A Visitors Guide To
The Grand Duky of
And Other Places Your Government
Doesn't Want You To Know About
Dr. David B. Somerville, D.Sc.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: The History………………………………...............Page 1-8
Chapter Two: The Wonders of Nature……………………………….....Page 9-11
Chapter Three: Government of the Government
People of the People………………………………..................Page 12-17
Chapter Four: Infrastructure: Just In Case………………..Page 18-21
Chapter Five: Demography………………………………...............Page 22-28
Chapter Six: Culture Tradition and the Arts………………….Page 29-35
Chapter Seven: The Sporting Side of Holfknong……………..Page 36-44
Chapter Eight: Higher Learning on Holfknong………………..Page 45-47
Chapter Nine: The National Museum………………………………..... Page 48-49
Chapter Ten: Other Attractions………………………………..........Page 50-52
Chapter Eleven: Dos and Don'ts on Holfknong…………………..Page 53-55
Chapter Twelve: The Whole World Institute………………………..Page 56-57
Chapter Thirteen: The S.S.S.N………………………………...........Page 58
Chapter Fourteen: Alien Abductions: An Apology…………..Page 59-60
Chapter Fifteen: The Holfknong Lexicon………………………………..Page 61-63
Chapter Sixteen: Coin of the Realm………………………………......Page 64-65
Chapter Seventeen: Questions and Answers……………………………..Page 66-73
Chapter Eighteen: A Visitor's Guide to Parliament…..Page 74-75
Chapter Nineteen: A Brief Geneological History of
the Royal Family……………………………….......................Page 76-81
Chapter Twenty: The Blymfylldyr Festival……………………………….Page 82-83
Chapter Twenty-One: You Can't Get There From Here…..Page 84-85
INDEX OF WORDS AND PHASES
Working Title: Tales From Holfknong
Ever since the recording of history began by men who were intelligent enough to be able to write or scratch or paint it down on paper, wood, stone, metal, etc., there was always a lost group of people to report. There are the ten lost tribes of Israel, the lost cities of ElDorado, the lost batallion and so on and so forth. Holfknong was founded by some of these lost people or their descendants.
Actually the founders were not as much lost as they were confused and bewildered. It all began with the Civilization of Mu, which has been written about countless of times by historians of the Pacific cultures. Briefly, Mu was an ancient nation-continent which was located in the middle of the Southern Pacific Ocean just above the Phillipines. There were various tribes who lived in peace and harmony together in an idealized condition. Each tribe developed a special skill or craft which they contributed to the greater benefit of all of the people of Mu. Just before Columbus, Magellan and other explorers traversed the Pacific in search of people to conquor and subjugate , there befell a terrible calamity. The entire continent started sinking. It apparently sank slowly enough for the various tribes to seek refuge on the continent's highest peakes. The tribe of Yap migrated to what is now called Yap. They were the doctors and other medical attendants and they placed value in large, circular rocks which they collected as money for their services. There were the Mokilese who were great carpenters and they fled to what is now the island of Mokil. The Ponapeans were the makers of intoxicating potions made with sakow and hibiscus pulp. There were many others who sought refuge to the tops of these mountains which became high islands. Although they were clinging to life atop these high islands, they somehow managed to communicate with each other via visits by outrigger canoes or by mental telepathy or smoke signals. One of these tribes, the Trukese, became lost and really confused because they lived in the middle of Mu and they took off in all directions. Some were so horrified by the sudden flooding of their central plains they bolted for places unknown to the rest of the people of Mu. Some were seen wondering as far off course as Australia or New Guinea and it is rumoured that some even made it to Antarctica. They kept tying their rafts and canoes together to keep whatever was left of them alive and afloat. This group of Truckese became the Wandering Mariners of Truck. The other members of the tribe went on to become very successful singers of forlorn love songs and makers of what today is known as "Truckese Magic".
The lost Truckese eventually drifted around the horn of Africa and into the stormy Atlantic. They found half sunken and abandoned old ships bobbing up and down in these turbulent seas and used their combined ingenuities to build one great ship from the ruins. Much of the ships rigging looked like water soaked driftwood but they managed to hold the pieces together with long, sinewy pieces of sea weed which kept wet and supple from the sea spray. They roamed the two oceans stopping here and there to pick up flotsam and jetsam from either abandoned or sunken vessels. The wanderers lived their lives as sea faring scavengers never making landfall except on small, little known islands or atolls. Their ship was huge and always growing from the pieces of wreckage they found. It was also fast as the wind. Those fortunate to get close enough did so at their peril and those that lived to tell the tale heard their strange Truckese language, which they mistakenly took for Dutch. It is part of linguistic tradition that if you don't understand the language spoken then it must be Dutch or Greek unless you happen to be Dutch or Greek then it would be some other language not easily recognized. To the English speakers who ruled the waves in the golden days of the British Empire, the strange language was Dutch. The strange ship was like an apparition so it became known as The Flying Dutchman and the people on board were Lost Dutchmen, although as we know, they were really wandering Truckese.
Now, as it happened, there were four sailors who had gone A.W.O.L. from the Dutch Navy. They were not far from the dock where their frigate was anchored and tied. These four were in their cups and full of pluck and bravery that only alcohol can give men who were otherwise meek and obedient to their commanding officers. One of the regulars at the the pub near the dock had noted that a mystery ship had appeared on the horizon that day. Could it be the Flying Dutchman? If it was, the four had enough courage to go around and more than enough curiosity to see why their fellow countrymen were so famous as legends of the seven seas. Perhaps they could borrow the naval vessel without the permission of the Royal Navy and pay a visit to this ship and share news and stories in their native tongue. Surely these lost souls would be anxious to hear of news from home and relate stories about their exciting adventures at sea.
