Today I tried to speak with Frampton Jones about the exceptional presentation of his shirt collars. He was clearly not interested in my opinion which disappointed me. I assumed that a man with a good collar standard would also have more elevated manners. He was in a hurry to be elsewhere and did not handle this with grace.
People are so self involved. It’s always all about them. Here I am, trying to make positive changes for the good of one and all, and no one can even make the time to listen to me. Do they not understand how much better life would be if everyone had presentable collars? Do they not see the social and moral benefits of decent laundry? They do not.
Instead, they are always focused on some drama or another. A shipwreck. The fear of vampires. A barn on fire, a mysterious death… Do they not understand that the only way to deal with a crisis is to pretend it is of no great significance? It is the height of bad manners to press the details of one’s immediate suffering onto another human being who many then feel under some pressure to respond to it. Why can they not suffer quietly and make more effort to keep up good appearances? Where is the dignity that hides hunger and misery behind a neatly laundered curtain and puts a nice floral arrangement on the table when there is no food to put there?
I cannot decide whether this is a form of madness, or a form of laziness.
It has come to my attention that Mr Frampton Jones, of the Hopeless Vendetta, has immaculate shirts. I feel uncomfortably over-familiar in using his first name thusly (we are hardly on intimate terms!) but with so many islanders being properly ‘Mr Jones’ it becomes exceeding difficult to clarify to whom one is referring. While trying to find food for purchase last week, I was involved in a most confusing conversation in which at least three farmers called Mr Jones were involved, and as a consequence I entirely failed to find any meat for the table.
While I do not like to speak ill of others, I cannot help but feel that my neighbour, Miss Tenacity Jones was making mock of me. I have previously been compelled to discourage her familiar way of talking about people, and now she refers to all of her relations as Mr or Mrs Jones, with scant regard to their apparent gender, and it is most unhelpful of her.
Mr Frampton Jones, of The Hopeless Vendetta has beautiful shirts. His shoes are invariably shined, his bowler hat neatly brushed. It lifts my spirits to think that I may not be alone in seeking civilization on this vile island.
This week I finally captured an image of some creatures. I have not yet decided on names for them, or worked out if they are in fact related to any other creatures known to us. I had been studying tracks for some weeks before I was able to record an image. I am not sure if the beings to right and left of the image are related or not, but wanted to share the discovery.
It continues to amaze me how few people notice the non-human occupants of our island. Many people debated the existence of spoonwalkers with me, despite the overwhelming evidence of their activities. The week before last several people suggested that our peculiar visitor was not a creature at all. Although admittedly both of them dropped the issue after they saw it eat Boris’s dog.
I do still find myself wondering sometimes if I see things that other people do not. During the unfortunate camera business, it became apparent for a while at least, that no one else saw as I did. Based on observation, it is remarkable what ostensibly normal and ordinary persons can fail to perceive. For example, last Thursday at The Crow something climbed out of the cauldron and made a dash across the restaurant floor, escaping when the door was opened. I watched it go, with the peculiar impression that no one else in the premises had noticed. I encourage you all to be vigilant. Sometimes, there are devils in the details, or, as in this instance, the soup course.
The Hopeless Vendetta reaches a remarkable milestone this week. Seventy years ago, Edgar Titus Prerogative arrived here from the mainland, enthused by developments he had seen there. According to his journals, Hopeless was a wilder place in those days, with society structured around the four founding families, and very little technology at all. At first unable to buy or make a printing press, my maternal grandfather erected a large board, painted it black and wrote news upon it in chalk. A tradition that continues to this day, as does the habit of writing personal comments upon it in response to local events.
Five years later, Prerogative managed to buy a small press from the mainland, however, the ship bringing it floundered on rocks, and the press sank. Over the next year, my ancestor dived repeatedly and was able to bring up what he believed to be the greater part of the press, improvising whatever was needed to fill in the gaps. Only at this point did the issue of paper occur to him, and two more years passed during which he mastered the art of paper making. The first press produced copies one at a time, and was remarkably slow and cumbersome to use.
Sixty years ago this week, the first Hopeless Vendetta went to press. It was a historical moment for the island, bringing the community together, facilitating public arguments, and allowing opinions to be widely aired. Edgar’s daughter married one Percival Jones, who took on the business of the press, inventing a new, faster device, and thence it passed to me. The future of this publication lies, it appears, in the hands of Modesty Jones. God willing however, I shall maintain its noble tradition for many more years yet.
Back in my youth, people did occasionally leave Hopeless. Ships sometimes arrived entirely of their own will. Back in those days, we were more optimistic as a community, and a good deal better off. When did anyone last build anything new here? I imagine it must be a disheartening place to grow up. I offer these thoughts as a counterpoint to my nephew’s report. What are we doing to build a future for our younger citizens? What do they have to look forward to? Can we blame them for small crimes inspired by futility and despair? The weather has improved, and I encourage you to spare whatever time you can for the bridge project. Parents with wayward young sons, in need of hope and direction, are encouraged to send their lads along. We can give our young folk something to believe in!
In the absence of any better news to report, I have printed my nephew’s latest attempt at journalism. It may divert people. I have spoken with Miss Calder, but her recollections of dying are so fragmented that I can make little sense of them. As for the spoon business, it is simply another spoonwalker epidemic. Little creatures are stealing our spoons and using them as stilts. It’s happened before. I remember it very clearly and am certain others must as well. The less experienced amongst us are perhaps too hasty in jumping to improbable conclusions.
The child who disappeared from Pallid Rock Orphanage along with Miss Calder, has now been found. The girl seemed dazed and could offer no explanation of where she had been all this time, who had taken her, or what had happened. Perhaps when she has had chance to recover from the trauma, she will be able to speak of her experiences. Pride requires me to add that I was the one who found the girl, aided by Doc Willoughby.
It is always odd finding myself part of the news, but on this occasion, I am delighted to have been of service. I have not yet had chance to speak with the ghost of Miss Calder regarding her demise.
I find myself wondering why some folk return from the dead and others do not, and what happens to those who do not walk amongst us.
(from Frampton Jones) I can only apologise for the abysmal quality of last week’s Vendetta. Apparently they had to tie me to a chair. It has been most embarrassing, but I have since been able to educate my nephew in the correct use of the press! Doc Willoughby says that I can start going out again now. They have taken away my old camera and smashed it up. I regret this. I feel there were mysteries I was close to solving, and now that knowledge is lost.
Since last week, Reverend Davies has exorcised my camera. Annamarie Nightshade has charmed it. Doc Willoughby took the lens off and cleaned it with alcohol, and Arthur Gibbous, glasses maker and inventor, took the whole thing apart and put it back together again.
Currently, photographs, once developed, all look like the image I have published alongside this article. Consequently I cannot tell you if this is the picture I took of Parables Chevins’ remarkable meese (they’re emerging early this year!) or my attempt to capture an image of the sea creature that appeared off our shores on Tuesday. It might, equally, have been the outrageous street scene that followed a fire in a house of ill repute on Wednesday, or the frankly improbable wedding dress worn by Chastity Jones for her marriage to Exodus Chevins on Friday last. I didn’t know we had that many rodents on the island, and the patience required to skin and stitch them must have been tremendous.