They sit on my study shelf, over the oldest of the books. They are the sole surviving mugs of former times and have been rescued twice from black bin bags full of stuff I really don’t need anymore. One is a ‘fault-tolerant’ two-handed mug from my Tandem Computers days, the other has a number six on the side…
If you’re lucky enough to have a dad who was alive in the 1960s or who collects memorabilia from that wonderful, if wacky, decade, sneak up behind him when he’s having his bedtime Horlicks and sneer in his good ear, “I am not a number…”
If he doesn’t spill the contents of his mug down his elegant and crushed velvet dressing down, you can be assured that: (a) he is already a trained spy and resistant to such puny attempts on his sanity, or, (b) he isn’t really as old as he’s pretending…
For seventeen glorious episodes, Patrick McGoohan, star, writer, and producer of ITV’s The Prisoner enraptured and baffled all us trainee spies with the most advanced psychological drama ever seen on the TV.
McGoohan plays a top spy, rich with the trappings of a James Bond lifestyle, including a very tasty open-topped Lotus Seven. In the famous opening credits, which had all of us would-be spies hanging off the settee in open-mouthed anticipation, he is seen to offer his thumping resignation–but none of his words are revealed as he berates his boss. Then he slams the office door and drives, with not a hair out of place, to his tasty London apartment where he flings open his suitcase, scattering various papers including what appear to be an assortment of travel pictures.
At that precise moment, a man from the black hearse that has been following him since his resignation approaches the apartment and white gas begins to hiss into the room from under the doors and windows… McGoohan’s character slumps to the floor, unconscious.
You can watch this on YouTube by clicking here.
When he wakes up it is in a comfortable but banal room in place called “The Village”. Life in the village is a pastiche of vanilla ordinariness and psychological brutality, as his captors seek to find the reason for his resignation – which he stubbornly refuses to disclose.
His name is gone, stripped from him and replaced by a number – Number 6. As in my beloved mug, above, which came from the real ‘Village’, many years ago.
If your dad doesn’t respond to the above challenge, he wasn’t there…
The Village was not a film set. It was made in an extraordinary setting called Portmeirion, on the edge of Snowdonia National Park in Wales. It’s beautiful and a perfect place to have as the key setting for our weekend of self-discovery amidst the coast and mountains of this beautiful part of Wales.
In June next year, the Silent Eye is going to use this location to construct a weekend of self-exploration, fun and mystical mayhem based, loosely, upon the McGoohan series…
“I am not a prisoner, I am a free man!” No 6 cries… But are we….?
We at the Silent Eye have a reputation for trying the unusual and, occasionally the daring in the interests of breaking through the routines of life to get to its exciting and colourful heart. Why not come and join us? We provide the structure of the weekend for a mere £50.00 per person, and everyone chips in with the cost of their own meals, admission tickets, if applicable, and nearby chosen accommodation to suit budget.
Amidst the craziness, you’ll find some old and new friends and a group of dedicated and eclectic folks who run the Silent Eye School.
Usually, we can promise not to try to brainwash our guests… but, heh, this is the Village, after all…
The Prisoner of Portmeirion, the Silent Eye’s Summer Weekend
16-18 June 2017.