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Aphrodite's Ore

 

Aphrodite’s’ Ore

 

Copyright Frankie Lassut 2015

 

Published by Wonky Books at Shakespir

 

 

EPUB ISBN: 978-1-910103-70-8

EBOOK: 978-1-910103-71-5

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

A Caricature portrait of the small, sexy English Lake District fringe town of Millom and its people …

 

A FANTASTIC introduction …

 

Everything in the Universe vibrates. If someone, for instance, suffers from headaches, one supposed route to eradicating the problem can be via healing crystals; which obviously isn’t proved scientifically as if it is true; paracetamol will be in corporate jeopardy. You can buy lots of different kinds of crystal and so all they need to do is find out which ones help with headaches and make purchase, amethyst maybe? Each crystal you see vibrates at a certain rate and amethyst, for instance, is said to guide the headache into a more resonant harmonious vibration with wellness, which has its own vibration (something like that anyway). Quartz vibrates at a rate which is excellent for counting and translating into time (YOU knew that) … vibration is the base and foundation of the Universe, which is how it works (but that’s another story).

From the web:

‘A quartz clock is a clock that uses an electronic oscillator that is regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time. This crystal oscillator creates a signal with very precise frequency, so that quartz clocks are at least an order of magnitude more accurate than mechanical clocks. Generally, some form of digital logic counts the cycles of this signal and provides a numeric time display, usually in units of hours, minutes, and seconds. The first quartz clock was built in 1927 by Warren Marrison and J.W. Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Since the 1980s when the advent of solid state digital electronics allowed them to be made compact and inexpensive, quartz timekeepers have become the world’s most widely used timekeeping technology, used in most clocks and watches, as well as computers and other appliances that keep time.’

Plastic also vibrates at a rate detectable by most, if it has batteries inserted.

 

Mankind is much more powerful than he thinks and much mind work is done not at a conscious level (or your body wouldn’t work). Man ‘knew’ he would need coal, iron, steel etc. He needed to consciously dig for these things because they lay deep underground. Mining though, especially many years ago was (still is?) a shitty job, shitty and hard, dirty noisy work. Because of this negative side, God had to add a bit of interest to it just like she did sex; who would want sex without an orgasm? Therefore, for those sensitive enough to detect it, heamatite ore has a very sexy vibration, or, a simple vibration which feels sexy to some humans (all of our emotions are vibrations, happy being a higher vibration than despair for instance) which actually arouses ‘some’ people. This vibration drew the miners in to mine it wherever it was. They didn’t know why they were attracted to the mines, it just felt good, even though the work was hard, dirty, noisy, hot etc. Coal is the same, why do you think there is so much trouble with miner’s strikes … not only do they need their high wages (everyone does), the coal miners also need their fix. It’s also a reason why there is so much heartache when a pit closes (would you be pissed off if God removed your orgasms?).

If you don’t believe me, try looking up Rugby, the town. Rugby is sat on land that contains rocks which contain high amounts of Radon, which is radioactive with a yucky vibe … Rugby has scored in the cancer industry; they blame the cement works.

Put this against the town I’m going to be telling you about, Millom, on the North West coast of Cumbria. Millom was sat on the world’s best ‘hidden sexy vibe’ haematite ‘fields’ … and that is how the town began, loads of aroused miners willingly going underground and having a good time at work (no motivational speakers were ever employed by the management). Millom women give birth to babies with good sets of hair, while in Rugby, they’re bald. Like when a gifted footballer is spotted early by a team, the Rugby bald babies were given crappy, shitty jobs in the nuclear industry, by bald radiation worker scouts.

Millom though had a problem, a problem I very much doubt you will believe … the town was forgotten by God when she was young (it’s in the story). Later on when in her late millions/early billions, or, in real time i.e. late twenties, early thirties, God saw her error and was about to fix it, but at the last very short minute thought ‘no … this town is fun to observe.’ And so she left it alone in the capable hands of the Reverend Joe; now YOU can have the same pleasure God had/has.

These days it’s not so good up there (Millom, not Heaven). Drugs and violence, which I suppose go hand in hand? I could say, because I know the place so well ‘why do people have babies in Millom?’

The answer would be … because of the remaining heamatite and the boredom, which makes the iron ore more potent. The people who are sensitive to the heamatite also keep a lump/s in their houses (in the nookie box).

‘Recreational’ drugs are the chosen pastime of many young people because they are of the mind-state which doesn’t feel good and, drugs feel happy (if they feel sad, why would they use them?). Really all anyone wants to do is feel good … that’s our whole purpose of being here (oh yes it is). If you are in a situation that doesn’t bring anything to your feet to help you feel good, then a great alternative is drugs; why else would anybody take them? Why does anybody drink alcohol? To feel bad at the weekend? If therefore there is nothing much going on in Millom (and similar towns, like GRIMsby), then drugs are an almost natural way of feeling better than bored or depressed? It isn’t just Millom though; the nice countryside pubs are closing, which is a bit of a Lake District tragedy, in my opinion.

 

 

THE TOWN’S CONTINUOUS SEXY FEELING and the ‘secret fetish clubs’

 

The mines shut down years ago in the sixties, but still there must be deposits of heamatite in the deep underground mines, which will always give off that pleasant feeling, sexy vibration. Millom has many ‘secret’ haematite fetish clubs where the participants i.e. swingers and the like all put their ‘ore’ on the table and then a good night is had … well, it’s better than Satanism isn’t it? Millom is the most horny, aroused town in the North West of England.

 

 

 

This is a rather nice Heambox i.e. a box containing some heamatite. Because this ore gives off a sexy feeling vibration, Millomites keep a heambox in their houses and shops because the house or shop then feels fabulous because of the energy vibration. This particular box belonged to a local widow and is made of silver. The Reverend Joe found out about it and so a couple of friendly widow-visits ensured it for his private collection of treasures.

Widow: “Oh Reverend, thank you so much for your kind words, you will I hope accept my heam box as it won’t be long until I’m gone from this earth.”

“Oh Mrs Phisakilee, I couldn’t possibly, it is far, far too expensive …

And the Reverend left with yet another treasure, for in the Rev’s Bible notes book it says … ‘If you are common and have been neglected by God, it is better to give than to receive. If though you are like me, God’s humble servant on earth, the opposite can be very true and usually is, as in this case (meaning situation, not solid silver case).

How did I get it to photograph it? Well, I was friendly with the Reverend and I told him of my intentions and what I was going to write about him in a fun poking way. He laughed and said ‘David (my real first name), it sounds like great fun and you have my blessing … go for it, tell people about this wonderful town. And while you’re at it, do you know Doris Agnew’s phone number? I quite like her and would like to know if she would consider joining our Bible study group as the woman is a Saint.”

I replied “Joe, you’re a terrible man.”

He just smiled and carried on “I also believe that your friend, the terrible sinner Sharpo annoyed God and St Peter in heaven and was sent to earth to get him out of the way because God couldn’t concentrate. Well, he’s your friend and I believe he brought Heaven’s mother of pearl inlaid heamatite gates here with him. Do you think you could ask him whether I could have them for my drive?”

“I’ll ask him Joe, you’re a terrible man.”

He just smiled again.

 

 

 

SOMETHING THAT SHOOK THE TOWN TO ITS ROOT CHAKRA.

 

Years ago, a policeman was sent to the town and was so disappointed in the move he sued the force, and won. He said it was a joke in the force to be sent there and that it marked the end of his career. The story made the Nationals and Millom became a laughing stock. I decided that it was a golden opportunity to tell the unbelievable story of the town which I hope is entertaining. It could be called the golden years of the town, which are from circa 1960 when I was born, to the present, as it seems like the golden years are ending. Many people, the great old characters in the story are now dead … here are some of them. By the way, the town has no claims to fame, except the iron ore; so, here are some character claims to fame …

 

1: Me (of course). I was born just as the town’s golden years were beginning i.e. 1960 to 2000.

2: A semi well known poet Norman Nicholson.

2.5 Doris Agnew (the Oracle who also does DIY weather reports from her kitchen window … can’t see Kirby Moor fells? Get depressed).

3: A copper who slagged the place off and made the National papers.

4: Sharpo (a now deceased friend of mine and the town rogue).

5: Brick (Alan Stone … deceased … he looked a little like Herman Munster).

6: Togo Preston (I think he stabbed his mother, would now get a Humanitarian award from President Obama).

7: Arthur Ferguson (the town’s founding father, and therefore King).

8: Jonquil McDonald, director of pantomimes in the Millom AOS.

9: The Harbour Hotel.

9.5 Millom Rugby League (it’s in there).

10: The Millom Workies.

10.5: Your Move estate agents (recent addition).

11: Ken Thompson (a once local master baker and a sweet man).

12: ET (his son Alan).

13: Ziggy (ET’s stepbrother).

14: Bobby Binge (haven’t got the space).

15: Spooky Steele (Bobby’s Brother … you may not want to know).

13: Tracey Beck (too much to tell).

 

 

Last time I was up there I took Evo to meet the King of the town, Arthur Ferguson (Piel Island isn’t the only bloody place around there with Royalty!). I said “Sire, you could have had a lot more ready cash if you had, instead of selling lady members of the Haematite Vibrating Fetish Clubs Heama-Tights, which aren’t sexy even with strappy sandals. What about Heama-Stockings?

“Lassie” (my old nickname) he said “Great idea, but not catchy enough a name.”

He was right … which is why he’s King and I’m a mere pauper in his presence.

 

Here then is the full story of the town which is set as a court case in which I have the honour of defending the town against all of the Press’s accusations of inadequacy, after all, I was there for thirty years from the word go … it’s supposed to be a fun story. In my defence, there have been lots of books and films about mining towns; this is one that can sit with the rest …

Enjoy!!! And have a lovely day.

 

Interesting note:

 

I was told in the Workies one night by a Millom old timer, now dead, who had worked down the mines, that the goddess Aphrodite blessed heamatite with eroticism in honour of her lad Eros and, had several sets of iron cutlery made with it. She looked a bit like Nigella Lawson and her slaves could cook a bit and so, everyone wanted to be invited to dinner at her house because they knew what afters might be (wink, wink). Heamatite was known in early days of Hodbarrow mines by some locals who knew the glory of its vibrational energy, as Aphrodite’s Ore. Women from other nearby towns such as Ulverston, Barrow in Furness and Whitehaven who couldn’t get pregnant because the men weren’t man enough and, they didn’t have the ore to urge them on anyway. Those women would come to Millom at 6pm on a Saturday night and leave pregnant at midnight. You see?! Not bad stuff …

People say ‘what rubbish!’ From a non-religious stance, it’s like Jesus saying words to the effect ‘Thomas, if you want to see it, you have to believe it first’ … which goes for all important things in life. Belief you see, if you simply swap the last two letters, unveils a clue i.e. BELIEF THEN BECOMES BE-LIFE. If you want something and you ‘be-life’ it, it will become your life (or part of it).

 

***

 

THE EARLY YEARS OF THIS WORK (it has taken a while)

 

They weren’t good because people were insulted and didn’t like me ‘making some fun’ which I mistakenly did because I thought they had a sense of humour … so …

I said, on the internet … “Millom can’t laugh at itself”. Is this true? A rather significant ‘member’ of the local community for more than fifty years, a Millomite, said, upon hearing this …

‘We always do laugh at ourselves, but we are expert piss takers to those from over the bridge (Duddon) or from Marra Land and beyond.’

Really? ‘We’? Everyone? Cool! A globalisation, but good enough.

By the way:

The Duddon? A river you have to cross on the A595 to go South e.g. to Barrow in Furness.

Marra? Someone from the Whitehaven Workington area.

 

I now live in Coventry which unfortunately has no haematite (never mind, the chemists have Viagra which helps keep the chav population healthy (numbers wise). People ask me ‘why move to this dump from somewhere so nice?’ Well, I keep the local therapists busy, so it’s good for the local economy (I pay Geoffrey Robinson’s and Dave Nellist’s expenses). If it’s true that the people we attract are the result of our inner feelings, then therapists must be really messed up (it is and they are).

Millom, to look at, was just like any other North Western town, plodding along, heading for more plodding along on the road called life’s great journey, but it still had the heamatitical sexy vibe which made it a popular place to be, for most. It was hanging onto its claims to fame, The Ironworks (the child of haematite), which the town was built on and a semi famous poet, Norman Nicholson (he said hello to me once!). But still, due to lack of revenue, the pub signs kept falling off, or at least some of the letters did.

The Castle, a great pub situated halfway up Holborn Hill became the Ca le. The Ship (further up), The hip (a decent joint). The Red Lion? The Red ion. It was always full of scientists after the L fell off, which totally confused the locals because they were used to talking about the weather, not the covalent bonding of the hydrogen molecules in cumulonimbus clouds. The Devon became The De on, etc. So, it was dozing away, and the good people were wondering what had happened to it and what day was it? And why did all their calendars say it was 1560?

There was a reason, and you probably won’t believe it, because it’s hard to believe, but, here it is anyway …

 

Pre Big Bang

 

QUITE A WHILE AGO:

REALM: HEAVEN

LOCATION: THE KITCHEN IN GOD’S PARENTSHOUSE.

DAY: TUESDAY? (Might have been Wednesday as the bin angels had just been … late as usual)

TIME: TEA TIME!

CONVERSATION: THE USUAL CRAP KIDS HAVE TO ENDURE.

 

God’s Mum: Well God, what did you do at school today?”

God: “Practical Creation.”

Mum: “Really?! What did you create?”

God: “Oh, we’re all doing England, different bit each. When it’s finished and if it’s good enough we’re presenting it to the Council to get it passed for the Big Bang festival and, I’m the schools rep! I’m supposed to finish my part off for homework by designing part of the West Coast of Cumbria which will start out as Cumberland, but I can’t be bothered.”

Mum: “Never mind can’t be bothered! If you don’t get a good mark how are you ever going to get a ‘proper job’ like your father?! Now come on! You’re almost one million, billion, trillion, quadrillion years old now and I can’t support you forever. I work my fingers to the bone as it is. Go design your bit of the West Coast, create a little town to put on it; somewhere nice by the sea of course; it being a coast.”

God: (Brightening up) “Oh okay. Can I create a nuclear plant near it too?”

Mum: “Of course you can, that’ll be ideal for good jobs to help the local economy. Now eat your greens! Or no divine raspberry ripple ice cream for you and, that’s final!”

God: “Ohhhh Muuuuuuum!”

 

BUT

 

Is it a good idea to put a white topped work desk in a child’s room? The homework effort was a little half-hearted and, the pencil tip, controlled by a half-hearted hand just happened to … slip off the edge of the paper … leaving poor old M on a desktop! In the lurch! Out on a limb! In the middle of nowhere! At the END OF THE LINE!

Millom, Cumbria, the little Northern town which God then forgot all about.

 

 

Oh Dear!

 

And time passed, and passed, everywhere else on this good earth, but Millom was left in what could only be described as a curved time warp.

 

Oh Dear (X 10).

 

Now though, we must step into the world of woo woo stuff. The people of Millom wanted change and so the mass minds sent a signal out to the world via the ether, a Rocket of Desire for recognition (an organic silent vibrational request, like a radio signal). The only problem was, desires are usually answered by God, but … God had forgotten about Millom and so, confused by this signal, sent all the goodies to places like Barrow in Furness, Whitehaven etc., which is where the Deity thought the very ‘give us goodies and recognition’ desire signal had come from (oh dear). Then one day, God was snoozing and a picture of the white topped table with the pencil mark on it popped into her head and she realised with a sudden feeling of dread what she had done.

What does God say to God? ‘Oh my God?!’ Hmmmm? How about ‘Oh ME God?’ But, God was a bit ashamed and a large bit guilty and thought ‘Better give them something to pull them out of the poop. Hmmm? I know, publicity!’ God likes a good laugh and so likes entertainment. He noticed the behaviour of the people of Millom and though ‘My ME! It’s a bloody Pantomime!’

So God began to inspire a few people and hatched a vast Divine plan. Her idea was, ‘I’ll put them on the bloody map! Oh yeah!’ God was as good as her word as always, well, read for yourself (she then forgot again as building future Universes requires a lot of focus and concentration). It all happened about fifteen years ago.

 

The town is on a pinnacle, sea on one side and a nearly mountain called Black Coombe on the other, so it’s kinda trapped, a little ‘on its own (at the end of the line). Let’s hope the Scots don’t attack OR roll a giant haggis down the hill, although it would be good for the local building trade. This project began about fifteen years ago (its 2015 now) when synchronicity (you may call it fate, or coincidence?) a Police Sergeant, a Mr Terence McGlennon was moved to the town (I’ve tried a few times but never managed to make contact with him). He didn’t like it and said it was a joke in the force and that he was being put out to pasture by the force; he was a laughing stock. He sued and won fifteen grand. He, or the National press, said Millom was the end of the line, a dull crazy place. The locals were up in arms and the mayor at the time was pissed off (which made a change from being pissed up courtesy of the rate payers). I got wind when I found a used newspaper on a bus, which I believe ‘found ME’. I thought ‘maybe it’s ‘much’ worse than some news reporter who has no idea of the place realises, how could he or she? I began to word sketch my caricature of the town with the reason for why it is, I can’t help writing in that style, it comes naturally, my muse is a fun entity, so I am too. So, why would my version of the town come to me in a way which was so hilarious to me that I ended up literally blowing a gasket laughing (I gave myself a hernia). Hang on just a second though. One character you’re going to meet is my old mate, Sharpo. People sometimes wondered where the hell he came from. I can tell you …

 

Back in Heaven …

 

God: “Peter! Come here! Please.”

Peter: “What’s up?”

God: “Look! He’s taken them again! The little bastard! Haematite gates which all those dumb humans think are … erm; well actually, they don’t know what they are made of except that they are inlaid with ‘pearly’. But, we know they’re haematite with mother of pearl inlay by soul Michelangelo. What will he do with them? What’s the bloody point of nicking things here of all places?”

Peter: “I think he gets a kick out of it.”

God: “Well I’ve had enough! I’m trying to create Universes and stuff and all I think about is that irritating little shit all the Non-time, it’s a good job we don’t get blood pressure. Send him to earth please.”

Peter: “He will just do the same things there. Fighting, nicking stuff, chasing rabbits, chasing female souls around and he doesn’t need the sexy vibe of haematite to urge him on … he will upset people and the police.”

God: “So?! … Just bloody send him, NOW!”

Peter: “Ok, calm down. Where to?”

“That place I forgot about. The one I remember occasionally and then conveniently shelve again because it’s fun to observe. The place with the crazy Reverend who is always hassling me, scary human that one, thinks he’s my boss. What’s it called again? You know, whatsitsname … erm …”

Peter: “Millom?”

 

And Sharpo was sent down (that’s a phrase he nearly heard several times) and somehow brought the gates with him … and yes of course the Reverend Joe heard about it.

 

Sorry about that ... where was I. Ah! The locals won’t read it, never mind buy it ... maybe you can enjoy it for them? It’s a caricature work of Friction i.e. fact and fiction. On other lesser sites it is advertised as fiction, but they don’t have a tick box for friction, I think that’s unique to Wonky Books. So, if you’re visiting the Lakes, make sure you visit Millom and tell the locals why ...Russell in the Bridge cafe would be delighted if you did that (say hello from me) tell them you’ve come to see if you get the haematite sexy buzz. Now let’s get on with the caricature real life pantomime. 99% of the characters you’ll meet are real. Some have said, why use the real people? Well, because they’re part of Millom, they are Millom (or were) ... and apart from that, if I’m to tell the caricature truth, how can I use anyone else? And apart from that, if I’m to get my cute, shapely ass sued off, we may as well have a good day in court. Since this ‘banging my head against a brick wall’ session began, quite a few of them have died. The bright side of that is ‘there are now less of them to sue me’.

Sorry about that ... where was I. Ah! The locals won’t read it, never mind buy it ... maybe you can enjoy it for them? It’s a caricature work of Friction i.e. fact and fiction. On other lesser sites it is advertised as fiction, but they don’t have a tick box for friction, I think that’s unique to Wonky Books. So, if you’re visiting the Lakes, make sure you visit Millom and tell the locals why ...Russell in the Bridge cafe would be delighted if you did that (say hello from me). Now let’s get on with the caricature real life pantomime. 99% of the characters you’ll meet are real. Some have said, why use the real people? Well, because they’re part of Millom, they are Millom (or were) ... and apart from that, if I’m to tell the caricature truth, how can I use anyone else? And apart from that, if I’m to get my cute, shapely ass sued off, we may as well have a good day in court. Since this ‘banging my head against a brick wall’ session began, quite a few of them have died. The bright side of that is ‘there are now less of them to sue me’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look out Millomites! Low flying newspaper articles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This next cutting was my gift of Manna.

 

 

 

As Millom was highlighted in a court of law, I thought it would be nice to defend it in a court of law, which seems fair enough. A full testament of defence because the prosecution have already had their pound of flesh (albeit a while back now but, these things take time). So … “I’m going to need a good Judge, is anyone out there?!”

“Over here Mr Lassut! Justice Robert Jackson, I’m a hip Judge, I was Chief ‘Justice’ at the Nuremberg trials. I’ll listen to your Defence. I also have a Jury with me, they’re all in the pub at the moment getting hammered, they’re bored you see. We all need something interesting to do.”

Okay sir, thank you, you’re all hired. What should I call you during proceedings?

“Something simple. How about … M’lud?”

Fine, can we start the defence on Monday morning M’lud? Give me the weekend to get my papers together and my overly busy head sorted.

“That’s okay by me Mr Lassut. I’m going to the pub now to join the Jury, see you Monday, ten a.m.”

Bye M’lud!

 

 

The Trial Begins.

 

It is a lovely Monday morning and in the imaginary Court, the people waited with baited breath.

 

 

Day One: King Arthur (for Ciss and Arthur. Oh and Dave and Mark …)

Arthur Ferguson run (or ran) Ferguson’s shop on Wellington Street and, has a nice house at the top end of M. He has two sons, David and Mark … I once hung out (so to speak) with David.

 

 

 

A rare shot where he is showing off. He moved the chair and sat on his wallet. He loves me very much and would never dream of moaning about having his picture displayed. And yes, he has a haematite necklace on, which I’m sure is why my mate Pamela married him, because it wasn’t for looks, was it (that’s the reason why ‘I’ would get married). A few years before this was taken, he had the Burt Reynold’s moustache and looked like Magnum. I got to be his stooge.

 

***

 

MONDAY MORNING 10 a.m.

 

We are in the Crown Court, it is full. The Jury are in place and the Court Clerks are ‘sober!’ and ready. Is Sharpo here? Naaa, he spends enough time here, he’s having a few days off. I once suggested at work, because we worked at the same place … ‘Stephen, why don’t you build an extension on your house so the cops can move in, save them coming down here every other day?’

It is said that Sharpo actually has Heaven’s haematite mother of pearl inlaid pearly gates hidden on his banking allotment … I’ve never seen them and I’ve been down there a few times. There were a few ducks, some pigeons and lots of women hanging around though ….

 

Clerks: “All rise for M’lud!”

He comes in and takes his seat.

M’lud: “Good morning everyone. This week we are going to be, as you already know, listening to the case of M town -V- the Police and the press. M was accused of being the End of the Line! The place where visitors are said to fear falling off the edge of the world!

The defence will be conducted by an ex-Millom man who was driven to, and liked it (!?) … Coventry of all places! So, may I introduce Mr Frankie Lassut who, I shall refer to formally as Mr Lassut throughout the hearing, which is scheduled to last the whole week. So without further ado … Mr Lassut, are you ready to tell the truth, the whole truth and your caricatured version of the truth? Helped enthusiastically by God of course? Please do put your hand on the Bible, you probably won’t get blisters but, there again, reading these notes you have kindly supplied … dear me!”

‘Of course I’m ready to tell the truth, the whole truth and my learned version of the truth M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, what else? After all I can’t afford a spin doctor to sex up my documentation. As for the Bible, there is no problem with me touching its well leafed pages … look watch …

No smoke or smell of burning human meat … Karma you see … I’m a goodie! Sharpo has tried this several times in Court and each time the Bible has upped and legged it (what’s he like!?)

Still, I may have to go to confession this weekend with the Reverend, just to ensure a safe seat (Halleluiah!).

Well M’lud! I have a lot to say so, without further ado, I would now like to present the case of Millom -V- the National Press and the local Police.’

M’lud: “Carry on Mr Lassut”.

Thank you, M’lud. Firstly I feel it necessary to enlighten you the Jury and you the reader as to the actual beginnings of the town of Millom. M is geographically situated on the West Coast of England in the County of Cumbria. It lays opposite Barrow in Furness, the two towns being separated by an estuary, which plays host to the Irish Sea which uses the estuary as tide practice. I sincerely hope that this short history will act as a useful ‘prelude’, allowing me to then explain the significance of such an ‘end of the line’ dwelling which, according to the prosecution, the ‘usefulness of which’ ended in the sixties when iron ore production ceased. Only the most cynical of humans could write off a community just because an industry comes to an end. You see ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader ‘change is everything’ although we humans tend to despise it. Yet nothing stays the same even for a moment (cos even though a shoe may not appear to be moving the atoms, which comprise it, are … so there). To fight change is to fight yourself. Hodbarrow’s Haematite ore, when in production, was some of the finest iron ever to be mined, I may add. As for the ‘fishing industry’, mentioned by the prosecution, all will be revealed. I will also sing the praises of some of the great, as yet ‘undiscovered’ creative, talented minds in the town, the shopping opportunities, local landmarks and the mind boggling entertainment enjoyed by the citizens etc.

Nowadays I am, as you know, not a direct physical member of the M community although, I did spend the first thirty years of my life there so, I am fully qualified and thrilled to be doing this job. There in mind but not in body it could be said although, I do still have a physical connection in a way, because of my mother, Mrs Joan Lassut’s continued presence as the Queen (Ice) of Queens Park plus, old friends of course. The years which I had the pleasure of being a resident were enjoyable although, unfortunately, in the end M did not hold the possibilities of the experiences my life demanded and so, I had no choice but to leave, though not quite in the manner described so brilliantly by M’lud. I feel very fortunate though in being brought up there and experiencing both the community and, also the countryside, which is very beautiful and well worth a visit for anyone with a spare weekend. I do also remember the ironworks in action which, once again, qualifies me to feel fortunate. My father, Frank Lassut, actually worked there.

I would, as part of my task, like to communicate to you M’lud, you, the learned Jury and especially ‘you’ dear reader the positive points of such a badly situated town. There again, it is actually on the doorstep of the world famous Lake District, a definite bonus (as I rewrite this, the DVD of Miss Potter is on sale … it’s been a few years since this project began … so be it).

There is also an untapped fountain of ingenuity in the town, as I’ve already stated, not to mention sporting talent, acting talent, song writing talent, artistic talent etc. Have I already said this? Well, if I have, repetition can be a useful tool to fix something firmly in the mind. My only concern is that there may actually be ‘too much’ to communicate in one short week, time being the enemy of the enthusiast but, I fully intend to do my utmost in the precious portion of time I am to be allowed. That ‘I can guarantee’. Maybe the town is crying out for investment or tourism (?) hence the lovely negative publicity to bring it to the attention of the world?

Problems could then be seen as gifts (?) and not curses. It may be useful to know that the Chinese have two symbols for the word ‘crisis’. One means danger whilst the other, opportunity.

So has this call for help been heard? I don’t think so. If it has, it fell on the deaf drums of those who don’t want to hear because no one has thrown a lifebelt! M always receives a refusal from the financial bodies, so I’m informed. No one is interested. Tragic M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury and dear reader. Yet, twenty four miles away by road, not as the ‘crow flies’, unless of course it’s been drinking with Chris, Craggy, Freddy and Peg in the Harbour Hotel in Haverigg, a small nearby village/town. Yes twenty four miles away by land sits, as I’ve already mentioned, Barrow in Furness, rolling around in a mud wrestling bath of investment money. But it will come if it’s going to, may I begin with the origins of the town M’lud?

M’lud: “Carry on Mr Lassut”.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader; this is not the ‘official’ Copeland Borough Council version.

One fine day, a long, long time ago, a canny wee man from Dundee got lost on his travels and, for many days wandered aimlessly in the wilderness. He was bored was the wee Scot.

He was also holding safely in his right palm a farthing and whistling en-er-geti-call-ly, so happy was he with being so minted and free! (In those days farthings were worth £3,000). The lad though was so out of tune that a rabbit with a headache raised its sensitive ears periscope like from a burrow in order to gain some insight into the cause of whatever it was that was shattering the peace and making his head pound all the more. Once located the bunny could give the perpetrator a vicious, wrinkly browed, buck toothed stare and hopefully, scare it off, thus returning the/its world to peace.

