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Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire

by Ian Neville

Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire

First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Whatsit Press [address] Copyright The Author 2013 The right of The Author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act of 1988 All rights reserved ISBN 978-x-xxxxxxx-x-x

[any other material, including Acknowledgements]

Contents Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire (i) Sunday Driving Vegetarians (ii) The Centre of the World (iii) A definition of Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire (iv) Lincolnshire Plum Loaf (v) February Art (vi) Incidental Music for Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire (vii) The Great Outdoors (viii) The tallest building in the world (ix) Sunday Driving to a tee (x) Fear of Drains (xi) Letter from Woodhall Spa circa 1908 (xii) Prologue to Gibraltar Point (xiii) Gibraltar Point (xiv) Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire Identity (xv) The whole omelette (xvi)

Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire (i) The first time I went Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire I wasnt driving at all, my Dad was. We must have driven clear hundreds and thousands of miles on those Lincolnshire roads of liquorice spaghetti unravelling across the pancake flat horizon of the fenland. He liked his foreign cars, either French or German or even Swedish. It was sort of a badge for him, a status symbol or a keep-up-with-the-Jones thing that said: hes got a decent car, he must be doing all right. Thats maybe where Sunday Driving started, going out to see and be seen. In those days petrol was one shilling and seven old pence per gallon. You used to fill up at one of those village filling stations in the middle of nowhere, where you drive up and wait for the old lady to come outside and fill your tank. Shed walk straight out of one of those old sepia photographs youve seen at your Grandparents house. Those old photographs from a bygone Victorian or Edwardian era where inscrutable faces stare back at you, as if to say, If only you knew the stories I know. You look at them when youre a kid and ask why their hair was so funny and why did people wear those funny clothes. There she was peering down at us from the sepia photo like a Victorian Sunday school teacher with her hair tied back and her glasses microscopically analysing every flaw in your young soul, ready to preach the wrath of God to heathen disbelievers, when she stepped right out of the photo and spoke to us in some weird parochial extinct dialect, Thad be far weltered if t gate were ready shut me ducks. Is ye fer a fill er up then dearie? See what I mean: straight out of a bygone era. There y is me ducks. Ten shillings please. Ten shillings and you could drive forever until your car wore out but I never did like Sunday school. I remember those times when I see a petrol station out in the sticks or in a village, not attached to a supermarket. Its like going back in time. You go into the village and theres an old fashioned shop and old fashioned people saying quaint things. The English never say

anything they really mean, they wouldnt want to reveal too much about themselves. Instead they default to the weather. A bit dull today. Dull. Dull? Drab, dreary, grey, cloudy, it might rain, noncommittal, uneventful, depressing, drizzly, grim, bland, unexciting, not something you would write home about, indecisive, neither here nor there, not hot, probably cool, definitely not bright, not good for shepherds at night, pot plants, cats and dogs or gardeners in the morning. Dull? Of course its dull, its always dull, we invented dull. We dont do sun or climate. We have weather. Weather is rain, cloud, cold, mist, fog and especially dull. We perfected dull and we perfected how to talk about it. Its a fail-safe mechanism for the English to avoid any excitement, any embarrassment, any of those, well, how can I put it, difficult moments. Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire you could be out on the open road and suddenly come across a four way pile up at one of those remote crossroads in the middle of nowhere. Multiple vehicles, casualties, a small but nevertheless alarming fire, sirens, general hubbub and hysteria and what do we do? Wed be walking into the petrol station and speak politely to the old lady, Excuse me, Good Morning. Err. Rather dull for the time of year. No acknowledgement of what was happening down the road, just polite conversation. Forget the emergency, Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire, we talk about the weather.

