taken part and bought the various items. We all hope that you enjoy them very much.

Many of the sales in this first round have been on our Full Service Programme, for a client who was moving his workshop and had very little time. In his case, we:

  • Collected his items

  • Photographed them

  • Wrote descriptions

  • Posted items to the site

  • Promoted and advertised them

  • Dealt with any buyer questions

  • Handled the sale

  • Collected payment

  • Packed and shipped items

  • Passed on money less our commission

Of course, not everyone needs that level of service, so our system is entirely modular.

At the most basic, the client takes photos, writes description, we post, they promote, deal with questions, arrange payment and delivery, then we bill for commission. In this case, obviously, the commission is very small.

By taking a modular approach, you get to sell items, putting in as much or as little effort as you wish. Every stage of the process can be handled in house or by us, with a variable commission rate to reflect the saving of your time and energy.

So, from a sump plug to a whole fleet of bikes, give us a call or send an email for a tailor made auction (or straight sale) package to get the best cost/effort balance and great value. We only sell bikes and associated items, so you will be talking to someone who understands your language and your market.


Once again, thank you to our first round of clients and customers for taking part. Today we fill the boot of a small Toyota, tomorrow a fleet of artics!

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Image of auction items in boot of luca <h2>2022-11-26 - Farkham Hall Under the Hammer is Officially Go!</h2>
We hear the question "what is the best radial master cylinder?" quite a lot. As with most things, identifying a universal "best" is not possible. However, what there definitely is, is a "best for you", taking into account your use, budget and time scale.

With the world supply chain in turmoil at the moment, the last factor can often be significant in making your choice. Below is a table of the most popular the manufacturers whose products we can supply, indicating what sizes are available, the retail cost and availability. So, if you know what size you need, take a look. If you are still deciding on a size, scroll down a bit where you may find the information useful.

For more information regarding the choice of master cylinders, there will be another article soon, but in the meanwhile, if you are looking for something specific, this table shouold help.

Piston Dia.Manufacturer/ModelPriceAvailability
12mmMagura HC1£372.40Back order, 20 weeks
Magura HC3£809.71Back order, 20 weeks
15mmMagura HC1£372.40Back order, 20 weeks
Magura HC3£809.71Back order, 20 weeks
16mmAccossato£295.26Folding lever in stock, fixed lever, 2nd week December
Brembo£219.87Back order, no date
Hel£239Back order, no date
17mmFrando£233.34Available now
18mmMagura HC1£372.40Back order, 20 weeks
Magura HC3£809.71Back order, 20 weeks
19mmAccossato 19 x 18£281.21Available now, folding lever, fixed lever, 2nd week December
Accossato 19 x 20£301.87Available now
Brembo 19 x 18£219.87Back order, no date
Brembo 19 x 20£219.87Back order, no date
Frando£233.34Available now
Hel£239Available now, limited stock

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Image of which master cylinder <h2>2022-11-21 - Radial Master Cylinder Comparison</h2>

We haven't heard from Professor Handel Morgan for a while, so it was a refreshing catch up when he dropped into the Hall yesterday to see me.

While his search for the final resting place of Owain Glyndwr goes on, he believes that he has come up with some interesting information relating to the history and naming of our local church, St. Olav the Ignominious.

His team, along with researchers from HerrDoktorProfessor Kurt Nappink's party believe they have found relics and remains on what used to be an island before the re-routing of the river Poty and the draining of the levels.  Ancient documents suggest that in the 6th-8th centuries, this was called Grenehoos Island.  At the time of the Viking invasion of the area surrounding the landmark hill, Potter's Knob there was an Abbey with some 1500 monks there under the care of Abbot Fr. Thom.

The monks led a peaceful life, tending the abbey gardens, fishing and hawking for their subsistence, trading any surpluses in nearby villages for the needs that weren't met by what they could grow or catch.

When the Vikings arrived, they immediately saw the strategic value of the island and invaded it, killing most of the monks, enslaving the others. Thom did all he could by peaceful means to save his monks but was brutally beheaded on the abbey steps, earning him martyrdom in the Catholic ways of the time. Later he was canonised and is now remembered as St. Thom, Martyr of Grenehoos.

The island was renamed 'Pryttisk' by the Vikings, meaning 'Pressure', as it allowed them to squeeze any enemies attacking by river through a very narrow passage, which they could turn into a killing ground.

So it remained for centuries, even long after the conversion of Erkik Blookaxe to Christianity.  However, in the time of Balbaag the Grey, trade and commerce were becoming more important than conquest in the Viking ranks and the elders saw the value in using religion to break down barriers with trading partners.  Thus the Abbey was reinstated and a new Abbot, Olav was appointed to oversee Pryttisk Abbey.  

It would seem that Olav was not a very nice man at all and while his outward conversion to Christianity was observed by all, it was held in some circles that he was still faithful to the Old Gods and was working to undermine the work of the Abbey.  Eventually, it all became too much.  Every morning he would force the monks to make their devotions while walking barefoot on the rocky paths while carrying out ritual self-flagellation.  This led to conditions known locally as 'Pryttisk Abbey Foot' and 'Pryttisk Abbey Back'.

One morning, resentment spilled out into anger and a group of monks beat Olav to death in a dispute over the quality of their porridge.  The belief in the Church of the time was that these were not really monks but Viking Berserkers sent on a mission to murder Olav so that he could be replaced with someone more palatable.

Professor Morgan cited a document he had found, an early attempt at a population census in the nearby village of Ham.  This showed that an 'Olav' was born in the area at about the right time, 1048ad.  No further mention is made of him in the 'Roll of Ham', and there are no mentions of him in any other documents until his murder in 1182.

A few years later, to appease local dissenters and to prove his continued faith to the descendents of Erik Bloodaxe, Balbaag the Grey commenced the building of a church on a parcel of land a little away from the river, and as believed by Professor Morgan, very close to the site of our current church.  Olav was canonised in retrospect as a martyr but nobody could recall anything that he had done or said, so he became for all time St. Olav the Ignominious.

Pryttisk Abbey continued until it was razed to the ground during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and the church was seized for the new Church of England.  Recognising the value of wool revenues in the area, Henry spared the church, putting a puppet in the pulpit to keep the locals under control.  

And thus it has remained for over 500 years now, although many would argue that Ivor Parrish, the Appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams is more a muppet than a puppet.  I can't wait to share Professor Morgan's findings with him.

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BURP Manifesto Item 7

Target:  Improving patient care by reducing the anxiety of key staff in NHS hospitals.

Affected Group:  All close to patient staff in the NHS.

Proposal:  To implement urgent action, not a review, not a resolution, not a meeting or a five year programme, but action to improve the lot of those who deliver care in the NHS.  This must include an immediate increase in salary for nurses, doctors, domestic and maintenance staff, with a built in programme of increment to keep them ahead of inflation, out of debt and free from financial worry to let them focus on the job in hand unfettered.

Additionally, the cost of attending the place of work must be addressed immediately.  By setting aside free parking areas in hospital car parks for staff, access controlled by transponders to prevent queueing, a major  burden of cost can be removed from the staff.  To encourage greener transportation, free travel passes must be issued to encourage all staff members to leave the car at home, which would also have an impact on car park congestions.

Catering for staff must be addressed too.  By removing the stranglehold of outside suppliers from this equation, a great benefit can be offered to staff.  By re-implementing staff dining areas, operated by NHS employees for NHS employees, costs can be managed in order to offer affordable at-work dining for all concerned.  Varying levels of discount can be applied to staff depending on their salary grade and ability to pay.  We propose to start off with a base cost for all items and by the use of swipe cards, bill monthly for use with the following discounts applied:
    Nurses, domestic staff:                            100%
    Junior doctors, housemen                          70%
    Consultants, surgeons, anaeshtetists:         50%
Hospital middle management will not qualify for use of the staff restaurant. 

How will this be paid for?  Always a good question.  By making all middle management staff redundant, creating new multi-faceted roles to cust waste by 50%, then allowing redundant management staff to re-apply for the new, combined roles.  By this expedient and capping the salary scale for senior managers to £150,000pa, we envisage a saving of £2Bn per annum.  That would more than pay for the upgrades for functional staff within the service.

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Image of logo tintern pravda narrow <h2>2022-11-15 - Release of another item from the British United Republican Party Manifesto</h2>

BURP Manifesto Item 3

Target:  Parliamentary votes being manipulated for party purposes rather than the best interest of the country

Affected Groups:  Members of Parliament

Proposal:  For many years now, anyone with eyes and ears has been able to see and hear that the two party system of government is geared up to score 'points' over the opposing view so that yours holds sway, regardless of whether the outcome of any decisions reached benefits the country as a whole or not.

Our proposal is to dismantle the stranglehold of power that the two party system currently wields over the House of Commons by removing the party whips in the run up to a parliamentary vote, then collecting the opinions of members via a secret ballot.

It is believed that this will allow all members to vote according to their conscience rather than simply toeing the party line.

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We are pleased this month to welcome another new business to the converted stable block at the Hall.  New to us that is, as Sonny Carbury can trace his taxidermy business back three generations so it is a matter of great pride to us that he has chosen to re-locate his business here.

Sonny was not so pleased with Google after his first enquiry call came in though.  It seems he may have been on the wrong end of a voice activated search.  He explained that the phone rang this morning and this was the gist of the conversation.

"Good morning, we would like to make a booking please, two chicken and two lamb".  "Certainly" replied Sonny.  "When would you like to bring them in?". "Two pm would be best for us, can you fit us in?".  "Most certainly, we will be here all day, will you be bringing the beasts with you?". "Beasts? What do you mean beasts?  We will be bringing my mother and father!".  "Your parents? I thought you said two chickens and two lambs."

Getting a little tetchy, the caller went on; "Yes, my parents, who want stuffing, so we asked for chicken.  My wife and I also want stuffing but with lamb please.".  "Hold on just one moment there. I don't do humans.  Chicken and Lamb yes but not parents. Are you sick or something?".  Now virtually exploding with rage, the caller yelled "Sick?  Who are you calling sick?  I know that stuffing with lamb is not conventional but hardly sick.".  Sonny was getting seriously worried now, as he normally stuffed with straw, not lamb.  "Now, I don't think we are on the same page here, do you seriously want me to stuff your parents?".  "Of course not, are you stupid?  All we want is a Sunday Carvery, chicken for my parents with plenty of stuffing and lamb for my wife and I, with which we would also like stuffing.  Now can you or can you not accommodate us at 2pm on Sunday."

Sonny was quiet for a moment, rather shaken from the conversation so far, he tentatively asked why this person had called him for such a request.  "Because when I asked Google to recommend a Sunday Carvery, your number came up."

Tempted to recommend elocution lessons or the purchase of a better sound system for their computer, Sonny patiently explained that he wasn't in the catering business and that Google had given him an incorrect lead, recommended that they try the Amble Inn and hung up, his head spinning with images of car loads of dead parents being stuffed with lamb. He poured himself a stiff drink and tried to blot it all out.

