Why we never made it to Morocco?

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Must’ve been August 1990 or thereabouts when Lord Tupelo descended upon me again for his 2nd or 3rd writing holiday. I was living in a small village about 15 miles out of Barcelona. It was nice. Up in the forested hills. I’d just bought my first car in Spain – a SEAT 131 Supermirafiori Luxurious in its day.

Perhaps it was having the wheels put us in mind of travel. However, I felt the likelihood of the Seat getting us all the way to Tarragona, let alone Andalusia and beyond, was doubtful. So, we went by bus. An all night drive found us in the sunny south of Spain, hungry and creased but full of that adrenalin rush you always get when approaching an unknown frontier. We lurched off the bus and took the ferry from Algeciras to Ceuta. Ceuta, although located on the continent of Africa is in fact one half of the remains of the ex-Spanish Saharan Empire of bygone Imperial days (The other is Melilla). Anyway, though geographically speaking we were in Africa, politically we were still in Spain. We bought ourselves some Dirhams and struck out on foot for the border.

We got to the Spanish side of the border fence. The Guardia civil let us through with hardly a glance. We hurried across no-man’s land, making for the little kiosks containing the Moroccan border control persons. Just behind them was another fence. Beyond that fence was a swirling mass of people, many of them already yelling and gesticulating to attract our attention. Tupelo went first. The cop checked his passport, stamped the entry visa, and he went through and trod real African sand and was immidiately mobbed by a throng of Moroccans all intent on being his friend. So, it was my turn. I presented my passport to the same cop. He looked at it and seemed unhappy. He gave it back. No you entry visa. I tried to elicit the reason for his refusal to stamp my passport but he only seemed to get agitated. You GO! It was obvious he wasn’t going to let me into the country. I yelled my predicament to Tupelo on the other side of the fence there and after some what looked like strenuous haggling the Moroccan police annulled his 30 minute old entry visa and let him back into Spain.

Back in Algeciras I went to the Moroccan Consulate to complain. The man who attended me gazed vacantly into space until I’d finished. He then shrugged his shoulders. I understood. Such is life.

So, we went to Tarifa

Hegbits: Mr.Yick

The Ice Grotto

Mr.Yick. Ah yes…Mr.Yick.

Here you may get a taste of his fairly typical exploits, quoted from Canto 8, The Reeking Hegs,

The ice grotto was a fantastic warren of a place, frozen passages hung with stalagmites, sites and petrified bones. G├│ngolphin led the way with the ship’s lantern, closely followed by the eager Pensionettes and the boy, struggling along with his equipment…I just know I’m going to regret this.

All inhuman life is in here. Yick’s remains, embalmed with sluice and sporting only his gor blimey trousers, had been buried alive by a walking snowball with claws, and then frozen into a huge block of ice by Ray and his nephew…

Soon the melting in the grotto had us all knee-high. Yick’s torso gave cadaveric spasms as the ice cracked and popped. It ran like liquid glass and thawed into a crystal pool, and with one bound he was free, ready for action and rising with a riveting head…My foulweather friend fixed me with a sudden movement, a stiletto of ice at my throat.

“No progress can be made while there is a snake in the mat!” he growled. “It was you, erstwhile amigo mein…you say you wanted to go Hegs, then you have me rooted alive…by Bog, this here blade was forged for your black heart! Mactation time I mean, so speak up!”

On the writing of The Reeking Hegs.

The Reeking Hegs. Tupelo coined that emblematic phrase. The title was, originally Arctic Gothic Terror Kiosk Sideshow…and more along similar lines that now recede into the faded mists of memory or perhaps better said forgetfullness.

A large amount of the text was written, as I mentioned previously, up in Tupelo’s kitchen on his old-style portable typewriter. Let us here put forward a truth with regards to that situation. When his Lordship refers to himself as “Brewer and Banker” I can vouchsafe that the brewing part of that description is 100% correct. That space was a kitchen but it was also a brewery and bar. The wall above what at one time was a fireplace was decorated with an enormous painted mural of the head and shoulders of Elvis. On the mantlepiece a slate. On the slate, in white chalk, a list of names and alongside each name a series of scratched marks indicating that person’s current tab. So, more often than not the flow of the creative juices would be aided and abetted by carefully poured pints of one or another of Tupelo’s brews and “208’s”; a 208 being a joint made with a Gauloise cigarette – an unusual, to many inexplicable, choice of tobacco but that’s what we did.

