Category Archives: Hopeless inhabitants

​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

 

 

The Hopeless Chaffies

Jamie Smart, creator of Chaffy, tells us, “Chaffies are small, innocent creatures, renowned for getting themselves lost in the most unexpected and bewildering places. Usually they’re spotted hiding in long grass or rolling out from under a bed, but these Chaffies went far beyond. Into the disturbing realms of Hopeless, Maine. To be fair, they still seem to be enjoying themselves, at least those that aren’t drowning or being chased by nightmares made flesh. However they got there, and whichever creatures they befriend, we hope they’ll find their way home safely. We doubt it, though.”

 

Hopeless Chaffies by Tom Brown, with colours by Nimue Brown, based on the Chaffies of Jaime Smart. Find more Chaffies here – http://www.findchaffy.com/

Peffa Oidy Witches sighted!

leftwitchdpscomp

Conventional wisdom suggests the sight of a squadron of over 200 airborne witches roaring out of the fog on bright-red, burning vroffa-brooms might make for a most ‘twizzly’ sight. But as this is Hopeless Maine, here we must remember that all convention mostly slithers slowly back into the murky seas of logic that surround the island like an ominous tentacle disappearing under the slooping waters…

The reality, were you ever to be perched on a jetty by the shoreline, your ears pricked by the throbbing hum of the approaching horde – would of course, be arguably different from your expectations.  And here, I’m assuming that you’re rather like the witches in question – a visitor to this most peculiar place, keen to encounter its many irregularities whilst trying your best not to be drowned, eaten – or worse….

So, with these pretexts aside, let us look up into the swirling mists and search the fluffing-white for the witches themselves…

There!

You’ve missed them!

Whole coven just flew right passed you!

….for these black-hatted sisters are far from ‘ordinary’ too. These are the ‘peffa-oidy’ witches from The League of Lid-Curving Witchery’ in Winchett Dale – and like you, they’ve come for a holiday to this most curious of places.

A holiday? Witches?

Listen, it’s not easy being a ‘peffa-oidy’ witch. First, there’s the whole ‘peffa-oidy’ thing – ie: being ‘very small’. Most are little larger than a mouse, some occasionally might rival a small kitten – but only in stature. They’d stroff the kitten, obviously – but probably only after teasing it for a ‘very long time’ in order to get their own back on felines, generally.

Their brooms are often little more than twigs, their hats the size of thimbles – so really to have 200 fly past in the fog and miss them completely is quite the most normal thing to expect…even in a place as tangled and tentacled as Hopeless Maine.

Oh, and if you do see them (most likely settled in a flock upon the boughs of an obliging tree in night’s early hours) back away slowly…peffa-peffa-slowly – for they never sleep, they only pretend…

(If you need more Peffa Oidy Witches in your life – and we think you do – then have a look at Phil and Jacqui Lovesey’s work over at http://www.matlockthehare.com/)

Salamandra and The PLM

These two fabulous dolls were made by Sabrina Beckstead and sent to us. Which gives me an opportunity to explain The PLM a bit.

sal-and-plm

In the first volume of Hopeless Maine, we never name the creepy blonde girl. In the script she’s The PLM – The Poor Little Me. Her name, and her very existence owe to a song by Eliza Carthy – Me and Poor Little Me. I started wondering what a Poor Little Me would be like as a separate entity, and thus the PLM was born.

Thank you Sabrina for the awesome crafting, these two dolls have cheered us on darker days and are a constant reminder of why we are doing this stuff. And yes, they do normally live in our mistletoe.