I am, as your majesties know by now, no straynger to that which is straynge. In the month of septembre 2003, I did encounter of a gathering the like of which no civilised person might imagine. I was travelling upon the Queens highway, that which is named M-One, when for divers reasons I did feel the need to stop for a leake, and knowing from an earlier ~incident, that to do so would invite rude behaviour from the constables who prowl these ways, as like unto footpads, they would seek to incarcerate me and fine me until my purse of ducats should be quyte empty, I did seek to find a bye road more suited. Whilst adjusting my breeks, I chanced to spy a sign that did say ~ '4X4 event', and being interested by the idea that the rustics of these parts might practise mathematicks I did follow these signs to a farm closely surrounded by clever but mostly immobile carriages. Beyond this farm, through a stone tunnel I came across a sight akin to a army encamped for a mile or so in the valley. I followed the noyse and smoake until I found a line of carriages, which at interval disappeared into the woods, dispatched by a group of bucksome young ladyse who wore curious yellow vestes. I enquired here as to the location of the mathematickers, but they seemed not to properly understand, and sent me instead to a tent or booth, where a man looking like the magician Merlin did magick away my ducats and take my signature. He told me this was not mathematick but contraptions called 4x4 carriages. This kindly man commended me to attend the Mud Hole. I so betook myself in that direction. What a curious people these are. All over the countryside were these horsefree contrivances, snorting and grinding through the woods and crowds of people, both peasants and persons of quality urging them on, and crying out raucous comments. 1 found the Mudde-Hole to be most aptly named, being a large hole filled with mud. Like the executions at Tyburn which I reported in an earlier dispatch.
This crowd did roar most mercilessly when one of the carriages did stop and fill with mud at the bottom of the hole. Then another navigator of the clag would descend into tile ooze to attach some sort of hawser to the stricken vessel and haul it free, in time for the next victim. Never have I seen a more stupid activity, yet in the glorious sunshine, it was strangely compelling and I did spend some time there, watching, and jeering and cheering with the crowd, for the multitude were not in the least passive, yet rather were they alike those at a festival .... But only were they fascinated by those strange carriages, and their brave navigators.
Becoming eager to learn more, I walked back to the main tented area, where divers hawkers and charlatans were to be seen haggling over rusty items.of no obvious value. One worthy I asked about this explained that each year at this fair, the people's object was to buy one of these filthy totems, usually against the strongly expressed wish of their dear beloved, and to then brag about the ‘bargain’. They would then take the item back to their hovel, and set it to acquire a denser patina of rust After a year, they take up their bargain, and journey again to Langley Farm, where they attempt to sell the item for about half what they paid for it. If they so do, they feel that they are now rich, and seek out another trader, to exchange the newly returned money for some other filthy trinket. A special glee is to be had when the new item goes home and is found to have a left hand thread, and to be incompatible with any of the vehicles littering their premises.
In fact, the absolute prize is to find a part that looks identical to the one on their vehicle, except all the bolt holes are a different pattern, and to find it fits only centre-steer land rovers built for export to Patagonia, As no Land Rovers of centre steer variety were ever known to be exported to Patagonia, and the one built is lost, this part is lovingly kept, and returned to Langley Farm next year labelled ~Water Pump 200 Tdi?—offers?' and sold again, at a loss, to the next delighted customer, who will laugh, and tell anyone who will listen, that it's not a 200 tdi part, but they spotted at once that it's the legendary roots supercharger off a Le Mans blown 80".
The most learned amongst you my friends will have noticed a change in my style of writing. I have employed a scribe. ~my olde boanes like not this cold aire of Engerlund, and I fear the goose quill quivers in my hand, so a slave, or strumpet need be imployed occasionally. But they do not wryte as do we, grinding oak gall for ink, but rather press along a board inlaid with inscribed ivory pieces. As they press magically the word is shewn on parchment in a dosed box, behind glass, and lighted from behind. The letters are not as written but are alike to the wooden type invented by herr Gutenberg, and coppied in Enger lund by the plagiarist maister Caxton.
