Tag Archives: Hopeless Maine

​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

 

 

Tales of the night potato

The Legend of Stern Ericsson

By Graeme Talboys

Ericsson’s field is given to grass now, sour and wiry. Even the passing geese refuse to stop off there on their journeys to wilder climes. Nothing but the thin, cold wind plays there, and its game is spiteful.

Few, now, know who Ericsson was. Some even doubt he existed at all. But he did. He dug the soil of that field in a daily battle, breaking the sod as it slowly broke his back. For many years he had risen daily to the task with the rising of the sun and worked until the sun was gone from the sky. He grew vegetables there in the strange soils on the haunted hill.

It left little space in his head for ought but the small compass of earth in all its forms and moods. Letters meant nothing to him yet he could read the history of the world in that patch of soil. Many say it drove him mad. Once placid, his eyes had, in latter years, begun to glow with dull and obsessive fire.

With gothic inevitability, it was the night of a full moon that others noticed his eyes had taken a different shine; the same night that he was first heard to mutter: “They are here. The night potatoes are here.”

Some put it down to drink which he consumed with a destructive steadiness. Others simply pointed to the fact that no matter how much he consumed, his walk was ever steady and his speech never slurred. And those who put it down to the strong ale soon abandoned the idea as he was heard muttering it over and over at all hours of the day long after he had stopped appearing in the tavern of an evening. And he had taken to carrying his large, sturdy fork wherever he went – a fearsome tool that had broken many acres and lifted many a vegetable.

In the end it was thought his long years of toil had broken his mind before it had broken his back. Until, that is, a child who was out after dark when he should have been abed and asleep came screaming into his parents’ kitchen with tales of angry potatoes, eyes aglow, scuttering along Ericsson’s field.

Roused, the village men turned out in force. Alas, too late. What heroic action had been fought, they could not tell other than by surmise. All they saw as they approached the field was Stern Ericsson silhouetted against the rising moon, laying about his person with his dread fork as he was assailed by the vengeful tribe of root vegetables, their eerie pale eyes aglow with vengeance for generations of their brethren.

By the time the villagers had reached the spot, the warrior horde of perennial nightshades had gone. As for Stern Ericsson, prone on the ground he had tilled for decades, it was a sight they would never forget – the horror and despair in his sightless eyes; his arms and legs planted in the ground, earth banked up around his corpse.

The winter that followed was hard on everyone. Ericsson’s harvest had upped and run and there was little appetite for potatoes that year. And for many years after. Even now they are an imported delicacy, a luxury only to be found in shipwrecks.

No one knows what made them turn, nor why they turned on Ericsson, but there his field now lies, the cold wind knifing its way through the rough grasses. And if you dare to venture along the lane at night, just as a moon is rising, you’ll see a mound in silhouette, the final resting place of Stern Ericsson.

http://www.graemektalboys.me.uk/

 

 

From Lou Lou Pulford

“Where d’you want me t’put ‘em Ma’am?”

Perhaps there had been a misunderstanding. Another one. I had asked for vegetables. I had asked this very clearly and slowly, stretching my mouth around each syllable after the fashion of all well bred English women travelling abroad. Again it seemed my earnest attempts at meaningful communication had fallen foul of the islanders’ intellect. I do not mean to say that the locals here are backward in any way, simply that years of isolation for any community will lead eventually to the evolution of a very particular strain of intelligence… and it was the brick wall of this esoteric wit that my own frazzled faculties have been thrown up against since my arrival three days ago.

It was only a month or two ago that my dear friend Nimue Brown sat in my little soup kitchen in Lancaster nodding and smiling and making encouraging noises at my, obviously foolish, suggestion of a holiday to the island of Hopeless, Maine. Being a witch in my country is never easy, as women are not permitted to practice magic. I manage to hide my identity by running a little soup kitchen for the street orphans of Lancaster but it is a terrible strain and so when I heard about the plight of the poor orphans of Hopeless I decided to hitch my soup cauldron to the back of my broomstick and see if I could lend a culinary hand – nothing makes one forget the misery and futility of a poverty stricken life like a hearty bowl of home cooked soup.

It was now midnight (ish) on the third day since my arrival and, having spent a good amount of energy explaining why ‘bottom of the garden stew’ is not a nutritious diet for a growing child and the last of my good will reserves arguing that ‘just because it came out of the sea does not mean it can be called sea food’, I was now faced with a man bringing me armfuls of wriggling, root-flailing abominations insisting that these were potatoes.

‘Night Potatoes, Ma’am’ he sounded both exhausted and inexplicably pleased with himself.

‘Oh…but they are…um…moving?’ I thought I had made it quite clear that vegetables should on no account move of their own volition – much less glare at the cook with glowing eyes!

