The Ramblings and Rantings - A LIfe Unreal for Midlothian

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.
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.

Image of la_ville_de_rexion.jpg 2022-08-12 - The History of E Rexion

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!

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.

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!

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…

"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.

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!

Image of frando-clutch-master-cylinder-17mm.jpg 2021-04-26 - New range of brake and clutch master cylindersImage of frando-brake-master-cylinder-15mm.jpg 2021-04-26 - New range of brake and clutch master cylinders

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

Image of logo_tintern_pravda_narrow.jpg 2020-06-21 - Local animal rights group protests against visit of Dalai Lama

My colleague Jon has decided to sell his very rare Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot to make way for a new project. This bike has very low mileage, a fresh 12 month MOT and has been cared for to the extent of cosseting.

The polished alloy, chrome and custom paint work attract comment from everyone from 9 to ninety wherever the bike is parked up. Bikers and non-bikers alike are drawn to the bike and can't help but get into conversation over it.

The 1634cc narrow vee-twin engine and belt drive make it a beautifully smooth bike to ride and long distances can be covered in comfort. The controls and layout are well designed with the rider in mind, and everything falls to hand even with the kind of gloves we sometimes have to wear in our delightful British weather.

In short, the bike has all the visual appeal of a radical custom cruiser with eye-catching yellow paint job featuring blue and black flames, a massive 250 section rear tyre and slash cut exhausts, but with real-world everyday useability.

Ride it away for just £8500. The bike can be viewed by appointment in Monmouthshire, so if you fancy something just that little bit different, drop us a line and Jon will make arrangements.

Here's the full specification:
Engine type 4-stroke 50o V-Twin
Cooling system Air / oil
Displacement 99.7 ci / 1634 cc
Bore x Stroke 101 x 108 mm
Compression ratio 9.4:1
Valve train Single overhead camshafts with 4 valves per cylinder,
self-adjusting cam chains,
hydraulic lifters
Fuel System Electronic Fuel Injection with 45mm throttle bodies
Fuel Capacity 17.0 ltr
Exhaust Staggered slash-cut dual exhaust with crossover
Oil capacity 4.75 ltr
Charging System 38 amps max output
Battery 12 volts / 18 amp hours
Primary Drive Gear drive with torque compensator
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 6-speed overdrive constant mesh
Final Drive Carbon Fiber Reinforced Belt
Length 95.9 in / 2435 mm
Wheelbase 66.3 in / 1684 mm
Seat Height 25.7 in / 653 mm
Ground Clearance 5.3 in / 135 mm
Rake/trail 32.9o / 4.9 in / 125 mm
Dry Weight 653 Lbs / 296 Kg
GVWR 1173 lbs. / 532 kg
Front suspension: Conventional telescopic fork
43 mm
5.1 in / 130 mm
Rear suspension: Single, mono-tube gas
Cast Aluminum with rising rate linkage
3.0 in / 76 mm
Preload adjustable spring
Front braking system: 300mm floating rotor with 4-piston caliper
Rear braking system: 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
Wheels: 21 x 2.15 in
18 x 8.5 in
Tyres: 90/90 21

Image of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale023.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale018.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale019.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale020.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale021.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale006.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale008.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale009.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale010.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale012.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale013.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale014.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale015.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale016.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale001.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale002.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale003.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale004.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for SaleImage of arlen-ness-victory-jackpot-for-sale005.jpg 2020-06-07 - Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot for Sale

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…

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.

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.

Image of dorothy-dowager-duchess-of-upper-self-rolls-royce-004.jpg 2019-09-30 - Farkfest, the Family Field.  The story can now be told.Image of dorothy-dowager-duchess-of-upper-self-rolls-royce-003.jpg 2019-09-30 - Farkfest, the Family Field.  The story can now be told.Image of dorothy-dowager-duchess-of-upper-self-rolls-royce-002.jpg 2019-09-30 - Farkfest, the Family Field.  The story can now be told.Image of dorothy-dowager-duchess-of-upper-self-rolls-royce-001.jpg 2019-09-30 - Farkfest, the Family Field.  The story can now be told.Image of henry_buckton_songs_from_glastonbury_farm.jpg 2019-09-30 - Farkfest, the Family Field.  The story can now be told.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

One really lovely way to spend time around Farkham Hall is to sit on a sunny afternoon and watch the river Poty flow lazily to its conjunction with the sea at Potymouth, just a few miles distant.

Potymouth is a quaint fishing village with secluded coves, many seafood restaurants and traditional inns, each with its share of gruesome tales of ghosts, smugglers and battles with the Excisemen.

It is also the location of what is now called Oilmen Acres Dene, a stately home that has seen better days. This had been the country seat of the Farqall family for many centuries and was renamed after the 8th Lord Farqall lost it in a game of poker to a Texan ex-pat at the Amble Inn. That was in the early 20th century. Since then, the Texan family moved on to pastures new and the house was left to rot.

Why am I telling you this? Good question. The story all started about five years ago when what's left of the hall was bought by some distant cousins of my pals, the Farr-Quinells with a view to making it a trendy country hotel and wedding venue.

So far, so good, but like all branches of the Farr-Quinell family, the new owners, Major Wright Farr-Coope and his long term lover, Helena Handcart were to money what the south pole of a magnet was to the south pole of another magnet. In short, investment capital was not available to see the plan through.

Being the decent egg that I am and hating to see the relatives of a good friend in such a plight, I loaned them Dimitri for a quick dose of marketing advice in order to set up a plan to obtain the necessary funds. His advice was to set up a charity to restore the hall, then seek donations as well as renting out the hall as is for television and film work while getting their ducks in line.

That is how Friends of Oilmen Acres Dean came to be.

Meanwhile in America… Television producer, Hiram N Firam was seeking locations for the next blockbuster production, USUK; The Real History of Britain, Built by Americans. He got in touch with the Japanese locations scout that had found him so many perfect filming spots in the past. Nakatome Fukuto duly set off for Britain and started on his research.

Dimitri in the meantime had been busy training the skeleton staff of young hopefuls who were to manage the phones in the charity's office, tucked away in a back room at Oilmen Acres Dene, or OAD as he had been teaching them to say it. Press releases had been sent out, strategic interviews with local and national media were set up, the web site was published and mailshots sent out to Dimitri's bigwig contacts in the media world. All that was needed was the phone to ring.

It wasn't long until just that happened. Nakatome Fukuto had seen the pictures on line and the dilapidated grandeur of the Dene was just what he had in mind for USUK. He tapped the number into his mobile phone. The young hopeful in question grabbed the phone and bellowed "F.O.A.D., Potymouth!"

There was a stunned silence at the other end while the excruciatingly polite Nakatome Fukuto tried to assimilate what he had just heard. "What?" The greeting was repeated with even more gusto. More stunned silence.

"I want speak to your boss - NOW!"

The young hopeful, seeing this as an opportunity to look good immediately summoned Dimitri to the phone. He grabbed it gleefully and confidently spouted "Hello, Varkov!". Before he could get to "and what can I do for you?", there was an explosion at the other end. Unused to such language, Nakatome Fukuto was seething. "Where you live? I come there right now!". Thinking only of an opportunity to meet a potential customer face to face, Dimitri gave the address of the Hall. He was a little surprised when the line went immediately dead, but nonetheless, patted the young hopeful on the back and looked forward to the meeting.

Dimitri was out when a very red-faced japanese TV location scout arrived on my doorstep with the intention of seeking retribution for the slight that had been dealt him from the office of F.O.A.D., Potymouth. Luckily, there is no shortage of charm in the Farkham gene pool, so he was quickly placated and we struck up a rapport in next to no time.

That, dear reader is how the multi-million dollar contract for locations of the next series of USUK came to be signed for Farkham Hall, and why Major Wright Farr-Coope has deleted me from his Christmas Card list.

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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We had a massive turnout for a quiet wedding at the church of St Olav the Insignificant in Farkham Parva at the weekend. This sign may have been the cause, implying a celebrity attendance that was never to be.

The problem came when Ivor Parrish, appalingvicarbastard of the Farkhams dictated the sign over his mobile phone to Snitch, the verger. His intention was for it to read "Chuck No Rice at this Saturday's Wedding". However, thanks to a poor signal, his words were misunderstood.

The traditional throwing of rice at weddings is one of the latest activities to be forbidden by the appalingvicarbastard in his church and its surroundings. To remind you of the previous edicts issued by Ivor Parrish, those attending weddings (including the happy couple) are not allowed to:

  • Kiss each other
  • Applaud
  • Video the service(unless a £250 solemnity waiver is paid in advance)
  • Bring flowers as they aggravate his hay fever
  • Sing any hymns other than "Fight the good fight" and "We plough the fields and scatter" as Rosemary Notweed, retired nursery proprietor and church organist has injured her left hand and can only play the bass lines of those two tunes
  • Wear hats with fruit adornments
There were ugly scenes when Parrish and Snitch were face by the angry crowd outside St Olav the Insignificants and the police had to be called to prevent public unrest.

Janet's Jungle Juice
Half a bottle of good dark rum

A pound of raisins
Large chunk of fresh ginger root
1/2 lb clear honey
3-4 pieces of your favourite citrus fruit

4 inches of cinnamon bark broken into short lengths
4 dried star anise flowers
2 dozen dried cloves
1 nutmeg seed, coarsely crushed
2 vanilla pods

Put the raisins in a bowl and coarsely grate the ginger root over them. I find this easier if the ginger root is frozen first. Steep the raisin and ginger mix in the rum for 2-3 days before mulling. Keep an airtight jar or two handy for this once the cider has been consumed. This will be strained off and put to one side for Yule treats.

