Quentin Kirrin

The subsequent extract from File 12215, released October 2016 after 68 years by Her Majesty’s Government sheds light on one of Britain’s most misunderstood characters.  Quentin Kirrin, as he was most widely known, was an enigmatic figure who might just have passed under the radar were it not for the work of one Ms Enid Blyton in the 40s and 50s.

Her first description of him in Five on A Treasure Island (published 1942 in the white heat of World War Two) tells of an irascible but ultimately befuddled scientist working on secret (perhaps nuclear) experiments. Around him is spun a yarn of plucky children and a plucky dog on an adventure relying on pluck and spunk (1940s spunk – not present day). In the tale the children visit Kirrin Island, find gold in the dungeons underneath the ruined castle there and thwart the plan of some unscrupulous businessmen who seek to buy the island cheaply from Quentin and his wife and then make off with the gold. Quentin is seduced by the offer of money and until the children show him what a fool he has been he is sleepwalking into the role of patsy with both eyes closed. Because that’s how you sleepwalk.  

I believe that the recently declassified diary extract below, from the summer of 1941 casts new light on Quentin’s role in the adventure, his war time work, and the precise nature of proposed deal to sell the island. As will become clear, Ms Blyton’s portrayal of Quentin in Five on a T.I. as a bumbling genius is so far off the mark as to represent a significant libel against him. Unfortunately, the deaths of Quentin in 1978 and of Ms Blyton in 1968 mean that she has taken her treacherous sins to the grave. All the recourse sympathisers of Quentin have available to them is to indulge in petty and unsatisfying desecration of her final resting place.

So, without further introduction here is Quentin Kirrin’s diary entry from August 2nd, 1941.

 

Fucking hell! Today has been an unmitigated disaster. All my plans have come to naught and I find the one thought spinning round and round my head ‘I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling cunts.’

It took 2 years to get everything in place to get that gold off the island. Fanny’s been the spanner in the works all along. Drunk she may be, but the woman’s like a fucking hawk when it comes to spotting Kirrin money leaving her pockets. Kirrin money. Even the phrase is a joke. How I’ve come to hate the very word. Kirrin Cottage, Kirrin Island, the village of Kirrin. My wife’s family built this place and I despise every last stone of it.

How I resent the indignity of having taken my wife’s name after our marriage. Especially now, in the 30s and 40s when such a thing is entirely unheard of – whatever may or may not happen in the future when you are reading this. Or having it read out to you. At some kind of weird bullshit storyfest for lonely children. I imagine. I should have stuck with my own name. Even if Fanny would never have agreed to change hers to it. Quentin Alfred Tarantino has a far more noble ring to it.

In those be-shadowed months before our marriage – when Fanny showed me secrets of the flesh that no Christian man should ever hope to know – I, romantic fool that I was, placed a shilling in an over-sized whisky bottle for every time we were intimate. My plan was that after we were married I would, for every time we made love, remove a coin and use it to buy some small treat for her. Only this spring did I finally give up on this ridiculous pledge and use the remaining coins to buy a brand new motorbike and some hand made Italian shoes.

The intervening years have shown her up to be the conniving old spider that my friends always insisted she was. But I genuinely thought I’d found the way out this time. I’ve known about the gold for 8 years – ever since old man Kirrin threw me off his yacht and I was forced to live on the island for a fortnight before being rescued by a fishing boat. Finding accomplices was hard, but in the end I identified people who believed in my cause as much as I did. I was not in this for personal gain – rather I served the ideas that my work has centred around for so many years.

Then those awful children came.

George. Georgina, whatever – was bad enough. Always whispering with Fanny. And the manipulation. Even the people in the village don’t see through the fiction. To them, as to all the outside world – George is a tomboy. A girl, who wants to be a boy. And who is unfortunate enough to have a father who tries to force her into the narrow gender stereotypes of a previous generation. As Fanny and George are obviously well aware – the truth is stranger and more ridiculous than normal society can comprehend. George is a boy. Christened George. At the age of 10 he decided that he would prefer to be called Georgina. Never one to stifle identity – I agreed immediately. Within 12 hours, he was back dressing as a boy and insisting that his identity involved being a boy pretending to be a girl pretending to be a boy. Well I am as liberal as the next man, but that is bullshit.