Sunday Driving Vegetarians (ii) Ive never been vegetarian myself but when you hear all about the horsemeat scandal you get to thinking about it. Maybe I could just eat a bit of fish now and again (which I do anyway) and eggs, I really like eggs. Ive got a great recipe for omelette. I had a girlfriend who was a vegetarian who ate fish and she was a good cook. In fact, looking back Ive had a couple of girlfriends who were vegetarian, I dont know why, they just were. Maybe they ended up with me because they were politically correct, sensitive people but then again perhaps not because Im not, they used to keep telling me off. One of them decided, with her sisters, to cancel Christmas one year because there wouldnt be a Christmas in Afghanistan with the war and all that. I pointed out that they dont have Christmas anyway as its a different religion so the embargo on Christmas got cancelled the next day and the three sisters all went Christmas shopping. Vegetarian food can be quite tasty and good for you and there are some really tasty vegetarian dishes made with herbs and spices. My favourite is vegetarian lasagne and that girlfriend used to be really good at it. For me it was never quite filling enough though. Probably its because Im more of an outdoors person and Ive always had a good appetite. This ties in because my vegetarian girlfriends were always hungry but they were in great shape, not carrying excess baggage, streamlined, built for speed with sleek curves, good in the corners, probably designed in Italy, very fast, slippery when wet, great in a red dress and even better out of it which is probably what attracted me to them in the first place. All this talk of food gives me an appetite.

The Centre of the World (iii) Few people realise it but if you go Sunday Driving to Cleethorpes in North East Lincolnshire you can reach the centre of the world. Take the road to the seafront and drive past the old pier and along the beach to the boating lake and the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and turn left into Meridian Road just after the Engine Shed. On the path by the beach theres a line that says: N< This is the line of the Greenwich Meridian Longitude 0*0 O>S Here east meets west. This is the line that cuts the world in half like slicing an onion in two. Stand on the line and face south and the piece of onion in your left hand is the east and the piece in your right hand is the west. I think there was a song once, something about the world in your hands, it kind of makes you think as you lookdown at the two pieces of onion and all the layers in them, lifes more complicated than you think. Of course you can eat the onion afterwards. Theyre quite good in stew or omelettes. This line has come all the way from the North Pole to hit land here in Cleethorpes. Theres a sign that says: North Pole 2517 miles South Pole 9919 miles Thats a helluva big onion; enough to make your eyes water.

When you go Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire you can head south to the old towns of Louth and Boston which are right on the Greenwich

Meridian, which itself heads on down through Greenwich where they figured the whole thing out in 1884. Who would have thought, wherever you go in the world and youre an hour ahead in Europe or hours behind stateside, the time is in relation to Cleethorpes (and Greenwich). Can you smell those onions?

Definition of Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire (iv) This chapter is a fake, false, almost a lie, like a politicians smile or a sure thing on the stock market or a friendly insurance salesman. Not because youre about to see your standard of living take a dive but the whole idea of definitions isnt as set in stone as the gravestone from the funeral director which receives an elegy engraved in memory and perpetuity to the dearly beloved and deceased. Here lies Sunday Driving Humpy. He was our friend and we miss him. Have a good rest. A bit like the politician, that wasnt what they really wanted to say.

Sunday Driving Humpy. Born too late and died too early, especially because he owed us all money. Yes, he was our friend and we loved him well but maybe because he wasnt as upright as the rest of us, he was always a bit of a pain in the neck. Wherever you are now we hope things are going better. So even when a definition is set in stone its usually not true in the first place which then begs the question of whats the point of a definition anyway? A bit like Sunday Driving Humpy things change over time, stuff isnt concrete. You could build the biggest engineering project like a bridge, such as the Humber Bridge which spans the River Humber to the north of Lincolnshire. You cant but be impressed by the sheer size and scale of the engineering and the strength of the cables and the height of the whole thing and the way its attached to the banks of the river which keeps flooding down under it every hour of every day and night like some biblical tide. But time marches on and the bridge gets another year older, it looks the same but its different, times change, its all water under the bridge. Its like that with definitions, things that used to be good, change or get replaced even when everything seems to be going along as normal; theyre changing like the seasons. Things that were full of colour and warmth like a bluebell wood in the Lincolnshire Wolds in spring suddenly fade and no longer shine brightly until they eventually get cold and hard in the January frost. Sometimes life is like that and theres nothing to be done. So Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire is what works at the time, its whats going on in life thats good. Its getting out and travelling around, seeing people and places, doing stuff or doing whatever you want. Dive in at the deep end and get into the swim.

Enjoy the ride just like Sunday Driving Humpy did.