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BURP Manifesto Item 2

Target:  Unemployment and homelessness

Affected Groups:  Long term unemployed, unemployed youth, homeless people

Proposal:  A re-introduction of a form of National Service.  Not the type where uniforms are worn and marching up and down is carried out, but a more community-focused model.  In areas where depression is rife and much viable housing stock is standing empty and deteriorating, or there are abandoned public buildings, military barracks et., we propose to assemble co-operatives of hitherto unemployed and homeless people.  Each co-operative would have a leadership team of skilled craftsmen and designers, comprising a number of unemployed young people, homeless people and refugees.  The group would be employed by the government and they would work together to restore the selected empty buildings in the area.

In exchange, they would be provided with a wage sufficient for their subsistence, all materials would be provided and when the jobs are complete, they would be given the option to stay on and occupy a place there, or to move on with the co-operative to a new project.  Accommodation for the duration of the project would be provided.

We envisage this programme offering a short term solution to unemployment and homelessness with long term benefits to those affecte by these twin modern evils.  Local communities would benefit as it would bring a small but steady influx of new people into their local shops, cafes and lives.

The participants would be able to learn new, practical skills to suit their preference and natural aptitude, bringing a longer term supply of trade skills into depressed areas.  As new residents, their presence, skills and business would re-vitalise otherwise flagging communities.

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Another neighbour of French extraction popped in to see me the other day. OK, the DeSordelie family didn't come over with William the Conqueror like the Rexions but they have still been here long enough to consider themselves British first, French second.

In fact, before losing his head in the revolution, the Baron DeSordelie was a prominent member of the noblesse de robe in the Second Estate of French aristocracy, an ennoblement bestowed on him by no less a person than Louis Seize, in recognition of his services to the court.

After his death, the family was in disarray, a number of them escapted to Britain and settled close to here, leaving behind the grandeur of Château DeSordelie in favour of more modest but much safer quarters in the grounds of what is now Upham Hall Estate.

The Château fell into disrepair and the ruins, shown are a very sorry sight these days.

With that sort of ancestry, it was hardly surprising to hear that the most recent head of the family is making a foray into British politics. Duncan Desordelie was full of fire and fervour as he told me of his plans to break down the two party system and the elite that have held the country to ransom for so long. His entirely new organisation, the British Unionist and Republican Party was, he avowed going to be the new broom that sweeps clean the corridors of power in this country.

I couldn't help asking if Dimitri had been involved in the naming of the party at all. Duncan enthusiastically appraised me that my Russian friend had been involved since the outset, naming the party and will be acting as their press and public relations officer permanently. I wasn't surprised and am looking forward to seeing their manifesto.

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Irene Patricia Standing QC is one of the most respected District Judges active in our county. A tall, striking woman with penetrating eyes, sharp features and an even sharper mind. She takes her work and the responsibilities that go with it extremely seriously, expecting all concerned to follow suit.

Unbeknown to Dimitri and Lo Phat, this was going to be one of their greatest advantages in the matter of WaistWatchers Vs Lo Phat and VPL, in which the former sought substantial damages to compensate for distress of their members and loss of revenue, for which they blamed an advertising campain, branded "misleading" by the Advertising Standards Agency, thanks to Dimitri mixing up the words Lo Phat with Low Fat.

The case was being heard in Far Kington County Court. WaistWatchers' legal team were there in force as were members of the ASA staff, including the young researcher who had made the initial contact with Lo Phat and Dimitri, resulting in the "misleading" label being applied. Dimitri and Lo Phat were alone, representing themselves. As they could see little chance of escaping with anything less than a hefty compensation bill, they saw little reason to add legal fees to the overall cost.

The tide began to turn in their favour at a very early stage. It all began with the Court Usher bellowing out the words "The court will rise for I.P. Standing". This, apparently was too much for the young ASA researcher who let out a guffaw that could be heard throughout the court, just as Judge Standing prepared to take her seat. No words were exchanged but she fixed him with a glare that under certain circumstances could be fatal. With all the dignity her station afforded, Judge Standing called the court to order and asked for initial depositions from the two sides.

The WaistWatchers case rested on their belief that there had been a deliberate attempt to persuade customers that all the food was low fat when in fact it was just as high in fat as any comparable offerings. In their defence, Lo Phat and Dimitri used as mitigating circumstances the distance between them and the paucity of the telephone connection over which the information for advertising and product launch were arranged.

When the opportunity to interview Lo Phat arose, the very nicely dressed barrister acting for WaistWatchers aimed to prove the deliberate use of misleading language. "Your menu clearly states that all dishes are cooked with low fat, yet that proves not to be the case…" "That is simple printer error" began Lo Phat. "What I said to them was that all dishes are cooked BY Lo Phat". "It wasn't my fault!", he closed. The barrister continued "In fact, independent analysis shows your food to be particularly high fat." "No, definitely not. Hi Phat is my cousin and his restaurant miles away in Manchester. All food here is Lo Phat cooked.". The young researcher couldn't help sniggering again and got glared at again for his pains.

After a brief summing up, Judge I.P. Standing found in favour of the plaintiff, awarding a ten pound fine and both parties to pay their own legal costs, glaring at the young researcher throughout. Dimitri and Phat couldn't afford representation in the beginning, so shared the fine 50/50. Still with the ASA action relating to Dr F. Allgoode's Magic Fat Bullets to come, Dimitri left the court feeling a little better about the world, and rather hoping he may be up before I.P. Standing next time.

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Saturday's tour was a splendid day out for all concerned. We started with Squire Farkham's secret recipe mulled cider, before heading off on the charabanc for the short journey to Brent Knoll.

We were treated there to most excellent hospitality and lots of cider sampling, which was delicious. Best of all though was John Harris sharing his time and expertise with the Society, to the extent of taking us into the orchard, where we picked apples that were then brought back and crushed, then pressed while we watched.

Huge thanks to John and Dan for organising the day and I am sure that there will be lots of online orders of cider to follow.

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Image of technical cider talk 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of mulled cider stage 1 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of technical cider talk 002 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of cider and sunshine 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of the motor goes round and round the juice comes out here 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of from crushing to pressing 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of john harris blur of activity 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of apples patiently wait 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of apples all juiced out 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>Image of always room for more on top 001 <h2>2022-08-14 - West Croft Farm Cider Appreciation Day</h2>
The first story of the residents of E. Rexion is a slightly queasy one, concerning another brush with the Advertising Standards Agency for Dimitri and one of his clients. If it wasn't bad enough that he is due to appear in court next month over the fiasco with the misinterpretation of Lo Phat's Chinese restaurant, he seems to have got himself involved in something quite serious.

It all goes back some years to when Dr F Allgoode moved into Beddesyde Manor, in E. Rexion, Wilts.. It seems that the doctor had made some miraculous discovery for a weight loss programme, branded as Dr F Allgoode's Magic Fat Bullets. They were even shaped like bullets, which apparently was all in the marketing plan. You take one of the big ones in the morning and one of the smaller ones at night to suppress your appetite and make weight loss a breeze.

All the users had to do was replace one or two meals a day and the 'magic' formula of highly secret exotic herbs and minerals would do the rest. While being careful to stop short of offering guarantees, Dr Allgoode did assure that the results even in the first two weeks would be astonishing.

Dimitri has been working with Dr F Allgoode almost from the outset and by dint of organising campaign after campaign in the press, online and getting television and radio appearances to talk about the miracle of MFB, a thriving international business has been built up.

The problems came when a veterinary surgeon witnessed a friend about to take their 'breakfast' and recognised it for what it was. Apparently the larger MFBs were suppositories to treat constipation in dogs, with the smaller ones being the feline equivalent. He likened their action to that of foaming cavity wall insulation, which when inserted in the appropriate orifice would force anything in its way to evacuate. However, when swallowed, the pressure didn't find such an easy release and would leave uncomfortable, bloated feeling for some hours.

Dr Allgoode hasn't been available to comment, in fact, just plain hasn't been available since this flag was raised. Dimitri has been left holding the baby so to speak and what with the ASA, the GMC, the HSE all after his hide, as well as a string of personal claimants attibuting everything from a hernia to chicken pox on the use of this bogus slimming aid, he is going to have his work cut out to get away with this one.

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To give a little local  background, a local village has been focus of some public attention around here.

East Rexion nestles on the Wiltshire/Gloucestershire border just west of the river Poti, the source of which is just a few miles north east in the glorious Cotswolds.  Local residents are proud of the area history, which can be traced back directly to the Norman Conquest.

Originally, the parcel of land was granted by William the Conqueror himself to General the Grand Duke T. Ravel d'Rexions as a mark of gratitude.  The Grand Duke was chief cartographer and Master of ordnance for the invading forces. As a renowned scholar, the Grand Duke was charged with guiding the French invading army from Hastings to London, where William was to be crowned as king of these islands.

On reaching Hadrian's wall, the invading army was finally repulsed, being unable to fight thanks to a range of stomach upsets that were later put down to being plied with food by locals, pretending to be sympathisers, while force-feeding the soldiers deep fried Mars bars and battered butter.  They say an army marches on its stomach, but in this case marching became running thanks to their French digestive systems' reaction to local delicacies.

Of course, Scotland wasn't in the list of places to visit that had been given to T. Ravel d'Rexions.  However, what he hadn't got round to telling the recruitment Sergeant was that he was actually a failed scholar in the matter of Geography, being unable to read even the simplest map.  His simple plan to overcome this from Hastings was to turn his back to the sea and keep going.  He managed to march the  army south from that minor reversal and after many days of forced marching they stopped.  On arrival just outside the town now known as Swindon, General d'Rexions proudly announced that they had arrived in London.

Filled with gratitude, William granted in perpetuity all that could be seen from the point where they stood.  From that day on, it would be known as La Ville d'Rexion. The army then departed to claim the capital, leaving General d'Rexions to establish his presence in the area.  That is how, for a period of two weeks, until the mistake came to light, Swindon became the capital of England.

Meanwhile the General started to build a settlement, marrying a local girl who bore him two sons, Didier Rexion and Hugo Rexion who quickly grew to be fine young men, inheriting all the skills of their father.  All good things must end though and eventually the brothers fell out, rumour has it, over the favours of a beautiful English maiden. The village became polarised by the conflict and was eventually divided into two, East and West Rexion, separated by the convenient barrier of the river Poti.  Possibly as a tribute to their father, East Rexion lay to the west of the river. 

Eventually, W Rexion was subsumed into the Borough  of Swindon, leaving E. Rexion standing proud and independent.  We are proud that  there are still residents in the area who can trace their ancestry back to the original founders of the Wiltshire village that still bears most of their family name.  

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When Lavinia Soper married Algernon Roper at the church of St. Olav the Ignominious last year, it was the conjunction of two of the brightest stars in the local social firmament. It seemed only natural that with their absolutely equal levels of charm and social grace, they should become Mr & Mrs Soper-Roper.

Leaving the church, the couple seemed blissfully happy, not even noticing that Rosemary Notweed, whose hand has now recovered, blasted out Abba's Super Trooper on the church organ, later explaining that she had mis-read the happy couple's name and mistaken it for a music request.

In fact, it seems that the only person who did notice was the Reverend Ivor Parrish, appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams who, having conducted the service in his characteristic, dreary monotone, seemingly cultivated to drain the happiness out of the occasion, became unusually animated. His face turned a livid puce colour and it looked for a moment as though the bulging veins in his neck would burst his dog collar. Such a reaction hasn't been seen since Harry 'The Hosepipe' Hotchkiss, local Fire Service hero, had disobeyed his dictate of no kissing of the bride at the end of the wedding. But I digress.

