This saga is resurrected from December 2010 but as you can see nothing much has changed since then, apart from the approval of the station plans, of course!
IT’S THE TALE OF DICK TWICKINGTON
Narrator: Once upon a time in the County of Middlesex there was a small town called Twickenham. And in that sleepy place there lived a young man by the name of Dick Twickington. Dick was a fine, ambitious fellow but, due to the outrageous cost starter cottages in the area, he still lived with his dear old mother and father in their humble, ivy clad dwelling. One misty morning, Dick stood upright and decided to change his life forever…
Dick Twickington [Dick]: Mother, I can’t take any more. I”m going to London to seek my fortune.
Old Mother Twickington [Mother]: Oh Dick, don’t be daft. You’ve achieved nothing here and you’ll achieve nothing there. Yes this recession has hit us hard but be realistic. Blimey!
Dick: Come mother, I know London is a long way away but the streets there are paved with golden I.O.Us and Twickenham is just one big Epic Fail. It’s like, totally lame.
Mother: Well go if you must. Make your fortune and don’t mind me. Go and secure a PFI contract to provide IT systems to central government. See if I care.
Dick: Well, I’m not sure I can make that much money but I know I can earn my crust or at least settle for an olive and herb foccacia with a double espresso and one of those funny little biscuits on the side. I am from Twickenham after all.
Mother: And Dick, don’t start chasing after the women. It was bad enough when you were infatuated with that witch of a girl, Margaret Strawberry-Hill.
Dick: Yes, and look what happened to her! Disappeared didn’t she. Which means there’s no reason for me to hang around here anymore. I’m off.
Narrator: And so Dick Twickington set off from his humble home for old London town. But on the way he passed the authentic Farmers Market, in a car park, behind the office of the Evil Sheriff, Ivor Parking-Permit.
Ivor Parking-Permit: Keep moving there! If you stop for so much as a second I’ll throw you in the stocks. In fact, you’re fined! It’s £1,000 if you argue or we can call it £500 for prompt payment. In cash. To me. Personally.
Dick: I’m moving, I moving, you can’t fine me if I’m still moving.
Ivor Parking-Permit: No? But it won’t stop me having a damn good try. Come back this instant! I’ve got you on spy camera, you know!
Dick: I’d best be quick with that fool on my tail. This Farmers market, wow! Such wondrous foods although as I have but a single tuppenny bit in my back pocket I’ll have to go without my organic apple and beetroot juice for yet another day. But behold, fresh locally produced fruit. From nearby Worcestershire. Just look at that pear! Phwoar! And that lovely lady over at the organic meat stall, wow she’s got a very impressive rack. And as for these…my word.
Stallholder: Oi! Get your dirty mitts off my plums, you rascal. Don’t you know it’s cash first and sampling the goods second!
Dick: Sorry sir. They looked so ripe that I was getting carried away. I’m going to London to seek my fortune. I wanted something to occupy me on the journey and I always enjoy getting my plums out on the train.
Stallholder: I’m sure British Transport Police would take a different view. But London you say? I’ve certainly heard of it. Isn’t it just like Richmond but with a John Lewis? Anyway young fella, what’s your name?
Dick: I’m Dick. Dick Twickington, sir.
Stallholder: Dick Twickington? Sounds nasty! Have you tried the Maple Leaf pharmacy by the Green, they’re very discrete in there.
Dick: Charmed I’m sure. Tis the name my dear mother gave me. She calls me ‘Little Dick’. She once had aspirations for me to run the Piano Bar, on Cross Deep. It’s only a very small music tavern but she’s always said it would suit someone who knew how to handle a little pianist.
Stallholder: Oooh err. Well Dick, if you’re in search of a fair maiden or the daughter of a rich merchant you’d be better off avoiding the train. Network Rail has been put under a spell which means they can’t do any work on the station for nine whole years! That place is cursed I tell thee. Head towards the river. Get a boat to London from there. But mind yourself by the castle ruins, The Duke of York House has many spies at large. Why, only last week one of them pressed upon me to give her an All in One.
Dick: Begging your pardon, sir?
Stallholder: I meant slip her a few column inches, on performance, via an All in One questionnaire form.
Dick: Most intriguing. Thank you kindly for your advice, I shall head to the River and from there, to London!
Stallholder: Whatever. Dick.
Dick: Whatever yourself, arsehole!
Narrator: So off Dick went, past the farmers’ stalls in the verdant fields of Holly Road car park, past the new FarthingLand store on King Street, down towards the misty River Thames whereupon a boatman, wrapped in a cloak and scarf with his hat brim pulled low, called out to him…
Dick: Yes? Do I know you?
Boatman: No but I follow you on Twitter so I feel as if I know you. In fact I’m on Faceboat every day looking at your profile. Dick isn’t it? Tell me, where d’you want to go young Dick?
Dick: Why London of course. How much to take me there?
Boatman: Well this is Zone 5 so a basic return will cost about a thousand shillings a year. But you’ll need to be prepared for delays due to the wrong type of tide. Or leaves on the river. And we sometimes get delayed waiting for a boat crew to arrive.
Dick: Hmmm, sounds like hard work to me. And are there even any fortunes to be made in London these days anyway?