Put the spices apart from the cloves in a muslin bag and weight it with a small handful of ceramic baking beads. The cloves are then pushed into the skin of citrus fruits of your choice. My personal taste is to have a mixture of small oranges and limes, a couple of each, the limes just imparting a little sharpness.

Tip the mixture of rum, raisins and ginger into a large stock pot. Add the cider, honey and clove-spiked citrus fruit, not forgetting to keep a little cider back to sluice out the bowl used for steeping the raisins. Waste not, want not and all that... Finally drop in your bag of spices.

Heat as gently as your cooker will allow for as long as you can bear to leave that smell wafting around the place. Slow cookers are pretty good for this, but may not have sufficient capacity if you have a large number of guests. If this is the case, you can decant enough to fill the slow cooker, keeping warm for serving, then top up your stock pot with more cider to be mulling while the first slow-cooker full is being consumed.

If you can't be bothered or don't have time, you will soon be able to buy ready made mulled cider from West Croft Farm, made with their own secret mix of spices and not a little gin. Visit their online shop

Here's the Squire's own recipe for mincemeat, using the fruit residue from the mulled cider. This isn't just thrown together you know…

All the leftover fruit from mulled cider
1 Large cooking apple
1/2 lb raisins
1/2 lb sultanas
1/2 lb shredded suet
1/2 lb muscovado sugar
Large cup of dark rum
1 nutmeg seed, finely grated

Finely chop a large cooking apple and soak it in the rum along with the raisins and sultanas for an hour or so. Strain off the rum and mix it with the muscovado sugar and grated nutmeg.

Crack out the fruit drained from the mulled cider pan, which you carefully put to one side, put it into a large mixing bowl with the strained apple, currants and raisins. Remove the cloves from the citrus fruits left over from the mulled cider, extract their juice, peel them and chop the peel very finely.

Mix the peel and suet with the other ingredients. Finally add the rum and sugar, mix all very thoroughly and spoon into sterilised jars with airtight lids. Store for at least a month before use.

The next Friends of Rose & Crown Cider Appreciation Society (FRACCAS) Cider Appreciation Day is on October 27th. With a more leisurely approach this year, the event will start later in the day, leaving the Rose & Crown at about 11:30. We will be visiting just one cider farm, but what a good one. John Harris will be welcoming us to the West Croft Cider Farm where his family has been making cider the traditional way for over 100 years.

This will be at the busy time of their apple harvest, so we will see plenty of cider making action, guided around the farm and through the process by John himself, in his own inimitable, relaxed style.

An informal lunch of local cheeses, bread, sausages and pickles will follow the tour, washed down with plenty of John's most excellent products. These include a dry farmhouse cider, Janet's Jungle Juice, which is a delicious medium cider that is very easy to drink, their Sweedium, which is funnily enough between sweet and medium, and their sweet cider, which will stand its own against any dessert wine to accompany sweet courses.

There will be opportunities to purchase the products to take away and the day will end up with us being returned to the Rose & Crown for a friendly farewell cider or two before wending our weary ways home.

Costs will vary depending on numbers, but will be no more than £40 for the day as long as we can gather together a dozen souls. Call or click in the header of any page to send an email for more information and to reserve your space on the minibus.

Dimitri really must stop bringing back strange people that he meets in casinos! I mean dash it all! This latest one is an American of all things! He claims to be able to revolutionise our branded goods business overnight.

He has already got us into print on demand and drop-shipping, whatever they may be.

It seems that by using his new fangled methods, we don't have to worry about minimum order quantities or having all our stock in the wrong sizes any more.

Well, only time will tell if he is right I suppose. meanwhile he has been busying himself rushing around the estate, taking pictures of farm equipment, buildings and the old family jalopies, then making them darned unrecognisable and whooping about how they will look good on a teeshirt.

I just hope that he is right as all the proceeds from such sales go toward making the Farkham Hall race bikes live and breathe for the season.

Check out his work here in our new online shop.

Weirdest thing is, the dashed infernal chap reminds me of three old time celebrities all at once. Free teeshirt for the first person to email me with their identities.

It was to be a double celebration this year. The first Christingle for local schoolchildren that was going to be attended by the new wife of our beloved appallingvicarbastard, Ivor Parrish. The kids always enjoy their Christingle as it is a real sign to them that their favourite time of year was actually here. Much had been made by the reception class teacher, Miss Tanya Hyde of the arrival of the new Mrs Parrish, who was coming to join them from the other side of the world, where Christmas was very different.

Liyana Parrish, nee Kok had met Ivor Parrish on a brief visit to this country the year before, then after a brief courtship, they were married in South Africa by her father's cousin, Bishop Roger De Quire. Ivor had to return without his bride, but she followed him some months later. This was to be her first public engagement in Farkham Hall's church St Olav the Ignominious.

Excitedly and egged on by Tanya Hyde, the children assembled inside the church, all clutching their extravagantly decorated oranges and jockeying for position at the front so that they could be first to welcome the new VIP. Candles were lit, faces were filled with eager anticipation and eyes were wide.

Eventually, Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams appeared in his cassock and surplus, looking every bit as impressive as his diminutive stature and pasty expression would allow him, then assuming what he could in the way of a smile, welcomed all to the church of St Olav the Insignificant. Slipping into the patois of vicars everywhere, he put the sponsor's message on the morning, telling them that their oranges represent the world, the red ribbons, the blood of Christ, the fruits and sweets, the gifts of God and their candles were the light of Christ... A few yawns broke out. One child tried to cover the blue ribbon on his orange with hands that were just a bit too small.

Eventually, the announcement came that this year, there was a very special guest who was going to come and gree the children individually. Did the children know who it was going to be? "Santa?" came one eager answer. "No, try again". "Rudolph?" asked another eager child. "Rudolph doesn't exactly appear in God's teaching." the appallingvicarbastard snapped. Losing his patience, he answered his own question and announced that his new wife was there, all the way from South Africa.

The small voice that squeaked "Where does she appear in God's teaching?" was ignored and Liyana was led to the beginning of the row of children standing at the front. They all knew who the guest was going to be anyway and were curious to meet her.

"You look happy", she breezily dispensed to the first infant. "Why is this time of year so special to you?". "Because everyone smiles and we get presents and eat lovely food all day long and mummy and daddy are off work and we are all together as a family with the dogs and the cats and everyone...". Sometimes, when you are four and very excited, only a good blurt will do.

Liyana looked a bit taken aback by this outpouring of joy and replied "Yes, but it's not always happy is it?". When asked why not, she went on "Well, think about the people who aren't there any more, what about your grandparents, were they there?". "No, granny and grampus have gone to live with God." "Well, I expect that made your mummy and daddy very sad didn't it? How about your pets? How old are they?". The little girl was getting a bit red in the face now and tears were beginning to well up. "Joey the spaniel is 11 and we got Sammy the terrier last year, so he is only two. Mummy says that Joey won't last for ever, so Sammy will replace him.". Liyana's eyes widened "Joey has lived to 11? I am very surprised that a pedigree spaniel would live that long. Make the most of him this Christmas, as he will probably not be there next year.". The little girl's tears couldn't be contained any more, she started sobbing violently.

While Tanya Hyde comforted the first child, Liyana Parrish slowly moved along the line holding similar conversations with each child in turn until the entire class was in tears and poor Ms Hyde was rushing around trying to comfort them in turn.

As she left, Liyana asked who had expected Santa to visit the church. A young boy put up his hand. "He doesn't exist you know. Santa Claus is an imaginary character, used by your parents to make you behave better and go to sleep early.". A new outbreak of sobbing ran through the class.

The candles had all nearly burned out by now and the service proper hadn't started, so Tanya Hyde was running around blowing those out too. This combined with her condition, which was clearly stressed brought on an asthma attack and she had to be taken outside by Snoop, the verger to get some lungs full of fresh air and a good jolt on her inhaler.

Meanwhile, inside, Ivor Parrish sought to regain the attention of the children by getting the singing under way. Starting with "In the Bleak Midwinter" didn't seem to lift the children's mood much, so he tried "Night of Silence" without much more success. Eventually, the service was called to a halt, the children and Ms Tanya Hyde were released back to the relative cheer of the classroom to look forward to whatever they had left of their vision of Christmas.

Apparently, Liyana is the Zulu word for "It's raining". Liyana Kok... Sounds quite appropriate. I am sure that Ivor Parrish's meeting with the board of school governors next week will be illuminating. Major Farr-Coope, whose granddaughter was at the service, and who is the chairman of said board is said to be less than best pleased with the appallingvicarbastard, so ticket prices for flies on the wall are pretty high about now.

I had been practising some stunts on the FarkBlade in the empty overspill car park recently when I noticed Ken Ellman, the owner of the farm adjoining the Farkham Hall estate watching me over the fence. I stopped to pass the day, thinking he was impressed with my stunting style.

Ken opened the conversation with "'Ere! You'm wanna get zumm o' that traaaashin control vor that thar boike o' your'n". Slightly bemused, I tried to explain that the execution of a feet up rolling burnout was a matter of great satisfaction and pride to me. Seeemingly unimpressed, he went on with "'E muzz be carrssstin' you'm a vortune in toyers!". "You'm get your'nzelf traaasshin' control and thart'll pay fer itzelf in no toime".

Feeling that I was fighting a losing battle, I should have shut up but tried once more to explain. It was to no avail. "'Kin 'Ell man," he said "Tharrrrt be whoy they'm callz it Traaasshin' Control, it starrrps you'm vrom traaasshin' your'n toyers!". With that he turned and sauntered off to some farmerly chores no doubt, leaving me puzzled and relieved that he hadn't added "You marrrk moy wurrrrdz!", when from the retreating figure of Ken Ellman sprang the parting shot "You marrrk moy wurrrrdz young Farkham!". "You'm bludi mad you'm!"

