Original Dobsonian research by Tristan Shuddery. This blog includes quotations from Dobson and is intended as a humble tribute to Frank Key, the greatest living Dobsonist.

03 April, 2006

The Potato Incident

Picture yourself standing on a deserted, mud-spattered esplanade somewhere near Mudchute. The clouds are a dull and brooding grey and you feel a light drizzle as you lift your balaclava.

You light up a cheroot, for you have nothing better to do. Your employer (whose name you do not know) pays you 6 coins for this shift; Your sole duty is to guard this filthy esplanade… but guard it from what?

For as long as you can remember this stretch of embankment overlooking the grubby river has been a public right of way, and in the absence contrary instructions from your anonymous client you retain this belief. Hence children, tradesmen and livestock may pass unperturbed.

Neverthless, you are a guard, and you must remain constantly vigilant. This is what you think as you suck on your damp, sputtering cheroot… or at least this is what you used to think.

You remember that your master is an important municipal official, and that your menial duty is an essential service to both King and country. You were told that you were selected for this important role because of your unswerving loyalty.

The last and only time you met an agent acting on behalf of your employer you were given an edict. This document contained a list of the categories of folk your employer whishes barred from the esplanade. You have committed this long list to memory for you have had nothing else to read by the feeble light in your unkempt guardsman’s hut.

After you gave your oath and signed your contract you were given a tall peaked guardsman’s cap, a crimson guardsman’s jerkin, some worn yet servicable galoshes and a pair of eppualetts, each with six pips. Finally the man slipped you and a crumpled map of Mudchute marked with the location of your hut.

That was six months ago, the day you joined the patriotic fraternity of guardsmen. The day you promised that were a Marxist, a Jesuit, a Talmudist or an Inuit to attempt to cross ‘your’ esplanade you would waylay and hector him in precisely the contractually authorised manner.

You have never been called upon to perform your duty…

At five-bells you spy two grim figures trudging towards you. You habitually raise your Canadian submarine corps standard-issue binoculars to your unwashed face.

You can now see that the taller of the two is male. He walks, or limps towards you, barely lifting his heavy feet. He is dressed in what appears to be the garments of an orchestra conductor. His coat is in tatters and his shoes are caked with clods of dark mud. He is silent and grim-faced. You wonder if he has been savaged by a hound or similar beast.

Behind him you see a smaller figure. Younger and rounded her lank hair covers her frowning face. She is also dressed in black… a gown once fit for high society and not for a dirty towpath. Her gait is inelegant, as every other footstep causes her stiletto heel becomes wedged between the stout timbers that cover the esplanade.

Might these people be the undesirables you were told to guard against? You mentally check your list. Whilst unlikely to be Jesuits or Inuits, they could feasibly be Darwinists , Duelists or Decimalists.

You are uncertain and alarmed.

You retreat to your hut, observing the two figures whose shambling brings them ever closer to you, and the esplanade that you have sworn to protect. You sharpen your pencil. If you overhear subversion or talk of moral terpitude you will wish to make a report to the appropriate authorites.

The two are within earshot now. You no longer need your binoculars, for these discheveled suspects are approaching your hut. They are unaware that they are under observation and stop to rest on the plinth of the statue of Turps magnate Pabstus Preen, which you have often gazed at from the single grease-smeared window of your hut. All of a sudden, the man breaks his silence:

“I intend to revolutionize the means by which the common potato is conveyed from the field into the cooking pot. Under my scheme the man on the Clapham omnibus may be able to choose from not one but five varieties of potato regardless of the season of the year. The process I have invented will revolutionise the science and industry of potato agriculture, so find me the world’s finest potato boffins, and any journalist you can muster from the most highly regarded of potato journals.”.

The woman makes no response, so the only sound that you can hear is your frantic scribbling; the sound of graphite against your notebook as you try to record this conversation. What could it mean? Is it some kind of code?

She looks up, and observes the dark and ominous clouds . And at that moment a flash of lightning can be observed. A second later the rapport of thunder and then shortly after that those black clouds unleash a torrent of rain upon the two unsheltered pedestrians.

Silenced once again, they continue their long trudge,. The fierce rain pelts their torn and mud-smeared clothes.

You dutifully include your notes of this conversation in your daily report, which you seal in a capsule and then place in the pneumatic tube in your hut. The document is propelled on to who knows where. When the capsule returns moments later, it contains a pouch of coins. Your masters are well pleased with your report.

You can spend your mottled coins on wenches and grog at one of the many taverns in that blighted conurbation of Mudchute, and soon you have forgotten about this incident.

And so might have we, were it not for the diligent scruitiny of the statisticians at a red-brick polytechnic not far from here. Half a century after this report was filed it was cross-referenced, catalogued and finally brought to the attention of the department of Dobsonian studies.

We believe that this fragmentary report is the only corroborative evidence that the great pamphleteer Dobson ever set foot in Mudchute. Thanks to this report we can state with exactitude the moment that Dobsonists refer to as “The Potato Incident” occurred.

We also know from meteorological and clinical records that Dobson and Marigold Chew trudged the remaining five miles to their windy shack, high on an escarpment, through the torrential storm. We know that Dobson became afflicted by an atrocious fever which bedizened his mind for weeks.

We know that by the time he recovered he had forgotten all thoughts of potatoes and his revolutionary potato service. Dobson never wrote or spoke about potatoes ever again, and yet were you to set foot into any major supermarket today and you will see a diverse range of potatos and potato dishes.

Can we thank Dobson for this innovation?

# Thanks to kind readers who corrected my spelling. We dobsonists value that kind of feedback.


At 11:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:47 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Metrological? Meteorological, maybe? Hell, check your spelling! Makes you look uneducated. So, how can an uneducated ignorant person run a blog?

At 2:27 am, Blogger Tristan Shuddery said...

I honestly have no idea what you are talking about!

At 5:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...


metrelogical is not a word.
metrological is the science of measurement. But you didn't say that and i don't think meant it.

from the context i guess Meteorological is correct, the science of the "meteor" or things in the sky. which lead us to understanding of atmospheric phenomena. Thanks to mr. anon, i have now learnt the spelling of a new word. :)

At 6:05 pm, Blogger Tristan Shuddery said...

Thanks for the spelling correction. You are a true Dobsonist. If you enjoyed this story, I suggest you spend a moment looking into Frank Key's excellent website. He truly is the world's most highly-regarded Dobsonist.


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