In 2003, an annual celebration took place for the very first and, possibly, last time in the Cornish village of
Trepanning, a place so remote it is located on its own outskirts. Edwardian Week bore the promise of remarkably poor
wages, shocking hygienic practices, fraudulent photographs of fairies, and generally anachronistic miseries which would
provide everyone with a really good reason to complain for months on end afterwards. The event was disrupted, however, by the
arrival of an actual tourist: an American newspaperman named Ezekiel Watley.
Watley's visit was dutifully chronicled on the Trepanning Parish Noticeboard, which eventually vanished into the ether along with the rest of Trepanning and its surroundings some years later, presumably to meet the constraints of the bus schedule and/or budgetary reasons. However the Department of Social Scrutiny misses little and forgets less, and the seven Parish Notices detailing Watley's visit have been restored below for posterity.
We are most recognizant to Ian Vince for permission to repost the text and images on this page, all of which is © copyright 2003 (all rights reserved) in his name, with the exception of the character of Mr. Watley himself.
Trepanning Air-Sea-Time Rescue have confirmed tonight that they rescued an Edwardian gentleman from the jaws of a whale as the town floated back from its annual holiday.
The gentleman, who gave his name as Mr Ezekiel F Watley to Rescue Officers, is now recovering from his ordeal at the Hole In The Head Inn's Emergency Alcohol Treatment Centre. Centre staff are describing his condition as "unstable but comfortable".
The whale, a Great Ivory, was not harmed during the rescue, which saw officers winched down from the town to apply raffish charm and honest good looks in an attempt to wear away the animal's inhibitions. "We used a mix of strategic and tactical charm on the beast," said Andy Ladd of Squadron 1, "my Rear Bosun attempted to swap phone numbers with the whale, while I tickled its chin and breathed suggestive remarks about fish in its ear. But we're not really gods or anything - we're just heroes doing our jobs."
Mr Watley, meanwhile, was admitted to hospital as soon as he was rescued. Doctors on the scene were convinced the old man was babbling incomprehensibly but when blood tests later revealed him to be Edwardian, he was discharged immediately to the local Inn.
Trepanning's insurance industry was plunged into crisis this morning as claims were filed on behalf of Mr. Ezekiel Watley, the American tourist rescued from a whale yesterday.
Pendrake, Uren, and Polglaze, purveyors of cetacean related insurance, declined the claim for emotional damage and whisky loss on the grounds that Watley's destiny account was "too American."
"When America decided to take control of its own 'Manifest Destiny,' it effectively withdrew from the world fate-trading market," said Reawla Polglaze. "Bloody Americans pretty much get what they deserve anyway."
Many are accusing the embattled firm of over-compensating for historically lax standards. Last year, scandal erupted when a hundred and fifty Truros were paid out to Edna Bottrell for damages inflicted to her sitting room by a Beluga whale. The damage was, in fact, caused by a shark.
"I told them the aura was far too cartilaginous, but did they listen?" said busybody neighbour Demelza Hocking, Clairvoyant Class 3. Watley himself is apparently disinterested in the matter, being rather consumed by errands to replace his beard-brush and whisky-flask, both of which were lost to the gullet of the leviathan. His plans are not known, but as a rare living tourist from the Outside, all of Trepanning's tourist agencies are battling for his attentions, and it may be days before he recovers, if he survives.
The dwindling fortunes of Trepanning's annual Edwardian Week have been given a boost by Ezekiel F Watley - the last Edwardian left alive and the man unexpectedly rescued from a whale at the start of the week.
From the saloon bar of the Hole in the Head, the venerable gentleman spoke of his joy that "Providence has, indeed, sustained me in a manner which I did not think to expect, having lost my ample supply of Single Malts to the Leviathan. But, once I was swiftly and suddenly rendered Exuberant by the fine Edwardian Ale purveyed by the Inn, I found that it somewhat humbled my Uncouth palate. For this reason alone, I find your Historic Revelry of inestimable Value and Novelty."