The brave Dutch seamen made their way stealthily although somewhat clumsily to the berthed ship, overcame the watch and headed out into the swelling tide to search for their fellow countrymen seemingly doomed and abandoned. After navigating through the breakers and into the calmer deep, the ship found itself floundering in an odd situation. Who was piloting the ship? Who was in command? More importantly, who was at the wheel? None of the sailors stopped drinking long enough to consider this reality so the ship continued to follow some sort of current and sailed aimlessy further and further under a moonlight sky. It wasn't until the last drop had been drunk and the last bawdy sea shanty had been sung that one of the four realized that no one was at the helm. After some confused questioning amongst the crew, they soon realized the ship was on its own. Instead of becoming alarmed, the four remained calm in the stupor and looked at each other, shrugged and said, "oh well", but they said it loudly and resignedly in Dutch.
Sure enough, soon after this shout of unconcern and resignation there appeared a ship so huge it eclipsed the shinning moon and cast an eerie pall on the deck of the small naval vessel. The Truckese crew, thinking they had come across yet another abandoned ship worked quickly to come alongside and embed their grappling hooks into the starboard side of one of His Majesty's pride and joy.
Soon the two ships were as one.; the four sailors unaware of their capture, the Truckese equally unaware of the live cargo left onboard their most recent acquisition. It didn't take both parties long to discover each other. The phantom sailors were first to discover their mariner brothers. By this time the Dutchmen were too inebriated to be surprised at the sudden appearance of the light brown faces peering down at them from the tattered gunnals of their pathetic ship. Although the two vessels were firmly attached to each other, the motion of the waves forced each ship to move up and down alternatively. During the crest of one wave, the Dutch were able to see right onto their captor's deck. During the trough, the Dutch could only see deadwood. This sort of gave the whole scene a peek-a-boo effect which made the situation so ridiculous the Netherlanders actually yelled, "peek-a-boo" (in Dutch) each time they sighted the Truckese tucked inside their cave-like portals. The islanders also saw the hilarity in the situation and mimicked their game during the movements of both ships. This comic venture continued for well over an hour until crews from both ships convulsed with laughter and one Truckese sailor tumbled onto the deck of the Dutch ship. The sudden impact of the landing caused the invader to become sober enough to attempt to ask questions regarding the origin of these white men and what they were doing so far from shore. Of course, none of the Dutch understood their new visitor. They tried every type of Dutch dialect and even some Flemish for good luck to no avail. They were speechless as to what language they should try in an attempt to communicate until one of the European sailors broke into a chorus of "Auld Gang Wie Fess Na", a song which had been popular amongst drunken pirates and sailors alike just about everywhere. The Truckese had picked up this song from the few seaside pubs they rarely frequented while not being at sea as Lost Dutchmen. No one really knew the origin of the song but some felt it was some sort of ancient Paleo-Gaelic lament whose meaning was long lost to the demise of this ancient tongue.
Soon, both ships stopped their game of now I see you, now I don't and the rhythmic motion of the waves became the tempo of this well known refrain of "Auld Gang…", and the star-lit seas thundered with the voices of hundreds of joyful men.
The two boats strapped together resembled an immense whale with a benign tumor and anyone seeing this sight against the faint glow of a rising sun on the horizon would either shrink back in horror or climb higher in the crow's nets to get a better view.
Amongst those who sought refuge from the strict maritime laws against mutiny, piracy and driving a ship while intoxicated, however, the very sight of this strange site meant brotherhood and hope. Those without a home and those escaping home headed for this strange apparition. Like a rolling stone gathering moss or an old ship gathering barnacles, the Dutchman with its combined crews gathered the human flotsam and jetsam set adrift in the ocean of despair.
Soon the likes of some of the crew of the Bounty joined the party, then came rafts laden with gold paddled by sea going American Indians from the lost cities of ElDorado. They kept moving through the hills of what is now the American West until they embarked with their precious cargo from somewhere close to the present U.S.-Mexican Border. They were determined to keep the golden ores they so laboriously dug from crystal mountains in the South West and no metal bound Conquistador was going to get their greasy hands on it. A rather strange ship flagged them down in the Southern Atlantic off the coast of the Ascension Islands. The crew of this ship had been all that was left of an "empire" which had existed on the Ascensions for nearly eighteen months. They had elected an escaped assassin, Aaron Burr, as emperor. After only a few week, however, he became bored with the whole idea and sailed for America and gave himself up to the fledgling American courts. The rest of the citizens of this empire suddenly realized at how boring it was on those islands but were too frightened to return to the former colonies. The coming of the now burgeoning crew of the Dutchmen meant quiet relief and they quickly latched their two ships to the other barnacled vessels and added their sails to the virtual floating laundry line of the many others. One of the men had actually been vice-emporer but nobody paid any attention to him either on the islands or on-board ship, but they let him think he was captain. He wondered over the now huge collection of decks asking, "am I the captain?", at which those within earshot answered back good-humouredly, "aye, ye are the captain", and then went on their merry way doing whatever it took to keep this floating confederation of ships and sub-cultures afloat. This disillusioned "captain" later became the ancestor of the present Duke Donald of the Grand Duchy of Hoffnung.
Amongst the crew there lived a rather pathetic figure. Here was a man who was good at nothing. He wasn't even a jack-of-all trades and certainly wasn't a master-of-none. His head was either always in a book, mostly various interpretations of religious writings ,or he was gathering information from the crew as to what they believed. It seemed that he had lost his religion and was shopping for one. All the while he did this, he seemed to be in everyone's way.