All of us here at the Hall were delighted when the Soper-Ropers decided to base their business in one of the craft units in the converted stable block. "Magnificent Balls" is the name they trade under, organising period costume balls for corporate events, charities and family celebrations. It is a splendid service offering a choice of eras from the rebellious '60s through the graceful, elegant 1930s with black tie and flowing gowns, all the way to the opulent atmosphere of 18th century Vienna, with all points in between.

They provide costumes, musicians in suitable atire and even professional dance teachers if necessary to help encourage the wallflowers to grace the dance floor with their presence.

Naturally, Dimitri in his capacity of VPL (Varkov Publicity Limited) was engaged to set up marketing and promotional requirements including logo, slogan, market analysis and introducdtions to local businessmen and charities. You can see the result of his efforts in the logo opposite, and the slogan "Events taht Really Stand Out".

Naturally, a number of slogans were rejected before arriving at the chosen one. Some were specific like "Hold our Balls for Charity", "Give Your Family One of Our Balls", "Reward Your Star Teams by Holding Our Balls" or "Show Your Clients You Care with Magnificent Balls. Some were more general such as "You Can't Lick Magnificent Balls", "Fill Your Halls with Magnificent Balls" or "Magnificent Balls can Satisfy the Most Demanding Events Organisers". Sometimes I do wonder about how Dimitri manages to come up with such crackers in his second language.

He did, however drop a bit of a clanger on the business cards, taking the isntruction verbally, the first print proudly displayed their shortened names "Presented by Algae and Lavvy Soper-Roper". All was well after a hasty reprint.

It is great to see such high profile businesses taking space in our Craft Units, more news of which anon. Don't forget to keep your organisation out front, you need Magnificent Balls!

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Poor old Dimitri has got himself into hot water again. This time it is the Advertising Standards Agency whose displeasure he has incurred. It all began when we rented out a former workshop in the Hall grounds to a new Chinese takeaway run by a gentleman rejoicing in the name of Lo Phat.

Naturally, I recommended Dimitri to organise his launch, advertising and initial promotion. Even though my old pal was on holiday in Transylvania at the time, I knew he would welcome the call and the chance of some new business.

As it turned out, I was right. Despite apalling mobile reception, eventually a deal was struck and Dimitri got to work right away to get the ball rolling ready for his return. He even sent me a postcard saying that he was thrilled to be working on this new concept; Chinese food all prepared for dieters. At the time, I didn't quite get his meaning, but all was soon to become clear to me.

Local press advertising with the theme "Low Fat Chinese Takeaway" appeared, a grand launch event was scheduled and every weight-loss organisation, gym and leisure centre locally was bombarded with promotional material. On the opening night, there were queues all the way around the old workshop block and it looked like Lo Phat was set fair for success.

It was some weeks before the reality started to dawn about the magnitude of Dimitri's gaffe. A string of quite poisonous reviews in the local paper, Tintern Pravda, social media and general gossip. It seems that while many people had relied on the joy of food and a clear conscience, to paraphrase one of Dimitri's slogan suggestions, while mirrors and bathroom scales were telling a very different story.

Eventually, WaistWatchers local representative, Arthur Stoner sent a typical meal for independent analysis. This confirmed that there was no difference in fat content between it and similar dishes from any source. Seeing a great chance to get one over their competition, a representative of WaistWatchers contacted the ASA and lodged a serious complaint about the misleading of people who were in a vulnerable frame of mind.

Later that day, Lo Phat's phone rang. It was the ASA investigation team, demanding to know who was responsible for his advertising. "Varkov", he replied. The caller reminded Lo Phat that as the representative of a government body with strong legal powers, that he was obliged to give a satisfactory answer to the question. "I tell you Varkov!" Lo Phat re-iterated. "He got VPL, you go look it up!". The ASA representative was getting angry by now and issued sterner and sterner warnings about the consequences of failure to provide information. "I already tell you Varkov, Varkov, Varkov!". Lo Phat was also running out of patience. "For the last time, Dimitri Varkov from VPL". An embarrassed silence followed. The ASA person closed by promising Lo Phat was going to hear from him again and in the meantime, he should suspend all his advertising.

The disappearance of all Lo Phat's public material was all that Arthur Stoner and WaistWatchers had been waiting for. They have commenced a civil action against Lo Phat and VPL, claiming loss of revenue and distress of members brought about by the "misleading" advertising campaign. Lo Phat and Dimitri have fallen out, each blaming the other for the material that brought us to this pass. They appear in Far Kington County Court for the case to be heard by a District Judge on Friday.

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After a long and largely fruitless search for a manufacturer of replica RD350R fairings, at last, I am thrilled to be able to say the search is over. From Snetterton onwards our bikes will be resplendent in new bodywork from Phoenix Classic Auto Panels.

In addition to the panels for our 350R, they also make fairings, seats and mudguards for a wide range of bikes including the TZR and TDR 250s. Not only that but for car enthusiasts their range includes complete body shells and panels for some of the most appealing classics.

The quality of their work looks second to none and they are very helpful, friendly people as a bonus. We will be co-operating with Phoenix throughout the season and Andy will be in attendance at Snetterton for a "Meet and Greet" opportunity and a chance to give him first hand information about what our market needs. Don't be shy! Come and join us for a coffee and a chat while taking a peep at our new, shiny fairings.

I really think that Andy is coming just to make sure I don't do anything too horrible to his work, but whatever the reason for his visit, make the most of first hand access to the guy who actually lays up the fibreglass to make new shiny bits.

Meanwhile, take a peep at their web site. Yes, I know it is not one of ours, but while there's life, there's hope!

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Having wasted yet another hour or so on the phone to our local band of thieves collectively known as Monmouthshire County Council complaining about having been crippled by the accident caused by their irresponsible attitude to road maintenance, I finally have gained the contact details for a real person.

This particular conversation ended with the automaton on the other end of the line saying. "You can put your complaint in writing to the council. I can tell you now that you will be writing to no avail, but if you wish to so you, that is your privilege."

Great! I now have a personal contact in my local council to whom I may address my complaints and abuse. If you have had any unsatisfactory dealings with this corrupt cohort, you may like to follow suit. Here's the address I used:

I am writing to Noah Vale
Monmouthshire County Council
County Hall
The Rhadyr
NP15 1GA

I was joined for breakfast this morning by HerrDoktorProfessor Kurt Nappink of Utrecht. He had some rather exciting news for us about the Viking connection with the area going back to the days of Balbaag Court. His theory about this being a major trading centre had been supported by the discovery of ancient trading documents found in the area around Potter's Knob, now home to the Lee Quay Boatyard. The sheltered area in the lee of the knob was, it seems, the nearest navigable point for longboats to come up river and moor.

Along with a range of artifacts, the documents were a pointer to this area having been a source of vital supplies for the Vikings. It seems that the biggest and most important rope used in the mooring of a longboat was called a Fark. The runic name is shown in the drawing. Drawn from the Elder Futhark as used by Balbaag's family, it is Fehu (security), Ansuz (estuary), Raido (travel) and Kennaz (improvement). Pronounced 'Fark', HerrDoktorProfessor Nappink believes that it gave the names to local places like Farkham (Rope Village) and Far Kington (simply Farking in Viking days), where the necessary skills and the best quality sisal could be found.

Even more surprising was the esteemed academic's belief, supported by some observations made by local clerics at the time that many phrases and expressions in common use today sprang from the calls and shouts of Viking mooring workers. They have changed in pronunciation and meaning a little in the intervening centuries but can still be recognised. He gave me some examples:

"Fark off" - untie that rope
"Fark me" - throw me a rope
"Fark you" - I am throwing you a rope
"I don't give a flying fark" - I am not throwing this rope
"What the fark?" - where did that rope come from?
"Fark 'em all" - make sure every bollard has a rope
"It's farked" - this one has a rope
"I'm farked" - my rope is tied
"Fark the lot of you" - everybody get a rope
"Fark this, I'm off" - tie this rope for me, I have to go
"We're all farked" - all our bollards are tied up
"You're heading for a farking fall" - look out for that rope
"Get farking knotted" - make sure that rope is secure
"Farking hell" - this mooring is hard work
"Fark you and the horse you rode in on" - don't forget to tie up your horse
"Oi farkface!" - look this way, the rope is over here
"Pull the other farking one" - this rope is tight enough, try that one
"You farking cockwomble!" - you farking cockwomble!

HerrDoktorProfessor Nappink declined a second helping of kedgeree and departed for the dig site. He apologised for not having made any inroads into the origins of St Olav the Ignominious, the discoveries down by Potters Knob had taken more time than expected, but he promised more news soon. I will keep an eye out for him. Come to think of it, it is about time we heard from Prof Handel Morgan about the work on Owain Glyndwr's final resting place. He hasn't shown up for a while…

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"You are invited to a grand opening. On the 15th of next month, your presence is requested to join us in celebrations of our new business venture with cock tales, can o' peas and conversation with like minded local business owners.

Dress is optional, please arrive by 7pm for the opening a dress at:

Lee Quay Boatyard
Potters Knob
Court-in-the Weall
GR15 5LE"

Naturally, I was delighted when the above invitation found its way to the mailbox at the Hall this week. The wording didn't look quite right, and I discovered later that Dimitri had been using a dial-for-print service, run by a couple of comrades from the Old Country and had dictated the content over the phone. I guess nobody reads invitations that closely anyway. Once you have gleaned what the occasion is, when and where you need to arrive, and the rest is superfluous.

Since the disastrous efforts of the Farr-Quinells at running a canal narrow boat rental business here, leisure on the water has been a bit hard to come by, so there is an opening there for a well run boat yard, chandlers shop and provisioning stores to serve those wanting to go down to one of our local rivers in boats.

The Weall is a low lying area between the rivers Poty and Fondling. The settlement of Court-in-the-Weall has proudly been home to many local dignitaries over centuries of history. Potter's Knob is the main landmark, being the only hill for miles around. Lee Quay has been the only safe landing place on the conjunction of these two rivers, being sited in the lee of Potter's Knob. The name of Potter's Knob came from the tradition of locals mining the particularly fine china clay from that hill to make outstandingly delicate pottery, a local traditional industry going back to Roman times.

Retiring from a long career at sea, the dream of Captain Seth A. Driffed was to create a business from his passion for all that floats. Thus was created the Lee Quay Boatyard. With a little help from Dimitri in coming up with the name as well as the initial promotional material, the yard will soon be operating smoothly…

Similar invitations have been sent to all local businesses, using the database of the networking group that Dimitri set up last year. F.A.R.C.E., the Farkham And Rogerham Commercial Exchange now has a healthy, active membership with a good social mix, so I am sure there will be a good turnout to support this new venture. I will keep you posted.

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This season, we are changing the brakes, well the master cylinders at least. Frando make radial pumps in 15, 17 and 19mm piston sizes. Their products are all high quality, forged aluminium bodies and levers with a great range of span adjustment.

We will be using the 15mm pump on our wet bike with a single blue spot caliper and for the dry, with two Triumph TT 600 Nissin four pot calipers, we will be using the 19mm.

