The distinctive rumble of a big British single came to a halt outside the Hall ealier on today. The door opened to reveal a striking gent dressed in a leather greatcoat, pisspot helmet and brown gauntlets. An aroma of castor based racing oil pervaded the office atmosphere as he reached into a pocket of his greatcoat to produce his business card (pictured here) with a flourish.Introducing himself simply as the Remini-Scent Gent, he told me of their range of motor sport scented candles. if you get nostalgic when the scent of such racing oils fills the air, these are the ideal thing to have around so that you can enjoy them at any time.
As a bit of a dewey eyed nostalgist myself, this eccentric visitor found himself leaning against an open door, and I placed an order for an initial batch of castor oil based candles, which will be with us before the end of June. You can pre-order now to make sure of getting yours. They will make great gifts for all motor sport enthusiasts too, so treating friends and family will be easy. Take a look in our online shop.
For the first time in many years, the Farkham Hall morris side, the Badgernadgers were unable to join in this week's wassail celebrations or follow the Mari Lwyd around the town, owing to many still being in hospital and others in some pain following a practice calamity.It happened while they were practising the dance "The Huntsman's Heap", which is a complex measure for two and a half pairs. In this dance, the 'hounds' pursue the 'fox', who through cunning footwork and dexterous use of a baton manages to evade them at every turn. The end of the dance comes when the 'hounds' exhausted, fall in a heap, not knowing that the 'fox' is already there, so that all lie down together.This was a full dress rehearsal outside the Amble Inn, illuminated with burning brand torches the side looked resplendent in their regalia of blacked faces and all black clothing with black and gold tassels.All was going well with Kaye Keating, our local baker treading an excellent measure, bewildering the 'hounds', Basil Potbound, Jack Dawes, Doug Graves and Ken Ellman before taking up her prone position, hiding in the middle of the hounds while they danced themselves into the ground.
Music was provided by the able trio of Rosemary Notweed on fiddle, Helena Handcart on drum and our local GP, Dr Leitch on accordian. Dr Leitch wasn't very tall, but what he lacked in stature he made up for in enthusiasm. He insisted on standing on a wooden box to play so that he could get a better view of proceedings. That is where the problems began really.Rosemary Notweed, a lady well into her 60s was getting more and more engrosssed in the music, marching back and forth in time to the beat but went one step too far. The flaming brand behind her caught in the magnificent tassels on her coat, setting them ablaze in an instant. She screamed and ran forward away from the flames, but too late. Especially for Dr Leitch, with whom she collided, sending him flying from his perch. Now, falling off a box is one thing, but falling off a box to land on an accordion across your midriff is entirely another. The jolt of pain left the medical man reeling.Helena instantly cast her drum aside and went to Rosemary's aid, tearing off her burning black outfit and jumping on its remains to extinguish it. Meanwhile, this kerfuffle had not escaped the attention of the dancers. Kay Keating stood up rather abruptly, accidentally headbutting Basil Potbound on her way up. The sickening crunch and sudden spurt of blood instantly said "broken nose" and he dropped his baton in shock.Seeing that Doug was about to put his foot on the newly liberated stick, Jack grabbed it. Too late. Doug trod heavily, not only on the stick but also on Jack Dawes' hand, as we found out later, breaking several fingers, before turning his own ankle over in the process and causing a nasty fracture. "You bloody idiot Potbound!", he grimaced. "It's Peabune, you peasant", shouted Basil, who was always a little touchy about his name, advancing toward them, pausing only to pick up another baton that had been thrown loose in the melée.In the meantime, Ken Ellman had run over to help Helena extinguish the flame engulfed, substantial form of Rosemary, whose trousers had also joined in the conflagration, but couldn't be removed over her Dr Marten's boots, so were being torn from her in a most undignified fashion. She seemed strangely reluctant. It was then that Helena discovered the pothole in the pub car park that had somehow worked its way under Rosemary's jacket. The sickening crunch of her ankle disintegrating as her foot disappeared southwards was clearly heard as far away as the irate Mr Potbound, who stopped in his tracks