Shortlands Farm, Druidstone, Nolton, Haverfordwest, Nr Saint Davids, Pembrokeshire SA623NE, Wales, UK
Christmas began on 22nd with a big dinner in The Granary. Sue brought sliced oranges with sugar juice and I whipped cream into meringue rings and put baked plums on top with muscavado sugar and spice.Afterwards we went to the cathedral for nine lessons & carols.
The building was packed and stewards at every turn shepherded us to unreserved seats. We each got a candle with a paper collar and a booklet with all the verses & texts. There were people with medallions round their neck and people in white cassocks and men in smart suits and small bishops with pointy gold hats. The choir wore red gowns. The singing standard sanctified Church of Wales with a couple of Latin and Welsh items for balance.
From the lessons, we learned that the woman was beguiled by the serpent and the Lord cursed it and put enmity between it and the woman and between its seed & her seed and her seed will bruise its head and it will bruise his heel. To the woman he said he will greatly multiply her sorrow and her conception; in sorrow she shall bring forth children; and her desire shall be to her husband and he shall rule over her. And that a rod will come out of the stem of Jesse and a branch. Then an unlikely number of beasts will lie down together – wolf & sheep, lion & lamb, leopard & kid, cow & bear and a toddler will put his hand on the serpent’s den. From the carols we learned that all children must be mild, obedient and as good as jesus.
Altogether it was a shockingly misogynistic, sexist and authoritarian recitation of all the prejudices and self-righteousness of an 1850s male bourgeoisie. I wanted to take a photo of a row of bowed heads reading the verses of carols by candlelight, but I did not dare.
23rd We went to The Torc Theatre at Milford Haven for Cinderella. Jasper had eaten so much choc-choc that he was sick in the car en route. Pete & Sue & I sat in the front row and the ugly sisters threw themselves upon us with big bosoms and kisses. Peter sported the lipstick marks all day. The theatre has a full height window wall looking out over the docks & marina but the rainstorm was so vile that clouds of sleet and mist obscured all views beyond the adjacent terrace.
24th we went to a carol sing-song at the Druidstone Hotel. The dining room was full of young families with toddlers and babies. We got printed booklets of carols and free mince pies and a drink. A few of the resident 4-6 yr-olds sang some solo verses and we all pitched in to the general bun fight with gusto and goodwill.
25th We were treated to another Christmas at Sue & Pete’s with more delicacies drinks and goodies.
The inquiry was practically over, but I had to go back to the scene of the crimes with my trusty trowel & pick-axe, and just as the sun was going down I found the evidence that these people have been warlords and warriors for thousands of years. I dug up these early Nuragic bronze age playdough images:
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It was approaching the end of the hols. By now the rocks were turning pink and gold in the setting sun, as we followed the track all the way to the crag overlooking the narrow channel between La Maddalena and Caprera. The waves thrashed the sand into a creamy froth and a dark cloud scooted by as a Vespa X125 crawled up the shoelace road on the far side.
The sky glowed blue and crimson and a bright silver moon lit her face. With a nod of silence and a gesture of ambush, we leapt out of the Cinquecento and got entangled with the seat belts and bashed our head against the door post; Kiki stumbled and I tripped and fell as we tried to slide nonchalantly but urgently and purposefully over the bonnet, but the gear-stick hooked my Calvin Kleins and the radio came on playing a smoochy ambient salsa number on Radio CentoQuattro. None of this was in the script.
There was no snow, but above us, we could make out Casimir signalling with a dodgy red laser pointer torch to a posh yacht in the estuary. The message flashed “drugs coming now, send money in dinghy”. An outrigger RIB was setting off towards the cove below and Donatella was hauling a great tea-chest down the cliff. Clearly we had them in ‘fragola delicissima’. We snapped a few dozen digital photos from our camera phones to show the different angles and trajectories and pecking order and chain of command and to establish accountability irrefutably at ICC standard.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up with the excitement, the inside of my stomach churned in fear, the pukey taste in my mouth grew sickening, my pupils dilated but they were not looking, the palms of my hands sweated like lemonade, I gripped the sphincter of my anus firmly shut. I made my will, repeated a mantra I had learned in the Hindu Kutch “Om Mani Padme Hum”, and screamed out allahhoackbar. So Kiki crawled through the bushes at the front of him and distracted his attention by miawing like a pussycat stuck on branch. Meanwhile I snuck up and surprised him from the rear with a huge contrarian exposure.