Frando has been making high quality brake system components in Taiwan since 1993 and has gained a reputation for producing highly functional items with a pleasing finish. The products are well supported here in the UK with ready availability of spares like levers, reservoirs and mounting kits in case of mishap, and overhaul kits to keep your pump working perfectly for many years to come.

In addition to the brake master cylinders, there is also a range of matching clutch cylinders in 14, 15 and 17mm, so if your bike has a hydraulic clutch too, then you can treat it to a matching pair.

Take a look at them in our online shop here: Frando Master Cylinders There are great deals for YPM members too so make sure we know you are one of us!

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Image of frando clutch master cylinder 17mm <h2>2021-04-26 - New range of brake and clutch master cylinders</h2>Image of frando brake master cylinder 15mm <h2>2021-04-26 - New range of brake and clutch master cylinders</h2>

While it is a matter of public record that patents relating to the flushing toilet were taken out by Thomas and later, his nephew George Crapper in the late 19th century, not a lot is generally known of work in this field that took place at around the same period in workshops rented in the grounds of Farkham Hall.

In 1896, Major Haas De Klinker arrived here from South Africa, many say to avoid the looming Boer War, and started a sanitation business based in a shed rented from my own great grandfather, the 13th Squire Farkham. His expertise led to the creation of what many still believe to be the forerunner of our current ballcock controlled, anti-overflow lavatory flushing system.

In the race to register patents, Major De Klinker was beaten to the punch by George Crapper in 1897, and the rest, as they say is history. The phrase "going for a crap" has been in popular use throughout Britain ever since.

However, locally, with the burgeoning industrial population all needing housing and the increase in social housing through the late 19th and early 20th century, many local buildings were equipped by De Klinker & Co, whose name is still proudly borne on a large number of local lavatory installations. Indeed, we have a number of Major Haas De Klinker cisterns installed at various locations throughout the hall, and we wouldn't be without them.

That is why when you are in the vicinity of the hall, the phrase "going for a crap" is less often used than the numerous alternatives. One reason that local etymologists believe for this continuing popularity is that the De Klinker variants offer more opportunities for expression of scale. In the locality, you can either inform your company that you are simply going "to De Klinker", or that you are going for a "Major De Klinker" or in extreme cases, you may be some time as you need a "Major 'Ass De Klinker".

I would love to tell you more, but owing to a bit of extravagance over the goat and lentil phall in the Jewel in the Passage restaurant last night, I must vacate this seat and go for a "Major 'Ass DeKlinker" myself, somewhat urgently.

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Some 40 miles distant, Fondlingham is a pretty little historic town sitting on the banks of the River Fondling. The river, like the surrounding area, including the town, takes its name from the Fondling family, brought to the area in August 1585 when the then Baron Fondling was gifted the parcel of land by Queen Elizabeth 1 in reward for his part in the successful siege of Antwerp with the Duke of Parma.

At the time, there was common talk that due to a mix up over the Gregorian and the Julian calendar, Baron Fondling arrived ten days late and the siege was already over. Anyway, that is one for the historians to argue over. Back to more recent events.

There was a bit of a furore there recently, despite the picture postcard looks and the proud "Britain in Bloom 1977" splash on the town's approach roads. Sadly, it looks like my old pal Dimitri was peripherally involved.

Current members of the Fondling family, still living in the area, have wide business interests, one of the most publicly visible being their opticians. Their call to Dimitri in his capacity as VPL, Varkov Promotions Ltd, was to engage his services in re-branding their shop. Dimitri obliged with new interior design, colour scheme, logo and slogan. "Stop Staring - Get Fondling", which was where the trouble started.

All members of staff were kitted out with vividly coloured teeshirts bearing the new slogan. While on her lunchbreak, Penny Pointer, one of the trainee optometrists was confronted by a young man, who after possibly one or two glasses of Spotweld's Old Dirigible in the Fondling Arms, decided to do just that. His lunge at the more than adequately filled garment caused the young optometrist to fall backwards into the lap of an old lady feeding the pigeons, sending a shower of breadcrumbs over all concerned.

A passer by called the police, who had to come from Rogeringham as there was no local station. The scene that greeted them left no doubt that the paperwork was going to last a month. Breadcrumbs covered everything, the old lady, still winded, hat and wig missing, spectacles broken was sobbing inconsolably, as was Penny Pointer. It seems that Ms Pointer, despite her very obvious femininity, packed a fairly decent right hook, which she had exercised on her assailant, breaking his nose. The aforementioned olfactory organ was bleeding profusely into a paper bag, which leaked equally profusely into a pile of the breadcrumbs forming a growing pool of something resembling raw black pudding around his feet. Attempts to restrain Ms Pointer from raining more blows had resulted in a fight amongst some onlookers, which was still in progress and the bevvy of spectators was now bigger than the crowd at most Fondlingham United matches.

Eventually, the throng was dispersed and the key characters were removed to the Rogeringham police station for questioning. The shop's owner, I. M. Fondling was called and the circumstances leading up to the assault were established. As a result, the young man who must remain nameless while the case is sub-judice, was charged with sexual assault, Ms Pointer faces a charge of Actual Bodily Harm, while there is talk of charging Dimitri with Incitement to Riot. Keep an eye on the next issue of Tintern Pravda for more news as it breaks.

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In a rather quirky turn of events at the weekend, a new, fun idea has grown. It all started when four young men turned up at the gate declaring "we're going to club Farkham Hall". Mistakenly thinking this was a new entertainment venture, the gatekeeper rather foolishly let them in.

When they reached the house and I went to the door, there they were, standing on the steps with baseball bats, repeating their earlier mantra. Naturally interested in what was going on, I enquired of them why this should be in their minds…

It turned out that they were in the temporary employ of Shaw Todd's Turf Accountancy in Far Kington.While yes, I do have a family account there, it is the sort that only gets used on Boat Race Day and the Grand National.

However, it seems that person or persons unknown had gathered enough information about yours truly to place a number of bets, losing a fair bit of cash, which it was the aim of the young men with baseball bats to recover.

Luckily, Dimitri was on hand gushing oily diplomacy over one and all. Retiring to a back room, they left me alone to muse on who in the area would do such a thing. Meanwhile, in a deal that involved the changing of hands of a sum of money, a large bag of Oofle Dust, a mirror and a credit card, Dimitri had appeased them and gained the mobile phone number of the mystery punter.

By the time all emerged, the tune had changed somewhat and our likely lads were chanting "We've come to join Club Farkham Hall. Disregarding my protestations that there is no Club Farkham Hall, Dimitri simply waved his hand, explained that there is now, and that I had better get started on some activities for the members.

So that is how it came about. There is now a Club Farkham Hall, which is open to anyone to join and carries the following benefits:

  • Exclusive offers of Members Only clothing and branded goods
  • Regular updates of online shop motorcycle spares news and offers
  • Special prices in our online shop on a wide range of biking consumables
  • Membership of our affiliate programme for
    • Direct commissions on online shop sales
    • Regular fun gifts and promotions against top referrers of traffic to our site
  • Opportunities to attend team events, training/test days, race meetings etc.
  • Advance notice of new stories in the Squire's Blog
  • Exclusive advance notice of new features and functions on the Farkham Hall site
Just pop along to our contact page and tick the box 'Join Club Farkham Hall' before sending the form and leave the rest to us.

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Professor Handel Morgan arrrived in the estate office this morning in a state of great excitement. Fresh from his field work nearby where he is still engaged in the researches to trace the real final resting place of Owain Glyndwr, he had given himself a day off to visit me with momentous news.

It seems that his colleague from the University of Utrecht, Kurt Nappink, who specialises in tracing the movement of Viking hordes through Europe had uncovered some evidence of an important site here.

HerrDoktorProfessor Nappink claims that the entire area around the Hall was the long lost Viking community of Smegmaark. Traces of this once thriving commercial and cultural centre have been lost for so long that many scholars now believe that it was only ever a legend.

Under the Control of iconic Viking leader Balbaag the Grey, this was a centre of trade and staging post for all the Viking troop movements of the 9th through to the 11th century. Invading Vikings would rest and reprovision here before moving north to settlements such as Jorvik (now York), London and the Isle of Man where the parliament can still trace its history back to the Thing (now Tynnwald) that the Vikings established there.

Balbaag the Grey (later known as Balbaag the Wrinkled) was a close ally, some believe relative of Erik Bloodaxe, a frequent guest at Balbaag court, and much of the Danegeld collected from local communities was stored there, making it a wealthy commercial centre for the invaders. He is believed to come from a very ancient family, largely because there is no rune in the Younger Futhark (rune alphabet) for the letter 'g', so his name must have been drafted in the Elder Futhark. It comprises only four runes, some repeated; taken alphabetically, the rune for 'a' translates to Odin, inspiration and wisdom, the 'b' for birch tree, birth, liberation, the rune for 'l' equates to water, sea, ocean, while the 'g' rune gives us generosity, gift and spear. With the repetitions of 'a' and 'b' in his name, Professor Handel Morgan believes that Balbaag the Grey was revered greatly for his wisdom and a great liberator of man and mind.

Balbaag the Wrinkled was well known for his wise counsel, often sought by Viking leaders, which many believe was what helped their influence grow. Later in life Balbaag converted to Christianity along with Guthrum after his defeat by King Alfred. At least, outwardly so. HerrDoktorProfessor Kurt Nappink believes that it was Balbaag who built the first place of worship on the site of our Church of St Olav the Insignificant, currently presided over by Ivor Parrish, the Apallingvivarbastard of the Farkhams. This is believed to be a master stroke of political hypocrisy, setting the precedent for a great tradition that has been practised ever since.

The name Balbaag does persist to this day, albeit anglicised in the name of Ballibeg Court, a near neighbour of us here at the Hall. Kurt Nappink has requested to bring his team to stay at the Hall while they make some preliminary investigations in the grounds and the churchyard at St Olav's. Watch this space for more news of their findings.

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In a thrilling and controversial final, Karnt Bjarst, the five times champion of Europe's Laziest Man has been deposed! His long term rival, Bo Neyerdal from the Netherlands out-lazied the Inertial Swede live on television last night.

I have to say that watching these two giants of lethargy in split screen inaction is the kind of entertainment that has inspired a generation.

From the outset, it was a thrilling contest, starting with the question and answer round. Mostly the contestants didn't answer as they couldn't be bothered, but one question touched a nerve; "Have you ever had a job? If so, how did you lose it?"

Karnt Bjarst went first, explaining that he had once worked for Monmouthshire County Council's Highways Department. The interviewer nodded and bade him carry on. Well, it seems that he was dismissed on day one for 'Insufficient Commitment'. This followed a complaint from his fellow workers about him only using one elbow to lean on his shovel. They said it made him look like he was working harder than them, which could cause damage to their reputation, so he had to go.

The ball was now in Bo Neyerdal's court. Yes, he had once had a job as a diesel fitter in a lingerie factory. His personal interviewer looked shocked. "But surely that is a very energetic job?" he queried. Bo explained that all he had to do was hold up pairs of knickers at the end of the production line and declare "Dese'll fit 'er"… Apparently, on day one, he complained of pain in his shoulder from the heavy lifting, took eight weeks paid leave and eventually settled for a very generous industrial injury/redundancy package that was offered by the company.

