The Famous Five ignore a ‘no through route except v.i.v.’ temporary road sign in a part of uncharted and unmapped Dorset…
They are on a cycling tour to buy each one of themselves the last ever bottle of ginger pop in a glass bottle. It means cycling over seventy miles per day to find this (in their eyes) magical item.
Unknown to the Five, the co-ordinates of the ‘no through route except v.i.v.’ sign have aligned perfectly with a tear in the fabric of time and space and their going through it on their bikes will take them unsuspectingly into hitherto unknown regions of a place known only in legend and myth as ‘Adventure Preparation Land’.
At first everything seems normal, but soon events occur in front of their youthful eyes that make them question their previously held beliefs on reality,consciousness and awareness itself.
It suddenly rains – and for the first time they see massive heavenly hands washing and cleaning the whole wide world to make everywhere seem ‘newly washed and clean after the rain’
Anne was the least surprised at this as she had always felt a close and silent communion with this marvellous provision. It was just that in Adventure Preparation Land she could actually see it happening!
The Five cycled on until they all felt unavoidably drawn to a large farm barn on the near horizon…
Nearer and nearer to it they cycled, Timmy keeping up easily beside them. They all seemed to know deep down what was in the large barn. They recognized the barn itself too. It was exactly the same as the barn they had seen in a number of their previous adventures.
They had first seen the barn when they went off in a caravan. Mr Mackie, the farmer, cared for its contents then. At this early juncture, the Five did not really take too much notice of the barn. Their minds were much more focused on acquiring food and supplies from Mrs Mackie, the friendly farmer’s wife…
The Famous Five drew near to the barn. They realized they had next seen it when they went ‘Off To Camp’. Then it was being cared for by the Andrews family, whose son they befriended in that ‘spooky’ adventure..
Julian remembered it was also in their Hiking adventure too. Only then it was known as Blue Pond Farm’s barn. Dick too recognized it as the dirty decrepit barn where he had met ‘Dirty Dick’.
Soon they realised the pattern and were able to tick the remaining places they had subconsciously encountered the barn… The Penruthlan’s farm, Johnson’s Riding School, Billycock Farm, Finniston Farm,yes each barn in each adventure was exactly the same …why hadn’t they realised this sooner?
They dismounted their cycles and strode towards the barn door…the door was open and they recognized the figure standing there.
For some reason, they tried to remember the last time they had ever drunk ginger beer in their twenty one adventures. It surprised them to realize that it was not in their final adventure, or even the one before that. A memory of Demon’s Rocks came floating into their minds as if placed there carefully by unknown hands.
Everyone voted for ginger-beer. It was a very pleasant and cheery meal that the Five had in the old lighthouse, with Mischief and Tinker. The gulls called outside, the wind gave the light-house an occasional buffet, and the sound of the sea was mixed with all the other noises – lovely! Anne hugged her knees as she waited for her ginger-beer. To think they were going to stay here for days and days. All by themselves.
Yes, that was their very last ginger- beer drunk together.And it was nice that they were truly together enjoying its spicy tangy taste for the very last time.
They greeted the figure at the barn door – it was of course their friend Nobby from their 5th adventure. He smiled and warmly greeted the Kirrins and Timothy. After the copious and warm greetings had subsided, Nobby gently ushered the Five inside the barn.
It was dark and gloomy in there, and at first they couldn’t quite focus on what exactly was within. But once they had become accustomed to the gloom they could see just what the barn contained.
It reminded Anne of the treasure store on Whispering Island, with its gleaming immobile statues. These statues were certainly immobile,but they didn’t gleam, they were real people!
Like waxworks but more lifelike, like an insect preserved in amber, were everyone who the Five had ever encountered as friends or acquaintances on their series of adventures.
The Five walked around the barn in a dream gazing in awe and looking at the figures.
They spotted ‘Alf /James’ first and marvelled at the lad who had been prepared to change his name to try and find success on the stage with the Kirrin Theatre Company.
