Chapter One

A New Shell, A New Start

When the sleepy village of Blinkington-on-the-Treacle discovered that their local public house, The Field of Corncrakes, had a new owner; well, you can imagine the stirrings.

Set in idyllic and yawning woodland, Blinky, as it is more commonly referred to by the populace, positively cried out, nay, yearned for its oasis of comfort and confusion to be re-opened.

The massive heart attack suffered by pub landlord, Norman ‘Spoon Eyes’ Willis, had stunned everyone; not least his pet corgi Vincent, who was unfortunately asphyxiated while trying desperately to escape his owners oncoming twenty stone frame. Essential social pleasures had been denied the inhabitants of this opulent glade since that tragic day. Gossip had been nudged to the back burner and its flame was barely flickering. In a village the size of Blinkington-on-the-Treacle, this will never do…

Modern vehicles did little to stimulate the abnormal boundaries of Arnold Matson’s insatiable imagination. Cars today, said Arnold, had no personality. Speed, as any flailing turbine engine will tell you, isn’t everything: and as Arnold’s immaculately bees-waxed bottle-green Hillman Avenger tip-toed into the dozing village that contained his newly purchased hostelry, net curtains fidgeted and twitched. In the mid-sixties, when Arnold’s pride and joy had discreetly mooched off the production line, we were not a nation who spread the marmalade thick as you like on a Sunday morning, tossed the bank statement aside, and nonchalantly flicked through the glossy supplements to ‘ooh and ah’ over the endless choice and temptations of this year’s model.

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