…smashed the bottle open only to find a message that read:
To whom it may concern….
Please Mind The Gap.
St. Johnson was adamant that this message proved beyond doubt that the Bottle of Greed was merely a result of Blue’s imagination, and her affection for pseudo-intellectual flimflam. When confronted with St. Johnson’s accusations regarding her subterfuge, Blue was reported to have smiled wryly and hinted at the possibility of there being numerous Truths.
With the benefit of hindsight it is easy for us to mock the doubting St. Johnson, he was, after all, a catalyst character for many of Blue’s improbable plot twists, which saw him drunk and slumped in a bus shelter; performing robust Abba impersonations in the Mogwash Arms, or being arrested for assault. It is easy to understand why St. Johnson has spent so many years trying to discredit Blue, and why he was inspired to write the best selling pantomime script Please Can You Make it Wear Big Pants. And a Knitting Pattern Would Be Nice. Considering the animosity between the pair it came as something of a welcome surprise to see them reunited for the first time in more than 20 years at last night’s opening show.
Peripheral characters at the event included Taramind Dewhurst, Moonchild Etherington-Smythe and Mrs Fitzpatrick, who elbowed each other for paragraph space, and were as eager as the rest of the gathered crowd to hear….
As a new day dawned over Mogwash, I resolved to put petty grievances aside. Sebastian and I could spat no longer seeing as our latest altercation had led to a ripped pair of lycra bell bottoms and an unromantic scuffle on the village green – we both agreed that writing any sort of sex scene purely to gain readership would be embarrassing, unseemly, and completely out of character… yet, somehow, the contents of Bottled Truth had been retrieved.
The Joker Bottle
As for the bottle of greed, it still lay undiscovered, dirty and abandoned, hidden in the hole where I had left it many months previous. It was time to be open and honest. The stark truth was that I had not left any clues on my blog. I understood that my legions of fans would be devastated and disappointed by this revelation. Those that followed my ramblings with almost religious relish, would feel duped and cheated. I had been brought to my senses by impending legal action – an overzealous fan had misinterpreted one of my quirky quotations as being a grid reference for a property just outside of Greater Manchester. Five prize winning flower beds, three ornamental rose trees and a garden gnome had been destroyed in less than twenty minutes. Naturally I would take full responsibility, but this madness had to stop… it was time to come clean, time to get serious, time to make riddles with real clues…
….she staged what was to become her most controversial piece of work. In May 2007 she was discovered to be writing a blog that alluded to the possibility of a bottle filled with priceless jewellery being buried somewhere within the vicinity of Luddley-cum-Mogwash. Pantomime writer, Sebastian St. Johnson, revealed this to be a hoax after he broke into her home and stole the Bottle of Truth. He smashed the bottle open only to find a message that read: ‘To whom it may concern….
Due to my lengthy absence, Sebastian had joined the local Abba tribute band in a concerted effort to dampen his despair at losing a witty, intelligent, modest and humble friend. Most evenings he could be found posturising in The Mogwash Arms, dressed in a chest flaunting white ruffled blouse teamed with black lycra bell bottoms and surrounded by fellow members of the used tea-bag Collectors Club in similar attire. After a few slugs of Campari he would impress onlookers with a range of ambitious oscillations including an inventive interpretation of a traditional Cossack dance, the climax of this routine being an impressively well rehearsed hand jive.
Reactions to my return were somewhat muted, indeed my first venture into the Mogwash Arms was greeted with hushed voices, muffled murmurs and the odd snigger. I was bewildered, hurt, confused, perplexed, and lots of other words that describe being baffled. Feigning kindness, Sebastian took me to one side and, possessed with the spirit of a pantomime villain, he slurred into my ear….
‘I knowww wherrr-ya-bittle-fortune’sss-burried… [dramatic pause as he swayed and dribbled a bit]…..I’m-gonna-put-ann-end t’all this flippin’ nonsense.’ He threw back his head and laughed with what can only be described as psychotic relish.
It was only when I arrived home that I realised what was behind his errant behaviour; Bottled Truth had been broken, shards of glass shivered in the fire place, the contents replaced with what appeared to be a brown, washed and pressed tea-bag of the Earl Grey variety….
“She was deeply hurt that nobody believed in the existence of Bottled Greed. I was with her when she buried it. It does exist.”
“She often used to walk up to the disused outdoor swimming pool close to where she lived. I told her not to go there. It was a ghostly, lonely place. She said it was haunted and that somebody had died there.”
“Her website and blog were influenced by her favourite authors and artists. She wanted to have everything she liked in one place.”
“As a child she was obsessed by a TV game show called 321, which was presented by Ted Rogers and Dusty Bin.”
“I felt that she was very introverted, reclusive even. She was much more sensitive than people believed. She liked to construct an opposite impression.”
“It was sad. She couldn’t quite determine fact from fiction and used to get in a muddle.”
“She was a slightly crazed misfit with a bottle fixation.”
“She always knew exactly what she was doing. She was exceptionally honest. I didn’t really like her very much.”
Occasionally, outsiders or people I knew from a previous existence, would attempt to make contact with me. Some would even go so far as to leave the security of street lamps, pavements – the rudiments of civilisation – to visit me in the dark depths of my rural enclave.
One morning I was awoken by a despairing voice on the telephone, pleading for directions.
“Where am I? This is deliverance country, Banjo Lan . . .”
Much to my amusement my caller was cut short by the infamous Mogwashian dampening field that sucks the signal from every passing mobile phone. I could only conclude that my friend was indeed very lost, but at the same time very close, and even with concise directions, a map, compass, and a book of quotations, it would always be impossible for anyone to locate me, let alone the bottle of greed.