No sooner had the Exhibition of the Aedbald Road, Charleton Marshall Treasure opened in the Edna Whisky-McNightly Gallery of the Anglo-Saxon Museum and Dark Age Experience Park, Fleetsbridge, than it has been closed by order of the Royal Dorset Constabulary, whose Chief Constable Sir Rising Crimewave described the much-anticipated show as "a CONTRIK-69 Super Incubator" and a "pandemic disaster waiting to happen". Deputy Chief Constable, Yurunda Howes-A'Rest went so far as to describe it as "an anti-lockdown protest in embryo" and "a needlessly uplifting show that must be stopped at all costs".
The trouble started when an administrative error allowed two separately booked and properly socially-distanced bubbles to intermingle in the vicinity of the Show's star exhibit: an Anglo-Saxon Headpiece which has come to be known affectionately as Sid's Helmet, after the Bradford Abbas Technical College-trained garage mechanic and occasional newspaper correspondent - Sid Yobbe - who lovingly restored it following an accident involving a University of Afpuddle Department of Archeology transit van.
Organisers knew that the helmet was likely to be the focus of a great deal of the visiting public's attention - "everyone is fascinated by a stranger's helmet especially one with the obvious girth of this one" - and so had taken special measures to limit the numbers allowed into the Whisky-McNightly Gallery at any given time. Unhappily wires got crossed and protocols became confused as two couples were admitted only 30 minutes apart accidentally coincided in the vicinity of the star attraction, argued over booking times, precedence, social distancing, a ticklish cough, the comparative size of their own helmets and even whether a Nissan Micra badge attached to the headpiece during restoration could be considered an adornment or a disfiguration. "Clearly tempers became frayed, people broke out of their portable perspex boxes, contact was made [fist to jaw in one case] and an armed RDC Officer - who just happened to be in the Gallery writing down the names and addresses of all those visiting and taking rectal DNA swabs whenever they bent over to examine the display cabinets - intervened" said an RDC Museum Watch spokesperson. The spokesperson refused either to confirm or deny that another man, said to have been "lurking behind an exhibition partition with a smile on his face and his hands in an unnatural position" had also been arrested.
"The next thing we knew the Chief Constable himself appeared brandishing an order to close and four members of our staff were frog-marched to the Corfe Mullen High Security CONTRIK-69 Interrogation Centre" said a shocked Exhibition Curator Ms Ayron Aige.
In the meantime, Museum staff are waiting anxiously to see whether they themselves will be prosecuted for both failure to observe CONTRIK-69 protocols and, more seriously, "bringing joy to a population best left in a downhearted state". "In the present emergency, we just don't know what is and what isn't allowed anymore", Exhibition Curator Dr Ayron Aige said, "but we are now operating under the general assumption that if people have a smile on their face, we are probably doing something very wrong".