Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Renowned Professor to Research Doc Barbara Phenomenon

   The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece is delighted to have received a request from a learned and globally respected Professor of Sociology. He asks if he might become Honorary Official Temporary Academic In Residence (H.O.T.A.I.R) in our town so that he can undertake vitally important research. Central to his investigation will be the Doc Barbara syndrome of attracting a large band of devoted followers, known to all generically as the DocSoc.

  The Professor is a deeply emotional man who was forced to abandon his study of Roman burial practices because he all too frequently burst into copious tears at the very thought of anyone dying. He then turned his attention to what he believed would be a happier topic: gift-giving rituals in South West Lancashire. However, he was profoundly disturbed to discover only two such and miserably concluded that generosity is not a predominant characteristic of the natives of that area. We are grateful to him and to his university of Much-Mickling-in-the-Mire for his interest in our heroine, now that she has been found safe and well.

   Yet again we were obliged to trust the initial interview with Professor Ramsbottom-Thrutch to our cub reporter, Bob Twaddle but, since his flimsy grasp of grammar and punctuation deserted him in an attack of stage fright, we are publishing the dialogue verbatim from his tape-recorder.

B.T: Welcome to ... Where are we? I can't remember!
R-T: I never know where I am - I am too vague yet important for such details.
B.T: How do you propose to conduct your study? [relief all round at Head Office that he managed a coherent question]
R-T. I shall deviate between the Frankfurt Critical Method and a Subconventional Matrix, more commonly referred to as S.M.
B.T. What drew you to this topic? [More relief]
R-T: When I heard she was missing I was overwhelmed with grief, such as I was at the passing of the late lamented P....  [Here the poor man was overcome with sobs and the interview had to be concluded]

   Our cub reporter did send a photograph of the Professor, however, though aspects of it puzzle us. The bowed head of Bob Twaddle shows his paralysing respect for the venerable gentleman.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Doc Barbara found at last

   Some of the  members of staff of The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece were sitting in the office we share with the The Brynbuga Beagle, reminiscing sadly about Doc Barbara and the more memorable exploits she achieved before her mystery disappearance. We discussed our attempts to find her and her epic history. One reporter recalled the time she was nearly arrested and another remembered vividly her concern when the frogs in her pond first refused to mate. And then there was her heroism in Paris ... Her imaginative mixed metaphors came to mind, in particular, the one that best sums her up: "I always bite the bull by the horns."

  At that moment our cub reporter came in, pale with excitement - at least that is what we had to assume as he is always rendered virtually paralysed and completely incapable of utterance when overcome by powerful emotion. After many cups of strong coffee he managed to explain that a significant clue had been found which led to her whereabouts:

   This discovery of her sandals, abandoned by the side of the bath in Bath, helped our Mr Twaddle, in one of his rare outbreaks of common sense, to find her and, after several more coffees, he explained that she had tried to help a slave girl, seated nearby with a tray of make-up for her mistress. As Doc Barbara disapproves of servitude and cosmetics, though in unequal measure, since she regards make-up as a sub-section of slavery, she attempted to assist the girl to freedom but she was content with her life and refused. Perhaps she secretly likes using the various pots and potions. Doc Barbara spent many days in this endeavour, consuming one of the ample teas in the Pump Room every day (sometimes twice) before waddling home - to our immense joy.

   When we told Doc Barbara how devastated all her followers had been during her absence, she replied with an enigmatic smile: "No use crying till the fat lady sings." Such wisdom!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Search for Doc Barbara

   Here we see the detective branch of the local W.U.G. (Women's Undomesticated Group) examining the waters in Bath for any clue to Doc Barbara's whereabouts since her mysterious disappearance several days ago. When they met with no success, they alerted other bodies [unfortunate choice of words perhaps: Ed.] to search, including their sons, who are tough and persistent characters - they have had to be since their mothers are so entirely devoid of culinary or any other household accomplishments. One thought the bicycle pictured bottom right might be hers but it did look rather small even for her modest requirements.

   More worrying was this possible sighting photographed below, although the leader of the W.U.G is certain that Doc Barbara does not ride in this cavalier posture but always leans forwards alertly over her handlebars.