The poor man meant well for he often volunteered to help out with the many tasks needed to keep the mammoth vessel above the water line. Unfortunately, every time he helped at some task, some calamity came about as a result. In swabbing the decks he used too much soap and made the boards so slippery that men racing to complete other jobs would slip and slide and one deckhand slid so far that he slipped overboard though one of the gunnals and it took most of the crew most of the day to rescue him. Whenever he scrubbed the sails, he scrubbed them with such vigor and conviction that he rubbed holes in them and it took days for them to be repaired and hoisted into usefulness. His reputation often preceded disasters and people became weary of his offers of help. Still, the energy he put into being helpful verged was so sincere that all of the crewmen found themselves in a dilemma as to what they could do to keep him occupied, yet out of their way and still make him feel useful. One of the crew remembered how his uncle had been like this bumbling figure. The townspeople appreciated him for he was the town clergyman. Whenever he saw people working hard at some sort of task, he would not offer them physical help, but he would pat them on the shoulder and ooze, "I will remember you in my prayers". Everyone felt comforted by those words although many would have preferred a hefty shove or pull or lift as they went about their daily chore. The crew met in secret and decided they would officially appoint Milton as their new chaplain. He would be their spiritual leader as long as he kept his hands off everything and everyone. He would learn the manner of religious men and utter those comforting words, "I will pray for you", and be looked upon with relief that he was not sharing their labours. He may have been a disaster in the past, but now he was a saint and when he died years after the crew abandoned their period of crewship, his remains were shot out of a cannon and he was cannonized as Saint Milton, Patron Saint of the Grand Duchy of Holfknong.
As it turned out after some historians researched the earlier life of this saint, he was indeed a member of a religious order, The Brotherhood of the Weakly. The Brotherhood had been followers of an early priestess of the Church, Maude Weakly. Maude was a 92 year old virgin who died at that ripe old age leaving her followers to celebrate her innocent life by establishing a monastic order in her honour and by holding yearly feasts exonerating her virtue. This annual event came to be known as "The Feast of the 92 Year Old Virgin" and adherents held uproarious parties and bacannalian orgies and any other excuse to briefly step out from behind the strict structure of the Holy See. The Brotherhood lasted for a few hundred years until the Pope found out about them and he immediately disbanded the order. It seemed that Milton was a loyal brother who admitted that he was really only involved for the sake of the parties.
Soon the ship became so large, it was quite possible to be on the ship for months and never meet most of the crew. Pirates avoided it because they were superstitious that it was the fabled city of lost souls or Davey Jones locker. Merchant vessels avoided it because they thought it was a leper colony and none of the empire building countries dare claim it because of the many flags flown from the forest of masts.
Finally, after years of wandering aimlessly around and about the seven seas, this floating behemoth found itself hopelessly wedged on a sandbar between two odd shaped islands. To a man, they had finally found their future home; a land void of the laws and cultures which had made them refugees. To be sure, there was no flowing milk and honey, but there were springs flowing with natural soda water flavoured with the nectar from anniseed plants lining the banks of streams eminating from the springs. There was fermented papya so sweet it gave them a sugar high. They found a native animal so strange yet so familiar and it provided them with everything they needed, including an occasional cuddle. This animal was the gibbish. Yes, this was paradise for most of them. For the others it was a place to civilize and build nests and start anew. Let the beginnings begin!
The Wonders of Nature
Where does one start in describing what flora and fauna met these sailors home from the sea and hunters home from the hills. The gibbish met them with curious abandon for as soon as the ship became accessible at low tide, the furry animals invited themselves on board. They immediately became pests, but useful pests. Depending on their size, they became beasts of burden, garbage disposals, message carriers and even cuddly pets and neck warmers for members of the crew. Their consumption of every piece of visible rope on the ship upset the crew and the creatures even ate shoestrings from the shoes of the men as they were wearing them. Still, the animal became a valuable commodity and for awhile it became the piece of exchange between seller and buyer. One could buy a loaf of bread or a skin of milk for two gibbish. A fully furnished house could ask a whole herd and a dowry was negotiable, depending on the beauty and/or usefulness of the bride or groom to be.
Gibbish were the result of selective breeding by a genetically modifying nature gone awry. There were many subspecies of the stock as well. Some had naturally curly red hair. Some had fur like a polar bear while some had a covering resembling the texture of terry towel. They ranged in size from jack rabbit to zebra and no wonder; they seemed to be a cross between goat, sheep and pygmy water buffalo. These animals existed in their purer form on islands within a radius of 600 miles from Hoffnung. Hefty tropical storms would have blown their ancestors into the ocean current and they would have become lost and alone on these unchartered lands.
There were also the Calling Fowl Birds which resembled hybrids of albatross, dodo and fairy penguin. They are flightless birds with big mouths and the noise they make sounds like someone who is always complaining. The new arrivals claimed they heard them cry, "It's not fair, it's not fair" and that is how their cry is interpreted today.
Guarding the Eastern fringes of both islands are the Hello-Goodbye trees. They are palm trees with leaf canopies shaped like hands. When breezes blow in from the ocean, the "hands" wave "good-bye" to people who are on the land. When breezes blow out to the ocean from the land, the hands wave "hello" to people on passing ships. The fruit of the tree is literally intoxicating for the plant produces more than enough natural alcohol, but then every fruit from every plant on the islands produces more than enough alcohol. The riper the fruit, the less the strength of the alcohol.
Another amazing plant growing here in abundance is the Grindle Flower. These flowers are multi-coloured dandelion-like blossoms. The leaves of each different coloured flower are edible and their taste differs from plant to plant. The leaves of the yellow flowered plant taste like coconut. The leaves of the red flowered plant taste like bacon. The leaves of the purple flowered plant taste like beer; and so on and so forth. Some even have a cardboard taste which resemble tv dinners.
