The Voice in your Community
February 3rd 2021, Issue 103
A visit to the zoo
It was Nostrils Moffitt’s idea. The West Midlands safari park had opened at Bewdley and he had recently had a new(ish) car.
‘Let’s all go for a day out!’ he said enthusiastically. ‘This new place called West Midlands safari park’s opened down near Birmingham… it sounds mega! Lets go and see what its all about, me you and the lads…’
So the idea was spawned, Me, daft Sam Thorley, the big bopper, Lipboster Gratton and Nostrils Moffitt arranged to go to West Midlands safari park in Nostrils’s new acquisition that Saturday and we were quite excited with the prospect - until a cloud appeared on the horizon. Owd grandad Piggott had got wind of it and wanted to come with us.
‘I’m not going if he goes’, said Lipboster Gratton firmly. ‘He’s trouble wherever he goes… and he stinks! We don’t bloody want him with us… he’ll spoil the day, you know he will.’ So we told him he wasn’t welcome and he gave a snort of disgust.
‘Everybody ‘ates may’, he ground out, ‘Ar dunner do no ‘arm ter nobody an’ folks meck up lies abite me… arm ready shove me yed in the gas oven ar am, whats the point o’ livin’ a respectable life when ev’rybody ‘ates thee guts…’ Owd grandad Piggott had a way of getting under your skin and making one feel small and cutting a long story short, he wheedled his way into coming with us on the Saturday.
When Owd Grandad Piggott got into the car on the Saturday morning, he brought with him a feeling of malevolence. It was as though a black cloud had found its way into the car and within ten minutes, he had dragged a filthy old onion out of his pocket and begun to eat it.
‘Horrible old tup!’ ground out the big bopper ,’ for gods sake open the window…’ Owd grandad Piggott happily obliged and carried on munching noisily at the onion oblivious to the rest of us. A trip out with the lads usually involved calling at a hostelry and this trip found us calling at the Littleton Arms in Penkridge where Owd Grandad Piggott managed to incur the wrath of the landlord by arguing that his glass wasn’t full.
‘You’ve taken the top off that!’ fumed the landlord.
‘Ar anner’, lied Owd Grandad Piggott.
‘Oh yes you bloody well have! Grated the landlord. ‘I don’t give short measures...’ An argument ensued which resulted in us all getting ejected from the premises after we had finished our drinks and with a considerable amount of bad feeling, we carried on to West Midlands safari park. The atmosphere lightened somewhat as we approached the park.
There were a lot of visitors - families and couples and cars full of excited kids and there were plenty of animals to see and signs which said not to feed the animals and we spent a pleasant couple of hours driving round and losing one of Nostrils Moffitt’s windscreen wipers to a cheeky baboon.
‘Keep the windows shut!’ Nostrils told us. ‘These bloody monkeys will go for anything. So we did as he asked… all of us apart from Owd Grandad Piggott. His window at the back was wide open. Suddenly and without warning, the thick probing trunk of a large elephant was inside the car and waving around inquisitively like a huge vacuum cleaner.
‘Gurrrurtovit!!!’ bellowed Owd Grandad Piggott... but the huge appendage continued to wave around in curiosity.
‘Ar’ll bloody shift it!!!’ snarled Owd Grandad Piggott viciously, he flicked his cigarette lighter and held it under the waving trunk. There was an instant reaction and a smell of burning. The elephant emitted an enormous ‘WHOOOOSH’, trumpeted wildly and filled the car with a fierce spray of mucus and saliva then it lifted its knee and smashed it into the door panel of the car. The car lurched and nearly overturned causing instant response from Nostrils Moffitt who started the engine and shot away as the elephant trumpeted in fury. We put some distance between us and the enraged creature, then Nostrils pulled up and we got out to peruse the damage. Nostrils Moffitt gave a loud moan as the damage became apparent. The rear door looked as if it had been hit by a bus. The panel was completely stoved in and looked well beyond repair. The newish car wasn’t newish anymore and Nostrils Moffitt emitted a tirade of abuse at Owd Grandad Piggott.
