ODELL, BEDFORDSHIRE seems like a pleasant and quiet village, deep in the English countryside. Back in the Summer of '68, things were a little more lively, as this quiet and respectable community was flabbergasted by a multi-million pound gold bullion robbery that spiralled out of control and involved Secret Intelligence Services pitting their wits against a Bizarre gang of Free-Wheeling, Ingot-Pinching Rural Guerillas
1967 went down in history as the Summer of Love. Peace, Flowers, Acid, Love, Music and Colour. Suddenly everything seemed possible. There was Revolution in the air, if you could spot it through the clouds of Hash smoke. The World belonged to the Young, and they were going to Save it, by daubing it in rainbow hues, serenading it with fifty million tinkling lyres, dancing ancient ecstatic dances of the Soul upon it and cuddling it with the collective arms of the International Love Revolution.
It seemed that The Man had other ideas though, and gradually Babylon started gearing up for a vast and ugly Crackdown on the Uncontrollable Butterflies of Multihued Laughter. A dark and doom-bringing wheel was set up in the centre of the Empire, and one by one the Dark Forces caught the Butterflies in the net of Hatred and proceeded to break them upon the wheel. What The Man had not fully realized was that in among the great cloud of butterflies were many other creatures, exotic, free, mobile and armed. Some of these species were potentially toxic, like the Destroying Angels and the Panther Caps. Some of these entities had been given military training by The Man, in the earlier stages of their evolution.
By 1968 the climate was changing. Freedom was in the air, but by now it was a less naive, more wised-up form of Freedom. The Czechoslovakian People took to the Streets in a courageous uprising against the tyranny of Russian 'Communism'. The Bear came to Prague in a tank, thinking to crush the Freedom aspiration of the Slavs. Parisian Students were ready for Revolution and fought in the streets with the forces of oppression. At the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Illinois, the forces gathered. The political shenanigans of the Establishment at the convention were mirrored by thousands of Freaks gathered in the park. Bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Motor City Five played for Free, and Freedom. Mayor Daley's police went galloping through the streets, gassing, clubbing, breaking and doing law-enforcement. In London, a protest against the Viet Nam War, in Red Lion Square, outside the American Embassy turned into a bloodbath, courtesy of the Police.
However, the great majority of the World went about their everyday business, aware of these events only through the filters of radio, television and the press. In rural England, on the village greens and vicarage lawns, at the greengrocers and up in the top meadow, life went on very much as it had for centuries. The quiet rhythms of rustic existence were played out as before, and if a few young people wanted to grow their hair and dress strange - so what?
Under these shifting and dangerous conditions, many revolutionaries simply went underground, adopted disguises and new identities, and carried on with their missions. All this Revolutionising needed an economic base, and fund raising could not realistically be carried on through the normal channels of society. A daring series of Jewellery and Art Heists commenced across the World. Suddenly the Revolution was better fed, more mobile and organized - now they could afford paper and ink, microphones and amplifiers. People could be reached and the message spread abroad.
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AFTER FORTY-ONE YEARS IN A TOP-SECRET VAULT UNDER WESTMINSTER
a fascinating piece of micro-film has been unearthed and finally deemed safe for public release. How this rare, grainy and evocative footage came to light is quite a tale in itself. Under the terms of the Sneaky Government Act, 1948; information - and this can include, files and dossiers, moving images, audio recordings, artefacts and just about any object or concept - that pertain to cases where there is an issue of National And Internal Security, must be held in secrecy for at least 30 years After this time has elapsed, the case is reviewed, and according to the current interpretation of the political security status of pertaining information, it is either then released, or marked down for a further period of secrecy. These periods are invariably in ten-year increments, so in the case of the Odell Gold Diggers, the information was considered of such a dangerous, inflammatory and downright wild nature, that our men in Whitehall decided to bury it for a further decade.
Even though the footage is now in public aether, the identities of the people caught up in this dramatic moment of history will, in all probability, never be revealed. The Invertebrate Press has, however, been making a few underground investigations of its own, and can reveal the following details:
The two Gold-Thieves belong to a cell that drew its membership from across rural England, from Bedfordshire to Cornwall. The gang took the name Gold-Diggers with a tongue in cheek irony - they were actually on a mission to bring about the downfall of International Capitalism and were collecting funds to destroy the world economic system - presumably in the naive belief that they would somehow have the power to replace it with something better - that's how alot of people were thinking in those times.
The robbers were known for their Jocular Hijinks and Joyful Subversion.
The Heist went down in the Summer of '68, and came to be known as the case of Tec-Nick and the Gold Diggers. The pipe-smoking detective acquired the code-name Tec-Nick and is believed to be an agent of the shadowy unit know only as, 'National Security'. This operator is a colourful character known for his flamboyant taste in clothes and his curious mixture of old and new TECnologies. Observe his use of what was considered state of the art surveillance equipment in sixties Britain. No Stone is left unturned by investigators of his calibre.
Perhaps the most enigmatic character is the Donkey Herder who was robbed by the gang. Originally portrayed as an innocent victim of a fearless inter-county revolutionary movement, more recent theories about the case indicate a possible connection with the desperadoes. Direct Connections have been hard to prove, but a certain Delightful Humour certainly pervades her field of activity.
To Hurry on now with the plot, we must remember that the gold bullion was only discovered to be missing when the Decidedly Happy rustic woman arrived at the Metropolis of Odell and proceeded to its teeming Gold Market. The Market Manager was only Too Helpful, in his best Neville Chamberlain collar. When a good cause arose, he was a keen joiner, and the author of many positive things.
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The micro-film that you are about to see was recorded by special agents of National Security who were blended into the landscape, using contemporary techniques of camouflage and subterfuge. Slabs of fudge kept the agents going as they staked out sections of hedge, tree, field and, of course, the pulsing boulevards and twisting labyrinthine alleys of downtown Odell, set like a jewel among the Lethan meadows and wooded hills of sweet, dreaming Bedfordshire.
FOOTNOTE: AUGUST 2009, ENGLAND: The Caterpillar is very happy to report that all the characters in the movie are still living in various rural locations across the South of Britain. The characters grew up and multiplied and the dramatis personae now roam the sunlit meadows, the green hills, murmuring forests and rippling streams of this ancient isle.
And Finally... when the Odell Two were eventually released in 1974, after much petitioning by the international community, a poem was found scribbled on a tobacco wrapper that had been hidden inside a light-fitting in their small cell.
"Just Simply telling you
Even in the darkness -
I'll never forget the summer meadows -
The sun of gold on the long grass in the afternoons
ever running, reaching for the clouds, the dreamy clouds of summer
running, laughing, friends and kin to run with on the way -
Never forgotten rustic summer day -
All this laid out before an eager kid, a tapestry,
a feast of golden joy and wonder - adventure in the nettles -
(Does life have to get lost in the nettles?)
Albion dreaming through bee-buzzing summers under elms,
We were pirates, grasping the helm we raised the jolly roger
and boldly stole the Gold, thinking it would buy Freedom!
Now sealed in this cell, reflecting the rain running endlessly
I see the ways of life.
The paths that people choose and why.
Me, I stare at a golden sky, blessing my eye on beauty overarching
Thinking with love of all the souls I've met along the ways,
the paths and fields of our lives,
under Albion's enchanting summer skies..."
Prisoner 102010205090; Autumn 1968.