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Murphy's Lore

Number Twenty-one of the regular HebWeb column from local writer and story-teller, George Murphy.

Murphy’s Lore 21 - Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Sunday run

In Nottingham, his family still asleep, Ollie went for his regular Sunday morning run. He got back before his wife had stirred. Summer was coming in, so after his shower, he shaved off his beard. Feeling cooler and lighter, he climbed back into bed, putting his finger to his lips to shush his wide-eyed daughter, Lucy, who’d climbed into bed beside her still sleeping mum while he was out. He was just settling down when Lucy loudly complained, ‘My daddy’s gone for a run, but he’ll be back soon!’

In Halifax, I often ran along the towpath to Hebden on a Sunday, tippy toeing up Hell Hole Rocks, then bounding through ancient, cobbled Heptonstall, dropping down to the hump backed bridge, labouring up Birchcliffe, past John Foster’s house and Dan Taylor’s chapel, past the stink of the mink farm and up at last to Mount Skip. A new set of muscles kicking in, I legged it along contour hugging Heights Road and past a black, gritstone terrace. Through its windows I glimpsed Emley Moor, Crow Hill and Cragg Vale.

After 2 hours I got home elated - and completely useless for the rest of the day.

Hippy Terrace

When we bought our first car, we decided to move to the countryside. I rang Donald Riggs in Hebden to see if they had any country properties for sale. The agent said they’d just had a phone call about a place called Foster Clough. She knew it was high up, but she couldn’t give us directions. On a hunch, we drove to the black terrace I’d seen on my Sunday runs. Paul answered the door. He couldn’t fathom how we’d got there so soon after his phone call to Riggs. Paul said his neighbours had told him he could only sell to someone who would fit in. I was wearing a stripey blazer I’d just bought from an antiques shop. ‘You’ll do,’ he said.

The locals called it ‘Hippy Terrace’. There had been a drugs bust a few years back and for several weeks, as we were settling in, we had visits from local policemen who said they’d been caught short and did we mind if they used our facilities? So we let them in to sniff the air and grab a wee.

One evening, running home from my job in Halifax and nearing the final bend before the terrace, I thought about Martin, a nice pop-eyed lad I’d met at college. He’d shared a flat with my friend and once baked me a birthday cake. His face was slightly mesmerising, like a more handsome, less blood-sucking version of the ghost of a flea in William Blake’s painting. He was from the Isle of Man, where his dad fished for lobsters and boiled them alive. He had a Belgian mother, who was Honorary Ambassador on the island.

I’ve no idea why Martin came to mind at that moment, but an hour later, showered and fed, I turned on the TV and there he was again, or perhaps it was his look alike brother, who I’d met once (same ghost of flea face). In any case, one of those brothers was playing a traditional instrument and singing an old Manx song, as an introduction to a Nationwide feature on The Isle of Man.

Spooky stuff, but I don’t believe in precognition - or I’d play the lottery.

You’ll grow into it

Talent contestThe Isle of Man was where I had my most memorable childhood holiday. We landed in Douglas after a tempestuous, 9 hour crossing on the open deck of the midnight ferry. I was wearing my new jacket that I was 'growing into'.

Days later I came 3rd in the junior talent contest at The Villa Marina, behind two clever clogs, piano playing kids who tinkled through Russ Conway and Winifred Atwell numbers. Backed by Ivy Benson's All Girl Band, I sang a gospel song that was a hit in the charts that year. Judging was based on audience applause and I realise now that I got a sympathy vote and uncalled for laughter because during my performance of He’s got the whole world in his hands my hands were almost completely hidden inside the long sleeves of my jacket.

A reader writes

Wuthering James wrote in response to my request for stories of precognitions or unusual coincidences. Returning from watching the Heptonstall Pace Egg Play, he came across a glasses case ‘lounging in the gutter’…

‘Opening it, I found a proper pair of spectacles inside…I decided to take it across the road to the Fox & Goose Inn … As I had been waiting a while, the lass that was serving asked (an old) chap to serve me. I started to say that I had only called in to leave these ... and I never finished the sentence, as the old chap said "My glasses!” Now what are the chances of that happening?’

Butter up award

This week the toast goes to The May Blossom Tour! Try this …

Take a drive through the Dales, through Kettlewell and Barden, past West Burton (or take in the waterfall) past limestone walls and pavements and on to historic Richmond and handsome Barnard Castle with blossom all the way and sometimes whole fields of trees like Moony brides at a mass wedding. To return, head west to High Force (to take in the waterfall), sail on along the high A66, turning south to Kirby Stephen and Sedbergh, past beautiful hills with bluebells still massed on the sleek high slopes. You may see the Flying Scotsman as you head to Kirkby Lonsdale, where you can stretch your legs and take in the shops and cafes and handsome old buildings (and at least two banks!). Walk through the churchyard and then take in ‘Ruskin’s View’. Head home and set the Sat Nav to avoid Nelson and Colne.

Now is the time to go - but don’t tell anyone else.

Doctors’ jargon

I’ve been reading This is Going to Hurt - the Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor, by Adam Kay, and was taken by his list of codes masquerading as medical jargon:

Incarceritis (patient under arrest)
Status dramaticus (patient well, but emotional)
Transferred to the 15th floor (patient has died - the number should be one floor higher than the top floor of the hospital).

Dr Iain Glencross wrote to say, ‘We can’t use them anymore, due to access to records. I used to use, TTFO (told to go away); TTTFM (told to take friendly medicine). A nice one is ‘Mrs Brown wants to see you in the office’ (someone has made you a nice tea). The mortuary is always Rose Cottage.

Adam Sargant sent a note about a doctor he knew who used ‘NF X (Normal for X), where X was a village known for inbreeding.’

Check your bum!

(By Dr Iain Glencross of Hebden Bridge Ukulele Jam - with a nod to the Cheeky Girls)

We are singers, we are dancers,
We can cut the risk of cancers.
Let’s stay healthy, let’s stay fit,
With a simple home testing kit.
When you’re sixty, there is testing,
To check out your intestine.
You are safer with early detection,
If you need a bowel inspection.

Do a test, it’s not hard.
Wipe some poo on a card.
We are the cheeky boys,
We are the cheeky girls.
Check your bum!
Check your bum!

Faecal Occult Blood, you cannot see.
Send a sample to the laboratory.
If it’s positive, don’t lose hope,
Next step is, have a scope.
The scope is a camera, on a thin tube.
Do not worry, there’s plenty of lube.
We are the cheeky boys,
We are the cheeky girls.
Check your bum!
Check your bum!

If you’ve got, the Grapes of Wrath
That’s the horrid, Farmer Giles.
Bright red blood is no surprise,
If it’s coming from your piles.
If there’s blood, in your poo,
The doctor wants to hear from you.
Make an appointment, don’t be shy
Check your bum!
Check your bum!

Don’t feel too much frustration,
If your problem is constipation.
You only need to start to worry,
If your poo looks like slurry.
If you eat a dodgy curry,
You run to the loo, in a hurry.
We all get pains, for an instant.
It matters most, if persistent.
If you’ve got pain and bloating,
If your poo has a mucus coating,
Check your bum!
Check your bum!

If you would like to send a message about this piece or suggest ideas, email George Murphy


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