Geologists from the University of Holfknong tell us the islands were shaped by a giant meteor which skipped across the surface of the ocean until it hit a sand bar and plowed up a reef, mangrove swamp and suboceanic artisian spring. The area on which the meteor rested became the North Island and the area which was plowed up became the South Island. Both island share equally impressive old worn-down mountains. The tallest mountain is Mt. Edna at 150metres and the smallest is Hugo Mountain at 48metres. On Holfknong, mountains are measured from their base on the ocean side, which is mostly hidden by the water. All of the mountains seem taller at low tide.
When you have mountains and hills you also have valleys. The Grand Duchy is no exception. Rudi Valley is the largest and lushest valley on either island and it sits right in the middle of North Island. The area is home to most of the agricultural pursuits of Hoffnung and ringed with many distillaries of many varieties of alcoholic beverages. Visitors are housed in resorts closer to the bottom of the valley so that after they visit the distillaries on the slopes they can roll back down to their housing. Running through the valley is the Crimea River, famous for its curves and oxbows. It takes more time floating on the river to get from one end of the valley to the other end than it does to walk on the straight but narrow roads. People here prefer to float rather than walk. River travellers can follow the river to where it empties into the ocean at Einkreem Cove and catch the current around Point Blanc until they are swept ashore at popular Savannah Beach. It is a two-day trip, well worth the time and effort. If hikers prefer to walk between the same points, they have a six kilometer treck ahead of them.
The tropical breezes provide natural airconditioning for the island residents. The winds are seasonal and blow leeward, windward or wayward. At any time they bring with them mist from the sea which produces heavy morning fogs. These fogs are mostly responsible for the gentle sprinkles which irrigate valley crops.
On South Island, small volcanic fissures produce thermal springs which flow over a large plateau of plowed earth into a ravine via Pitt Falls and then on down to form the Oldmen River. As it rushes to empty into the ocean at Aylent Cove, it forms a deep chasm with bubbling rapids and churning eddies. Amongst kayaking enthusiasts the Sarr Chasm is one of the most exciting places on Earth.
Fishermen lining the Chasm are given the choice as to how they like their fish.
The native Ringfish abound in these waters and are most often seen during spawning season swimming upstream. Those fish which are caught in the lower end of the Chasm are raw and tasty. Those fish who swim further upstream too far and find themselves caught in hot, boiling volcanic pools become cooked and very tasty to the fishermen who have come prepared to picnic.
At Bee Bay, the stream empties into an delta where a mixture of fresh and salt water creatures meet. Here you will find mugfish, pac-hume seals and sail fish as well as shrimp and sea urchin. Mugfish are a favourite with the locals and a hearty meal can be purchased at any one of the cafes and restaurants located on either side of the bay.
Government of the Government; People of the People
After the huge Flying Dutchman broke up on the reef and the passengers went off on their own to explore their new world, everyone settled into a feeling of complacency. People were too busy to do anything but build a shelter near some potable water supply and try and grow more of those delicious grindle flowers and try and organize a herd of gibbish which, as they soon found out, were unherdable. Milton went around trying to figure out what type of church they wanted to build and the disillusioned captain became unhappy because he no longer had a ship of which he could be captain.
People just wanted to be left alone and do what they had to do to survive and mix alcoholic beverages that wouldn't make them sick. Laws were what people agreed on and none of these became rules to follow in any situation because situations and people and places and times change. Agreed upon laws only lasted between people for as long as the parties lived or as long as the situation warrented it. There were no trasspass laws because the gibbish always trespassed and Milton always went around saying, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us", so people felt guilty or annoyed and didn't bother quibbling about land boundaries. Whenever there was any disagreement amongst people, neighbors always said, "don't make such a big deal about it", so those at loggerheads agreed and shook hands and went on their way.
The man-who-thought-he-was-captain-but-wasn't-because-he-was-never-captain-and-anyhow-they-were-no-longer-on-a-ship, began wondering around telling people they could or could not do things. The same people who didn't pay attention to him onboard the ship also didn't pay any attention to him on land. However, he had become embroiled in so many disputes that people began asking him, "who do you think you are?", to which he would answer, "just somebody, that's who". This began bothering him to some extent and he began wondering who he actually was and why he was "just somebody".
He thought of giving himself a name beside the Christian name he held since birth. He tried on "Sargent-at-Arms", "Emperor", "King", "Queen", "Grand Poobah", etc. but none of them seemed to satisfy him. They never fit with Donald. One day while he was arguing with his neighbours about the weather, they all broke out in uncontrollable laughter; more so than usual. When he asked, "what's so funny?" They replied that he had worn out his voice so much arguing that he sounded like a duck. "A duck", he spouted, "I can be a duck!" This made the crowd laugh even harder. One member of the gathering spoke up and said, "you mean duke, not duck".
"What's a duke?", queried Donald, for he thought he had made the right choice in wanting to become a duck.
It was explained to him that a duke was a royal figure but not as high as a King or Queen or Emperor or Pope.
"Right", said Donald. " I shall henceforth be known as Donald the Duke".
"No,no", laughed a spokesman for the group, "you shall henceforth be known as Duke Donald". Everyone shook their head in agreement, not that he be given the title and privilege that goes with it, but they only agreed that duke sounded better than duck. Duke Donald assumed that he had, therefore been crowned Duke and from that time on Duke Donald and his offspring assumed the throne of The Grand Duchy of Holfknong. This was an assumption which few were willing to challenge because they didn't want him to end up yelling at them in his high pitched duck voice, although it delighted them and sent them doubling over in laughter.
Now it came to pass that Duke Donald found that he needed a wife. The poor girl became a duchess. In a chance meeting with Milton, the Duke soon learned that he couldn't make people do anything even if he were a duke. He needed a bunch of people to back him. Milton suggested that he form a parliament, and explained that he could have more authority with a parliament. So every time Donald found himself in an argument, he asked his opponent if he liked him in spite of their differences. The usually affable islander said, "yes". Donald immediately made him a member of his parliament and went off leaving the man befuddled. Liking the Duke was more of an admission of indifference than actually liking the man.
