Tales of Castle Carfax

From time to time, I write short extracts of life at Castle Carfax on the Guardian's quick crossword comments pages. These sometimes tie in with the crossword itself, or with the discussion that day, so there is a link to the relevant crossword page with each one.


Yeth, marthter?

Must you do that?

Thorry, marthter, induthtrial ackthident.

I did tell you not to drink the green one. Anyway, how did the brain do with this morning's crossword?

Here'th the report from the gnometh in the thellar levelth of the carthle, marthter.

Ah, smooth running, I see. Good. It spotted 21 as an old friend, good, so the crossword-association linkage is doing well. I don't like that delay on 9D, though. Have you properly tightened the limbic straps, Igor?

Yeth, thir. Tightened them latht night.

[Castle Carfax. Morning. The castle juts proud (and slightly lop-sided) from the mists of the mountain, slowly burning off in the hazy sunlight. Below in the valley, the village is quiet in the remaining fog, save for the occasional goat-bell. From a tall central tower, comes a deep and unearthly moaning.]


Rithe and thine!




[The Small Experiment Hall, Castle Carfax. Mysterious organic objects lurk in jars of discoloured fluid. Three-phase power sockets feed glowing machines, into which complex pieces of chemical glassware drip slowly. Approximately three ferrets cower in a cage on the central table, guessing their fate. A door on the far side of the hall slams open, and a short twisted figure shambles in at speed.]

Thir! Thir!

Oh, do be careful Igor, you nearly had that liver on the floor!

Thorry, marthter, thall I cook you thome more for dinner?

No. What is it, Igor? Why do you distract me when I'm working?

There'th a group of thtudentth outthide, marthter.

Students? Well, heat up the oil and wind the ballistas.

[Note nailed to the sally port of Castle Carfax]

Message to couriers:

Please ring and wait for up to 10 minutes, to give Igor enough time to hack his way back out of the conservatory. If there is no reponse, DO NOT leave deliveries with the neighbours, as they will only use them to create their own unspeakable horrors. Instead, kindly leave your parcel by throwing it over the castle walls. You will find the necessary trebuchet on the next mountain to the east.

Thank you,
The Castle Carfax Postal Team.

[A lecture theatre. A selection of young faces, many still showing the after-effects of a long Freshers' week dissipation, gaze down at the lectern in a mixture of boredom and mild panic. Notes are frantically scribbled, some on paper, some on newly-purchased eyePads. The lecturer is in full flow.]

... and finally, we add the tincture of saffron blended with the trace amounts of meteoric iridium catalyst. This is most important, and should under no circumstances be omitted.

Would somebody please poke that gentleman at the back? What's your name, sir?

[The scene: Castle Carfax. The drawing room, late at night. Candles gutter fitfully in sconces on the walls. An eerie melody swirls up from the organola in the chapel across the courtyard. The castle's dread master summons his twisted servant.]


Yeth, marthter?

One of our experimental subjects has taken action to fend off our usual methods!

The orbital mind-control latherth, thir?

Note: this tale was posted in response to the story of Cuttleson and its subsequent demolition. The tale itself was then removed.

[Scene: A ramshackle castle, perched on a steep and windswept mountainside. From this chill 4D, the slopes descend precipitously to a warm and pleasant bay, surrounded by white sand beaches on an azure sea, sparkling in the morning sun. A suspiciously new and unblemished harbour area lies to one side of the Caff. Within the castle, a dishevelled figure bursts into the hazardous materials kitchen, surprising its occupant.]

‚ÄčMarthter! Marthter!

Igor, how many times have I told you not to distract me when I'm handling Marmite? This stuff is dangerous!

[Castle Carfax. A thick mist roils above the moat. A solitary window in the pinnacle of the highest, 21A-covered, tower glows with candlelight. Within, the castle's master summons his ramshackle henchman...]

Igor! IGOR! Ah, there you are. What kept you?

Thorry, thir. I wath converthing with the village'th patiththier.

Ah, yes. Ordering crumpets for tomorrow's breakfast, I trust. He is a masterful exponent of the art. Truly a baker's 18D. Now, tell me, how did the experimental brain do with tonight's crossword?

Thlow, marthter, but thuctheththful in the end.

[Castle Carfax. Clouds threaten the castle, dropping a light but persistent rain. The small dining room is decorated with roses and hearts.] [Ewww -Ed.]

Igor? Where are you, man?

Here, marthter!

Do you know what day it is today, Igor?

Ummm... your birthday, thir?

No, you fool, that's not for months yet!

Ith it my birthday, thir?"

Even more wrong. No, it's St Valentine's day, the annual festival of love and romance. I shall require you to prepare a special dinner tonight.

Thall I fetch the poithon thelection from the tocthin pantry, thir?