You M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, may call it bad timing? Others among you may choose to call it fate but, our Dundee dude tripped! Over the top of the rabbit’s slowly turning furry napper. Upon his impact with terra firma as he kissed the dirt, the farthing was launched slingshot like from his hand only to disappear down another burrow some feet away. His panicked search was the accidental beginning of the iron ore mine and M Town. Whether or not the poor chap found the coin is anyone’s guess? Mine would be yes because, you see, no skeleton was ever found. Ahhh! You may laugh! Make of that what you will but, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, M’lud and dear reader the real version as told to me in great honesty by local musician and singer, Willie (blue suede shoes) Farren, over many beers. At his insistence, I had to buy and did so such was my commitment to this case.

M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader the town of Millom was actually founded by Cornish miners believe it or not who then attracted other miners from everywhere, like a flora pollen pot would attract bees. Here is how they discovered the precious, sexy vibed Haematite ore in the land that would eventually ‘sprout’ God forsaken M.

 

***

 

Down in Cornwall one sunny morning around about 1866, about 93 years before Sharpo was kicked out of heaven for stealing the Craftsman Built Bespoke Mother Of Pearl Inlaid Haematite Gates … during their measly half hour tea break which had been accepted by the weak union reps who were now a part of the management team, the mining guys and gals (yes, someone has to carry the load for the men) were playing a game of ‘Boundary-less football’ which saves time on throw ins and corners and, thus compensates for the short break. Through bad passing and lousy ball control (and the distant call of a whole shit load of sexily vibrating haematite, they gradually worked their way up country, moving the goalposts frequently and, being forcibly stopped many miles later as a wave washed over Emlyn Hughes’s great, great granddad’s cousins brother’s feet (I met Emlyn who knew friends of mine in Millom, in Coventry and had a good old laugh with him). He shouted “stoooop!!!” just as some bright spark kicked a thirty yard shot to goal and, an early ancestor of Millom’s famous Frankie Forrest an old workmate of mine (who once nearly snuffed me out with his moobs on the roof of a building at Sellafield) and, an amateur goalie … let it in! The ball consequently set off on the tide at a good lick for the Isle of Man.

“Ah!? What shall we do now?” asked one of them, this being a great question in the circumstances you must admit M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader.

“Well” replied an espouser of wisdom, a sage amongst them … “as we’re miners and as our slightly extended break is now over and, as we’re lost beyond doubt and most probably hope too? Furthermore, because we can’t even play soccer now because nob over there kicked the ball into the sea after double-nob over there let it in … easy save as it was … how about we dig for something mineable? Might be something worth a pastie or two under the ground right here?” (He jumps up and down listening for a hollow sound, I bet). This was hailed as a great idea and the following cheer: “Hurrah!” sort of dissipated into the nothingness of no M. They had therefore found what was as good a spot as any, well away from a certain burrow and a well relieved rabbit with a bad head (must ferment dandelion juice?) which had been rudely woken by the cheer and the low level Richter vibes from the jumping up and down. It is all because of those big sensitive ears you see. They, the ex-Cornish miners, started to dig without further ado with their hands (Foreign Legion stuff). This resulted in broken nails; which just wasn’t good enough for the women and, as the men couldn’t stand them just sitting around advising naggingly, a new plan was needed. It was unanimously decided to go to a place next to Barrow in Furness called Biggar Bank, quite fitting really and get a huge mammoth of an interest free loan and, eighteen months free banking, easy in those days of low cholesterol, sorry collateral, I do apologise for the mistake M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader.

M’lud: “Forgiven Mr Lassut”.

Their representatives sat in the Biggar Bank Manager’s office, fingers crossed, hoping.

“You want to dig for Haematite ore where?” asked the Biggar Caring Bank Loan Manager.

“M”.

“Where is Millum?”

“Mill-h ‘o’m – just over the water, jutting out there (pointing out of window), at the bottom of that big hill called Black Coombe”.

“Where did you get the name M from?”

“One of our artier thespian miners who we affectionately call “The Bored Bard” stood on his head this morning and composed a poem called ‘I sat by a Weeping Willow’. He was trying to impress one of the mining women whom we even more affectionately call ‘miner birds’.”

“Oh really!?” he replied, bemused yet fascinated. “How much money do you want then? Just name your amount. I’m satisfied with your inspirational business plan, very impressive! Your arty thespian poet should consider getting a proper job though as he’s obviously a little disturbed. I’m also going to be extremely insistent on waiving the ‘set up’ fee and, I’d also like to give you eighteen months to ten years free banking, if that’s okay with you lot?”

“Yes that’s fine with us lads and lasses. Hmmm? Around two hundred quid ought to do it”.

“No problem, pay it back if and when you can we won’t bother you with threatening letters and Biggar Bank charges so don’t adopt worry as part of your life experience, simply laugh instead. Erm … will you build a Police Station?”

“Maybe, although we probably won’t need it, being model citizens and all that and, maybe it’s a bit pinnacle-ish for a Police Station? But, we will anyway, it may put the town on the map one day, you just never know.”

 

***

 

That was it easy eh? Nothing’s changed much as the Banks even all these years later are fantastic establishments, I’m sure you agree … seriously.

Well M’lud they quickly built the ironworks foundry and, in order to protect themselves against the inclement weather (courtesy of Scotland and the Irish Sea), banged a few wooden huts together thus forming a main street which they named ‘Wellington’ after their football footwear. They also built a few larger three and four bedroomed scattered dwellings here and there for those poshies who fancied the detached lifestyle away from commoners. Everything seemed perfect.

Ahhhhhhhh!

The minority majority, the ‘miner birds’ though, being very aware, noticed a tidgy widgy sub-atomic, nano quantum flaw in the town plan. Each time they went shopping in Wellington Street, no matter how hard they all searched, no shops could be found. This disaster meant that they were all getting cold, hungry and bored because of their inadequate clothing and, as of yet, poor rabbiting skills. The original rabbit became anthro (man) phobic and wouldn’t come out of his burrow any more … poor wee thing. So the miner who sat by the burrow for ages with a shovel raised above his head waiting was really wasting his time. He should have gone fishing instead. Were they doomed then? Was it all over so early and after so much effort? Naaaaa!

 

 

THE KING OF MILLOM ARRIVES

 

KING ARTHUR

Earrrr-ly one mor-or-ning, just after the Sun had ri-i-sen, their saviour arrived and walked royally over the brow of a beautifully lit Black Coombe. He was dragging his large handcart behind him which was all the heavier, but not that much, because his lovely wife Cissy was sat atop the bric-a-brac mound. However he noticed the distant dwellings and out came the ancient brass telescope. Arthur Ferguson surveyed Wellington Street at twenty times magnification and thought to himself … ‘Shiiiiittttt!? But! Where there’s Shiiiiittttt there is money, so they say’. He also thought ‘mmmmm?! That’s a very sexy feeling emanating from the place which ‘could’ be haematite. This could be interesting!’

One hundred, two hundred years or so ago when all this drama happened animals, which now reside on farms, were neither evolved nor domesticated in M. Also, by the way, M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, Arthur Ferguson is ‘ageless and infinite’ (and a friend of mine so I should know) which is the perfect excuse for the previous sentence.

 

***

 

Sheep were not as you know them now, oh no! Armed with powerful fangs and razor sharp claws they were deadly hunters, making sabre toothed tigers seem limp clawed in comparison.

Look now! If anyone has seen this stuff in recent years bloody Disney, or other films, this was first written from pure inspiration, fifteen years ago.

They would crouch in the long grass and leap with deadly precision on who or whatever happened to be passing in order to feed, or just for a laugh! They weren’t fussy either, food and between meals punch-bags (which enhanced not ruined their appetite) came in many different and varying forms. If it moved and had bones … or not (?) it was dinner, or a sparring partner. They didn’t hang around in flocks either but, were independent ferocious woolly predators. Cows were similarly different. Back then bovines were tree dwellers, jumping from branch to branch and dangling with the use of a prehensile (bendy-curly) tail and gripping hooves. Cows tended to dangle above blackberry bushes and grab blackberry feeding blackbirds. They would then hold the bird above their open mouth and gently squeeze, swallowing the sticky stream of partly digested fruit which they loved. It also beat getting pricked to death on the bushes and you try picking blackberries with hooves designed for gripping thick branches. Not easy at all, be glad you have hands. Where they pooped, blackberry bushes would grow abundantly and the birds which managed to escape with full stomachs, the bovine clutches would in turn keep the natural rotation going. To this day some M cows still love blackberries and their milk is really nice I’m told. Unless they have discovered something they find nicer, like grass perhaps? But I don’t believe so.

It is necessary to again mention here that the birds were not squeezed all that hard which ensured safe release. Well you can’t just chuck a dead blackbird away after you’ve squeezed all the berry mush from it as ignorant people do abundantly with plastic bottles … think of the environment. In fact the birds muchly enjoyed being hoof-hugged by a cow, you could tell by the way they squawked, it has been written in M folklore.

It is a good job Sir Paul McCartney wasn’t in M around that time as “blackbird squawking in the dead of night” just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader. ‘Night time?’ You ask. Well some cows i.e. creative ones with insomnia were also nocturnal feeders, which kills boredom and gives the brain a natural sugar boost in those long dark hours you see (tell me about it). Chickens back then had six inch, toucan-like serrated beaks and preyed on mice and rabbits. These they caught by hovering above hedges and grassy knolls, dropping on their prey and killing it with their deadly talons and then dining using that beak as cutlery. It all started to go wrong for these birds and beasts when Arthur Ferguson began teaching himself sheep wrestling, a predecessor to Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, started in M you see … boring place. Zzzzz. Let’s not forget Bovine Bashing, a predecessor to the now ‘feared’ M Rugby League Club, never mind wimps such as The England Squad.

 

 

The King and I. He offered me a knight-hood; it had a bobble on top.

 

*****

 

For capturing the chickens he left an old wig on the floor and waited behind a nearby bush, armed only with a strawberry net, both of which he had brought in his Aladdin’s Cave of a handcart. Mind you, this hunting method made an awful mess of the hairpiece, which people who saw him hunting thought he wore afterwards, and for good reason. You see he just rubs his head a lot when working out discounts, giving him that shiny bit. So please, should you ever get to meet him, don’t whatever you do say “could I please have the chrome dome discount?” you see it isn’t big, it isn’t hard or even clever and you will definitely blow away any chance of actually getting the huge discount … which he managed eventually to decide on, not to mention come to terms with massive mental and scalp pain. This then was the beginning of Ferguson’s (almost the entire length of) Wellington Street shop. He did very well selling full body sheep wool overalls to the miners as it was freezing down’t pit. This is the origin of the M expression “Woollybacks”.

For the wives he did a nice range of black and white handbags. Sometimes he would do a brown or brown and white designer range for the posher mining folk from such middle class mud tracks as Lowther Road. He also spent time domesticating the animals by strapping splints to their agile legs and, also to the cows’ tails. That is the reason why cows and sheep all walk rather stiffly now. It is a mystery how a gentle man like Arthur managed to tame the sheep, being the ferocious predators that they were. Up t’t North where all this happened, sheep farmers put rowdy sheepdogs in pens with ‘I take no shit from sheep dogs and rams. I reckon, if he had been around and not causing grief upstairs, Sharpo would have been the man to put in a pen with one of these ferocious sheep. There would have been, as Sharpo would put it, blood, snot and wool flying, but you would receive a tamed, slightly traumatised sheep … and so cheap at a groat a time. Can’t you see him in your mind, sat on a furious sheep’s back doing the Woolly Rodeo … sometimes it’s useful being five foot seven. Just think if he had been banished earlier:

God: “I enjoy these woolly rodeos, fills in Saturday afternoons.”

Peter: “Agreed. We should start hotdogs, Butterkist and fizzy drinks.”

The fangs and beaks he evolved by making the animals chew pork scratchings on a 24/7 rota. The pigs were similar to sheep in their habits, yet weren’t I don’t suppose, all too pleased at being the abrasive for fangs? The claws on the sheep and the pigs were dealt with by giving the breeding animals sandpaper boots over the years. Flight in the chicken populace was abolished by …

Feeding them really well and limiting exercise

Clipping their flight feathers and hypnosis

All this history and evolution from M … boring eh!? No town with as much haematite as this one even after the mining finished can be boring. I shall show I don’t care and utter LOL!

The chickens by the way were sold as boilers or roasters (I don’t know the difference) ‘with’ giblets! Because they were good big fit birds, he had a sign on the counter next to them … GM chicken here. It stood for ‘Get More’ chicken for your money here. It was in preparation for the competition. It may have meant something else if he had owned a chemistry set and a devious, sinister mind and, been in another Universe. He also ventured to Haverigg, a small seaside village one mile from M, built a boat and thus created the local whaling ‘fleetlet’. He would sit quietly on his boat and ride the swell and, when he spotted a sperm whale pod (named because of the spermaceti oil which is derived from the beast); he would attract the mammals by throwing bits of bread into the water and waving his arms. He also had one of the first washing-up liquid bottles in the town which, he used to shoot a jet of water into the air just like a spouting whale, in order to attract the pod over for a bit of social spouting.

The bread was made in a clay oven in a baker’s shop on Holborn Hill, by another early settler (and earlier riser), Ken Thompson, a local master baker (great bloke Ken!). The whale meat was sold on the quayside. Local fishwives would cry at his prices, he would say “Oh stop blubbering will you!” another M first (boring eh!?). He would then, because of the recently settled Harveriggite fishwives incessant wailing, drop his prices on some of the less popular cuts such as fins. He would then proceed to lay them out on the boats sail, after first removing it from the boat of course. This clever action stopped the fishwives wailing and, caused a buying frenzy. These frenzies happened in January hence ‘January Sails’. Yet another M first! Zzzzzzzz!

Arthur had been sustained all this time with good cooking by his lovely wife Cissy. I don’t know too much about Cissy’s origins except to say that I once heard a story that she was the runaway daughter of a trader from the American Deep South … The Mississippi Delta to be exact. She became known as … Missy Cissy from the Mississippi Delta. If customers to the shop managed to say it perfectly 6 times, quickly, they received the whopping discount. Arthur would try his utmost to distract by waving his arms and dancing a jig hoping the bemused customer would become confused and lose the discount. Cissy, a generous soul who loved giving THE discount, would just batter him one and, send him sulking into his office at the rear of the shop where, he could spy on people and shop assistants through his mirror strips. They built a big detached house on top of a hill by a track, what is now called Fairfield Road, it has a turret so that Arthur can regularly survey his kingdom (customer base). Cissy and Arthur have two children Mark and David (Dave is one of my biggest fans). Mark’s was a normal uncomplicated birth, except for the fact that his moustache tickled a little … according to Cissy, whom I interviewed under deep hypnosis. Dave’s birth though, during a violent electrical storm, was via an immaculate conception. Dave would agree to this except that by immaculate conception I mean … Cissy used Immac and Arthur was late each time coming home from the shop (which I’ve put down to nerves). Cissy nagged him a little for making her wait but, nonetheless, some souls demand physical life in order to have the experience of giving less discount hence, Dave Ferguson was cruelly unleashed into an unsuspecting consumer world.

Gee! Thanks Cissy and Arthur.

Dave has three nines on his head now, which were sixes as an adolescent and mere threes as a cute child. Well, I think they’re nines now? Or … maybe I looked from the wrong side of his cranial circumference the last time he bowed to me in grateful thanks for something or other? Just for being his friend, guru, mentor and psychiatrist most probably. Who knows? Still perspective can be a dangerous thing depending on how you look at it. For the slower among you the last sentence was a very sophisticated joke. Worry not though they don’t get it in Coventry either. But that’s how it all started, unfortunately though the town evolved so far without any Divine help, maybeeeee ooohhh into the Victorian era? History not being my strong point … then stopped M’lud!

M’lud: “Very interesting Mr Lassut, thank goodness for Cissy and Arthur Ferguson and their huge profitable shop on Millom’s Wellington Street. I think we should give them a free advert at this point”.

 

 

 

KING ARTHUR FERGUSON’S SHOP

WELLINGTON STREET

 

 

Cow handbags ‘still’ a speciality

Buy one, get one FREEsian

Hurry offer ends soon, can’t last for heffer

Farmer’s special: wild sheep training by Sharpo … cancelled.

Comfy horsehair foot cover sales on … while socks last

[* Mentally excruciating 1% discount with this page! *]

(Cancelled if … you know why)

 

That must be the best AD you’ve ever AD Arthur.

It may also be noted here that all the shops in Millom have a secret nookie box, just like all the houses, which contains a lump/s of haematite iron ore, just to get the customers in a good mood. It works best in the chemists, where people go in and buy condoms but forget why, as they just feel horny and lucky at the same time (it’s good business for Relate). That reminds me of an old tale about the French singer Sacha Distel (Raindrops keep falling on my head, cos I left my umbrella right beside her bed, now I’m in a fix, those raindrops keep falling on my head they keep falling. Must get a plastic hat, I know, from Fergie’s shop in Millom …) would, before going to after show parties, rub a handkerchief under an armpit and put it in his jacket tit pocket; it increased his chances. Just imagine if he’d known about Millom haematite. His sweat used pheromones and haematite uses vibration … same thing if everything in the Universe vibrates? Which it does. Even stuff which is –275(?)degrees which scientists say doesn’t move … WRONG!

 

M’lud: “And now Mr Lassut, very good rendition of Raindrops and just before we finish this first session, could you please tell us the reason why the haematite iron ore mines closed back in the sixties?”

Certainly M’lud.

Well ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader; again I have two short versions. The first one being …

“The mines became uneconomical.”

Pretty simple, straightforward and politically boringly official but … wrong and, not to mention … borriinnggg times ten.

The true version which I will now recount was, once again, purchased by my good self using the popular local liquid currency. This time I did really well to hold the memory during a disturbed sleep in someone’s flower bed. As would be obvious any town which relies on mining is sat atop a honeycomb of tunnels. The closure was due to a ferreter of all things. He was out hunting rabbits one day and, found two holes in one of the fields. He had a minor problem though, one purse net … two holes. The problem was compounded by the fact that the holes were ten and one bit feet apart i.e. more than one body length. Hmmmmm! Luckily, he was fairly clever and placed the purse net over one of the holes. The other? Well in it he placed a brick which, was just a weeny bit larger than the hole and, jumped on it until it was about two inches lower than the surface. He then placed clay over the top and patted it down; the Incredible Rabbit Hulk wouldn’t have got out. In went the ferret, over the hole went the net and out came dinner … home went he; happy as a pig in sh …

Well, over time down’t mine shafts, the miners ate their pasties, sarnies, pickles, spring onions, cockles, mussels etc., and in the evenings drank copious amounts of beer. This mixture does have an effect similar to an internal Hiroshima (or Sellafield) on the intestines with, a grand finale the next day. Similar to a reverse wired Dyson cleaner during a power surge. To allow for this a hole had been poked through the roof of a suitable shaft to allow fumes to escape into the atmosphere … it was the unbearable stink which caused the mines to shut down, plus the fear of having lit candles. They didn’t need canaries M’lud.

So who knows what now inhabits the old, cold, long closed mine shafts? Does it / they (?) have a nose(s)? But then again, what does it matter? What is now important is the living community above the surface, the good people of M, not the ghosts in the honeycomb catacombs.

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, it is now eleven a.m. Court will recess and resume again at one thirty”.

Clerks: “All rise for M’lud”.

 

***

 

ANYONE FOR BOWLS?

Millom Bowling Green is the domain of the old wise ones (hold back a little on the wise, you have it). So what would be interesting concerning a bowling green?

This section is dedicated to my old bowling mates Gary Maggs and James Wearing (Mouse).

1.30 p.m.

“All rise for M’lud”.

He sits.

M’lud, before I really get stuck into the Prosecution I would like to tell of the appreciative care given to those who (pear) shaped the town … the M old folk. The loving care given through relaxing sporting activities provided by the Council is second to none because, these are the people who have managed to keep the town well behind the times (with no Divine intervention of course), therefore giving it the edge when it comes to romanticism and dark night ‘Shaw Kite’ lit dinners (pronounced Sh … how … ‘later’) not to mention, an extremely high skill factor in the noble art of ‘bowls’.

M’lud: “Ah yes” Bowls! A very skilful game. What is Shaw Kite by the way? I haven’t heard that term before”.

Ah! All will soon be revealed M’lud.

M’lud: “Oh ok, very well, then carry on Mr Lassut”.

Well M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury and you, of course, dear reader. The older squeaky shoed generation would gather up the Recreation Park during hot, fly buzzy summer afternoons to roll a few jacks and listen, as we did, to the town’s most entertaining bird, an escaped parrot which had belonged to King Arthur, acquired on his extensive global pre-M travels no doubt. It was the only escaped parrot in the town incidentally and, thus very lonely. He would sit there quite happily on his favourite branch, singing one of its many memorised Slade numbers. Everybody in the world, nay, nay the Universe liked Slade, even stupid parents. The parrot’s repertoire was such, possibly because Slade were the only group we ever listened to ‘full blast’ on the gangs Shaw Kite cassette player as, we played on the swings and things. It is a very spiritually enlightening experience listening to a parrot performing a squawky version of ‘Cum on Feel the Noise’. We christened him Noddy Holder (Nod for short) of course.

One day one of our number sent, at great speed, a golf ball down the chip and putt course which, is next to the bowling green. It isn’t an ideal place to see how far you can smack a ball yet, what the hell, we were young and adventurous (live each day as though it’s your last). It reached about thirty feet in altitude which wasn’t bad for the driving device was a bent, wooden shafted putter, quite impressive really. But, the ball caught Noddy in full song, producing a cloud of feathers which looked great in the sunlight as they floated to the ground, making a fantastic pattern both as they floated and, after they landed. How we ever managed not to hit any of the other sensible players still astounds me. We each kept a colourful feather as a bookmark to remind us of our little / middle sized friend. We also had him stuffed then, nailed him to his favourite branch.

 

 

Noddy Holder

 

About a week later a really well plumed, healthy looking female mynah bird turned up from somewhere or other. Possibly again from King Arthur Ferg’s aviary of exotic birds collected on his extensive travels? Well, she landed next to Nod, she must have known about him or, heard him singing because she began to warble a beautiful version of ‘Everyday’ to him. This was obviously a mating ritual, too late for poor old Nod though … thanks to Mouse (a good lad and a big Slade fan), who had to work on his swing after this in case another entertaining Slade espousing parrot happened to turn up. As for the mynah, she must have been listening to someone playing Tina Turner and, we all grew used to listening to ‘Nutbush City Limits’ on a continuous basis as she chatted up Nod, ‘Everyday’ was obviously just a chat up line. It was actually quite pleasing though you know, knowing that we had stuffed Noddy so well using wire and wood wool that, he looked completely lifelike.

One day though she must have just got plain fed up of receiving no response (I’ve had the same problem over the last 30 odd years in more ways than one), so she had one comprehensive final preen and, then flew tearfully away. It’s not that often you see a mynah cry over a stuffed parrot so, on an ornithological basis, we were blessed indeed. One can bet Bill Oddie never observed such spectacles. Whatever though, Tina was no more. So M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, so much for stories of the wonderful natural entertainment I used to enjoy with my friends in my youth and back to boring old bowls.

 

The Bowling Green

If you were to get on all fours and place the side of your head on the ground at one corner of the bowling green and look diagonally towards the other corner, or any other point for that matter, you could see how the crown of the green gave the merest hint of a slope (NOT).

Rumour has it that the ‘Ancient’s Bowling Club’ or the ABCs for short (that was handy wasn’t it), still argue like old wives with the fell walkers for ‘who’ uses the area at any specified time, as pre-booking is not allowed as it would ruin the fun of the arguments for the bored onlookers. There had possibly been, or still is, a massive ironwork’s mine fart gas pocket underneath the bowling area thought to cause such a lumpy landscape. So yes! M can boast its own National Park! A ‘mini Cotswolds’ none the less! Let’s hope the gas never ignites or, that will be something else which will be visible from space, for a few minutes while at least. Or even the world’s first bowling green in space!

M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury and, ‘you’ dear reader, it is said in M pub ‘fuzzy’ folklore and possibly also Oxfordshire’s alcoholic establishments too (?), that it was here on this very bowling green that, Sir Edward Elgar received his trigger and inspiration for the Angina Variations and, not on the rolling hills of Oxfordshire, which cannot be dismissed as, they undoubtedly gave him the inspiration for the later, famous, beautiful ‘Enigma Variations’, although M’s Midland cousins may want to claim the former, more entertaining (?) work. Remember though, the M lot are well prepared to fight for them! Can you good people though believe that Ravel wrote his Bolero on Millom bowling green? He was on holiday there and just got the urge from the haematite deep below the bowling green. You don’t have to believe me, but try this one. In one of the pubs I go to occasionally to don a religious uniform (not saying which one) and preach to the customers how bad alcohol is for morals, I told the barman, who is a gold fanatic how I once met a young Seve Balasteros on Silecroft golf club. He was on holiday with his parents and having a day on the lovely beach there (I went fishing there a lot many years ago and played golf). It was before he was a champion and I had a round with him for a bit of fun … it was a laugh. I remember him saying “Hey Frankie my new friend, how you manage to hit ball in a curve into the sea while mine goes on green?”

I replied “FOAD Ballasteros.”

 

However, whatever and, of course, ‘whichever’ Mr Elgar could only walk on the green musing and taking notes from his mind to be transferred as ink blobs (and sticks) on paper when the ABCs were not playing. No room for bloody ‘pomp and circumstance’ with the bowls club mob! Oh no! If he bothers them too much he’ll have his Nimrod inserted where the sun don’t shine. I hear that some of them can remove their teeth quicker than Bruce Lee could punch and, then at the same blur speed, administer a sloppy suck to the victim’s neck, leaving a multi-coloured erotica-less love bite the size of the inner diameter of a toilet roll tube. So M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, now that you know, never be tempted to write music on Ms bowling green, use one of the seats dotted around the edge (but beware of low flying golf balls) … U have been warned!

I very recently (2002 … seems like ancient history now … it’s now 2015, four days off 2016 … gosh! How time drags) watched the bowls players in the Coventry Sports Centre (they will all be dead now). It’s a lovely arena; deceptively flat with an invisible crown, almost like looking at the curvature of the earth, bathed in fluorescent sunlight … no parrot though, just a few old vultures with quiet shoes. The jack rolled in a straight line, then was placed in the centre of the particular piece of ‘green’ being used by that group. Then the rest of the weighted balls followed. There were some good shots played I must admit, perfect strength to cause bowl and jack to sit together. I talked to someone ten minutes later in the exercise class which I was attending about what I’d seen …

“Yes a lot of skill involved isn’t there?”

This made me wonder just how they would fare on the green back up North. I mean what do you do after the jack has disappeared over the first mound? Or rolled over the foot of the first pillock? The M players were running blind! Were they psychic? Could they see ‘through the hill’? That was just with the jack, which has no weight, i.e. bias on one side of it. But, to get a biased ball to roll smoothly to the side of this little white ball … that’s not exactly skill you know … that’s flaming Voodoo! There weren’t just the hillocks either, there were molehills too, and rabbit holes of course. It was a little like the Teletubbies set after a visit by the local territorials. Yes we tried to play, be it without much skill as such, did Gary Maggs and myself (my child and youth hood buddy), and occasionally Mouse.

During the hiring of the sets of bowls from the clubhouse, the Park Keeper would glare at us suspiciously and ask “did you two nick two four irons, a putter and two reject balls from this establishment to use at Silecroft?” (Silecroft is a local seaside ((last)) resort caravan area and beach, with a large golf course, scared sheep and, a tide that loves hooked golf balls on the first two tees).

“No mister!” we lied.

“Whatever” I’m going to see your parents in the Workies (M Working Men’s Club … local hotspot) on the next Acapella karaoke night!”

That was it then our miserable, wretched lives over (without really ever starting) … on with the game though. The jack, after the initial scop (throw) would end up due west and the bowls, due east near sand city or, to use local terms … M and Haverigg town and village centres respectively. To avoid having to take these long, time consuming, retrieval walks I asked one of the nearby old fogies home resident ‘experts’ how it was really done? He looked at me through his ancient watery eyes and said in a very dry, raspy tone …

“You have to be very, very old and have squeaky patent leather shoes and not move very fast at all. You also have to practice for hours on end, using ancient Hen Buddhism (local farmer version), to train your mind in the art of seveeerrre concentration. If you are immeasurably old and infinite like me, one must cancel weeks in advance all boring family visits which really do make the prospect of hell most welcoming. Yet! Most important of all, try, try, trrrry by whatever means it takes, to get here before that pain in the bloody ass, boring bloody bleeding badass born again blasted displaced Midlands composer. But! If you have to work in order to save thousands upon thousands of pounds to leave to your children (?), you’ve had it because; you will not have time to dedicate to the art of M Hill Bowling.

