2001: Making News in the Bigglesworth Daily Planet

Creative Writing, Media & Communications

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The news, the whole news and nothing but the news from Lands End North
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Toxotes a reformed character after stretch in clink

Disgraced Tory peer’s penal ideas labelled ‘authoritarian in nature’ and ‘nunsense’ after speech at prison reform conference

Sid Caustic, home affairs editor, Thursday, September 29, 2001

Lord Godfrey Toxotes, who once fed a starving six-year-old East End urchin to a frenzied and baying rabble at a Conservative Party branch meeting, today delivered a thoughtful plea for prison reform. The conference, organised by the John Howard League and held at the Exclusive Rich Toffs Club at Oxminster, allowed Lord Godfrey to showcase his most audacious theories on a subject much on his mind recently, penal reform.

Toxotes noted that after two years incarceration in Club Wormwood Scrubs he felt qualified to offer the “big nobs” in Westminster one or two of his thoughts for their consideration. In his talk the former “guest at Her Majesty’s Pleasure” admitted that many may see his proposed reforms as a bit on the draconian side, but emphasised that he could never be called soft on capital punishment. Indeed, who could ever forget Toxotes’ strident demands when MP for Great Malvern Bottoms that the then Labour Government get tough on kindergarten rage.

Lord Godfrey defied his detractors, boasting he had a record of supporting prison reformers and other “do-gooders” and “loony lefties” ever since 1969 when they had helped him out with a spot of bother involving a couple of Toxotes’ colleagues in a Turkish jail, some mixup to do with crack cocaine. “Mind you”, he added, “I don’t know how these people got into the Conservative cabinet in the first place!”

One of the proposed reform schemes outlined by Toxotes involved rehabilitating incarcerated sexual offenders by having them whipped by scantily-clad nuns from the Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The life peer exclaimed, “if this doesn’t induce guilt in these vicious working class types for their heinous crimes, then I done know what will!” “At the very least, it will mess with the minds of the tykes amongst them”, he chortled. Lord Toxotes proceeded to explain that although he supported reform of the prison system he did not consider the present sentences punitive or excessive, adding that for capital punishments he favoured electrocution over beheading which is still in practice in some of the minor counties. “Much less messy, no residue”, he reasoned. “You must not ‘mollycoodle’ these transgressive elements of society. You must teach them a lesson they won’t forget in a hurry”.

Toxotes’ eloquently enunciated argument for penal reform was in marked contrast to the unconstrained broadside he launched against the Home Secretary and Director-General of the Prisons Service. The authorities, he fumed, had subjected him to “the shabbiest of treatment”, undeservingly so for “a man of his international stature who could number among his closest friends, Baroness Thatcher, General Pinochet, Rupert Murdoch and several ayatollahs”.

“Lord God” also bitterly complained that the authorities initially housed him in the notorious David Beckham Maximum Security Unit, where he was confined with murderers, terrorists and rapists.
Footnote: Fortunately he was able to make an accommodation of the “cross palms” variety with the governor and move to a low-security, luxury penthouse custody suite in a different part of the gaol. Here, the peer was able to observe at safe distance all manner of hardened proletarian criminality.

Frances Cockup, director of the Howard League, said that she supported a number of the peer’s ideas but she disagreed with his proposal that prison inmates should be coerced into taking part in “human tissue as art” experiments. She commented: “you can’t force prisoners to grow an extra ear on their elbow just because Lord Toxotes thinks it might be good for prison staff morale”.

imageMarkus Golightly, editor of the Prisoners Companion Handbook, labelled Lord Godfrey’s “Sister Lash” notion, “pure nunsense!” “Its a typically wacky Tory kind of policy'” Mr Golightly said, adding that “It wouldn’t be a bad thing if more prominent Conservatives got a taste of life on the inside, mixing with the hoi polloi, it might shake them out of their 1950s ‘born to rule’ timewarp …. or at the very least, appear slightly more human”. _______________________________________________________________ Breaking News!
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Timber Baron Wars: a Southern Cone Dictator on the Run

Creative Writing, Media & Communications

Epoch-defining international news reaches even the most peripheral, overlooked corners of the Globe. Take this piece that appeared on page 1 of the Ketchikan Dispatch in late 2007. The Dispatch is one of the finest news publications in the entire Southern Alaskan Gateway.