‘What the hell did you do that for??’, he bawled. ‘Look at my new car you bloody stupid old weapon… Look at it you puddleheaded old man... it’s a wreck.’
‘What was ar s’posed ter do? yapped Owd Grandad Piggott, ‘It was wrappin’ its trunk rind me windpipe!’ The row continued unabated until we left the park to come home when we all hoped that nothing else could go wrong... but it did. We were coming back through a village south of Birmingham somewhere when we had to stop at a set of traffic lights and standing by the lights was a policeman. He took one look at the car and beckoned us to pull in.
‘Oh gawd!’ groaned Nostrills Moffitt. The policeman motioned me to wind down my window and spoke across to Nostrils Moffitt.
‘Is this your car?’
‘It’s a four seater’
‘Then you are breaking the law’
‘You’ve got six occupants’ Nostrils gave a deep sigh. The policeman’s eyes travelled to the wrecked rear door.
‘What happened here?’
‘An elephant kicked it’. There was a tight silence. And the officer regarded Nostrils Moffitt mirthlessly.
‘You ought to be on the telly laddo’
‘It’s true!’ I interjected. ‘We’ve been to The West Midlands safari park and a bloody great big elephant came up and stoved it in and he’s only just had this car… today was its first time out’. I omitted to tell him the reason for the elephant’s actions.
‘Ar got it with me fag lighter ‘, said Owd Grandad Piggott. Light suddenly dawned in the officer’s brain as he processed the information and he regarded us narrowly as he tried desperately not to laugh. Ten minutes later we were on our way.
We talked about the trip to West Midlands safari park for many years afterwards. The six of us (Owd Grandad Piggott included) all chipped in for the repair to the car which was done by a very good panel beater in Fenton for a very reasonable price but for all of us it was a first and last visit to that particular attraction none of us feeling any desire to return there. Anyway, they say that elephants never forget… and in this case, neither do I.
December 7th 2020, Issue 102
Every August Owd Grandad Piggott and his missus used to go to Blackpool for a weeks holiday. They used to stay at the same boarding house in St Heliers Road which was run by a formidable lady called Beryl Preezer. Beryl Preezer was a typical Blackpool landlady of low tolerance and an uncertain temper. She loathed Owd Grandad Piggott but got on well with Grandma Piggott. Owd Grandad kept out of her way as much as possible. He was wary of the black looks she used to give him and had decided many years ago that he wouldn’t like to bump into her in a dark alley at night. On the odd occasion she would sabotage his breakfast by doing such things as leaving the salt cellar top barely on which would result in him having to scrape a little mountain of salt off his bacon or over cook his egg so that the yolk was hard. What kept them going there was that Beryl Preezer was cheaper than the average.
One lunchtime, Owd Grandad and his missus had decided to have fish and chips in a cafe and they were half way through the meal when his top set of teeth had suddenly disintegrated. He emitted a vile oath and uttering language liable to cause a breach of the peace, had struggled to devour the rest of his meal using the bottom set only. The air was blue by the time he had finished and he then took it out on his long suffering wife.
‘Stop swearing you filthy spoken old weapon!’ his missus scolded. ‘What we’ll do, we’ll find a chemist. You can get some stuff to mend them. Lizzie Lockett got some when she broke hers. Any chemist will sell it.
‘Arve got do summat!’ he moaned. ‘Ar conner spend me ‘oliday with no bloody teyth’. With his broken set of teeth roughiy shoved into his pocket, they trudged off to find a chemist and soon came across one whereby Owd Grandad Piggott bought the necessary equipment to repair his teeth. It came in the form of a kit which contained glue, a small tube of hardener and an instruction leaflet.
He took it outside, sat on a bench and read the leaflet.
‘Rate’, he growled. ‘Ar know what arv got do nar, ar need a flat surface...’
‘Beryl Preezer’s big dining room table!’ suggested Grandma Piggott helpfully.
