Greetings. My name is Benedict de Doublehelpings. Writer, rambler, and all round outdoors type in the decent old fashioned sense. Not like these new-fangled 'extreme outdoorers' you get now; row upon row of insanely white teeth wrapped up in gaudy orange Gor-Tex. Awful. I like going outdoors and was once in the Navy.
Here you will find an extract from my award-winning, world-renowned and respected book, excellently titled 'Oh, England', which details my journey around the England on my search for hidden gems; like lovely villages and forests, rivers lakes and ponds, huge towers of ice and the terrible tar pits of the North, of this fair land.
Here follows my review of Whikkers-On-One. It was Tuesday when I found it.
This place smells of pastry. As I wander down Smallflood Street, parallel to the river that bisects the village, I detect savoury fumes loitering in the very atmosphere between the low slung cottages. It is pastry day, I am advised, unsolicitedly, by a pedaling child. I wave my stick at him, but he has gone to warp.
A pleasant enough sort of place; Whikkers-on-One lies on the river One, which threads like a dribble of saliva through the cleft of the Butterfole valley, set deep in the heart of the mostly uncharted hills of Spudshire. With a population numbering a little over seven hundred it is a disturbing reminder of just how deathly boring living outside of a city can be. But one must assume the inhabitants have some shred of affection for it. Why else would they live here? I don't know.
The church graveyard is the single largest plot of land within the Butterfole Valley borough. It apparently has an 'open door' policy. That is according to the rather shaky vicar I met whilst rummaging around the font of his church. I helped him scrape together his dropped pills whilst I admired the stained glass. The local children grow up hearing tales of how the ghost of dear old Granny will come back and hook her clawed fingers into their malleable child faces if they do not behave themselves at the dinner table. But, truth be told, it was often necessary to nudge her withered face back out through the window and into the night with the broom when she was alive. You rarely see unarmed children in Whikkers-on-One. The weapons-export industry is one of the most prolific local trades. That, and pastry. I make my exit.
As I weave lazily about the place, taking in the whimsically stupid architecture, I come across a bent old woman wheeling along a tray of pastry. The tray is fixed, with string, to the head of a rocking horse that has had a hoof-wheel conversion. She lurches at me, her one un-opaled eye glinting fearfully in the sun. "It's in the clay, you know!" she screams, "They won't rest. Leave us. Leave now, before it's too late!" I smile and give her a shiny pound coin. She tries to kick my shins but I hold her at the forehead so she cannot reach. She quickly tires and sits, wheezing, on the ground. There is pastry all about our feet. I move on.
A quick duck into The Quick Duck, the sole public house in the village, leads me to believe I am in a sort of circle of Hell. The barman takes one look at me, as I deposit myself on a stool, and begins to gag. He recognises my sophisticated City hat, and ushers me closer into a conspiratorial vice-like grip. He advises me to take the first float out of Whikkers. He has surprisingly powerful arms for such a stunted beard-fellow. He is built like a geologist. They have hugely muscular thighs, you know; must be all that crouching around rockpools. I implore him to lessen his lock, as the blood has quite drained from my eyes, before ordering a large Scotsish whisky. The pub is empty. I take his warning at face value - a simple country-folk welcoming preamble. I smile. The bearded man stands and watches me sip at my drink in silence. His eyes follow the glass from the bar to my lips, and then tracks the obvious route of the spirit down my throat and into my tum. He looks at my lips once more. Then falls sideways next to the crisps. I leave.
As the last rays of the summer's day spike out from the horizon, I button up my overcoat, undercoat, waistcoat and epaulets, and set off down the high street. As I exit Whikkers-On-One, I notice the clanking of heavy locks sliding firmly fixed-closed behind considerable front doors. Windows are shut behind shuttery things. Lights snap out like lots of lights in a village going from on to off. The first mud of a country lane spits up at my heel, as I stomp through a puddle on the road leading out of the village. I think I hear a wolf howling behind me, and other voices quickly join it in a sort of demoralising chorus. But I say to myself that it is probably just my imagination, as I carefully thumb slugs into my revolver.
Where will the road take me? Where will it lead? Okspunce-Up-Neer, I answer myself immediately and with confidence. I know because I looked it up on the map earlier.
I give this village four.
All content © www.tinyhorsey.co.uk