Lincolnshire Plum Bread (v) Sometimes when youre out Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire you get a bit peckish. This is ideal for filling the gap. This is not as seen on any television prime time cooking episodes for chefs, cooks or any other would-be kitchen superstars. There are none of the following: tantrums, time limits, critics, pretentions, swearing, celebrities, big budgets, bemused contestants, disappointments, strange ingredients, gimmicks. There is instead, a great taste from a hundred year old recipe. The Recipe 1 lbs of flour 6 ozs margarine 6 ozs sugar 8 ozs mixed dried fruit 1 egg 1 oz yeast Grated nutmeg, mixed spice and a pinch of salt.

Rub fat into flour, add sugar, fruit etc. plus creamed yeast in warmed milk. Knead well. Leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour. Place in greased tin or tins and leave to prove. Bake for one hour in moderate oven at 375-400 degrees. Dont you just love the smell of yeast! In my next life I want to come back and bake bread.

February Art (vi) Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire should have its own school of French Impressionists or Dutch Masters painting bleak winter fenland landscapes with the cold east wind scything across the unending emptiness of a chill February greyness with nothing between here and the remote steppe of north-eastern Russia to soften the blow. You would have canvases that would chill the toenails off the harshest art critic. In fact February in Lincolnshire is very reminiscent of its Siberian counterpart: vaguely familiar like something you once heard about but never experienced and very disappointing when you eventually do.

Incidental Music for Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire (vii) Music has gone away from us in the twenty-first century high-tech, instant, computerised, button pressing, superfluous, channel flicking game of virtual reality and electronic incessancy in which we find ourselves trapped, unable to escape to explore our own musical souls. Screech! What? You can hear the record needle scratching across your favourite long playing 33 rpm vinyl album from the sixties. What have they done to music? Muzak? Elevator music? A thousand tunes on your ipad? The Breakfast Show? How has music got downgraded to this digital wallpaper? Lets rewind back a generation to those long playing albums with their elaborate cover designs, collected and stored like exotic gems and played for hours, again and again. Music was for mood, style, individualism, a social statement, the Shangri La of personal taste and pleasure: Pink Floyd on the Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles and Sergeant Pepper, The Yellow Brick Road and Elton John, Hocus Pocus by Focus, Tubular Bells with Mike Oldfield. The sheer variety, the richness and colour of classic albums is endless so how is it the instant playback modern digital evolution has taken the whole experience of album music from us? Next time youre out Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire put on a great

album but dont use it as background music. Turn it up, listen to it, dont talk over it, get into the mood, relax, get back to where it all began. And now: tubular bells following the yellow brick road.

The Great Outdoors (viii) Being an outdoors kind of person it makes you want to go exploring in the countryside, walking, hiking taking a rucksack with stuff for lunch and things for all weathers come rain or shine. We had a tent as well which was great because you could pitch up and set up the stove to cook something and then maybe have a drink and get comfortable after a days hiking. Being out in the wilderness you have to make your own entertainment so we did, especially when it was raining, because theres not much you can do outside the tent then anyway. Its amazing how hot it gets in a small ridge tent. My girlfriend liked wildlife and nature and when she was out there all day shed have a wail of a time looking at plants and animals (she did Biology) and shed be in a really good mood. She liked beautiful secluded places, lakes or woods and forests or rocky terrain, coastline, sand dunes, hills, pretty much anywhere as long as it was as nature intended. When she found a nice isolated spot shed like to stay there for a while and have a break, put down the rucksack and take off the hiking boots, generally get comfortable, settle down, have a drink and stretch out.

When you go through the countryside there are stiles to cross through fences and walls and at the same time keep the livestock in. Some of them are known as a kissing gate because you had to close the gate while the other one would step in round the gate. The other would wait because only one person could go through at once and you would end up face to face for a couple of seconds which was a good time to steal a kiss. She would say, Hold that thought. So I did until later. Sand dunes are pretty good because you can get lost in them and theyre nice and soft and impenetrable. She liked forests in winter because you got some shelter from the rain; sometimes it was almost like being sheltered by a big umbrella but you could still hear the wind and the rain. It was a great atmosphere but you had to find a good bit of ground though. In the summer she liked cold hard rock which was the coolest thing on her back, tingling like an ice lolly, so she said. She didnt like to get too hot, she didnt really sweat, she just used to glow a bit like an energy-saving bulb, warm and bright but not enough to read by. Youd got more options in summer because you could stretch out and sunbathing a bit until you got comfortable. In the winter the temperature was a bit restricting particularly when there was snow on the ground but then again its surprising how effective shared bodily warmth is. Its best to keep your boots on though.

