The Eyesore

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Probably one of England's greatest forgotten mysteries. From the perspective of an eyewitness and village resident, this is the seldom told story of a huge, monolithic object that mysteriously appeared in the English country village of Pepton over forty years ago.

The Eyesore

It’s over forty years since The Eyesore.  Most people today have either never heard of it, don’t remember it, or refuse to believe that it actually ever happened.  A bit like the moon landing, The Eyesore has become another item on the list for the conspiracy theorists.  The event is now confined to forgotten news archives, obscure books on unexplained phenomena and dog-eared back copies of Fortean Times on waiting room tables.  Also, of course, it’s engraved on the memories of the few remaining people who were there at the time.  I was there at the time and I can assure you that The Eyesore was real and it did actually happen.  I am writing this because I feel it’s a story that needs to be told again before it gets buried forever in the annals of time.  I can tell you now that everything in this account is absolutely true as I remember it.

I was fourteen at the time.  It was mid-summer and school holidays.  As a teenage boy growing up in the tiny, remote, English country village of Pepton, even the tritest of local events, like Mrs Jones’s lost cat or Mr Brown’s toppled wheelie bin, would become blown up out of proportion into a major drama – so The Eyesore was by far the biggest thing that had ever happened in our unassuming lives.

Mr Nash, the farmer was the first to notice it.  Apparently he awoke to an unusual darkness in his room and a noticeable absence of dawn birdsong.  When he pulled back the curtains he almost fell back with shock at what he saw.  Rising from his horse paddock was this huge, great monstrous object taller and wider than any known tree.  It was dark grey-brown in colour, roughly cylindrical and thrust itself out of the ground at a slight angle rising over 200 feet high.  It was around 30 feet in diameter and, had it not been for the absence of branches or leaves, I could describe it as something like an enormous tree trunk.

Mr Corker, the milkman saw it next and, with the shock, said that he nearly crashed his milk float into a ditch on reaching the brow of the hill on the road leading into the village.  It could be seen for miles.  One-by-one, bemused villagers emerged from their homes rubbing their eyes in disbelief at witness of this great monstrosity which now loomed over their village.  I was one of them; aroused from my slumber by the commotion which was building up outside. 

It was at such an angle and height that it’s top seemed to lean over almost above the village green.  “The leaning tower of Pepton,” someone called it.  Was it God or Beast?  Was it living or inanimate?  It was a bizarre scene indeed.  Most of us stood awestruck, silently standing and gawping up at the thing in total incredulity.  Some people were more vociferous and began shouting angrily at poor farmer Nash, blaming him for putting the object there.  He remonstrated with them.  There were angry exchanges, swearing and the shaking of fists.  Some people, like myself, found this quite entertaining.  Some children cried; a woman fainted and dogs ran round the object barking up at it.  It wasn’t long before someone called the police.

PC Tully arrived on his bicycle, wobbling as he looked up at the object.  A group gathered around him all shouting at once and he had to hold up his hands to calm them down.  He got out his notebook and explained to the mob that he had to establish the facts.  People started shouting again – for a while it was chaos.  “What do you want me to do, arrest it?” vexed PC Tully.

Eventually, PC Tully took control and ordered everyone to stand back while he investigated the object.  We all watched as he entered the horse paddock and approached the object gingerly.  He looked a little scared.  He reached out and touched it, cautiously sliding his fingertips over its dark, uneven surface.  Nodding reassuringly back at the watching crowd, he walked around its enormous girth, taking notes as he went.  When he had finished his examination he came back over and called for farmer Nash.

“This is not my doing,” said an anguished farmer Nash, “Someone’s put it here, I don’t want this thing on my land.”

The policeman then addressed everyone.  “I shall have to report this to higher authorities for further investigation,” he said.  “In the meantime, if anyone has any information to help us with our enquiries then please come forward.”  There was silence.

“Please return to your homes,” pleaded PC Tully, “We’ll get to the bottom of this.”

