October 8th – The Festival of the Tesearm Steps Picnic

Next to the Tesearm steps there once stood a restaurant for about three hundred years. It was called The Distant Thunder, and was known throughout the City for its excellent, reasonably priced food; the various awards it won over the years never seemed to go to the heads of those who ran the place, it was not a ‘posh’ restaurant by any means. They also always seemed up to date with new fashions and developments with food, and whilst there were dishes to which they inevitably kept coming back, they didn’t become inflexible or stuck in their ways.

Amongst other things, The Distant Thunder has been credited with the introduction of salad to (western) Buentoillitants, and with the invention of the Tesearm Step Sandwich. This sandwich, filled with tomato, wilted spinach, artichoke hearts and olives, is usually served warm, inside a foil wrapper so that it can be consumed anywhere, and is still served at The Present Lightning, the spiritual successor to The Distant Thunder which was opened by the Thunder’s previous head chef, Angelique Mansim, three years after a monarchist bomb almost completely demolished the original establishment.

Quite why a restaurant was targetted is still something of a mystery, although most folk believe it was merely a numbers game; on any day of the week, at almost any time, the Distant Thunder would be certain to be filled to the brim with people, and the bombers were looking to cause as much widespread damage as possible; this was the late 20s when their attacks were becoming more generalised as they got more desperate. The place was usually so packed that the queue stretched well out into the street, and diners happily made use of the Tesearm steps to eat and socialise on, meaning that anyone trying to get through had quite the job on their hands.

It took some time before they opened up the new establishment, partly out of respect for the dead. There was some debate on whether simply replacing the old restaurant, nestled in amongst the steps, would show adequate respect for the dead and suffering, so in the end a small garden was decided upon. It is in this garden and on the steps that today many will turn out to honour that death and suffering, usually with food brought over from the Lightning. It began as a sign of resilience and resistance to the attempts by the monarchists to scare Buentoille’s population, as an alternative to rebuilding.

It’s not quite the same as it once would have been, with the waiters running up and down the steps, popping in and out of the three entrances from the restaurant which led out onto them. Yet there is a camaraderie here, and a sense of solidarity that seems most tangible, what with the steps becoming almost entirely packed with folk unwrapping tin foil packages, then taking a hearty bite.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Dreadful Hats
  • Mr Canon Ball Day
  • The Patter Festival