At the critical moment Kiki said: “Aaah Haa – We’ve got you, you evil motherfucking bastard. You’re no goalkeeper, you’re a low down piece of trailer-park trash. You’re a shit head, a butt-head, an air-head, a dead-head, now say your prayers cos you’re goin to hell tonite.“ and she showed him what he wasn’t expecting. At that signal, I whipped out my very big gun from under my belt, where it was itching a bit.
The Magnum glinted in the moonlight, and as I scratched my crotch in a manly fashion, I said “Drop Everything and Hands Up”; he began to drop all the things he could reach. Just at that instant a green fluorescent crocodile was ejected from the vortex in the lagoon below the cliff and shot high into the clouds playing Land of our Fathers from loudspeakers in its abdomen. And, although it’s hard to believe, in its jaws, it was clutching a little Chihuahua, yappin away like crazy. The croc landed direct on the tea-chest which exploded in a cloud of white bicarbonate of soda. The sea boiled like soda water and we nabbed the villains and made out charge sheets on the spot.
A boat trip round the islands costs as much as a day’s wages. But the skipper gives you a bowl of spaghetti in pesto.
The planners they creep around with dressmaker’s tape-measures and check the height of your fence and the length of your pergola; they authorise or they prohibit, but they won’t give you any advice or guidance. If they don’t like something, they call it ‘suburban’, but the narrow tracks of their little brains are entirely subterranean. They take brown envelopes and they are a complete and utter waste of human genetic material.
If you have spent any time in Sant Antonio di Gallura or in Arzachena , dolmens and menhirs may not excite you as late Neolithic Helter Skelters or RollaCoastas but you will well recall the big Nuraghe near the end of town and the giant’s tomb on the other side of the road. The Bronze age Nuraghic people were so-called because they were ardent supporters of Bronzo Uniti FC whose home ground was in the North of Sardegna.
They made very attractive tourist souvenir figurines from smelting copper & tin
and they knew how to produce Tupperware containers for big round crispbreads they got on porcelain dishes from IKEA in Corsica. The Nuraghe clan always Nuraghe lager and they kept building round towers all over the island. Experts estimate there are 70000 Nuraghe buildings.
We set off with the resolve that we would dig until the evidence was revealed. We met up with Montalbini’s informant, whom we recognised immediately thanks to his perfect pecs & well-defined six-pack & box. But there are scores like him on the local beach any day. Unfortunately it soon became clear that he was scared of something and didn’t want to risk guessing where we’d find the snow.
These buildings were erected by Nuraghe Porca Miseria & sons in 1783 BC and lasted until 200AD, although they are in a deplorable condition now. There are just two rooms which are dry stone spirals with a pointy top locked with a small keystone and they are linked by a corridor or tunnel which has not been hoovered for centuries. The lintels look decidedly dodgy after just 3000 years and the cool-box larder cupboards by the staircase are in a dilapidated state. There were lizards where a fly-screen should hang. On the roof the terrace was blown away and all the bronze age sculptures and statuettes have been nicked – in short: uninhabitable.
They maintained a lively trade with other parts of the mediterranean, but no signs of boats or fishing remain. The top of the tower still gives a wonderful view dominating the whole valley and a direct line of sight with the mountain look-outs over the sea to the North & East. From the tops of the towers, you could still easily communicate around the whole region just as they did originally with iphones model 3. Perfect for defending the lands, the crops and the domesticated beasts (and any contraband goods they might be trading.) A smuggler’s paradise!
They buried hundreds of their deceased in the communal graves and there is no sign of class distinction and no sign of human sacrifice. Analysis of the bones shows that the Nuraghe people ate bread and vegetables and meat. There were different styles of building for the towers and surrounding village dwellings, which suggests different clans or varying beliefs. But no one has found any Nuraghe comics or magazines, nor newspapers nor graphics other than the designs found on the big upright stele stones.
Despite meticulous & painstaking geophys work before opening any trenches, the only finds I made were a bunch of trade goods talisman pendant amulets with icon patterns such as the meaning of life and the secret of eternal youth.