I put the bike away and had a long sit down.

Since selling up Notweeds Nursery & Garden Centre, sisters Rosemary and Heather Notweed have been increasingly interested in the physical and mental benefits of Tai Chi for people who are retired. To ffer these benefits to other Farkham residents of a similar age, the sisters started running regular Tai Chi sessions at the church hall.

In a shock move, Ivor Parrish, the appallingvicarbastard of the Farkhams has banned the group from using the church hall. Claiming that the meetings were "anti-religious", Reverend Parrish gave the disappointed group of local senior citizens their marching orders last week.

Dimitri Varkov was called on to interview the interested parties for a piece in Tintern Pravda.

When interviewed, the Notweed sisters were devastated. "All we were doing was trying to share health and wellbeing with people who need it most, and who live otherwise sedentary lives". "There is no religious, or spiritual implication, simply improved balance and coordination for our friends and neighbours".

However, Ivor Parrish had a different take on the position. "I believe that the inventor of these marital arts is the anti-christ himself and people who practice them have no place on hallowed ground". Even when it was explained to him that he must have misread some information somewhere, and the word he wanted was 'martial', as well as the fact that Tai Chi isn't a martial art, merely a controlled and gentle form of exercise that can benefit all ages, he was adamant that his decision was the right one in the eyes of God.

Dimitri went on to remind Rev Parrish that the church hall wasn't on consecrated ground either, but was leased to the church by the local education authority who no longer needed it for a gymnasium. "Varkov!", Dimitri thought he heard him say. "Yes", replied Dimitri, to be told that it was an instruction to leave rather than a call of his name... Most unvicarlike language was being used, but it was clear that the interview was over.

We understand that the regular Tuesday night slot has now been taken over by the local Freemasons, whose Worhipful Master is the brother of Ivor Parrish, while their Lodge undergoes refurbishment. I am just wondering if they are matching the £10 per week contribution to the church funds that the Notweed sisters chipped in?

The appallingvicarbastard was unavailable for further comment as he was taking his modest annual break in Juan les Pins.

A recent startling discovery may lead to the closing of the final chapter in the life of charismatic explorer and adventurer, Merriwether Ffoggy-Ddonington. His life, or more appropriately, the lack of it has been a mystery since early 1919.

On a February morning, his expedition to celebrate the end of the Great War by climbing Yorkshire's highest peak, Byeckthatsbetterpetal, using no special equipment. Without the aid of breathing equipment, ropes, crampons, pitons or even a map, he bravely set off. Never to be seen again it has been believed.

However, a recent find close to the North Face of Byeckthatsbetterpetal could well be the body of Ffoggy-Ddonington. A decomposed corpse found there, dressed only in the remains of a tweed jacket, plus-fours and stout brogues fits the description of the explorer the last time he was seen. There is also a copy of his book "Mountaineering for Real Men" laying close by. Only seven copies were ever sold, so that narrows the search for the explorer down.

The Ffoggy-Ddonington family has welcomed news of the find that will allow a decent burial of "Great Uncle Merriwether", allowing the family to come to terms with his loss, nearly a century ago.

Arguments are already raging about whether Lord Ffoggy-Ddonington was still ascending Byeckthatsbetterpetal when he fell to his death from the hitherto impossible North Face, or indeed as some maintain, he had achieved the summit and was killed on his descent.

Teams of researchers are working towards the truth of this and we will be keeping close to his local family to report the findings as they arrive.

'Uncle' Phil Stein had been a pawnbroker in nearby Stoney Broooke for more years than most of us could remember. His particular brand of warm-hearted avarice had provided locals with spot cash when needed against the deposit of family heirlooms and other choice items for generations.

With his recent demise, his four sons, Arnie, Bernie, Ernie and Lew were left to run the business. Being smart young things, they decided that a more 21st century business model would be a good thing to take forward.

More than that, they were impressed by the four figure apr values quoted in modern pay-day loan companies on the television and being of one mind, they decided to re-brand the business. Using their initials, the company name ABLE LENDING seemed a natural choice.

That was fine until Arnie decided that he was going to retire on his share of the old man's estate and disappeared to somewhere in Spain, leaving the other brothers to carry on without him.

At this point, sibling rivalry took over and they all wanted their initial at the front of the new business name. To arbitrate, they engaged the services of my old chum Dimitri as a marketing consultant. His solution was simple, they should draw names out of a hat to decide the order of their initials. With great ceremony, Phil's old kippah was dusted off and three pieces of paper placed inside.

Bernie's name came out first, then Ernie's, leaving Lew to bring up the rear. There was resentment, but a deal's a deal and the job was done.

Without further reference to Dimitri, the new sign for the shop was ordered, and arrived this week. I hope that they are happy with their business name and how well it may describe what they do.

I was very excited to find what I believe is an ancient wall painting in the wash room at the Farkam Hall estate office. In recent conversations with Professor Handel Morgan I have been more and more convinced that the Penge worshippers had stopped here hundreds of years ago in their "Taith Gerdded", or big walk of 1192ad.

The painting I believe clearly shows a goat being readied for sacrifice. This must have been from the later days of the order when virgins were becoming a bit scarce, so alternative sacrifices had to be found and offered to the goddess, Penge.

Professor Morgan is on his way to take some photographs, measurements and samples from the scene and I can't wait to hear the results of his deliberations.

As last Friday was the last of the month, it was time for a meeting of Farkham Artists' and Readers' Trasury. The venue was again the Farkham University Lending Library. However, this time, I made the organisers use the full name as last month, they used the acronym and nobody came to the meeting as the poster proclaimed "Venue: FULL".

This month, it was especially important to make sure that we had a full house as the guest speaker was coming all the way from Germany. Fraulein Ros Spitz is one of the new wave of poets currently very much in vogue around her native Lüaut;beck Travemunde, birthplace of marzipan.

Fraulein Spitz was first noticed by my pal Dimitri on a research trip to Dortmund, where he heard her poetry in a local artists hang-out. After her session, Dimitri asked if she would like to visit us here in Britain and that was where it all began. Ivor Parrish, the AppallingVicarBastard of St Olav the Ignominious church here in Farkham, as the chair of FART, was all for it as he believed it would enhance the intellectual standing of the meeting, to the benefit of all FARTers.

There was a great buzz all around the library reading room on the night of the meeting. This was by far the biggest turn-out of FARTers that anyone there could remember.

Basil Potbound of Notweeds Nursery was on the top table with Ivor Parrish and Flo Werry-Speke, representing the committee to offer a warm welcome to our first international guest speaker.

To begin the evening, Ros Spitz read her epic poem "Unterschlagen Krankenwagen", a cautionary tale about unrequited love leading to theft from an employer who happened not only to be the father of the object of the protagonist's affections, but also the godfather of the local organised crime syndicate.

Thinking that Fraulein Spitz must be a devotee of Wagner, I was much relieved to hear that her closing works were to be shorter in nature. The first was a rhyme based on traditional Lübeck Travemunde tales of hardship leading to the invention of marzipain under siege when everything, but everything was in short supply.

Standing at the microphone, her severe hair line and earthquake-proof shoes put me in mind of the Lotte Lenya character in Dr No. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, Fraulein Spitz shared with us:

"Marzipan alter mann"
"Setzen Sie ihre kugeln in einen kanister"
"Wenn Sie einen frau nicht finden kännen"
"Ein shönes, sauberes mann ist da"

Polite applause, more in relief at her brevity than in appreciation of the poetry rippled through the house.

Then in her stark accent, Fraulein Spitz announced that she was about to make a traditional British poem, taught to her by new friends she had made from the Old Farkham Academicians just the night before. She went on to say that she was so appreciative of being educated in the fine art of the Limerische...

The hall was silent as she began:
"Ein Limerische"...
"Zair Voss a jung frau vom Berlin"
"Who on Tuesdays vould velcome a girl in"
"She zaid oh my dear"
"I don't vant to zound kweer"
"But your tongue it hass gott mein toess curlin'"

The hall remained silent. I could hear Ivor Parrish's teeth grinding and Flo Werry-Speke seemed to have fainted. The silence was broken by Basil Potbound, who asked for a round of applause for our visitor who had come so far and done so well in an obviously strange language.

"Zank you Herr Potbound" She smiled. "Pobune" He replied, "It's French". Ivor Parrish was turning purple quietly and still unable to speak. Mrs Sprout from the local B&B was using her first aid skills to revive Flo Werry-Speke while the rest of the FARTers shuffled quietly in their seats, not quite knowing what to do. This uneasy situation remained for several minutes until I took the initiative and grabbed the microphone.

"Thank you all for coming tonight and a huge thank you to Ros Spitz for joining us all the way from Germany". "Dimitri told me she was spectacular, and I am sure that you will agree that this evening was something really out of the ordinary".

Ivor Parrish approached me in a most un vicar like mood. "Who was responsible for this outrage?". I shrank from reminding him how keen he was so simply replied "Varkov and I". Apparently, I have now been excommunicated and will most likely burn in hell. Heigh ho. Dimitri and Fraulein Spitz weren't seen for a few days, but when he did emerge from the Amble Inn where she had been staying, he did mention that no real harm had been done to Farko-German relations.

Well, I suppose that is something to be thankful for.

A recent visitor to Farkham Hall is South African businessman Arne Von Els. His security business, Boer Locks has been so successful since branching out into shoe repairs from premises in East London, that he has now franchised that part of his operation.

