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When I got out into the street and met the disgorging picture-palaces capering on the pavements and humming it (for he had put the gramophones on with the films), and when I saw far to the south the red electrics flash ‘Gubby’ across the Thames, I feared more than ever.


This is from “The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat” in A Diversity of Creatures.

The narrator, with companions who include an M.P. and a newspaper editor, and a famous music hall impresario, are fined for speeding in the village of Huckley by a local magistrate, and held up to public ridicule. They decide to get their revenge, and the rest of the story is a case-study in the fearful power of the media in Edwardian times.

The village people are entertained with a lavish dinner— ‘dinner for five hundred and drinks for ten thousand’— and persuaded to vote that the Earth is flat, the story is splashed all over the newspapers, a popular music hall song is written about it, and Huckley and the J.P. become a public laughing stock.