Boatman: Not unless you work as a money lender, no. And certainly not since the our patron Vincent de Cable threatened to blow up the Houses of Parliament if he didn’t get his way. That’s if his enemies, the young scholars or Baron Murdoch don’t get to him first.
Dick: So, do you have any better ideas?
Boatman: Well there is a rumour that behind those walls yonder is a paradise that is beyond compare. A place of beauty which, once the key is found, will unlock the secret to the regeneration of all things. Yay, it is verily the key to the future of all life, even Twickenham.
Dick: Why are you talking like that? You sound like an idiot. And anyway didn’t the True Duke of York House unlock the outer garden gates only recently and it was err, well, a little bit shit?
Boatman: Oh yea, but verily that was more about the statement of intent than anything else.
Dick: Well perhaps I’ll stay here after all. Regenerate the town a bit, that kind of thing. Anyway, how come you know so much, what with you being just a humble boatman? Who exactly are you?
Boatman: Rollocks! I’ve been rumbled. I’m off.
Narrator: And in a single movement the boatman jumped into his boat and pushed away from the bank, leaving his paddle on the shore.
Dick: Oi! Your name? Tell me, sir! Come back, you’ve forgotten your oar! You’re leaving your oar behind.
Boatman: I care not. She’ll wait for me, she always does.
Dick: Gosh, now I’m all alone. And I’m pondering on how to make my fortune. Perhaps I should tell my inner thoughts to those two ladies over there. They look trustworthy. Or perhaps a pint of refreshing ale from Twickenham Fine Ales will help. After all, it is available in a range of local hostelries at very reasonable prices including The Teddington Arms, The Crown and, of course, The Fox on Church Street. And while I’m on Church Street I can visit the impressive range of shops, cafes and other businesses. I particularly remember going out al fresco one evening…. but that’s the first and last time I’ll wear a kilt with so many mosquitoes around.
Mother: Dick! Dick! Is that you? What are you doing here by the down by river. I thought you went off to London?
Dick: Changed my mind didn’t I? Anyway what are you doing here?
Mother: Err, I’d just dropped by to see a friend but he seems to have disappeared?
Dick: A boatman is he perhaps?
Mother: He is, as it happens. He’s just a friend so there’s no need to tell your father about it.
Dick: Oh brother! I’m outta here. Fortunes don’t make themselves, you know. My quest continues.
Mother: What are you after, Dick?
Dick: I could ask you exactly the same question. But in truth, I’m going to climb these walls. You’ve heard of the beautiful palaces along the Thames haven’t you? Ham House, Marble Hill House, Regal House. Well I’m going to build one right here from the ruins of this place.
Narrator: And so Dick climbed the fence, up the walls of the castle, past the Bath House sign and dropped down into the brambles inside.
Dick: Ha! Now I’m really in at the deep end. I wonder what’s down here. Gosh, a deserted garden. In a deserted swimming pool. This place could really be something. I could build luxury flats here and become a millionaire! But what’s this? A glass door hidden among the thorns. It leads to a chamber. I wonder what’s inside? My word, it’s like being on Twitter, I have these sudden urges to express even my most inane thoughts out loud. I wonder what I’ll have for lunch. Perhaps I should Tweet that too. But first, let me open this door. It’s very stiff. Oh yes it is. And look, there’s a bed of red velvet. And lying sleeping upon it is… is.. Margaret. Margaret! My love!
Narrator: And with that Dick rushed over to the bed where the beautiful Margaret lay sleeping. He slowly bent down and kissed her on the lips. Margaret awoke and stared up at her saviour.
Margaret: Oh Dick. I thought you’d abandoned me. All that talk from your mother turned you away from me. In the end I just had to leave. I knew that I had a chance to make things better in Twickenham and so I cast a spell on myself to sleep for a thousand years or until someone came to save the pool site, whichever came first really. And Dick, you’ve come at last.
Dick: Yes dear. And I have decided to form a group to redevelop this site for Twickenham. I’m going to call it the TWickenham Action Team. Will you join? It’ll be shortened to…
Margaret: Great! Of course I’ll join dearest Dick. Together we will build a community space for the whole of Twickenham to enjoy.
Dick: Well clearly luxury flats are the best option on this site. To get the cash in, you know.
Margaret: Errr… Community comes first I think you’ll find. This is a key space.
Dick: But without a viable commercial plan how are you going to make it work?
Margaret: Yes but flats for rich people is not the only option here is it?
Dick: There is a recession on you know.
Margaret: Oh piss off. Change the subject can’t you Mr TWickenham Action Team. You really are the prize member of that group, aren’t you?
Dick: Alright, how about we focus on improving the station?
Margaret: Eh? What about the station?
Dick: I can’t stand this! I need a drink. You?
Margaret: Well, I’m definitely up for a quick one.
Both: Fnarr, fnarr
Dick: In that case I guess my dreams can wait for a few more minutes!
Margaret: That long?
Narrator: And so Dick Twickington and Margaret Strawberry-Hill got married and lived happily ever after on the ninth floor of the new station block. And what of the riverside site? Well boys and girls, that’s an even more far fetched story and one that will have to wait for another day.