Success breeds success as they say and take up of the franchise has been phenomnenal. Arne's visit was to set up some gala dinner dances for current franchise holders as well as potential franchisees. The first event is scheduled for October with repeat exercises every three months to bring together Wapping Cobblers from all parts, and encourage further recruitment.

We were flattered to he chosen for such a prestigious event, so immediately the PR machine of Dimitri and I sprang into action.

Our efforts were soon rewarded with a splash in the Farkham Argus & News (FA News) under the headline "Boer Locks Holds Wapping Cobblers Massive Balls at Farkham Hall. We have proudly posted a copy to Arne Von Els and are eagerly awaiting his reply.

Pat, the Farkham Hall labrador is a very placid creature. He enjoys nothing more than a good chew at a stick on his morning constitutional around the Hall grounds. Well, in fairness, a good chew at anything will do, but a stick is preferred. Pat actually belongs to my old pal, Dimitri Varkov, but as he is often away on business, I take my share in looking after the little fellow.

This has never been a problem until very recently. In fact, it was never a problem until the German supermodel, Uma Schticken-Zect arrived for a photo shoot of some designer hats from the famous German milliner, Horst Tschitt. The entourage of make-up people, photographers, dressers and associated hangers on all stayed in the hotel at Far Kingtown, but Ms Schticken-Zect insisted that she stay as my guest at the Hall.

Her particular favourite Teutonic Titfer was a somewhat gaudy red number with all the trimmings of faux fruit, feathers and a couple of strange looking metallic thingummiebobbles that I couldn't quite make out.

Unfortunately, Pat the labrador was also fascinated by this item. Then it happened. Ms Schticken-Zect momentarily laid the aforementioned headwear on a chair within his line of sight. Displaying speed and agility not normally associated with the breed, Pat the labrador snatched the hat and made off to the garden.

The shriek and flow of German invective let me know that something in Ms Schticken-Zect's world was not as it should be, so I rushed to find her in the garden, shaking and sobbing at the same time. "Luk vot yur dock has done to my beautivul hatt!". I could see that a substantial mouthful of the brim was missing and there was a deal of labrador slobber on some of the faux fruit. She advanced on me brandishing the munched millinary as though it were a weapon. "Zat hatt vas unique, unt kosst sree soussand uros to make!". "Who vill pay for ziss damach?"

Nobly, I offered "Varkov and I will pay". This didn't seem to help much. Ms Schticken-Zect went a similar colour to my toe when Belittle, the butler dropped Grandfather's Zulu Knobkerry on it from the height of our tallest bookshelf. "You are dampt right I vill fark off, unt you vill mosst zertainly pay". With that, she drew herself up to full height, resembling a Swan Vesta match about to ignite, turned on her heel and marched out. I remember musing that Germans are probably better known for marching in, but nonetheless, she was gone. Somewhow, I don't think we have heard the last from this particular Hanoverian Harridan.

In what is being heralded as one of the greatest breakthroughs since Edison, Professor Juan Kerr, visiting from the university of Madrid is now looking for international partners to fund the progress of his latest research. Sales benefits of many millions of units are potentially available to research partners.

The picowave cooker being proposed by Professor Kerr cooks a thousand times as fast as a conventional microwave, using only a fraction of the electricity. The shorter wavelength leads to inherently higher local energy levels in the cooking area that cooks food thoroughly all the way through in seconds.

The research based in Farkham University Technology, Innovation, Learning and Electronics (FUTILE) centre is aimed at addressing a number of world problems as well as giving serious commercial advantage to research partners in consumer goods markets.

Professor Kerr claims that the picowave cooker will so efficient, that very often the food placed in it will be cooked before the switch has been pressed. This can benefit both the developed and the developing world where energy is scarce and food hygiene is one of the most difficult things to maintain.

The real key to the innovative research is the reversible nature of Professor Kerr's device. By placing raw food in the cooking area and choosing the reverse option, food can be instantly frozen for storage, cutting down the amount of time that it is exposed to airborne bacteria before being safely put away in the freezer.

Moreover, the reverse cooking function can cut down on food waste, currently believed to account for over 30% of all food sold in the UK. The research points to the major benefit of this technology being the ability to put leftover food in the picowave oven, select 'reverse' and within seconds, it will be raw again.

For more details of how to get involved in this cutting edge research, simply email us or buy a Farkham Hall teeshirt online to help keep us racing :-). Happy April 1st

Handel Morgan has been back in my office with latest news of his historical research centred on farkham Hall and the surrounding area. Professor Morgan now has evidence that the settlement at Pengelli, now a suburb of Swansea was their first home in Wales. Situated on the conjunction of three ley lines, one of which also runs through Penge, itself sited on such a conjunction, there seems to be a spiritual magnet drawing the Pegellen worshippers there. Reinforcing this belief is the orientation of the other two ley lines in both places. Each has a ley line connecting directly to Stonehenge, and another connecting to a place currently known as Cock Hill.

In what has become known as 'Taith Gerdded', the Big Walk of 1192, a group of the remaining defenders of Penge headed west to find the druids who had left earlier. Led by a fearsome warrior, Luther, Dragon of Penge, and fighting a rearguard action most of the way, the desperate travellers made their way to a new home. With no modern navigation aids, it is a miracle that they ever arrived.

Much of the history of this period is lost as the tribe was dispersed ahead of the marauding invaders from the Norse countries in the 12th century, being driven further and further west until they finally found peace and sanctuary in Wales. Or so they thought...

It seems that the name Pengelli came from the discovery of an ancient stone tablet, engraved with the name. On re-examining the site where this stone was discovered, the remains of a human, along with stonemasonry tools have been found. The human seems to have died a violent death, the skull being severely damaged, displaying injuries commensurate with a blow from a carreg ffon (stone-stick, an artist's impression is shown), a weapon believed to have been used by some native Welsh tribes of the time, being rather similar to a native American tomahawk.

Modern research techniques such as ultra-fluorescence micro spectrophotometry, now available to researchers at Farkham University King's College, have shown interesting traces on the stone itself. Tiny residues of chalk seem to indicate that the 'I' at the end of the engraved "PENGELLI", was in fact the vertical of a letter "E", and that the final result should have read "PENGELLEN" in honour of their goddess of fecundity and fertility. Sadly, the stonemason never got to finish his work and the name has remained incomplete to this day.

New evidence from documents so delicate and secret that they are not allowed to be touched, brought out in the light or even be looked at, point to what may have happened next in this fascinating journey, is currenly being analysed by Professor Morgan. He has promised to keep me updated, so when I hear, more news will unfold here.

In the continuing family tradition of support for science, the Farkham Hall estate is now supporting a new research group at Farkham University (FU). Led by Professor Huw Jassle, the team is receiving funds from the British Universities Myarsis Senormus (BUMS) research foundation.

Myarsis Senormus is an affliction suffered by many with some of the most disturbing symptoms being an inability to work, or to pass a McDonalds without going in, as well as the overwhelming desire to wear animal print leisure suits and training shoes that will never see the action for which they are intended.

Many female sufferers seek to attract the male of the species by covering their bodies in tattoos that spread and distort horribly as the condition progresses to its inevitable conclusion.

The research team will be based in some outbuildings here at Farkham Hall and for our part, funding will be helped through a contribution to the Myarsis Senormus fund with each sale of a Farkham Hall teeshirt. Please help to get to the bottom of this biological mystery by ordering online today. Funds will be shared equally between keeping my racing efforts going and stopping Myarsis Senormus from spreading any further. All contributions are welcome.

Professor Handel Morgan burst into my office this morning in a state of great agitation and excitement. I thought at first that there had been some important discovery in the archaeological investigations centred on Farkham Hall land in Tintern.

However, it was some earlier work that was causing all the furore. It seems that many years before, as a student in south Lonon, he had been involved in some investigations into ancient Druidic rituals near what is now known as Penge.

From ancient drawings, the site of a standing stone arrangement had been identified as that currently occupied by a multi-storey car park. Seismic echo techniques had shown encouraging results and the university had been lobbying local councils since then to be allowed to undermine the car park for further investigation.

That permission had been granted and the first findings from the exploratory dig were confirming what the team had believed.

Written records from the time are non-existent, but from drawings, artifacts and word of mouth history handed down over dozens of generations, a picture of local life and culture is beginning to emerge.

It seems that the local Penge Druids worshipped the pulchritude, fecundity and above all, the reproductive organ (the "Penge") of godess Pengellen. The arrangement of stones is believed to represent the shape of said "Penge" and to have been the site of ritual sacrifice and mutilation to ensure the year's harvest would be fruitful.

On the feast of Pengellen, a local virgin would be slain and her "Penge" cut out by the arch-druid, to be buried in a small chamber beneath the head stone, or stirolic stone of the arrangement, which would then be rubbed repeatedly by each druid in turn until the flames consuming the remainder of the corpse had died down and ashes left in a trail leading away from StonePenge.

So far, the dig has uncovered one very smooth stone, believed to be the stirolic, and further work has to be sanctioned by the council. This may well necessitate the demolition of the multi-storey car park to reveal the entire monument, which will undoubtedly become a major tourist attraction in the area.

As Professor Morgan left my office, he said that his former colleagues had promised to keep him abreast. I couldn't help but wonder who would be getting the "Penge"...

Professor Handel Morgan of The University of Wales, Tintern Parva campus has been carrying out new and exciting research into the conflicting stories surrounding Owain Glyndwr, and believes that he has found important links between two key locations that could provide vital pieces to the Glyndwr jigsaw.

