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Noddy in Wonderland on Publishers Weekly.
Peace on earth? Don't bet on it.
Mankind profits from nothing more than war. Hence, rumours about the existence of a disk said to contain the formula to “peace on earth,” obtained by a failed actor with a penchant for visions, pose a major threat to the planet. This unleashes a frantic hunt for the disk across continents, involving government agencies, master criminals, petty criminals, and would-be criminals, plus the local population of Pont-y-Pant: the tiny Welsh village on which disparate characters converge as the putative location of the errant disk.
However, nobody has taken into account the role that will be played by the three-year-old Newfoundland acting as the disk’s self-appointed custodian.
Life for residents of Sitges’s Carrer Espanya, where Miguel Ramírez’s hideaway-from-family apartment was located, might easily have continued in its normal drowsy, boozy, sexy, August fashion on the balmy night in question had it not been for the peculiar conflux in their midst of three factors:
Factor A: (per se not all that remarkable), the re-arrival in the street of Miguel’s Range Rover Evoque. Residents looking down from behind their summertime lace curtains and Venetian blinds knew all about the Evoque and admired Miguel’s cojones for owning it. Also, given his underground parking facility, the car had never caused trouble for either pedestrians or other vehicles. So...no hay problema.
Factor B: the appearance, only moments later, of an all-black-with-silver-tinted-windows Hummer the size of a bus, which parked slap in the middle of the road, and out of which climbed four bullfighters--two banderillos, one picador, and one torero--all of whom took to mooching about looking up at windows and speaking to each other in a variety of languages, none of them Catalan or Spanish so far as residents could tell. The lace curtains and Venetian blind slats parted considerably at this arrival. Ears cocked, eyes peeled, anger building in case anybody wanted to get out of his underground parking facility and the jodering Hummer was in the jodering way. Plus, who were these guys...?
Factor C: the parking, behind the all-black-with-silver-tinted-windows, of the little red Seat Ibiza, out of which jumped two young women who might, or might not, have been whores.
Unbeknownst to any of the Carrer Espanya residents--obviously--was the deal Magistrate Lady Dunwithy had brokered with Sergeant Gwyn Williams such that Esperanza and Chiquita would avoid prosecution in Welsh courts for kicking the crap out of three locals and be freed to return to Spain as long as they promised to leave Pont-y-Pant immediately and never return.
Why? Because Lady Dunwithy--a staunch admirer of Emmeline Pankhurst--championed the girls’ brutal athleticism and only wished she had been taught similar tricks when young. And, if Gwyn Williams wanted to keep his job, never mind his pension, he would stop whingeing about prosecutions, jail, and suchlike.
So it was that Esperanza and Chiquita, still very keen to learn more about the--albeit possibly apocryphal--paz mundial story despite their recent setback, had caught the next plane back to Barcelona where it didn’t take them long to learn--by smacking Xabi Hernández around the head a bit where (thwack, thwack) they might (thwack, thwack) find Miguel Ramírez whom they reckoned to be the mastermind behind the operation seeing as Xabi was too dim to find his own arse with an arse map.
“At Carrer Espanya, número 65, Sitges,” a beaten Xabi had cravenly told them. Whither the girls headed as fast as their little red Seat Ibiza would take them, and, finding no available parking place, left the car bumper-to-bumper with the all-black-with-silver-tinted-windows Hummer in the middle of the street.
Such were the largely mundane factors, which were to lead to the events later to be beefed-up by local journos--thinking “Siege of Chicago” and hoping for similar international acclaim--into the “Siege of Sitges.”
Pathetic, but you know how it is with journos, how they’ll kill for a story.
On the other hand, who could blame them for hitting the scene once Miguel had been defenestrated, landed on a bullfighter, and neighbours had texted the news?
Into their heady prose and garbled streetside broadcasts, as they smartphoned editors whilst ducking and diving in the developing “situation” were sprinkled all manner of tasty hypotheses, gay and lesbian rights issues at the very top. Sitges was, after all, a magnet for benders and there was nothing pundits would have liked better than a bunfight between homos and matadors--the new Spain and the old. Not even Barça v Real Madrid could have achieved better chatshow ratings.
Or, their febrile minds wondered, could these be the first sparks of a conflagration of Catalan insurgency in its quest for freedom from Madrid, and would Basques too be joining forces to overthrow a government so badly weakened by Berlin austerity measures it would soon collapse????