Advantage Neyerdal! The final round was to be the decider. This was carried out after a period of food and drink deprivation. The game was to move a table full of delicacies closer by intervals, then measure the distance moved by the participant to get food. An unexpected twist was just about to seal the contest.

Apparently, the mobile phone in Bo Neyerdal's pocket, still plugged into the mains charger, overheated and burst into flames. He sat still as a stone. Soon, despite the pleading of the camera crew and interview team, he was totally engulfed in flames, the accumulation of fat on his chair cover from years of junk food spillage joined the conflagration and all was lost for Karnt Bjarst. He couldn't upstage such a feat of indolence, and graciously conceded the contest.

Bo Neyerdal's trophy will be awarded posthumously in a ceremony at the end of November. Publishing the venue is not thought necessary as nobody is expected to turn up, preferring to stay at home and emulate their idle idols. Betting has started for next year and Karnt Bjarst is a hot favourite to regain his crown.

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Image of end of bo neyerdal <h2>2020-10-30 - Karnt Bjarst Defeated in Europe's Laziest Man Contest</h2>

A group of animal rights protesters is threatening to disrupt the planned visit of the Dalai Lama to the hall when lockdown is over.

They claim that his name is direct infringement of the Llama's copyright and misuse of their personal data that will cause immense distress and offence to the animals who live on the estate.

Mr Al Packer of the Copy Right for Animal Protest said "All animals have a right to the unique use of their names, and that Mr Lama shwoed flagrant disregard for the suffering that his mis-use of the name would cause these sensitive animals.

His response to the question of the word 'Lama' being spelt differently in this case, he sneered "How stupid are you? Surely you know that Llamas can't read!", then stomped off leaving the Tintern Pravda reporter to muse on the prospect of a Llama reading, only to dismiss the thought as the wouldn't be able to hold a book…

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Gosh! It seems like ages since I last sat down to write a post in this blog. A lot has happened around the Hall in that time, not to mention in foreign parts. I will start there as that is where I have been most recently.

It all started a few weeks ago with a wedding invitation, then ended up giving evidence in a French coroner's court. Quite a rollercoaster ride, which kept me out of the country far longer than anticipated, as a matter of fact, when I could ill-afford the time away from the Hall.

The invitation was innocent enough. My dear old pal Watt Willby was planning to marry the childhood sweetheart he met on a school skiing trip many years ago. Having done quite well in life, with the helping hand of a few well-heeled relatives falling off the perch since leaving university, the romantic old stick wanted the wedding to take place in the ski resort where it all started. He always was a bit of a soft-boiled egg.

So, there we were, almost the entire population of the Hall and surrounding area, boarding a plane that would eventually take us to Piste à Zarat to be met by the happy couple at a ski lodge they had taken over to provide accommodation for us all. Dimitri, the Farr-Quinells, the Forchinellis, Belittle the Butler, our cooks Kate and Sydney Pye, a good number of the local firefighting heroes, plus rather surprisingly, Ivor Parish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams all queued in the airport to get under way.

The trip was largely uneventful, with the expected bawdy ballads, dirty ditties, sexy songs and perverse poems being shared by the firefighters, Dimitri flirting with the flight attendants (I'm not allowed to say 'trolley dollies' any more), and Ivor Parrish trying to pretend he was with another party.

Friday night was passed in a very pleasant celebration of the forthcoming nuptials with Watt and Kaye, all looking forward to the new experience of attending a bi-lingual wedding in an ancient French church, with what was described as being an almost equally ancient French pastor. If only we then knew what was about to unfold…

To add to the truly international flavour, Farkham Hall's favourite Arikaaner, Arne Von Els was serving as best man. Well, the ageing pastor, who looked like he'd enjoyed more than his share of communion wine was wheezing his way through the ceremony until he got to the part "Do you Watt Willby take Kaye Serah"… He started to choke and chortle and laugh almost without control. He continued "Or should I say will you Que Sera take What Will Be?". His laugh turned to an outright bellow, his complexion matched the colour of his purple stole and maniple as he carried on "Or even Watt Willby will you take Que Sera?". He was struggling to breathe by now. Obviously humorous flashes in the life of rural French priests come few and far between.

Pasteur Louis collapsed. Fighting for breath but still laughing he hit the floor like a badly tied sack of apples. The aged Notweed sisters did their best to loosen his robes and fan some air into his nasal passages but nothing seemed to overcome his chuckle attack. Eventually, an ambulance was called. Luckily, there was no carnage on the piste so it arrived quite quickly and carted the stricken cleric away. We all hoped for the best, apart from the somewhat less than happy couple who were standing, half-wed at the altar throughout.

There was an uncomfortable silence until some bright spark, quite possibly Harrry " the Hosepipe" Hotchkiss, "Is there an appallingvicarbastard in the house", knowing full well that Ivor Parrish was sitting in row 3. All eyes turned to this unwitting potential hero of the hour. Silent stammering and unheard protestations didn't help Ivor avoid the limelight as he was more or less lifted out of his pew and propelled to the altar.

"Well, I suppose as there is only the exchanging of rings, we could make an accommodation" he muttered and faced the couple as a condemned man would face the gallows. "Right, do you Que Sera" he said looking at Watt. "Bloody dog-collared numpty!" exploded Watt before he could go any further. "Bloody get it right!" "I am Watt Serah, Marrying Kay Willby and we will be Mr and Mrs Will Be Sera in French, English or bloody Kurdistani!" "No, wait, I am Kay Willby and am marrying Watt Sera and we will be bloody happily Mr and Mrs Sera-Willby." Watt Willby was sobbing gently, when the calm professional tones of Ivor Parrish took over.

"And as this couple have shown by the giving and receiving of rings I may now pronounce them man and wife. Those who God has joined together let no man put asunder." "You may definitely not kiss the bride you filthy disgusting pervert!" "There are children and infirm persons present." "Besides, you haven't paid the additional fee!"

That evening the wedding breakfast was a muted affair. News of the demise of Pasteur Louis hung like a pall over the assemblage. There were factions within the group who found it all most amusing and I am sure that I don't have to name them here for their shame to be broadcast. The newly married Watt and Kaye Willby mixed somewhat less with their guests than expected and a number of us who had been in the front rows with the best view were already sub poena'd to appear as witnesses in the Procureur's hearing, date to be confirmed. Being one of those persons, I have been obliged to extend my stay in Piste à Zafarte for several weeks until all suspicion of foul play had been eliminated.

So, dear friends, that is why you haven't heard from me in a while, I have been discussing the demise of Louis Pasteur in the state of Piste à Zafarte since the joining of Watt Willby and Kaye Serah. Que sera sera…

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Money can't buy you class

Having been a long and fairly traumatic time since we last had an evening off for nothing better than pleasing ourselves, Dimitri and I went to have a curry at our local Indian restaurant The Jewel in the Passage. As always our gushing host Baddu was on hand to welcome us. He ushered us into a corner table just next to a very well-dressed couple who were already well into their meal.

Assuming a caricature of his own accent he assured us that "your most splendid meal will be a delight to all senses" and that we had nothing to do but call if we wanted his most personal attentiveness… Bowing deeply, he left us to study the menu.

The well-dressed couple were obviously impressed and loudly agreed that they were surprised that this restaurant had never appeared in any of Michael Winner's reviews. They were most impressed by the "totally authentic nature" of the establishment and how they almost felt they were in India. Killing a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with a flourish, Mr Well-Dressed flipped it upside down into the ice bucket.

"I say Darling" He continued. "Wouldn't it be marvellously wonderful to get the recipe for this amaaaazing dish and offer it to all our friends back on the Common". "They will all be so impressed, we will be the highlight of the social calendar".

Mrs Well-Dressed insisted that she couldn't cook and it may be difficult. "Nonsense Darling, I am sure that if these chaps can do it, anyone can. Let me ask him for the recipe". He went on to insist that it would be such fun. They could invite everyone in fancy dress and take everyone right back to the days of the Raj.

Baddu appeared almost silently back at their table and asked in his best "It Ain't 'Alf 'Ot Mum" overacting accent if there was anything else he could get them. "Only the recipe for that most delightful dish we have just been sharing an orgasm over", interrupted Mr Well-Dressed.

Baddu rolled his eyes and shook visibly. "You mean the Chicken Tikka Scallywally Balti sir?". "Yes" chirped Mr Well-Dressed, "that's the chap". "I can't possibly do that sir", Baddu replied. "You see, it is a closely guarded secret, known only to men of magic and elders in our mountain village" he continued along with much eye rolling and hand wringing. Prompted by the couple's crest fallen reaction, Baddu continued. "However, I believe that there are less scrupulous ones among us who have put the secret online. If you know its real name, you can search for it."

The Well-Dresseds nearly fell to crying. "Do you know the real name?". "May the gods forgive me, I do" Baddu replied. "This dish has the real name Goan Fakir Salph". Pausing only just long enough to make sure they were writing on a napkin, Baddu turned on his heel and headed back to the kitchen.

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Well, Farkfest's Family Field event didn't quite go as planned. The day strted as expected with the arrival of Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self in two Rolls Royces; one unique, glass roofed classic for her and her delightful chihuahua, Karlov, and the other for a number of burly gentlemen to whom Her Grace referred as 'her enterouge'. Many present commented on Her Grace's hat, a masterpiece of modern millinery made specially for the occasion. Her opening address was short and to the point before settling down in one of the chairs assembled close to the stage by the aforementioned burly young men.

A few eyebrows were raised, not least of all, those of Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams, when his brother pulled up at the wheel of Effie Farr-Quinnell's 1936 Derby Bentley, accompanied by 'his secretary' as Effie it seems, was indisposed.

The field gradually filled up with excited children, stressed parents and grandparents determined to increase the excitement of group A and thus the stress of group B. All in all a very normal family occasion.

A number of the heroes of the recent fire drama involving the visiting party of Old Bishops Fancy Scouts were present. Being off duty, they had arrived early, set up a gazebo and were frequent visitors to the queue at Ken Ellman's cider stall where his 'Coma Toes' scrumpy was being enthusiastically quaffed by many of the locals from the beginning. All the varieties of Ken's ciders were on sale but drinking Coma Toes is something of a local rite of passage for the menfolk. Harry "The Hosepipe" Hotchkiss, Dusty "Dry Powder" Dickens and Ernie "The Extinguisher" Easington, along with wives and children were a star attraction in themselves, attracting a constant barrage of questions about their part in the saving of the scouts.

The first act, Daniel Paul drew gasps of amazement as a train of seemingly inlikely items were produced and made to disappear from props on the stage. He moved into the audience with close up card tricks, feats of pickpocketing and general prestidigitation that mystified all present. Not least in the mystification department was Harry the Hosepipe Hotchkiss when a small number of highly 'unusual' photographs magically appeared in front of his wife and family. A domestic squabble ensued, leaving Daniel Paul to move onto his next victim and Harry to seek solace at Ken Ellman's cider stall.

Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self joined in with the fun, choosing cards, gasping in amazement and clapping enthusiastically as each trick was consummately performed.

The next act, Falcon Ellie from Farkham in Flight Birds of Prey, changed her gasp slightly when one of the birds on a demonstration swoop of the audience relieved itself on her treasured and very expensive hat. Her Grace took it in good part though and made a bland comment about how that was supposed to be lucky while the remaining forays were directed to the opposite side of the field.