If the rabbits bother you, you must pay one of the locals to either ferret them out (watch it!) or, blast them to bits with a shotgun and then fill up their holes. As for the moles, we keep them underground by soaking their hills with twelve times normal strength nitric acid. You must be careful not to get the acid on your fingers and then go to the park toilets.

It also helps your ‘see through the hill’ eyesight if you stop in the rest home and actually drink the food they serve as; it contains lots of tasty radioactive Barium trace elements which help the nursing staff to monitor our sloth like inner movements by stripping us off and watching us closely in a dark room. I’m actually live on Russian satellite radar as I lecture you” (he didn’t actually say that but it sounds good). Then his mind flipped and he went into automatic normal ‘non-divine intervention’ mode …

“Huh! Don’t know you’re born you young uns! Get a proper job and keep off OUR bloody crown bloody bowling green until you are a crusty dusty!”

“Is that all?” I asked on behalf of both/all of us.

“Not quite my son, you must also be a jammy old sod with great consistency and, occasionally roll your ball with some vigour at other groups … ‘groupings’, smashing up their formation! It annoys them, keeps one young. If they complain and start shouting you must yell back … ‘sorry! Very sorry ladies and chaps!” in a slow raspy voice then continue with … “I was just trying to hit the composer Elgar who had snooked onto the green when it wasn’t his turn and, was striding dangerously close to your pack … humming some new tune. They usually end up thanking you for this … ‘thank you so much for saving our balls!’ They say. If they’re really grateful you are then in line for a free raspberry flavour fizzy Barium drink, with a dash of the old M balm fluid to give it a little bite, like a Bloody Mary with atrocious attitude. Nice to sip while you’re reading the well-worn Tibetan book of ‘Death and Hereafter’ back in the common room”.

“Oh! Right then”, I replied, “so we’ve got no chance of ever getting a weighted ball at a competitively measurable distance from the jack then? Because we’re far, far too young, practise not nearly enough, will have to get a ‘proper job’ soon to be normal and, woe of woes, we don’t have squeaky shoes, dry skin, a raspy voice, liver spots, watery eyes, family plundered pensions or, dust on our clothes?”

“That is correct my son. Now would you both kindly buzz off out of my way, I’m trying to impress that young filly over there”.

The young filly was old enough to be my grandmother! It was the first time I’d seen a 110 year old trying to impress a 90 year old by showing her what he could do with his bowls. Hmmmm! My grandmother Nellie Irwin! I must mention this wonderful lady M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, because she was very important to the town and therefore this story. First though a little, ‘little’ known local history.

Around the M and Haverigg peninsula lays a shoreline and an estuary. The water had to be halted in its tracks at certain places both to avoid the flooding of the mines and the ruining of people’s living room carpets, literally.

Now, as local Royalists thought Arthur to be their King … Ferguson that is, not Pendragon. Mr Pendragon by the way was the first and last King to own a lottery company (think about it), now there’s a bit of history for you. However, the Royalists felt that he, King Fergie, had the power to halt the troublesome tide so, a strategy was devised by the keenest royal supporters, who were afraid of the carpet wetting effect of rogue waves. King Ferg’s most loyal supporters were the ones who ‘refused’ the discount by the way. The strategy was simple; he was sat on a deckchair throne on the marshy shorefront in order to demand the tide go no further than his feet … he got his socks wet, his trousers wet and his Ys wet. He would have got his nose wet too if they hadn’t waded in and rescued him. He was so grateful that he had acquired his clothing at trade price from a passing merchant with HIS Royal automatic ‘doozer’ of a discount. His Kingship was merely dampened, not destroyed, by this small tidal, TsNo-nami tragedy. All Arthur did to save his reputation was, firstly not panic and, secondly suggest the construction of the Banking barrier and the sea wall (the blocks) after which, he was almost sainted much to the jealous rage of the Reverend whose divine (!) self we shall meet later … guaranteed.

(By the way some information for all you relic hunters in Court today, the Holy Grail is in King Arthur Ferg’s kitchen, it has Malvern Sea Salt engraved on its side, framed by jewels). Trust me. Canute was foolish, he should have had the throne moved back past the high tide mark and then said … “there you go. Now can we go home?”

So, to combat this salt water problem Arthur’s inspired suggestion of a sea wall was built. Part of this defence was constructed next to the bottom end of Sharpo-Ville on the edge of the marshland. It’s called the Banking as I’ve already told you M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … a man-made grassy bank. People have allotments and pigeon lofts nearby which, we will hear about later. I’ll bet you just can’t wait can you. I’m itching to tell you … that’s how much I care.

The other barrier is between Haverigg and another place called ‘white rock’ locals call it the blocks because, it’s made from large cubes of concrete. People dig worms from Haverigg shore and also collect softy crabs and go fishing off the blocks. Lots of these blocks contain specimens of ancient fossils; some of them still have the jack in their hand. On the other side of the blocks there is a water-ski lake / centre. This is very popular in the summer months. You ought to see the guy rowing the Coracle trying to keep that skier on the surface … and the juuuuump! When someone decides to attempt it is an education.

 

 

NELLIE IRWIN

 

My gran Nellie Irwin, namer of Shaw Kite, the town’s methane power supply, ‘working’ a King Arthur Ferguson’s cow handbag and wearing cow gloves. She was also wearing hemp bloomers. As you can see, she’s gorgeous and I was the only grandchild to work that gene, the rest, Christopher and Christine weren’t so lucky; faces like blind blacksmith’s thumbs). My cousin Christopher always reminded me of Aled Jones (oh dear).

 

 

 

Well, my long deceased Gran, Nellie Irwin, would take me for walks along the banking and on the marshes when I was but a cute little thing (and she didn’t mind me playing with my … ding a ling a ling!) which was nice of her. As we strolled along, she would say to me … “David, rightful King of M, move your cute little ass and don’t step in the shaw kite!” A general term she used for the grass fibre wadding from both cows and sheep. I enjoyed it though, the fresh stuff that is, as it felt nice when it squidged through my toes (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it reader; I don’t care if you’re a Christian).

I ought to mention here that when I was younger, on a Saturday morning when my mother wanted to go shopping, she would drop me off at the Workies where my Gran was a cleaner. The beer glasses weren’t cleaned up on the night but, were left on the tables until the next morning when the cleaners went in. I ‘still’ don’t like the taste of beer but, with me being a sensitive and very emotional person to a fault. I enjoyed helping my Gran by making the glasses lighter; I still find beer … ‘funny’ and yeugh! I was a happy child on Saturdays and, because of this, the local child psychologist would come to ‘me’ for a session, boy did he have some troubles I had to help him sort. Gran if you’re aware of this writing which of course you are, thanks xxx.

The shaw kite she warned me of was quickly claimed as Royal property. Arthur had employed a number of bored teenagers who have just left school and were therefore looking for something to do in order to earn rabbit skins for their mums to make new clothes etc. Arthur sent these manifestations of keenness out into the fields with bags of miniature billboards mounted on sticks. When they find a fresh country pancake they claim it much like a conqueror of Everest would claim victory over the mountain. The boards say … “Royal Poop! Property of King Arthur. Hands off!”

Thus rendered safe it is later gathered by one or more of his heraldic shop assistants, placed in large refillable 48 hour jars, or larger one week size blue barrels (later copied by Calor) and used as the towns power supply … Methane. You have electricity, but in M, forgotten by God …(are you having a laugh O great Divine one?). People then had two choices of lighting. The poor generally used this natural Methane, whilst the middles generally used candles. They wouldn’t be seen dead with a jar of kite on their living room windowsill, not even if it were obscured by the light reflecting talent of a net curtain. Our gang’s cassette recorder had a jar of the stuff in full view; the middles hid their kite under a floral tapestry silk blanket. So that was it, Nellie Irwin, MY Gran, the labeller of the town’s energy supply. Get your refillable jar or barrel of Shaw Kite from Ferguson’s!

Back to the bowls then M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … we, Gary Maggs (sometimes Mouse) and I, realised then what the trench around the hills was for. It was to stop ‘our’ bowls speeding off the side of the green and onto the road, therefore stopping a grisly accident should the local rag and bone cart, pulled by the local horse, Peg (on a bit of a side earner), come trundling by.

Cars?! What? Come on! This is a small Northern town back in the days of Slade and forgotten by God. Someone local had just invented the pushbike but, no one had the heart to tell him the bad news about the age old Starley technology from Coventry. He later moved to London and invented the clockwork radio but, only because he thought that London was like the North therefore, batteries, unknown to his conscious mind, were still a concept, existing in another realm … awaiting their cue … ‘necessity’.

That’s the end of my care in the community through relaxing activities provided by the Council M’lud, but may I add something?

M’lud: “Go ahead Mr Lassut.”

 

Thank you M’lud. This photograph is proof of the Millom person’s unfamiliarity with the ‘metal horse’

 

 

Bananas an orange and a bow … seem to stop the tin beast getting wrathful.

 

This M’lud is the usual effect a car has on a local; may I pass it round the jury M’lud?

M’lud: “Of course Mr Lassut, it’s amazing! Well, Mr Lassut, what a very extraordinarily interesting way of taking part in a game of bowls and, how nice to see such good positive interaction between the aged, crusty, dusty, squeaky shoed mob themselves and the younger socially conditioned generation. How nice also of your Gran Nellie to have named the lower common classes lighting and cassette player fuel supply. I’ve played bowls myself but, only ever on the normal surface, I must visit Millom and try my hand”.

Just you watch out for relatives of that composer Elgar M’lud.

“I will Mr Lassut. Well now everyone, it is 14.30, Court will recess for one hour, back at 15.30, I’m famished”.

“All rise for M’lud!”

 

***

 

Monday 15.30

Court Clerks … in perfect unison (still drunk from the night before?) …

“All rise for M’lud! (Hic)”

He sits.

M’lud: “Hello everyone and welcome back, what’s next on the agenda Mr Lassut?”

Well M’lud, I would like during this session to praise the natural, prolific, inventive creativity of the good people of this ‘End of the Line’ town who, sadly know nothing of what financially satisfactory good fortune may exist for them in the outside world. Yet, despite this non-perception their self-contained product list is nothing short of amazing and, I feel sure that this talent pool should be recognised in the outside world, maybe for the ‘good’ of the outside world?”

M’lud: “Very well then, carry on Mr Lassut”.

Thank you, M’lud. Well ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, I would now like you to cast your minds back once again to the days of Slade, to the days when Dave Hill wore fantastic costumes and when everyone thought that guy with the moustache from the group Sparks was weird. Then, as always, the inventors, the creators, made sure the world kept turning because they knew that the day they refused to accept and act on the inspiration they received, despite all the ‘negative things’ people said to and about them concerning madness, the world would cease to ®evolve, hmmmmm? The strange thing is M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, every human on this planet is a powerful creator yet most choose to deny or even remain ignorant of the fact through no fault of their own. Parents, peers and teachers can and, usually are, unwitting, closed minded terrible enemies (there is no worse enemy to this planet than a closed mind).

All human knowledge is nothing more than remembered memory. We ALL know ‘everything’ … scary or what! Yet not as scary as a system which would create closed minds and suppress that knowledge. However, this small forgotten Northern settlement, M, has its fair share of actual ‘realised’ genius (although they don’t see themselves that way, it’s just normal). The only trouble is a lack of communication with the outside world which would give these people a chance to spread the inventive wing and, share what they have with the rest of the world.

Well, I mean, look at what the press had to say about their main arterial highway, I quote:-

“The main road into the town passes through two farmyards.”

Hmmmm? Does this little observational remark, fact or not (?), which was displayed in the National press put valuable people off visiting? It is said as though such geographical features are a crime in themselves. “Yes this road obviously passes through Hick-ville … keep out whatever you do! The Beverley Hillbilly’s poor cousins live here!” Oh what a pity everyone doesn’t live in big cities with all their refreshing delights. Crime on the streets; trash covering the streets, muggings, murders, gangs of hoodies walking around intent on destruction and assorted lunatics racing around in fast cars; and walking the pavements. Cities!? Breeding grounds for crime and ignorance! But … each to their own.

I class myself as fortunate indeed; I have / have had both. Yet you may choose and a very good choice it is too … to live in a small town, surrounded by idyllic countryside and with the sea right by your side but, whatever you do, watch very carefully where your main through road is laid … tut tut! But come on now M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader what could be handier for fresh untampered farm produce. Indeed! For eggs, potatoes, vegetables and hooved things … how about a cow for the deep freeze ladies and gentlemen of the Jury? Hmmmm? I know you good people may find such a task easy to accomplish? Have it butchered and delivered perhaps? Just a phone call away; am I correct? You take it for granted? You wouldn’t in M. You see, in God forgotten Hicksville things are done differently. Oh yes.

For a start you pay the farmer not the butcher then you go and collect your cow, which is guaranteed to be extremely fresh by the way, straight from the field fresh! The farmer, whose new found fortune goes straight to his head, goes straight to the pub with a wine to water conversion latter day ‘mini miracle’ buzzing around in his conscious mind, posing as a good idea! (Although he’s careful not to leak this in case the Reverend finds out and has him exorcised or worse exercised … whichever is cheaper).

Ok, I’ll admit this ‘serve yourself’ method may sound a little perplexing but, fear is not an option, especially if the customer is famished. The farmer, by his very nature being a generous soul, especially with blunderbuss pellets for trespassers, will allow the customer to use his sheepdog and his spare whistle, for a small deposit on the whistle that is, just in case it is accidentally swallowed should the person trip while running! Luckily the local sheepdog’s multi-skill (saves on wages / dog food) and do other breeds too, because the fun starts when the customer wants a multiple ‘rural pick ‘n’ mix order’ – i.e. a cow, bull, a sheep and two pigs for instance. The procedure is usually as follows:-

Pay the money – farmer disappears. The customer ‘confidently’ enters the field with dog and whistle. The animals, not surprisingly, sc – a – t – te – r.

 

Cow: “Look out ladies! Everybody! Pick ‘n’ mix I think!”

Customer still looks confident, yet worried.

Customer: “Come by lad” … tweet!

Dog: Stops playing and follows instruction; ‘come by’ is a common one which it recognises but, the customer only thinks they recognise (duuuh! It’s turn right isn’t it?) … “Woof! Yelp!” as it runs obediently into the fence (very human).

Customer: “Go hither lad” … tweet tweeeeeet!

Dog: “Woof! Wuwu … woof woof (what?) Hehhehhehh … ehhehhehheh” (panting). Just runs anywhere, snaps at a fly, sniffs a kite (shaw), wee wees on a nettle, too close, Yelp!

Customer: “Come thither lad! Lie down!” … tweeeeet tweet tweet!

I know what you’re thinking M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader and, yes, it does make Drabble’s Mob look organised (Phil Drabble used to present ‘One Man and His Dog’ years / eons ago).

Dog: “Yelp! Hehhehhehh … ehhehhehheh?” As it hits the fence again.

Customer: “Go awer yonder lad!” … tweeeeeeeet! Tweeeeeeet! Tweeeeet!!

 

This goes on for some time, meanwhile, the cows and other edible (?) quadrupeds are sat in a group chewing chlorophyll and watching the action. Eventually the dog, face crisscrossed with wire burns and its little scrotum tingling with nettle venom, gets fed up! Who could blame it? So, making a conscious decision to, from that point on, live a life of ‘bliss’, decided to run off and go rabbiting.

The confused customer is left with no choice but to give chase to his or her quarry on foot (like in the good old days of loin cloths and grunts … and Raquel Welch!). Hours later, after some good healthy fell running, a bunch of amused bipeds i.e. the rest of the family, turn up, knowing instinctively what has happened (again!) and surround the (now depressed) goods. All in all, a good healthy days shopping which, by the way, I have decided to place in this section and not in the shopping section as, it is pretty inventive you must admit M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, in a ‘shaw kite fridge’ filling sort of way. Mind you, all Sharpo did was go out with his lurchers, which are pretty good fridge fillers too.

The other point I would briefly like to take up here is the statement accompanying that about the farmyards made by PC Glyn Griffiths (I know Glyn!) …

“A lot of families are related by marriage one way or another.”

?????????

I hope the PC isn’t trying to imply here that … Nooooo! The people in M do not have misshapen heads and play banjo, the only bent objects in town being … (nick nick?)

So M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … one main road! As for the town centre itself, one bridge in, one bridge out, too durn big! To shake it all about! Yow! And one ‘Bridge Café’, thank you Mr and Mrs ‘Russell’ Townsend. Yes! As good as ‘cut off’ from civilisation as we know it! So … how would the big wiiiiide world ever learn of the completely un-versatile Gammawave oven for example?

I will now verbally list for you the Jury and you the reader just a few of the fascinating local inventions from this one horse town. If any of you good people are business angels or, just fancy a dabble with your nest egg it may be worth you taking notes for future reference.

 

1: WIND POWERED FLIGHT (Circa 1980) … (for Chris, Freddie and Arthur)

Freddie Hunter, a rich Haverigg farmer, actually made the first Cumbrian one horsepower flight. Good old Freddie! Mate of mine … honest. It’s 1 a.m. and Peg’s at home in bed, she doesn’t do night flights. Yes that’s iced tea (and Fred’s the Pope!)

 

 

Local Hero of Haverigg (just outside the border of Millom)

 

The horse, called Peggy, who we’ve already briefly met by the side of the bowling green, was a rather suspect buy from an ex fairground gypsy, an ‘old’ mate of mine called William Taylor, better known as Sir William of Haverigg … knighted by King Arthur for services to Hick town entertainment. He now renovates fairground organs, beautifully it must be said. Do bow in his presence if the fancy ever takes you but, never when you’re stood in front of him looking away, cos he’s quick I hear. He one lazy late summer evening in the Harbour Hotel in Haverigg, over some of the last of the previous delivery beer, recounted the story of Peg’s ‘surprise’ conception.

Listening intently were Fred, Craggy, my uncle Arthur and various other omnipresent local yokels. He told, in all honesty, how she had been sired by the Greek God Thor’s magnificent stallion. The romantic episode had occurred during a holiday which her, Peg’s mother that is, had been enjoying immensely in Athens. She had tagged along as William’s companion in the absence of any friends. I should make the point clear M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader that I mean William was devoid of friends; the horse had plenty.

Well, she had felt extremely thirsty through trying to keep up with William on perpetual motion Ouzo sessions and had wandered off in search of water. She synchronistically found a handy trough just adjacent to the Parthenon and, proceeded to stand innocently in front of her stone oasis, head lowered, slaking the craving. Now, according to William, Thor (Virgin flight 2347834 probably) just ‘happened’ to appear in the sky from behind a bank of ‘well fluffy nimbus clouds’ riding proudly and with great skill his fine handsome stallion. They landed, did a little ego rearing around for a while to impress the crowds, received a round of applause and … but then, it, maybe, perhaps, things would have probably, possibly, have been different if … but …

Thor neglected to tie him to something immovable e.g. a 50 ton earthmover before appearing in a ‘dis’ sort of way into a local boozer to slake his tormenting thirst or more to the point, maybe? To calm his troubled mind? Because I actually thought it would be damp flying through clouds so, why get thirsty? Just lick up the drips as they fall off your nose, like snot when you have a cold.

M’lud: “Mr Lassut! Yeugh!”

Sorry M’lud.

M’lud: “Carry on but get yourself a hanky please, just in case”.

I will M’lud, where was I? Ah yes …

The bored stallion to put it simply, was way short of a little entertainment and ‘love’. You see Gods such as Thor tend to not be luvvy duvvy huggers, mane caressers, sweet talking horse whisperers or, soppy hoof holders, this is just in case their mates see them and take the P. High SS, which can play havoc with the weather to say the least, so as humans, we’re damn lucky the Greek Gods are hard. Yes the stallion was feeling lonely, unloved, unhugged, ungroomed, unwhispered to and very, 101%, bored. Not to mention as horny as a … as a … hmmm … bored stallion! This was the wrong state to be in when he noticed, in his amplified peripheral vision, this pretty female, with nose immersed in the refreshing water trough, her eyes closed in ecstasy(!?).He did really well not to clip clop as he (snooked up) approached, breath held, with no intentions of chatting up or foreplay I may add!!! (I may also add foreplay is great). Well no one likes rejection do they? (Also it’s hard to masturbate with hooves, I would guess, having never tried). Because owner William had been on the Ouzo all day when this event happened plum direct in front of his schnozzle, the story was a little suspect to ‘all’ the wise Haverigg folk … “Our families have had doggy goods problems with Fergie in the past, so we’ve learnt our lessons and we’re not falling for it again!”

 

 

A Lovingly made model of Peg who went to God and St Peter some years ago. Modelled showing her lovely personality.

 

 

Well ‘all’ that is except the world wise Freddie Hunter who, was always milking when Ferg was selling. He snatched the unbelievable bargain quicker than you could say shaw kite! The locals called her Suspect Peggy or, Peggy Sus because of her dodgy origins. Her pedigree name became Peggy Sus Haverigg Farmer following in the great British poncy tradition of having stupid pedigree names for interbred animals. The whole idea behind the historic maiden flight was due to the fact that Fred couldn’t be bothered to walk home wobbly afternoon after afternoon, night after night, after week after month … ad infinitum from the Harbour Hotel (owned by my old guitar student Chris Mayne). Now, as she couldn’t outrun the local op cart to save her life (pulled by a penny farthing’ed End of the Line officer I may add). “Outrun the cop cart? Why would a horse want … ?” You ask M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader?

 

 

That’s Chris and myself with Freddie looking on jealous of Chris for knowing well the ‘rightful’ King of Millom (don’t tell Sharpo, he may want to defend his crown jewels) … Freddie is actually hanging off a coat hook and that’s iced tea he’s supping.

Well Peg likes a few bevvies too you know, like mother like daughter, alas though drinking and trotting in charge of a merry ‘hic!’ farmer is an offence for rural horses up North in Hick-ville so, in order to avoid him being pulled over and hassled, Fred was given a useful gift, a beautiful set of almost fairylike gossamer wings for Peg. The frames were made by my late uncle Arthur Irwin who, was a skilled carpenter, from plywood and bent coat hangers with the main wing ‘skin’ provided by split flattened out condoms. Arthur actually had the ingenuity to remove and discard the rubber rings, no point in having the extra ballast. The condoms were stitched together with ‘catgut’ because, to glue them would have involved killing Peggy to make such a fluid and, as she was the only horse in two neighbouring towns come villages that would have been a little stupid even for End of Liners. I mentioned before that Peg has lots of friends so, how is this if she is the only horse in town? Well, horses can be friends with other things, animals and humans too and, of course, they make a better job of making friends than humans. Yes the day was saved because there are always plenty of cats with guts wherever you go, one less now though. The fur was useful too, as a tea cosy in the Harbour Hotel kitchen and Chris always goes to local fancy dress parties as … “Evening Chris! Davey Crocket again! How original!”

 

 

Chris and Freddie, that may seem like a light about Freddie’s head but it’s actually an off centre halo, due to a bad camera angle, that’s ‘another’ pint too! About 2 a.m!

The wings were fitted one Saturday afternoon in the beer garden after Fred had carpet bombed his liver and had had to return home to the mansion to do the milking. Peg had, under protest, been put on a shandy for this occasion. Fred was loaded onto Peggy in a non-elegant ‘Quixotic Knight Errant’ yet very entertaining sort of body jumble, not helped at all by her wobble, thirty seven pints on one third lemonade shandy you see. Satisfied then with his illusory balance when finally mounted i.e. his wobble luckily synchronising with hers and, happy that his shoelaces were tied securely together with good knots under Peg’s belly … a kind of crude safety harness just in case the natural ethyl influenced telepathy failed. All systems were ready! Mission (out of) control were all sat on the wall by the river ‘Lazy’ waiting, with baited breath and, a complimentary jug of Slalom D lager champagne substitute should the take-off be successful … however no one gets lost on ‘their’ shift! The take-off sequence was initiated i.e. her rump was smacked by Chris. This is a local form of motivation enjoyed by many of the local fema … never mind! Luckily because Peg wasn’t exactly pulling a ton up, the tide was on the way which provided a good headwind from the shorefront. At an estimated 3 mph Peg raised her nose from the ground and pointed it forwards, a precursor to Conk-Corde. Sufficient wind beneath her wings … they took off and were soon a mere dot in the cloudless blue sky. There was a big cheer from mission (out of) control and the Slalom D was polished off preceded by the chinking of pint sized champagne flutes with celebratory gusto!

Because Fred knew nothing of flap control in rising thermals, save those produced in abundance by mild and other assorted brews and pork scratchings, they were at first blown totally out of control across the channel (a local stretch of water belonging to the Irish Sea) and over Barrow in Furness. It was lucky the pair were not forced to land because Peg would have ended up as Cordon Bleu on plate animal protein; horse being the stable (staple!) diet in Barrow. However he managed in his panic to produce an excellent artificial draught of warm ale conditioned air. This saved them and, as a result, they swept around the marshy Duddon Estuary, over Clive Procter’s residence (The Green). Clive, a shooting man and ex Round Tabler, ‘missed’ with both No 6 shot, twelve bore cartridges, swore and, in anger almost shot his next door neighbour Poggy’s dog. The dog actually bit him in anger which was lucky really because if he’d copped Peg she’d have been after his head on a plate.

 

 

 

 

My old bud Clive, above (he died October 2007) below is Poggy

 

 

 

Poggy being the local doctor he gets to prescribe many herb medicines, secret hick potions and a little witchcraft! It must be said they are pretty healthy up there. Good old Pog! Pog was a miracle healer. He had a stutter, and by the time he had told someone what was wrong with them, they were better … he didn’t half piss the pharmaceutical companies off.

 

***

Little supplement:

It’s 2011 and Poggy recommends that my mother lay her car aside because she’s been diagnosed with dementia and the memory is going, however, the inner anger is still there and she isn’t happy, so she says … “He’s took my car! I hope that ****** burns in hell!” ... She can be forgiven I suppose as she has the demented, worry produced disease, which when mixed with a practiced acid tongue … (she actually always liked Pog). Poggy dropped dead two days later.

Another little supplement: This is of a shooting flavour.

My uncle Arthur was a very good shot in the army, something which he carried on after he left. He had a .22 rifle, liked a pint, and landed a cushy number at the prison. He told me that he would take the bullet rifle to work and, when it was quiet (he had a silencer too), would shoot the rabbits on the patch of grass … then sell them in his shop. Fresh Local Rabbit … he had to skin them because they had Property of HM Prison Haverigg showing naturally on them.

It is maybe worth saying here, that as Haverigg ‘village’ is a mile away from Millom ‘town’. Haverigg is classed as a fishing village and not a mining town. Once upon a time, the people of Haverigg with the men fishing and the women fish gutting (they hailed from Grimsby, not Cornwall) wondered how to multiply because the fish gutting women weren’t very attractive to the fishermen. They actually begged Millom’s people to let them each have some heamatite to encourage some hokey kokey so that they may continue as a community. Millom people showed great kindness and gave them all some ore, just so long as they promised to wash off the fish smell before they came shopping in Millom. Such beautiful philanthropy is seldom seen these days.

 

***

 

Eventually they came in to land, Peg kissed the tarmac of Lapstone Road and Fred joined the list of famous inventors in the sleepy, End of the Line town … M. Unfortunately Peggy, having suffered from nerves just a huge amount during her maiden voyage, had dropped some ballast just prior to landing. It was a beautifully timed ejaculation and landed right on the head of a local copper who had just left the cop shop and was plodding around feeling bored. They were arrested and locked up at the pleasure of His Majesty Ferg, who liked Peg and released her immediately, well actually just after dubbing her his by ‘Royal Appointment’, Deluxe Grade AA shaw kite supplier. He then bought the lawman’s unexpected kite, scraping it from his head (he had his helmet off at the time and was scratching his cranium, wondering what day it was) and, sold it at a huuuuuuge profit. But that was it the historic first one horse powered flight which was ‘claimed’ by the residents of M (now I’m going to flip to S-V) because they thought there may be a few bob in it … ‘innit’ hasn’t scaled the wire yet. The few bob would be used to subsidise their DHSS because 1,000 of them are on the dole? According to the press. Were they ‘Wright’? Or-Ville they suffer the consequences of Wilbur-lingly taking what was rightly belonging to Haverigg? (That’s probably a bit clever for most readers M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader).