Most people dispersed and went back to their homes.  I stayed.  I wanted to get close to the object and touch it myself.  When farmer Nash had gone out of sight to carry on his daily tasks I, and one or two others, crept over the gate and into the paddock.  I ran round to the blind side of the object and got up close to it.  It’s difficult to describe exactly what it felt like to the touch.  It was cold and hard but not like metal or wood or plastic.  It was slightly rough but not quite gnarled like the bark of a tree.  I became dizzy looking up at it – with the moving clouds and its slight angle.  Farmer Nash reappeared driving his tractor so we ran back to the gate.  Some villagers had brought deckchairs out and sat watching the object as though expecting it to do something.  Everyone in the village was talking and gossiping about it.  Everyone seemed to have their own ideas and explanations of what it was and who was responsible.  I chose to remain open-minded.

Later that morning, two police cars, a fire engine, an army Land Rover, an armoured car and a local authority van came and went separately.  Each time, men got out, walked around the object, looked puzzled, and then left.  Shortly before lunchtime, a commotion erupted as the noise of a convoy of vehicles announced their arrival over the hill and parked up in the village.  There were two white vans with British Geological Survey written on the side, a police van and several cars carrying men with cameras and note books.  For some time it was a scene of frenzied excitement.  Reporters from the local press had come, followed by journalists from some national newspapers.  They scurried around the village taking pictures and interviewing local people.  I managed to avoid them and watched as a group of policeman emerged from the back of their van and began cordoning off the perimeter of the paddock with police line tape.  Meanwhile, the scientists from the Geological Survey suited up in silver suits and were allowed to cross the police line into the paddock.  They were carrying boxes and equipment.  We all watched from behind the cordon as they set about a careful, methodical, thorough investigation of the object.  They measured it, stuck things to it, scraped at it, squirted liquid at it, drilled into it, chipped small pieces off it and sealed them in plastic bags.  By late afternoon, the scientists had finished their work, so they packed up and went.  The police cordon remained, however, with half a dozen officers positioned around the line standing guard.  They ushered away anyone who got too close.  A helicopter buzzed low over the village, apparently taking news footage which would be seen later that night.  Two camera crews, one from ITN and the other from the BBC descended.  Reporters, their faces familiar, conducted reports from the scene with the object in the background.  It was really quite exciting.  Newspaper journalists proliferated throughout the village.  Our village pub, The Axe, normally only frequented by a handful of locals, overflowed with thirsty journalists.  Of course it was in the days before mobile phones, so there was a queue at the phone box as reporters hastily sent their stories down the phone lines in an attempt to make the evening papers.

As dusk fell that evening, everyone in Pepton took to their homes in eager anticipation of the evening news.  We were not to be disappointed because it was there amongst the headlines on the Nine O’clock News.  It was weird seeing my home village on national telly.  There were shots from the helicopter as it circled the object.  The report went something like this:

Residents of the remote, picturesque village of Pepton had the shock of their lives early this morning when they awoke to the sight of a huge lump of rock protruding from a farmer’s field close to the village green.  Police and scientists have been investigating this bizarre occurrence and a spokesperson for the British Geological Survey has said that they’ve never come across anything like this before in the history of geological phenomenon.

No-one seems to know whether it came from beneath the ground or, less likely, from the sky like a meteorite, but the object, which is over two hundred feet high, thirty feet across and leans at a seemingly precarious angle, is posing a worrying problem to locals.  Some worry that it may fall over and cause damage or injury.  Other residents are concerned that something more sinister or supernatural is at large.  Plans are being considered for an evacuation of residents whose homes might be in danger.  Some villagers have also expressed concern over the effect this eyesore may have on the value of their property if it remains.  They are demanding that authorities look into the removal of the object as soon as possible. 

The results of the scientists’ detailed analysis of the monolith, however, will not be known for several days and authorities will await these results before taking any remedial action.  In the meantime The Eyesore stays put – mysterious, austere and slightly disturbing it stands like a sentinel over this tranquil English village.

I think this was the first report to refer to the object as an “eyesore” and so that’s what it became known as from then on.  Many people and TV commentators likened the event to the Wiltshire crop circles phenomenon of the 1970’s.  The following day, as the summer sun rose over the gentle hills surrounding Pepton, the giant eyesore cast a giant shadow like a gnomon across the village.  After a restless sleep, people emerged to observe The Eyesore still steadfast and stubborn in the paddock. 

I, like others, was transfixed on the object, almost in expectancy that it might do something.  I rushed to the village shop to buy a newspaper.  Many others had done the same.  Only one of the crappy tabloid papers, which I shall not name, was left.  The headline was laughable and unbelievable.  I still have the clipping now.  It reads:

ALIEN!  Monster from outer space terrorises picture postcard village.

