Share this page

Small ads

Fourth series, episode 6

All 138 episodes are available here on the HebWeb.

In the latest episode there's an ADHD tax, a Pace Egg missed, strange happenings in grave places, a 14th century brooch, Film Festival 2024, a Home Movie, a month of poems and a story fit for a Queen.

Neuro Divergent

Storytelling friend Susanna Meese has been linking up with others who describe themselves as ND. This week she wrote: "Anyone have to pay the ADHD tax? Left prescription reading glasses at the theatre yesterday cos, you know, put them down and then instantly forgot about them. If you can’t see something, it no longer exists. I’d go back but the theatre is 40 miles away.

"This morning having to pay for the dog walker, even though the dog hasn’t had a walk because I forgot she was coming and had taken the dog out to the post office with me. Had gone to the post office because had forgotten to pass something on to someone who needed it urgently but due to bank holidays I’ve had to pay for special delivery to get there before next Tuesday. Now want to have a complete paddy. FFS."

I felt her pain. So I didn’t let her know I’d been on a bit of a roll …

The Madeira myth

Last week I discovered that if you accidentally hold an insignificant button on our thermostat (this is not mentioned in the boiler manual) the gadget thinks you’ve gone to Madeira to avoid the winter chill and drops the house temperature to 5 degrees. After desperate hours of wearing overcoats and bobble hats, I accidentally prodded this miniscule button again and was rewarded by hearing the boiler fire up … but not a word of commendation came from PW.

Saved by forgetting

I put an overstuffed dustbin out last week and the bin men didn’t pick up our rubbish. I agreed I’d put the bin away for another fortnight and one day I’d take some of the excess junk to the tip. Next morning, I opened the blinds and saw a bin lorry driving off. The refuse guys had come a day late! I felt down in the dumps, but PW returned later from a shopping trip and told me that I’d forgotten my promise to put the bin away. It was still on the pavement. Empty. I knew then, in a strange reversal of Murphy’s Law, my gaffes were turning into triumphs.

Lost and found

Where was the key to our new shed? I searched through my pockets and bags and found two pens I didn’t know I’d lost and a pair of reading glasses and even my gent’s purse with a tenner inside, but alas no key! I wandered forlornly into the garden and lo and behold - there was my shed key in the shed keyhole.

Pace Egg and Easter

This year we had visitors, so I didn’t get to the Pace Egg plays, and I feel the need for ceremonies to record the changes of the seasons, especially after a wet, windy and dispiriting winter. Some friends believe in the goddess Eostre and take part in pagan ceremonies in secret places that I never see. But many a time I’ve watched the Pace Egg play to join in a jovial collective celebration, when St George is brought back to life and dismal winter – along with infidels - is put to the sword. Pace Egg is properly daft and bubbles with the spirit of common people across the ages, but our visitors made up for missing it.

Grave matters

Thinking about ceremonies, 50 years ago, Heptonstall villagers reported strange goings on in the defunct churchyard at Heptonstall. In 2023, at the museum next to the graveyard, a versifying trio called The Offcumdens revealed that those strange goings on still carry on …

Welcome to our village,

We like to celebrate,
At Easter there’s a Pace Egg,
In summer there’s a Fete,
In autumn there’s our Harvest,
And sometimes for a lark,
A bacchanalian orgy
In the graveyard after dark.
After dark (after dark!)
For a lark (for a lark!)
A bacchanalian orgy
In the graveyard after dark.


And at our Evening Classes
There’s pottery and crochet
And air frying your placenta
For that special birthing day.
And after some Pilates,
There’s a warm up in the park,
And a bacchanalian orgy
In the graveyard after dark.
In the dark (in the dark!),
For a lark (For a lark!),
A bacchanalian orgy
In the graveyard after dark.

The Museum of Artifacts

Having enjoyed Neil McGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects, I recently became a follower of the above named Facebook site, but was surprised when this picture flashed up, with the following explanatory text: ‘14th century brooch depicting three penises carrying a vagina, found in Bruges. Some pilgrims would wear metal badges depicting sexual organs, believing them to protect against disease.’

