Number Eighteen of the regular HebWeb column from local writer and story-teller, George Murphy.
Murphy’s Lore 18 - Tuesday, 30 April 2019
During the blazing, tourist packed, Easter holiday weekend, a woman asked if she could share my table. She noticed I was reading The New Scientist.
"Do you take it all in?" she asked.
"More or less," I boasted.
I floundered for a moment and then made a good recovery …
"Well … did you know, in Japan combovers are known as barcodes?"
I hear you knocking
Strange what people remember…blessed daughter reminded me of this incident, which has stayed with her. A neighbour called and we asked her to stay for a coffee. She said, she’d just pop and tell her chap and then return. A few minutes later there was a knock at the door and I burst into a falsetto rendering of Barnacle Bill the Sailor:
"Who’s that knocking at my door?
Who’s that knocking at my door?
Who’s that knocking at my door?
Said the fair young mai…"
I flung the door open to reveal, not my neighbour, nor Barnacle Bill, but a startled looking middle aged woman I’d never seen before. She nervously asked if I’d like to buy some ‘farm fresh’ eggs.
Soon, the wonders of May will be revealed in all their glory, as will the artistes at the annual Hebden Bridge Burlesque Fest in The Little Theatre. A few years ago the inaugural festival caused great controversy. MIDDLE CLASS POLE DANCERS! read the banner that was stretched across Hebden Water by local feminists. The council decided women could take their kit off, but not on council funded sites. Nowadays, all this furore seems to have died down. Last year, Lady Wildflower advertised the acts on HebWeb, including a Frieda Nipples and a Ms Titsalina Bumsquash.
I wrote to the Right Hon. Lady to say Ms Bumsquash must have a fascinating family tree. Lady Wildflower graciously invited me to watch the show where I could meet Titsalina's mum and dad. The thing is the tickets had sold out - and I had a gig.
Same this year! Mind you, this year there’s also a Festival Fringe ‘Workshop’ on twerking, which sounds very tempting, and a Burlesque Bazaar in Mytholmroyd, home of dock puddings and Ted Hughes, where you can spice up your wardrobe with a burlesque basque with complementary tassels.
In days of yore, in unrecorded pageants up and down the land, small troupes of white clad girls paraded along local streets, leading their crowned and garlanded May Queen and they rousingly sang ancient, celebratory songs. Meanwhile boys, blacked up with soot, knocked on neigbours’ doors, asked the reluctant adults to admire the wondrous procession, then rattled their collection tins and said (in our case), ‘We’re collecting money for the children’s hospital.’
Me mom (bit of Scouse) told me and my mate Raymond to call at grandad’s, he always had lots of money. Mom reckoned grandad overcharged us for the packs of kindling sticks he sold. One night she’d counted them out and there was only 9 in each pack, not 10. ‘And we’re family!’ she exclaimed.
When we eventually got to the gate outside gran and grandad’s house, a couple of streets away, with a good hoard of copper coins sledging about in our tins, I told Raymond that we’d probably get some sweets too - but he musn’t mention the First World War. I confidently clunked the heavy knocker several times and grandad must have seen us coming because he opened the door immediately and chased us down the path wielding a poker.
A few days later we used our May Day money to have a party in the back garden.
Up to scratch
Marje Simpson realised her Homer had been replaced by an Android when she noticed he had no belly button, but then she sighed and moaned and thought it a fair swap when Android Homer started scratching her back.
Now, a guy I know (handsome cove, no name no pack drill) has a wife who loves back scratches and reacts with ecstatic groans. Now this guy (no name, etc) always found this a tedious occupation, until one sultry summer evening, when his wife, although clad only in her nightie, had insisted on opening the bedroom window and breathing in the balmy night air. Then she said, ‘Ooh, can you just give me back a bit of a scratch?”
So he walked over to her in his stripey jimjams and began the dutiful procedure. She carried on in the usual way…
"Ooo ooh, yes, ooh ooh, don’t stop…up a bit…ooh, keep it going…ooh, you’re the best … ooh, ooh … yessss!"
Now her poor chap was already bored of this agitated scraping and would have called an end to it if he hadn’t noticed that, on the pavement below, a small group of women, perhaps returning from a girls’ night out, happened to have paused on their trek home and were looking up with something close to wonderment towards that open bedroom window.
So he kept going and he kept going and his wife’s noisy delirium knew no bounds.
This chap fancied that for many a week afterwards, when he gadded about the village in his trademark trilby, female neighbours gave him a lingering smile as they walked slowly past him with their resentful looking husbands.
Butter up award
Big thumbs up for the fabulous upstairs makeover at the Old Gate, but this week’s untainted toast goes to Debs Newbold, who thrilled, charmed and chilled her packed audience at Stubbing Wharf with her retelling of Romeo and Juliet, ably assisted by The Bard.
The Todmorden Triangle
According to The Times, Dr Chi of Oxford’s Oriental Institute believes aliens are interbreeding with us humans and will produce a hybrid species - which closely mirrors the plot of one of my stories. Young people don’t know that Todmorden was once a famous wormhole in space for extra terrestrial visitations.
Here’s an extract from The Todmorden Triangle*
…a dazzling light inspired his awe
An’ Gordon opened t’ driver’s door.
If we’d been there we all would shout,
‘For God’s sake Gordon … don’t get out!’
For we all know, though he forgot
Round here’s a UFO hotspot.
An’ joggers, doggers, cows an’ cops,
Have all been rounded up on t’ tops.
But in a trance, as if instructed,
Ginger Gordon wor abducted.
Now every sci-fi student knows,
Space aliens watch our TV shows.
An’ Gordon’s lot had special powers,
To make their features look like ours.
And one, that knew soap operas well,
Transformed into a femme fatale,
Stood first in line, Gordon to greet,
as Gail from Coronation Street.
What happened next, his mind repressed,
Though tabloid journalists have guessed
That driven by some desperate need,
Gail an’ Gordon, did the deed…
The week ahead
Along with H the Poet, I’ll be entertaining the audience at Kava Cafe in the teatime break between musicians on Friday, 3rd May and with John Coupe and Friends on Sunday, 5th from 12.30 (round the back if the weather’s fine).
If you would like to send a message about this piece or suggest ideas, email George Murphy