Drums on Seats were spectacular, getting the crowd up and dancing from young to old. Gail Howling's kids were especially animated owing to a surfeit of e-numbers in the 'treats' she had been force-feeding them.

At last, it was time for the star of the show. Top of the bill, Henry Buckton was ushered onto the stage and announced by Dimitri. He carried a guitar in one hand and what looks like a pint glass of semi-liquid mud in the other. "Good afternoon Farkfesters!". A couple of gentle chords of introduction heralded "Drink down Yer Scrumpy". The crowd, many of whom had been enjoying glasses of Coma Toes already, related to the spirit of the song. Kids danced, toes tapped and all was well in the world of Farkfest.

Henry took a quick sip of mud while the audience applauded enthusiastically. He then burst into "Scrumpy and Weston", which was altogether more upbeat and immediately got a few more of the crowd on their feet. The Howling clan were bouncing about like lunatics and trying to sing along. Other children were getting the idea and the area in front of the stage was alive with gyrating tots between five and eighty.

Cheering and clapping ensued. Backstage, Dimitri beamed and Henry launched into "Down on Glastonbury Farm". The first verse or two struck a chord with a few of the Farkfesters who recognised the motives behind our own annual event. Just beginning to feel a little uneasy about that, I was suddenly aware of Doris, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self standing beside me, looking less than happy. "And where did that man in the song stick his jack plug?" she spat. I stammered and looked pleadingly to Dimitri to bail me out. "I do apologise Your Grace, I believe an adult version of the song may have slipped in to the act. I can assure you Ma'am that the rest of Henry's set is purely a pastoral look at Somerset life set to music." Seemingly passified, Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self turned on her elegantly shod heel and disappeared as suddenly as she had arrived.

By the time we re-focused on the stage, Henry was well into "it's Carnival Tonight", definitely restoring the 'feelgood factor' to the Duchess' party. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, Dimitri and I got back into foot-tapping and enjoying the music. The dancing area was still full of village children leaping and bouncing enthusiastically, some were doing cow impressions to mirror the theme of Henry's carnival float. Only the Parrish tribe sat solemnly, dressed beyond their years and looking distinctly uncomfortable. Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams watched over them alone. His wife it seems hadn't returned from their spell on missionary work yet.

His attention was snatched away from puritanical parenting for a moment by the sound of recorded church bells announcing the start of Henry's song "Country Wedding".

The final chord and farting sound had hardly died away before my reverie was disturbed once again. "Balls, pissed, shit, fart, c... c..., I cannot bring myself to say the word! Fancy dress wearers being raped by bulls!" Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self exploded into my office.
"Blasphemy, profanity, partying, no solemnity, vicar pissed, pisser in a ditch behind a hedge". Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams chimed in. "This is an outrage!"

It seems they had bustled into my makeshift office while I had been anjoying the music.

Outside, a syncopated, bluesey introduction heralded "A Pair of Great Tits". Luckily, Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self and Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams were both so enraged and so wrapped up in explaining to Dimitri and I that we were not fit to be scraped off their shoe soles that they missed most of the song.

The assembled children of the area, who were all clamouring around the stage, loving not only the songs, but also the discomfiture of their parents, danced, clapped and sang along wildly. Many of the older children joined in even more when Henry delivered "Country Boy". The twin boys of Gail Howling were pack leaders in this respect, leading a happy train of kids dancing in and out of the chairs giving it full voice. Futile attempts by parents to drag their offspring from this spectacle were being made but restisted with equal fervour. The local Fire Service contingent also seemed to like this one best so far and were bellowing out their own accompaniment. The FireWives of Farkham were fighting a losing battle between trying to shut their husbands up and drag their children out of the cats' chorus at the same time. Gail Howling was living up to her name and most of the other mothers were close to tears as there were now four factions in the choir, each singing their own favourite rude bits over and over again.

With a sad tone of voice, Henry introduced "A Dock Worker's Lament". I had persuaded Her Grace and the incensed appallingvicarbastard that what they had heard was only a temporary aberration and the title announced by Henry reassured me that I was right. What harm could there possibly be in such a song?

Well, I soon found out when I heard the words 'I work for Cunard' repeated through most of each verse and every chorus. Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams went whiter than usual while Her Grace took on the colour of an over-ripe tomato. I seriously thought she would explode. Dimitri appeared at that point, humming along happily. He was immediately confronted by an incandescent Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self. The conversation went along these lines:

Duchess: I have never heard such offensive language!
Dimitri: How do you know it is offensive then?
Duchess: Who are you to speak to me like that? What's your name?
Dimitri: Varkov Ma'am
Duchess: I beg your pardon? I asked for your name, not obscenity! In my great grandfather's day they knew how to deal with insolent peasants like you
Dimitri: He isn't alive now
Duchess: No, but his spirit lives on!

With that, Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self marched out of the office with such force that Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams was all but dragged along in her wake.

I lost track of Dimitri after that, guessing that he had gone to seek the safety of setting up the Folk Hall, Rock Face and Rap House. Quite frankly, I didn't blame him.

Rosemary and Marjorie Notweed were sitting slightly to the quieter side of the field. They were passed by a crocodile of mixed infants, who between them were happily singing "She's got grt big jugs, grt big jugs", "I works for Cunard, I works for Cunard, I works for Cunard" and "I saw a great pair of tits above her bush, bleeding great tits, a great pair of tits" along with various other snippets of the songs from the afternoon. Just then, Henry burst into "The Farmer's Market". Marjorie asked what the children were singing "I works for Cunard" replied Rosemary. "No you don't dear, we are retired, remember? And please consider your grammar. What you mean is I WORK for Cunard. There shouldn't be an 's' on the end of that".

They were both silenced when they heard of the baker's offer to shove in his Dorset Knob if Mrs Brown would open her mouth. Rosemary blushed… "It's a traditional bread form", Marjorie reassured her. "Rather like a male version of Lady Arundel's Manchet". She continued "You have a mind like a sewer, and I can't think how a sister of mine would ever think the way you do. Don't think that I have forgotten the exhibition you made of yourself at Morris practice that time. A woman your age in foundation garments like that. I am so glad that ma and pa aren't here to see you!"

Rosemary had stopped listening to her sister long ago and was now deeply engrossed in "I'm Only a Turkey Stuffer", which took her back to many happy memories of her young days on the family farm. Smiling beatifically, she tapped her toes and wriggled in her seat.

Meanwhile, the field resembled a cross between a bachanalian orgy, a kindergarten riot and a suffragette meeting. There were drunk fathers laughing at the antics of their children and the vain attempts of mothers to pacify the racket they were making. Cider was still being spilt, kids had learned new songs to howl and tears were being shed everywhere you looked. There was no sign of Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self or her entourage, as I pronounce it.

Henry was still on stage, still taking occasional sips from his pint of mud while delivering song after song, each with a bucolic, pastoral theme drawn from Somerset life. He closed his act with "Scrumpy and Weston" and left the stage smiling to huge cheers from teenagers, children, scrumpy-filled Firefighters and fathers-in-general. One Notweed sister cheered enthusisatically while the other made a noise like a pressure cooker being uncapped.

When all was cleared from the stage, I walked with Henry to his car. "My audience isn't usually so young, I hope everyone enjoyed the songs" he chirped enthusiastically. Looking over my shoulder for the ominous presence of two large Rolls Royces, I assured him that his act was greatly enjoyed and perhaps we could do it again net year, but perhaps in the Folk Hall rather than the Family Field…

I continued to wonder where Dimitri had got to for the rest of the evening.

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I had a worrying call from Inspector Sargent at our local police station today. Confusing? I suppose it is a bit. You see, it was all easy to understand when Inspector Tickette ran the station, Sergeant Sargent manned the front desk and Constable Constble pounded his beat of the area surrounding Farkham Hall. Colin Allkars ran the switchboard and everyone knew where they stood and to whom they were speaking…

Then, Inspector Tickette retired, Sergeant Sargent got promoted into his post, Constable Constable got made up to Sergeant and Inspector (formerly Sergeant) Sargent's son joined the force as Constable.

Anyway, I digress. Inspector Sargent was asking if I knew of anyone with a motive to harm the recently visiting Old Bishops Fancy Scouts. Well, of course I didn't. They are from far enough away to not even know anyone local, let alone cause them to hold a grudge. I had to ask why, of course.

It seems that the report he received from Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lyndon Bridge at Stopham Burning indicated that some equipment at both sites had been tampered with, giving cause to believe that arson was at the bottom of the blaze rather than incompetence on the part of Paul Watt-Cable, the colourblind volunteer electrician. Forensic scientists were being brought to the scene of the blaze to gather evidence. Meanwhile, he or Sergeant Constable would be getting in touch with as many people as possible with connections to the incident in an attempt to identify suspects.

It seems that there is also the possibility of criminal negligence charges against Major Farr-Coope and Dimitri as the timber preservative used, Pentachlorophenol in No2 fuel oil, increases the flammability of timber fourfold and is not approved for any buildings used for human habitation, being intended only for sheds and fences.

All in all, it sounds like a few people are in a spot of bother over this episode. The insurance company is looking at Major Farr-Coope's claim very closely and it seems that Dimitri is currently hiding from some of his Old Country colleagues who blame him for the destruction of their UK demonstration site. Naturally I will keep you posted.

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After the debacle of last week's visit by Old Bishops Fancy Scouts, we are looking forward to a much smoother weekend for Farkfest. There is an investigation into the fires that marred the Scout weekend, which is expected to make its deliberations public soon, so this should at least take our minds off it all.

Dimitri is beside himself as all the spots are now filled in the Family Field for Saturday afternoon, likewise the Folk Hall, Rock Face and the Rap House, which is always well attended. Dimitri is thrilled as Henry Buckton has agreed to headline the Family Field and we have never had a musical climax to this part, and often felt one was needed. Mostly, the acts are local talent paying homage to their heroes in the chosen genre, but we are importing a few big names too.

Dorothy, Dowager Duchess of Upper Self has agreed to open the event and spend the afternoon in the Family Field with her entourage. The line up is now fixed and is as follows:

Family Field
Introduced by Dimitri Varkov and I

  • Daniel Paul, Conjurer
  • Falcon Ellie from Farkham in Flight, Falconry Display
  • The Mummers and the Dadders, Morality Plays for Children
  • Drums on Seats
  • Henry Buckton, Bucolic Songs from Old Somerset

Folk Hall
Introduced by Roger Lamb of Radio Farkham's Folk Call
  • Katie Tickle playing the Northumbrian Pipes
  • Kaye Trusty
  • Glasseye Stan
  • Farkport Confection
  • Jennifer Talworts

The Rock Face
Introduced by 'Rock Hard' Dick Cheeseman of Radio Farkham's Rock My Socks
  • OCDC, AC/DC tribute band who clean the stage after their set
  • Skinny Leonard
  • Bob's Eager and the Saliva Bullshit Band
  • Seven Colours

The Rap House
Introduced by MC See X1 of Farkham Radio's Heap of Rap
  • EmCeeSquared
  • Thirty Bob
  • Effineff

It should be a great night and day of entertainment. There are still tickets left, available from Paige Turner's Bookshop, Notweeds Garden Centre, Biggs Hits Record Shop, Farkham University Students Union (FU-SU) and here at the hall. Don't be shy now, get on the phone or call in and get yours.