The peace of the rural English hamlet of Pepton was shattered yesterday as an enormous extra-terrestrial boulder mysteriously appeared on the village green.  Police were called to the scene and immediately cordoned off the area around it.  Horrified locals watched in terror as men in silver space suits encircled the strange object.

I’m not going to quote any more.  News of The Eyesore was splashed all over the papers – it didn’t quite make the front page, but nevertheless there was enough coverage to make curious people flock to see it for themselves.  It was an invasion unlike anything the area had seen before.  Droves of day trippers, sightseers, souvenir hunters, nosey-parkers and journalists began to pour in and overwhelm the village.  By midday the narrow village roads heaved with traffic.  People swarmed everywhere.  Extra police had to be brought in to control the crowds and maintain the safe zone around the object to make sure it wasn’t breached.The Axe pub and village shop were doing a roaring trade.  Families picnicked on the village green; an ice cream van appeared.  It was a novelty seeing so many people around the village at first, but after a while I felt it became an unwelcome intrusion.  Most locals shut themselves away.  I watched from my bedroom window.  As more visitors piled in, the congestion eventually reached breaking point; tempers began to fray, fuelled by drink and hot summer sun.  Police jostled with frustrated sightseers trying to get a closer look at The Eyesore.  Journalists and reporters shoved each other in the queue for the phone box.  Drinkers spilled out of the overflowing pub; glasses smashed; there was raucous laughter and angry shouting.  More police were called in.  But it wasn’t until early evening when things started to calm down.  Cars and visitors began making a slow, painful exodus from the village leaving a scene of carnage behind them.  Litter was strewn everywhere, flowerbeds were trampled and a picnic table outside the pub lay overturned.  Thankfully, the police cordon around the paddock had held firm.  The Eyesore remained solid, intact and uncaring like an unblinking, unmoved witness.

The pleasant sound of church bells woke me up the next day.  It was a Sunday, and more people than usual felt a need to be beckoned into church that morning.  Reverend Clemence looked out from his pulpit over a larger than usual congregation and his sermon could not escape the subject of The Eyesore.  He spoke something like:

Is it God or is it Beast?  Is it living or is it dead?  Is it of this world or is it not?  We are all full of questions, and when we don’t know the answers we are often afraid, for all fear is fear of the unknown.  But I quote from Matthew verse eight; Jesus said “Ye of little faith do not be afraid.”

I think the hymn that service was All Things Bright and Beautiful if I remember rightly.  We went back to our homes that morning and braced ourselves for another onslaught of visitors, some of whom had already started to percolate into the village.  It was another day of congestion and chaos.  It was reported once again on national news bulletins.  Interest in The Eyesore was growing and spreading.  Police did the best they could to keep order.  Again I stayed inside with my parents and watched things from my window.  If anything, it was worse that Sunday.  It seemed the world and his wife wanted to descend on poor Pepton to see The Eyesore.  And so it continued the next day and the next. 

It seemed, for a brief time at least, that The Eyesore had caught the imagination of the nation.  No, it was not unusual for tourists to visit Pepton – for those few keen enough to stray off the beaten track and discover our quaint, English picture-postcard village.  They would take their snaps of the village green and church; sup a pint of real ale at The Axe and marvel over our pretty flower beds and thatched cottages.  They used words like “quaint” and “idyllic” to describe us.  We were a best kept secret and that’s how we liked it.  But now, because of The Eyesore, everyone seemed to know about us.

For a while I felt special and privileged to be a resident of Pepton with my own private viewing of The Eyesore.  But even I, like many other residents, began to tire of the village’s publicity and regular incursion of sightseers.Villagers were getting restless and weary.  Even Jack Cooper, the landlord of The Axe, whose business was booming, was struggling to cope with the extra demand.  People wanted action; they wanted the situation resolved. 

Suddenly, news shot round the village that the British Geological Survey were coming back to Pepton to announce the results of their investigation.  A hasty press conference was to be held in the church hall.  I think everyone attended.  The church hall was crammed and stifling.  I managed to squeeze in at the back, craning my neck to see Reverend Clemence and the panel of scientists sitting up on stage facing the audience.