   We appeal to all our readers, even our rivals at The Brynbuga Beagle, to watch closely and report any information which might lead to her.

   Footnote from the Editor of The Brynbuga Beagle: Indeed we will assist in any way we can and are quite (two possible meanings there) wretched at the thought she might have come to harm. In fact we have reconsidered our scepticism and are sorry we ever doubted the fabulousness of some of her exploits. We admire her devotion to wildlife as seen in her globally acknowledged worm-training programme and her artistic efforts must be applauded in their ambition. We want her back amongst us if only to calm referendum fever as she did for the last general election.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Doc Barbara's Sensational Disappearance

   We at The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece are deeply concerned to learn that Doc Barbara has not been sighted recently, so much so that we actually sent our cub reporter to investigate, since there was no-one else available. In one of his rare episodes of efficiency, he tracked her last known movements to Bath Spa and forwarded these photos: the collage shows her arrival in the famous and elegant Pump Room where all is quiet (bottom right) until one guest (top photo) notices her arrival and alerts the orchestra who begin to play: "Hail the conquering hero comes" - note the modern tendency to de-genderisation.

   Doc Barbara then consumed all the items on the three-tier stand (she has admitted to a tendency to gluttony) holding out her little finger in genteel fashion as she drank her tea since she had already practised the appropriate aristocratic behaviour for her meeting with Prince Charles.

   After that, looking noticeably plumper, she went to visit the famous Roman baths where she was seen preparing to immerse herself in the atmosphere for a fuller experience.

   This is the last our cub reporter saw of her and we are now sending him on a training course entitled; "When is it acceptable for a peacetime photographer to intervene."
Editor's note: It was only when we came to filling out the application form that he revealed his first name. Until now we have always called him by his surname, Mr Twaddle, unaccountably pronounced with a short "a" as in "cat", but now we can more happily refer to him as Bob.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Doc Barbara moves up the Chain of Being

   Readers will have noted Doc Barbara's interest in invertebrates (in her worm-training programme which was hugely successful) and amphibians (in her encouragement to male frogs to perform their natural functions this spring which inexplicably failed to achieve its aims, despite help from the W.U.G) and may have wondered why she does not engage with other species.

   She is well aware that the higher animals come close to humanity in the great Chain of Being and has always been deterred from any dealing with monkeys or apes since the phrase "group of primates" always brings to her mind unwanted images of bishops in conclave (somewhat unfortunately the reverse is also the case).  However, on her recent travels, she encountered scenes of distress which she felt necessitated her help. When she saw two sheep in a muddy field, cold and wet with their wool bedraggled, she bought them substantial raincoats, intended for larger dogs and was relieved to see them much happier as a result.

   She then observed two bears struggling to carry a heavy bench - back-breaking work - and ran to ask six sturdy male passers-by for their assistance. After several minutes of bewildered consultation, they obliged and all is now well.

   Yet, did our heroine rest? She may have relaxed physically after her exertions but her mind remained active attempting to answer the existentialist questions; "Why do sheep always behave like sheep?" and: "If there are two bears in a garden does that make it a bear garden?" Truly, Doc Barbara spares herself nothing to promote public benefit.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Doc Barbara Keeps Up

   We at The Monmouthshire Mouthpiece admit that Doc Barbara has a general tendency to be retrospective, a trait that our rival reporters in The Brynbuga Beagle mention frequently with a tone we can only describe as gloating.

   We are therefore delighted to record her latest venture which is keeping pace with the bluest sky thinking in media circles. She has recently heard of the concept of genre mashing and considers this an excellent notion, combining the best in all forms of entertainment. Never one to think without action (though some feels she acts without thinking) she is now preparing to film a video entitled: "Bleak Expectations of the Zombies."

   This will be released on YouTube as soon as she can find actors willing to participate since some celebrities have inexplicably declined. She will next approach the W.U.G. (Women's Undomesticated Group) for their help despite the fact that they refuse to wear make-up. Unkind locals have commented that they will not need it in this instance.

   Here is Doc Barbara's mock-up of a possible scene but both participants have withdrawn because of vertigo.