Years later an actual helicopter came and hovered above the town, all the locals got onto their knees in the Mecca position (as they do with all non-understood technology), making an offering of fresh fruit and chanting incomprehensible gutturals. The helicopter landed and an evil eyed Alien climbed out, it began to communicate with the petrified masses. That though was how Labour got the critical votes to win their historical, sorry, hysterical second term.

Simple drawings in rabbit blood and charcoal of flying machines and ‘lizard’ like things in posh suits can still to this day be seen on some residents’ living room walls. Historians from Cambridge University and Barrow Museum said … “It is not too significant a find but the local beer was okay”.

 

***

 

2: THE GAMMAWAVE OVEN (circa 1977)

This was devised by two process workers from nearby, famous, sparkly, wonderful what would we do without it ‘Sellafield’. Their finished model, constructed from lead then painted Arctic White, with a red door handle was bigger than you may imagine a puny microwave to be, it was twelve foot by nine foot by eight foot. Yes that measurement really is in feet. The body as already mentioned was made of lead and the ‘waves’ were supplied courtesy of two (missing … enquiry!) uranium rods. The oven is placed on the back garden; the item to be cooked is placed on the garden path in a cooking tin because the chef doesn’t want any greasy stains on the concrete slabs. These type of erm … ‘microwave’ ovens, it should be stated, are not affected by metal objects rather, they can sometimes melt them i.e. Hiroshima. The chef opens the door and walks inside the appliance of dodgy science. Then, after checking that there is no sign of the neighbours through the periscope (which comes as standard) the appliance is turned on, thus activating the Uranium in the mini reactor on the top of the oven by bombarding it with Neutrons. There is sometimes the slight problem of the neighbour’s dog or cat coming to investigate the aromatic chicken and roast potatoes with herbs, banking allotment veg, chestnut stuffing and giblets ‘Mmmmmmm’ sizzling away to perfection on the path only to wind up on the menu themselves. This usually causes slight tiffs with the now angry / furious neighbours, resolved in the usual way … an invite to the following evenings barbecue and, a new pet (live hedgehogs can be picked from the road most evenings) hoping deep down that they aren’t the barbie type … be honest. And guess what, they always say …

“Well thanks very much, we can’t actually make tomorrow night (yes!) but, you enjoy yourselves anyway … go on all night if you want to.” That’s cos they hate you too but tend to mellow when you take them a burnt sausage and a can of beer. Whatever.

But, bad news …It is thought that the S-V / Sellafield Gamma wave oven didn’t take off commercially, only because it wouldn’t fit on a kitchen top, damned bad luck really. Blame the British weather.

 

***

 

3: THE WOODEN HORSE OF TROY SCONNER (circa 1995)

This is so close to the truth, it is the truth. Built by Sconner in his bedroom much to the displeasure of his wife; an equine phobic. The problem was, or so I was told, it was too big to get out of the bedroom so the window had to be removed, you know like when they have to get obese people out. This four times life sized wooden replica of Peg was simply for sneaking up on the enemy. The project failed miserably as it is twenty four miles to Barrow in Furness with only about ten pubs on the way, not to mention the hills between the pubs. It was abandoned, under protest from Sconner, and shoved into a handy dyke (who screamed ‘NO’ at first, but then begged for more). The mini army disappeared into one of the refreshment centres after first letting out the famous Achillies Sharpo (he was too cuddly to leave behind. Who would run his decorated fairy cupcake business?). It became a spacious luxury home to a swarm of bees.

 

***

 

4: THE SHAW KITE VIDEO RECORDER (circa 1989)

Invented by local video title stockist; another mate, Mr Wilf Hornsby. My cousin Chris wires up houses for Wilf, it keeps the local Fire Brigade busy. Unfortunately for Wilf the television set had yet to reach the North West coast, not to mention electrickery. To this day I don’t know how he eats? Or pays for his huge house?

 

***

 

5: THE BAGLESS VACUUM CLEANER (circa 1999)

Devised by the local spinster sisters; the Dames Ison. These ladies owned a domestic gadget shop in Holborn Hill (like Coronation Street on a slope). Their invention didn’t have a plug supplied but, what is to be expected in a town with no electricity supply … as yet, in the Slade days that is. The claim on the box was … “Comes complete with NO plug”. The device consisted of a very large jam jar with a tube protruding from the base, providing the cleaning head and a wooden rotor fan in the top. So then how does it work? Easy! The owner attaches it to the front of their pushbikes and clever gearing causes it to suck everything in its path, a bit like … never mind.

 

***

 

6: THE POTATO CHIP SOFT WRAPPING PAPER (circa 1932)

This was invented by S-V’s famous ‘Mick the chip’. Unfortunately there was nothing much happening in the town, so therefore no fantasy filled tabloid pages in which to wrap the chips. Mick simply reverted to wrapping his creations in soft toilet roll … solved! Some locals neatly folded and kept the greasy toilet roll and used it later and, as a result, their kecks keep slipping off (underpants, pants, Y fronts).

 

***

 

6.5: THE NOOKIE RAY GUN

 

This was a bit like a hospital X-ray machine. The people who invented it wanted more people to buy baby clothes etc., from their toddler shop, called New Minors (play on the mining theme). It was loaded with a lump of potent haematite and magnifying glasses and mirrors in a metal coat hanger frame. It was fired at local couples who only had a couple of babies to keep the town going. The people who owned the shop also hit them with flour bombs. This told the chemist not to sell them condoms for the next week … sly, but it worked.

 

 

7: THE HOVERCRAFT (circa 1974)

The Sealand Hovercraft was actually built in S-V. My uncle Arthur worked there, the whole area around the factory was strangely devoid of rabbits. The project was abandoned though when an amorous local lad in rutting mood got carried away on a raft of niggling hormonal frustration. The craft was the first thing he had ever been near which was wearing a short skirt, because him being a local, but a ‘non’ rugby league player, he had no chance whatsoever with the local women as genetically acceptable breeding stock. Those propellers underneath could do some damage to the dingly dangly bits, especially at 15,000 RPM. However he was lucky, he ended up as the only twenty five year old bloke (the only bloke actually) with a Brazilian. It wasn’t totally neat but, it was free. He was still frustrated though.

And that M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader completes my short statement on a smidgen of local genius which has been sadly missed by the unlucky outside world. I hope the jury can comprehend the potential of such a boring ‘End of the Line’ place?

M’lud: “Well Mr Lassut, very interesting indeed. I think we will now conclude today’s proceedings. The next session will be tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.”

“ALL RISE FOR M’LUD!”

END OF DAY ONE

(“Mr Lassut, do you think it may be possible for me to have a ride on Peg? Do you have Mr Hunter’s number?)

Why yes M’lud, it’s here in my executive Filofax. I’m sure Freddie won’t mind”)

 

***

 

ONLY A GIFTSHOP OR TWO? DON’T THINK SO, FANCY A SHOPPING SPREE?

 

TUESDAY 10 a.m. – SECOND SESSION

Court Clerks (sober!!): “All rise for M’lud!”

M’lud: “Good morning everybody, Mr Lassut, I hope you all had a good evening. Now then, I see the next thing on the agenda which has led to a good tabloid kicking up Millom’s Northern nethers was ‘hustle and bustle’. Apparently, according to the Courts and the press, poor old Millom has only “a gift shop or two”, which wouldn’t exactly render the town a magnet for shopaholics? So then Mr Lassut, should I bother visiting with my lady wife who, it should be said, enjoys spending my money a great deal, she is a black belt in fact. What would be likely to keep her busy? What is interesting about Millom’s frontline consumer metropolis which separates it from say … ahm? Coventry City precinct? What variety of ware is on offer?”

Well M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader shopping in Millom is a juxtaposition (dictionaries everyone! Ho! Ho!) of both normal and different I suppose. Apart from the usual everyday things like mops, buckets, birthday cards etc., there is a large industry catering for anything the consumer would ever need which hails from the humble cow, bull, sheep, rabbit, pig, chicken or fish, you have literally found your paradise. I could have added horse to that list but, as Peggy is much loved and is also the star attraction at Farnborough every year, no way Jose.

Oh sorry! I do unwittingly tell a fib, my language is all a spin and I don’t wish to be accused of genuine perjury this time by the defence. Peg, bless her non-cotton hooves, is an industry in herself! She not only provides transportation, she supplies every school in Millom with violin bows for the music departments (being cut by the Government. Mind you I don’t blame them, bloody screeching untalented whelps”), manure for heavy duty shaw kite lamps, flowers and vegetables and, not forgetting, lucky horseshoes of course. Peg is to Millomites and Haveriggites what buffalo was to the Wild West.

King Arthur, if you remember made Peg a supplier by ‘Royal Appointment’ which makes her actually invaluable. I cannot, (will not actually), pass this point without telling of Peggy at the Farnborough Air Show. After her first year’s appearance, she was banned from flying over one hundred feet in altitude with attitude (gauged by Freddie’s nosebleed and audible maverick flyers flatulence). It just got a tad too dangerous because her aerobatic display, good as it was, still made the poor old girl nervous, (fear used properly aids us) resulting with her covering the windscreens of the Lancaster (people) bombers and other WAR planes with her fertile bum crud. The side windows of the planes would then open and the pilot(s) would lean out with colourful seaside buckets and spades gathering Peg’s previous feast for their garden, not for power, having electricity in their towns, cities and villages. Mind you this caused some static from Arthur Ferg who had somehow gotten himself invited into the control tower and onto the radio … although he couldn’t understand how it worked without shaw kite? So being Ferg and always looking for a market, he left a free ‘half’ bucket for the hams to try, licking his lips with relish at the thought of 30 years of repeat orders! This letting go of the aeroplane joystick would lead to unintentional low level aerobics where peoples wigs would be removed in the draught and land sometimes skew-whiff on someone’s head, giving the crowd a treble experience of fear, flatulence and a totally new look. But apart from Pegs’ products you can get most things (especially from Ferguson’s) but unfortunately because the town has been dismissed by the outside world, forgotten by God and unjustly criticised by the press and the Police you can’t get electrical goods (as of yet????).

But you can get …

 

WHAT ‘WOULD NORMALLY BE’ ELECTRICAL GOODS

 

Because, as already stated, the concept of moving electrons along copper hasn’t yet arrived, on Summer nights some of the locals go walking and glance across the estuary at the not too distant Barrow in Furness and see the lights glittering away, sometimes reflected in the calm tide waters of the Irish Sea and think … “My! They have big earwax candles and powerful kite lamps over there!” The nearest thing to your electrical normality is the Dames Ison cleaner as mentioned in the inventions section. It does not have a plug but uses power as in ‘Human Power’. The cleaner has been cleverly fitted to the front of a bicycle. A complicated chain and pulley system breathes life into the ‘cyclone’. If the owner can’t balance on a slow moving bike very well they may have problems. There have been many insurance claims, none of them Acts of God of course, the reason you well know. Some of them were actually valid though, where the user has gone tumbling over the settee or worse still, out of the living room window. These acts were caused by the domestic toiler trying to be clever and using Shake ‘n’ Vac. Poggy has had many cases in his surgery of sore toes after the man of the house has refused to lift up his feet when his missus has politely asked him to do so, so many times, such is married life.

M’lud: “Mr Lassut, you did say that this cleaner is constructed from a large jam jar didn’t you?”

Yes M’lud I believe I did.

M’lud: “Good, I like that design, it allows a woman to see the results of her naturally, unconditioned, genetically attributed labours, her birth right, her talent. I may get one for my wife and abort her membership at the expensive Bodystation Gym. She can have her exercise bike and Hoover the living room at the same time. Must remember to lift my fee though, carry on Mr Lassut”.

Thank you M’lud, you can also get … erm, ‘buried.’

 

THE UNDERTAKERS

 

Who are not exactly thriving, so survival strategies are employed to ensure a steady flow of cadavers. They dress up in SAS style camouflage gear then render themselves as invisible in the bowling green’s surrounding privet hedge a couple of hours before sunrise.

Later, when surface temperature facilitates joint movement and the old lizards … sorry … ancient bowlers arrive again for the first time in their dehydrated memories. The grimmer reapers wait patiently until one of the squeaky shoed crew stands with their back to the privet. The Undertaker simply shouts “BOO!” milliseconds prior to the jack being rolled, as there is no point at all in ruining the exciting game once it has begun, may as well sit back and watch the fight and then BOOOO at the end.

The undertakers used to / still do (?) get a Christmas card from Elgar’s family each year. Should the hit be successful clothes from the now ex bowler are donated to the Costume Department of Millom Amateur Operatic Society, narrowing the choice of show to ‘Hobson’s Choice’ for yet another year. You see, you can also successfully shop for entertainment in Millom. On some weekends, when no one has snuffed naturally and, the military trained scare tactics fail, as they sometimes do, in order to avoid any depressing between show / funeral boredom the thespians enthusiastically provide an ‘actoor’ usually John (JR) Clarke … typecast to play dead. They then solemnly, melodramatically have a ‘mock’ burial … well it’s a bit of overtime for Peg as well. It is also the only time that John does not forget his line(s). This is where the term ‘corpsing’ comes from and, also the concept of the Real Fun funeral (think about it). On one memorable occasion, JR asked to be really buried! (It’s the David Blaine in him). He wanted to check out whether his wife Sue would miss him? “Of course she would John!” everyone assured him. His friends told the Reverend that he had died immediately after paying for a large round so could he, the Reverend, bury him before his wife found out and played hell with him? The Reverend Joe agreed and, just to show how much he really cared about JR, he went by himself into the chapel of rest and said a few good words over John’s pauper, paper-mache casket. One week later his wife Sue asked the neighbours if they had seen him because his plates of gruel (all he ever gets and still asks for more) were gathering on the table and no hemp Y fronts had appeared in the washing basket for a while. On finding out (after much asking around), Sue dug him up. Upon the opening of the lid John looked up at Sue from the pocketless shroud and asked “Did you miss me?” she replied “Of course, but have you got anorexia? And where are your Y fronts? Because I don’t want to have to hand wash in the tin bath twice!”

Sharpo was advisor for the Undertakers, because one time after I had espoused a monologue about troubles I had with my dad, who I never really got on with (a fight my mother fuelled), Sharpo’s advice was … “He’s had a heart attack, so if you sneak up behind him and shout waaaa! Or something, he should drop dead, problem solved.”

He also wrote the most down to earth T shirt ever seen in Millom and Haverigg in the eighties. On the back, it said simply, FUCK OFF AND DIE. Again, I thought the Undertakers had bought him it (I tell people now and they laugh).

 

 

John before, or after the funeral? Still wearing the shroud – that’s the Great Midge cairns in the white shirt and Sue, John’s lovely wife, is in light blue.

“He’s up to no good Midge.”

“Smile John, there is no such thing as bad publicity.”

John couldn’t, no matter how hard he tried, get his auto windup Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatch back from the Reverend whom he’d wanted to stop taking from his stiff (limp) wrist but, obviously couldn’t, because he was supposed to be dead. All the Rev said was “God told me that the watch was a gift from your departing/cheating soul to my hanging round soul, so to merely ask for the return of said Divine ‘gift’ will certainly put you on the path to limbo, or worse! If the gift is actually returned. However, here you are, have it back!! With my blessing my dear and precious child. Amen”. The Rev is actually a spinner, and I’m not talking fishing. John of course begged the Rev to keep the watch.

Authors Note: Even though God forgot about Millom, not even such Divinity can ignore the Reverend Joe.

As I was saying … before the folklore about JR came to my mind, the clothes from the ex-bowler(s) are donated to the MAOS, while the wallet …??? Maybe they, the undertakers, leave it at the home for the next of kin? They do live in big houses though don’t they and drive really expensive cars?! And ‘still’ manage to look grim most of the time. This is actually quite an achievement; because they are in competition with … here we go …

 

Dedicated to the Rev Haematite Joe … (he really, really liked me. That used to say likes, but he died … so he still does of course. Actually, he now thinks I’m wonderful).

 

 

WANT TO SAY HELLO TO YOUR SOUL? THEN SHOP AT … ST GEORGE’S CHURCH! AMEN. The Rev’s office.

 

 

 

The hill in the background is Black Coombe. Famous because the summit is where King Arthur first saw Millom. That’s the pitch and putt in the foreground, near the place where the feathered Noddy Holder died tragically, although it was a very good shot.

This Ho! Ho! Ly est establishment is the barbed wire protected switchboard for Reverential (or so he says) one to one with the one who missed them off the map in the first place, yet talks, if a little fearfully, with only the Reverend (or so the Reverend says), who then kindly passes on relevant thou shalt / shalt not, unedited (!?) messages to the flock. This is where some of the residents shop for peace and go a blabbing everything they wouldn’t tell their mum … cos she’d tell the cops, boring them just a little more. Yes folks, the townsfolk are not too happy at all with the Almighty and, you can bet that when it’s all over and they walk through the Haematite Gates (if they are still there, remember Sharpo’s evil deed?) and go straight to Complaints, there is still one resident who feels mucho glee, because …

Where there’s a will, there’s usually a relati … sorry … a Reverend.

 

(A REVEREND WITH JR’S A ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL … A GIFT FROM GOD! To be exact).

 

This is why the Reverend has no trouble smiling in Millom, even when there is a good stiff chilly breeze plus rain coming from the gusset of Haverigg shore, Hodbarrow Point, or the Duddon Estuary. You’d smile too if ‘God’ prayed to ‘you’ and, you also had a watch with jewels to shame the Crown, wouldn’t you M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader? But still! Hell! (Oops! Hail Mary!). A cold wind straight off the Irish Sea, brrrr! It makes everyone else miserable, especially at night when some poor soul finds it necessary to open their back door to put the cat out and let the kids in or vice versa and the wind blows out the living room light.

As the Winter draws in some of the locals i.e. ‘the poor’, huddle in groups around the Reverend’s front garden as they dare not stand on the holy consecrated grass (freezing is one thing, but if a little wrath is thrown in too that could be serious). They’re hoping for Alms i.e. scraps of bacon, bread etc., which he throws into the crowd for holy power amusement between penning profound philosophical sermons. Sometimes if it is really, bitterly, beyond a joke cold, he will open the door and throw out onto his crazy paving, a real gift from God via him the Divinely appointed finger of condemnation, a glowing ember from his blazing antique Dickensian haematite hearth (a goodwill ‘good Will’ gift that one), from which bitterly cold hands may glean a little warmth. “See you all Sunday” shouts the Rev. “Remember now, in the meantime, if you can’t afford bread you must eat cake or starve! God bless me and maybe remember you with great ‘massive’ effort, goodnight!” Through his closed curtains, they can see many people in silhouette, stood talking politely to each other it appears, while the Rev floats amongst this obviously blessed throng. Yes the perfect host, visiting with all of his guests. Occasionally he is seen to sit down and lean over what is presumed to be his work desk … exhausted no doubt? “Oh! Ooooh! The pooor, pooor man” say the shivering ragged trousered philanthropists to one another. Some of the women cry with emotion at being blessed in having such a martyr seeing to their souls needs and tears have been known to freeze on cheeks.

There was one memorable night when a lady with no arms came to a party … this saintly man even entertains the disabled??? Well “HELL!” (Hail Mary!) Where is he supposed to put all the inherited Italian marble statues and polished haematite carriage clocks? Thank God for widows (not Windows, that’s Microsoft or Stormglaze). The armless one disappeared from view after partying constantly for a week (such rock hard stamina), soon after which the Rev had four large crates of money delivered by the postman’s cart, dragged huffingly, puffingly by Peg. I’m assuming it was money because each crate had ‘MONEY’ written in large letters on the top and sides, so I’m told by the Catholic Priest (Hisssss! Blasphemer!) in his chilly living room one afternoon when he was chatting to me about his neighbour Sharpo’s loud rock music, from his Kite CD. The gorgeously huge amount of money received by the Reverend from a deceased relative via the Rev’s personal grovelling butler … God, was for the roof fund said the notice board A4. This was rather confusing because soon after the money arrived, that notice disappeared and this one appeared … I think the first bit is from Bambi?

 

Pit pit pat little April showers … drip! Drip!

 

CHURCH NOTICE

 

WE WOULD BE GRATEFUL FOR THE LOAN OF UN-HOLY BUCKETSTHANKS. RETURN NOT GUARANTEEDTHANKS AGAIN.

 

His Holiness … THE REV

P.S. TO NOT LEND OR, TO TAKE BACK OR DEMAND THE RETURN OF YOUR DONATED BUCKET IS A SIN! BE WARNED!

SATAN IS WAITING FOR YOU.

 

A large bird in silhouette appeared on his living room curtain show one night. To the locals it did not seem to close its wings so, they assumed it must have been waiting for the set bones to repair? The Rev must also look after God’s sick creatures, convalescing after local Vet Rick Brown has repaired them? He is like Saint Francis of Assisi!

Naaaaa.

Eagle style polished haematite lecterns constructed partially from solid gold tend not to close their wings. As for his exhausted leaning on the desk, you have to be really careful doing someone else’s signature, especially by the Gothic flickering (Acme church supplies) candle light.

Cometh Christus Birthdayus festive season, the Reverend really goes to town … to Millom Builders Merchants to be exact, then on his return erects, (Hail Mary!), erm, ‘put’s up’ a full size, donated three star stable hotel in his front garden using the shop assistants as holy manual voluntary labour. He always seems to have three visitors at this time of year … two adults and one half price and, a donkey …

NO PETS, BUT EXCEPTIONS MADE IN SOME EXTREME CASES. PLENTY OF ROOM AT THE INN, BUT YOU FOUR MAY STAY HERE.

Although no one has ever seen them? The local kids are encouraged to visit and bring a trinket as a birthday present for the child. It is stated in the leaflet, pushed through the door flaps of the relevant people.

REVEREND’S CHRISTMAS APPEAL (for the visitors, especially the young BOY child) PLEASE ENSURE THAT ALL TRINKETS ARE MADE OF SOLID GOLD (remember … size matters). PLEASE, NO FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH, WE ALREADY HAVE BUCKETFULS OF THE STUFF IN THE LOFT.

So, the correct kids (no blaspheming Devil spawn please. Thank you) come round the Rev’s house bearing gifts a plenty. They are all allowed to walk onto the path, leaving more cracks in the paving and, then onto the consecrated garden where they leave footprints three inches deep. But, every year without fail, there is a sign on the stable door …

SORRY, NOT IN. HAVE GONE FOR A WALK DOWN HODBARROW POINT, PLUS A DONKEY RIDE ON THE SAND FOR LAAL ‘J’ (tide out, God willing … Moses. King Arthur’s joke not ours ha! Ha! Laal means small, little) PLEASE, AS WE THEREFORE CANNOT PERSONALLY GREET YOU AGAIN THIS YEAR PLEASE PLACE GIFTS i.e. GOLD, GOLD AND GOLD THROUGH THE REVEREND’S LETTERBOX FOR SAFE KEEPING. PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB THE MOST HOLY ONE, AS HE IS WRITING A VERY IMPORTANT SERMON. THANKS VERY MUCH.

J, M & (laal) J and Easter the donkey.

So, as it is almost written Matthew 7:7 “realise you’ve been conned and then you shall receive (unless you don’t” … the flap opens and half a ton of precious metal is tipped quickly through the letterbox. The Rev has lost three vicious, special breed dogs (German Statuegaarders) like this in the past, crushed by the weight of glittering, luverly, juberly gold much to the delight of Freddie Gleaves the postman. The Rev though, to his Divine souls credit, when he can be bothered, listens to Gods confessions before going to bed after a hard nights calligraphy, logging for Southerbys and Jeet Kune Do Kata practice, in case of a fight over goods with the undertakers or (who will rid me of) that dammmmmned Priest!

Pride of place on his dressing table is the gold, diamond and ruby encrusted Rolex Dog Collar stand. He drifts off to sleep hoping that someone in Millom will soon invent the motor car and the speedboat as he is determined to beat the Pope, who is materially, his richest rival.

Good old Rev! Old mate of mine! SERIOUSLY! Has a God like sense of humour!!! A good man! I’ve had some laughs with the Rev. I like him. He wouldn’t harm a fly. He has a heart of gold (had it made as an ornament).

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, Court will recess until 2 p.m. Amen!”

“All rise for M’lud! Amen!”

 

***

 

Advertising feature

‘GOD’

Available for Creative Projects. Anything Considered in ALL Possible Universes Dimensions …

Except in Millom Sharpo would just nick the plant and sell it on.

 

***

2 p.m.

 

THE FOLK MUSEUM

“All rise for M’lud” (hic!)

M’lud: “Welcome back everyone. Now Mr Lassut could you please tell us about the Folk Museum, for a little historic culture shopping. The museum being, according to the press, the ‘Only place worth visiting’; which I personally find hard to believe, although it is sort of given over to the mines so haematite ore does feature. Did Sharpo ever go in to fill up his culture tank and volunteer some time, NOT through the suggestion of a Judge?”

Thank you, M’lud, Ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, the only place worth visiting, of course not M’lud that would be like a politician going on a humanities course.

The lost and alone (chilled to the bone … in a Northern Winter) American tourist couple pay a couple of Millom Croats quid each to get into the place. On the ticket it states … ‘Includes Prodder’. This baffles the pair, huuuh? Until an enthusiastic young lad or lass comes running from the historical innards of the memory mansion and states, with great Northern gusto “Hi, I’m Shelley! I’m your prodder!” They think … “Wow, strange young girl, she has a shadow of a moustache?” The visitors however accept the situation and enter the room. “Mmmmm look dear community bar of earwax soap! Mmmmm old box of matches! Mmmmm Dames Ison’s first attempt! Mmmmmmm … ration … mmm … book! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … pigs bladder … rugby … mmmmmmm … ball?! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzz …

PROD! PROD! PROOOOOOOOOD!

PRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOODDDD!

“Eeeeh! Whaaaaa?! Heeeey!!!! Ohhhhh! Nooo, hmmmmmmmm just another five minssssssssssswhhaaaa …?

PRRRROOOOOOODDDD! House on fire!? Ohhhhh! Ooohhhhh! … Right!

Oh hello, I’m sorry, oooh what!? We’re not in bed, we’re where? Oh, thanks! … Wake up dear … Dear! We’re in Millom Folk Museum! …

Firelighter, half used!! Oh my Gooood! Burning interrupted by the Blitz! Wowee! Hey Dear! Aren’t you glad we came? Wow! Lookee here dear an actual sepia Daguerreotype photograph of Hodbarrow from St George’s! Here’s one of St George’s from Hodbarrow and one here of St George’s and Hodbarrow from Blaaack Coombe! … Oooooohh! Here’s one taken from TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND FEET!

The trouble with this picture that our couple have stumbled upon is … Peg can’t breathe at that height … so ???

M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, here we have another fascinating aspect of Millom which will explain such photographs. This also bears great precedence in the Astro Physicist scientific field …

 

ALIEN ABDUCTION (or … Screw Roswell!) For Brick and Togo.

There is an actual eye witness report but it is locked in a safe in the Reverend’s house (and he’ll keep it secret … Vat- he – can). Unfortunately the reporter was one of the squeaky shoed brigade who fell victim to an undertakers ‘Boo!’ so there was no chance of getting him into the witness box. The aliens did the difficult part I would suppose i.e. reached the earth’s atmosphere, they then it seems blew it. They came in search of two humans, two humans with infinite intelligence and superior scientific minds. Two humans to help save their planet which was on the verge of destruction! They chose Millom and, just happened to be hovering above Wellington Street one night when local lads, Brick and Togo, were coming out of the Royal British Legion Club. I lived opposite the club and saw this through my partly opened curtains … honest! M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader their alien selection committee may be comprised of beings well capable of building a ship which could travel across the Universe like kite of a shovel but, their character analysis on this occasion at least, must have been tarnished by the cosmic equivalent of Guinness (wonder if they have cracked the pouring time?)

In the ‘new abductees’ welcoming room they sat, reading well read, well-travelled magazines (someone had drawn glasses and a moustache on a cover shot of Gillian Anderson). Brick and Togo are brilliant characters, as a comedy duo, would make Stan and Ollie look like a pair of innocent framed Amish pessimists on Death Row with one night left to live. These two heroes weren’t scared though … it was a good break in routinetinetinetine … and the scenery down below looked nice the following morning, admired between gaps in the clouds. Brick was excited I believe because he could see his roof! So I reckon it was he who must have requested the picture in order to show everyone that it wasn’t true that he had a slate missing, especially the girl, Esme Relda Jones, who had given him a can of pop one hot afternoon when he was locked in the stocks outside St George’s church for taking his bucket back (Hail Mary!). She said … “You must have a slate missing for taking your bucket back but, I can’t see you gasping for a drink”.