In his work with the Welsh spiritual organisation Deities, Ubiquitous and Minor Blessings Always Sanctimoniously Sought (DUMBASS), Handel Morgan had been looking into the legends surrounding Gwynn ap Nudd and Uther Pendragon, when he noted some geographical inconsistencies in the accepted wisdom relating to Owain Glyndwr. There were also, he says, striking similarities betwen the characters that could have led to some misconceptions being absorbed into current academic thinking as facts.

He also believes that rumours of an elder brother Madog were untrue. Professor Morgan now believes this is more likely to be rooted in Owain's teenage nickname, Mad Dog. Professor Morgan also believes that Glyndwr was born in Powys rather than the Marches of the Anglo Welsh border. The exact location is not clear, but Penderyn seems to be the closest modern town.

Owain Glyndwr's name was anglicised as Owen Glendower by Shakespeare in Henry IV. His father, who Shakespeare anglicised as Griffith Fuckin Too wasn't included in the play after heated debate with censors of the time. His mother, Elen Ferk Tomas ap Llewellyn was written out at the same time.

Gruffydd Fychan 11 was the hereditary Tywysog of Powys Fadog and Lord of Glyndyfrdwy. Both of these titles are now believed to originate in Penderyn by Professor Morgan. Much of the evidence is contained in an historic document recently unearthed by a local shepherd who was burying his favourite dog at the time on a lonely hillside close to the campus.

The same source also points to a new location for Glyndwrs grave, currently believed to be in West Herefordshire. A few years after his death in 1415, Glyndwr's body was moved to protect it from desecration, and to this day, nobody has known the real location of his new grave.

The research team has based itself in a Farkham Hall outbuilding to search the area more thoroughly before making their findings known. We will be reporting developments as they are given to us. Watch this space!

Timed to coincide with the Pagan festival of Beltane, next year's FarkFest promises to be the best ever. From Thursday, May 1st to Sunday May 4th, music lovers of all kinds will find something to delight them at this popular event. Permission and temporary licences were granted by Farkham Council almost unanimously; the only dissenting voice came from Ivor Parrish, the AppallingVicarBastard of the Farkhams, who objected on the grounds that his church borders the festival site and he was concerned about maintaining solemnity at a wedding on Saturday and his regular service on Sunday. He was overruled.

There will be three main stages:
The origins of the festival lie in Folking it up, so this is still the most important feature of the event and top-line folkies have already committed to perform.

For those whose tastes are a little more electric, rock bands will be playing at FarkFest for the first time. Look out for some big names!

Ever since the fierce rivalry broke out between EffinEff, Thirty Bob and MC Squared, the Farkhisti have been looking forward to a rap-off. This will be it.

The venue will be in the South Fields of Farkham Hall Estate, between the hall and the Church of St Olav the Ignominious. There will be plenty of on-site camping and stunning views of the countryside for all to enjoy while soaking up their favourite music. On Thursday night, Beltane will be marked with a traditional fire and Maypole dancing to celebrate the mystery of the Sacred Marriage of Goddess and God.

The organising committee comprises:
F&A Farr-Quinell (Logistics and Artist Liaison)
Gino and Gina Forchinelli (Catering)
Dimitri Varkov (Marketing & Promotion)
Plus of course, myself, general factotum without portfolio

Email us now for details of advance ticket sales to make sure you don't miss out on this event.

The gentleman in the picture is my great uncle Stanley Farkham-Adams, whose own Farkham Hall was sited in the affluent south east of England, not far from the seething metropolis that was 1930s London. The Adams part of his name came from a financial arrangement when he married the lady in the picture, my great aunt Felicity. The Adams family was very well placed in comparison to Uncle Stanley, so in exchange for a very generous settlement in Florence's dowry, the Adams family line could continue.

This far-sighted couple had realised long ago that the variety of beers in Europe, particularly Belgium was far and away more interesting than the somewhat dowdy offerings of British brewers at the time. Their plan was to start a brewery using continental recipes and help the British drinking public escape the 'mild or bitter' trap.

You see them here on a fact-finding visit to Oostende in Belgium, where they learned much from the master brewers of De Koeninck among others.

In traditional fashion, power and heat for the brewery was provided by a steam engine, recycled from the Farkham Hall farm. Within months, Farkham Ale was born. This pale coloured ale was brewed from wheat, which was a real departure for British brewing that had traditionally stuck to barley for the grain element. Stanley and Felicity had also imported Belgian yeast cultures to further differentiate their product.

Sales were going well through the test pub, the Amble Inn on the Farkham Estated, with planned expansion into neighouring free houses when tragedy struck. In March 1935, the somewhat less than new boiler on the steam engine exploded, killing Felicity outright.

Fortunately, the brewery was able to continue as Felicity had recently inherited the estate of her well to do parents, and changed her own will in favour of Stanley, so there was more than enough money to repair the boiler. This was fairly short lived though, as there was a good deal of scandal about the accidental demise of Felicity so soon after the loss of her parents in a freak hunting accident on the estate, which brought the interest of a famous detective, DCIK Corner of the Yard. Nothing was ever proven though, and Stanley, or SFA as he was locally known, moved to South America with his 19 year old Belgian bride, Stella. They left taking nothing with them but two suitcases labeled SFA, leaving nothing but questions behind.

The fellow in the photograph behind my mum, you may recall the Nightingale of the Farkhams, is my 'uncle' Monty Farkham. The party is all smiles now but just a few hours before this photograph was taken, things were very different.

Monty was the sort of person who always tried to be a 'leader' in any situation and liked to live life high, wide and handsome. His nickname 'Monty' came from his claims to have been decorated in WW2 at El Alamein. However, a number of family members are on record as saying that was the oddest spelling of Catterick that they have ever seen, and that the only decoration that he was party to was the painting of the latrines.

Anyway, Monty decided that the ENSA troupe should go on a camel trekking day, so they were dropped off at the camel hire station where he sought out the drover to haggle. When asked which animals he preferred, Monty, in that special patronising tone that the British reserve for anyone from another country, bellowed "I WANT TWO FAR CAM-EL" while gesticulating to the far end of a line of parked dromedaries.

From nowhere the owner produced an evil looking knife and pinned Monty up against the wall while he sent his boy running for the Cairo Regional Animal Protection Squad, who turned up in double quick time and whisked Monty off to a dungeon while the rest of the party wondered what was going on.

"Thees dirty, foul, Eenglishbuggerysodomisingperverttourist wants to do something 'orrible to all of my camels. He wants to Farkham Hall!", protested the owner. "No, no, no my good man, you have it all wrong. I live near Farkham Hall, I WANT two far camels|. There was another short scuffle...

Eventually, the British Embassy came with interpreters and the matter was cleared up. Having made a generous donation, slipping a number of large denomination notes into the CRAPS tin, Monty was allowed to carry on and the camel trek went ahead as hoped. In honour of this long-gone relative, the Farkham Hall teddy bear is named monty. He makes a perfect gift for the person who wants to show they don't give a damn, even when they are not there...

Two recent arrivals in the area around Farkham Hall had an innovative business idea, which thankfully, Dimitri and I have been able to help with. Xiao Tin from Hong Kong and Walther Kuhn from Berlin were both chefs before pitching up in Blighty. The idea was simple; pool their resources and create the first Sino-German takeaway in the area, or probably in the world for that matter.

I was able to help out by renting them a suitable building. This was a very lucky requirement as there was one going free. Highly suitable actually as the slightly eccentric Herr Helmuth Kutt had built a replica of his Austrian restaurant before going home disillusioned owing to constantly being asked if it was a beauty salon...

Anyway, the deal was done and my very good friend Dimitri offered to help out with the marketing and promotion of the business, Tin-Kuhn Cuisine. The slogan Sino-German is a Sign o' The Times was suggested for signage and printed matter.

All seemed to be going well but nobody foresaw the effect that the combination of these three people working in their second languages would have. The signage was delivered as you can see below, not quite worded as Tin and Walther had envisaged. Dimitri blamed them, they blamed Dimitri and jointly, they all blamed the signwriter...

Whoever was to blame matters not. In a wave of public indignation, only felt by himself, Ivor Parrish, the local appallingvicarbastard has been picketing the premises with a banner declaring that "The Road to Hell is Paved with Food Inventions". Secretly, I believe that he has had that sign for a time and it was actually a mis-print from a telephone order he made while suffering from a nasty cold. His relief at the prospect of being able to claim it on expenses was quite plainly seen to anyone who knows him.

Meanwhile, Walther and Tin await the decision of the local council on hygiene matters before being allowed to open. Watch this space for more developments.

One of the businesses set up by wealthy local landowner Steptoe Farr, pictured here, was a narrow boat rental service for local holidaymakers. Rumour has it that this creation of local employment was intended partly to take some pressure off the family following accusations that he bribed the appallingvicarbastard to change the order of names on his daughter's marriage certificate. That was reported here in August 2011, so we will say no more.

Coming right up to date, my old friends Frankie and Andrea, being descendents of the tribe, decided to patronise the business for their latest holiday. So far, so good, but the thing they overlooked is that neither of them had any inkling of matters nautical. Needless to say, it wasn't long before the good ship Farr-Foxacre ran into difficulties.

Luckily, there was some mobile reception in the place where they struck the bank hard, breaching the hull and fracturing the bilges, which disgorged their entire contents into the kitchen, or galley as the nautically savvy would say...

The office was closed, so the resourceful Frankie left an answering machine message that went "Farr-Quinnell calling Farr Canal Boats, Farr Foxacre is smacked up on the stones! Fork in Canal near Fork Inn, shit in kitchen, wife and daughter going down! Farr-Quinnell, Farr-Foxacre, Mayday!"

