Local man, Martin Shuttlecock was resting quietly at home this weekend following a terrifying Friday the 13th experience in the historic Hampshire city of Winchester, where he was forcefully abducted by a bunch of crazy people, forced into performing various trials, and generally made a mockery of before being released unharmed.
Shuttlecock (27) from the Portsmouth area was in the historic old city en route to pick up a collection of Victorian egg-timers from a contact he'd made on an internet auction site when he was beckoned over by a motley collection of individuals sitting on pavement tables outside The Eclipse public house, drinking beer and wine in the rain..
Thinking that the people perhaps had something to do with the egg timer deal, Shuttlecock crossed the street to see what the people wanted.
"I was dressed in black," Shuttlecock explained. "And there was this other chap dressed in black too. I was wearing my pork pie hat and the other fellow was wearing a big black fedora. Drinking red wine he was. I thought perhaps they had something to do with the egg timer deal, so I approached them."
Which, it transpired was a big mistake. The group, consisting of a stoutly built American fellow, his wife, a sailor from Bristol, the chap in the fedora, and a mysterious fellow who described himself rather sinisterly as 'The Chemist,' then forced Shuttlecock to sit down among them, at which point, the unfortunate victim was plied with copious quantities of alcohol.
"I wasn't scared at first," Shuttlecock told our reporter. "They seemed friendly enough, so I thought maybe they were something to do with the egg timer deal. But then they forced me to wear dark glasses while they took photographs, and then the chap in the fedora put on a humungous false moustache. They then forced me indoors when the rain got a little heavier. I got the impression that they were laughing at me, and that my life was in danger."
Inside the pub, Shuttlecock related how he was forced to read a written statement from somebody named Bargis (Who appeared to be the criminal mastermind behind the abduction plot) aloud, and terrorised by a little fellow with a croaky voice and porcine eyes who claimed to come from San Francisco. The horror continued as Shuttlecock was interrogated by a Scotsman with two walking sticks.
The gang then split up, with the big American chap, his wife and the rugby playing sailor from Bristol moving off, most probably in search of another hapless victim.
At which point, Shuttlecock was escorted away by the man in the fedora, and the sinister "Chemist" - who by then had been joined by a Mr Fixit who claimed to have worked for the BBC - and taken to a secret location. Another pub. But one with sinister overtones.
"They made me sit down and listen to them talk about the arts and writing and stuff like that," Shuttlecock said. "It was all gobbledegook to me. I just wanted to get my egg timers and get the heck out of Winchester, but they wouldn't have it. That was really frightening. It was a really old building, and every time I tried to escape, I knocked my pork pie hat off on the low roof beams. I tried to reason with them, but they just kept smiling at me - all sinister like. Then the one who called himself "The Chemist" forced me to go down a narrow stairway with him to the garden out the back. Along with this Yorkshire chap who kept talking about Wensleydale or somesuch in code. I thought I was a goner at that point. I thought they were going to shoot me. Or something. Especially when they gave me a cigarette."
Eventually, Shuttlecock was frogmarched to the railway station and released. He fled to the safety of a waiting train, glad to be alive and in one piece. But the nightmare wasn't quite over, as he explains:
"I was sitting on the train, all atremble when on the platform opposite, the one who called himself 'The Chemist' reappeared with the one in the fedora. He appeared to be coaxing him. Perhaps to kill me after all. Then, thankfully, the train pulled away from the station. I shan't be visiting Winchester again in a hurry, I can tell you - egg timers or no egg timers. No egg timer is worth putting your life at risk for."
Martin Shuttlecock has been confined to bed for three days by the family physician for rest and recuperation. He says he is especially upset because he won't be able to accompany long suffering wife Anne, to the shops.
He should just be thankful he's alive.
More as we get it.