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Ketchikan Dispatch

Motto: All the Gateway News and more!

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Pinocchio escapes extradition

From correspondents in Santiago

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October 03, 2007

An appeals court in Chile has blocked the extradition of Commodore Augustine Pinocchio to Argentina for questioning over a car bombing in 1979.

A judge in Buenos Aires wants to quiz the Chilean timber baron as part of an investigation into a 28-year-old attack that killed a rival paper pulp producer.

But the Santiago Court of Appeals, in refusing to lift the immunity Pinocchio has in his capacity as former president of the South American Anti-Woodpecker Trust, has effectively blocked his extradition. The Santiago ruling would appear to put a lid on any legal avenues to make the nonagenarian faces charges in Argentina, at least for the foreseeable future.

Court President George W Somoza-Duvalier said that the Tribunal ruled that Pinocchio is mentally and physically unfit to stand trial as he is still suffering the debilitating effects of an abusive relationship he had recently with a particularly violent termite.

Pinocchio’s health is generally in a bad state, he also suffers from a mild case of degenerative wood rot, has a pacemaker and has had three strokes since 1998. When interviewed briefly in hospital this week, the edgy nonagenarian revealed that his ill-health started at the age of three when his father took him on a visit to a saw mill, and as a result, to this day he stills breaks out in a rash at the mere sight of a pencil sharpener!

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News from a Remote Gaelic Camelidae Community

Creative Writing, Media & Communications
Back in 1997 the isolated bifurcated-hoof inhabitants of far North West Wales depended heavily on the local Valleys rag for their link with the outside world. Let’s take a peek at what was making the front page in the far-flung Cymru Valleys on a typical day back then.

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The Daily Llama

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Friday, 13 June 1997, Vol 1, No 79

(Anglo-Welsh language lifestyle newsletter for the N/W Cymru community of Llamas & Alpacas)

www.llamalife.com.cy

Gwyl Tyddyn a Gardd Llamalife

Cymraeg

English

Editor: Llama Llewellyn-Jones

Editor, Daily Llama
Editor, Daily Llama

Editor’s Welcome … Llamas ac Alpacas am Cmyru! Hawddamor … gochel y twyllo dafad, y penfelyn Dolly Parton Sheep ys not ‘ch real MacLlama!!! Defnyddless hamfustyd git Dafyddna Rhys-Vanstone ys y blonegog camel ag gynhyrchu testiculyrs. A braiddyn arseferol fyckwyt Tonnay Abbytt synied Cardiff ys named arftyr llecyn (a place) ym Newydd Ddeau Cymru! Ditto Canadia! Lawn-mewn effenthidiot! A myfiggin serial Selth abusyr, Jones Taffy Howard, dremiau lyke ‘ch typical mutant Guanaco ar ‘ch particularly bayd dydd! Hefyd, poncey, fuddsy, Llardarss crossdressyr, Alexydd Downyr-Alpaca, plays golff off 26 – frym ‘r ladyes tees, ym hygh heels! Cardiff camels cymhuru ymd Welsh National Choir! Dai Llamas-Jones rhifo hwy sawl Taffy Howard yma digyt ym rear end am a vicuna. Must havye mystook i fer George Dubya’s!

Harwedd Feature Stori: ‘r Marxist-Llamas League (MLL) ystofedig attacks ym Alpacaglania Ilywodraeth. I takes ownership fer mercy killyng am smirky Liberalllama Deputy PM Maddog Costello-Lewis. Sloth learnyr Downyr-Alpaca has a thyng amdana Countess Duckula impersonators, esp Condeleeesa Rice-Crackers! Fewn y Tony Blair doll is popular ag depressyd llamas ac alpacas sawl gain a sense am moral superiority frym i. Holy St Bloddwen am ‘ch Crop Circles … ym gyflawn a chewers rhwystrau … golli! Os na Iwyddoch chi I canna cael Dai Davies ym ‘ch Swansea ffôn book!?! Deheuol alpacas frym Pontypool – pam felly diddeall? Na chewchew chi chew! Article: Oriel Guanaco-Luniautic Continue reading

A False Ring: Mythmaking in the name of Tourism in Hogsback, Eastern Cape

Popular Culture, Travel

Hogsback, 18 kilometres from Alice in South Africa’s Eastern Province, is just about the coldest place I’ve been to in sub-Saharan Africa, barring the mountainous Malealea region of Lesotho. In fact it is one of the few places in South Africa where it imageactually snows!