Nobody from the Farr Canal Boat Company arrived, but the flashing blue lights soon alerted the family to a different presence and Farr-Quinell F&A spent an uncomfortable night as guests of the Farkham Constabulary before the true meaning of the message was finally established. I guess the company must have used low quality tape in their answering machine...

With the retirement of the last generation of two of our tenant farming families, the Carrs and the Waynes, it was decided that we would try and bring some much needed employment to the area and sell off the parcel of land for industrial development.

It was great news to hear that a huge Chinese industrial concern was interested in building a factory there, so last week we received a high-powered delegation of executives from the Wan Kin Electronics Corporation. I was accompanied at the meeting by my old friend and business associate Dimitri Varkov.

I have to say that the whole thing was going swimmingly. We suggested an anglicisation of the business name through our interpretor, Ho Lee, offering a couple of different ideas. We suggested Car-Wayne Industrial, to honour the families that had previously used the land as well as Farkham Semicon. The execs preferred the first idea with a changed order, proposing to call it Wayne Carr Holdings as it was phonetically closer to their business name. Naturally we agreed, as there are not many Wayne-Carrs around the estate now.

The meeting, however seemed to turn on a sixpence when we were asked who would handle the UK arm of marketing for the new company. "Varkov and I" I replied, holding up two fingers to point at the people concerned. After some frantic muttering from the interpretor, the executives, now red faced and angry looking, tore up the draft contract and walked out, throwing the shreds of paper at us. I'm not sure even now, why they took umbridge, but that is the last time we use that interpretor, I can tell you.

Perhaps we will have better fortune with our next prospective buyer, the People's Republic Industrial Corporation of Korea£ Fingers crossed!

Do you ever feel that sometimes chefs take themselves a little too seriously and follow, for example Marco Pierre White's attitude to manipulating public taste£ I can only think that over the new year, we fell victim to such a chef when ordering food cooked to our taste rather than theirs.

As it happened, my old friends Dimitri Varkov and the Farr-Quinell family arrived for a new year's visit. Rather than get cook back from her annual holiday to provide for them, we decided to try out the new chef who had been creating quite a stir since arriving at the Fork Inn (recently renamed gastro pub( in Far Kingtown). Well, if I had have known, I wouldn't have bothered.

As it turned out, the starters were served and consumed without incident, but when the waitress asked for our main course orders, it seems that we so deeply offended the chef's sensibilities that we were marched off the premises. I still can't understand why, all I said was "We would all like Fork Inn steaks, well done for Farr-Quinell minor (Lucie-Louise), and for the big Farr-Quinells, F and A, while we would like Fork Inn steaks blue for Varkov and I". Well, the place nearly exploded. The chef's face looked like a red bomb, about to blow his chef's hat off his head. Clutching a cleaver in most threatening style, he bellowed something incomprehensible but it seemed to be on the lines of how dare you say such a thing to my staff! I remonstrated that all I had asked for was a Fork In Steak well done for the Farr-Quinell infant, while if blue was possible, Varkov and I would have that. This just seemed to pour more petrol on the flames and we were pursued from the building. We will not be back!

Ivor Parrish, the AppallingVicarBastard of St Olav the Ignominius' church in the Farkham grounds is up to his old tricks again. To encourage due solemnity and sobriety, he has instigated the Farkham SOBER Christmas. Some of the more cynical parishioners have give this the acronym Solemnity Outweighed by Brown Envelope Receipts.

In true AppallingVicarBastard style, the Reverend Parrish has banned the singing of all Christmas Carols in his church. His claim is that they are too cheerful for such a solemn occasion and lead to far too much smiling, laughing in and singing from the congregation. This, he goes on to say, encourages licentiousness, drinking, overeating and general debauchery in the parish.

When pressed by a number of parents in the parish, mostly accompanies by bewildered and tearful children, the AVB did relent and say that they could sing "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" as it is suitably dirge-like and so inaccurate in terms of geography and history that nobody would ever believe it anyway.

Also, seeing an opportunity, a scale of charges based on relative cheerfulness of carols was devised and pasted to the offertory box. It went like this...

  • £20: Little Donkey or Silent Night
  • £50: Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
  • £100: Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel
  • £250: Joy to the World
  • £500: Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • £1000 Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel (with actions)
  • £POA: The Ballad of Eskimo Nell, Dead-Eye Dick and Mexican Pete
The picture shows Ivor Parrish's father and grandfather, respectively the 11th and 12th AppallingVicarBastards of St Olav's, with My Pal Dimitri and I in the foreground. We were expelled from the choir shortly afterwards for replying when asked who was singing the descant on Sunday, "Varkov and I". For other examples of cash for solemnity, use the 'blog search to find Ivor Parrish on this page.

Recently the Farkham pooch was a little off colour, and the local vet has retired. The answer was simple, search the wonderful world wide web for someone who could cure my animal so set about Googling furiously for just such a person.

Eventually, a dog curer was located, luckily not far away, just the other side of Far Kingtown. Duly, the ailing pooch was loaded into the Farkham jalopy and we headed over to meet the nice Mr Armoo Pacowzass. Thinking that he must be a devotee of the James Heriott school of veterinary surgery, I looked forward to having the family canine cured and restored to full health.

On meeting Mr Pacowzass, I thought his white coat was a bit grubby, but guessed that he had had a busy night. When asked how long it would take to cure the family poodle, his reply of two weeks seemed rather a long time for such a minor ailment, but he assured me that Fido would be fully cured, so I left him to their miniistrations.

Come the day to collect the cured animal, I drove to Armoo Pacowzass' premises with great anticipation. Well, you can imagine my surprise...

The night of the big rap-off approaches! We have signed up EffinEff, Thirty Bob, EmCee Squared and the latest sensation locally, Rich T to come to Farkham University Second Hall (FU2) and show the world what they have got.

You may remember the story so far is that Thirty Bob has accused EffinEff of appearing on stage with black pudding inserted in his trousers for effect. Effin, insensed by this slight has challenged Thirty Bob to a rap-off challenge to settle once and for all, which of them is the genuine article when it comes to British rapping.

Throwing his weight around now is Geordie rapper, EmCee Squared, whose latest album, 'Eeeeeeeee =' is a thinly veiled attach on both protagonists in this debate. Both EffinEff and Thirty Bob have denied all accusations levelled at them through the album about being foul mouthed layabouts whose combined musical talent wouldn't get them the third triangle slot in his local school band. EmCee goes on to claim that you will never hear bad language in any of his records. In response, both Effin and Thirty have claimed that EmCee's accent is so broad that nobody could ever tell whether he was using profanities or not.

Rich T has entered the fray quite recently, but claims that he should have a place in the rap-off just to prevent it being a totally northern affair, and that the displaced kids of his native Guildford have had just as hard a time growing up, therefore have similar angst to air, making rap music that is every bit as relevant as their northern counterparts.

Dismissing Rich T lightly as a soft, shandy drinking southern jessie, all three of the northern rappers have threatened to boycott the rap-off if this seemingly well-to-do contestant is allowed in. The promoter, Lew Q Patience, says that this showdown represents the best opportunity that British rap fans will have to witness the finest young talents in the field taking each other on head to head. Patience manages three out of four of the acts, so any boycott is fairly unlikely, the only odd man out being Thirty Bob, the Mancunian, whose jibes against EffinEff started the whole project. Thirty now feels that he is being muscled out by the 'Effin Mafia' as he calls the alliance between EmCee Squared, Rich T, EffinEff and Lew Q, and is threatening a breakaway event at which he will be able to 'tell the truth' about EffinEff and the black pudding scandal.

This milestone concert is set to take place at the second hall of Farkham University (FU2) on May 27th, 2012. Tickets are on sale now through the Lew Q agency at £45 each. EffinEff has vowed to donate all his winnings to his favourite charity, GEEGAW (Give Every English Gentleman A Whippet), while Thirty Bob has pledged his earnings to the Eccles Cake Society, EmCee Squared promises his earnings to the fallen women of the north east. Rich T says he will buy a nice set of alloys and a 400W bass bin for his Vauxhall Corsa. Watch this space for more news as it breaks.

Eugene, my grandfather, the sixteenth Squire Farkham was something of a black sheep in the family. At the time, Farkham Hall was situated in Crowle, near Scunthorpe. Eugene had been born in Cork out of wedlock to the benefactor of the Farkham Institute of Science and Technology (F.I.S.T.). It seems that great grandfather was generous in so many other ways too, which meant that his only heir apparent was not based in the immediate area of the Hall. Eugene arrived in England towards the end of the 19th century to take over management of Farkham Hall, its thriving farm and associated estates. During his stewardship and through the first world war, the farm continued to make good profits and all seemed fair for his young family.

Sadly, after the war, his passion for the turf took a serious hold and this sporting Irish gentleman took to driving his new Darraq car to the races at Doncaster on increasingly frequent occasions. If passion and enthusiasm were the things that helped you pick winners, then Eugene would have been the bookies' worst enemy. Sadly, knowledge, skill and luck all play a part. Eugene was not blessed with any of these. Mounting debts and spectacular bets in increasingly wild attempts to break even put such pressure on the family coffers that the farm had to be sold in order to pay creditors. Luckily, Great grandfather had the foresight to put the Hall and associated research institute funds in trust, so that much at least survived, albeit in increasingly sorry stated of disrepair. Eugene died a broken man in the early 1930s not long after the birth of my mother. The farm is now the BP Neap House Oil Refinery and the family has never recovered financially. One of my most dearly held ambitions is to find his grave, dig him up and give his bones the sound kicking they richly deserve. If anyone had sold that farm to BP it should have been yours truly. Funny old life eh£

Thanks to the generous bequest of my great grandfather, the 15th Squire Farkham, there is a research building in our grounds. This was originally set up to pursue many branches of science, and since 1879, when the old man died, it has been known as The Farkham Institute of Science and Technology (FIST). Increasingly however, Farkham University has taken a leading role in raising the necessary finance and guiding the direction of research.