But when the cousins arrived I really found myself up against it. Hell itself has never produced such a monster as Julian. Tall and blond and a veritable poster child of nazi ambition I could cheerfully have knocked his fucking teeth out. ‘Uncle Quentin, Uncle Quentin’ he would chirp in a faux childish voice. ‘What do you do for the war Uncle Quentin?’ ‘My work is essential to the war effort’ I countered initially. But he just coughed in that way that the youth do – secretly saying the word ‘bullshit’ as they do so. He thinks I don’t hear him – but I do.

And then their trip to the island. They asked Fanny if they could row to the island. It’s a mile and a half. But she was so full of gin that she’d have agreed to anything at that stage. So off they went, all four of them. Plus that wretched hound. They make out I’m grumpy and won’t let it in the house. But it was the subject of a court order. It killed a child. And when I tried to intervene it ripped my thumb off. It’s been reattached, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t bloody work.

And they found the gold. And they discovered the plot to buy the island. And they called the police. And they patronised the fuck out of me and I had to stand in front of them and congratulate them and listen to Plod saying how he shouldn’t be surprised if they all got medals no he shouldn’t. And all the time – my hopes and dreams and the future of our country was dying all around us and I was the only one who saw.

If Britain doesn’t win this struggle it will be catastrophe for future generations. Yes it would be nice to escape this hellish place with these hellish people. But it is of far greater significance that we beat the Russians and the Americans in the race to invent Hip Hop music. That is the nature of my work. Every day is spent analysing potential break beats, and-counts, battling formats and all the various aspects of turntableism. We simply have to conquer this seismic shift in expression and stamp the queen’s head on this new musical coin.

Who can imagine the horror if the Russians get there first? Spilling out rhymes from the heart of Moscow. Already, according to sources close to the Kremlin, Stalin already walks round in a full length puffa jacket  and has his laboratories working night and day on one of those cars that bounce up and down. But worse still would be our allies in all other respects – the Americans. With their bastardised version of our language they could take over the world. Spitting out incomprehensible gibberish in a mumbling accent. Taking drugs, glorifying violence and walking round with their hands literally in their pockets. It simply doesn’t bear thinking about it.

And yet here we are. And here I am. No funds, no progress, no hope of leaving this godforsaken shithole. Marooned with these terrible children, a psychopathic child and her insane dog and my own, despicable drunken wife. And out there, across the Atlantic, plans are being made. Rhythms and rhymes analysed and replicated. Bass noises getting deeper and deeper. Big shoes.

What am I doing to win the war Julian? I am trying to develop the greatest weapon the world has ever known. And my name is NOT Uncle Quentin – it is DJ Labcoat – Professor of Rhythm. And you may have clipped my wings, but you will not break my spirit. Peace out, one love, Fuck the Police.

 

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Standing Up

If you don’t want to read a self-indulgent, mawkish thing about what a good time I’m having, stop here. Seriously. It’ll make you sick.

In February this year I performed stand up for the first time. No one laughed for the first 3 minutes except my great friend James who had come along to support me. At around 2 minutes he quietened down. I think it was the right decision; there was no need for both of us to humiliate ourselves. In the middle I did a joke about catching my dad wanking and a man spluttered out a laugh. Dubious though his sense of humour might be, that man encouraged me more than he can know. A month later I did my third gig, in the Komedia Arts Cafe in Bath. I adopted a more story telling approach and one lone woman with a strident and uncontrollable laugh dragged a positive response from the audience and again bolstered my belief in myself. Again James was there to support me, this time accompanied by Anne, my wife. They both made me feel that I wasn’t wasting my time, so I carried on.

Last thursday I did my 48th gig of the year. A gig in Devon, to a marquee full of teachers. It was put on by a large promoter and I followed the opener onto the stage with trepidation. But it was OK. They largely got what I was doing, there was some laughter and more happy faces. I met professional comedians, who were generous and encouraging, offering advice and camaraderie.

In between I have done gigs to no audience and large audiences, taken part in the BBC New Act competition and heard myself on the radio (well, 4 Extra). I have been on a poster with Josie Long, I have died on my arse, reworked my set umpteen times, shortened and tightened jokes until they’re unrecognisable. I have walked around muttering to myself, trying to tell if this way or that way is funnier. But most of all I have met people who have in some cases become very good friends.

They are people who laugh at my jokes and help me write them so that they are better. People who don’t always laugh at my jokes, rightly feeling that honesty is a greater service. People, including professional comedians, who have gifted me extra punchlines out of simple kindness. People who have welcomed me into their homes. People who offer me the opportunity to perform with them. People who have other projects that I can be involved in. People who are just starting out and that I can now help by explaining what I have done, pointing them in the direction of other people who will help them, because they are good people. And people with whom I have shared cars with going to gigs. Bitching and laughing constantly. The kind of people to whom you occasionally have to reiterate the ‘no tickling while I’m driving’ rule. And most of all, people who do wonderful, creative work of their own, making me laugh, making me wonder how they do it, making me feel sad that I can’t do it myself, but delighted that they can.