My benefactor leaned in conspiratorially ‘ better than them Gnii Ma’am… and the Spoon Walkers… and the Post Meridian Cucumber… and them After Eight Carrots..’

It was true; ever since the soup kitchen had opened its doors I had been inundated with a dauntless stream of locals proffering their contributions to the pot (along with various blessings, charms, curses, death threats…)

I sighed, better perhaps to humour this gentleman and his Night Potatoes than risk him return with some more frightful offering. ‘Very well, thankyou, thankyou so much I’m sure I shall find…something to do with them.’ I smiled gratefully and closed the door, leaving myself distressingly alone with a kitchen full of sinister spuds, who were now congregated around the stove, blinking menacingly at me with probable murderous intent. I rolled up my sleeves, picked up a rolling pin in one hand and a meat cleaver in the other and thought fondly of the onions of home, once again it was going to be a long Hopeless night but I was determined that at the end of all the screaming and the torment, all the carnage and the blood, there would be soup.

https://smithandskarry.wordpress.com/

Local Woman Takes The Plunge

artistLOCAL WOMAN TAKES THE PLUNGE AND OPENS GALLERY OUT ON GEEZO’S BIGHT

Local artist, Fuschia Van Der Hvergulmir, has taken the plunge and opened a gallery out on the small bay known as Geezo’s Bight which is situated on the northern coast of Hopeless.

The designer, who has previously had her work exhibited in the town hall, makes jewelry and ‘objets d’art’ from items that she discovers in the pit near Geezo’s Bight.

‘I’ve been exploring the pit for a few years now’ Mrs Van Der Hvergulmir told Frampton Jones of the Vendetta ‘ I used to beach comb but that became problematic when an albino seal (at least I think it was a seal) got very territorial and took to chasing me away every time I went down to the beach.’

‘Then I discovered the pit when out for a walk with my husband and our dog, Pepper. I still haven’t got to the bottom of it yet!’ She laughs.

Mrs Van Der Hvergulmir said that she and her husband Glenn thought long and hard about opening her own gallery given the current bleak economic outlook, but decided she would regret it if she did not at least try.

‘I’m really excited’ she said.

“I’ve had a really positive response – fellow businesses have been particularly supportive – and so far we have had five customers since we opened our doors three months ago.’

Mrs  Van Der Hvergulmir has built a workshop at the back of the gallery so she can make jewelery while being on hand for customers.

The jewelry and ‘pieces’ themselves are somewhat hard to describe given the strange quality of the materials used. This reporter particularly liked a crouching figure made from a sort of crumbly pumice stone entitled ‘Lier-in-wait’ and also a necklace made of a dark viscous substance that gives off a dull brown radiance.

The Van Der Hvergulmir Gallery produces one-off commissions, including engagement rings and is open to the public on Saturday between the hours of 1.00pm to 3.00pm.

(This Vendetta contribution was written by Charles Cutting, of http://charlescutting.com/ author and illustrator of the most excellent graphic novel – Kadath. Art on this piece by Tom Brown.)

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.

Join our Vendetta

The Hopeless Vendetta launched some years ago as an accompaniment to the Hopeless Maine webcomic. We had time to spare, and the idea of a weekly newspaper for the Island of Hopeless Maine, running alongside the webcomic, appealed. Of course with the webcomic uploading at a rate of 2 pages a week, the time didn’t always match up very well, but no one minded.

A thing happened, and it was a thing we had not anticipated. People started joining in. They gave themselves Hopeless-style names and characters and started posting comments. Island life expanded, and we were very excited about this.

Then work pressures, and life pressures, and living on a boat and having no electricity or internet most of the time pressures took over, and that extra post and extra drawing per week became too difficult, and we left the Hopeless Vendetta to languish.

Times change… the webcomic has gone, we’re published by Sloth Comics, and the Hopeless Vendetta stirs and shifts in a way that may cause some people to think of dead and dreaming elder gods…

One of the things that hasn’t changed, is the way in which people are moved to create Hopeless things of their own. It’s one of the things I love most about this project – I came in as a collaborator, so I know all too well the lure of the island, its strange inhabitants and moody possibilities. I love it that other people respond as I did and want to get involved.

And so, the Vendetta shuffles a bit, dust falls from its ungainly form. Life, or something that resembles life, returns.

We’re going to be using this space once again to explore the life of Hopeless Maine beyond the graphic novel series. We’re throwing it open to anyone who wants to share – art, music, stories, poems, cosplay, creations of any sort and shape that capture something of life on a haunted, troubled sort of island in a cold, cold sea.

Wave your tentacles if you want to get involved.

Celebrating 60 Years of the Vendetta

(Frampton Jones)

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.