Edgar Stick, spotty and with tongue sticking out, rude even in amber. Sooty Lenoir and his dear sister Marybelle. Sooty looked just the same with his friendly grin and mop of jet black hair. Martin from their sixth adventure, replete with paint brush in hand..,the list went on. Jock, Richard Kent, Jo, Henry, Berta, Toby, The Harries, Tinker and finally Wilfrid with his magic whistle.
They became aware of a loud clacking noise from a room just off to the left of the barn. At first they couldn’t place it, but then realized it was the sound of a typewriter. An extremely busy, fast typewriter.
The walked silently towards the room, noticing on the way that even Nobby had taken his place in the barn and was standing immobile, transfixed just like the other statues. They looked through the round glass portal in the door and gazed curiously inside the room .
Inside was a youthful looking but mature lady with shortish dark well managed hair. The room seemed full of red. The curtains and wallpaper were red. Two candles burned on crimson candle sticks, and the lady in the room was wearing an expensive, red dress. A distinctive brooch was pinned on the side of her dress.
The distinguished ochre garbed lady looked knowledgeable, confident, yet also very friendly and approachable.
They decided not to disturb the lady just yet as she looked like she was just coming to the very end of her typing, her fingers racing furiously over the keys as she tried to commit to paper the thoughts whirling and dashing about her head….
They decided instead to enter the other room at the head of the barn. This room was utterly sterile, like a lab, and smelt of creation, good thoughts and immeasurable happiness.
There was a small platform or stage at the rear of the room. It had a descriptive plaque which said My most famous creations; ‘The Famous Five’. It’s true the Five certainly were drawn to take up their respective positions up on the stage in the barn in Adventure Preparation Land but not before they had found the last bottle of ginger beer.
An attractive lady with short dark hair entered the room silently behind
them. “Ah,good! You’ve all made it safely here.” she said. “My name’s Viv, and I have the very last remaining bottles of ginger pop. There’s enough for a bottle for each of you, even Tim!”
Happily the Famous Five took their bottles of ginger pop from Viv. They all hugged and thanked her profusely for all she had done for them and then quietly took their places on the stage. They were soon immobile, like the rest of the statues in the barn, gazing happily ahead, each clutching a bottle of ginger-pop in their hands.
A tear came to Viv’s eye as she thought of all the Five had gone through to get to this final point in their careers. “Don’t cry,Viv” said the lady from the typing room entering quietly. “This is Adventure Preparation Land, there’s no need for any tears here!”
“But I’m going to miss them so much ” replied Viv “they were so alive, well mannered and happy.”
“Shall I tell you something,Viv?” asked the dark haired lady. “The Famous Five haven’t gone away. They are absolutely safe, preserved here in Adventure Preparation Land forever. Each time a child picks up one of my books something magical begins. The Famous Five step out of their amber and head off into one of their unforgettable amazing adventures. Look, Viv, don’t be sad; it’s happening now!
And sure enough, somewhere a child (or adult) had begun to read or re-read one of the ‘Fives’. Viv watched, amazed, as the Famous Five happily shrugged themselves out of the amber and headed off out of the barn, on to their trusty cycles, (replete with Sturmey-Archer Gears) back into adventure land.
“When I write my books,” continued the distinguished lady “I write them just so the reader feels that I am talking straight to – and only to – him or her, so there’s really no need to worry or be upset.”
“Now come with me please Viv, I have plans for the next barn”, and with that she put her arm around Viv and led her out of the barn,crossed the farmyard and opened the door to another barn on the farm. “This is to be my ‘Mystery Land barn’. Now, what do you think of my ideas so far?”
This barn was much smaller and cosier, and it was fitted out like a dairy serving coffee
and cakes.The smell of hot buttered toast, freshly made buns and coconut macaroons was simply scrumptious.
“This is my venue for snacks and replenishments for the Mystery Series,Viv. Now which waitress do you prefer, this young plump smiling girl here, or this older lady wearing the pince -nez that I thought could keep falling off her nose for comedic affect?”
Viv smiled, then laughed then smiled again happily. Everything was going to
be all right. Yes… everything was going to be … all right!