I digress; Oh, yes, where better: could I gauge the mood of a crowd but in a tavern! In the field was a splendid canvas pavilion, within which a tavern keeper was plying his trade, to an eager crowd.
The beer was most welcome. I was bewildered by the sights I had seen, and overwhelmed by the gaudily clad revellers, in truth, I was afeared I was set so adrift from our world that I may never see reason again.
The multitude stirred, and rushed outside. There was a roaring and whistling along the field, and then upon us came the hugest contraption I have ever seen. I know the tales of travellers are oft discounted as whimsy, but I swear I do not lie when I say this contraption had no fewer than SIX wheels and was so huge as to blot out the sun. I recoiled in- well, I must confess it was a moment of fear, but as I peered cautiously upward I spied, to my amazement, a fine lady, dressed not in any outlandish mode, but even as our Queen might dress, with a fine brocaded dress, modest headdress, a properly starched ruff.
Oh, at last a sign of civilisation! The lady, or Queen as she was of these parts was attended by a fine gentleman, a charming baronet, I am told, one Blackadder-Bill Smith, it seems. Queen Helen had attended this affair before, when she was first captivated by the Knight of the Suzuki, resplendent as he was in billowing pantaloons. And this year, they were here to celebrate with the 4x4 abusers a blessing of their marriage on the field of Langley.
A worthy and somewhat rotund gentleman did conduct the ceremony, which was so moving a tear did escape my eye.
The couple were waited upon by a hideous and noisome churl, who betimes chew'd vigorously upon a turnip, ad threw sweets to children. I was told he was once a comely fellow, but I tell you he was so pox'd and scabby, It was hard to imagine.
When I came downwind of him, it was alike to being in the lee of a Turkish slave-galley; fearing contagion, I bathed as soon as I could in vinegar, or rather, non brewed condiment, obtained in hundreds of bottles from the chippe-oil.
I fear if that churl remains free there will be another outbreak of plague to punish these parts of yorwickeshire, It was with great amusement that I observed the any creature unafraid of this 'Lesbrearley' as the churl was known was a small dogge, which seamed also to have an eye upon his turnippes.
Betymes, he steered the giant around the fields, grunting and muttering in the yorewickeshire language, of which I could understand little. The carriage/boat is called a Stalwart, and IS a weapon of war. Indeed, I can well imagine how our camel cavalry might flee, faced with a troop of these, Even the elephants of Siam would seemly be daunted.
I was too overwhelmed to continue.
I slept in a small wheeled cabin they call caravan. Funny.
On the morrow, I breakfasted heartily, and betook of myself to the muddehole, where a handsome chap was running a pump to raise the level of filth for an eager publick. To my great delight, the fellow revealed that he was the celebrated alchymist, Soubriquet, recently come to the farme on a straynge contrivance of his own invention. He had exscaped from captivity, where he had beene chained uppe by an individual yclept 'Muck Moases'; aided by a ‘ladye' of little remorse’, who is known as "Gail". My new friend warned me that these were hardened codnippers, and not to he trusted.
Soubriquet- or "Ersatz", as I was privileged to call him, was deeply interested to meet me, a learned traveller from afar, he toald me it was refreshing to meet a gentleman of quality, and that he felt I was the one person to whom he could divulge the mystery of making gold from a bucket of yoreckeshire fog. I have paid all of my ducats for this secret, and am reduced to selling my buttons to live. But I have the bucket and other apparatus safely parcelled and am making all haste to return to my home in our civilised land. I confess I look foreward with happy anticipation to a future of riches beyond imagining. Soberquit has toald me to be not too hasty, and that sometimes the first few tries do not yield gold, but perseverance and practise will bring success.
He is a good and honest man, and to betoken this honesty has given me a 'Comet Extended Warranty' which in his land is a powerful juju. Also, if as soon as return hoam, I send him a gallon can filled with Rubies, he will despatch a new publickation of his, called "How to Build a Lan-Drover, for pleasure or profit"; he soald this before to some brothers called Wilkes, and they made a whole career of it.
I will build a Land-roaver, and return, next yeare to The Languley Farm 4X4 event.
Remayne Your True,