East Cape village in shock
J R R Tolkien scandal

Lord of the Rings claims a 'pack of lies'
Could Dark Lord Sauron be responsible?

Mathew Blatchford reports

HOGSBACK: Middle Earth was rocked to its foundations late today with revelations that J R R Tolkien, its creator, author of The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and other unfilmable novels and tracts, was born in Bloemfontein.

Said one prominent Hogsback resident, 'It is impossible! It cannot be true! We have the mountains, the snows, the forests, the flowing streams -- everything about Hogsback is obviously the inspiration for Middle Earth! Many of our inhabitants closely resemble trolls and dragons! How could some central Free State town full of koppies and Afrikaans-speakers possibly have had any influence on the greatest author of the millennium?'

But a noted geneaologist speaking under conditions of anonymity responded: 'It's all a pack of lies. Tolkien only spent a few months in South Africa as a baby. Anyway, who cares what some foreign reactionary Scandinavian language specialist did a hundred years ago?' Immediately after uttering these words the geneaologist was squashed by hundreds of copies of pre-release video footage of the forthcoming film The Two Towers, which fell on him out of a clear sky. (Rumours that a South African Tourism Board zeppelin was in the area could not be confirmed as we went to press.)

The apparent fraud perpetrated by Hogsback residents could have massive reverberations in the local property market, already saturated with names drawn from the Tolkien oeuvre. Hobbiton, Rivendell, River Running, The Shire, Lothlorien, Gandalf's Rest and even Away with the Faeries may all have to alter their names to avoid legal action. This would be the largest South African recent renaming since the recent renaming of various cities in the recently-renamed Limpopo Province.

Said a short, pointed-eared figure with piercing blue eyes and hairy toes, carrying a small elvish sword, 'The key to Hogsback's Bane lies in the past. Could you kindly direct me to the Cracks of Doom? I believe they are somewhere near Bhisho.'