Sebastian sat back in his chair and frowned as he read the latest email from Rupert Etherington-Smythe regarding important changes to the Mogwash pantomime script. He believed he had followed Rupert’s original instructions as best he could – the story revolved around a series of clues that would guide the hero to a long lost fortune and, he had set the action in the Australian outback so that the mountain of corks that had recently clogged up the recycling centre in the car park could be used in some sort of meaningful way and, so that Rupert’s cousin, Kate, could showcase her professional technique on the didgeridoo. Rupert had stressed that there was no point in the villagers having 24hr access to a didgeridoo if nobody was prepared to use it. Sebastian twitched and reached for his whiskey; he had spent all of the summer simmering over the story line, steaming up the scenes, and boiling the plot, in an effort to produce a script worthy of production on the Mogwash stage; with his creative juices wrung dry, he had presented Rupert with his final draft: ‘Walkabout’ – A Constructive Critique of Australian Social Identity 1918 – 1945. It appeared that Rupert had been less than impressed with his efforts and was particularly perturbed regarding a gratuitously violent scene depicting the leading lady being hit over the head with a stray Campari bottle, leaving her to wander in an aimless fashion through flimsy stage sets as though she was an extra in a popular soap opera, before dying ungraciously in a heap. Rupert believed that the leading lady should linger longer that Act I, scene II… and she should at least exist to the very end of the pantomime… it was fine to tinker with traditional narrative structure, but screwing it up completely and then stamping on it was probably a tinker too far for the villagers of Mogwash. Sebastian gulped the dregs of his whiskey, hunched over his keyboard, and began his edits.
Meanwhile, somewhere in 2014, Scarlet began to breathe.
Sebastian sat back in his chair and frowned as he read the open Word document on his computer screen, mentally kicking himself for agreeing to help out with the Mogwash pantomime for the fourth year running. Not only was he expected to be in it, but he was now being asked to help out with writing the script as well. Rupert, the Pantomime director and village overlord, had kindly sent him a rough outline of the plot, it appeared to revolve around a series of clues that would guide the hero to a long lost fortune. Sebastian twitched and reached for his whiskey; what was it with the villagers of Mogwash? First it was Scarlet with her bizarre blog encouraging her readers to follow a series of clues to find a mysterious ‘Bottle of Greed’ – as if – and now Rupert had got in on the act with his clues to find a treasure chest in Never Never Land [loosely based on the Australian outback as an excuse to get someone to dress up as a kangaroo]. Had they all gone completely mad? Were Rupert and Scarlet in league with each other? Was Sebastian really nothing more than a fictional character inhabiting someone else’s narrative? Was the postman going to start giving him thinly disguised directions to the whereabouts of his mail? Had the milkman hidden his semi-skimmed and Greek yoghurt in a location yet to be disclosed? It was all getting out of hand. He wanted to lie down and sleep, he wished to wake up in a world without treasure chests, or bottles of greed; he wished to wake up in a world where everyone said what they meant – in a world without a clue.
Be careful what you wish for, typed Scarlet, sometime later in July 2014.