The tallest building in the world. (ix) Question: What do the following buildings all have in common? The Empire State Building, New York. The Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur. The Sears Tower, Chicago The Great Pyramid, Cairo, Egypt. Shanghai World Financial Centre Lincoln Cathedral Taipei 101, Taiwan The Burj Khalifa, Dubai? Answer: yes you guessed it, the tallest buildings in the world. It all started here in the City of Lincoln in the 12th century. By 1311 Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building in the world and its still standing today. Like most of the other tallest buildings in the world its no longer the tallest but it is the oldest tallest building in the world (apart from the pyramids). Could we build it today? Probably not. Imagine asking some politician for x thousand tons of prime building stone, dozens of stone masons, lots of very big cranes, a seriously gothic architect, an enormous lead roof, cloisters, balustrades, porticos, chapters, chapels, cellars, carved wooden choir stalls, angels, imps, griffins, gremlins, stained glass windows (one shot out by Cromwells roundheads and later stuck back together again), cement and tons of wooden beams. Oh, and I almost forgot, about a century or so to build it all. Out of the question. There wouldnt be a budget or political cause big enough. We cant do this stuff anymore. Thats why its unique.

Sunday Driving to a tee. (x) You cant be working every day of your life, it gets very tiring and a bit monotonous and you eventually figure out that there are other things in life. So we all need a bit of downtime but it used to be difficult in days gone by when you were expected to turn up at church and all that. But that was before Sunday Trading and now you can go shopping every day of the week instead. The rich tapestry of life just got a whole lot richer. No, we need something different, something to take us away from the mundanity of the daily grind, maybe a walk on the wild side or just something out of the ordinary existence. It could be something that youre really into, that fires your imagination or takes you out of yourself or it could be something easy and relaxing but you have to look forward to it. It can be sport or exercise and that gives you a payback because you get in shape but maybe you do that anyway. It can be a hobby which is great because you can really get into it and it opens up a whole new world. Sunday Driving Humpy used to have it all figured out and he worked overtime on Sunday to fund his gambling. Anything he earned on Sunday at double time he used to gamble at the casino the next week. I know: he showed me the casino cheque for 3,500. It used to work fine (well at least that once) then his wife found out (the second wife I think) and that was that. So Sunday Driving Humpy needed a new distraction in life. We used to play golf on Sundays so he came along and he wasnt very good. He hit what golfers would term a low running hook which would lead to a few lost balls and make him generally erratic and unreliable. Nothing new there then. It meant he would also have to aim a bit right and generally heave the ball round to get it onto the golf course. So it was all very untidy and a bit lop-sided which fitted him to a tee.

After a couple of years of not doing very well Sunday Driving Humpy really got into it and started practising. He got a lot better which he had to because it was costing him money. As he was always in trouble on the golf course, as in life, he got better at getting out of it and then holing the putts for the money. So Sunday Driving Humpy found a new distraction from reality, Sunday Driving off the tee on the golf course and his whole life turned round; even more so after the second divorce.

Fear of Drains (xi) Never drop your keys down the drain. Its highly inconvenient and extremely messy on a number of levels. I could see the drain as I balanced the washing in one hand and locked the launderette door at the student village. Seven oclock was the best time to do any washing on a Saturday, especially when you had a clean clothes crisis as students often do and your girlfriend is expecting you round that morning in a presentable state. When all the machines and driers are free you can do a couple of loads and dry them so Id cleared quite a backlog and I was balancing quite a load. Its like one of those slow motion accidents that you know is happening even before it does. I needed the key to let myself out of the laundry door and shut it behind me. I put the keys on top of the washing as I backed out of the door, the door clicking shut and then I turned to go back to the flat, immediately seeing the drain. As I stepped forward I saw the keys slide gracefully off the top of the