In recent times, this has been led by one of the stellar names in world research into lung disorders, Professor Sarah Schwer. This work has taken such precedence that last year, the institute was renamed.

Having had meetings of several committees, focus groups and management teams, it was decided that the name must represent specific areas of the science carried out there. Eventually, a competition was held among the staff at the institute to find the most appropriate suggestion. This was won by a junior lab technician called Freddie O'Farrrell, or FoF as he prefers to be known. For that reason, the Farkham Institute of Science and Technology has now become The Farkham University Centre for Asthma, Lymphangioleiomyomatosis & Lung research.

However, severe consternation was caused, not least among the visiting dignitaries, when the new plaque celebrating the name change to FUCALL was unveiled. Hasty memos were composed to staff warning of severe damage to careers should the acronym be used, even in private. Rumour has it that Mr O'Farrell has been posted to their Shetland research centre, the Shetland and Hebrides Institute of Technology, with little hope of advancement from his duties that mainly comprise the gathering of sheep droppings. What's in a name eh£

In his lifelong search for solemnity and cash the AVB has now forbidden happy couples to kiss after exchanging wedding vows. If you remember the item about videos of wedding ceremonies, I am sure that you will anticipate the announcement of a sum of money that needs to change hands in order for this new rule to be waived.

Ivor Parrish's other pet hate of the moment is applause at the end of the wedding service. Apparently, this is a guranteed, certified route straight to hell as it once again detracts from the solemnity of the occasion. No cash value has been assigned to the waiving of this particular interpretation of the rules either, but we are keeping a close eye on announcements coming from Farkham vicarage.

When asked how he came by the information on which he bases his pronouncements, Ivor pointed to the fact that he was the 13th generation Appalling Vicar Bastard of the Farkhams to come from the Parrish family, and as such he has a special relationship with God, claiming that She had reached down from the sky with a golden mobile phone that only he could see or hear, and imparted the latest interpretations of Her laws on Wednesday afternoons just before high tea.

I am just waiting to find out how much he would want in order for a couple to consummate their marriage over the altar£ Perhaps the following scale of charges will be posted on the St Olav the Ignominous notice board soon...
Solemnity Waiver Fees
Thinking about kissing the bride£ 12.50
Thinking about sex£ 25.00
Applauding (per hand, so watch it you Bhuddists!)£ 50.00
Kissing the bride£ 125.00
Surcharge for tongues£ 75.00
Use of a video camera or other recording device£ 250.00
Consummating the marriage in the chrurch grounds£ 12,500.50
Consummating the marriage on the altar£ 25,000.50
Vic's top Picks! Perm any five of the above, just£ 40,000.00

Ahhhh! Bonfire night again, which takes me back to one of the most notorious episodes in the history of the so called Marmalade Mafia. This group of ladies formed the core of all committees locally, from the WI and Townswomen's Guild to the under 12's gymkhana. The movement was so named largely though due to their stranglehold on the WI presence at local fetes, where non members never got a chance to show off their kitchen prowess, especially if it outshone the output of one of the inner sanctum.

The main players in this group all appear in this photograph of a 1963 meeting of the Farkham Ladies Pipesmoking Circle where all concerned are having a whale of a time, not least of all my good mother. Irene, Mrs I Farkham, wife of the 17th Squire Farkham, who is the lady laughing enthusiastically sitting on a bar stool to the right of the scene. Key figures to watch out for are Victoria (Sponge Fingers) Trafalgar, the serious looking lady in dark top sitting in a low chair, opposite my mother. Next to Mrs Trafalgar to her left is Marjorie (Macca) Roones whose story will be told in good time. Moving to Macca Roones left again is the glamorous Julia (Just Jams) Johnston, wife of Justice James Johnston JP. No, I'm not repeating his qualification, Justice was his first name. It seemed fated that he should enter the law as a profession. Subsequent events of November 1963 almost brought that distinguished career to an end.

Of particular interest in this scene is the next person moving in that direction, Deirdre (Dundee Cake) Tynne.

Much of this jollity is due to the input of said Deirdre Tynne. The thing is that in early 1960s Britain, very few people knew anything of hydroponic horticulture. Apart, that is, from Mrs Deirdre (Dundee Cake) Tynne. For some time she 'managed' the tobacco supplies for the FLPC, who were unknowingly having a better time at their meetings than they bargained for. This gave the good Mrs Tynne a nice sideline in extortion and a little blackmail of fellow members whose tongues, not to mention whose morals became considerably looser under her tenure as Keeper of the Pot. If only the ladies knew how they had unwittingly chosen a more than apt name for the officer of the club who made sure there was tobacco enough to go round.

Sadly for Deirdre, her plans came a little unglued when her husband, Leden Tynne, became somewhat suspicious. This was due largely through an electricity bill that had spiralled out of control, along with the new found humour and unaccustomed sexual appetite of his wife. Deirdre knew that if she didn't act quickly the game would be up. Her entire harvest was cut down and the evidence destroyed by making a huge batch of cakes for distribution to the elderly and needy of the parish through the Meals on Wheels service, also controlled by the Marmalade Mafia. To explain the rising energy costs, the illegal crop was replaced with a huge batch of tomato plants purchased in Far Kingtown to avoid any gossip in the local nursery store.

Had Deirdre thought this plan through, she would have seen that there was a small but vital flaw in it. For the coming week, the Accident and Emergency department in Farkam University King's Infirmary (Teaching), was packed to the gunwhales with halucinating geriatrics. Many suffered appalling injuries through attempting physical feats that they hadn't even dreamed of in years. Local police found all leave cancelled and spent their time trawling the area for anyone looking dazed, confused while dancing naked round a bonfire wearing only a body that needed a good ironing.

The worst casualty was the Holdspeare family. Old Ted Holdspeare was convinced that the episode caused the demise of his wife, Winifred. When interviewed all he could do was keep repeating that it just wasn't natural for a woman of 92 to spend that amount of time naked in the garden dancing the rites of spring, especially not in November. No charges relating to the death were brought, but Ted joined Winifred on her jounrey to the Summer Lands before she was even in the ground. To this day, old Farkham residents still claim he died of a broken heart.

The ramifications of this night shook the foundations of local society and left nobody unaffected, but that as they say, is another story.

It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it.
The pronunciation of the Farr-Quinnell name caused a family rift when Frankie, Andrea and Lucy-Louise changed the pronunciation and even the spelling, claiming that research had shown the 'Q' was silent as in 'library'.

A lot of the negative feelings relating to their own name seems to have come from Lucy-Louise's schooling. Owing to a lack of space in the register, some of the longer, double-barrelled names, not uncommon in Farkham Academy were abbreviated. There was always a deal of sniggering and tittering among the younger element when it came round to roll call and 'Farr-Q Lucy Louise' was called out by the duty harridan, her pince-nez wobbling in time with the words.

This branch of the family changed everything they could, and even monogrammed their luggage F-W (see photo) for Farr-Winnell, which angered other family members greatly. The siblings eventually engaged researchers from Farkham Univerity (FU) to settle the argument. After a long period of information gathering and a mass debate, the research team found a connection with the French chef who invented a dessert flan that bears his name, Quinelle, to this day. Of course, being French, the 'QU' is pronounced as a 'K'. This made both sides of the family equally wrong and battle carried on unabated.

A war of words had broken out between EffinEff and his Mancunian nemesis, Thirty Bob! Thirty is rumoured to take his name from a particular masculine measurement in centimetres, and is spreading rumours about Effin regarding his alleged practice of putting a black pudding down his trousers before going on stage. This argument gained weight when it seems an incompetent aide bought a black pudding ring for the singer's appearance rather than a straight one and they were all too stoned to notice.

Thirty Bob then angered the EffinEff camp by posting a spoof set of instructions relating to the incident on his social networking pages. EffinEff responded with a tirade ending in the words "The potatoes you put down your trousers would look so much more impressive if you got it right and put them down the front!".

Thirty has now challenged Effin to a showdown live on local breakfast TV. EffinEff, claiming that he wouldn't get a fair whip of the crack on a Mancunian channel, has demanded that any TV appearances they make to assess just who has really got what in their trousers must happen on an impartial channel. Effin's manager has suggested Look South as a potential programme for the on-air debate. No date for broadcast has yet been confirmed.

In the meantime, Thirty Bob has released a record sampling a well known Abba track that he has titled Whippet Eater, about the debacle of EffinEff's GEEGAW charity launch... EffinEff and his buddies are reputed to be livid at this affront, and there is the possiblity of a drive-by conkering outside the favourite night club of Thirty Bob's posse, the Eccles and Disbury Shirking Men's Club.

The big buzz at present around these parts is the forthcoming concert featuring the world famous (in Holmfirth) Yorkshire Rapper, EffinEff. Best known for his songs about growing up in a dysfunctional family on the wrong side of the tracks, Effin's career has always been full of controversy. Songs like 'They call us' and 'Fookingbird' have equally outraged critics and delighted fans, while the touching 'Cleaning out my water closet' has been adopted as an anthem by abused youth everywhere.

