All posts by gothicmangaka

​Obituary-Sir Fromebridge Whitminster

I was saddened to learn, this week, of the sudden death of my old friend and sometime drinking companion Sir Fromebridge Whitminster, last of the great actor managers, tragedian and founder of the ill-fated theatre troupe The Hopeless Players.

Sir Fromebridge washed up¹ on to our shores many years ago from England, following a fall-out with the management of an esteemed London repertory company. He cited artistic differences as being the main reason for his leaving the land of his birth and that of his beloved Shakespeare.

From the moment he arrived in Hopeless he became convinced that the island had been The Bard’s inspiration for Prospero’s Isle in ‘The Tempest’, possibly gleaned from tales related by a sea captain who had ventured to the early colonies. On one occasion I challenged this assertion, quoting the words of Caliban:

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not…”

It hardly sounded like the Hopeless I knew.

“Poetic licence, dear boy,” he said. “But the bit about the place being full of noise is deadly accurate.”

It would be impossible to celebrate the life of this man without mentioning the short-lived Hopeless Players; their history is not a particularly happy one. The troupe toured the island several times, aiming to bring Shakespeare to the people. The problem was that, by and large, not only the people but the the island itself were hostile to this intrusion of, what they regarded as being, largely incomprehensible language and convoluted plots.²

The tragedies which occurred within The Tragedies are too numerous to recall, but certain ones stand out. There was the memorable occasion on the North of the island when the profusion of ghosts on the stage made it impossible for an uncharacteristically elderly Hamlet to pick out which one was supposed to be his father. As it happened none of them were, as the actor assigned to the job was, at the time, being seduced in his dressing room by a passing succubus.

The following year saw the King Lear incident. In a less than salubrious town-hall the cry of “Out vile jelly” had a swarm of timid, diminutive and generally shapeless life-forms climbing out of the woodwork in the mistaken belief that they were being evicted from their homes. The final straw came during a production of MacBeth, or The Scottish Shambles, as the company came to call it. Sir Fromebridge had completely underestimated the potency of the witches’ spells when cast on this particular island, especially beneath a full moon. The sight of Birnham Wood being transformed into a window-box, Banquo’s sporran spontaneously combusting and Lady MacDuff sprouting bat wings and a tail was unforgettable. Any rapidly diminishing chances of the show going on were scuppered completely when a set of bagpipes scampered around the stage viciously attacking the surviving members of the cast. On the plus side, this was the only time any of their performances received a standing ovation. The applause was deafening and enough to waken the dead, had they not already been enthusiastically joining in from the second row of the balcony.

After that what remained of the troupe quickly disbanded and Sir Fromebridge spent his twilight years holding court in the snug of The Squid and Teapot, a quayside hostelry frequented by mainly British exiles. He was a familiar sight in his trademark flop-brimmed fedora and billowing black cape, sharing anecdotes of a flamboyant theatrical past and gossiping about his various leading ladies.³

To keep himself occupied he attempted to teach the local people the correct pronunciation of certain words, such as tomato, schedule, lieutenant and aluminium. Sadly, none of these really featured much in the vocabulary of the average Hopeless resident so all was to no avail. However, while his efforts to anglicise the natives came to nothing, the culture of the island managed to reach him in its various ways. In fact, the very last time I saw him he was lurching out of The Squid singing, almost in tune, a popular island ditty:

” You can bring Rose with the grotesque nose
But don’t bring Cthulu…”

To my knowledge he passed away soon after, slipping quietly away in his sleep. (4) He will be sorely missed.

Editor’s notes:
1) Many believed him to be washed up long before he came to Hopeless.

2) And also unaccountable financial discrepancies concerning ticket receipts.

3) The chances are that he didn’t mention the critic who observed that
‘Whitminster believes himself to be elevating the stage, when in reality he is only depressing the audience’

4) This is not completely true. Eye-witnesses relate that he staggered out of The Squid and Teapot, following a particularly agreeable liquid lunch, to settle down to sleep upon, what he seemed to believe to be, a large smooth rock. This was in fact the belly of a juvenile aboo-dom-k’n, basking in the thin, greasy light of some unaccustomed sunshine. This sudden burden disturbed the beast which, hardly believing its luck, slipped quietly into the sea, taking its lunch ( that is, the artiste previously known as Fromebridge Whitminster) with it.

 

This post written by the esteemed Martin Pearson, proving that it does indeed run (or slither) in the family.

Recently discovered residents of Hopeless, Maine!

New residents discovered!

Hopeless, Maine sits in a particularly cold and damp pocket of Casco bay and is hardly a tropical isle. Thanks to the efforts of two recently discovered residents though, it has just become much, much cooler.

Derek Dubery and Lisa Cunningham-Black have heroically donned Hopeless, Maine attire and done a series of photos for us. We (it hardly needs to be said) are over the mist-enshrouded moon.

So, without further ado, please allow me to introduce you to our new found islanders, they are “Captain” Jerrimiah Thomson Flynn and Bonnie Black. (It’s unknown whether the Captain title is genuine or not) If Bonnie and Clyde were to have been born off the coast of Maine, it likely would have been these two. The Captain has at some point in his “career” led a group of local brigands, but they have disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Not long after this, he was seen in the constant company of the young lady pictured. When asked their feelings regarding the underground residents of the island, they expressed a willingness to go “which ever way the wind blows”.

This reporter is not entirely certain they can be trusted, but they are certainly stimulating company.