If you skimmed the last post, you will have noticed that now we are getting submerged in crimes. We can’t cope with the level of law enforcement required, we simply have not got the necessary detective capacity. What with the added demands of childcare, ADHD, OCD, aspergers, altzheimers, alcohol, eating disorders and middle child syndrome, what to do? We are few, in an ocean of misdemeanours and malfeasances & socio-psychopathy.
Studies have shown that on average 57% of statistics are wrong and scientists have proven that the levels of criminality have nothing to do with the Police. The real explanations have to do with the level of lead in the air, in the water, the food and the ground. Also the level of employment, advertising, stress, education, the amygdala & prefrontal cortex, as well as the wellbeing factor, the recording methods of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Independent Parliamentary Financial Authority.
Logistics studied the feasibility of surveying the nuraghe fields with a SOCO team to check for forensics, but we have not got the budget even for a boat trip round the Maddalenas, never mind doing a GPS sonar phys, or a thorough inch by inch examination for signs of counterfeit antibiotics.
We decided to go for a landing-from-the-sea approach. Mac & Luke stormed the beach in a RIB, while Bol & Pasta scared the occupiers with horrible howls and garish colours. Mac was toppled out of his landing craft and suffered a nasty shock. Pasta donned flippers to make quick getaway and only Bol remained calm.
Luke & Sam dived off the jetty, with just Mark & Mac & Kiki for audience. But very impressive dives. Mac said he might push Pepei off the jetty, if he gets the chance.
Midday was genuine self-catering on the balcony for 9 diners- Generally it was somewhat shambolick but very nice pasta and the kids fell asleep before the end of lunch. Birra panace, spaghetti con salsa di pesto balsamico, prosciutto de la regiona, insalata caprese di pomodori e mozzallera di buffo, sliced boiled eggs, grated formaggio emmentaler, diced avocado pear, salami, spit-roast chicken, dolci artiggiani, grapes, sorbetti mirtillo ice lollies, caffe. Todo bene.
And just when we were about to give up, we got a real clue. An old snout of Montalbini’s said there was “snow” in them hills if you knew where to look!! This was the break we had been looking for. We grabbed the Cinquecento and motored West.
So, for refusing to pay the whole of their bill, Casimir and Donatella were entered in the hoteliers’ Little Black Book, or more like Big Corporate Database and they will never be able to stay in any 4 or 5 star establishment in Europe again; unless Donatella is related to Signor Berlusconi. A private dick was hired to track them around the country and a report was filed with the SSPCC – La Societa Sardina per Preventare la Cruelita a le Chihuahuas.
We adopt a rigorous fitness regime to solve this enigma: dippin in the resort Jacuzzi pool, swimming by the beach, digging in the sand, swinging on the swing and bouncing in the trampoline. Birthday cake with ice cream and candle.
Then a crocodile disappeared and the mood changed quite markedly. It was seen creeping along the sand in the mid-morning and some said was suddenly dragged out to sea and sucked into the vortex. It was like the new Lido Line in London which enables people to swim safely to work with changing stations along the network. But this was a strange and evil force.
At this point, let’s recap. There are three children – Bol, Mac and Pasta.
Six “grown ups”- Sam, Sarah, Kate, Luke, Kiki & Pepei. Two suspects – Casimir & Donatella, so far three crimes – disappearance of croc, non-payment of hotel bill, anti-biotic faking. One unexplained untimely demise of chihuahua (not in the crime statistics); one police detective and one private eye.
Time to seek expert assistance; we made a Skype call to Vortices-R-US, but can’t use Skype for emergencies. So we rang Charibdis HelpLine and they assigned Inspettore Montalbini to our case (not so Sicilly!).
The early Christian evangelists, Sant Davide & Sant Antoni were twins or cousins, no one is quite sure, but they did look very alike and so people often confused which one of them went where and when. According to scripture, it was Antoni who came to Sardish lands bringing the new belief around 15 AD and his twin travelled to Western Britain and Pembrokeshire. And then, due their closeness, they organised a lot of cultural exchanges between the Sard lands & Pembrokeshire – town twinning, school visits, eisteddfod tours and women’s institute swops etc. A company called Package Pilgrimages laid on trips between Druidston & Northern Sardegna. A journey to Sant Antonio di Gallura was worth half a holy land crusade and the food was much nicer. Thus the archaeology demonstrates the close link in culture and spaghetti between the Olbia area and St Davids city. Both of these cultures cook lamb in a hole in the ground, lined with rocks & green leaves, both have mountains and forests and both have dragons that squirt anyone & anything within range.