Outside of music there has been a fair deal of outrage surrounding Effin wherever he goes. One most notable example being the launch of his charity GEEGAW (Give Every English Gentleman A Whippet), which was set up to re-home retired racing whippets. The grand ball to celebrate and set fundraising going was held at one of the area's top venues, The Fork Inn Hotel at Little-under-Standing. The hotel had just had a massive and much publicised refurbishment following a mysterious blaze that left this converted Elizabethan coaching inn a shell. Naturally, some of the more cynical residents believed that the whole thing was an insurance scam, happening as it did, twenty minutes after closing when a chip pan spontaneously combusted in the stair well. Rightly or wrongly, the relaunch of the newly built night club complex, rebranded the 'Honey Shed', was due to springboard with the launch of Effin's charity.

Little did anyone forsee, the night turned out to be a disaster when the kitchen staff, all newly recruited from Korea, misinterpreted the raison d'être of the charity with results that were disastrous for the local whippet community, the charity in general and EffinEff in particular. Despite the allegations that he knew what was going on, the whole thing being a carefully planned publicity stunt, Effin's career survived so we are looking forward to seeing what he has to offer in two weeks at the Farkham University Second Hall (FU2).

The Faxe Fad Book of Records, or De FAXE FAD Bog Af Optegnelser, to give it the correct Danske title is one of the world's less well known books but has a great following in its native Denmark. To draw parallels with the products that give name to this book and its more globally recognised competitor, the Guinness Book of records, you can point to the target market of the beers. Guinness is a truly global brand, selling in vast quantities wherever there are Irish people, or even those that claim to be. Don't get me wrong, my great grandfather was a man of Cork, so I can claim all the heritage I need when standing at a bar.

Funnily enough it was great grandpa who gambled away the family home, the then Farkham Hall in Scunthorpe. This is now a BP oil refinery called Neap House, and if anyone should have sold it to BP, it should have been me. However, I digress, leaving the main point of De FAXE FAD Bog Af Optegnelser, more stories of this inveterate gambler will unfold in time...

Faxe Fad is a very popular beer in Danmark, but rarely heard of anywhere else. To cock a snook at Carlsberg and Tuborg, both of whom claim royal patronage, the Faxe slogan proudly boasts that the product is by appointment to the Great Danish People.

In a similar way, their Bog Af Optegnelser appeals mostly to Danish citizens. So "Why all these comparisons of brewery marketing strategies£" I hear you say. Well, I am proud to tell you that a friend of the Farkhams and a regular visitor to Farkham Hall is mentioned in several years' editions of this fine publication.

Under the category of Denmark's laziest man, you will find my old friend Karnt. This guy is so lazy that he has passed into popular vernacular because when asked any question at all, or to do anything at all, the only words that leave his lips are those of his name. In fact, when I say that he has been a frequent visitor to Farkham Hall, I mean he has not left since 1978! Whenever anyone askes why he doesn't go back to his beloved Aalborg, all he will say is "Karnt Bjarst". At least he is no trouble to look after!

One of the aspects of modern living that always taxes the Farkham bean in trying to understand it, is the attitude of those employed by the beloved government to serve us. The overall feeling in this group seems to be diametrically opposed to this however.

Take an example of my recent experiences while trying my hardest to obey the law. In recent times, the Royal Mail in our town has been reduced to camping out on the first floor of a national chain boghandel. OK, bookshop really, but since my very good friend Karnt (of whom, more tales later) told me that is what a bookshop is called in his native Denmark, it has stuck in the old noddle somewhat.

Anyway, in need of taxing the Farkham family jalopy recently, I toddled off to the aforementioned clutching the various bits of paperwork necessary for the task. Imagine my horror when I found the queue of people waiting to do the same thing amounted to some 16 souls. I made a tactical withdrawal to take care of a couple of other chores while waiting for the crowd to disperse. Imagine then, my even greater horror when I returned only to find that the length of the line had done the opposite and increased to 18. I would just have to wait...

After a while, the hatchet faced harridan behind the counter seemed to spot the fact that I was carrying the paperwork, and pointed to an empty counter some distance away while shouting "Road Tax, Far Queue". Well, that was more than any man could stand. Paying through the nose, is one thing, queueing up for ever to do so, a mere inconvenience, but that was the last straw. I replied in like tones and went on to explain a few cherished beliefs about the Post Office in general, and her attitude in particular.

Eventually a couple of heavies from the back room of stationery ushered me forcefully into the street, explaining that they didn't think I really wanted to tax my car anyway. I have been reduced to the ranks of the common law-breaker by sheer dint of not allowing myself to be spoken to in such a way. Justice£ I think not! I'm going to Farkham Hall!

Royce Rolls? Spencer and Marks? Davidson Harley? These were some of the household names I mused over when studying the morning mail, wondering what would have happened to these businesses if the other person had won the toss and got their name first in the list.

A very similar phenomenon occurred in the parish surrounding Farkham Hall at the turn of the 19th century. Wealthy industrialist, Obediah Quinell's Son Gerald was set to marry Hermione Farr, daughter of a local landowner, Steptoe. Now, the Farrs were 'old money' and as such Steptoe thought his daughter was marrying beneath her, and that new money was somehow dirty money and worth less than that which has been in the family for generations. Also, he had no sons and didn't want the Farr family name to die out with him, so he gracelessly allowed the marriage to go ahead provided that the name became hyphenated and gave rise to the Quinnell-Farr dynasty.

However, this rankled with Farr senior who, as tradition has it, was paying for the whole bun-fight anyway. It is rumoured in the parish that he was blackmailing the Appalling Vicar Bastard of the time, and got him to pressurise the registrar into making a 'mistake'. Whatever the reason at the time, once the register had been signed, the truth of the matter came out, that they had been joined with the names reversed.

To this day, and it is over 100 years since they celebrated with a reception at the Hall, the toast of local has remained the same. At all celebrations where a group gets together they all raise their glasses and shout "Farr-Quinnell" at the top of their voices.

The F-Q's had a number of children who received FA Education (Farkham Academy) at the same time as my father, the 18th Squire Farkham before going on to achieve great distinction at FU (Farkham University). More of their stories anon...

Listening to the lovely Maria Callas singing Gounod's Ave Maria on the Farkham Hall Phonogram earlier brought to my mind a couple of people who inhabited the Hall in my early days. Luigi and Luigia Forchinelli were in service to my family for quite some time. It all came about when Luigi was brought here as a POW during World War 2 and put to labour on the Farkham's farm. Well, it seems that being a prisoner in dear old blighty was a better option than his former life as when hostilities ended, he stayed on and sent for his wife to join him.

The couple was highly musical, with Luigia playing the piano while Luigi sang, although she had a beautiful voice herself. Her favourite song was the arforementioned Gounod piece. Even though Luigi's voice was not quite out of the top drawer, she deferred to him. I remember so often seeing my father's pained expression at not being able to go into the family music room. He would sit there just repeating the words "Forcchinelli's singing again", I think.

We lost our cook and gardener when they moved south west to open an ice cream parlour in Swansea with their children Gino and Gina.

The latter revolutionised catering by opening two separate counters. One for ice cream and one for coffee so that the endless perfectionist adjustments of the Baristas didn't hold up the queue for ice cream, while they laboured in search of the perfect Crema. The counters universally became known as Forcchinelli's Hot and Forcchinelli's Cold.

My lifelong pal, Dimitri and I were thrown out having pinched the serving fork from the hot counter. Old man Luigi looked fit to burst when he shouted out "Whose got Forcchinelli's Hot fork in fork in here" (he stammered). Honesty prevailed and I confessed "Varkov and I". At this point Forchinelli Senior swore some terrible oaths and threw us into the street before we could even finish our Cassata for two, with the instruction never to come back. Shame really.

Since posting the picture of my friend, Count Dimitri Varkov and I, many friends have asked who the reverend gentleman in the picture is. I can tell you that he was the local vicar of our school. Ivor Parrish was affectionately known to the flock that he served (and the congregation of his church, Saint Olav The Ignominious) as The Appalling Vicar Bastard. His control of the local wedding mafia was absolute, with the choice of flowers for the church being whatever his aunt had left over in the shop, delivered in the back of her husband's 'wedding limo', which bore more than a passing resemblance to a hearse. Brides have been seen leaving the church in tears having recognised the remains of the words 'We will miss you dad' in their wedding bouquet.

The AVB's main contribution to the greater good was to identify the cash value of solemnity. In the early days of video, he was heard to tell all couples getting married that because of the solemnity of what they were about to do, no video cameras would be allowed in St Olav's. However, on the changing hands of £250 this rule would be waived. So there you have it. The price of solemnity is £250, thank you Ivor!

Despite the best efforts of many in the parish to disguise their video equipment, they were always caught through the diligence of Snoop, the verger, who would instantly remove any offenders from the church, many of whom were never seen again.

While choking down my morning kedgeree, I mused on who would think of mixing kippers and porridge in the first place, then, more importantly, why the ruling classes have to eat the accursed stuff.

This train of thought took me back to my lifetime pal, Dimitri Varkov. We were inseperable at school, and have been lifelong friends ever since those happy days at Farkham Academy. Dimitri's mother was exiled to Britain alone, penniless and with no prospects. She and Dimitri lived in reduced circumstances over in Far Kingtown. In fact I often wondered how he could attend such an expensive boarding school. Only recently did I discover that my father's blessed generosity funded the young Dimitri's education

Such was his commitment to helping out that father often made visits to Far Kingtown in order to monitor the lad's progress. Typical of his considerate nature, he always made these visits in term time so as not to interrupt our scholarly concentration.

Being young and full of high spirits, we were often in hot water at school, in fact one of the most memorable beatings I had was when the headmaster asked who burned down the old barn in the school farm. I thought that my honest answer "Varkov and I" would earn me some clemency, but it seems that Dr De'ath was in no mood for mercy that day. Stumbling out of his office, I made a mental note that next time the answer should be "Varkov and I Sir".

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