Soon, Donald had the parliament for which he had wished until they began talking amongst themselves and found out they had been "had". The members decided to all resign their positions at once. The disappointed Duke had to confide in his friend, Milton, once again for advice. This time, Milton suggested that he sell raffle tickets and not tell everyone what they had won. No one likes to buy a raffle ticket, win and then not claim their prize. This writer knows people who have won dreadful, useless prizes but still kept them because they never knew when they would ever win a raffle again.
This time Donald sold raffle tickets to people too busily embroiled in an argument, or drunk on one of the many island alcoholic mixes or simply drying their hair after swimming and told Donald to look in the pocket of their other clothes for the money. Not only did Donald finally get a parliament this way, he became one of the richest men on the islands.
When it came time to have the drawing for the winning ticket, people gathered in a clearing near to where future flushing games were to be held. As Donald began calling out numbers, there were heard joyous sounds of , "I won, I won".
Soon several hundred numbers were called and the winners became more and more puzzled at so many winners and began to wonder what they had won. The Duke cheerfully admitted they had won one of the greatest prizes in their lives; a seat in the new parliament. To be sure, the winners were underjoyed, but because they didn't want to pass on their ticket to others, they accepted the fate that had befallen them. Everyone agreed they had been tricked and that Donald would suffer the consequences. This form of choosing a government became known as a "lottocracy" and every few years one of the members slips the prize of his parliamentary seat into a lottery for a new toy or black gibbish and that allows him to retire.
To this day, it is unwritten tradition that no member of parliament allows a bill written by the Duke to become a law and in retaliation, the Duke vetos any bill the parliament may pass. As a result no laws are ever officially made by the government. This system of government is called a , "Constitutional Anarchy".
It seems that parliament only meets to have food fights, dress in crazy costumes or have their pictures taken in the nude. The Duke is very disappointed at this but is resigned to, "At least I am Duke and at least I have a parliament".
The capitol of the country changes from year to year because the lottery is held on each island during consecutive years. Sometimes Blighburgh is the capitol and sometimes Upper Wytheport is the capitol. A few times neither city wanted to be the capitol so Camp Muck-a-Round became the capitol and the parliamentarians had to endure snipe hunts and short sheeting during their sessions. For nearly three years, the seat of government was located at Fleghorn's farm. Pete and Bertha Fleghorn had the only working short wave radio and plumbing on the islands and they were nice people, so everyone agreed the capitol should be located on their farm. The Duke enjoyed this because he could learn to ride a gibbish and have his picture taken on one just for the pictorial record and just in case someone wanted to make a statue of him riding a gibbish which could be put in a park or government reserve. Of course, nobody would even consider such nonsense.
If the truth be known, the Guilds actually see to the day to day running of the country. People form a guild whenever they want something done or not done. In the scheme of things there are even management guilds with their stakeholders, gatekeepers and bribetakers. Whoever is the most aggressive person in a group becomes the guild leader and the rest follow along if the cause or reason suits them. Guild Hall is a place where the guilds meet and is probably the only place on the islands which hasn't burned to the ground.
The voice of the government and people of Holfknong is Radio Hoffung, broadcast over short wave frequencies. The station broadcasts over the same radio frequencies as the various international secret services. One terrorist group thought they had cracked the secret frequency and ended up bombing a Sudanese mortuary but claimed they had killed all of those people, anyway. It was good for their publicity and made them look good in a bad sort of way.
The Tymes-Willow is the local newspaper, which is printed in washable ink near city Laundromats. As people send in their bed sheets and pillowcases for laundering, they get the latest edition of the newspaper printed on them. This is handy for people who enjoy reading in bed. Hospital patients often cause surgeons to be distracted during operations especially when the ink impressions from local comic strips become temporarily tattooed on the place where the doctor is to make an incision. Peals of laughter often eminate from the operating theatre whenever the latest edition of "Dopey and His Dog Doodles" appears on a body laying on the operating table.
Neither the radio station or newspaper carry any news of worth, they admittedly create their own news and entertainment stories. For lack of a connection to any international news bureau, both make up stories about floods in the Indian sub-continent, riots in South America, political and business scandals in North America, social events including the British Royal Family in Britain, industrial strikes in Europe, government changes in Russia and China and some odd invention being developed in Japan. Africans are always starving and tribes are always being wiped out and religious fanatics are always blowing up things in the Middle-East, except Israel which is still trying to find its lost tribes by having its agents going door-to-door selling vacuum sweepers,etc. Oddly enough, the stories are not far from being an actual account on how the world works, except for the Israelis selling vacuum sweepers. They sometimes buy vacuum sweepers and turn them into jet fighter planes. That is how they protect themselves from the mad bombers who live next door. Holfknongians care little to hear about Hollywood scandals, ever since Lillian Gish let them down. This is still a sore subject which they prefer not to discuss with strangers.
There are no international relations concerns. The people feel that if a government wants to contact them, they will send a reasonable representative. If the country is in some sort of conflict with another country, Holfknong wants nothing to do with them. The people want to avoid trouble as much as possible and anyhow, familiarity breeds contempt. People from other countries can come and go as they choose, however, as long as they don't make a big fuss in doing so. This is why tourist bureaus have little to do with the islands. They want to sell a place mostly on its convenience, interest and comfort. On Holfknong, you take the islands as you see them and if you have to share a bed with a complete stranger, then so be it. Visitors coming to the islands have to sign a declaration they will promise to behave themselves, not interfere with anything and bring plenty of fruit cake for everyone to share. Fruitcake is traded on the Blighburgh stock exchange as a commodity, especially the ones soaked in dark rum.