The church however is sticking to the story that the picture was the work of the Devil and, therefore worth a few pence a week into the tray as protection money (chink, chink. Hee! Hee!) Togo’s roof by the way had a large gaping hole in it! They had been abducted by actual Martians, which I think were / are Slade. It would certainly clear up any doubts about Dave Hill and, not forgetting Noddy Holders intergalactic top hat (mirrors used for light overtone travel). May be not?

They were both taken back in time to the heyday, just before the (playing with genetics and becoming slaves to technology and greed, terrorism and fear) decline of Mars, to save the planet. Ooops! Error! … Look at all these books and programmes now on TV (outside of M) … Mars, the dead planet, say no more. They were then brought back. The Martians came with them as they didn’t really have much choice. It goes to prove that the Jobstart programme doesn’t work on other planets either. They had been missed only by the Job Centre staff, ‘missed’ possibly not being the correct word, as it isn’t always accompanied by relief. Years after the abduction which seemed like a month to the social staff, actually one Millom light year, yet one week in reality … they both marched into the Job Centre and said, in unison … “Sorry we didn’t sign on last Thursday, we were abducted by four aliens collectively known as Slade, taken through a couple of interconnecting curved space interstellar wormholes to Mars. We were taken to Martian HQ and asked to use our intelligence and therefore halt the demise of the troubled planet and, now we’re back”.

The remaining lady, guess who? My mother, the late Joan Lassut! That’s how I know all this, said … “yes lads okay, whatever you say, are you both available for work?” In unison … “NO!” … (gulp).

And the rest of the staff as this was going on? Kill with a stare yet full of fun, Dot Cartwright, lovely Enid Bowes and the late Meg Atkinson, another lovely lady and wife of a local Police Sergeant (!) also passed. Their son, Norman, is now a Police Sergeant! (But now, 2012, I have no idea where they all are). Well, Meg and Dot ran to the loo always and forever in twos, to water their noses and powder the hydrangea and feed the Triffid, only God knows what with? Beef flavoured UB40s dipped in fresh rabbit’s blood perhaps? And not forgetting to check the hen’s eggs which they would try and hatch on the radiator … it was a local non-military coup.

Enid, being an out of town farmer’s daughter and, therefore a consultant on this radiator chicken coup, had had to muck out and milk the cows and climb trees all her life since birth and was therefore, well fed and energetic, with her own unlimited free fuel supply, shaw kite bedside light (!!) had climbed athletically onto the roof, stuff the torrential rain and, nearly fallen through the large gaping hole in the process.

“Oh well … it’s Jobstart then” … said my old girl to the pair. Oh my God … what of the Earth? (Me thinking out loud now). Brick actually contacted me through Friends Reunited, called me names, and then threatened me with death or something. I told him he should be f*****g honoured to be chosen as good enough to be in MY work. He then became friendly, then the next thing I heard, he died … at least now his memory is remembered … he was an ok guy.

Back to the folk museum, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

There is though another odd thing about the photograph. Visitors have commented on the strange and mysterious Ley Line which runs the length of the town. Is it some mystical Sun Worshippers line up with the Pole Star? The landing strip for? (Slade?) Actually it’s a ditch. Cable TV should have checked first.

Our tourists are then prodded into the back room where there is a mock-up mine with a scary dummy of an indifferent looking miner, pipe in mouth and a tape playing of ‘ironworks mine sounds’ Oooh! This is what my dad used to listen to, is what I used to think as I did the pipe. There is also a mock-up of Cissy and Arthur Ferguson’s first living room which makes Angela’s Ashes look like Space 1999. Locals have become inebriated, climbed in the museum window quietly so as not to wake the wife, then wonder why all they can hear is the ironworks in full swing when they wake up in the morning … and why has the missus been out and bought a new ultra-modern settee from Stollers without discussing it with them first? Typical!

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, alien abduction! I find that very exciting you know life elsewhere. Shopping, I must admit sounds like fun in Sharpo-Ville”.

Oh it is M’lud, even for the lonely.

M’lud: “For the lonely? What do you mean Mr Lassut?”

Oh M’lud, this is a subject close to my heart. You see M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, with such a small closed community; it is very easy to get left on the shelf. Elbowed out of the matrimonious stakes, especially if you don’t play certain rough and tumble games with a certain amount of vigour, which I will describe after this little quip. The fact is, the population at last count, now in 2003, was 8,000. Not many at all as compared to most places. That is … 3,000 of the younger generation and 4,998 married / engaged / courting adults … which leaves ‘two’ lonesome folk, whom as luck would have it are male and female of roughly the same age. For privacy’s sake and to hide embarrassment, we’ll call them Kevin and Doris. So just for the likes of these two, Millom boasts …

 

THE IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO Dating Agency

Shopping for Luuuuurve! This is something Sharpo never needed, but I’ll tell you about it anyway.

Very easy to use, the weekly ad appears in Fergie’s shop door window (near his secret, shop enhancing nookie box). Are you lonely? Looking for that one ‘special’ person? …etc. The letters were dropped in secret into a locked ballot box in Fergie’s shop. Each Wednesday they were opened and read enthusiastically by Arthur. Details of the prospective lovebirds were taken, including the address of course and, the matches made through the supreme knowledge of his subjects. The ‘this is me’ letters are then given, in plain brown envelopes (under strict secrecy) to the Postman, Mayor … Freddie Gleaves, who then delivered them to the prospective couples homes (under strict secrecy) disguised as a window cleaner. The replies were dropped secretly in a box in Fergie’s shop were delivered by Arthur (who doesn’t read these particular sets of private romantic coo-ings) in plain brown envelopes, to Freddie once again, who … once again (under the strictest of secrecy), disguised as a milkman, delivered these little bits of human heart to the prospective couples homes.

I would hazard a guess that the letters contain things about the couples likes and dislikes etc., and, most importantly, what they will be wearing when they meet on the wall outside the Harbour Hotel. The only rules are and, they are good ones, no second names in the correspondence and no Daguerreotype means of identification. This helps keep that element of surprise when the couple meet. The cost of using the agency by the way is £25.00 per week.

M’lud: “Isn’t that a little steep Mr Lassut?”

Well M’lud, it’s worth it, wait until I tell you what they get. Think of part of the fee as a worthwhile payment to Arthur for running such an agency of bliss production. It is also greatly encouraged by the Reverend who has a marriage in mind, a nice little earner.

So then Kevin and Doris meet on the wall and oh boy, do they like each other! They then walk into the Harbour and are met by Chris, all dolled up in his chef’s gear, they are sat in a romantic candlelit corner, well away from the dart board. The delicious gourmet meal is then served.

 

THE IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO MENU

Starter

Prone Cocktail

(Not written on the menu but … Prone is not misspelt, it’s actually the recommended position to take as you down this drink in one … a little warmer upper).

A mixture of gin, whisky, rum, coconut milk, Worcester sauce and a dash of St George’s Church altar wine.

(Not on the menu … courtesy of the Reverend … a little pre-marriage blessing perhaps? Hmmmmm … if you like each other enough).

Or Soup

Locally caught eel, jellyfish, plaice, mackerel, dogfish, edible seaweed and dickey crab chowder.

 

Main Course

Rabbit and Banking allotment vegetable casserole with Woodalls of Waberthwaite Cumberland Sausage. With a side salad and clay cooked gypsy style hedgehog.

Do I see mouths watering among the Jury? Dear reader?

M’lud: “I’m feeling rather peckish Mr Lassut”.

Me too M’lud, what a wonderful menu, just look at the afters …

 

Sweet

Lakeland Vanilla Ice Cream.

(My note … simply the greatest!)

Coffee and Mints.

 

And the evening draws on, are Doris and Kevin getting on well together? Remember there is a lot at stake. The dating agency depends on these two peoples continued support. It is unbelievable actually because the couple both worked in Ferguson’s shop and, have actually fancied each other for ages but have been too shy to say anything in case of a humiliating rejection and, had therefore actually given up on the idea and decided to look for other people … ‘Oh! This is just too good to be true!’

The Reverend however wants a marriage but, because it is good business for Arthur and Chris, a little, sorry large, underhand manipulation (learnt from a Government secret dossier, takes about 45 minutes to read) is put into practice in the shape of a secret beer brewed by Chris in his bedroom. It is a bitter brewed to 11½ % ABV and, has the essence of a little flower added to it for such a romantic occasion.

Kevin receives one after the other, in celebration of such a lovely, marvellous, memorable date … nine pints of ‘Forget Me Not’ bitter, while Doris receives eighteen halves.

Master of the house Chris …

“Another pint of Forget Me Not? Certainly Kevin”.

At the end of the night, the couple are loaded onto Peg and carried home where they are sat, by Freddie, against their respective doors. Somehow they wake up in their beds late the next morning with crashing hangovers and, of course, neither can remember anything about the night before. The whole process then starts over again.

M’lud: “Very interesting Mr Lassut. Did you by any chance ever use the service?”

Quite a few times M’lud.

M’lud: “Any luck?”

Never received a reply M’lud.

M’lud: “That’s very strange for someone whose face makes Tom Cruise’s look like a blind blacksmith’s thumb.”

Why thank you M’lud you are obviously a man of fine taste and a good eye.

M’lud: “True Mr Lassut, true. Now I do believe that you are going to talk about another Millom pastime which is, as far as I can see, ‘self-created entertainment’ on the topic of which you will be going into in more depth at a later stage. You are now going to enlighten us concerning the Millom version of the popular and healthy sport of Rugby. Something for the young and fit before the day comes when they become crusty dusties and take up the jack”.

 

*****

 

 

THE FEARED MILLOM RUGBY LEAGUE

 

 

Yes M’lud, Millom Rugby League, an exponent yourself sir in your younger days?

M’lud: “Yes, played against Millom once; ours was a good team too, we were certain we would ‘explain’ the finer points of the game to the competition, give them a bit of a slapping and, have a bit of a laugh at the same time. Hmmmm? Never forgot it. Taught me not to count chickens. I was the lucky one, got injured early and was carried off. Oh dear, it hurts me to think about it. Watched the rest of the game in sheer amazement from the relative safety of the clubhouse steps … anyway you explain”.

With pleasure M’lud. Well ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader …

I, being of a delicate nature was never really attracted to playing Rugby League a là Millom as I valued my teeth, my nose and my inner organs etc. I actually become magnetised to injury every time I go near a competitive sport of any sort, let alone Rugby. It doesn’t even have to be competitive come to think of it. I once poked myself in the eye with a snooker cue whilst playing green baize solitaire. I say solitaire because no one would play with me and, why should they; it gets boring watching someone constantly produce 147 breaks.

I once twisted my ankle playing Solo Critic (Millom version dear reader, the spelling is okay). Solo Critic is the version played in Millom when the person has managed to wangle a sick note from Poggy and, all the other critic players are at work. The player bowls to an empty wicket, then runs, overtakes ball, reaches the crease, grabs the bat, turns and clouts the ball, being careful not to fall over the stumps because, it’s a long way to the clubhouse only to have to walk all the way back onto the pitch again. (I reckon that rule should be changed but I could never make it onto the committee) … I actually caught up with the ball which was travelling at approximately four and one half miles per hour, stepped on it, tripped and the old ankle went. Luckily I avoided falling over the stumps. I actually only did it for a laugh too, after drinking one too many when socialising with the Amateur Operatic All Stars. How’s that for bad luck?

In reality, critic bores me and I don’t go near dartboards. So then you can understand why Rugby League in Millom or on any other planet in any other Universe will always be out of bounds to me. However, a softer version is available. One mile away in Haverigg there was and, still is, a Rugby Union Club. These lads seemed more … more … ehrm … what’s the word? … Human … than the Millom League mob i.e. they actually cooked/cook meat before they ate/eat it, used/use the alphabet, didn’t/don’t go to the dentist and have to be tranquillised with a rifle before having a tooth removed, if they happened to have any left that is? Should you be a toothless Rugby League player in Millom, you can usually see your ex set round some other player’s neck at some point during the weekend’s social activities. Didn’t/don’t ruin pair after pair of gloves in winter because of ‘knuckle to floor drag- producing cow hide destroying friction’. As you can guess by this factor, King Arthur Ferg loved the League players more than the Union soft lads who only used one pair of warm woollen mittens each … each winter to rub off the snowflakes which landed on their noses and eyelashes, so their fingers didn’t get cold and wet. Bless!

I knew, on a friendly basis, most of the lads who played both varieties way back then through the annoyingly opaque mists of time but, let’s talk League for a while. The first team would be almost immune/used to, yet still crave, whatever pain they could get, especially you know who. Someone told me that some of the players who visited would ask upon arrival, “who’s this Sharpo?” … his fame had spread, not necessarily because of his skills.

Despite this opiate lust they would also have a full team of substitute players but, not exactly to be used in the event of injury – i.e. head twisted around a là Exorcists or any other reason for a player leaving the field in a state of heroic grace. If the visiting team were particularly rough carnivores and, the odds were against our home team of mere Arnie/Silverback crosses making an impression, off they all came grumbling gutturally, yes even the contract killers who didn’t need a contract, just a victim, such as Sharpo and, onto the field would go the feminine touch just to even things up a little. This was an unwritten rule or … no game.

The moustaches were real as were the hairy legs and, it wasn’t/isn’t at all unusual (expected) for the women players to bite off part of the opponents ears after a few of these naïve visiting players had pulled very, very hard on their top lip facial hair in a grim, griiiim, (oh dear me!), mistaken attempt to remove it, as part of a cruel humiliating rugby type stunt. Mike Tyson had obviously seen 8mm black and white footage of Millom Lass League game strategy. Evander was obviously screened by his parents. This is the first and only time that Sharpo was ever accused of being a tranny, when he donned a false Freddie Mercury moustache and tried to join the girl’s team so he could punch someone. He may have gotten away with it, but unfortunately, he lost a little concentration beforehand and while getting changed made the dire mistake of shaving his legs to fit in; he was spotted immediately i.e. his shapely white pins against the ladies, erm, well insulated pins …

And, I will tell you something M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, that scene in the original Jurassic Park where, the Tyrannosaurus Rex is chasing the scientists in the jeep? It would have been a different story if the Millom Rugby League girls (and Sharpo, after a re-grow of leg hair) had been on board, on yes sireeee! A handbrake turn followed by a fucking Barbie that’s what! It would have been the Rex in the crapper with Sharpo helping pull down the chip board wall panels, I can tell you.

M’lud: “Mr Lassut! Language!”

Oh, sorry M’lud, I got a little carried away there. Adrenaline rush.

M’lud: “That’s okay, I’ve heard worse in the House of Lords concerning Jeffrey Archer. Carry on”.

Okay, thank you M’lud. This particular local sport can also go leaps and bounds towards an explanation regarding this ‘missing link’ bollo … ehm … fiasco. The fact is M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader there ain’t no missing link. Millom Rugby League has a cartload of Anthropologists dreams running around the pitch on a Saturday afternoon. I mean the men by the way; I wouldn’t dream of insulting the women, no way, as my words may upset them (especially if they are on heat and their hormones are all messed up).

Nevertheless! I’ve seen Wigan Warriors run terrified from the field before the halftime whistle, which is allowed by the referee, who works in Millom slaughterhouse, so he erm, ‘understands’. Then they, Wigan, were too nervous to eat their orange segments, even after seeing the women’s team eat their quantity of Outspan with juice spraying relish … without bothering to peel them (the origin of marmalade by the way boriiiiiing! Zzzzzzz!). The box sometimes ends up in splinters too during the feeding frenzy which would make a group of hungry piranhas dining on some unfortunate beast look like camp tadpoles lapping baby bears porridge. The ladies B team by the way were away training young Hyenas new techniques to bring down adult Rhinoceros’, as their parents can’t manage the task. Ahem!

After the half time relaxation session with the Vitamin C, the Wigan players then refused to re-enter the arena for the second half because of these feminine warriors who, now upright again, would make Amazons look like makeover teams for ‘Gay Eye for the Straight Guy’. They literally had to be pushed on by the proud mothers of the players. The poor ickle players were between pure carbon and a hard place. Then again, maybe it wasn’t just the threat of the game but, the soap and watery legend of the … communal bath afterwards?!

“Are legends true?” asked the Wigan players to each other, with mucho nervousness. “If not in general … might this one just be the exception? Gulp!” Will Sod’s law rise from the depths to claim them as victims? The Wigan 7 sure hoped not. The rest of the players had climbed onto the clubhouse roof and no amount of stick and stones aimed safely, thrown by the ‘shown up’ mothers and partners could loosen their grip.

Because the local Rugby lads (not even Sharpo, but he was very close to a sniff, not even with the magic ore in his pockets a couple of times) could not come anywhere near to satisfying even the basic sexual needs of these women, foreplay for instance involves a two person scrum, followed by that bit where they lift you up by the knack … ahem! Knickers, to grab the ball … say no more, very, very painful, especially as the top of your head crashes into the ceiling … so I’m told. So, as sexual partners, us delicate non Rugby, well after the link, homosapien ‘upright’ types had absolutely no chance at all and, then more often than not, had to live in sexual frustration sometimes for decades. Sigh! (I still am … S I I I I I I GH!)

The visitors though, rough as the game was, were always very welcome especially if they were highly skilled, although it didn’t seem that way in the presence of the opposition and the ch(J)eering crowd. Ancient Christians would know what I mean. You see the haematite necklace wearing Millom Females 11 (they also carried a polished flat ‘sliver’ in their jockstraps); saw them as suitable sexual partners if they, working as team, managed merely to touch the ball. If any of the visitors actually succeeded in running a couple of feet with it while at the same time giving a carry to a couple of thumping, biting, scratching ladies they, the ladies, wanted … no, sorry, ‘were having’ his body; end of story.

 

 

Artist’s impression of Sharpo leaving the field at half time (if the men were still on) to get his segment of orange.

 

 

The game was merely a warm up, score a try? No one knows as it has never actually happened. Hmmmmm, yes M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, I realise it is painful to visualise these things but I must continue with ‘the bath’.

Like Orca, the women would herd the visitors into the corner of the bodily heated pool (again, like the bowling green, positioned above something deep underground that felt very good indeed), creating small steam twisters to add to the confusion. It was then either soapy flesh to soapy flesh … moustache to moustache (if the guy was man enough to grow one) … or drown! Please yourself? With home so far away and, only one road passing through the hick town through two farmyards?! Well no one really wants to die, so physical and emotional exhaustion with limbs skew-whiff and your head jammed up your butt is far, far more preferable, especially with people like Poggy around to help heal you … foot on backside … rope around remaining bit of neck … pull … heave ho! … Pop! … Wash hair. A ‘free’ enema! A cranial pull through. Every cloud has a silver lining (except if it’s from Chernobyl). A relieved and grateful local audience huddled together grunting approval at the far end of the bath.

Eventually the waters would go calm again and the mist would softly veil the lad’s usually 20/20 hunter’s vision. Was the mating over? How could one tell? Easy! So I’m told … by simply submerging one’s head and seeing, out of focus, the bodies lying dormant on the bottom of the bath … dead?! M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … No! Merely holding their breath and ‘playing’ dead, the cowards!

All this play acting led to a Millom Women’s Rugby League style Holger Neilsen revival session at the end of the bathing session, which involved the jumping on the chest to expel water, plus a little mouth to mouth resuscitation. Sometimes a crunching sound could be heard during this kiss of life, which was simply dentures ending up as a snack which, eaten between meals, never ruined the ladies appetites. As far as this bath experience goes, I heard that sailing ships had been wrecked in less stormy seas, then looted by posh primitives from Barrow in Furness.

I’ve seen the MEN’S district trophy fly through closed pub windows (why throw a trophy through an open one? Unless there’s a copper looking through maybe). I’ve seen players eat raw eggs then spit out the beak and feathers. The Union lads would eat raw eggs too but, only after they had been boiled for 4 minutes, as they didn’t want to catch that “Salmon Nellie disease thing” (nowt to do with my Gran Nellie) and end up with bad tummie wummies.

Now M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, this you are NOT going to believe but, whether you do or not, it’s true. I heard once, you can guess who told me? The story of a legendary male player who could grab his testicles in the change rooms and turn the whole baggage around three times! A select breeding male specimen if ever there was one! Thus seeing an opportunity to become a popular local male with sex hungry females, I decided to do a rehearsal in the privacy of my bedroom before going public with a self-indulgent, extremely virile display of maleness. I would do four turns and they would just have to bow to me in servitude and, then I would be an eligible breeding male! Look out King Arthur; this would transform me into a G. o. d!

Well there I was, stood naked in front of my dressing table … from which I had removed my one inch tall haematite rabbit (which didn’t work properly, if at all … it soon would though!) which would just vibrationally nudge certain things which would have to be ‘floppy’ for the Millom record attempt … watching myself in the mirror, as it is important to get the angles correct. My testicles though, gripped between thumb and forefinger began to get worryingly red and slightly tight, not to mention extremely tender, after just half a turn which, meant that the record was in jeopardy. In my panic I decided to try the quick method i.e. like tearing off a sticking plaster. I changed the angle of my hand and gripped what I could in my palm, counted three, grinned at myself then … twisted!

The Aurora Borealis is sometimes seen up North but, never in a bedroom up North with the curtains closed! I think the spectacular light display I witnessed was a part of my brain fusing. A muscular spasm on the way to the floor caused me to grab the dressing table cloth, taking with me as travelling companions, priceless(ish) antique vases (don’t tell the Reverend) and other breakables which would have done really well now on Bargain Hunt. This combined thump and crash must have alerted my parents who, thankfully, managed to carry me to the local hospital which was very nice of them. I woke up with two nurses, gorgeous twins in fact (tastyyy or what!) attending to me. Actually it was only the one nurse, who wouldn’t allow me home until I read the eye chart properly … AA … BB … CC … just wasn’t good enough for the NHS, sorry the MHS.

Now, M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, childbirth Rugby League style.

The doctors and nurses naturally form a scrum around the stirrups which, are borrowed from Freddie and Peg. The action usually takes place in the pregnant couple’s bedroom. You can imagine the actual birth, where junior is handed delicately to mum, who cuddles and kisses the new arrival. She then, with a practiced ‘pass’ sent around the room to say hello to everyone. It is said to be better than a smack and a great way to meet the full delivery team, whether junior wanted to or not. Rules are rules though … no forward passing allowed (Section 7 Paragraph 3).

To be fair on the new ‘future’ player (especially if it’s a girl), there is rough tackling. In the case of the child being knocked on, a free kick is awarded by the midwife. The baby is then placed on a pile of sand and ‘re-sent’ to the mother by air mail … or air female if it has a facial hair shadow. Many bedside pot kite lamps have been smashed by lousy barefoot miskicks. The sand is washed from the baby’s nethers before the first nappy is worn; after all, it’s bad enough having the stuff in your socks after visiting the beach. Conception as you may imagine is a violent affair which usually leaves the couple with a large bill for new furniture.

Preconception is a laugh. When the League women are in season they trim their moustaches and stock up with Pomagne and Mussels gathered from the local Mussel rocks. Yes M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … they get soppily romantic. Wide awake in Millom! (Zzzzzzz Boriiiiinnngggg!)

The Union women shave only their legs as they, being more femininely inclined than their contemporaries, don’t sport facial hair. However, to make their particular legs smooth enough for a pair of their socks to slide sexily down their shin at a leg angle of thirty degrees to turn on the male, without tearing the micron thick weave in the craftsman made strands of hemp, they go over their pins with Grade 5 sandpaper. It usually takes a couple of sheets of the stuff due to rips. The girls you see are farmer’s daughters with genetic hairy legs which, make Velcro feel like silk, so I’m told by one of the husbands who had scratches on his mere ‘bum fluff’ covered pins. You see, the problem is that the hairs on their legs are very thick, which is nature’s protection, due to the harsh winters mucking out the cows and chasing local ‘non’ Rugby lads away from the sheep. (I have torn my jeans on many a barbed wire fence). However, the sheared leg hairs are useful … their fathers use them knotted together as boot laces. It works though if enough sheets of sandpaper are used together with a cork sanding block, available from Millom Builders Merchants or, the beach if you’re lucky, smooth legs result. There was a lad I knew in town whose dad was a falconer. He had travelled somewhere exotic to teach some Prince falconry. He came back and was showing people his bracelet and asking them what they thought it was. It was like a length of shiny black wire. I sort of knew so said ‘hair from an elephant’s tail’.

Correct!’ It was actually the nearest I’d ever seen to a local farmer’s daughters’ leg hair.

So then Pomagne, Northern town vintage Moat and Chandon … yes Moat. There is a castle nearby. It is now a farm, one where that famous hick road passes through! Yes M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, Pomagne and Mussels. Northern Rugby romance! The League lads being harder than their counterparts will not swallow the slippery, slidey, slithery flesh. Too ‘Union’ darling. Our Leaguers don’t even bother opening the things; they just chew the shells as well. When the fangs travel across the Mother of Pearl it sounds like fingers dragging down a slate board … so I’m told. The girls swallow the oysters (they apparently enjoy doing that?) while nasally going “Mmmmmm!” and drinking the Pomagne sexily from one of their hobnail boots. But it sure does work, judging by all the mean looking kids who roam the town, occasionally diving to the floor and wrapping their arms around people’s legs. They make great shop assistants and would go down great in Coventry mobile phone emporiums and Computer World type supermarkets. Union? Just reverse what I’ve just told you, from … girls swallowing the oysters then, imagine loads of young kids some with hairy legs, bringing the cows in at milking time.

It was actually a lot of fun M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader to ignore the actual on field slaughter and instead watch the supporters stood around the outside shouting obscenities and instructions. Occasionally, someone would bend down, pick something up from the ground and put it into a little tin. I found out later that they were collecting the gold teeth, knocked sportingly, professionally fouledly (same as friendly firedly) from visiting players mouths. These they use to make necklaces for their wives. Pars (Alan Parsons) the local dentist would also craft haematite fillings for teeth for those who wanted that sexy feeling smile.

There is a guy in attendance at each game, Tony Storrs the local jeweller. Tony’s granddad had worked at the ironworks as a furnace man and, now he was using the skills he had learnt from gramps to run a small side line business … literally. He had made himself a mini gold nuclear smelting factory from an old, lead wrapped paint pot, a tablespoon and a little missing Uranium ‘borrowed’ from a certain nuclear fuels plant a mere hop skip and jump up the rail line. I tell you M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader these nuclear plants may get a bad press but, they really are useful for little glowing odds and ends. He would take the gold tooth/teeth and make a necklace for the supporter’s wives Christmas boxes. Shapes were as follows … Sheep? Cow? Chicken? Peg? (Limited edition) Rugby ball? Boxing glove? Cosh? Knuckle dusters? Banking Allotment carrot? One fifth actual size … a snip at £3.00, to name but a few.

To create these shapes he would use a number of modified fishing weight moulds, fishing being a popular Millom pastime. Local fishermen found it convenient to strip the church roof at night and make their own weights using these moulds … much to the disturbance of the Reverend who, duly condemned them all to the Job Centre and fined each of them a piece of highly collectable bone china, rare paintings and a bucket each or … Hell keenly awaits!!!

Tony was a very popular guy during the chilly autumn matches as he managed to produce some fierce heat from the Uranium. People would gather around, warming their hands and roasting their chestnuts; saved them a fortune on haircuts too … ask any Russian from the already mentioned small town of Chernobyl. Here too M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader is a bonus. At least one other famous sport had been accidentally derived from Millom Rugby League. I may have already mentioned it … wotevaaaa.

One day at a particularly tough game someone on the side line was getting a little critical of the state of play. A local labourer, George ‘Piggy’ Newton, decided he’d had enough of the hollering and bad mouthing so, he strolled casually on over and hit the guy with a piece of three by two. The wood, now in the local Folk Museum (door frame), became known as the Critic Bat which, didn’t mean much by itself but, still the lads celebrated the new concept that night by having a party which, turned out to be a ball so the job was sussed. It took a little while to take off due to the bales. It was a little cumbersome using large tied bundles of straw, until someone came up with the idea of smaller wooden ones. A sport was born. It was only called cricket much later when it was found to be difficult to say Critic Bat quickly six times after twelve pints (a little offshoot game … I’ve just tried it and it’s not too easy sober either). I’ve told you about solo critic haven’t I?

To end this rugger story it is worth mentioning what would be considered a good night out for the Leaguers. Let the local populous see your exposed nob then, hope your parents don’t find out. For the one mile away Unioner … six pints instead of five … (shandy).

M’lud: “Yes Mr Lassut, unfortunately no one really in all honesty wants to know so long as they don’t miss their dose of Eastenders. Court will now end for today and begin again at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow morning.”

“All rise for M’lud!”

 

***

 

M’lud: “Good morning everyone. Mr Lassut I understand that you would like to begin today by addressing the remark; I quote “Main landmarks include the library and Police Station”.