One of them stood and everyone in the room became eerily quiet.  I could see that he was uncomfortable and sweating profusely.  He cleared his throat and introduced himself as Roger Miller, Senior Scientist with the BGS.  He introduced the others in the panel but I can’t remember their names.  I do, however, remember most of what he said:

As you all know, we arrived here in Pepton on the same day that the megalith first appeared having been called in by the authorities to investigate.  We were totally baffled then, as we are now, as to its origin, cause or purpose.  However, as far as its composition is concerned, we have some interesting findings.  We took samples from the object for laboratory analysis on which we carried out extensive physical, chemical and biological tests.  One of these tests involved making very thin slices of material and examining them under a microscope.  The material was found to resemble cells which were vaguely familiar to us and of organic significance.  We observed longitudinal harversian systems amidst a concentric network of lamella and lacunae containing osteocytes linked by fine canaliculi.  A thorough chemical analysis revealed that the substance is composed of approximately sixty-five percent inorganic and thirty-five percent organic content.  This organic content being fibrous collagen tissue and the inorganic content being mostly composed of roughly eighty-five percent calcium phosphate, ten percent calcium carbonate with smaller percentages of magnesium chloride and calcium fluoride.

“Cut to the chase and tell us what all that means in English,” interrupted an impatient gentleman shouting from the audience.  Lots of people grumbled in agreement and Reverend Clemence pleaded for order.  The scientist began again.

What I’m telling you ladies and gentlemen is that the substance from which the megalith is made is that consistent with bone.

There was a silence in the room, followed by a gasp, then an eruption of chatter as everyone had a million questions to ask.  I felt a bit sorry for Miller, the scientist; he was only reporting the facts, yet he had left everyone with more questions than answers.  I left the church hall and made my way home.  It was evening and the sun was setting.  All visitors had left and the village was momentarily peaceful.  I looked at the giant eyesore silhouetted against the red sky.  I thought that now we knew what it was, interest in it would wane.  How wrong I was. 

Headlines in most of the papers next morning were all about The Eyesore being made of bone:

Village Monolith is Bone say scientists read one; Bone Baffles Boffins read another.

The British Geological Survey had now passed The Eyesore project over to the archaeologists and palaeontologists at the British Museum and they were carrying out further investigations to establish The Eyesore’s origin.  The news only served to heighten interest in The Eyesore.  Over the following weeks the volume of visitors increased relentlessly, all intent on a glimpse of the “World’s biggest bone.”  There was even an influx of foreign tourists and film crews.  Coaches arrived from the city carrying American and Japanese tourists.  Some entrepreneurs from the big cities arrived with boxes of eyesore souvenirs to sell.  There were cheap plastic key fobs with I saw The Eyesore printed on them and tacky models of The Eyesore which looked to me like a fake dog turd mounted on a plinth. At times it was unbearable.  Some village residents packed up and left, hoping to return when it was all over.  Others cashed in on it by selling lemonade and barbequed burgers from their garden gates.  It was an exciting, chaotic and crazy time in our lives; a surreal, midsummer madness.

Meanwhile, a great debate over the origins of The Eyesore was raging between scientists, academics, politicians and religious leaders.  One man on TV compared The Eyesore with the moving stones mystery of Death Valley, where huge boulders would move inexplicably for up to hundreds of feet across the valley floor of Racetrack Playa leaving trails in the sand.  Nobody had seen this phenomenon actually occurring, just like nobody had seen The Eyesore come.

Many claimed that the giant bone was extra-terrestrial and had fallen from space like a meteorite.  Some thought that it was a type of alien spacecraft.  Patrick Moore, who devoted almost an entire Sky at Night programme to The Eyesore mystery, dismissed claims that it came from space as “Utter balderdash.”  (Pun intended?)

Uri Geller allegedly declined an invitation to visit The Eyesore on the grounds that, although the ancient Aztecs could make stones levitate, his own telekinetic powers were not strong enough to move it.

There was a rumour that Arthur C Clarke was spotted in around Pepton filming The Eyesore for his Mysterious Worlds TV series; and someone also claimed that NASA scientist Carl Sagan was skulking around the village.  I’m sorry to say that I saw neither of these eminent gentlemen.