Trepanniers, who have become increasingly irritated by the Festival over the years, are to demonstrate tomorrow if the Town Council's mildly diverting, but nevertheless compulsory Live on 1901 Wages promotion is not instantly revoked.
The Council has already abandoned plans for a "funfair without killjoy modern safety considerations" when one of the rides - Blackout Supersonic Slamsplat! promised children it would render them unconsciousness by centrifugal force before firing them into a wall at a 'supersonic' speed of 55 mph. The Council refused a license for the ride unless the speed was in excess of 761.207051 mph, when it would comply with the 'supersonic' claim.
It is my Pleasure and Privilege to describe my quotidian Meanderings for the benefit of the Trepanning Tourism and Covert Operations Council. I have had quite a Time in getting here, and do proffer my Apologies for any subsequent Weakness in my prose.
My name is Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq., editor of a small yet obscure Webamagraph publication in the United States. Having been rather Unexpectedly swallowed by a Leviathan - the Family Nemesis, you know - I was equally unexpectedly Plucked from the Seas by this remarkably Charming group of Cornishmen passing by, who brought me to Trepanning.
How, then, to Describe the marvels of the quaint but Effervescently Civilized burg where I now convalesce? Surely not even Pittsburg or Sacramento could match the Stately Civilization that surrounds me and pervades every Nook and Cranny of the Parish State. Trepanning reminds me of my Youth, from Gentlefolk dressed Properly in Coats and Tails, down to charmingly Incomprehensible Chimney-Sweeps begging Aggressively for a Ha'penny. I am told that the populace is Suffering under the onus of the Edwardian Festival; but to my uneducated Eye it seems the halcyon Paradise of Youth. Wages are overrated, good people! Complain not about your Charmingly Dated pay scales! My staff doesn't, after all.
There is, however, more to the State of Trepanning than meets the Eye, and my keen Journalist's eye has been roving Curiously! Not for nothing is the Watley Review the 9,853rd most respected Investigative Journal on the Webamagraph! There is a Mystery about this Place; and I shall Unearth it, even should it take me several Hours of Cogitation.
For an example, I struck up a Conversation about the Weather with a local Constable on the street. However, upon noting that the Day ahead "seemed to Promise Sunshine in Abundance," I was met with a most shocked glance. The Constable then accused me of "knowing more than I ought," and I was given a Citation for "Climatological Prognostication Without a License." Befuddled, I was about to wish him a Good Day when I thought better of it, thinking perhaps that Well-Wishing might require advance Certification as well.
The Whale was, in point of Fact, somewhat easier to Grasp than this enigmatic Locale. But I shall persevere, fellow Tourists! - Fear Not! - I should wish you Well, but I don't have the proper Certificates in order.
I was directed to a reputable Purveyor of General Goods to procure a replacement for the Beard-Brush which I lost in the gullet of the Leviathan. However, the store, Poltescoes, defied every Logic which I could construct. For starters, it took me a Quarter-Hour to get in the Front Door, for in a most peculiar Fashion whenever I opened the Door, I found myself standing ten feet Back from where I started. I at last used my Walking-Stick to make a polite Hole in a Display Window, and thus circumvented this odd Portal.
But where to Look in the store? - For the manner of Goods in the store - sacred Hardware, Mist-Block Lotion, Corgi Enhancers - defied American comprehension. Deftly, I sought assistance from a surly Store Clerk. Alas, his Cravat was giving him a bit of Trouble, venturing to Contradict every word of Advice he uttered.
Clearly, at this point, Fortification was called for. Luckily, Scotch was not in short Supply; for I carry five or six Sources at all times concealed about my Person, which I often Forget and then Find again in a joyous, never-ending Easter-Egg hunt about my Person.
Nine drams later, I was much better able to Navigate this extraordinary Store, and located something which would be Suitable to the Purposes of my daily Toilet. So I presented myself to another Clerk, hoping to Pay for my Purchase.