 

Hopeless, Maine lonely hearts

Gentleman of the Green house, Hopeless, Maine. Seeks Lady of supportive means for future relations. Must not be of lower classes, interest in anatomy and Babylonian texts preferred. Interested parties should leave details along with a quartz crystal in a favour of their choice, at the crossroad oak past the Inn. Full moon essential.

The Dowager McAdams, formerly of Suffolk, England. Current resident of Hopeless, Maine. Seeks suitable discreet Gentleman with good blood stock, unsullied reputation and minimal deformities by wart. Must like cats, lace and water lilies. The ability to swim is no longer necessary though steadiness underfoot would be a boon. Enquiries by postal correspondence to this publication only.

Incubus seeks lonely housewife for nights only the damned could dream of. Moonlit strolls along windswept clifftops your thing? You dream it, I’ll make it real for you. Want to make love on the beach as the tide laps up around your hips? I can take you there without ever having to leave the comfort of your bed. Let me bring your darkest desires to life. Let me break you on the wheel of sex and feed on you to your heart’s desire. Your body isn’t as important as your mind. That’s where I work my magic. Good sense of humour not essential.

Well to do couple seek partner for daughter struck down with a terrible case of ‘The Hysteria’. Doctor preferred or good understanding of the affliction. Family will provide safe haven and privacy, efforts are being made to procure suitable invention to alleviate the suffering. Discretion required, enquire at the Stocksmans hut on the outskirts.

I would like to meet someone I am not related to and have babies with them. Symmetrical people preferred. Left to right symmetrical, not back and front cos that’s bit weird. Own toes and fingers and none of anyone else’s. Replies to the Vendetta please.–

Lonely hearts contributed by

Adrian Trevelyan (Dr Porridge), Nimue Brown and Steven Savile

 

 

Towards Hopeless

 

Hopeless Vendetta

Bill Jones is an artist, writer and performer (As Miserable Malcolm) from that centre of the creative universe that is Stroud, UK. (This enables us to stalk him regularly)

He has quite recently released (Via publisher- Head of Zeus) a new book titled The Life and Times of Algernon Swift which is gloriously saturated with puns, double meanings and artwork like that above. We own a signed copy, I’ll have you know!  It can be got via online book selling sites and in all fine book stores (Possibly several middling book stores, but we wouldn’t know, as we don’t go into those) His website is to be found here.

Book Review: When We Are Vanished by Nimue Brown

Some appropriate love for When we are Vanished by Nimue Brown (My partner in life and creative madness)

Meredith Debonnaire

When We are Vanished by Nimue Brown, art by Tom Brown

No corpse.

This is a book with serious depth. I am already fifty pages into my second read of it, because I just know that there are things I didn’t quite get the first time round. When We Are Vanished is a beautiful, quietly kaleidoscopic piece of work. It has the feeling of a fever dream just before waking, when sleep logic and waking logic meet for a few moments. It also has a wonderful, sometimes sharp sense of humour that runs through the entire book and that had me chortling to myself at more than one point.

The story is set in a world where computers stopped working. In fact, all silicon-based tech is now useless. Most of the plot takes place some years after this has become the norm, and everything is crumbling away and being reclaimed by nature. The remaining people soldier on through the new…

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The day I swapped ‘crime’ for a ‘majickal-hare’…

Here is a thing that will more than reward your time! (We are ‘Saztaculous Matlock Folk’, you will not be shocked to hear)

Niff Soup

writedeskConfession: I’ve killed people. Sometimes meticulously, sometimes casually, nearly always brutally and most probably unnecessarily.  Worse – I made money from it, initially felt overjoyed by the simple thrill of opting out of ‘the rat race’ with this new, exciting and often ‘sought after’ lifestyle.

‘Sought after’?  Allow me to explain…  Twenty-years ago I was a crime-writer, and had a series of what were termed at the time ‘psychological thrillers’ or ‘why-dunnits’ published by HarperCollins.  The theme was ‘suburban bleak’.  Living on the outskirts of London, I was able to swap the daily commute into the capital for a fictional ‘life of crime’. I was in my early thirties, blinded by the dubious lights of success and just about able to scrape a living by simply doing what I enjoyed the most – writing.

Friends at the time were envious, some wrongly assuming I was somehow fabulously wealthy (I wasn’t…

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O’Stoat Sightings

 

Mellisandra and Durosimi O'Stoat

 

In the last week, there have been three separate sightings of the missing O’Stoats. Archibald Buckets claims to have seen them in the graveyard. Serendipity and Felicitations Jones both report seeing the pair walking at twilight on Hunger Hill. Jed Grimes tells me he woke in the night and saw Durosimi O’Stoat stood beneath his window, staring up at him.

Are these ghosts? Hauntings seem to be on the increase, so this is a possibility. Are they alive and in hiding? The weather has made any serious searching impossible. Given the horrific fate of their son Drustan, these two are not to be trusted, and if you see them, do not approach them on your own. They are very likely dangerous. Hopefully in time we will have opportunity to see justice served to this unnatural pair.

12th Night

 

12th Night revels

 

 
The evening was crisp with an unusually clear sky, which may be why we had one of the best 12th Night turnouts for many years. Torches and masks made a dramatic show as we paraded around the town centre, and the traditional dance was a great success. I know there are some who want to modernise the event with lively tunes, but the traditional, mournful dances and slow airs have a certain majesty that suits the dark time of the year.