Auckland village, above M&C Falls (ECP)
Auckland village, above M&C Falls (ECP)

The topography of Hogsback is characterised by dense forests, an extended mountain range (the Amathole Mountains), lush, verdant hiking trails (a veritable hiker’s nirvana) and teeming rivers, magnificent waterfalls such as the Madonna and Child Falls and the 39 Steps Falls, the Arboretum (garden comprising a wide selection of international trees including 100 plus year-old Californian Redwoods).

In the period since JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books became famous, many acquainted with this part of Eastern Cape have drawn attention to the physical similarity of Tolkien’s fictional Middle Earth with the town of Hogsback. Director Peter Jackson could as well have chosen Hogsback for the setting of “The Rings” series of movie epics had he not been a native of a country (New Zealand) with a landscape equally evocative of Middle Earth.

Hogsback 39 Steps 009Even before “The Lord of the Rings” movie series some Hogsback locals did their best to capitalise on a handful of tenuous links with the celebrated Lord of the Rings author. The story goes, the ‘Rings’ books were inspired by the magical, enchanting physical form of Hogsback. The proponents of this theory point to the fact that Tolkien was born in South Africa (in Bloemfontein, Free State). The thesis loses traction when probed more closely. The famous author and avid philologist left South Africa at the tender age of three, never to return and having not ever visited Hogsback.

Myth-making about the Master Mythologist:
Despite this inconvenient fact, it hasn’t stopped the local tourist industry from milking the supposed nexus at every turn! ‘Lords of the Rings’ themes pervade the town and its surrounds, driven obviously by an effort to exploit the enhanced fame of Lord of the Rings. Tolkienesque references are scattered throughout Hogsback in the names of lodgings, shops and outdoor activities – Rivendell, Gandalf’s Rest, Merrell Hobbit Trail Runs, The Shire, Lothlórien, The Rings Hardware and Bottle Shop, Hog and Hobbit, Away with the Fairies Backpackers, River Running, Camelot Cottages, etc, etc. The association can probably be traced back in 1947 with the establishment of Hobbiton-on-Hogsback, an outdoor recreation and education centre for disadvantaged kids just off the R345 as you come into the Hogsback township. The “fantasy and fairies” theme is underscored in the numerous pieces of town sculptures depicting these motifs image[www.hogsback.co.za].

The Tolkien connection is emphasised as in the following: “The romance of Hogsback, is recognised by reading The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (1892-1973) which seems to capture the special atmosphere of the unspoilt Hogsback forests and of a time when peace will rule the world” [Trevor Webster, The Story of Hogsback, www.Hogsback.com].

Hogsback 39 Steps roadTalking to the staff person in the Hogsback Visitors Information Centre, she was unequivocally dismissive of the Tolkien LOTR nexus. So the lingering myth clearly wasn’t emanating from the likes of her! She also warned me against buying the primitive wooden toy horses and zebras in the street from members of the local Xhosa community. The street sellers, looking cold and dismal in the freezing conditions, were only asking R2 an animal, but the Visitors Centre lady explained that they are not properly gazed and sealed, making them a prohibited item to export out of RSA. Apparently a local artisan/sculptor had offered to glaze the artworks for the community at minimal cost so that they could charge more for the figurines, but his offer had not been taken up.

So, how plausible is the link between “Middle Earth” of Lord of the Rings and the sleepy, little village of Hogsback? Clearly, as stated above, JRR Holkien had no direct association with Hogsback, having left South Africa at age three. Information on Tolkien’s life however, suggest the existence of an indirect link. One of Tolkien’s sons, whilst in the Royal Air Force during WWII, was stationed at Hogsback and did correspond regular with the author with his reflections on the locale. These correspondences from Tolkien Junior included sketches and descriptions of the Hogsback ambience [Ibid.].

The Hog's Back
The Hog’s Back

Accordingly it is quite feasible that, at the very least, these glowing accounts of the mystical, magic-like countryside provided background material for the physical world of The Lord of the Rings trilogy published in 1954/55. It would be a reasonable conclusion to draw to say that the description of the Mirkwood forest in the Rings cycle drew inspiration from the accounts of the place by Tolkien’s son.