washing straight through the grate down the drain. The key ring had my car keys and flat keys altogether and I could just see it shining above the murk in the bottom of the drain. Saturday morning in a student village wasnt the best time to lose your keys as most students dont have much of a schedule before midday at the weekends. My flatmates werent responding to the front door bell so I had to keep ringing until one of them woke up and got fed up of the ringing. The flat was nicknamed the United Nations with all the different nationalities. There was no sign of the American, the Greek guy was a rock star and the Turkish one was sedentary in the extreme. Eventually Vijay, the Indian member of the UN responded. He thought the whole thing was hilarious. We still couldnt get into my flat without the keys so we ransacked his steel coathangers and made some hooks to fish them out. We must have looked ridiculous bent over prodding through the grating, trying to hook the keys out but it worked. I always thought that was a bit lucky because the keys could have totally disappeared in the murky depths. My girlfriend thought the whole episode was even more hilarious which makes you feel even more of a fool and lucky to have got away with the whole thing. Other than giving her an opportunity to have a laugh at my expense, which she did seem to relish at every opportunity, I dont think I was too psychologically scarred by the whole event. My key ring is a bit more elaborate nowadays so that its easier to hang on to and I always walk round drains, never over them. Its called fear of drains.

Letter from Woodhall Spa circa 1908 (xii)

Yes I remember, Woodhall Spa, in September, the day the train, steamed east, through the rain, the Broadway platform and Victorian station, Spa waters bathing, pump house libation, strolling through woods and rhododendron, repair to the Kinema theatre pavilion, ladies and gentleman of Edwardian largesse, manners, refinement, worldly politesse, tee off on purple heathland golfing links, hickory foursomes, then afternoon drinks. Yes I remember, Woodhall Spa again, a sanctuary, an oasis, now as then, history, and civilisation, antiquity, not modernisation.

Prologue to Gibraltar Point (xiii) Sunday Driving south in Lincolnshire, if you keep going down the coast, you will eventually get to the Wash which as its name implies is a very large piece of water that fits neatly into the Fenland like an oversize piece of jigsaw. Its where the sea and land come together or what there is between the two: salt marshes and sand dunes, mud flats and tidal creeks. Sometimes in the sea, sometimes on the land with a myriad kaleidoscope of ecological habitats exploited by resourceful wildlife, Gibraltar Point is the piece of the jigsaw where nature gets itself together. When you put all the pieces of the jigsaw together you build up a picture of what being adapted to your environment is all about. If Charles Darwin had landed here he would have set up shop, lock, stock and barrel and solved the jigsaw in no time at all. Gibraltar Point (xiv) It was a perfect summer evening on Gibraltar Point, a light sea breeze rustled the trees by the field station and the lanyards flapped and clanged against the yacht masts huddled in the creek. Seabirds were stirring and massing in the early evening heat and the whole of nature busied itself on an epic scale as if to say This is summer here and now and wed better get on with it while we can. On a night like this lifes not to be missed so the best thing you can do is head out and take in the evening air. You can set off for miles through the dunes in all directions from the field centre. Shed had a busy day drawing graphs and transects in the field centre with her group so shed had quite enough of them and wanted to slide away un-noticed which we did again just as we had done all week. Its funny how you get thrown together on field trips and summer schools, things just falling into place and new alliances suddenly blossoming into flower like an overnight awakening.

We wandered across the main wooden slatted path through the dunes which prevents erosion by tourist or wind while the rest of the ecosystem evolves around undisturbed. We disappeared behind the big ridge clothed in the spiky glaucous blue of the sea buckthorn and the wind went quiet, so much so that we could hear each others breath. We looked at each other and smiled. The next minute we were on top of the ridge and the wind played with her long blonde hair. She looked sensational in the evening sunlight. From the top of the dune we looked through waving marram grass playing hide and seek with the sea. We settled into a sunny slope and stole some kisses. Isolation is a great purifier. Id loved this girl from the first moment I saw her. Shed known it for the last couple of years and she knew I didnt know what to say to her. I was in love. She appreciated the whole thing and smiled that beautiful smile, that smile that launched hope in the lost cause of lost causes, that saved souls and melted the coldest sigh of despair into a ray of sunshine. She talked to me, slowly at first and then at every opportunity and then this week in Gibraltar point it was suddenly a roller coaster ride of pent up passions unleashed in this fairground of nature. We walked along the beach and paddled in the cold North Sea and followed the coast out of the reserve and into a wildlife sunset of seabirds and waders in tidal pools. We retreated into the wilderness and made love at dusk. That night the waves definitely crashed on the shore. I can still smell and feel that sea breeze. It was our time together. I always loved that girl and I always will.