As well as the posses of tourists and reporters who came to see The Eyesore, several cranks and crackpots came believing that it held a deeper significance than simply being a large fossil.  Among these were psychics, mediums, diviners, occultists, ufologists and Middle Earth fanatics.  Alleged Druids, witches and warlocks also put in appearances.  Several broke through the police line to touch or hug The Eyesore.  A group of hippies formed a circle around it holding hands and chanting incantations.  One crank claimed that The Eyesore was standing at the point where two important ley lines crossed forming the point of a quadrangle with Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury Tor.  I checked on the map and really couldn’t see where he was coming from.  Anyone can draw a straight line between two points!

An anonymous call to New Scotland Yard claimed vehemently that The Eyesore was hollow and Lord Lucan was trapped inside trying to get out. Hilarious!

Among many other bizarre theories was one made by a respected newspaper columnist who suggested that The Eyesore was a strange type of missile launched by the Russians which was pre-set to explode and destroy southern England at a given time.  The Kremlin, of course, denied any involvement; as did the Whitehouse and the Pentagon, who admitted that two F-111 bombers from Upper Heyford had been on exercises in the vicinity hours before The Eyesore’s appearance, but they had nothing to do with it.

There were sceptics, of course, who claimed that the whole eyesore thing was nothing more than a great, elaborate hoax or publicity stunt.  They really wound me up.  Their argument was based on the crop circles theme, citing the evidence that in 1991, self-professed pranksters Bower and Chorley made headlines claiming it was they who started the phenomenon in 1978 using a plank of wood, rope, and a baseball cap fitted with a loop of wire to help them walk in a straight line. Hence, Bower and Chorley claimed responsibility for all crop circles made prior to 1987 and that their actions had inspired hundreds of crop circle “artists” ever since. An article in Smithsonian Magazine wrote:Since Bower and Chorley’s circles appeared, the geometric designs have escalated in scale and complexity, as each year teams of anonymous circle-makers lay honey traps for New Age tourists.

Therefore, it was not beyond the realms of possibility, claimed the sceptics, that The Eyesore was nothing more than a sophisticated hoax along the lines of crop circles.  As an eyewitness, I can assure everyone that this was absolutely no hoax.

 

One day a priest breached the cordon and held up a large crucifix to The Eyesore.  “This is the work of the Devil,” he yelled, “It must be exorcised.”  Then he began chanting Latin scriptures from a Bible while flicking holy water at The Eyesore from a bottle.  Reverend Clemence then intervened to every on-lookers’ great amusement.

“Stop, stop,” he shouted running across the field to the priest.

“Tis the Devil,” retorted the priest, “It must be cast out in the name of Christ Our Lord.”

“How do you know it’s the work of the Devil?” pleaded the Reverend.

“It is evil, it cometh from the Underworld.”

“No, it came from Heaven,” argued the Reverend pointing skywards, “As a messenger from God.”

“No.  Tis the Beast himself; the horn of Satan,” screamed the priest deliriously.

The bizarre altercation continued for several minutes before police gently led the two men away.

 

After several weeks of this madness we, the residents of Pepton, had become so weary of the daily intrusion of visitors and the damage they were doing to the peace, privacy and infrastructure of our beloved village, that we decided to convene a meeting to discuss the situation.  A letter went round from the Village Preservation Society inviting every resident to attend an “extraordinary” meeting in the church hall. Again the hall was rammed.  I think every resident who was able to attend was there.  Again I found myself standing at the back.  Eric Chance, the chairman of the preservation society stood before us on the stage:

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow residents of Pepton, let me first thank you all for attending this evening.  Since The Eyesore first appeared we have been inundated, plagued and pestered by thousands of media people, sightseers, tourists and nosey-parkers who have come to see it.  We welcomed them at first, but, talking to villagers now, we have had enough.  The novelty is over.  The invasion of visitors has become a bigger violation of our village than The Eyesore itself.  It’s time our village returned back to normality and the peace we enjoyed before The Eyesore.

There was a ripple of applause and a murmur of agreement.  Eric Chance continued:

There can only be one solution, and that is to have The Eyesore destroyed or removed from our village.

There was another consensus of muted applause.

I say we put it to the vote.  All those in favour of The Eyesore being removed from Pepton raise your hands.

There was an overwhelming show of hands.

All those against.