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We must start this item by heaping peons of praise upon the gallant Farkham and district reserve firemen who brought under control the two biggest fires recorded in the area since the "Farkam Inferno" of 1792. That was started deliberately by a gang of Luddite farm workers protesting against farm automation and a swingeing cut in the cider ration. The resultant conflagration destroyed the crops of Farkham Hall and five neighbouring farms. The purpetrators would undoubtedly have been hanged had they not starved to death first.

Attending with Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lyndon Bridge, based in the nearby Stopham Burning Fire Station were local heroes:
Harry "The Hosepipe" Hotchkiss
Dusty "Dry Powder" Dickens
Ernie "The Extinguisher" Easington
Fred "Firebuckets" Fieldranger
Charlie "CO2" Cockender
Bert "Blazer" Beddington

To make their task even more difficult, the two fires took place a couple of miles apart, in Potymouth and Potyford. The causes, however, were not so disparate.

In celebrating the visit of the party of Scouts from Old Bishops Fancy, there was to be a grand turning on of the power at the new Backpackers hostel at the back of Oilmen Acres Dene, with particular emphasis on the new outdoor lighting system installed by our very own Assistant Scout Leader, Paul Watt-Cable. After the ceremony, all were due to decamp to the second scout billet in a field just up the road in Potyford.

The turning on of the lights didn't go quite as expexted, they flickered for a few seconds before returning to their former dormant state. Poor old Mr Watt-Cable looked desprately crestfallen before the moment was saved by Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams. "I believe we have a sing-song and delicious barbecue awaiting us... shall we?" As one, the assemblage headed for the minibuses without another thought. Shame really. Nobody thought that the lights may benefit from being turned off, even though they were not working.

That one click may have prevented a disastrous sequence of events. What nobody had considered at this time was the profound colour-blindness of Paul Watt-Cable. Meanwhile, unseen, a junction box, adjacent to the rubber hose from one of the LPG bottles for the on-demand water heaters was getting warmer and warmer.

The bus may or may not have arrived at the Potyford camping field when the one spark that was all it would take, took place. Cause and effect get muddled here as something started to burn. Nobody knew what at the time, but the end result was the same. Very shortly, the two timber bunkhouses were well and truly ablaze. Luckily, Major Farr-Coope had stayed on at the Dene, and called the Fire Service, who quickly dispatched the above named heroes to the scene.

Meanwhile at Potyford, the communal singing was in full swing. The little angels from the St Olav the Insignifiant were holding forth with selections from the Hymnal Ancient and Modern while the Scouts interjected with some more colourful ditties whenever there was a pause. In order to get the food under way, Paul Watt-Cable gathered a team of local Scouts to get the barbecue lit.

The brand new gas barbecue stood gleaming, awaiting its first commission. The newly filled propane container stood alongside. This barbecue was top of the range and included a three way union so that it could be connected as part of a network of barbecues should the size of the party demand it. The switching was simple, green for single barbecue use, blue to enable both inlet and outlet connectors, red for off. Of course being the responsible person he is, Mr Watt-Cable insisted on making the connections and setting the switch himself.

Being a great believer in allowing people to grow into responsibility, he selected a young, very inexperienced Scout to light the barbecue. Kirsten Small approached the apparatus with a degree of trepidation but was determined to face up to the task. Holding down the on button for the recommended thirty seconds to fill the cooking space with gas, she hit the igniter.

Boom! The flame front ignited the pool of gas that had been coming out of the network connector since the valve was opened some time before. This set fire to the cloth covering the table holding all the food and lit the stream of gas issuing from the network connector. Worse still, this pointed directly at the rubber hose from the bottle regulator, which sprung a leak that gave rise to another jet of flame.

The explosion had silenced all factions in the communal singing who turned to see the horrific image of a party of small Scouts engulfed in flame with Paul Watt-Cable trying to usher them away from the source, wearing a puffa jacket that was rapidly taking on the appearance of cling film.

When he finally managed to separate the gas bottle from its now burned through hose, he hurled it into the hedge, still belching flame from the end of the severed pipe. Naturally, this set fire to the poor, innocent hedge, as well as a number of dismantled nursery sheds that lay just behind. The dry grass soon went up too and the flames quickly spread to the tents.

Worse still, the neighbouring cesspit had built up a great collection of methane over the years since the Big House was deserted. Once ignited, this soon caused a violent explosion, blowing the top off the pit and distributing its contents liberally around the field, along with balls of fire, that immediately caused their own blazes, which quickly spread.

While calling the Fire Service on his mobile, Mr Watt-Cable happened to look downriver towards Potymouth. He could hardly believe what he saw on the horizon. The flames there were just as high above the water as those quickly spreading across the field and disused buildings surrounding him and the Scouts.

The wait seemed interminable, as the emergency services were all at full stretch dealing with the Potymouth blaze, so it was some time before they arrived at the campsite to find that everyone had been safely evacuated to the minibuses, which were parked in a layby just a few hundred yards away.

The grass fires were quickly extinguished by rolling a telegraph pole over the burning area. This allowed access for the fire engines so that attention could be paid to the buildings and the still burning "marsh gas" from the old cesspit.

The rest of the night was spent finding alternative accommodation for all the scouts, taking home the members of the choir of St Olav the Insignificant, explaining to concerned parents all the way round. However, I fear that there is going to be an investigation into the incidents and that there may be repercussions.

As always, I will keep you posted. At least we have Farkfest to look forward to next week, where nothing can possibly go this wrong, so keeping fingers crossed…

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It seems that Dimitri's promotional efforts have made an unwelcome impact in some circles. I had a fairly abrupt phone call from Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams early in the week.

The Rev. Parrish in turn had received a strongly worded missive from Bishop Ian Flagrante-Delicto of the Farkham, Upham, Rogerham and Upper Self Diocese. In the letter, the bishop had expressed his horror that local Scouts were parading around in teeshirts proclaiming that Old Bishops Fancy Scouts, feeling that it was a direct attack on his own good name.

Bishop F-G went on to say that anyone with any knowledge of local history should know that the case never went to court and that he was fully exonerated at the time, which should be an end to the matter. Any allegations of impropriety on his behalf would be treated as the most serious libel, with appropriate action taken against the purpetrators.

I couldn't answer on the phone, so wrote to the Rev. Parrish in the following manner.

"I can assure you Ivor that there is no intention to imply any wrong-doing on the part of anyone living or dead. Double entendre has everything to do with the reader and nothing to do with the writer. The Old Bishops Fancy Scouts are Scouts from Old Bishops Fancy and it is as simple as that. What would you have me do? Rename them to appease an ageing bishop? Let me explain how the name came about."

The following excerpt is from "The Annals of Farkhamshire" written by the eminent historian, Professor Handel Morgan, Professor Emeritus of History at Farkam University (FU):

How Old Bishops Fancy got its name.

Edward (Longshanks) the 1st of England gifted a parcel of land to his chancellor, Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells. This was in recognition of his help through the establishment of the first true Parliament and among other things, English Common Law.

With the recent subjugation of Wales through the defeat of Llewellyn Ap Gruffyd and the execution of his brother David, Edward felt he had the power to give parcels of Welsh land to his supporters. With the importance of wool in the national economy at the time, he also wanted to make sure of his power base there by placing those loyal to him in positions of power and authority.

It was thus that an area of one Knight's Fee (five hides, each of 8 bovates) of land between Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire was passed to Burnell, to name as he pleased and to benefit from all the goods, chattels, livestock and peasantry therein in perpetuity. Burnell was so taken with the land that he named it "Bishops Fancy". This is listed in the document known as the Hundred Rolls, outlining Royal Rights & Possessions. Shortly afterwards in 1275, with the help of Burnell, Edward decreed the Statute of Montain. This effectively gave the Crown a monopoly over gifts of land to the Church by requiring that any such gift (often made to avoid death duties) could only be made by grant of a Royal Licence.

The area of Bishops Fancy prospered and grew, largely thanks to the fertile nature of the land and the value of wool produced there, for over 250 years, with succeeding Bishops of Bath and Wells at the helm. However, over the five year period in which he dissolved the monasteries, Henry VIII appropriated all lands and income controlled by the Catholic Church, including Bishops Fancy.

Henry could also see the value of having allies in the right places. He also valued the tax income from the wool in that area and the overall contribution to the Crown from the Bishops Fancy Estate. In keeping with the tradition, William Barlow, first Anglican Bishop of Bath and Wells was gifted Bishops Fancy on his appointment in 1548. He fled the Abbey on the accession of Queen Mry 1st in 1553, but managed to keep title to the land. Unlike former keepers, who were celibate Catholic Bishops, Barlow had children, so the estate was bequeathed. In his absence, Barlow was succeeded by a Catholic at the Abbey of Wells, while Mary was on the throne. Gilbert Bourne was Bishop until his imprisonment in the tower of London By Elizabeth 1st in 1559. He died there ten years later and was one of eleven Catholic Bishops to die in English prisons.

Fearing an attempt by the Catholics to regain title to the Bishops Fancy estates, by now a small, thriving town, William Barlow's son, Lukout, renamed the area "Old Bishops Fancy". It has kept the name to this day and is now home to some 3,000 souls engaged in agriculture and weaving specialist tweed, which is said to owe many of its qualities to the tradition of mill workers urinating on the wool prior to spinning. There is a primary school and a church, with a healthy tourist industry, drawing people from all over the world to enjoy the spectacular scenery, immerse themselves in the history and to make a pilgrimage to the Spring of St Lugubrious, which still emits crystal clear water, said to have spectacular healing powers.

I await a reply.

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This week at the Hall office has been frantically busy. With the impending visit of the Old Bishops Fancy Scouts now taking shape for next weekend and the bill filling up for Farkfest, Dimitri and I have been run ragged, but it looks like all being worthwhile.

Down at Potymouth, the FOAD members have been co-operating with volunteers from the local scouts to get the accommodation blocks finished in good time. This week's focus is to get the timber treatment applied to the huts which are now erect and ready for fitting out. Local assistant scout leader, Paul Watt-Cable has volunteered to install the wiring and propane gas supply, and has promised something spectacular in the way of outdoor lighting to enable the residents to spend as much time in the grounds as possible.

Groups of scouts and other volunteers are busy with paintbrushes applying the timber preservative. As the instructions and safety data were all in a foreign language, using a cyrillic script, nobody could actually make out what they said but after a quick call to the Old Country, Dimitri assured them it just needed to be slapped on good and thick then left to soak in. The only legible words were Pentachlorophenol in No2 fuel oil, which sounded suitably technical.

Dimitri has had some teeshirts printed to mark the occasion and they look pretty smart I have to say. The first batch has just arrived at the Hall, but if there is sufficient demand, we can make these available through the online shop.

The trip is proving so popular that the scouts are going to have to break into two groups; one will be billetted at the Potymouth hostel, while the others will be camping in a field, normally used for turf cultivation, generously donated by Basil Potbound just along the river at Potyford.

All is nearly ready and we are expecting the scouts to arrive on Friday, there will be a civic reception and Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams has offered to bring the choir of St Olav the Inisignificant to lead community singing in the field where the two groups will meet for a cook-out and joint jamboree.