I’ve had a lovely year. Thank you to everyone who I’ve met, who have let me perform, who have been kind and positive. Who have accompanied me to gigs, who have driven me around. Who have supported me and come and seen me when I’ve been concerned. Who have reassured me and boosted my confidence when I felt that I was shit. If I never did another gig, I have made good friends, enjoyed myself far more than I predicted and faced down fear, embarrassment and justified shame. But I will do more gigs; Chippenham, Exeter, Taunton and Stroud so far booked in for January. 2013 has been a great year. 2014 could be even better.

And my dad? He hit the roof.

Thanks people.

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The Human Dove

It is not a new observation that, whilst mankind traditionally sees itself as being like an eagle, or a lion, or a wolf, it is fact, far more of a pigeon. No matter where you go in the world you see pigeons (probably). In the Mediterranean you even see them sitting down, enjoying their own pigeony version of a siesta.

The pigeon is adaptable, hardy and prolific. Like human beings. Eagles and lions, although being at the top of the food chain like humans, consistently fail the test when it comes to surviving, thriving and staying aliving. People are like pigeons. Just accept it. If we were honest, the 3 lions on our shirt would be pigeons; the symbol of America would be a pigeon (probably in a bandana, holding an assault rifle).

It is with this in mind that I have noticed a worrying trend in the village where I live. Whilst we have our share of collared doves and wood pigeons (this is not London, there are no homeless pigeons limping around with legs like Lord Byron) there is also a community of white doves. They live on a roof nearby and are a beautifully uplifting sight as they strut importantly around. They seem to me to represent first world humanity. They are fed adequately by a householder, they pay attention to their appearance, they are clearly sociable, they have few worries and their pompous cooing clearly demonstrates an obsession with their own gloriousness. The only thing they really lack are mobile phones. But there is a worrying dark side…

THEY ARE STUPID. That’s really the only way of putting it. They are constantly getting run over. All the time. They feed in the road and don’t hop out of the way of cars. It’s almost as though (for the purposes of stretching the analogy) they are relying a nanny state to look after them and don’t feel they have to take responsibility for their own actions. Or perhaps, if you prefer a different interpretation, they have been concentrating for generations on the purity of their white blood and now have diluted their gene pool to the point where their minds are defective.

Of course, it could be argued that the person feeding them is at least partially responsible. It does look as though he throws a couple of handfuls of grain into a busy road and then crouches, trousers round ankles, behind a net curtain waiting for them to be brutally squashed in order that he can satisfy whatever obscene desires he harbours. But I have no proof of this. It’s simply conjecture until I see him doing it.

So in conclusion, um, try not to get run over. Don’t put bird food in the road. That’s it I think.

Filling my day to find more time.

For the last year or so I’ve freed up loads of time in which to try and be more creative and do the things I’ve wanted to do. It hasn’t worked. I’ve spent hours drinking coffee and talking about the things I’m going to write, but I’ve got barely a page of finished work.
I suspect that a proper writer could have explained this to me before I started. Because I suspect that the truth is that you don’t need time to write, not a light airy space, not wine or joss sticks; you simply need to write. So that’s the plan for this year. Writing a blog, tweeting more, making notes of all the little things that occur to me during the day, finishing and polishing the episodes of sitcoms that I’ve written until you can see your face in them. Actually starting the projects I’ve talked about all year.
At the very least I might get some satisfaction from the process. Another thing I’m introducing is false deadlines. I’ve never finished anything early in my life, so I need to pretend that the last possible opportunity has come. I say pretend, it may already have passed.
So, by the end of January I will get a workable submission sorted for a book, then it’s a sitcom episode each in Feb and March. Then we’ll see where we are. Probably still here.