Only Jack, landlord of The Axe and Mrs Niblock, who owned the newsagents and ran the Post Office, courageously raised their hands.  “It’s been good for business,” they stated, smiling.  I abstained.  My feelings were mixed.  No, I didn’t like the crowds of visitors disturbing our village peace; but at the same time I had kind of grown fond of The Eyesore.

“It’s unanimous then,” asserted Eric Chance, “We will demand that The Eyesore be removed as soon as possible.”

As we made our way home from the meeting that evening, I thought the doomed eyesore looked sad and solemn.  It no longer looked monstrous or menacing.  Its unmoving dark mass seemed to be bowing submissively.

The morning papers reported on the villagers’ meeting:

Bone of Contention. (Today)

Humour-us.  Villagers call for removal of giant bone. (Mirror)

The summer holidays ended and I returned to school.  Lots of my curious school friends and teachers questioned me over The Eyesore, probably because I lived practically in its shadow and had been one of the first to see it.  I felt quite the celebrity at times!

Anyway, a letter arrived from the county council.  Apparently, every household in the village had received it.  My Dad read it aloud at the breakfast table:

Dear Resident of Pepton,

With respect to your complaint regarding the unsightly natural phenomenon that appeared in your village, we are pleased to inform you that your request for its prompt removal has been approved by the Council.  We agree that it is unsafe, a nuisance and detrimental to the value of your property.  Plans for its safe removal are currently underway and we shall keep you informed in due course of how this will be carried out.

I the meantime I thank you for your patience, I know you will appreciate that this is an extraordinary, unprecedented and complex case.

Yours faithfully,

Brian Allcock (County Council Environmental Services)

On Newsnight that evening, an eminent palaeontologist, Sir Edwin Crook made the point that The Eyesore was the most significant fossil find of the century since the skin of a mammoth was found on the Magadan peninsula, Siberia in 1908.  He said that carbon dating tests on samples of The Eyesore put it at around forty million years old and was probably a limb bone belonging to an unknown species of giant Mammoth or Mastadon.  He went on to say that the sheer size of the fossil was mind-blowing and unprecedented.  When asked why it appeared so suddenly, he proposed a theory that it had lain underground for millions of years before subterranean disturbances had pushed it up to the surface.  The distinct lack of an impact crater ruled out the meteorite theory.

I thought he sounded plausible. He became a little flustered though, when it was put to him that plans were underway to destroy or remove the giant fossil. He was of the opinion that the area should be preserved and excavated for further fossils.

I know more recently, in December 2015, James Bristle, an American farmer in Michigan discovered the huge skeleton of a mammoth while he was working on his soybean field.  His tools first touched the rib of the mammoth then, soon after, he discovered the skull, vertebrae and tusks of the animal. He contacted the experts who immediately rushed to the scene.  Palaeontologists from Michigan University then unearthed the important discovery of a whole mammoth skeleton dating back to around 15 millennia ago!

Over the next few weeks, interest in The Eyesore waned considerably.  It no longer made the papers and the number of sightseers to the village decreased significantly.  Now the mystery was solved, people just didn’t want to know anymore.  Relative peace returned to Pepton.  Police no longer thought it necessary to guard the line and left.  There was a minor flurry of local activity, however, when Norris McQuirter from the Guinness Book of Records paid Pepton a visit to measure The Eyesore and officially declare it the “world’s biggest fossil”.  I still have a photo of him posing next to The Eyesore and a framed certificate still hangs in the church hall.

Soon, a letter arrived from the Council confirming the date for The Eyesore’s removal.I remember thinking, that’s it; the whole episode is going to come to a rather mundane conclusion.  But I was wrong.  The mystery was to deepen beyond comprehension.

Three days before the scheduled removal of The Eyesore farmer Nash, as usual, awoke at dawn and opened his bedroom curtains.  Looking out of the window, he felt something was not quite right.  There was something different but he couldn’t make out what it was.  He stared out over his paddock for a minute or two before it suddenly hit him.  He staggered backwards and called his wife to the window.  She noticed it almost immediately and she gasped in horror.  It was gone!  The Eyesore was simply not there anymore, not even a trace.