So many juicy stories for the journos to pick from! All they needed now were gay, anti-papist, naked footballers with machine guns and over their cups would brim. Desperately the local journos worked, therefore, to up the ante--and then up it some more.
In their incipience, however, before the hacks hyper-hyped them, the “true” events were of a much more mundane nature and might even have been considered normal for the area.
Okay, so the defenestration of admired local resident (Miguel Ramírez) by the two, possibly whorish, young women (Esperanza and Chiquita after Miguel had refused to tell them anything about paz mundial)--was bizarre even by Carrer Espanya standards, but nonetheless might easily have registered as a “domestic.” After all, Ramírez had a track record with whores, although this would be a first for defenestrations. Also there remained the question discussed in local bars ad nauseam for months afterwards: was he pushed or did he jump?
Okay, as everyone agreed, it was unfortunate, as Ramírez’s legs and arms windmilled through the air after being shoved (or possibly not) through the window, that he should have broken his fall by landing on one of the Hummer occupants--a pantomime banderillo (Yves Benoit)--thereby splatting both men onto the pavement. But--as those in the “jump” camp argued--maybe the whole incident had nothing to do with unsatisfied whores, and “local hero” Ramírez had merely been protesting at the parking of a Hummer outside his house and got overexcited.
On and on such debates had raged, even after the journos had done their worst.
Back in real time, though, as Carrer Espanya residents peered through their lace curtains and Venetian blind slats, the only question on their minds after the defenestration moment was: What the jodering hell are people in bullfighting costumes doing roaming the street at this time of year anyway? Late January, early February is gay carnival season, isn’t it? When the lesbos and homos dress up in all kinds of costumes.
But this was August twenty-fifth, so what were picadors (Horst Horschsprung and Vassily Shpak) doing running over to pick up their fallen banderillo colleague now lying squished beneath a defenestrated neighbour and screaming unintelligible epithets, while a torero (Zaxxaryn) rushed about tugging at his lank locks and scrubby beard looking distraught?
Even then matters might have quietened down and Carrer Espanya residents dealt with matters in their own time-honoured way--by closing their windows, getting very pissed indeed, and having sex with each other--had not a phalanx of “Sitges 8/25” Jihadist-atrocity-minded journos been bussed in from Barcelona to compete with the local “Chicago 8/68” (and now “New York 9/11”) hacks, reckoning theirs the more newsworthy story. Swanning around like they owned the place, and thereby causing a series of inter-journo altercations marked by foul language, camera smashing, microphone-wire cutting, and a plethora of smartphone thefts.
And to cap it all, there was the dressed-as-hippies rent-a-mob singing: “ALL WE ARE SAYING IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE” while scattering flowers. Where the hell they had came from no Carrer Espanya resident ever knew, although aspersions were later cast on Jaime Garcia López, owner of the Sitges Diario.
Anyway, what with one thing and another, a number of residents postponed their time-honoured ways, thinking “mierda, everybody else is having fun, so why shouldn’t we?” and joined in the anarchy by chucking mattresses, bottles, and in one case the contents of a bed pan, out of their windows, while others crept downstairs, overturned and set fire to the little red Seat Ibiza, and yet others attempted (but failed) to overturn the all-black-with-silver-tinted windows Hummer.
It was little wonder that within minutes the cops came blue-flashing, wah-wah-wahing their way to the scene and, happily for both journo factions, things went viral on the world-wide net.
Human misunderstandings, eh? The trouble they cause.
The only person, apart from the journos, to benefit from these distractions was Toni DiNardis, who had been hiding in the back of the abandoned Hummer as all hell happened, and, during a lull in proceedings, skulked away along Carrer Espanya unnoticed.
Or so he thought.
What Toni hadn’t spotted was the Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche helicopter piloted by Mr X, who was peering down and smiling to himself, amused especially at the sight of Grigor Zaxxaryn, whose bad luck it had been to be the recipient of the bed pan contents, hopping up and down yelling, “POOOOOO!!!!” as he wiped from his face the evening’s proud product of eighty-nine year old Señor Augustín Abelló’s bowels.
“From your mouth to God’s ear,” said Mr X as he tracked Toni in the Comanche ready at any moment to swoop down and pick him up.