And linguistic analysis clinches the connection: the same words are found in Welsh and in Sardish for innumerable everyday items like for example – ‘hoover’, ’Coca Cola’, ‘hamburger’ and ‘Gin & Tonic’. That’s why so many Sardinians speak Welsh & vice versa. Also, a lot of Jewish people were transported by the Romans to Sard and this explains the lozange patterns on the traditional weaving, which are often black & white, Yiddish-style. They don’t sell any sardines in the wet fish shops in Sardinia, but you can get a lot of cod from local historians.
The private investigator discovered that Casimir & Donatella both had bank accounts in Montenegro, where you can stash dirty loot in secret and need pay no tax. He linked them to a crime syndicate in Arzachena which labels pills of white washing powder as pure penicillin for export to Africa. We could ignore this outrage no longer: action was called for! Right away we instructed Jasper to bite any fake antibiotic dealers. Our plan was to surround the warehouse and Belle would create a distraction then Max wold squirt them. It was a no-brainer.
The Sards were invaded so many times – by Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Angevins, Arabs, Spanish, French, German, Brits, it is understandable they retreated to the hills and mountains in the centre of the island and there were quite a few operations which would be termed ‘insurgencies’ in modern parlance.
The indigenous Sards thought it was fair game to grab what they could from any invaders they encountered. But they became known as “bandits”. We met a large family of bandits who entertained us to a grand pranza collation and sang ancient ballads for us.
I think that an astute Sardinian politician secured a grant from Brussels to preserve the culture and history of artisan skills and traditional life in the smaller towns of Sardinia. The grant pays for a premises (an old village house is appropriate) and for collecting lots of dusty old things like sticks of granny’s furniture, bedspreads, rugs, looms, kitchen utensils, yard tools etc and the money is released if the council certifies that a number of local people get employment from the project, so a few locals are paid for attending.
The whole thing is then called a Museo Etnografico or a Museo Arkeologico and we have visited several – all the same. They all have the various glazed breads – everyday crisp bread keeps for ages; Easter bread shaped like stars and big celebration bread shaped like crabs and crayfish.
The residents of any Sardinian village in the mountains could not understand those in the next village due to dialectical challenges.
They paint the trunks of the cork trees with dark red solution after they slice off the cork bark to make bottle stoppers and floor tiles.
These Relais du Silence are very exclusive; in fact we were almost completely excluded. But we met a distinctive young French couple. Casimir designs bonds to fuse gamma particles together, but makes his livelihood as goal keeper for PSG (Paris St Germain if you don’t know French football). Donatella teaches singing to the choir of the Academie Nationale and works as a part-time commodity trader. She mainly deals on the world olive exchange, but does some trading in Sardinian coral futures. She had the sweetest little pooch that she carried in her jewelled shoulder bag, it had a collar with diamante & rhinestones & sequins and went by the name of Galbani Garibaldi Gramsci or “Balthassar” for short.
Casimir & Donatella had booked a double room, but only with single occupancy and they refused to pay the supplement for doubles – approx. 200 Euros. Well it ended badly, because this was a Relai du Silence, and they did not observe the silence. In fact voices were raised on both sides of the reception desk. Paris was invoked and the clarity of the protagonistts’ spoken French was challenged. The honour of France was impugned.
The pool sparkled in the morning sun, and we suddenly noticed that floating in the middle of it was a Chihuahua. The Chihuahua was deceased. Its twinkly collar was smeared with tomato ketchup. You can’t call the carabinieri for a dead Chihuahua, can you?
We skipped through check-in & security thanks to “special assistance” for “less mobility” passengers – excellent service, straight to the front of the queue! The only real shock was £5.50 for a sandwich in Sleazyjet.
Reading the news in the departure lounge, what a star-crossed week to pick: Prime Minister tells top civil servant to retrieve secrets about government spying on everyone’s emails and phone calls, already released in the press and on the internet: so secret service smash the Guardian’s computer and detain journalist’s boyfriend. Home Secretary tells the nation that reporter could be a threat to national security – no evidence required! Could be a story from any Middle Eastern dictatorship!