Infrastructure; Just In Case You Get Stuck Here
The schools are ready when students are ready to attend them. There is no minimum entry age or maximum exit age. You may find fourteen-year-olds sharing the same classroom as a four-year-old. Both may be in first year or tenth year, depending upon the intelligence of the student or the number of desks in the room or simply the interest of the teacher in the student. Dull and boring children are left to roam the streets and grow up to be collectors of dull and boring things like barbed wire and foil chewing gum wrappers or barn owl scat. Visitors are warned to avoid these children as much as the ones who are found in third world countries selling chickelets and watches.
The University of Holfknong teaches anything and makes up degrees especially for hobbiests and collectors as long as a lot of time is spent pursuing the hobby or collecting a particular item. Collectors are usually left alone to themselves whilst hobbiests are celebrated and awarded in great public ceremonies. The University also dispenses military rankings. The most popular rank is sargent-at-arms but anyone with a boat or raft can be in the Royal Holfknong Navy and acquire a rank of storeman or admiral or anything in between. Kite flying enthusiasts are good Royal Air Force material as well as hot and cold air balloonists and wind gliders. Only people past the age of sixty are allowed in the Royal Holfknong Army. The rule is, "If you are old enough to cause trouble; you are old enough to fight". Only members of the Salvation Army are required to carry guns to ward off religious fanatics and overzealous missionaries who try to ruin it for everybody. The defence force is mostly made up of former Maori rugby players imported from New Zealand or Tuvalu. They are allowed to use force only when people ignore their scarey face makings or sticking-out-of-tongues. If the hukka doesn't frighten people away, then nothing else will. The Duke doesn't seem to worry about protecting the country. When asked, "Sir, what is your position on defence?". He promptly answered, "Usually side strattled".
Back in 1970, the Portugese army mistakenly landed on the North Island in a military games exercise with the Royal British Army. The British Army landed on St. Mary's Island and couldn't find their Portugese allies. Embarassed, the Portugese quickly reassembled back on their ships and headed for St. Mary's
They explained to the British commanders there was a flaw in their new electronic calendar and they had the wrong date. When they had landed on Hoffnung they saw nothing that resembled anything familiar to them and thought they had wondered onto a movie set for Gilligan's Island. They immediately realized their mistake and vowed to never mention the incident again. The Grand Duchy maintained its anonymity and Portugal maintained its integrity as a serious world military power.
Although there are two major cities on the islands, there are also smaller towns and settlements, none of which are incorporated. These population centres have councils and their lord mayors are usually the village idiot. Blighburgh's lord mayor was extracted from that cities flophouse whenever they couldn't find a mayor. Nobody left the council chambers for fear of being elected lord mayor so they had to send out for an idiot and drag him before the council. As it turned out, they promised the new titular head a regular bed under the main stairwell in city hall. The village idiot sensing an opportunity for himself and other village idiots, formed a union of village idiots. They issued a demand immediately upon being organized which stated that if they were going to be forced to be lords mayors, they were going to have a decent place to sleep. This meant that quite a few of them were allowed to sleep in the council chambers during meetings.
Roads are built where no one wants them because nobody wants them to run through their properties. Upper Wytheport is credited as the first city to have a bypass. People in that city didn't want a road to either go through or end in their settlement so they insisted that any connection to Upper Wytheport would have to go around it. Blighburgh did the same and the smaller towns followed suit.
Today, there are no roads which go directly to anywhere. If you want to go somewhere, you have to head for nowhere and hope you get close enough to where you want to go and take the path least travelled to get you there. There are no road laws because, officially, there are no roads. Bicycles and wheelchairs are becoming more and more popular for single forms of transportation when the public transportation is not working or on holiday.
What about public transportation? There are gibbish drawn taxis and busses but these are unreliable if you are in a hurry to get anywhere. For one thing, the gibbish are contrary animals who often eat through their harnesses before the cart gets very far. Often, passengers are left stranded miles from where they planned to go simply because the gibbish have broken loose and have wandered off. The conductor has a compass and simply points everyone in the direction they were headed and says, "Maybe next time". Every once in awhile a bus or taxi makes it to its destination and everyone has a sigh of relief. Gibbish are used instead of motors because it is cheaper to use the animals, they provide a good source of manure for non-road roads and it keeps them occupied and out of trouble.
Trains seemed like a good idea at the time they were suggested as public transport. The guild in charge of developing the train system were more interested in building roller coasters than trains. A "Holfknong Compromise" was reached and a large roller coaster became the railroad. The Holfknong Leapfrog Railroad not only provides rapid transportation between points on the islands but it also gives its passengers a ride they will never forget. Of particular note, the water splash part of the ride takes place during the journey between North and South Islands. Instead of taking the causeway, the cars simply plummet into
the straight and float to an awaiting dock and are guided back onto the track to continue the ride. Commuters really enjoy this part of the ride, particularly on a hot Summer's day. Nobody leaves the train without applauding and laughing merrily and hoping they can do this again. Some people have established records on the number of times in twenty-four hours they have ridden the train from Blighburh to Upper Wytheport. The best part of the trip is the triple upside down corkscrew between the stops at Mugworth and Peely. The last few cars are reserved for freight and livestock. Many animals have revolted, however, and have refused to ride the train for any distance. Strange things have happened to chickens and pigs during the corkscrew. So many of these animals are tagged with, "This animals belongs to …., please see that it gets home all right., Thank You." Eventually the owners welcome their new or borrowed stock which wander onto their properties and into pens or barns.
Trans island and international passengers taking the flights in and out of Hoffnung become more aware of the conditions at sea than of the weather. There are no tarmacks on which to land a plane so all flights terminate in the bays and coves surrounding the islands. Sea planes pick up and discharge passengers during high tide at the country's ocean docks near to the marinas.