and turned quite pale.The reason for Ms Notweed's discomfiture was becoming apparent as more of her Badgersnadgers finery was torn away. Her foundation garments were then exposed to all and sundry, and turned out to be a most revealing and unexpected sight. On somebody about 30 years younger and several kilogrammes lighter, the bright red, fur trimmed basque with ultra low cut balcony may have looked alluring. Sadly, Rosemary looked as though she had been forced into said garment before being somewhat over inflated. Worse still, the heat had melted the plastic whalebone ribs, which had distorted to add an even more grotesque shape to the ensemble. They had also, it seems, welded themselves to her skin in a most painful fashion.Now screaming in pain, along with the howls of Ms Handcart, the groans of Dr Leitch, more painful groaning from Jack and Doug along with various vile nasal mutterings about ignorami and peasants from Basil, Rosemary spotted the small duck pond in the grounds of the Amble Inn and hurled herself at it to cool the burns that were looking very red and angry on her back. Sadly, she didn't notice the low fence surrounding the pond, so went in face first instead of her target landing zone. The pond, being only 8 inches deep responded by removing her four front teeth."Hey Potbound!" Shouted Doug, "Aren't you going to come and help us?" I can't walk here." "It's bloody Peabune you bloody peasant!" retorted Basil. "Get it bloody right!". With his good hand, Jack hurled a baton at Basil, catching him squarely in his right eye. Not bad for a natural right hander, you have to agree. Basil added to the general cacophony with a pained howl fair fit to curdle the blood. Dropping to his knees was a mistake though, especially as the spot he chose was where the majority of the discarded batons were piled. The instant pain in his knee at least took his mind off his eye for a moment, but not for long.The Far Kingtown Hospital was called but to no avail, there were too many casualties for their ambulance availability. Luckily, Ken Ellman was unscathed and had his tractor plus flat bed trailer with him, so the injured members were all duly loaded up and he drove them to A&E. The triage nurse couldn't believe the carnage, saying that it was worse than the night that a couple of jokers had released a bull in the beer tent at the Farkham Hall Young Farmers Annual Dinner in 1976.We will leave the last word to Ken Ellman who had this to say. "Welllll, Oi'm juzzz don't know whaaaart aaaaarl the vuss am about! One minet, Oi'm 'aaaarvin' a noize' peezeful daaaaarnze, and the negggs minet, all 'ell breakz looze. Bludi zilly buggerz. Oi'm'll gonna be layte for moi dinner now and Oi'm'n'll ztill 'avvv to getz up urrrrly vor milkin' in the mornin'".
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.
We have a small number of last years Farkham Hall teeshirts left in various sizes and a choice of black or pink. These have to be cleared to make way for the 2016 season's collection, so they can be snapped up for £7.50 delivered or £5 to personal callers here at the Websmithy.Some pink sizes are still available in vee neck ladies' fit too. Listing what we have would take too much space, so please click in the header of any page to send us an email with your size/colour/fit requirement.The magic sky hangers are extra by the way!Don't forget that every penny we make on these goes to keeping my ancient YPVS350 racing in the Yamaha Past Masters series, so nothing is wasted!
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 Lübeck 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 können""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:FarkFolkThe 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.FarkRockFor 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!FarkRapEver 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) email@example.comGino and Gina Forchinelli (Catering) firstname.lastname@example.orgDimitri Varkov (Marketing & Promotion) email@example.comPlus of course, myself, general factotum without portfolioEmail 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...
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£
Many years before the Marmalade Mafia became my mother's focus, she was a singer and musician, with a beautiful soprano voice that earned her the nickname 'The Nightingale of the Farkhams'. During the war years and up until the time of Suez, mother did her bit for King and Country by giving her services to ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association. Whe travelled widely in this role, which gave rise to the old family joke that mother used to travel around entertaining the troops, and in the evenings used to sing.