In a small village like ours, news spreads like wildfire.  At first we thought that the Council had been in the night and removed The Eyesore – but they hadn’t.  Then we suspected that maybe Sir Edwin Crook had instigated its removal and “stolen” it while we slept – but this was not the case either.  Some of us searched the surrounding fields and gentle hills, but nothing.  We were all flabbergasted.  Some people stood around the paddock in shock.  Most remarkable of all though, was that on close inspection of the spot where The Eyesore had stood bore no evidence of it ever having been there.  There was no hole, no bare patch, and no flattened or disturbed earth.  I was really freaked out.

Accusations soon started to fly, mostly aimed at farmer Nash.  There were some heated exchanges, choice language and more shaking of fists.  The police were called who diffused the situation.  There was nothing more to be done.

Of course the conspiracy theorists and sceptics had a field day.  Although reports in the papers were fairly low key and mostly relegated to the inside pages, the alliterative headings were quite hard-hitting and hurtful:

Hoax, Hallucination or Hologram?  (Telegraph)

Fossil Fraud (Independent)

Pepton’s Piltdown (Times)

Two days later, a sub-contractor’s bulldozer, crane and wrecking ball crawled into Pepton and pulled up beside the paddock.  Apparently no-one had cancelled them – it was comical really.  For a few evenings after, I took a stroll down to the paddock and gazed at the space once occupied by The Eyesore; I can’t explain why.  Tatty shreds of torn police line tape, caught in barbed wire, flapped in the breeze.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad.

 

***

 

All that took place forty years ago.  I still live in Pepton.  The Eyesore has never returned, nor has any such strange occurrence happened since.  Some villagers rumoured that mysterious men in black had roamed the village threatening people to keep quiet about The Eyesore, but I doubt very much this was true – I never saw any.

Farmer Nash died a couple of years after The Eyesore but the paddock is still there and ponies graze where The Eyesore had stood.  No-one would ever know if it wasn’t for the monument that was built and placed close to the site in memory of The Eyesore.  Paid for by an anonymous benefactor, it’s a scale model of the giant fossil, cast in bronze, about eight foot tall on a concrete plinth.  It looks like a huge dog turd to me.  The simple plaque on the side reads:

Here stood The Eyesore

Tourists still visit the village occasionally.  They take their pictures of the idyllic village green, church and quaint thatched cottages.  I overheard a conversation between a stereotypical American couple recently:

“This village is famous for its Norman church, thatched cottages and flower beds, Ed.”

“Yeah, Jean, but check out that ugly brown sculpture thing over there.”

“Yeah, what is that?  It’s such an eyesore.” 

 


Submitted: February 22, 2018

© Copyright 2020 Mark William Hurst. All rights reserved.

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EngineerInlove

You truly brought me into a small village. I´m from countryside myself so I can totally relate to the atmosphere when everyone knows everyones business and the suddenly there is something huge to disturb the harmony of living not interesting life. And what a mystery in my opinion I picture The Eyesore as an magical world creature or alien baby. It is baby egg and mommy just came to find it when she finally found her baby. Leaving all normal people to wonder what on earth just happened.

Thu, February 22nd, 2018 10:07pm

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Buffershaker

An interesting article which I felt was quite compelling.I too live in the countryside but have spent most of my years in urban sprawl.Usually it's the local hicks which I'm indifferent to rather than any local monstrosity.If you visit the theme park in Kirbymisperton up in Yorkshire Flamingoland it's on a par with this.I worked there one summer and it felt strange with a tiny hamlet outside it's entrance

Tue, August 20th, 2019 5:40pm

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C.A.A.

Interesting story. You wrote this very well, I believe anyone reading this can picture not only the village but the Eyesore itself.

Thu, November 21st, 2019 4:55pm

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Thank you so much for your kind comment :)

Thu, November 21st, 2019 9:58am

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Serge Wlodarski

Good story, nice finish.

Wed, January 8th, 2020 8:24pm

Author
Reply

Thank you, Serge.

Fri, January 10th, 2020 1:22am

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RenadBajwa

https://www.booksie.com/599784-life-is-a-game

Tue, June 9th, 2020 11:01am

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Sharief Hendricks

A really interesting read Mark William Hurst

I cant relate to a the countryside or a village of any kind, but your imagery took me there

loved it !!

Mon, June 22nd, 2020 2:18pm

Author
Reply

Thanks Sharief. Glad you enjoyed it :)

Tue, June 23rd, 2020 4:23am

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