Sunday Driving Identity (xv) The great thing about Sunday Driving is that you can be who you want to be not necessarily who people think you are. Its strange how people categorise and judge people by their own standards, labelling people according to their own perspective. You go to work and you have to do that job and be that person then you go home and youre somebody else. Youre a different person. Its the same going Sunday Driving, you can be whoever you want to be. Its the great thing about democracy and the western world, its called freedom. I think Freud or someone said that there are multiple personas in all of us. Maybe some of them get let out once in a while. I dont hold too much with all that psycho-analysis mumbo-jumbo myself. Somebody tried to analyse me once but I think I fooled them because Im fairly normal now. They didnt know I used to be paranoid, thinking people were against me. Now Ive sorted it out. Im sure everybody is against me. What did you do in your last life?

The whole omelette (xvi) You know when women gang up on you they like to pull your leg and make fun of you. Youre always eating Ian. Is that your favourite thing then? Well actually its only second but if youre not too busy Id be happy to show you my favourite activity! Riotous laughter all round, accompanied by head shaking and finger wagging. So if youve got a date do you prefer to go out or stay in? Stay in. Oh, its like that is it? We know what youre like! How do you mean? You really like sex dont you? Just like the go out-stay in question the answer was immediate and very positive: YES! Cue riotous laughter from all sides by the assembled female throng whose curiosity seemed to be totally satisfied, well for the moment anyway. It just goes to show you never know when things are going to look up, things taking a turn for the better when you least expect it. One minute you can be taking things as they come, eating, Sunday Driving or just enjoying the unexpectedly fine weather when a whole new range of possibilities come hurtling into view like an express train coming round the bend, big, noisy and not something youd want to mess with on a dark night. This sort of thing doesnt happen everyday though so in the meantime its best to relax, enjoy the view maybe go Sunday Driving and perhaps fix yourself something to eat. Eating is a very useful second favourite thing to do, being enjoyable itself and also very useful for keeping your strength up for when other favourite things in life present themselves unexpectedly. With this in mind I thought itd be good to finish with some food that is not only nutritious and energy-giving but also simple, practical, enjoyable and made to taste. So I thought wed do some eggs which are really flexible and filling, just the sort of thing to get you ready for the whole day. Theyve always been my favourite breakfast in one form or another: fried, poached, scrambled, hard boiled, soft boiled,

over-easy, sunny side up, pancakes, omelettes or even souffl. I only do simple cooking for myself, the way I like it, so Im not looking to entertain and you can adapt it to suit your taste: Recipe for the whole omelette: 2 eggs 4 tablespoons of milk 1 ounce of grated cheese Olive oil Finely chopped spring onions Paprika Italian herbs A pinch of salt. Mix the milk and eggs up with the paprika and herbs and put the mixture in the pan with the olive oil in and get it bubbling. Sprinkle the chopped spring onions evenly and then the cheese as well. Once the omelette is nearly cooked after a few minutes, put the pan under a grill to get a good colour on the top. A few good slabs of country bread and butter to go with it and you should be set up for the day. I can keep going for the whole day if I have eggs for breakfast and be ready for whatever life has to offer. Oh, and I always wanted to write a book that ended with eggs.

Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire by Ian Neville

A personal journey through life and Lincolnshire but not as you expected. Lifes like that, its what happens between what should have happened and everything else. Sunday Driving in Lincolnshire is a reflection of what actually goes on and a few things that occur to you along the way. Taste the Lincolnshire Plum Bread, savour the Great Outdoors, visit the Centre of the World and take it all with a pinch of salt.

Whatsit Press 2013 ISBN Barcode Price:1

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