Thank you M’lud, yes I would. This is a little unfair ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader. Surely if the accused are going to pick on landmarks, why choose two that aren’t really landmarks at all? There are better examples which will guide people to their destination with greater ease. For example, just up the road from the Police Station is the St George Memorial. Nearby, St George’s Church where the famous Reverend likes to chill. The church can be seen from miles around as can the sign hanging from the zenith cross, I quote … “Leaky Roof, Donations Welcome”. In the market square there is, as one aware and erudite child has described ‘The Chocolate Miner’, brilliant! It is brown (ish) and looks like it’s been made from chocolate. Exhibit A.

 

 

It took a child to make this lovely resemblance; I believe that all children hold genius as their birth right … most adults act as robbers. Plus, the fact that an adult would most likely discard the gift of creative imagination, which makes such enchanting observations possible. But no! Things like this, which really belong in the towns surviving visual heritage are overlooked to make way for a couple of faceless pile of bricks which you would possibly miss. There again, it is probably of more interest, bordering on entertainment to know what activities these places promote. May I enlighten the Jury M’lud?

M’lud: “Carry on Mr Lassut”.

Thank you M’lud. Okay ladies and gentlemen of the Jury I will start with the building which helped prompt this case to begin with …

 

THE POLICE STATION

In the real world, police claim to be fighting crime, which I think is a load of old baloney. If it wasn’t for crime, police wouldn’t have a job, so really, police love crime …

Sharpo, according to some of the stories he would tell me, was always in trouble with the police, so, instead of giving him a hard time (although he did make and lie in his own bed most of the time), they really should have had him on their Christmas card list. Remember, Stephen was so good looking he didn’t need haematite, but used it anyway, like Sacha Distel. Oh, raindrops keep falling on my head!

The first thing that curiosity driven visiting outsiders may possibly notice even if they are only partially as aware as the chocolate child are the two Penny Farthing Police bikes in the car park outside, should the officers be in residence and not outside waging a war on crime i.e. Sharpo.

The officers are also extremely A level qualified for the job at this supposedly high level of public service. Rumour has it that Peggy once collapsed of exhaustion in Catherine Street, the bored bobby who came to sort the blockage out and made the ‘Official Report’, dragged her snoring contentedly into King Street which, he could actually almost spell … “The orse wos sleeping in kign strret.”

The Police, not liking too hard or boring a time and would rather settle for the elusive bit in between have tagged the elusive and famous Mr Sharp by placing tape around his wrist which displays his name written in illegible ink. They were then faced with the problem of how to track him from base, having no actual machine which would detect the particular polycarbonate from which the sellotape was constructed. Ooops! The solution to this dilemma came from Barrow Constabulary, better known as Barrow ‘Back’ Yard, home of those with their fingers on the pulse of civil disobedience, keeping control for the elite. It was so simple, it literally stank of genius. They simply pin pings tag a lag and bobtail into the map board.

To be honest, to save time, the constabulary managed to get a home improvements grant and built a nice little granny flat on the back of Sharpo’s house, which saved time walking or biking to his residence when they wanted to interview him, or search for stolen goods etc. Before this had happened, I told him about it during a social moment somewhere with others … he just looked at me in a very loving fashion usually seen in the eyes of couples tying the knot in civil partnerships, and said, “Frankie, you’re a fucking case.” and shook his head. Everyone else in the group thought it an excellent idea! I think he warmed to it, and decided to give them free tea with laxatives in it and lock the toilet, so was his love of the law.

When one of the allotment Muscovy ducks went walkies (or was that squalkies? Or quakies?) They simply tied a piece of string to one pin, pulled it around the outside of the rest i.e. the ‘whole map’ and said (officially of course) … “We believe strongly that Mr Sharp and the duck must be within this area!” Wooooow! Makes Columbo look like a Keystone Cop! Personally M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, with gumption like this in existence I’m so surprised ‘we’ve’ actually only managed to get a man to the moon and no further!

The map was drawn with great unease by Brick and Togo, using a set of crayons and joint memory double recall for enhanced accuracy, enhanced that is with some free ‘bribe’ beer to really sharpen the ‘two minds acting as (n)one’. Ah well, beggars don’t choose since God cocked up, especially where cartography is concerned. No one except my Mum could work out how they knew what Millom looked like from that height? Even then she wasn’t really convinced, being Catholic and far too sensible for my own good (cute little rebel that I am).

This was followed by another amusing ‘official’ statement … “There is a definite pattern to his movements”.

This pin border became known as the ‘MILLOM RECTANGLE’ named after the Bermuda Triangle because every time Sharpo entered the zone he disappeared. I’m seriously considering dropping a note to Barry Manilow, you just neveeeeer know?! There have been occasions when Police who have just been moved to Millom as an ‘End of the Line’ Punishment … commendations or not have, in their first couple of weeks of Hitleristic keenness, booted down innocents doors and then run into their houses shouting … “This is a raid! We’ve come for the stolen television!”. The locals look bemused and say “Stolen what? Would you like a cup of tea and a rabbit and banking allotment vegetable sandwich Officer?”

Once they actually took in as evidence a suspect Gamma wave oven. Someone had removed a chair from inside this oven while the door was left ajar. The oven was dusted (using real dust) and found to have Sharpo’s fingerprint on the periscope lens. The lenses are quite large in diameter, as that of a big tea mug. All he was actually doing was having a breath of fresh air with his lovely little pedigree Yorkshire Terrier, one of those little yappy, shivering things with masses of hair making it difficult to know which end to kick when stressed. He combated this by typing clumps of it up with red ribbons (Ferg had no pink in stock).

Well as he was walking along talking to little Fireblade Jackal Jaw, he just happened to spot the oven (they’re hard to miss actually, even from a thousand metres with less than perfect eyesight) sitting unattended in someone’s garden whom he knew by the way. They had popped out so he simply climbed atop and looked through the periscope to get the model number so as he could get his mum one for Christmas from Fergies. He simply loves his Mummy. However, he made the grave error of putting his hand on the glass to shield his eyes from the unpolarised light. What wasn’t taken into account was the fact that he had saved the chicken and rabbit casserole which had been left uncovered on the garden path and was about to be worried by the neighbour’s dog. Luckily for him, yet unluckily for the Police, the oven wasn’t turned on. The real thief struck that night through the open door.

Anyway after the Feds decide to confiscate and impound the evidence they somehow managed with a great deal of effort to load the two ton oven into the cart which is pulled by two Penny Farthing’ed Officers (complete with un-stabilisers). Peg just sits down on her haunches and refuses point blank to move, she’s no fool. The microwave at one point in the journey was switched on by a hole in the road (an incredible feat for a hole). This affected the Officer’s brains and they arrived back at the station with an IQ. Suddenly they are found to be somewhat unsuitable for the Millom Constabulary, for what reason I couldn’t even begin to assume?

Because, by my own admission, my personal IQ is unquestionably by my own choice, zero. You see, if you’re clever they ask you to do complex un-human things such as think using common sense and make decisions, then, all hell breaks loose when things work and jerk-offs then have to justify their existence by blaming you for the chaos you’ve caused in their miserable little lives. So it’s best to choose un-clever as a lifestyle. Clever is a curse, just look at Brick and Togo for instance, world famous bored stiff millionaires now! (Ok, one of them). Are those two clever or what?! … Worked again hasn’t it? (10% guys? C’mon, I’m bankrupt and on the street now because of this, with folk after my imbecile blood and … I’m starving!)

The Officers though, were saved from the scrapheap by being headhunted by the cleaners at the Elbeo Stocking Factory, a local industrial unit now a book publishers.

 

*****

 

A rather sweet moment in Stephen’s life i.e. showing disrespect for authority, and doing what more of us should.

 

Scene: Whitehaven College (that’s where we went on block release from Sellafield).

 

Lecturer: “What’s the answer to this, Sharp?”

Stephen: “It’s Stephen.”

Lecturer: “Look Sharp, answer please!”

Stephen: “It’s Stephen …

Lec: “It’s Sharp in here.”

Stephen “Stephen.”

The lecturer finally gave way. Quite admirable in a world of scaredey cats with no self-respect.”

 

*****

 

THE LIBRARY – Millom’s catacomb of wisdom.

 

Yes M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, Millom’s catacomb of wisdom, the halls of knowledge. There are the usual small libraries two dozen bookshelves for the locals to browse and do a little mind expansion. Obviously there is no science section, automobile maintenance section, plug wiring and toaster fixing, build your own tungsten filament light bulb section etc. Or for that matter, one of those newspaper racks. Now, if you want Mrs Beeton’s ‘Rural Pick ’n’ Mix Roast & Allotment Stew Combinations’ you’re in luck. If you want to read quietly at a table you’re in luck. Not bad at all really is it but … listen carefully. There is also some ‘modern luxury’ available because Millom Library boasts nothing less than a state of the art … ‘Audio Book Station’. Altogether M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … one, two three … “HOOOooooooo! Dead up to date and posh!”

I know what you are thinking … electronic! Well, I’m sorry to disappoint. The ABS is actually an old confessions booth acquired from the Reverend, as a donation! Very decent of the fellow! Sure to go to Hell for a bit of a slap for being that nice. (After all, why would the Devil punish bad people if he’s supposed to be a lawyer himself? That one begs a pretty good answer, think I’ll email the Vatican). The booth was donated very, very cheaply as a matter of fact only three gold teeth (large molars) from the Rugby League side line and, one point seven seven five percent of Tony Storr’s side line jewellery trades gross profit margin as related in gross deficiency to the Reverend’s share in the DOW … ager Jones’s windfall after her husband’s ‘gravity aided’ fall due to the wind when fixing the roof, one hour after closing time, ten years back. Pluuuuus free Rolex service and repairs, including parts, on an on-going basis. Pluuuuuus ten, no, no (loooong argument) … ten point zero one five percent of Royalties if ever, ever eevvvver (never, never land) Snow White should succumb and demand (now she’s a REAL movie star) a bit of a six foot rough jewellery dealer in her next video? Now that’s a great dogmatic deal, a steal, as it still would be at twice the price. So, how does the booth work? Well … (it’s fascinating). The listener steps into the Sinners side of the booth (take your pick when installed in a church), puts 10p in the tin can (they do have tin openers in Millom, from Fergie’s; call them axes in your part of the world). He or she then requests a set book through the ‘guilt grille’. The readers, eight or so at a time, cram into the other side with the days available titles. Excellent!

This is quite a prestigious job in Millom and there are always a lot of applicants should a post become available. Because of the cramped conditions, the interview is in two parts. Part one couldn’t be simpler … read! Part two is probably simpler even although it couldn’t be according to the previous sentence but it does take a tad longer. The applicant must eat a plate of rabbit and banking allotment veg sarnies then go home. 24 hours later they return to the library, strip off and sit in a tin bathtub of hot water for another 24 hours. If there are any bubbles within that time frame the applicant has failed. The first hours are the most comfortable while the water is warm. Whatever the temperature though, no soap is allowed because of the confusion of ‘Decoy’ bubbles. To combat inevitable boredom the applicant may bring a duck along to play with. A lot of applicants choose to do this; some even bring the yellow plastic variety.

If the batch is good (applicants that is not duck eggs although … sometimes … “Sorry Togo everything’s been cancelled today mate and tomorrow and, every other day until 2007”) say for example, that the final three interviewees are gas free fantastic readers which is the actual MLVQ qualification i.e. Millom Library Vocational Qualification. They are required to return on a cold Northern day (brrrr!) for a sudden death, wrinkly bummed sit in (the undertakers always turn up?). The tubs are one again filled with warm water (Ahhhh!) and then dragged outside onto the pavement (brrr!). No distractions such as ducks are allowed, the last one in their tub is awarded the certificate by the Mayor (how come no one voted?) and local postie, Freddie Gleaves, who kindly closes their frozen fingers onto the calligraphed card. The photos, usually a group with the person in the tub in front, smiling a very humourless World Leader type fixed grimace are taken by the local cameraman Howard, an old mate of mine.

Upon return of the pictures everyone has fun guessing which fuzzy sepia toned blob is who. If body identification is difficult, Alan Parsons the dentist is called in to supply dental records. All jobs thus filled the money raised is used to buy new books. The AB booth turns over about … Ooooh! At a rough estimate … ???? Once a week should someone accidentally let one slip. The disciplinary procedure is one days ‘cork’ duty, a dodgy practice which has been known to backfire. The last time it backfired the librarian’s coffee was knocked over and, the ricochet rudely disturbed an old retired carrier pigeon which was minding its own business and sunning itself on the windowsill. Luckily the window was open, the cork was replaced and held firmly ‘up the junction’ with a couple of strips of double strength sticky wide bandages, as added security after the librarian lodged the following complaint:-

“It might be my eye next time!”

 

A couple of examples of book titles and readers …

“The Persuasive Alchemists Art” and “Sex is a sin but I have some Haematite” by the Reverend.

“Flower arranging to delight your visitors” and “The location of the Holy Grail and the Haematite Mother of Pearl inlaid Gates” … Sharpo … plus “First, Second and a Load More Haematite Tangos in Millom”

“How to Make Friends and Influence Yourself & Certain Authors” by Brick (holds record for cork).

“Beautiful Poetry” by Kath Park.

 

MY INVISIBLE CHILD

By Kath Park (formerly of Millom)

 

I never knew you, before you were gone

What would you have been? What would you have done?

?????

Would your eyes have been blue?

Would your hair have been brown?

It’s true to say … I haven’t a clue!

Boy? Girl? Will it never be known?

I wish I could see you up and grown

But some things that should happen are to be

I sometimes wonder, would you have liked me?

Here’s hoping, the place that you been sent

Is better than here and, that’s why you went

My thoughts are with you, as your Mum, that’s my way

And I hope we can meet again?

Someday?

 

That concludes the two hard to see landmarks M’lud.

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, that is a very beautiful poem by Kath, makes me want to cry”.

Me too M’lud.

M’lud: “I wouldn’t mind listening to the Alchemy book, the Reverend is obviously an expert at the art.”

Very interesting M’lud.

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, well it’s 12.30 now and time for a break, Court will resume at 15.30”.

“All rise for M’lud”.

 

***

 

15:30

“All rise for M’lud”.

M’lud: “Good afternoon everyone, Mr Lassut, what’s on the agenda this afternoon?”

Well M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, I would like to address the point made by the press that, I quote … “Most people with jobs work at the nuclear power station at Sellafield or at Barrow Ship Yard”. It is true M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader; the British Nuclear Fuels Limited Sellafield Plant does actually provide employment for a small section of the population which, I think is a very positive point, even with the nuclear industry in disarray and always under such scrutiny. However, as for Barrow Ship Yard, well you and I know that this place does exist as a workplace for the Millom population but, by choice, they waiver the opportunity but why?

I will tell you why, Barrow Ship Yard is called Vickers and the people of Millom are under the impression that the Reverend trained there, together with other espousers of the words and commandments of our angry and vengeful God. God isn’t actually angry with Millom that was merely a child’s oversight. But because of this belief, not one of them has the courage to step on the toes of his finest Italian leather shoes for fear of infinite limbo and the possibility of having their ass roasted for something trivial like claiming dole and working and all that gumph. Actually, they would never have got away with claiming and working when my old girls’ team were in the Job Centre because they were all practiced psychics when it came to detecting the over ambitious few.

So, it is true that some work at Sellafield but, it isn’t so much that they spend their days there earning a crust, what I think is far more interesting is, how do these heroes and heroines reach their distant place of toil? They have no cars, Peg only carries one passenger and it’s too far to pedal. Especially with a Dames Ison vacuum cleaner humming away on the front of your bike. Well, I can tell you … local ingenuity of course, by railway. The rails, courtesy of, in the early days, the ironworks and now Scurrah Nassau of the Tannery Industrial Estate, Haverigg (the Tannery was a leather factory).

Now if I may I will give you some background as to SIDETRACK the locally owned rail company, who were in operation during my youth at least whose lines were/are in an excellent state of repair I may add … due to non-greed and corruption but much care. Their commitment to excellent local public transport helps provide you in the outside technological world with electricity. This power production is partly due of course to the Millom mob, delivered by SIDETRACK (ed) who grace the insides of the radioactive, luminous walls of BNFL. The workers, due to their circumstances, do however have their own idea concerning the actual product of the plant.

M’lud: “Well Mr Lassut, sorry to interrupt but my cousin works there and he has noticed the rather unusual transportation system which they use to reach the factory. I myself would be interested in learning more, please carry on”.

Thank you M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, SIDETRACK, as the name suggests, consisted/consists of just that, an ‘extra’ track on the sidings of a section of the West Coast Barrow to Carlisle Railway (this part is for Wacker, who has been doing the signals for about 90 years now). This track is used for rolling stock on the “MILLOM EXPRESS”. This special service runs alongside the normal line from Millom to a small village called Silecroft about three and a half miles away.

“So how do the workers reach Sellafield if the track only runs part of the way?” you ask, well it’s all to do with the military and a loophole in the law which, I will of course tell you about soon. Let me first though describe the actual system to you. You see M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader; the Express is used both for work and recreation. When relaxing on a day out in Silecroft the passengers either go to the local pub, The Miners Arms, or walk down to the sea to bask in the sun and/or have a refreshing, healthy, healing swim in the brine.

It will help you immensely knowing that it wasn’t/isn’t an actual train which does the pulling. The MILLOM EXPRESS train consists of one of those seesaw type buggies which are often seen on old black and white Western or Laurel and Hardy type films. Two of the town’s strongest men, Brick and Togo, (again … statue! Why should Ulverston get one of a ‘lesser’ comedy duo?), are/were the buggies power source employed on the side … (ings) by Reg Hodgson the local travel expert.

The Express passenger accommodation consists/consisted of half a dozen flat carriages which have no sides. A pole in each corner supports a corrugated sheet ceiling from the banking allotment. SIDETRACK previously MILLOM RAIL, ordered the ceilings from Sharpo. The Police were quickly on the case and said officially … “He’s definitely in this area here”. Wrong! He was swimming in the tide at Silecroft worrying passing seals, mackerel and Great White Sharks, while Fireblade yapped enthusiastic encouragement from the shoreline.

That then is a nail in the wall about three inches above the top of the map, two inches from the left hand side. Carlisle is where the top of the wall meets the ceiling, just above the third coat peg from the toilet door. A world atlas would be interesting.

All seating on the Express was/is first class (no more was/is), there is of course a buffet car this is manned by another Millom star character, well worthy of being portrayed in a blockbuster film one day, Mr Manky Fullard, who is chief SIDETRACK cook and rabbit catcher, complete with catapult and a dog, he works under the head chef-ship of Sharpo of course, another lurcher man and rabbit catcher. If anyone orders food he lets a rabbit have it; one of many that are watching this fascinating procession from the edge of a field. This is called bad luck; you’re sat there, chewing on the sweet grass and watching this highly entertaining procession pass by when, suddenly a brick (a real one) hit you between the eyes … charming!

The dog then brings the physical remains at speed to the side of the buffet car where, in a fine ‘relay’ type changeover, Manky takes the order from the hairy waitress/waiter. The rabbit is then paunched (gutted), skinned and cooked very freshly in front of the customer. He does the cooking on a steel drum barbecue grill, the rabbit heads are boiled in a separate bucket of water using a shaw kite camping stove, these are for the dog (unless someone fancies boiled rabbit’s head, with eyes that pop in the mouth and a little, chewy, rubbery tongue?) Yummy! Grilled rabbit, salt, pepper, tomato sauce and other condiments are courtesy of the Bridge Caff via Brick’s pocket and then via Mr Townsend. The tail and feet are knocked up very quickly into lucky key rings by Tony Storrs, the jeweller you’ve already met, who runs the …

 

MILLOM EXPRESS GIFTS BIZZARRE

 

They sold at a greatly knocked up price in order to cope with the Reverend’s 10% limbo protection plan for dealing with the murdered body parts of God’s creatures; a kind of ‘Burke and Rabbit’ arrangement minus the pub. The toilet car is quite modern actually. It consists of another carriage this time with no roof. A sheet of tarpaulin is loosely spread over its full area. There is a bum sized hole cut in the middle of the flat with a larger one (does my bum look big on this?) next to it which acts as the Ladies, each hole has a bucket suspended underneath. These both had to be cleared for use by the Reverend of course, in triplicate and, at the cost of four gold teeth rent each trip. The person crawls under the sheet and lets nature take its natural course … after the deed is done, the Express moves off again. The nose powderers may then wash their hands. The water in the bucket containing the boiling rabbits heads is … well hot. Mind you it is quite good for warming the palms and digits in the winter months. Yes three inches of snow means a friendly brawl for the ‘sink’.

During the winter months Arthur Ferguson enjoys good trade selling ‘designer’ rabbit skin gloves to the softer passengers (Rugby Unioners). Arthur avoids using the train preferring his Rickshaw Taxi, pulled by one of his admirers. Well come on a King never rides with the commoners. There isn’t a guard’s carriage at the rear; there is no need for one. It is not that the SIDETRACK Directors are too stingy to pay wages (one rabbit, minus feet and tail and a chicken per shift), it is just that no trouble ever kicks off. Lots of the tickets get blown away in the wind anyway, leaving nothing to check and therefore possible skirmishes with suspect fare dodgers, who are of course innocent and always sing “The tickeeeet my friend is blowin iiiin the wiiiiiind” etc. If anyone happens to bring a guitar along it can sound quite nice. Sometimes everyone joins in, increasing the quota of rabbit craving entertainment, keeping Manky and Sharpo if he’s along for the trip, or at ballet class (I’m joking there)?

Upon reaching Silecroft they decide what time to return to the buggy, following which they are off down the road to the shore and a jolly old afternoon nude bathing. Meanwhile, Brick and Togo, who like to be called Messrs. Casey and Jones, move the buggy back to the front, or back to the back of the train … it makes little difference. This is a job and a half and done by hand as there is no turntable to speak of. It is a tremendous feat worthy of complete lunat … strong men a feat which makes their eyes bulge and their biceps balloon. They then go to the pub to refresh and the locals quickly drink up and go home in order to avoid another discussion about the interesting coloured lights, funny symbols and loads of button to press on the Mars, Big Brother computer system.

Okay, now if the trip to Sellafield is early to deliver the worker ants or a more casual saunter to the Visitors Centre later in the day the buggy has to use the main track from here on. This is because of a place near the small village of Bootle, a rather desolate area called Eskmeals. At Eskmeals, or rather a part of Eskmeals, there is an area fenced off and surrounded by trees. This is a non-secret Military Site which I mentioned briefly earlier. It is a large and small bore guns building and testing site, the weapons used, amongst other things, to make great explosions abroad, which is fun to watch on TV while you’re eating your dinner, especially if there are a lot of boring repeats on the other channels (2005, a good year for repeats). It would seem like a bit of a glam job shooting big guns and little guns all day yet the workers do get tired with it at times, what with loosing off rounds at the Irish Sea which would be pretty hard to miss blindfolded after ten pints of Forget Me Not. Sheets of metal and sand hills are also used as targets for the big guns as are rare moths, flutterbys, flies, rabbits (of course) and skylarks. I have also heard that it is fun to soak people as they saunter along the beach on the Isle of Man and they deny all knowledge.

It is thankfully against the law for the trigger happy, frustrated weapons technicians to fire at the, in full view, passing trains on the main track which runs nearby.

SIDETRACK, due to some political loophole in the law would have been fair game, but the Directors found out just in time and got permission, via Roger Murray (top solicitor) to use the main track from Silecroft onwards. Phewww! Narrow escape! Safe then? M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … NO! Because I can tell you another predator stalks, one more vicious and menacing! Togo! Because he has sensitive ears, evolved over many years of listening out for the bailiff through wood and brick (walls that is), he gets his lug to the line and checks whether one of the scary steel monsters that uses the track as a run, is leaving Barrow in Furness. If the line is clear the duo seesaw like mad, sometimes causing sparks between wheel and rail. The scenery, due to the speed is blurred more than usual and Manky has been known to miss and lose orders for food. Sometimes one of the older ‘Don’t know you’re born’s’ will comment … “That’s the last time I eat here! The service is absolutely bloody disgusting! Far worse that at the rest home! Pah!”

Occasionally a steam train crew in Barrow somehow receive a little inside information concerning the irregular departure time of the sightseeing Express and have set off from Barrow accordingly, reaching stalking distance before i.e. before Togo’s lug touches the line for the first time. The steam train crew usually tie a large branch with plenty of leaves to the nose of the loco. They slow down upon reaching The Green (a patch of grass with mud huts near Millom, remember?) and, a couple of hundred yards from Millom Station … stop and … wait. The Express is then loaded and Togo listens for the first time. Clear … they’re away, the steam train stays a few hundred yards behind the Express. When the Express stops at Silecroft, the locomotive driver goes ‘Togolug Dead’ the same as sonar dead in submarines. Once the Express has changed tracks and is speedily underway, the branch is cast aside and the chase is on. Luckily when they spot it or, someone shouts “Monsteeeeer!” Brick and Togo are so frightened they just go faster, Manky stays cool and wastes a few bricks on the monsters head but, they just powder on impact. Mind you it looks too big to skin anyway (and as for the lucky key ring?) There is a great tussled movement of bodies underneath the canvas at times like this … like a gang of ferrets fighting in a sack.

Somehow though the train always gives up, probably bait time or boredom or something else … i.e. just not fast enough? Or maybe it’s because the driver and the guard have discovered that the sheep in the fields are more intelligent than the Barrow in Furness women and have decided to try their luck … there again, if sheep could talk Cumbrian they would soon exhaust the intellect of the Barrow mob (ooops! Did I just say that aloud?!) However M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, our intrepids somehow reach Sellafield and cruise to a halt on the safety of some more sidings. Then they all dismount; walk up the road and stand, faces pressed to the wire, staring at steam coming from the steaming Cooling Towers, fascinated.

If you, the reader, out there in civilisation have never visited Sellafield … DO (lead underpants are available in the Gift Shop, Y’se to wear them).

The site is divided into two halves, Windscale and Calder. Calder Hall is the side housing the four reactors … 1, 2, 3 and 4 (just in case any of Togo’s relatives are reading). These provide electrickery for the grid, although why anyone would want to power one of those ‘stop the sheep from going through the gate’ things, sure beats the hell out of me? Windscale is the reprocessing side where they reprocess spent fuel, using the Irish Sea as a large stormychurnydiluteitquick … (except when it doesn’t … and upsets Greenpeace … Ooops! Public Inquiry please! Ok, who’s got the log book?) … Waste disposal unit, much to the annoyance of the residents of the Isle of Man.

Sellafield breach, sorry beach, is where they filmed or, should I say film, on a continuous basis, certain scenes and even some creative new ideas for updated and digital surround sound (and now 3D! It’s been a while) versions of Jason and the Argonauts. Scenes like, extremely realistic fights with big crabs (so as to save money on Ray Harryhausen’s wages), where the actors can lose very easily because … what do extremely realistic giant crabs care for camp actors with plastic swords? All the Directors do is tell the actors … “Well daaaaaarlings, just fight the veeeery, veeeery realistic big crabs not designed by Ray Harryhausen, which will come from around that corner there at the bottom of that big cliff. Act as though they are actually real okay. WE will all be on that big hill over there watching you through a long lens. Good luck dears. This is all in the name of art so be enthusiastic and don’t be afraid to get really close to the nasty, veeery realistic plastic things which are full of waterproof, sand proof electronics and mechanical wizardry … honestly! Just think, Mel Gibson may watch this one day and he might ask some of you to be in a film with him! Love you all! Mmmmmoi! Mmmmmoi!”

And what of the Golden Fleece? That’s actually a nearby pub at Calderbridge which has a replica of the actual fleece hanging on the wall outside (local sheep, drugged and sprayed gold). The pub is very popular playing host to reams of Jason and the Argonaut digitally remade actors with veeery realistic, really fresh looking amputations.

 

 

 

I may bend the truth like Beckham bends a ball but I don’t lie that often. The pub did some especially good business with The Argonauts widescreen digital remake of a remake … with a two hour extra fight scene involving the entire crew and several quite unwilling Greenpeace members and … a surprised lobster! Which is quite a film to see and beats Rocky Horror hands down, (because Christopher Biggins isn’t in it).

Actors are rife in Claderbridge because of the number of times the crab scene has to be reshot using Brecht and Stanislavski conditioned and struggling new thespians. They can’t get Brad Pitt I’m told maybe that’s cos he’s a good actor. Or doesn’t like genuine imitation plastic crabs or something? That’s the magic of Sellafield beach M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader.

(NB: since I started writing this brilliant piece, Calder Hall has closed down).