That was not strictly true of course, my mother used to sing, play the piano and bass fiddle. At the time, mother was not yet the seventeenth Lady Farkham, but used the name on stage, feeling that being known as Mrs I Farkham would add a degree of gravitas and unattainability, thus keeping her safe from the unwanted attentions of servicemen.
That was not to be though, and in one tragic case, had far-reaching consequences. There were two young men from the village enlisted; Tommy and Jimmer. Jimmer was the eldest and some six years senior to Tommy. Sadly they both became infatuated with the future Lady Farkham and tried consistently to woo her but both failed.
I first met the brothers some thirty years after the end of the war, by which time they were to be found in the Milkmaids Arms most nights, quaffing pints of Gruntfuttock's Old Dirigible. Rumour at the time was that although they lived in the same house and had done since the war, they never, ever spoke to each other. The routine was that Jimmer would arrive first and take his seat at the bar, ordering pints for both. A few moments later, Tommy would arrive and take his pint to a table some distance away. Turn and turn about they would buy beers for each other all evening until Jimmer, who seemed to be the boss in this pairing would finish a beer and slam the glass down, which was Tommy's cue to drink up and follow, which he dutifully did. Even at the ages of 86 and 79 respectively, they stuck to this routine rigidly, as if it were the bedrock of their lives.
That is, until Tommy found an eager audience for his stories of old Farkham and the war among the younger element that frequented the pub. He started staying later and later. The effect on Jimmer of this was visible. Talk had it that he had started locking the door some ten minutes after getting home, yet somehow Tommy was always there in the mornings.
One day, Tommy didn't show up. It seems that Jimmer had rumbled his trick and found the ladder that Tommy used to gain access to his room, hidden in a hedge at the bottom of the garden. He sawed it in half! Tommy, being locked out was forced to sleep in the shed, which is no way for a near octogenarian to behave. Tommy was in hospital, and died without returning home. Many say that Jimmer died of remorse, even though the death certificate cited natural causes for Tommy's demise. He followed his brother on the journey to the Summer Lands within weeks, and the story of the feuding brothers was over. Mother still sheds a tear when this tale is told, and I can't help but feel she harboured a soft spot for one brother or the other, although she never says which one. I guess we will never know.
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...
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.
I was weekending with my good friend Dimitri when it happened. The poor old dog, Sodov, finally gave it best after a lifetime of harassment from the cat, Tripova, and turned up his toes.
Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal as the hound had enjoyed a very good innings, surviving for most of the 15 years that Dimitri had inhabited his current dwelling. Likewise Tripova was of a similar vintage, but seemed intent on living forever just to spite all around her.
The real problem was the other house guests for the weekend. The great grandson of Gerald Quinnell and Hermoine Farr, Frankie was there with his charming young wife, Arabella and their toddler daughter Laura-Louise. The infant had fallen wildly in love with Sodov, who had a delightful nature around the springoffs of the species. All she could say over and over was "When can I stroke the doggie again daddy£" and "What's the nice doggie called£", to which I would always answer "Yes, feel free" to the first question and "Sodov" to the second.
Anyway, as it happened, the only way to remove the corpse of the unfortunate beast was to hide it in a blanket and carry it out through the kitchen to the front door, which I did. As I slipped Sodov's mortal remains into the boot of the jalopy, I could still hear the plantive voice asking when she may be allowed to pet the animal just once more...
Poor old Dimitri ran out of excuses quite quickly and settled on the one that Sodov was very tired and was having a long lie down. True in its way I suppose. At the local veterinary surgery, we got a fairly chilly reception though. We left poor old Sodov in the waiting room for a while until someone came through to negotiate his disposal. One of the receptionists came through and shouted "What's this and who left it here£". Naturally we responded instantly, "Sodov, Varkov and I!". Well, I was shocked at the invective that subsequently poured out of her mouth. Needless to say, it became necessary for Dimitri to find another surgery for Tripova, and we left with our ears fairly burning.
I always thought that the job of veterinary receptionist attracted such nice people too. I guess it is the exception that proves the rule.
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".