Wanted for film stardom: under-nourished half-wits
Given that most people in a Thomas Hardy novel are either half-wits or creeps, I'm not sure I'd want to be cast as one in the new film of Far From The Madding Crowd.
Or even as an extra, which is what the film-makers have been looking for in yet more auditions in Dorchester.
I missed out first time around, because they wanted beardies and I needed a year's notice to grow one. Now they're getting rather arty and vague about it, saying they want faces with character and texture who can look like farm workers from the 1840s.
Around that period Dorset's farm workers were very poor and even angrier: by the 1830s their fury erupted in the Captain Swing riots and the Tolpuddle Martyrs episode, for which they were punished by transportation to the other side of the world.
Others, half-starved, drank themselves into oblivion. So, if you want a job on the film, avoid eating and shaving and washing for the next week, then turn up with a jar of scrumpy in one hand and a sharpened pitchfork in the other.
Don't trust anyone. It seems the only sensible policy since the Beast of Trowbridge was exposed as being a hoax, with apparently clear evidence that the picture of this panther (or German Shepherd dog or just normal cat near a small tree…) was taken in the USA six years ago. The hoaxiness was confirmed by big cat consultant Danny Nineham, whose website says he's seen plenty of the real beasts in the Forest of Dean and on Bodmin Moor.
But you have to be careful what and who you believe. There is, for example, someone on Twitter calling himself God and he has almost a million followers, and he is probably a fake. Although some of his words are wise indeed, such as this recent Tweet: "First I created stupidity. Then, to give it some place to go, I created people."
We just don't know. Everyone could be hiding something. In the same week, for example, as the Beast of Trowbridge's exposure the spooks from GCHQ in Cheltenham were revealed to have smashed up computers in The Guardian newspaper offices to protect secrets.
And then the Americans finally declassified information about Area 51, which was always rumoured to be where they kept captured aliens and now turns out to be nothing of the sort.
None of this news appears connected, but if you look into the minds of conspiracy theorists (great fun, but don't stay too long…) you'll realise that's because THEY don't want you to make the connections. And if you don't know who THEY are don't ask, because someone's listening.
So, back to the Beast, and his un-masker Danny Lineham. I did wonder if Danny himself was real, or perhaps just a fake human invented by a mischievous panther on a quiet bank holiday. I asked around, and couldn't find anyone who has actually seen Danny in the wild.
So I checked out his website, which has a strange plausibility about it. It is, predictably, full of stories about big cats, but there's also a picture of Danny holding a very large pike – which you will know is actually a fish, albeit one with a nasty bite, and not much to do with cats at all.
There's also a poem on there, from his daughter, part of which reads: "Big cats are roaming around, lightly footed on the ground, some are black, some are brown, some are seen in the town." And on it goes.
Nobody would create such a ordinarily homely and blokey profile unless they were trying to trick us, so Danny probably does exist. Or… he's part of a complex double bluff by the Beast trying to discredit those who discredit him.
That could be it. It also answers other questions: Bansky, for example, is actually the Beast, and has kept his identity secret all these years simply by eating anyone who stumbles across him out with an aerosol at night.
The Guardian is investigating this, but also thinks that Banksy ate Lord Lucan (who everybody else thought had vanished in Area 51) – which is why GCHQ paid them a visit.
If you have any other problems that need solving, please send them in, but encrypt them first because you never know who's watching.