Smoking ban

One day, The Guardian focused on the pending smoking ban. It took me a few seconds to think of three people who died of lung cancer, and another second to remember a couple who died in a fire caused by a cigarette – in fact the parents of one of our visitors.

Two out of three smokers die of a smoking related disease. But now, nobody born after 2008 will ever be legally sold tobacco. When the smoking age was raised from 16 to 18 in the UK, there was a 30% reduction in smoking prevalence for 16 and 17 year olds. A right wing think tank, with funding from the tobacco industry, has complained about the infantilisation of adults. But with cross party support, this might eventually be seen as the best legislation to come out of this tumultuous parliament.

Film Festival 2024

Festival Director Louise Wadley wrote of a festival of films championing "those who are different, who exist in the margins outside the mainstream and who remain unheard … The power of film allows us to immerse ourselves collectively in a different view of reality and to discover other worlds and perspectives." Well said.

Goodbye Julia

Pitched at the time that Sudanese in the south were voting whether to stay united with their mainly Arabic neighbours in the north, this 2023 winner of the Freedom Prize at the Cannes Festival followed the fortunes of Mona, a brilliant singer who had retired from performing on the insistence of her husband. Mona covered up for a murder, and then tried to assuage her guilt by taking the victim’s widow and her son into her home. She finally reveals her deceit, divorces her spouse and goes back to performing. I loved the resolution and suggestion of a happy ending for both leads.

During the festival, I took to checking the current political situations of the countries in the films. The Guardian was reporting that people were escaping over the Sudanese border to avoid the war between two warring gangs and the UN was warning that 3 million women and girls were in danger of murder and rape.

Copa 71

I remember seeing old news reels of big crowds at women’s soccer matches back in the 1920s, when the game was thriving. An international match versus France at Goodison Park drew 53,000 fans. A Dick Kerr Rangers team from a Preston factory defeated St Helens 4 – 0 in the same month with another 50,000 crowd, the receipts going to unemployed and disabled soldiers. Yet one year later, the FA voted to ban the burgeoning women’s game, citing medical reasons.

Now, with the recent surge of interest following the successes of the England team at European and World level there was real excitement in the predominantly female audience. I found a seat in the gallery, next to a local English Teacher, who told me she’d organised baby sitters for the whole weekend, it was her annual treat. The audience included specially invited members of local girls' teams and several of the Lionesses who had taken part in the 1971 competition.

The England team, who were used to playing on park pitches and weren’t recognised by our FA, played in front of crowds of 110,000 at the Maracanã Stadium in Mexico City. The film used skilfully cut action from the Mexican matches mixed with interviews with the players. After being treated as stars during the competition, players from each national team were disappointed by the neglect and sometimes the mockery they received on returning to their countries.

After the showing, when Louise Wadley presented each of the players and film makers to the audience, the applause was as loud as a packed soccer stadium.

No Proper Ending?

Deborah Ross in The Times has returned to her campaign against TV dramas that don’t have Proper Endings, but leave you in suspense, usually in the expectation of a further series. Fair enough, except a playful prequel such as The Gallows Pole hinted at a follow up, if only through its title. Now Ross has complained about films such as Anatomy of a Fall, where you are left to work it out for yourself. PW agrees with Ross, although she complains if you can see the outcome too far in advance, especially with whodunnits.

There are occasions when films can properly leave you to imagine what followed the action. Blackberry Blackberry Blackbird won the award for best film at the Sarajevo Festival and now at Hebden Bridge too, and left me in the deliciously appropriate state of imagining what would  happen next, with just the slightest of suggestions from the gleam in the eyes of the brilliant lead character at the end.


On day two of the festival there was a Q&A with the appropriately named Sarah Myland, Director of Bye, Bye Tiberius, who said her family lost their home in the 1948 Nakba dispersion. She mentioned that the BBC Correspondent, Rushdi Abualouf - who has reported from Gaza for decades - rescued photographs and mementoes from her soon to be demolished home and left them for her. He left the territory in November to secure safety for his family. Walking from the Town Hall to the Picture House, festival goers passed a few dozen demonstrators holding Free Palestine and Ceasefire posters. More drivers than usual tooted their support.