Meanwhile in Egypt: Deputy Prime Minister arrested for resigning from the post – could be imitating Pakistan with ex-minister arrested for notorious election murder many years ago. Meanwhile in London government calls for civil rights & democracy in Egypt, but dozens of private detectives warned & arrested for hacking & lying to gather info on hundreds of private individuals for top client companies; but no top companies at all warned for retaining these private eye snoopers. Thames Water private company makes record profit, set to take extra £29 from every dwelling, but PAYS NO TAX. Everywhere it’s one set of rules for the mass of the population and no rules at all to restrain those in power from the most obscene excesses and abuses.
This country for old men! Sardegna suits the over-sixties
You may be much relieved to learn that we have seen no crimes at all since our arrival and no evidence of any crimes being committed round here. But I will keep you posted if anything changes.
There is a special bench for the old guys to sit on, in the village – overlooking the main square in order to see any action; in the shade to keep out of the heat and to enjoy the cool breeze and just next to the bistro bar so as to join a game of cards or take a drink occasionally.
The address of our B & B is in Sant Antonio di Gallura, 28k from the airport. But signposting is not Sardegna’s strongest point. Sant Antonio di Gallura is a borough/county just next to Sant Elena di Gallura, not to be confused with the metropolitan boroughs of Olbia or Tempio. The county boundary of Sant Antonio is announced with a nice big signpost which could makes you think you have the reached the village of Sant Antonio. But the village is about 5k further down the road. The Lago di Liscia must not to be confused with Li Lici, which is a restaurant in the hills about 3k beyond the village and we still couldn’t see the Lago.
The track is not tarmac and is dangerously potholed and washed away by floods – to avoid toppling the car you have to drive in the hedge bushes at side of the track, which are a bit scratchy. Another 3k back on SS 547 takes us into Sant Antonio, where we can inquire about the hotel. Just 4 more kms gets us to the county boundary and we can see the lake at last. The hotel is shortly after the sign for the end of Sant Antonio area.
It’s in a step valley, like a volcanic crater, rich in hydrangeas & succulents & bougainvilleas & a profusion of tall wonderful-smelling lavender & petunias and near to the oldest tree in the world – the famous 4000 year old olive tree of Karanca.
The establishment is a “Relai du silence”, so we whisper considerately over breakfast by the pool and gaze in hushed wonder at the forested hillside on the far side.
There is a safe in our chalet, but it has not been tampered with at all.
Still no crimes – must be the very low levels of lead in the environment.
Picks to follow when we have a camera connecting cable
Soon to be released :- Finding Cannigione
Marco told us that if you looking a statue, the place to go is Ercolano, so we thought the place should be checked out. It’s in a dodgy shabby part of town, known mainly for its midnight drugs market on main square.
Perfect place to fence a hot artwork statue, if you’re in a hurry. There are cosa nostra gangs and dragon gangs, and you don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.
Ercolano is mostly below ground level and it’s a wreck. None of the houses are really habitable under 1954 HMO regulations. Roofs fallen in, toilets not flushing, cooking facilities outdated.
There’s a secret ramp to the beach, so it would be hard to catch the crims on the spot. I took my usual equipment and stumbled across a couple of jugs which will go nicely in the evidence storeroom.
A couple shifty geezers in soiled togas offered me dirty pictures but, just as I was paying for them, I spotted the object of our whole quest. Standing idly by a colonnaded cloister, posing as a loitering garden statue, there was Michaelangelo’s original David. Sure, it has been melted down and recast, but it’s unmistakable. We arrested the whole of the museum crew and took David into protective custody.
Job done. And still Janet has not revealed her hand.
I want to thank you all for being our back-ups on this mission, now we must get back to our yard, I heard a new case has come in.
There are so many school pupil groups on day-trips that the teachers are having fits.
We met the only woman dock-mistress in the Medittaranean region.
She is knitting a pink jumper for her grand-daughter who was with her and she looks fitter than a sports mistress. And tough, chewing gum.
I asked her the secret of long life, and she told me. [Sorry, it is a secret.]