Whilst researching our current story, The Paris Awakening, we have come across a startling fact. It seems that the fiendish swine at the heart of the story, Messers Clackprattle and Pook, have had an alternate career before their appearance in these pages. Why, the scurrilous swine had been busy bamboozling the good and honest folk of the British press. Can you imagine!
Their modus operandi was to invent some fictitious, scandalous tale regarding a famous personage. They would then contact members of the journalistic profession with aforementioned stories and attempt to extract money from these poor deluded souls. The details that these devils supplied were naturally as lurid as possible in order to extract the maximum payment possible. Luckily we have been able to uncover this practice and find the tool they used to perpetrate this fraud. We present it below. By choosing a sequence of random numbers one can quickly generate some fictitious “news” stories.
We can only thank the good editing principles of the more moral periodicals and hope that such a swindle isn’t visited upon other more modern forms of communication. For how would an honest chap know what was real and what was not?
Yours – in shock and horror
Mr Michael and Miss Pichette
||Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
||Consumed a voluminous quantity of French pastries
||In a poorhouse
||Dr David Livingstone
||Entertained a lady of questionable moral standards
||In the Queen’s bedchambers
||Miss Florence Nightingale
||Dined with a gentleman of lesser breeding
||In a nunnery
||Her Majesty Queen Victoria
||Imbibed a significant quantity of alcohol
||In the House of Lords
||Mr Charles Dickens
||Participated in a bizarre occult ceremony
||In an opium den
||Mr Isambard Kingdom Brunel
||Danced around in a state of undress
||In a house of ill repute
||Mr Oscar Wilde
||Formed a daguerreotype of a lady’s ankle
||Mr Aleister Crowley
||Smoked a frightening quantity of opium
||In St Paul’s Cathedral
||The Rt Hon Benjamin Disreali
||Drank a full pint of laudanum
||On the royal barge
||Mme Marie Curie
||Executed a painting of a nude gentleman
||In the Peruvian embassy
I was sorry to miss you on your recent visit to Brighton. I hear you managed to have a perfectly pleasant time without me, which I find more than a little disconcerting. You must pop back when I’m in town and you can show me how its done (and not for the first time).
I was, as I’m sure you heard, having a little sojourn in a small town called Sunnyport. It proved quite the diversion. Without wishing to tire you with the details, I met a perfectly pleasant, if dull, couple and encountered a monstrous species of mind stealing creatures. Long story short, I managed to save the day by waltzing in to a cultists church with a magical hoop. I had a daguerrotype prepared (enclosed) so you can see. It was quite a little adventure.
Anyhoo, I am back in Brighton now and enjoying the lively and varied entertainments. In fact two of them are calling me right now.
Do take care
Your loving brother
The Spectral Spectrum’s career was brief but eventful. Hailing from the small seaside town of Sunnyport, they drew on their coastal influence to create a heady blend of surf and psychedelia. This had the unfortunate effect of making them seem simultaneously ahead of their time and out of date, although they maintained a solid base of fans in their lifetime.
The first single The Call of You Hoo failed to make much of an impression on the charts despite a catchy singalong chorus, but the second Love is a Many Tentacled Thing became a summertime hit in 1965. The band were immediately signed by the Mokshatonic record label and released their biggest hit, a ballad called The Mountains of Sadness. They recorded and released their debut long-player Colour Out Of Sight! in 1966 whereupon they carried out a tour of the UK.
The tour was plagued with bad luck, with equipment failure and strange events at almost every stop, which rather blunted the impact for the audience and led to terrible reviews. Nevertheless, the band returned to headline the famous Sunnyport Free Festival in 1967 to great acclaim, the nadir of their success.
Whether it was the ill-fated tour, the pressures of fame and success or just the natural temperament of the band, the recording sessions for the next release were highly acrimonious. The original plan was to record a concept double LP tentatively called The Dreams in Which House? In the end, barely five tracks could be culled from the sessions and these were released with the rather sarcastic title Done With Honour. An abortive second tour ended early when the band’s entire stage set was destroyed by flooding in Worthing.
Lead singer Harry Blayne went on to be an experimental sound poet, releasing his first book “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Sunnyport” in 1969. Guitarist Ed Hutchinson joined Rocking Rodney and his Rockettes, a jazz quartet whilst bass player Phillip Ward opened a musical instrument shop in Sunnyport. Drummer Henry Pott moved to London to join the New Originals.
In three short years, these young men cut a swathe across the UK with their visionary music. These days, beyond a few musicians “in the know” their music is largely forgotton. It is our hope this little article may remedy that fact.