Four daughters

I loved the Georgian film, but Oscar nominee and multiple award winner Four Daughters shook me to the roots. Often the shaking was with laughter but the final part of this documentary based film is still to be completed. Kaouther Ben Hania invited professional actors to take the place of two missing sisters. To quote the programme notes: "The result is part observational wonder and part performance masterclass."

After the film I needed to return to solid ground with fish and chips at the Old Gate. Then I went home to watch both my teams play each other in the FA Cup Quarter Final. With the Short Film Competition set to start at 6.20 pm I left the match with Liverpool winning 3-2, but picked up the final score as people on the tow path told me that Rashford had equalised. The final goal happened to a mixture of cheers and groans in the Picture House queue. And if you don’t know who won, well you’re just not interested in football.

Home movie

A different type of filmmaking. Sorting through some boxes of junk I found some 80s videos and asked my daughter’s IT maestro partner if he could retrieve their contents. Glory be, he did it. Suddenly there was teenage Leah and her friend Rachel being wacky and funny and improvising role playing interviews with a variety of outrageous characters. Then Jude appeared, happy in his two years old world, tottering about and busily engaged in water play and reordering a basket of clothes on a long ago sunny morning in Halifax. I enjoy seeing kids who are new to this world, and watching our son in his infancy was a precious reminder of that time. Being a dad twice over is the nearest thing to a miracle I’ve experienced in this life and perhaps that’s why the remarkable performance by a tiny tot in Ama Gloria was probably my favourite experience at this year’s festival.

Amanda Dalton

I’ve enjoyed and admired Thirty Poems in Thirty Days: a sketchbook (Arc publications, 2021) by the Hebden poet and playwright, Amanda Dalton. Despite her doubts, Amanda was persuaded to take part in National Poetry Writing Month throughout April 2020. Each midnight, new instructions were posted informing the poets what they should write about for the next 24 hours. I’ve enjoyed the whole collection, and Amanda’s witty introduction, although she confided that her husband of thirty years had died.

Here’s Day 8

Taking a line from a poetry bot.

“Nights I squat in the cornucopia / Of your left ear, out of the wind.”
This is from Plath’s  ‘The Colossus’

I hesitate to tell you but for years
I have been sheltering in your ear at night
mostly quiet, curled between the almost silent
creak of tomatoes ripening, your tired breath,
the owl’s occasional screech. But sometimes
you have heard me as rain on the roof,
or the echo of the words that swim
inside your head, keep you from sleep.

I apologise: I was the roar at 3am
that had you going down with a torch and a knife.
I was the squeak you thought was the old shed door.
Don’t be alarmed. My song will not enchant you,
there’s no need  to tie yourself to the mast
to save your life. I have no wings, don’t play the harp.
Think of me as a touch of tinnitus that will pass.

Still, I can’t forget the night when half-awake
you pressed your fingers to your ear.
Was it a minor itch, an ache? Or did you know
that I was there? You touched me.
And something whispered in the dark.
Did you hear?

The HebWeb Interview

Thanks to all those who have sent messages, with especial thanks to the interviewees. Thanks also to another local website for guiding their readers to my interview with the remarkable Satnam Singh, who particularly wanted the truth to be told about the Horizon scandal and its effects on him and his business. It’s good fun meeting remarkable people such Agustina Figueres who have been attracted to live and thrive in our little town because of its culture.  My indefatigable editor takes great pride in presenting the items. Most recently, we were captivated by the Linda Hodges interview.

Another interviewee, Jill Robinson, received a note from Clarence House. Where Jill had sent her book The Rainy Season (2016) as, ‘Camilla is known to have an interest in domestic violence from the point of view of a child trapped for years in an abusive situation as opposed to a partner.’ Her book has attracted good reviews and she was invited to speak at the South Devon literary festival last autumn.



Murphy's Lore, the book, is available to order here

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

More Murphy's Lore

See the Murphy's Lore home page for all 138 episodes.