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Powerless

Yesterday our electricity was off for the whole day. THE WHOLE DAY! It was very much like living in the 15th century. Actually, it wasn’t too bad, just a bit chilly. The thing I noticed most of all was the way that my stupid 21st century brain doesn’t seem to recognise which of the modern innovations rely on electricity and which don’t. It took me hours to work out that I could light the gas hob with a match and boil all the water I could possibly want. On the other hand I picked up my phone at least a dozen times, presumably presuming that some kind of coal fired broadband connection was being trialled in my area.
I suppose this is the point that an incisive writer starts musing about the things we take for granted, and the way in which humanity adapts to new technology and quickly absorbs its capabilities as our own. Not me. I spent the whole morning swearing impotently at an absence of power, then went to a friend’s house to user some of his delicious electricity. Thus cleverly dodging any kind of lesson learning.
For the record, the outage had nothing to do with high winds, it was simply a dodgy fusebox. 5 minutes fiddling by a real man and it was fixed. At least that’s what my wife told me when she rang to say I could come home.

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End of Christmas

It’s surely time that my neighbours took down their massive neon display of lights saying ‘Merry Christmas’. I’ve now finished the Christmas ham, the turkey went days ago. I didn’t even eat any chocolate today. Christmas is over so it’s time to let it go in a dignified manner. On the other hand, I’ve still got the tree up. It’s just less trouble that way. I suppose that I could leave the lights off, but that way it simply looks like laziness.

The house needs a good tidy, I need to go shopping for food, otherwise we’ll be reduced to eating cheese for every meal. The rubbish has gone out after the Christmas break and means that I can’t get the car out of the drive. Nevertheless, I’m feeling pretty good about the coming few weeks. I’ve got important things going on at work;  my new year resolutions (NYRs) are inspiring me instead of weighing me down and I am generally pretty positive. I’m hoping that 2012 will bring more satisfaction, less money wasted on crap, a bit of travel (although probably not a lot) and a big party for our 10th wedding anniversary. What’s not to enjoy out of that? Apart from the party.

The papers seem to be full of pessimism about the year ahead, but I don’t think that I, as an individual, need to feel down. After all, we’ve had some pretty good years as a nation and shit things have happened to individuals every day, so it’s clear that no matter how the year averages out there will be opportunities for a lot of people to achieve new things and experience fine times. I especially am feeling the liberation of both my kids being in full time education. The extra time frees me up for finding new ways to earn a living. I’ve got about 16 hours accounted for, but at least a further 12 or 15 to fill. I’ve got some ideas, but it’s exciting that a new venture might be just round the corner. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this way about work before, having a few years as a house husband (or housewife if you prefer – it doesn’t sound so pretentious) has really reinforced the relationship between work and income. This should be so obvious, but I’m not sure I’ve ever internalised it before – work has simply been something I had to do, income is something that arrives. Associating the two more strongly has given me a much more focussed sense of what I might do, and why I might want to.

So here we go. Tomorrow will be full of preparing the kids for school, wednesday and thursday are work, friday is as yet unplanned. It’s an exciting time.

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Happy New Year

Hi. Hope you’re well. Yep, me too.

Firstly, what’s NYE? or HNY? Obviously I know, but there seems to have been a tipping point this year and these terms have replaced the fuller, and more sensical versions. It’s genuinely interesting to me how these things happen. First no one’s doing it, then some people that I clearly don’t know, then everyone. Then probably me next year.

A few years ago I forgot to send my Christmas cards in time and felt like the worst kind of twat for considering the possibility of emailing anyone a Christmas message. This year, I didn’t bother with most of my cards and felt genuinely pleased with myself that I bothered to make the effort to email people instead of simply posting it as my status on Facebook. Twitter obviously still doesn’t work for me as I only have about 30 followers and I don’t actually know any of them apart from one old friend from school who never posts and one bloke in the same village as me who I see most days anyway.

I don’t know if any of this matters one way or the other – although I suspect not – but it intrigues me that it happens, as though there are tides and currents in human interaction that seem to apply to us despite us not really understanding how. Languages evolve, new ideas and behaviours develop, these are in turn shocking, then accepted, then mainstream, then passe, then historical. Prejudices come and go, jokes become boring, then subversive. So HNY.

New Year’s resolutions. 1) Write more – blog everyday, spend time writing jokes, work on my book and try to catch all of the ideas that I habitually let go. Some of this might be worthwhile. Of course it might not, but I fear  being 70 and realising that whatever I could have done, it’s probably too late now.

2) Be nicer to my kids. Someone gave my son a present at Christmas and he didn’t immediately pipe up with a cheery thankyou. I prompted him ‘What do you say?’ He looked at me dolefully and said ‘Sorry.’ This must change.

3) Eat better, drink more healthily and run more. All of these things make my life better.

4) Umm, that’s about it, apart from all the other obvious ones about watching less telly, being less lethagic etc.

Right that’s it. Back soon.