Some planes act as crop seeders and dusters, sky writers or parachute droppers. Foreign passengers should be aware that if their plane makes a loop or two before landing, the pilot was writing something for someone in the sky.
The boys who deliver the paper also deliver the mail and sell various licenses and ferry tickets for the trans-island ferry. Nick names are licensed so that people don't get confused over all of the people named Chuck or Dolly.
There is no telephone system here. Visitors from other countries would do well to bring their own cell or mobile phone. The people voted to keep a telephone system off the island because they bothered everyone. The attitude here is that if it is an emergency, then nobody can do anything about it anyway and that if it isn't an emergency, then it can wait until someone sends a message by mail. Sometimes someone gets a message to the people at Radio Holfknng and they will broadcast something only if it pertains to everyone and fits into their regular programming.
People from the nearby lands of the Disharoon Republic are given carte blanche entry to the Grand Duchy and the citizens of all nations belonging to The Organization of Small and
I am writing this book as a traveller's guide to one of the most fascinating places on Earth; not because of its geography and culture, but because of the secrecy that surrounds every inch of this island nation called The Grand Duchy of Hoflknong. Unless you are one of the privileged few, dear reader, you will not visit this island in your lifetime.
I might say the Grand Duchy has several built-in protections against the outside world ever discovering it and the reasons for these protections are ten-fold. Some of them are internal; the residents and citizens do not want to be "discovered" and some of them are external; non-residents and non-citizens do not want it known that such a place exists, for many good reasons.
The built-in protections include the reluctance of the Holfknongians to tell anyone about their homelands and to even admit they come from such a place.
Since they sound like most "foreigners" with an accent, they can claim to come from anywhere and most people would not refute their claim. In fact, the denizens which come from the North Islands have a Germanic sounding accent which could place them as Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, Danish, Russian and even Pennsylvania Dutch. The South Islanders have a mixed Latin and Polynesian accent which could place them in Italy, France, Quebec, Peru, and even the Philippines or , perhaps, Guam. When asked where they come from, the usual Holfknongian reply is, "Guess". Whatever someone guesses is usually meant with a response of , "You really know your geography" or "No, try Sicily. or Malta", or some other rarely known country, unless of course the guesser happens to be Sicilian or Maltese. Then the Holfknongian resorts to saying they haven't lived there in quite a few years but moved to Canada to a place where not even Canadians would recognize. Another built-in protection against revealing the existence of Holfknong is the fact that not too many people from the islands travel anywhere that is legally acceptable by most countries. These "pariah" countries are so happy to have tourists, they ask very few questions and are glad to accept money, bribes,etc. Cuba and North Korea are probably the most popular tourist destinations of Holfknongians, at the moment.. There are no curious religious fanatics in these places to bother them and you can pretty much get away with a lot of things in those countries as long as you don't ask questions about their type of government, etc. It is well known in this world of travel secrets that both Kym Il Sing and Fidel Castro are great friends with quite a few travellers from Hoffnung without even knowing who they are or from where they come. Kym Il and one of the café owners from Hoffnung are both great Elvis impersonators and often keep each other entertained at the President's house singing such standards as "Blue Suede Shoes" and "You're Nothing But A Houndog" until the early morning hours. Fidel often dines with friends from the South Islands and savours one of Holfknongs exquisite wines. They tell him they are from a place called, "Granola, which is one of the Greek islands" and he is happy with that bit of mis-information. Few know that Fidel speaks English with a Southern Californian accent which he aquired while living in Hollywood as a bit actor in the 1940s.
Another way of protecting the island's anonymity is that no one writes to anyone who is away from Holfknong. The International Postal Union refused to recognize The Grand Duchy since the national government forgot to pay their postal license fees many years ago. Once you anger the bureaucrats at the I.P.U., they never forgive you. The Postmaster of Holfknong never bothered to reapply as a matter of pride so no one bothered to write letters to anyone outside of the islands. Those citizens that do write to "off islanders" do it as a matter of second thinking when they are on board one of the cruises they happen to catch from a nearby island. Even then, they never leave a return address out of force of habit.
Radio Holfknong is broadcast over shortwave radio frequencies and the only people who listen to their programs are people who are caught in a storm and are too busy trying to save their ships from capsizing or that rare breed of "radiophile" who will listen to anything on the radio, no matter what. They often bore people with, "Guess what I listened to last night?" and are also known as "Radio Geeks". The Duchy's radio station is actually quite entertaining to people caught in a cyclone in the middle of the ocean, once they realize they are going to lose their ships anyway and settle down to await the inevitable while their radio blasts programs beloved by us all. Many a doomed seafarer clung helplessly to their lifeboats while humming "Three Times I Hoofed The Horse" and other such requested favorites from the "Music From Holfknong "show.
External protections are very clandestine exercises. There are many top military
cadre from around the world who hope that no one finds this sanctuary from the stressful life of planning wars and other such activites guarenteed to rid the next generation of most of its members. Holfknong is one of several secret hide-a-ways located throughout the planet. There are many small islands in the middle of the Pacific that only top U.S. and Allied generals can visit for their holidays. This author happened to land on one when his small island hopping plane had to stop and pick up a grouchy old general who had a fight with his wife and needed to get away from her for awhile. We had to pull down the blinds on the windows of the airplane when we were about to land so nobody would be able to describe the place to anyone later on. The wives of the other grouchy old generals living on the island insisted, however, on coming aboard our plane and giving us all leis and pieces of coconut soaked in rum, before we took off. It was a very kind gesture which I will never forget. The Russians had their Duchas which were palatial lodges far away from the peasants they were sworn is make equal during the days of communes and centralized planning. Mao had his little daliances with wealth hidden deep within the confines of The Forbidden City. There are places where the icons of moviedom, capital, news media and politics and yes even religion, meet and mix. These places are known only to the rich and famous and some of the top private secret service officers who are sworn to protect them. Occupational guards are dropped at these places as sworn enemies are often seen mixing and mingling with each other. It reminds people of the professional wrestlers who often stalk each other on television with threats and acts of violence in the ring. Afterwards, you find they are the best of friends and one or two of the most vicious opponents are Godfathers to each other's kids. It was nothing to see Kaiser Willhelm, President Wilson, Bernard Baruch playing golf together at one of these places. Adolph Hitler was never invited to any place like this. Some of the world leaders back then didn't like his attitude and his big mouth. You could trust Generalisimo Tojo, but Hitler? Never.