Between the two halves of the plant is a middle bit (well fancy that!) a river … The Calder. This is a clear freshwater river because it is a clear, unpolluted river it (if you can believe that? It’s easier to believe that women have a sensible logic system … LOL! Joke) contains healthy fish and, because of its unique positioning (the massive planet and I end up living in this stretch of river … syndrome), these fish are ‘specimens’. Baby! …These fish are B-I-G! If you choose to go fishing on this particular part of the river don’t climb the fence because it’s naughty and the site police will get you, tie you to a post on the beach then throw bricks at the crabs, gracefully dozing between feeding takes. Ask permission at the main gate.

You will be given a fishing permit and a free ‘I’ve been to Sellafield’ T shirt but, your rod and tackle will be taken from you. “Oh charming” says you … “oh sensible” says I. You will then be taken to the fishing lodge. Here you will be kitted out with the equipment necessary for the landing of such local specimens: a pair of thick soled rubber wellies, a powerful Plasma Cannon and, a little green (for camouflage) folding chair. These cannons are similar to the ones they used in the Ghostbusters film (I’ve seen it in Millom’s cinema). There is a lead attached to each one, this lead is very long, un-commercially long for a change. You are at freedom to choose your fishing plot … although behind a bush is recommended. The procedure is then as follows.

Set up the little folding chair and then walk one hundred metres to the side of a reactor, with a modified three pin plug in hand, comes complete with 3000 amp fuse! The Starship Enterprise’s three pins are fused for a mere 2600 amp surge-protection and that is enough to manipulate time, never mind stop a ‘tiddler’. Plug in to one of the available sockets of which there are plenty and you are ready to angle. (Since the reactors were shut down … power packs have been provided to anglers).

If it happens to be Summer whatever you do, do not be tempted to walk to the river’s edge, sit on the bank and remove your wellies in order to dangle your hot sweaty feet in the water while holding the cannon casually under your arm … ready for the big one coming under the bridge at a good rate of knots towards you, ‘lunch’ playing heavily on its fishy mind. If you should decide to ignore this warning and you have a mobile phone, place it about twenty metres from yourself, especially if it is one of those expensive diddly doo daa WAP ones with photo technology. There is absolutely no point in vaporising that too, may as well leave it for the site police. By the way if you do this silly trick your next of kin will be billed for the Cannon, expensive at 1.2 million quid each, minus sights and VAT. If however you do manage to land … sorry, stop a fish, usually a salmon or a trout (don’t stare into its eyes pre-stop by the way, it’ll have you, they can hypnotise their prey, a bit like Kaa in the Jungle Book) and, it is too big for your wall, the canteen will purchase the meat, even on such a grand scale. If you have a big wall, the fish can be stuffed and fitted with singing capabilities. This will take seven car batteries wired in series to operate. The fish can be very loud so be warned, don’t crank up the volume after 11 p.m. Also if you require the tail to move, don’t let your friend/neighbour sit near it … they may end up with a surgical collar and sue you.

Yes, the Millom lot stand there staring through the wire at the Cooling Towers watching the steam billow from the tops. The tour ticket says (if the traveller still has it) …

SPECIAL!!! MILLOM EXPRESS TOUR DAY TRIP TO THE CUMBERLAND CLOUD FACTORY!

Well it’s something to tell their grandchildren. It’s cruel telling an untruth but that’s tourism.

Of course, some of their loved ones work there, so shouldn’t they know that it’s a bomb factory? Well no, because that official secrets act requires them to make up another story about what the place does.

 

 

 

 

THE CLOUD FACTORY IN FULL PRODUCTION MODECOURTESTY OF B N F L

(They don’t make clouds any more)

Well then …

Brick and Togo, refreshed from drinking with the actors in the Fleece but unsurprisingly without cameo roles (don’t want to scare the crab and frighten it off), then seesaw like mad to get the passengers home in time for tea …

Menu: Rabbit and banking allotment veg sarnies with Sellafield trout, Manky caught it/fought it, didn’t need the gun. Brick yearned to put it on his wall and sing along with it but got it jammed in his porch. That’s SIDETRACK M’lud.

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, you never know, I may one day purchase a ticket just for the experience. Court will now end for today and begin again at 10.30 tomorrow morning”.

“All rise for M’lud”.

 

***

M’lud: “Good morning everyone, what’s on the agenda today Mr Lassut?”

Well M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … self-entertainment! If you will excuse the entendre temptation. Graham Keeley of the Daily Mirror says … “In the evenings and at weekend, they have to find their own entertainment”. Yes, oh yes M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, they do too! M’lud how about this as an example of self-created fun! May I ask you M’lud, do you like to boogie?

M’lud: “Oh by Jove yes, crank up the volume and you may easily mistake me for Travolta”.

Thank you M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, I really do fail to see the problem with making your own entertainment? Hasn’t it been said that television ruined the art of conversation? Making your own fun is creative and causes the fizzy energy called enthusiasm to dance through the trillions of cells comprising the body. It would also nurture the minds of many a child if the parents did not count so much on outside influences to take away their responsibility of reminding their children just what brilliant little creators they are. It would also aid our planet if people chose to think for themselves and therefore create their own reality rather than letting someone else lead the way, especially if it is destructive and therefore non-serving to the whole. Here then is one way some of the people of Millom have a knees up …

On Saturday nights in the Workies (Working Men’s Club), everybody jives to JR’s 78s disco. The 78 doesn’t actually refer to any year it refers to the playing speed of the record collection which came with the record player. The speaker horn was made a little louder by nicking another piece of corrugated iron fence from someone’s allotment down the Banking; cheers once again Sharps old chap (he’s definitely in this area!”) and of course, not forgetting Fireblade (“and so is he”), who kept watch. This acquisition exercise was followed by a group of local handy lads getting busy with hammers and kicking it into the required shape, then riveting it to the original horn. A good modern tradesman’s job they did too because, unless you look really closely, it is easy to spot the join. But, it works; in fact people can even hear it in the lounge next to the dance floor.

Top local DJ, ‘JR’, is once again the man with the patter and the crank handle. He is the guardian of possibly the only set of 78s Slade ever made … ‘especially’ for the HMV disco. They actually dress down out of their space gear and into a disguise made famous in Saturday Night Fever (especially Dave Hill) and sometimes join the crowd that is if they’re not flitting around this, or any other, infinite dimensional Universe, banging out still popular hits. Time is irrelevant with superb music.

Well, they’re entitled to enjoy themselves a bit, even Martians like a pint and a dance. They did Millom a favour as well didn’t they? By bringing Brick and Togo back from certain vaporisation.

John (JR) even has a dazzling light show and bubbles! Spherical ones without hair … no corny old jokes in this text M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader! The lighting rig consists of a candle either side of the stage, one either side of the disco and one centre stage. The bubble blowers are sat at ground level either side of the stage, their job sounds, and is, easy. It is usually done by two local footballers who, relative to the Rugby mob, are used to blowing into small round holes. As with the Rugby there are girls who like to play football too. These are the more feminine ones who like to wear things like make-up and pretty dresses and during a game, keep their kit nice and not get it mucky. They don’t have seasoned moustaches either, just a slight shadow, easily covered by a little dab here and there of Boots No 7 (how do I know about No 7 … read on).

The lighting technicians again sat either side of the stage, one either side of the disco, plus one directly in front (JR has a big display). Each technician has a piece of A4 card with little windows cut into it, over these windows are stuck those nice transparent coloured sweet wrappers (from Fergie’s pick ‘n’ mix counter). They simply hold these in front of the candle flames … hey presto! … A psycho..delic light show. The guy in the middle of the disco unit is the strobe; he simply pendulums his piece of card very quickly across the flame. He generally has lots of ‘quick wrist’ techniques developed in the Millom Haematite Fetish Clubs … this job is usually done by some sad git who can’t get fixed up … I was strobe for a while … years in fact. I was so frustrated that I could have frozen a humming bird’s wings mid sweep in a panic flight. This speed was possible for me because as I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t play Rugby so I had about as much chance of pulling as a plastic flower has of experiencing osmosis (okay … water travelling up the bloody stem with no muscles to speak of … okay?). But rapid wrist strobing is a useful talent and the qualification can take you all around the world. Yes you can get a job just about anywhere at all, such as testing the speed of people’s record decks using a small Mag torch! Balancing tyres using the same torch! Upsetting people with epilepsy … using the same torch with a more powerful bulb! Doing Morse Code for sailors who talk fast. Salt and pepper shaker in a restaurant; snowstorm shaker for lazy upper class people. Yes, you can get a proper job even if you don’t want one, a common illness, I would much prefer a life of leisure … please buy my writings … friend.

What about Dry Ice? Smoke you mean? Yeees! Easy Peasy!

Steel drum either side of the dance floor, few bits of driftwood and dry grass inside, light it, get it blazing and then throw in a sufficient amount of damp grass from up the park (over the fence, but don’t let the cops see you) … hey presto as much smoke as is needed and probably quite a lot more in fact that isn’t. A ‘wafter’ with a standard wafters plywood board 3’ x 3’ is employed at each barrel. It is usual practice to open the windows a little as it can get a tad stuffy and hard on the lungs, also if anyone is eating smoky bacon crisps they tend to lose their flavour which can mean quite a few bags being returned to the baffled maker with notes saying … “shouldn’t these plain crisps be in a red bag?” Be warned if you visit, eat salt and vinegar. At times the smoke production has been so good the Fire Brigade has turned up after one of the bright sparks in a moment of melancholic staring at the stars while lying on the Fire Station roof thinking of a 40% pay rise plus, in the meantime, gizza a job to break the boredom notices that the moon has gradually disappeared behind a cloud which is emanating from Millom Workies … again! Mind you they can only come along if Peg is available, which she will be … for double time of course.

There you have it, JR’s ‘78s’ psycho..delic Slade HMV disco. A couple of pints of alcoholic slush and you will think you are in Peter Stringfellows. Millom hasn’t got any real professional entertainment? … I somehow don’t think that’s true, so there!

 

 

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, Court will now end for today and commence tomorrow, the final day, at

11 a.m.”.

“All rise for M’lud”.

 

***

 

FRIDAY 11.00 – THE FINAL SESSION

“All rise for M’lud”.

M’lud: “Ah, good morning Mr Lassut, good morning everyone. What a splendid week it’s been, learning about little old Millom town out there on a limb on the Cumbrian West coast. I haven’t enjoyed myself so much since we sorted out the camp management at Nuremburg. What’s on the menu today then?”

Well M’lud, I’d like to carry on with, on this the final day, my painstakingly researched defence of the self-entertainment industry. I am now going to talk about what were the town’s cinemas.

M’lud: “Really, I am a little bit of a Barry Norman myself you know, I like a good flick, I recall back in the seventies going to see ‘Slade in Flame’. Ohhhh them kind of a monkeys can’t swiiiing! And them birdies can’t siiiing … Oh sorry! Got a little carried away there … carry on, carry on”.

The Court applauds M’lud’s vocal efforts; he stands and takes a bow. Well M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, I can’t deny the closing of the two cinemas in the town, I can though tell you a little about them and the reason as to why they were closed. One cinema was located above the Co-op, it was called the Ritz. My fondest and earliest memory there is going to see Bambi with ooooh, the bit where the adult deer told him … “Bambi, you’re never going to see your mother again”, very sad, no more nagging Bambi, no one to confiscate your mucky mags, no one to tell you which girls you can date, no one to show you up in front of your mates, no one to tell you you’re the black sheep of the family but … still very sad. The other was in the Palladium, the home of Millom amateurs, an extremely mad bunch whom I shall talk about next. My knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the cinema industry is very intimate because I worked for a short time (a couple of frames from the movie which is my life), on the actual projectors, with the brilliant Stan Twiname, the shaw kite lighting engineer. I have also seen projection rooms since, in places where electricity is taken for granted.

The projectors in these places were large beasts, about 6’ x 4’ (an educated, faded memory guess … wrong as I saw them thirty odd years later, a lot smaller, but powerful). These modern animals were powered by two carbon rods, set horizontally with a gap between the ends of about one quarter inch. The electrical current flowed across this gap and formed an arc light … very, very bright. Because this light is so bright, it is viewed through a deep green glass window, such as that of a welders mask. There have to be two projectors because, when one reel of film runs low, the second one has to be turned on and the two films ‘merged’. This is done by the projectionist watching the top right hand side of the screen for the O which lasts for about a second on the film. The first one is the warning, to turn on projector 2. The second O gives the signal to open the metal flap between light and film. Projection one is then turned off and the spool of film taken out and rewound onto another spool, before being replaced in the can. During the process where it is rewound onto another reel, via a rig set up on a bench, the projectionist’s helper puts their index finger and thumb of the left hand on either side of the moving film. This was to feel for rips around the sprockets. If a rip was detected, a frame was cut out and the film then cemented together again, using a mixture of one part sand to two parts … fascinating … BUT

What do you do in Millom when technology is not your mastermind subject? No carbons? No electric arc? No modern projector? … You make the best of what you already have, improvise, use your noggin, you Apollo 13 it. We of course had two projectors and a screen per cinema. It is amazing what you can do with two second hand wardrobes and four bed sheets stitched together. The films come already on reels so we needed only one empty for each projector and one for rewinding. A couple of highly sophisticated crank handles were geared up using modified fishing reels which fitted onto the mechanism through holes in the closed doors. Hey presto! You have yourself a cinema. The films were acquired by Freddie and Peg, who would take a quick flight across the estuary to Barrow in Furness, returning with John Wayne type saddle bags loaded with the cans containing the reels of that week’s films … borrowed from my beloved ABC cinema (now closed).

Of course when the Millom audience saw electric lights on the films they just felt the same as you do now when you see something like Star Wars … mumbo jumbo fantasy.

It’s funny you know, Peg and Fred sometimes have to go to Barrow on foot, the last occasion being when she broke her wings showing off stunt flying. She got egg on her face when she got tangled in the Millom flag, which was flying at half-mast because Freddie Gleaves had just been elected Mayor (how come no one voted?) She, on these clip clop occasions when she goes Shanks has to wear a panto cow outfit so as not to get mistaken for a horse and therefore risk, at status Devcon 2, being eaten by the Barrowbarians.

The light source inside the wardrobes was provided by two Spermaceti (Sperm Whale) oil lamps, the bottled, cinema grade oil provided by Arthur Ferguson on a special promotional ‘Buy one get another for the same price’ special, often to be repeated offer. The flame provided by shaw kite just wasn’t bright enough. The picture was still a little dim with the spermaceti but the lenses were good and if it was difficult to see sometimes, the audience would ‘scrum’ up to the screen and an intimate, almost ‘magic lantern’ evening was enjoyed by all. So, why did the cinemas close? Well, the reason is quite sad really and perhaps even more relevant in today’s silly world … in which the beautiful whales have been hunted to near extinction. Arthur, being the absolute gentleman he is, kept on feeding the Haverigg pods good crusty Thompson’s bread (if they had had hair it would have been curly) but refused to kill the creatures. Sadly one can’t get good old Ken Thomson’s scrumptious bread any more anyway, he retired.

The Millom folk lost their cinemas … but did a very human thing in the process. That M’lud is all I can say in defence here. The good people of Millom have no cinema because the world is against them … sad but true.

M’lud: “Thank you Mr Lassut, my wife is very active helping to save the planet’s whales and dolphins from needless annihilation by the abundance of greedy fools and imbeciles. It is strange that as humans we either destroy or allow to be destroyed everything that is beautiful and ‘then’ complain. Nothing is seen as valuable until it is rated then when it becomes extinct … it reaches its highest worth. It is a strange world we create and are about to un-create. Court will recess for one hour, back at 12.30”.

“All rise for M’lud”.

 

***

 

12:30

 

“All rise for M’lud!”

M’lud: “Welcome back everyone for the final hour; I must admit I’m feeling a little sad Mr Lassut. Don’t you know of any other small towns that have been given a good slapping by the Police and the press which you could put on the map with your superb writing skills?”

Well, M’lud, sorry but no. Unfortunate really because I’m charging a King’s ransom next time. But nevertheless, I being ‘the way and the shaw kite light’, guarantee that you will enjoy this little recount concerning the Millom Amateur Operatic Society. So again and, finally, under the heading of self-entertainment M’lud I would like to continue with a poem.

M’lud: “A poem? My God Mr Lassut, such abundance of style and massive charisma for one so floppy haired, small, plump yet with a fizzog that would look at home on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with the rest of Michelangelo’s angels”.

Why thank you M’lud, you really do have a superb eye for natural perfection … ahem!

 

Millom Amateur Operatic Society! What a mob!

The show must go on, despite family and job

Lots of talent on tap in the town

From the serious actor to the winnable clown.

A Broadway show! Panto or play

Just givvem a script and they’re away!

Mesmerise the audience like wickle bunny wabbits in a beam

Yes, an entertaining lot … the MAOS (chaos) team.

 

M’lud: “Excellent Mr Lassut! Without further ado may I offer you £1,500 for that signed original too? Making that three grand in total.”

M’lud of course you may, I will see you after Court just before I get duffed up by the people of Millom. Now ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, there is no business like show business, or so they say, a family friend and a significant person in the changing of my life, the lovely Andrea Horodny (now a Guy, in name only not via a sex change), arranged for me to go to a dress rehearsal of the local Amateur Operatic Society, not as an actor mind you, oh no! Forget that for a start! But, as I was an exponent of the Daguerreotype shoebox with a lens, which was a modern, updated version of a shoebox with a pinhole, I was hungrily looking for photography work and she thought she would help me out, nice girl. This kindly feat of giant proportions was achieved by arranging for me to take the publicity pictures for the up and coming show. I went trepidatounervously to the rehearsal (cissy actors! Humiliation junkies! Won’t catch MEEEEE doing that!) which was apparently being held in a ‘hut’.

Hmmmmmmm?

 

***

 

Walking up the ramp I passed through a Hitchcockian ‘cluck’ of peeved hens which, I assume had been politely asked to leave their spacious house for a couple of hours while ‘the-spians’ went through their artistic paces. I was grateful to Arthur Ferguson for downsizing through rapid pork scratching evolution all those years ago, the 6” curved beaks of these feathered piranhas, because they could so easily have shredded my expensive Levis with their incessant trouser leg pecking as I carefully tiptoed my way through their obviously ‘hennoyed’ group. I bet Bill Oddie never gets pecked so viciously watching birds from his nice safe hide. Get a proper job Bill! You don’t know you’re born! It was quite a large hut, with a long corridor sporting a door with a window lens at the far end. I never realised that chickens were enthusiastic about windows? (Not Microsoft, obviously!) Maybe then as natural evolution unwraps its mysterious package and chickens begin to take on human characteristics (and dumb down) … they could find that they somehow get talked, door by door, into cherishing UPVC douuuuu buck! Buck! Buck! Buck Liiiie glazing?

I crept up, SAS style, to the lens and glanced through the glass, using a steam blob to hide most of my face. There were loads of people in the room; some were sitting around the edge talking rhubarb. Some were up on two feet in singing and dancing mode. It looked like a big pillow fight due to the down disturbance of St Vitus feet. They were using shaw kite lamps because the candles I was to learn later, kept blowing out as people spun enthusiastically around and around in spirited, trancelike, almost Voodooeque artistic movements. Maybe that’s why the chickens had vacated so as not to have their plumes trampled? A lady came out of a side door; she looked at me and said “You’ll have to go inside if you want to meet everyone”. That was Vulcan logic, Hick A level standard. I crept in quietly through a 1mm gap but, fate which was in a cosmically silly mood, bumped the camera on the side of the door frame. The Producer looked around and saw me and walked or rather Morticia’d (it isn’t in the spellchecker, so I don’t know?) over to me.

“Oooooh! Another man!” Said David Marcus, (a rather flamboyant gay man and a fab name dropper) grabbing me delicately by the arm, female Rugby League style … dragging me across the room … gulp! … Placing me in the middle of the chorus line … between two women … gulp! … To join the pillow fight.

Hang on! Haaaaannnnng ooonnnnnnn! There is no way I’m doing this! I did protest loudly but, alas dear friends, roaming men and country folk from Millom … to no avail. “My lord, I’ve only come to take some photographs!” I don’t think he heard me though, if he did he took no notice (story of my life).

Three days/one hour later, the rehearsal came to a close and my heartbeat returned to 200 overall (not the same type as farmers wear). I was then dragged kicking and screaming, unrehearsed, yet still very dramatically, in a mellow kind of way, over the other kind of way and into the MCC. Millom Critic Club (invented by Piggy Newton, remember?) This is an establishment where they all walk pigeon toed and talk about critic, usually with a wicket sense of humour … I sat next to a patch of recent looking paint and watched it for a while (the drying process is fascinating and, I regretted not having a microscope to study it on a molecular level). I guzzled beer in order to change my experience of reality, listening in one ear to Gowerisms (David Gower was a famous cricketer) and in the other, David Marcus name drop the entire population of Hollywood. There was a worrying side effect to the beer; I somehow began to vaguely understand the rules of the game, through a member attempting to explain them to me. Aye, aye, he told his mind upon my ear. I scarce could understand it, except for bits and bobbets sire … which luckily now, I have to say, I’ve managed to forget and continue to do so to this day, over and over again.

Once upon a time, in a nightmare period of my mysterious journey through this life, I had stumbled upon calculus which, I had not understood at all but, slightly more than critic. Here is sense for you … the bowler bowls at the batters head and that ball is hard. People watch this! It has always baffled me as to why they don’t use a spongy? If the bowler knocks down the wickets because the batter is useless with a piece of 3” x 2” ex-Willow he is consoled by the rest of the team and his tears are dabbed dry by his caring companions. Mind you, choosing to be a spin bowler is a wise move, because he’s had the pleasure of rubbing his knackers all morning right in front of everyone, with the world’s greatest pervs excuse … “I was polishing the ball” … Yeah, righto! “Yes, okay, I used grit, but not to manipulate the spin! Honest!” Like it rough eh? But still the ungrateful wretch cries after knocking down the wickets with a splendid grubber … why? Well, this is because he is upset by the fact that he has missed through lousy, lousy bowling sire and a distracting erection, a fine opportunity to knock out the batsman or at least de-tooth him … never mind though, they can always have a pigeon toed feud in the cart park after the game and muck their virginal whites. They don’t have a ladies team thank goodness. I have asked my muse, God and the entire team of cosmic writer helpers for some inspiration i.e. “Excuse me Muse, God, everyone, what is interesting and funny about women’s critic?” The only reply I got was a silent … “What’s funny and interesting about critic full stop?” So I wrote that answer down, better than nothing!

“Whatever, drink and be merry with the musical stars that have parts and, of course, with the chorus line scum then, agree to come back the week after to take some pictures of the rehearsals and the characters and … the hens! For … Chicken Watcher’s Weekly, a little side line I’d found to make a few extra dollars. Hands up who thought I was going to say bucks?

C’mon M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader … I wonder if chicken watchers wear anoraks? “Ooooh look everyone! A Staffordshire red hen! Let’s stop and watch it peck in the dust for ages and take lots of pictures to look at for ages longer with others like us!”

Well M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, it seemed to make top sense coming back … no it didn’t! It made none whatsoever coming back the following week for another drag into the working class, chorus line scum … yet it seemed to please the women, first time I’d ever done that to a group of fillies yet, only because they were short of men, or men of short be it stature, aye! Stature my lord! They tended to do the King and I nearly every year because they needed only a King and the rest could be done with women and wild controllable kids (some with bum fluff moustaches) whose proud parents comprised the nightly audience, a double whammy in fact.

The bug, M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear reader, does actually bite when a person joins a theatrical society (especially in the men’s changing room), to the point sometimes when they will do anything, no matter hoooow daft, to get on a stage in front of ‘People’. Although us normal folk are still not going to achieve the women’s statement directed affectionately at Rugby lads … “What’s he like?!”

Bow Street Runners were tall policemen (here we go again), in my first production, Oliver (for a change), I ended up playing one … after shouting, screaming and holding my breath until that nice Mr Marcus relented. BUT only after I’d agreed to try and get him fixed up with a certain male … oh never mind. The audience laughed when I went on to do my part, because I have such … comedy timing or, possibly because the trousers were far, far too long (20” leg) rather baggy (possibly fashionable now amongst young attitudinal muggers and car thieves) and, my partner in crime fighting, was a six foot odd (very) Cooperman, but, I did it, anything for a prat, sorry part. Oliver has a dog actor, Bullseye, named thus because of his black eye, belongs to the villain Bill Sykes (he was played by, in my opinion, a brilliant amateur actor, Kevin McNally). The non-equity dog had a white head; no one could get near him with make-up so he was put in a crate with Fireblade Jackaljaw for ten minutes … Bingo! Our accompanist and a marvellous friend to me, Betty Newton, was a natural genius when it came to playing the piano and second to none when it came to sight reading (i.e. playing straight from a strange piece of music). One dress rehearsal, a fly came into the room after doing overtime on a shaw kite pizza. Luckily Arthur Ferguson didn’t see it, cos it would have been pursued around the field with a fly swatter, the little thief. It landed on her score and rid itself of some ballast. Betty just played the new notes without missing a beat, breaking into a short and surprisingly acceptable version of the minute waltz by B. Bottle, the unintentional Chopin of the insect world. There again, maybe he was actually insectspired?

M’lud: “Mr Lassut, another one like that and I will lock you up”.

Understood M’lud.

Frank Eccles, an actual author of seafaring books, once playing Clint Eastwood’s part in Paint Your Wagon, (whilst looking like his dad) completely muffed the words of his song and said “I do beg your pardon but isn’t this supposed to be I Talk to the Trees?” That ruined it, I was enjoying the waltz, later in a dress rehearsal Frank forgot his lines, couldn’t hear the prompt correctly and again said his favourite phrase … “I’m sorry, I do beg your pardon”, in his extremely posh accent. Hilarious!

It frightens the cast because:-

He’s an ex-Headmaster who taught their kids and they all think he will do it on the night … I hoped he would. He did however start talking to trees … sort of. He would get into the habit of reading one of his own unauthorised and controversial seafaring books after several pints in the Harbour Hotel, to the apple tree in his garden. In response the tree attempted to throw apples at him. Frank though, being an ex-teacher and therefore far too clever for the tree by a long shot, sat just outside the canopy. He would never have discovered gravity, which is why it was done a couple of hundred years previous. If it had of been left up to Frank we all would be wondering just WHY that toast falls, butter side down being the mere afterthought, thus destroying the mystery of the …”Why me?” type of bad luck.

The “I can, do and will play anyone”, simply because he is a chameleonic actor is Colin MacDonald, husband to Jonquil. In the production of the King and I which, as I’ve mentioned, is performed often-often-often, that often he tends to wear the costume all the time to save changing and, the audience acted as prompts which was really useful. I suppose the Millom MAOS audience were years ahead of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. They had “ask the audience” without actually asking …

Colin: “Yes … erm … erm … erm … damn!”

Audience: “Miss Annnnnnaaa!!”

Colin: “Yes Miss Anna!”

Rapturous applause!!!!

Anna: “erm … erm …”

Colin played Yul Brynner brilliantly. There was one hitch though he wouldn’t shave his head, not even for Sweet Charity! Ha! Ha!

To combat this, Peg and Freddie went a calling on Millom Football Club (their women don’t have facial hair and neither do they) and permanently borrowed a football. Colin cut it in half and placed one half of it over his head. This would have been fine except he didn’t turn it inside out first. ITRE, across the forehead does not fit in with the image of the King of Siam. It would have been better being given a ball with HEAD written on it. At least that would have been a useful instruction to some of the Millom audience … probably!

My pal, the late Betty Hughes, was the tea lady. Boy! Could she brew a pot with the use of the water boiler. The boiler was a fantastic contraption straight from one of Disney’s mad professor films. Shaw kite burner underneath and more pipes than the Reverend’s organ. She would always have an affectionate go at me when I always complained about the temperature of the brew, which would really have made a hot geyser appear lukewarm. She was actually a consultant to George Stephenson, believe it or not! She would always be saying to me … “Oooooh you cheeky bugger … it’s no wonder your mother tried to swap you with Brick!” That almost led to me having several weeks of cheap therapy with Poggy. Make-up was fun, except that the more the men put on the more unfriendly David Marcus became with them? AND

Why is it that everywhere else in Millom has kite methane heating to some degree, or wood fires, or coal fires, or Uranium?! Shhhhhsh! Yet the male changing room was/is beyond freezing? The women’s changing room was of COURSE a palace! Romantically lit: crystal chandeliers, highlighting creamy oooh bar ooooh curves ooooh which shamed the bowling green into a close second. Chandeliers and ACME production line Church candles, courtesy of the Rev … 12 gold teeth. Yes, the ladies changing room was cosily warm (that early morning bed feeling) … or maybe it was simply their personalities? (Naaaa!) There was, still is, Maureen Wilson, nothing in Hollywood could match Maureen (except one of those actresses Chihuahua’s on therapy?), she was a straight comedienne who made Buster K look like Togo on Prozac.