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Dimitri virtually danced into my office today at the Hall. He was waving a CD. "I've found the perfect act for Family Field at Farkfest", he gloated.

The cover showed a pastoral scene, with a respectable middle aged gentleman standing in front of Glastobury Tor. "Listen to some of these song names", he continued... "Fun on the Farm"... "Down on Glastonbury Farm"... "Country Boy"... "Farmers' Market"... "They sound perfect for the Family Field".

Naturally, I trust Dimitri's judgement in all such matters so gave him the go ahead to book Henry Buckton with all due dispatch. In truth, with the impending visit of Berndt Oofengloof and the newly patched relationships with Friends of Oilmen's Dene in Potymouth, bringing the visit of Old Bishops Fancy Scouts, I had been neglecting the annual treat that is Farkfest. Good job Dimitri is on the ball.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief and sat back in my antique leather chair, pondering on how good life was while Dimitri made the necessary arrangements.

Berndt Oofengloof is due to arrive in a week, with his entourage and equipment, then while he is here, the Old Bishops Fancy Scouts will be arriving as the first honoured guests of FOAD Potymouth. This is going to be a good summer...

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It seems that Dimitri has made some headway in healing the rift between ourselves here at the Hall and the family of Major Farr-Coope at Oilmen Acres Dene over at Potymouth.

Since the next series of USUK has been scheduled to film here at the hall, things have been more than a touch frosty between us.

Anyway, in a mammoth stroke of international co-operation, Dimitri seems to have rescued the Farr-Coopes from their financial plight somewhat. Having persuaded them to set their sights a little lower initially and open a bargain hostel for backpackers, cyclists and other outdoors types, he went on to arrange for the delivery of some experimental, self-assembly log cabins through contacts in the Old Country.

These are new to the market and the payback for the manufacturers is that they get to use the facility for demonstrations and a sales reference here in the UK. Everyone's a winner!

To keep costs down, the local Scout Troop was enrolled as volunteer labour to erect the buildings in the grounds of OAD. Their reward was to be the free use of the new accommodation to arrange a Jamboree for a visiting Scout Troop of their choosing. The lads and lasses piteched enthusiastically into the work, helped by their Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster with some of the more technically demanding stuff like plumbing, wiring and gas connection.

Work is progressing nicely and the Scouts have chosen their compatriots from Old Bishops Fancy, some 25 miles distant to be their guests for the inaugural Jamboree.

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A new face around Farkham Hall these days is the long lost brother of our very own appallingvicarbastard, Ivor Parrish. It seems that the brother in question, Roger, has fallen on hard times so has turned up to take advantage of family hospitality for a while.

Not that if I had to choose someone to offer hospitality, would it be the ultra-conservative, almost puritanical Ivor Parrish, however, needs must when the devil drives and all that.

From what I can glean, Roger D Parrish had also been a man of the cloth, but had been de-frocked after a scandal surrounding the arrival of a local widow on the vicarage doorstep, asking after her family jewels, which Roger had taken away 'for valuation'. Having just paid off a large gambling debt to local bookie, Ernie 'Toecutter' Malevolic, suspicion fell on Roger's motives and the Bishop quietly had him removed from the clergy.

Not long after arrival in the area, Roger D Parrish has been seen out and about with the 88 year old widow, Effie Farr-Quinnell, Mother of my very good friend, Frankie. His appearance has improved somewhat too since arrival. Coincidentally, being the same size as the late Sandford Farr-Quinnell, his wardrobe seems to have had a bit of a boost.

It seems that Effie has also made the family jalopy available to Roger, who has been using it enthusiastically, travelling to the nearby racecourse at Steeple Rasen as often as twice a week. The 1936 Bentley was Sandford's pride and joy, and stands out among the crowd of Range Rovers and assorted 4x4 trucks in the Steeple Rasen car park.

Both Frankie and his wife Andrea have raised concerns with Effie, but she keeps insisting that "Roger is such a nice boy, and he has had such a hard time, he needs a bit of help and a break.". The appallingvicarbastard, Ivor Parrish, seems to be almost relieved that his long-lost (and wished he had remained so) brother is now spending more time at the home of the widowed Effie, than disrupting the relative peace and quiet of his vicarage.

Their concerns were heightened just last week, when Jeremiah Stoneheart, from the Farr-Quinnell family solicitors, Stoneheart, Callous and Crassworthy arrived at the family home, asking them to leave as he had called to discuss a 'private and confidential' matter with Effie. Naturally, worries about an inheritance, purely to pay for Lucy-Louise's education of course, came to the fore of their minds. I don't know why they are so worried, Lucy-Louise is in her 20s now and left Farkham Academy some time ago.

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We Farkhams are a pretty public spirited lot, so when I heard that a venue was needed for a public consultation meeting to examine plans for a new bypass, I naturally volunteered the Hall.

After all, it was all set to be a prestigious affair with the Mayor of Far Kingtown, The Rt. Hon. Roger Ingham-Daley present as well as Mr Doug Upstone, representing the County Council Highways Department.

The Hall filled up quickly on the night, with plenty of locals and a good body of people representing the local press. Dimitri and I were delighted at this opportunity for promoting Farkham Hall as the premier conference venue of the area.

Basil Potbound of Notweeds Nursery had volunteered to chair and opened the meeting, welcoming distinguished guests, friends, neighbours and colleagues. He then seamlessly handed over to Mr Upstone to outline the plans. A large map was projected onto the screen and was observed silently for some time by the assemblage.

The proposed A69 bypass is to link the towns of Noblicton to the north and Headbury to the south, missing out the current tortuous route via Farkham and the surrounding villages.

There were lots of crosses, circles, hatchings and symbols with a big red line indicating the current route. A dotted blue line indicated the proposed bypass. The red line had markers and hand-written notes indicating places of natural beauty and historic interest that were currently being damaged by the constant traffic.

After a short description of the proposed benefits, Mr Upstone asked if there were any questions. Mlle Fanny de Beurre, a local language teacher asked about the effect on local businesses if passing trade were to be lost. "I don't think you need worry about that, there will be signs to local services from the new bypass" Beamed Mr Upstone. "And what about the proposed parking restrictions in the villages?" retorted Mlle de Beurre, "As I always say, seven days wizout a Frainch Lesson makes one weak". A number of gentlemen in the Hall shuffled uncomfortably.

Basil Potbound urged Mr Upstone to reply more fully. After all, he was a local businessman himself, with a livelihood to maintain. "Well, Mr Potbound…". "Peaubune! It's French!", Basil interrupted. "My apologies, M Peaubune, I am sure that there will be no significant impact on local business as those who wish to detour may still do so and there is always your local customer base."

"And what about the effect of the proposed service area at the junction with the Farkham to Far Kingtown road?" "How is that going to help local businesses?" Mr Upstone looked a little unsettled and muttered that the service area was only a proposal at the moment, and that if it were to be built it would provide employment locally.

Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams was busily weighing up the loss in casual takings in the offertary box against the increase he could levy on fees for hatches, matches and dispatches when Ken Ellman, local farmer stood up and spoke. "'Ere! Where'm arrrrl the lannn; cummin vrom vor this 'ere boiparse road then?"

The Rt. Hon. Roger Ingham-Daley stood "As part of my civic responsibilities, I have offered to make available a parcel of land from the Upham Hall estate. One has to do what one can in times of need…"


Roger Ingham-Daley had nearly got his backside in contact with the seat again when Ken Ellman followed up his question. "Oi'm zpose tharrrt'm'll be the laaaan' that Oi'm zeen aaadvertoised las' weke vor thirrtee miliun quid then, will it?"

"My, you are on the ball, aren't you?". "Yes, it was the same parcel of land, but we are considering an alternative offer from the council, which is nothing like £30M."


"No, Oi'm recknin' it ain't. Aaaaater aaaall, they'm'll 'aaaave to make zure you'm gan afford to build that tharrr zervizes airier an' aaaall, won' 'em".

The Rt. Hon. Roger Ingham-Daley was a little shaken by this bumpkin's grasp of facts that only a very limited number of people were party to. He continued "Well, for the good of the local community, I have volunteered to plough some of my own money into the development of the service area, but I am making a great personal sacrifice in giving up this parcel of land, so it is only fair recompense."


The Mayor could tell that Ken Ellman was about to speak again, so tried to divert attention. "Are there any other questions, I think we have exhausted that topic pro tem."

Only Ken Ellman spoke "An' this 'ere parzel o' laaaan'… wud thaaart be the parzel o' laaaan' that you'm been taking a grant from them EC people not to farm and you'm been deglarin' it as zet azoide laaaaan' an' gettin' three hunner' gran' a year zo you'm don't grow craaaaps on im?". "Let Oi make moizelf cleeeerrrr".

Ken Ellman cleared his throat. "You see, I don't always speak like that, it is a way of fitting in by becoming stereotypical. Before taking over the family farm, I was Dr Ken Ellman thanks to gaining a phD in Agronomics. That equipped me with the tools I need to keep an eye on corrupt little bastards like you and your cousin, Mr Upstone." All Upstone could manage was "Second cousin!".

Ken continued "My apologies, your second cousin. However, let's take a walk back in time, shall we?" "Your family was gifted Upham Hall and the surrounding land in 1452 by a king, grateful for certain discreet services in the realm. So, for the thick end of 600 years have benefitted from a free stately home and a few hundred acres of prime farm land." "A bit closer to the present day you saw the opportunity to gain a large amount of money each year in grants from the EC by not farming a part of your land, claiming setaside allowances amounting to £300K per annum."

The Rt. Hon. Roger Ingham-Daley and his second cousin Doug Upstone began to look a little pale. In the audience, the light of recognition was coming on in a number of eyes.

Ken Ellman continued. "So, now, with the prospect of all those lovely Euros evaporating, you come up with a plan to sell this useless land at an inflated price to a council who wish to mis-use public money as much as possible." "Your second cousin, no doubt has been offered a share of the proceeds and possibly a stake in the service area and other spin-off income."

"How close am I getting to the actual situation, Mr Ingham-Daley?"


"Mr Roger Ingham-Daley, I am calling upon you to publicly answer my question. As Mayor of a neighbouring town, I believe you have a civic duty to put us in possession of all the facts."

Roger Ingham-Daley had seen ugly mobs before and didn't want to face one himself. Actually, all he had seen was a painting of the riot outside Upham Hall shortly after his great grandfather had arranged the hanging of Dan Glies for sheep stealing, even though he was a well-known vegetarian. That was enough.

Making some excuse about this being at planning stage and no more could be said without a full meeting of the Highways Committee, Roger Ingham-Daley grabbed his papers and marched out, closely followed by Doug Upstone.

At that point the meeting more or less closed itself, but Basil Potbound couldn't help himself and thanked all for coming, declared the meeting over and wished all a safe journey home, avoiding any bypasses. Only he laughed.

Before he could make his exit, Ken Ellman was confronted by Marjorie Notweed. "Mr Ellman, Mr Ellman, you were magnificent there. Without you we could have had all sorts of things foisted upon us!". "Oi'm dunno wot you'm taaaalkin' about me babber!". Ken Ellman pulled his smock smooth and stomped off into the night.

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