I once saw Osama Bin Lauden and the Reverand Billyrae Goodlands sharing a few mai tais in one of the many pubs on Holfknong. They even sang a duet at Karioke night in front of a few presidents and members of royal families.
These places of refuge are often referred to as "zero land", "no place", "over there", etc. Holfknong is one of these places "the government doesn't want you to know about", but in reality, it exist only for the few.
I have a somewhat different agenda than those who want to keep my birthplace under lock and key. I had an American friend once (I think everyone has had an American friend at one time of their life, like everyone has had a teddy bear or some childhood disease at one time of their life) who found some ancient petroglyphs scrawled on some rocks in a canyon near to where he lived. He made me swear a vow of secrecy that I tell no one where these sacred inscriptions were located. I must admit that I was quite impressed with what I saw but questioned him over his attempts to keep this place far from the wondering eyes of tourists and the national parks service. He was quite emphatic that he didn't want these drawings disturbed by tourists who would invade this place and infest this site with their sweaty bodies, whirring cameras and leftover human debris. For quite awhile, his secret remained sacrosanct and only a few of the chosen were allowed anywhere near the rock. He didn't
realize the land on which the site was located belonged to the local council who were strapped for cash to help pay for the pay hike they had recently given the local constabulary. The Council, without consulting my friend, sold the land to a huge developer who found the sacred rock was in the way of brick bungalows and comely condominiums . During one of my friend's canoe trips down one of the rivers he had also vowed to protect, bulldozers laid waste to what had been
one man's holy of holies. The protector was in tears as he confronted the developer about this tragic loss to the annals of antiquity. The developer confessed that he had no idea that such a site was on the property and that if he had known about it, he would have certainly fenced it off, made it the centrepiece of his development and it would have become pride-of-place to this community of new suburbanites. I vowed right then and there that I didn't want that to happen to my precious Duchy of Holfknong. No unknowing government was going to use my islands as a bomb target. No multi-mega international corporation was going to make it a jewelled haven for crooked off-shore businesses. No fleet of cruise ships were ever going to land on those sacred shores and reduce my fellow citizens to bazaar bargainers, lei lumpers, rickshaw renegades. I felt the best way to protect my homelands was to expose it to the public. The public, which would love and protect it. The public with a heart. The public with the likes of The Greens, Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, etc. Hoffnung would become the poster child of all small nations. It would be a gateway to the hidden worlds that only the rich and famous can escape. Its fame would protect it from harm and people would feel the same way about The Grand Duchy as I and countless hundreds like me.
Finally, it could be protected from the likes of shopping mall developers, fast food restaurants, cheap air flights, game show prizes. My fellow citizens could be alerted to the causes and effects of global warming, which has already devastated the green oyster beds of Bastard's Bay due to an unruly high tide. I could call upon my fellow man to provide aid to such disasters and to help in other disasters sure to come. Finally, Radio Hoffnung need not hide amongst the flickering frequencies of short wave and U.H.F. All of those traditions which people everywhere hold dear have been practiced with such love and patience on our beautiful island, even if they didn't make much sense to anyone. It would free thousands of people from mental hospitals across the globe who were labelled as schiztophrenics because they claimed to have visited Holfknong and they really did. Finally, Mapquest and Google Earth and NASA can reveal the gentle geography of our islands and not have us inked out of their satellite photos.
Finally, it would give hope to atheists all over the world to believe in something'; to have hope. For, as many know, "Holfknong" is German for "Hope" and as Rolland Wing of Radio Holfknong is fond of saying as he signs off his regularly scheduled program, "..as long as there is a Holfknong, there is hope for the world".
It is then up to me to reveal a long lost secret only the rich and famous have known for over 180 years. This will be a travelog like no other. At the mercy of high government officials, commanding generals, matinee idols, business tycoons, I will finally open the gate which up until now, only the special few have been given the key. I expect my dear publisher will do the cowardly thing, however, and bow to the pressures of his overlords. He will fidget like a naughty school boy as he stands before them on the carpet of the mighty. But he will at least have some courage to publish this work in some unobtrusive way. He will choose a minor font and print it on faint, recycled paper. It will only be available to those dusty old bookshops which offer comfortable chairs and cups of tea to the devoted few who wend their way through shelves and piles of same-looking covers.. some with names only vaguely familiar or long since dead and forgotten.
This book will be found somewhere between the fourth edition of "Famous Frog Poetry" and "The Lost Sock Gazette". It will appear at the end of the plastic storage ware shelves at bargain dollar stores and be included with the prop books you see on the movie and television production sets. My publisher will brave the odds of someone ever finding this book, but his conscience tells him that in spite of everything, this book must be published.
So, dear reader, wherever you have found this book, may it serve to further your education of world geography, open your mind to secrets which have been forbidden to the common man and may you come away clutching its knowledge with a smugness of the all knowing. Most of all, enjoy an armchair's journey into a realm of hope'. a hope into which you may never physically venture. But while here is a Holfknong, there is hope for the world.