He held up in his hand a glittering metallic framework, scarcely larger than a small Clock, and very delicately made. There was ivory in it, and some transparent crystalline substance. And now I must be explicit, for this that follows is an absolutely Unaccountable thing. As I raised the Brush in my hand, a gentle Cloud surrounded me, emanating from the Device, which concluded with a rude Spark or two that I had no valid local Currency. I was thence transported in no Visible Manner to the street once more, bereft of Brush and three of my Whisky-Flasks.
One cannot choose but wonder. Will I ever return to that store? It may be that I am indeed swept back into the past, and fallen among the mead-drinking, hairy savages of the Age of Unpolished Cornwall; into the abysses of the Cornish Cretaceous; or among... No, for there is much Cheer and a glint of Modernity beneath the staid exterior of this peculiar Place; and though I may not have enough Currency yet to tend to my personal needs, I note a Poster announcing an optionally mandatory Whist tournament this evening. Surely there I shall earn my Stripes, and thence a line of Credit with which to line my pockets and my Sojourn here more Comfortably. Onward, soldier!
By the way, what is a Pixie? If anyone knows, do venture to Write, for there seems to be one tugging on my Shirt-Sleeve.
Yesterday's optionally mandatory Whist tournament, a regular feature of the Edwardian festival, hit an unexpected snag when the American tourist, Mr. Ezekiel Watley, failed to adhere to Trepanning tradition by walking away a winner.
"In the first place, he actually understood the game. Coming in with a full understanding of how to play is simply not cricket," complained Anselm Penhalurnick, Viceroy of the Department of Social Welfare. "Most of us barely squeak through Whist at Ordinary Level."
In addition, the traditional tourney refreshment, Piskey Whiskey Punch, seemed to have no effect on the American. In fact, it seemed to sober him up somewhat, to the consternation of many.
"'E shoulda been on the floor! 'E shoulda! 'E shoulda!" muttered Herrod Polperky of Green Chapel Way, angrily stirring the steaming Punch with a spoon as if looking for a flaw in its viridescent depths.
The Whist tournament is traditionally a means of unofficially distributing wealth to the underdwelling underclass in the Green Chapel Glen, which has virtually no economy other than waylaying Arthurian knights. Said knights being in short supply recently, they depend heavily on Whist winnings from an underinformed and drunken group of contestants.
"I do love a good rubber of Whist!" chortled Watley, jingling his immorally acquired Truros as he ducked some accidentally airborne furniture. Although technically no laws were broken, a juicy measure of revenge is likely and the Town is eagerly awaiting the details.
Edwardian Week has finally lifted from Trepanning like a dark fog fading before the sun, and the Town's American visitor has vanished along with it.
Mr. Ezekiel Watley, who this weekend earned the wrath of several Green Chapelites by walking away from the Whist table a winner, was treated to a round of telluric absinthe at the Hole in the Head in apparent celebration of his rousing oratory on haberdasheries. However, Watley soon took on a greenish tint and was seen to enter the WC, which was shortly found to be empty.
"Not my fault these tourists can't handle their drink," said Hole in the Head operative Jared Popplestone. "He might have played a good rubber the other day, but today looks like he got nothing but a Royal Flush."
Watley's departure coincides with the much-heralded departure of Edwardian week, leading some to speculate that he was in fact the very spirit of Bertie himself. As the former Duke of Cornwall, the deceased monarch has been known to visit time and again, enough to receive a Frequent Buyers card at the Transcendentalist Toffee Shoppe. Others speculate that Watley was just an opportunistic boggart with a cast-iron liver.
"I have always strongly suspected that America is just a figment of an overactive imagination," said Popplestone. "America's fictionality strongly renders his entire story rather suspect."
It remains to be seen if E.F. Watley will ever be heard from again in Trepanning. Meanwhile, the Tourism and Covert Operations Council is celebrating its most successful week yet, claiming that next year it will bring in two whole tourists, or your money back.