 

.

 

I was brilliant; Maureen … so, so.

 

Myself and the NOW famous Maureen Wilson in panto as Hirem and Firem (she died a few years back), notice if you will the even shaw kite lighting. Maureen is actually saying … “Tell me my next line punk or I’ll crack you one!” … Charming!

Frank Hill (probably dead?), a great singer, so he told me, stood behind me once and just made noises in tune! He was a little moth with big eyes on its wings. I had taken weeks to learn all the words.

Peter Clark, who played the cowardly lion and had his tail come off … marvellous! He bled for hours afterwards. Pamela Newton, the pianist Betty’s daughter, splendid actress and singer, she’s now married to a Bell.

 

 

Russell Harding, Pam Newton (Bell), Dave Guy and meeeeee! In a comedy play. Not Now Darling!

I was brilliant; the rest? So, so.

 

Julie Clark/Matthews. She changed her name to Westwood, you’ll have seen her on Coronation Street and Brookside … but only if you have a TV set. John Eccleson … he went on to present Children’s Disney TV and work with Jim Henson. George Usher, Lynne McQuire. Lynne is the dictionary description of talent, she is a stalwart. I find it extremely difficult to describe Lynne adequately. Maybe the M.A.O.S. (Millom Amateur Operatic Society) is her soul expressing itself to a grand level? This grandness spills over into her family. Two talented daughters, Johanne and Claire. Chris and Keiran too, Chris is a sportsman and Keiran an actor and musician. Every single time I’ve banged on her door, I’ve been welcomed, only because I say … “Here’s a twenty Lynne.”

Dave Guy, Russell Harding, George Usher, Albert Taylor, Derek Bamber and his lovely wife Sandra, JR Clarke of HMV and Acapella Karaoke fame. JR began MAOS staring through the bottom of a quickly emptying whisky bottle because he was rather fearful about the audience. I know because I was stood right next to him and worse, I’d encouraged him to come along. That’s nerves. He became a complete wa … performer, supported (after the whisky) by his lovely wife Sue and daughters Laura and Natasha.

I can’t pass this point without expressing my love for Bridget Ford (you still around Bridge?) and her (late) husband John. John was Anna’s (the newsreader) father and rightly was/is very proud of his daughter. I met John a few times and found him to be a really nice man, the press called him something like a ‘dirty Vicar’ for marrying Bridget … his junior. They were happy though … say no more, except … rare. Bridget had her critics but, she spoiled me and I always did and always will give her a good write up … whatever the circumstances. I had a few after show dances with this talented lady, the memories of which I will treasure … thanks Bridge! Hey! Come to think of it … John did have some nice antiques!

Bridie Boyle, Laal Viv Birkett, David Cooper (the six foot odd cop), Gogs, Midge Cairns, Kevin McNally (Bill Sykes, never mind Oliver Reed … Kevin is wasted, he is a De Niro). Kala Shaplin, Cybil Shepherd lookalike, great actress (now on a radio station in Brighton). Jackie Moore, Jackie is the manifestation of what this entertainments game is all about. If you are going to put her in a box and limit her in any way … use inexpensive material because she will smash the sides down and dazzle anyone within a hundred miles … brilliant! She was working with Johnny Vegas last time I spoke to her, she should be famous herself. And there are possibly another hundred who I can’t recall. All of them magic. And all of them together with the rest of the town deserving a break. They would appreciate their hall of entertainment refurbishing; they would like a proper cinema, a swimming pool, electricity. They have been turned down by all money sources every time. Can’t some money be injected into this great little town? All in all, not bad for a little END OF THE LINE community with no prospects is it!

But now … 10 May … sorry 23 August … sorry 15 November (these books take time) 2003, the town is suffering (as I type this for the last time, it’s October 2012). It’s grey when it should be rainbow coloured. It now has young muggers thanks to the policy of ‘protect the criminal’ this deplorably run country now possesses. Thanks very much ‘Law’? Millom has tons of potential; it is on the edge of the Lakes, forget the iron ore, that’s history. Millom is a potential goldmine and I ain’t talking pyrites. Thanks Terence McGlennon for highlighting this fact.

And that M’lud, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, dear, dear reader is that. I have nothing more to offer in the defence of Millom.

Thank you very much.

 

***

 

SUMMING UP

 

M’lud: “Well Mr Lassut, Jury and reader. Millom seems like a talented child that hasn’t yet been noticed and, as you say Mr Lassut, thanks to PC McGlennon, that time may be on the horizon? Let’s hope so. I’m not going to ask the Jury or reader for a verdict … any results of this case will speak loudly for themselves. I myself find the town not deserving of punishment for simply being located in a picturesque, if out on the limb, area.

Therefore … Not Guilty!

As for Sharpo, what a characteristic hero! A scotch bonnet chilli in the mild curry that is Millom.

I wish the people there all the best fortune which fate may bring and I am putting a Court Order that God gets his finger out and remembers Millom.

 

***

 

The Jury up and leave, I leave with M’lud and you. We’re walking down the corridor on the way the bar for a G & T.

M’lud?

M’lud: “Yes Frankie? And it’s Bob now please”.

Ok Bob, my friend, the local hero Sharpo … I’ve mentioned him a few times but … I haven’t quite given the court enough, so here’s a little more.

Bob: “Tell you what, lets you, the reader and myself chat informally over the drinks. You buy, why change the habit of a lifetime”.

Ok … Erm Bob?

Bob: “Yes?”

About that three grand, for the poems?

 

***

 

GOOD OLD SHARPO

 

Bob: “Well cheers everyone … (chink!) Okay then Frankie, tell us ALL about Sharpo?”

Well Bob, dear reader …

I grew up with Stephen. We’re from completely different backgrounds i.e. my parents insisted on using Brylcreem on me (Beckham hadn’t made it fashionable yet) and, making sure a hot water bottle was in my bed each night. At school at least, he was always the one for the women, while I stood back like a wallflower and watched, bemused at his magnetism. I was infatuated, as were half the school, with a girl called Joyce Stubbs, one day I had to watch him snogging her in the cloakroom of the second floor Millom Comprehensive School, Middle School building. That is still a clear memory, mind you, if it had of been me in his shoes, the caretaker would have been sent to mop me up and take me home in a bucket. Fighting too, he was good at it, I wasn’t I don’t think. When we left school, we both landed jobs at Sellafield and both ended up in the same trade, instrumentation. I was told you had to be clever to do instruments so how I landed that occupation I’ll never know? We were always mates anyway.

Virginity wise at this time, the early seventies, I was still innocent! Crazy or what? My mate though … been there, known her etc.

During our four year apprenticeship we were required to go on block release to college i.e. six weeks at a time, to the Whitehaven Science and Technology corridors of wisdom, to learn such things as calculus, from a madman teacher called Dave Hill (no, not the Slade guitarist). The calculus huddled amongst other crazy subjects such as something un-understandable called ‘Science’ with Mr Wombwell who told us that “If you dabbuwl the vowltayge the cawwnt awtomatically dabbuwles”. Yeah ok, thanks, it was never much use to me. Well at least I remember the guy.

Sharpy also got kicked out of lesson by a teacher nicknamed ‘The Gentle Giant’ (he reminded me of Bill Maynard), for throwing used batteries from his calculator into a tin bin at the front of the room, from the back of the room of course … with a resultant CLANG! No one in the history of the world had ever managed to upset this teacher before.

We were once sat in a corridor when some girls walked past. Sharpy then came out with a saying which revealed the reason as to why he had a nice motorbike, a ‘SHARP’ make stereo system (of course), and why he could afford cosmetic surgery which gave him delicious Val Kilmer lips. The bugger was moonlighting, as … a gynaecologist! I just knew it, call me psychic. Why else would he say to either the group of ladies, or an individual? “Drop your knic… ‘hemp panties’, let’s see if I know you?” Memorable indeed. Isn’t it a good job the Reverend doesn’t know about these things!”

The biggest, most ironic laugh occurred on the day everyone in the class went on a drinking spree around Whitehaven. Well why not? Afterwards, I seem to somehow recall, Sharpo and myself decided to bunk off, you know, too drunk to learn and too happy to care (good song title for a working class band). We somehow managed to reach Egremont near Cleator Moor. Walking through this Northern Mecca, which is about four miles away from Whitehaven and the home of a few people whose past lives I won’t go into (lucky you Moggy Moreland and John Fitz), we were picked up, in a pickup by a guy called Miley Mason, who owned the Punchbowl Inn at the Green, near Millom. We sat in the back and froze to death as Miley drove us over the fells. We didn’t hit the mecca position as our joints had solidified. Meanwhile, the rest of the class were having a firework display … IN the actual college. No one in authority could believe Sharpo wasn’t actually involved. How could he have been … he was with Mister Innocence himself … how boring. Zzzzzzzzz.

However, the whole class was banned from the college for the duration of the next three big bangs and evolutionary processes at least … including Sharpo and myself. Halleluiah … at last … I’m BAD … I’ve SINNED! What am I like?! The first and only time I’ve ever nearly been a villain, accidentally of course. Well …

Around about this time I met a girl one night, got drunk, took her home and something happened … what time is it Bob? Because I have to go home soon to feed my goldfish.

Bob: “It’s about five thirty Frankie, should we carry on this conversation some other time?”

Well, in the circumstances with this story of the girl in public like this, I’d like to say yes, but that private time may never come. Half an hour won’t hurt, so to carry on …

There is or was a little pub next door to the college where we used to go and slake thirsts at dinner time, it was/is called The Castle. One particular dinnertime we were all sat in this little watering hole drinking lots of beer, my recent sexual conquest memory was having a laugh doing my head in, so, I decided to pour it out, tell my FRIEND … and cure myself. Yes M’lud, in confidence I told my friend, on the understandable condition, that he tell no one … to which he of course agreed, being a man of his word. Back inside the college, before the lecturer arrived he was up onto a chair (yet!! Still only 4’6 tall … four foot five and a half of that, in this case, being mouth … I blame his dad’s voicebox and genes), showing a great talent as a public speaker … tell no ‘one’ person, he kept his word and just told the whole wiiiiiiiiiide wooooooorld!

Soon, lots of people knew of the loss of my innocence and much, much worse, the real meaning of the number 20. T … WENTY. But twenty 6 years on, the ‘pen-is’ is mightier than the sword and, it’s my turn now.

Now remember Mr Sharp, this is bound to get to you one way or another, so remember … you’re my mate and importantly, between mates … if you’re going to give it, you’ve gotta be able to take it. So firstly, well, I have to stick. Oh, by the way, do you remember that time at the fair when you snatched my toffee apple off the stick and ran off with it? Or that time, down the fair again, when we were 17 and you jumped onto the bonnet of my parents blue Cortina, AJG 581K, which I had borrowed? I got hell for the dint!

So here goes, we can argue this in eternity. I must wholeheartedly disagree with the Millom and surrounding areas opinions. You see, I know for a fact that Sharpo would NOT deviate from the path of good or say BOO to a goose … neither would you if you were sneaking up on it with a club and a sack. The local responsible and well run constabulary would not get any overtime pay if it wasn’t for him. They would (maybe?) get some sleep though and even a pot of coffee … Mmmmmm … during those boring days when nothing ‘seems’ to happen in Millom (I should write a book and send it to them … one hundred thumbtwiddlepatterns for bored PC’s).

Naaaa, things are not as they seem, seldom are, you see, Sharpo is psychic. He instinctively knows when the officers are about to make coffee and sit with their feet up on the desk in a state of semi-trance thinking … “Mmmmmmm this is the life, could do with a good safari holiday next year. Think I might claim some “End of the Line” compensation”.

Then he strikes quicker than a Cobra or Red Bull … ten minutes later the coffee idea floats aromatically into the ozone layer (it finds a bit we haven’t screwed up) and theeeeeyyy’re off. Diddleliddle um Diddleliddle um … the Millomstone Cops … Whhheeee! … Yet their quarry is nowhere to be found? I can tell you, he is in the well hidden spaceship with Noddy and the lads laughing at the antics on the 26” either floating plasma metaphysical screen. Told you he was a hero. To his advantage he has the fighting spirit of a cross between Mike Tyson and a Viking and looks a little like Eric Estrada … the Policeman from the 70’s series … CHIPS (Californian Highway Patrol … bet he never sued them through boredom). Remember though, chips in Millom? There is no newspaper to wrap them up in. Aren’t I being very complimentary about a chap who ruined my womanising power and humiliated me in front of the whole world … for years!

Talking of women, I just haven’t got the time in this life to recount what I could recount about Sharpo and the fairer sex, as it just wouldn’t be fair on the planet … knocking down so many trees for the pages … plus I don’t want his mam to find out anything that her wayward son has been up to concerning women over the last few years as it would cause her acute worry, leading to about 500 years sleep deprivation. I leave it to you the reader to use your imagination … which I’m sure you will. I will also refrain from telling anything about a certain Policewoman. I taught this lady officer guitar, she liked old ‘chisel chin’, very ironic although he didn’t much care for her (so he said) … yet she told me that …

I can though and will recount the tale of …

TARKA (not) THE OTTER

Tarka is a person who takes/took things from other people when they are not/were not in. He is banned from Millom. One night, he and his buddies came to my house and took my shaw kite video player and the methane jar which I was planning to use with the TV upon its invention. Wilf Hornsby had promised to tell me pronto when such an event happened. Nevertheless, they took it. It made me wonder actually if they had something similar to a TV set wherever they were. I had a choice at this point, I could either …

Tell the Police or Tell Sharpo

Number one required the filling in of a boring looking form and interrogation for the case of the ‘Missing allotment duck?’”

I decided that if they tied me to a chair and began boring a confession out of me I would admit the lesser charge of a chicken perhaps. I would never confess to one of Craghills Guinea Fowl (my cousin Graham Irwin has probably eaten the evidence by now and judging by Graham’s new hat, tried to hide the feathers too) and, a peacock was definitely out. Sheep rustling was not even to be considered. Sheep ‘rustling’ in Millom is the sound made by the willies in the dead leaves when you are chasing your luuuuuurrrvee ‘conquest’ while singing something by Barry White … even better though … Noddy’s ballad ‘Everyday’ or …

I tell Sharpy the story. He listens intently, I feel a little bad because the poor lads cheeks are swollen with the ‘mumps’. However he takes a breath, a sip of Ribena (undiluted!) and rasps under his breath … “Heeeeeeyyy! Okay! Noooo problem, Corlieone sort it out. Let me make a few enquiries.” He then placed the Persian cat he was stroking in a mini guillotine and chopped it in half (joking!). I kissed his ring and left. A couple of days later the Police call at my house with the video and empty (!) shaw kite jar … actually, that’s REAL fantasy.

A couple of days later, Corlieone comes a calling, mumps cleared I’m glad to say. It was good news … “Job sorted Frankie, they will bring it back. I told them ‘you bring my mates stuff back, or, we’ll be down to visit you …”. Now that’s service!

One road in to the town over a bridge, the same way out too unless you own Peg. He had seen them getting into their car to leave the town and had run to this bridge. He calmly tied Fireblade Jackaljaw to the fence and stood in the middle of the road on approach of suspect vehicle … which … erm, stopped. You would if you saw Eric Estrada, Mike Tyson hybrid in your way flexing his neck muscles. Not being swayed by idols (cars), he didn’t bother getting into the mecca position, although a few passers-by felt they should. Then, various parts of the car were removed forcibly and the riot act read out. I realise it’s against the law to treat criminals like this … from folklore stories passed on, I hear the guys in the car, during the dismantling, rose in their seats by a few inches atop their own kite. I also hear that, as a last resort, if the goods did not come back as politely requested, he was planning to deposit a horse’s head in Tarka’s bed. But on second thoughts … he wanted his milk delivery the next morning (the bluff would have to work … it did).

Hey presto! A day or so later, a video player and FULL shaw kite jar (I think it was their own? The consistency was all wrong for a horse) were deposited in my back yard. This is honestly a true story; do you think I should tell the Police? It has been a while .This did have rather an astonishing effect in Millom. A local colleague of mine, Mel Wilson, decided to print the town’s first ever newspaper on the strength of it. The paper was only the size of a playing card, containing this amazing story, but people enjoyed it and wondered if the next edition may contain runescopes? On the down side, it was nowhere near big enough to inspire the potato chip. The second edition, because nothing much had happened since, contained the headline story …

 

THE ADVERTISER

 

TIDE COMES IN … THEN GOES OUT AGAIN.

and …

 

King Arthur discovers VAT, and smiles widely.

League female player shaves moustache but breaks razor.

Farmer’s daughter attempts to shave legs, but breaks reinforced cut throat.

Reverend Joe (Isaacs) seen carrying large marble statue into house?

Millom Operatic Society Member remembers lines in the King and I.

Policeman spotted looking interested in END OF LINE town after winning fifteen grand hurt feelings money.

Offer for Millom Express from Richard Branson.

Job centre staff demands Sou’westers for climbing on the roof in Wintery conditions.

Barrow in Furness people jealous of Millom book.

 

The freelance reporter was Togo, and the speller was Brick’s Mum and sister Viv … married to the Lord of Queens Park, Derek Morris. (If I get in as many names as possible, they will never find a Court house big enough).

Anyway that’s the Local Millom hero and one of the best friends I ever had. Up t’t Nuwrrth …

That was painless. Stephen is now almost famous I hope. He died in a motorcycle accident in 2012 … I’m not a believer in death, I know we go on with none of this ‘rest in peace’ nonsense … so, as a final parting shot (for now) … Sharpy was famous for his chin, so, hence a cremation … how the hell would they have managed to get the coffin lid on otherwise? Well?

There is one more little funny I have just had clear info about concerning my car. As I write this, it is the eleventh of Jan, 2014, so this has been going on for a while. I contacted an old friend of mine, David Gabbert and his wonderful and beautiful wife Sue back up there in Millom. He travelled with Sharpo, myself and in this case … well, here it is, I think it’s funny anyway.

One morning when attending college in Workington, I, the driver, get into my Renault 4, a car which resembled a bread van, whose gear stick came out of the dashboard; something that always bemused Sharpy to the tune of “How the fuck do you drive this thing Frankie?”. An old friend of mine Dave Gabbert (a really nice guy) was on board and someone else, a Mr Heasley I can’t remember … and, as the stereo didn’t work, we needed at least some noise, so, we had already arranged the next best thing … I pulled up outside of Sharpo’s. His door opens, and he comes from the door sort of hopping and running trying to get into a sleeping bag. He was subtly trying to tell me that my heater was worse than crap … (being subtle was one of his best qualities).

 

An e-mail from Sue, Dave’s lovely wife.

Dave doesn’t mind ‘you mentioning’ (author added) about the car bit.  He said it was so funny when Sharpo came out of the house jumping in a sleeping bag and asked ‘why’… Sharpo said ‘you’ll soon find out’… Dave said he’s never been soooo cold and there was Sharpo as snug as anything curled up in his sleeping bag.

Huh! Cold is good for you! What about our version of talk, talk, talk radio? Zzzzzzzzzz! We travelled first class to Workington to college. All I could hear was the engine purring, ‘brrrr!’ and ‘Zzzzzz!’

We finished, having sponged up all the knowledge Workington lecturers could give us and made our way back to the car. I opened the door by turning the key in the lock (remember those days?). Dave, whose seat was in the back next to the black box, opened his door, and the pin in the hinge (these are French country road cars remember, expense spared), and the door came off in his hand.

He started laughing. As Dave carried on laughing (still is apparently), I didn’t know what to think, but then thought about taking the other one off and bolting them to the roof and having the first DeLorean. I can’t remember what Sharpo said, but it was something riper than a piece of mature Gorgonzola. I started the engine, turned on the cold air because it was winter in the frozen wastelands of the North, and we’re always hot (anyway, Sellafield was nearby … who needs a heater?). I can’t remember what happened to the car, but I think Dave has the door, framed and on his living room wall. At least we had radio on the way back, which was very loud, but no one could get hold of the knob to turn it down a bit (I blame his dad’s genes, although Esther may have been noisy in private).

I’m going to finish now, but absolutely lastly, I must pay a tribute to my best friend. The one who whispered the words of inspiration and gave me the ‘mental’ pictures to write this text and kept me up for weeks, laughing.

I have taken the mick out of that old infinite stalwart and all round good egg, God, throughout this whole thing, for which I may be accused of blasphemy by certain groups, but do I care? (I don’t fear God … why fear friends?). I guess you may have realised I’m not quite religious? Neither was Sharpo, although he did live right next door to the Catholic Priest, within stone’s throw of the church … there’s some irony in there.

 

One more thing

 

Good News!

God got a hunch; call it coincidence of you like. He went around to his parents’ house for Sunday Dinner He had an urge to explore and so went into the altar wine cellar which was huge because God’s parent’s mansion (of which they have many) is pretty spectacular. He was nosing around omnipresently and came across his old work desk. He looked at it and was also it, which is very clever. He noticed the pencil mark on it and upon closer inspection, he found Millom … ‘Oh gosh!’ he exclaimed as he realised what he had done all those billions of years ago which is a mere fraction of a second in eternity, but a long time for Millom.

Call it coincidence again if you will (that’s the easy way out) but at about the same time the Reverend Joe thought ‘I bet he drew Millom on the white topped table and that’s why it’s so crazy here. But Joe needed Millom known to the outside world so he could Skype international banks into which he could deposit the Gold given to Laal J at Christmas, not to mention all the widow’s treasures. The banks wouldn’t give him an account because they thought he was taking the mickey by telling them he lived in Millom, which wasn’t on the map. But now his fortune needed to be making serious interest, so he had a word in God’s shell like and gave him an ultimatum i.e. ‘you put Millom on the map and then you’ve no need to pray to me anymore.’ A deal was made. Some maps don’t show Millom because it’s too small. For instance, on this particular one the red dot is Millom. Actually, if that dot was printed out and cut out, although it may look like a spot on your finger end, it would be like a manhole cover if laid on Millom’s main street.

 

 

You can see how young God made the cock up though.

 

 

Is that the end?

 

Well, if there is no death, it can’t be (can it?).

 

Heaven.

 

God: “Peter, where is newly returned soul Sharpo?”

Peter: “Behind that fluffy cloud over there.”

God: “Well, I have a harp for him. Soul Jesus says he will teach him and then they can form a duo and play to those newly arrived from rest homes. Can you tell him through the megaphone please.”

Peter: “Ok. Testing! Soul Sharpo, could you stop messing around and being annoying and come over here please?! We have a harp for you and soul Jesus is going to give you some lessons and then form a lovely duo with you to play to nice old people’s souls who will appreciate you both!”

 

The divine dove flew from the cloud’s puffy splendour and landed on God’s shoulder. Peter noticed the message on its leg, removed it, opened it and read it … his face dropped.

God: “What does it say?”

Peter: “Erm, FOAD … well, at least we can’t die and there’s nowhere we can go, because we’re Now Here

 

 

 

Good Old Sharpo

 

 

Pay a visit if you are already visiting the lakes. If you go on a weekday, you can return on Sunday afternoon and go to the Rugby League car boot sale and get your car parts back at a very reasonable price. Any touristy questions will be answered by Russell in the Bridge Caff (tell him to get the toilet fixed).

 

Of course, Heamatite can have an adverse effect (depending on your perspective and what you want from life) if you stand near it for too long. Frankie left Millom in 1990 to go to Blackpool to study photography. He is now a fully a man which means he got out just in time to undo the change upto that point. See below …

 

 

 

 

 

END

 

 

 

Many more books available including a couple more Lake District Tourist Misguides on our website:

 

www.wonky-ebooks.com

 

Contact:: [email protected]

 

And have a lovely day.

 

 

[* RECOMMENDATIONS:*]

 

I’m all for difference because better is a dangerous word when used in that context i.e. ‘my painting is better than yours.’ So when it comes to getting recommendations for my work, I like to do that a little differently. You will like my recommendations depending on how open your mind is and what you believe on a certain subject.

What I mean by that is: you may not believe in the continuation of the soul after what we call death, it’s entirely up to you; you may not even believe in the soul. I do and I also trust that there are people who can tap into the higher vibration of the soul which has left the body to once again be non-physical.

Actually, it’s very handy for me, because you see, I can ask well known departed souls, through someone who can communicate with them (a Clairvoyant?), to say good things about my stories. For instance, who would be better to say what they thought of a book about the Lake District than John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth, Donald Campbell etc?

Mr Wordsworth’s soul told me this one afternoon via the Clairvoyant … “I was walking in the fields one morning, lonely as a cloud that floats on high oe’r vales and hills. And all at once I saw a crowd … a host of nice blue crocuses. Well, they were no bloody use as they didn’t rhyme with hills. Oh bollocks! I felt faffed off and nearly started to knock a few heads off with my stick in my poet’s fury! “God!” I screamed! “Why?! Why?! Why have you ruined my golden opportunity!? I could have sold loads of books and constructed a snazzy wine cellar!”

But, you will now read the poem as ‘a host of golden daffodils.’ I kind of made that bit up you see using my poetic skills. Blame my hip flask if you like.

By the way, Frankie’s Lake District books are the best ever written. Refreshingly different!”

 

 

Beatrix Potters’ soul said:

 

After becoming aware of Frankie’s Aphrodite’s Ore book, I wished I’d had some heamatite because those cobwebs were pretty itchy. And yes, no one knows this, but most of the characters in my books, I ate. Jemima Puddle Duck was always fighting with the others the grumpy bitch, so chopping her head off on the block and then roasting her for Sunday dinner was fun and brought peace to the yard; until that frigging rabbit turned up. I wrote a cute story, then snared him; he tasted nice.

 

Donald Campbell’s soul:

 

“I hit that sheep some clatter and it acted like a water skiing ramp and I flipped and then ate some water. First time I’d ever seen one having a recreational swim. Frankie’s Lake District books are fantastic! Refreshingly different.

 

The soul of Millom’s Norman Nicholson said:

 

“I love Frankie’s Aphrodite’s Ore. God, I wish I’d written it. He has such insight, such talent … what a gift he has. My books, such as Wednesday Early Closing are a bit bland in comparison.

I remember saying hello to him one day when I was walking down the terrace when he was younger; if I’d have known he was going to be so famous I’d have asked him for his autograph. I now wish I’d added to that title like Frankie would have done i.e. Wednesday Early Closing, Then Everyone Pisses off to Barrow to go Shopping, as they do on Saturday. I would have written another called Saturdays Also.

 


Aphrodite's Ore

APHRODITE’S ORE write up Millom in Cumbria, for a lot of years, was a lovely place. It was even lovelier in a dirty sort of way because it had the good fortune to be sat atop a field of iron ore which attracted industry i.e. Hodbarrow mines. This good fortune naturally led to Millom town, which sported a rough hotel bar with women and a tin bath, a ceramic shaving bowl, a King called Arthur and high plain drifters like Sharpo ... that’s how mines work most of the time. Millom though had a mine ‘bonus’; they mined Aphrodite’s Ore. But, can you have that much good fortune without someone throwing a spanner in the works just to keep things interesting? In Millom’s case the spanner thrower was none less than God. God didn’t actually mean to do it, but what’s done is done and what was done was done. God can use all the excuses God ever invented for sky blue thinking management teams everywhere, but when you actually did it, excuses are seven letters in an annoying syntax. Adopt, Adapt, Improve was the motto of the Millom and District Round Table years ago (I was in it) ... but, when you adapt to something, sometimes there is no need to improve it, simply because you just get used to it. You can get used to anything except grit in your eye, a stone in your shoe, or a scared claustrophobic rat in your knickers as in those young Irish dancers who tend to, through championship craving loving parents, absorb far too much caffeine. If they won’t drink the mania producing caffeine, the rat comes into play; parents can be so cruel to rats. Trillionaire Michael Flatley quite likes rats, and caffeine. So Millom people got used to the spanner which had The Mechanism of Heaven Maintenance Team written on it. As MiIlom was then plodding along, bored, in need of a line or two, something else happened in the field of humiliation and for a while, the s**t hit the fan. So, a town once rich in Aphrodite’s Ore manages to become a hopefully entertaining eBook for you the ‘valuable as gold’, amusement seeking reader. Fascinating and fantastic? How many towns can you say that about? Mind you, it takes a very aware ex-resident who few in the town like any more, to produce the Heaven inspired, true, cynical, hurtful ‘bullshit’. Enjoy!

  • ISBN: 9781910103951
  • Author: Frankie Lassut
  • Published: 2016-01-11 23:50:21
  • Words: 48580
Aphrodite's Ore Aphrodite's Ore