Recently one of our household devices decided to “give up the ghost” and break down on us. It was rather a nuisance as, despite our obvious literary success, we have no Miss Henderson to step in when things go wrong (or indeed get violent). So the errant appliance was despatched to be repaired. On its return we were rather surprised to discover the faulty component had been left inside. Once past our initial shock, we looked at the object in question with eyes of writers and artists….
It needs a few gears I suspect, some paint perchance, but I think you can expect to see this appear in a story in the not too distant future. But what, we wonder, will it be?
This charming chappy came to visit us today. He was around the size of a gentleman’s thumb.
With his handlebar mandibles and waistcoat wings, he really does look smashing!
“Like if you remember one of these, share if you used one”
So over on the nightmare of horrors that is Farcebook, we are enjoying having retro pictures from Benthic Times past. You weren’t aware we had a Facebook page? Oh yes, we are here:
Come join us where you can say “greetings my good man” and enjoy some retro fun.
And on the topic of retro fun, if you wish to catch up quickly and easily with the first four stories, you may do so here.
I am, I believe, a tolerant man and as a man of the cloth, it is well that I should be. However I saw something last week in your Benthic Times which created a profound sense of unease within my breast and which forced me to write to you.
My young nephew Silas has of late been staying at the vicarage whilst his mother recovers from a bout of bilious ague. He is, like many young men, impressionable and given to romantic notion, although he is a good sort, dedicating a part of each day helping out at Mrs Ginnidraws School for Fallen Ladies. Of an evening he will often be seen, though, reading the sort of sensational literature that your magazine also contains. I happened to glance last week and saw something so mortifying that I was forced to extract the magazine from his hand. For there, in plain view, was a plant being presented as Aconite which was clearly another species. I could not allow him to be exposed to such shoddy botany. It seemed as if the creator of the image had looked in their locale for a plant that was similar and attempted to pass off a clear example of Gluteus Maximus – or Ruddy Whackweed – as Aconite.
As a keen yet amateur botanist I recognised not only the plant, but also the locale it must have come from. You see, Ruddy Whackweed is not to be found in Cornwall or even the British Isles, but is a native of Greece. I recognised it from my walking tour of the Dodecanese last spring. Well sir, madam, I present below some of my botanical notes to educate you in the hope that you don’t find yourself using the wrong species again.
This species is Flora Extraterrestralis or Mouldy Goat Hair. It can be used to prepare a poultice for foxy.
This is Stella Inconsequentia known as Sticky Chive or Stinky Chive. It is used primarily in salads and is believed by primitive peoples to ward off people with a squint.
This is known as Stultus Flos or Exploding Jenny. It is poisonous to rodents between 1 and 1 half and 2 inches long.
This plant is Pigor Scriptor or Incompetent Orchid. It has no known use.
This is Disculpi Tardi or Scrote Violet. It is a powerful sedative or stimulant depending on wind direction.
I trust this little guide to the fauna of the Greek Isles will prevent a similar instance of botanic mislabelling.
Rev Johan Stiltburger
Does this man appear to be a professional?
A number of readers have expressed interest in learning more about the manner in which The Benthic Times is produced to such a high, professional standard on a weekly basis. There have even been stories suggesting that Mr Michael and Ms Pichette are mere fictions and that the magazine is produced by a crack team of professional writers and artists. Flattering though such allusions are, we can categorically state that these rumours are false.
We present as evidence the drawing above, rendered by Ms Pichette, of Mr Michael in the midst of creating another thrilling yet amusing story. One glance at the writer at work reveals the keen intellect of the literate mind whilst the image itself speaks volumes to the magisterial aesthetic vision of a true talent in the artist. We hope this small insight into the world of The Benthic Times satisfies some of our readers’ fascinations and expands their enjoyment of partaking of our modest yet scintillating artistic endeavour.
“No automatons were harmed in the making of this post.”
Whilst enjoying luncheon at one of our favourite haunts in our hometown, our eyes were drawn to the curious contraption above which was affixed to the wall. Speculation flowed imminently as to its origins and purpose. After a protracted debate over a delicious fish soup, the conclusion was that it must have been the head of a serving automaton. Debate One terminated, the next topic of conversation was on what might possibly be the automaton’s name. Sadly, the bill and complementary liquor arrived before we could conclude, and other matters took up the day. So we invite you, dear Reader, to consider this topic and comment if it pleases you.
invasion of the body snatchers
I wish these ants were herbivores…
Despite the extraordinary demands of NaNoWriMo, we at the Benthic Times still find time to indulge in the pleasures of gardening. Or should we say challenges… Our new home has presented us with a spectacular assortment of weeds and exotic native plants. We’ve given up on the idea of recreating an English country garden and have settled upon an array of alien-looking cacti.