…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….
I winced as I read the comments on my previous post. How could I have made such a glaring error? No, not the one about the lion feasting on caribou… but the one that alluded to time travel. Thanks to the wonders of modern day technology I could, and would, rectify my omission. But this was not the same as getting it right the first time and my legion of readers, followers, trolls, pixies, and people who regularly clicked onto my website looking for a crossword solution [please see Calligraphy Tip No. 1 – Thickening Downstrokes], had been left bemused, baffled, perplexed and perhaps even a little befuddled. This was not what they had come to expect from me.
My head hurt a little as I fiddled around in my WordPress dashboard, I was still recovering from my Easter over indulgence and felt a bit sick, but a post had to be written, mistakes had to be corrected, relevant quotations had to be found, a Pot Noodle had to be photographed, a used teabag had to be ironed, the sound of a vacuum cleaner had to be recorded, and invitations had to be delivered…
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….
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.