(our countrywide reporter of the nation’s underbelly)
Our latest trip took us to Little Happening as a response to an invitation from its village statistician, Euan Mee. He has worked, man and boy, at the jauntily named Office of Numbing Statistics at Number One, Holding Court in the village.
The village itself has been awarded Least controversial, Most Tranquil Village in Britain, and the even more prestigious Britain In Slumber Rosette for the last two decades. On our visit we were invited to the annual Tedium Party on the Green; an event organised by Pator Parcell, their staid at home pastor. All the village attended the party and songs of the key of life were sung by young and old. It was a most entertaining period of sedate enjoyment. It culminated in a short service in honour of St. Quitude, the patron saint of stoics and quiet lives. In fact, the village still boasts it being the dwelling place of Marriott O’Tell, a world renowned stoic and peaceable fellow. There was, during our stay, the awarding of the stoic of the month prize, held in front of the statue of O’Tell. Although the village eschews great pomp and ceremony as this particualr accolade is recognised merely by villagers greeting the winner with a knowing, measured inclination of the head. Some adventurous types try to embellish the gesture of respect by tugging on their hat or a slight salute but this practice is frowned upon and can engender castigation by stares from the older villagers. There was one occasion in the recent past when a person was fully ostracised and finally banished altogether when suggesting a minute of applause.
“We have no patience with such crass fly-by-night cliches: a nod has been good enough in this village for hundreds of years,” said Mrs Threadbare, the village post mistress.
We were told tales of how O’Tell used to teach children, who had gathered round him in the square, the art of the stoic’s nod. He apparently had the patience of a saint when it came to stoicism and its teachings but give him a political subject and he’d chew the ears of a donkey in no time.
“E were a reet good nodder. Young uns hung on his every word and gesture and were royally entertained by Marriott’s subtlety in nodding,” added Mrs Threadbare.
We inquired as to the time when the village was reputed to house a serial murderer but were quickly rebuked by Anne Ablative, teh local school teacher.
“This was a fallacious story put about by the village next door, High Handed, who were trying to denigrate our village and win the Britain In Slumber prize for themselves. The man at the centre of this bogus controversy was Oliver Sarmy, who every Friday night would go to The Flying Fork, our village pub, and announce that he could murder a pint: which he did and continues to do much to the merriment of the whole village.”
We met Oliver on our last night in the village and he was a most charming and gentle man; a tribute to the village indeed.