There were many, many venues for our literary pursuit, and often the place in which the writing took place – ha ha – filtered through and became integrated into the text. For example; after I moved to Spain Tupelo came to visit twice. Or three times. On one of these visits we decided to go to Morocco and do some writing there. That was the plan. We never made it to Morocco but we did get to visit The Rock of Gibraltar. There, on the Rock, we walked and walked until we got right to the end of that finger of granite. There we were, at the tip of it, and pretty it was not. We sat and wrote as the sun settled down into the Mediterranean. Here’s a challenge: see if You can find that moment in the text of TRH! It is there in the section which describes “the desolate space tip”.

I’ve never got to the bottom of Tupelo’s banking activities.

Pete Peru and Lord Tupelo present: Hegbits. Select selections lifted from the archives of The Reeking Hegs.

My name is Seighton. Nicky Seighton. An altogether uncommon name in Ugzcyk. My trade an altogether uncommon occupation. I had uncovered some vile misdeeds in my time, but none that held a tusk to what was about to unfold as the chase unlaced and I plunged into a below zero inferno of false intestine readings, unlicenced fishing-hole drilling and assassinations.
It was a cold June, the dead month, day. Ugzcyk lay grey and smoky, silent and dull within the texture of a frozen velveteen undergarment. The phone split the silence. Gina Lorrabitchiner, my secretary, called to me. It was Dogsson, the District Commisioner. I lodged an icicle in my throat. Cool was the watchword where Dogsson was concerned.
“Zatiu”? He bawled.
“Seighton speaking”, I replied calmly.
“Srongwidja? Sounslikeyagorriceinyermowf, harharhhar! Now, shurrupanlissenup!Theresumfinsickbrewinintownanitaintsluice,
“Just give me the details”, I butted in rigidly.
I already knew I had no other choice than to accept the case.


Pete Peru

Hello, my name is Pete Peru. I am the co-author of “The Reeking Hegs”. I wrote it in collaboration with my writing partner and friend, Lord Tupelo. The story of the writing of TRH is a story in itself. It all began way back in 1987! Tupelo and I shared a cottage in Cubbington, a village on the outskirts of Leamington Spa in the U.K. We often got together in the evenings in Tupelo’s kitchen where we’d generally watch a bit of something on his tiny TV, drink a few beers and chew the cud. Up there he also had an old portable typewriter and one night, I don’t recall who initiated the fun, one of us started to tap out some sentences on the typewriter in a totally impropmtu manner. That done, the machine was passed across the table and the other carried on either responding to the prompt or going off at a maybe completely unrelated tangent. In this way we completed the first page or two of what was to evolve in The Reeking Hegs. Although sections of TRH were written in many different locations and more often than not upon anything that came to hand; scraps of paper, the inside of a cereals box…whatever, we stuck to that original method of writing a piece and then handing it over to the other to continue throughout. We both enjoyed the strange twists and turns this method produced in the narrative. We both enjoyed feeding of the other’s imagination. We were both awed at how, seemingly out of absolutely nothing, by some weird magic, the entire story grew, developed, mutated and took over our lives! That process was deemed “finished” in 1992, by which time I had moved to Spain. I lost contact with Tupelo and my copy of the manuscript sat in a box that somehow survived the turmoils and upheavals in my life over the next 25 years. In 2017 I decided to, once and for all, transcribe the manuscript version onto my word processor – I’d started doing this twice before but had never got it completed. This time I stuck to it and got it done. Having done that I thought I might as well present it for publication and was overjoyed when Montag Press of San Francisco came through with an offer to publish. However, I then faced the task of finding Lord Tupelo who I’d not heard of since 1992! Knowing the man I knew he would not be found on “social media” but as luck would have it I turned up another friend from Cubbington days, got in touch and was told that he and Tupelo met every Thursday for a game of table-tennis! Thus was the Peru-Tupelo axis re-established and in July 2020 The Reeking Hegs appeared in print.