‘Rate’ he said ‘Come on!’ The landlady was out when they got back but Owd Grandad Piggott lost no time and set his stall out on the big dining room table and within ten minutes was well into the job. He had blended the glue and the hardener together and managed to adorn a large area of the table in glue along with his trousers, several table mats and a salt cellar.
‘Its done! he announced with satisfaction. ‘Yer anner got touch it fer afe an ‘our fer let it go off’.’
An hour later, Beryl Preezer returned and was surprised to find Owd Grandad Piggott and his missus in the house. He explained about the incident with the teeth and Beryl followed him into the dining room where his teeth lay on the table.
‘Thee’re set nar’, he gabbled and went to pick them up. They were stuck solid to the table surrounded by a little pool of glue. Beryl Preezer suddenly looked dangerous.
‘Get them teeth off my table!’ she snarled. Owd Grandad Piggott pushed at the set of dentures and he pulled at them, then regarded Beryl wildly.
‘Thee wunner move!!’, he croaked, ‘Thee’re stuck solid’. That was when Beryl lost it. She stalked around the table and grabbed Owd Grandad Piggott by his ear and top lip.
‘Move ‘em!’ she grated. There followed a half hour pantomime as Owd Grandad Piggott desperately tried to release his teeth from the table. He tried tapping them with a hammer, he tried running a kettle of hot water on them but the teeth refused to move. Whatever the glue cons isted of was pretty good stuff and he threw his arms in the air and regarded
‘What dust want me do?’ he asked hopelessly
‘I want my dining table back - without your filthy teeth adorning it’
‘An’ ar want mar teyth back!’ bawled Owd Grandad Piggott, … ‘an’ if thee thinkst arm gooin’ wowk rind with a table in me gob - they cost think agen!’
The situation was stalemate. It ended up where Beryl Preezer brought in a tradesman who, with a large lump hammer, a very sharp chisel and a can of paint remover gave the table some serious surgery and Owd Grandad Piggott got his teeth back in twenty eight pieces and a firm instruction never to darken Beryl Preezer’s doorstep again.
October 28th 2020, Issue 101
It was Club Paper Jack who started it all off. He came bowling into the pub one night full of excitement with a copy of The Sentinel gripped tightly in his fist.
‘Look at this!’ he yapped spreading the paper out on the top of the bar. Uppermost on the page, it read ‘Potteries man finds priceless Constable print in his attic’, It went on to state that the lucky fellow was liable to realise thousands of pounds at auction for his find and Club Paper Jack was almost dancing with excitement.
‘Ar many mower on ‘em’re lyin’ undiscovered in folks’s lofts an’cupboards? He gabbled.
‘Tell thee what way could do’, grunted Owd Grandad Piggott ‘Way could advertise… put a notice in th’ paper shop winder… Owd pictures wanted by antique collectors…’ specially owd mills an’ churches ‘ cause that’s what Constable used ter paint ...way conner go wrong, somebody’s bind ter ‘ave one tucked awee someweer.’
So that’s what they did. They wrote out a postcard with Owd Grandad Piggott’s address on it and put it in the paper shop window and hoped for the best. It was all of sixpence a week to advertise in the paper shop so it was not going to break the bank if the ruse didn’t work.
It didn’t take long to generate interest. Soon, a steady stream of people were knocking on Owd Grandad Piggotts door offering all sorts of rubbish and tat and asking ridiculous money for it. They seemed to ignore the request for prints of old mills and churches and rocked up with prints of victorian grandparents, aunts and other relatives, Club Paper Jack gave a snort of disgust and hurled a badly painted picture of a dog into a corner.
‘This is no bloody good!’ he growled. ‘This is ow rubbish as folks want shut of…’
‘Just be patient’, mumbled Owd Grandad Piggott, ‘Rome wonner built in a day. When theft least expectin’ it, summatt ull come along an’ knock thee ‘at off.’ Three days later, it did.
A knock came on Owd Grandad Piggott’s door and he opened it to a smart looking fellow who Jack described later as ‘looking lark an identikit’. In his hand, he held a half decent painting of a church. Owd Grandad Piggott made a grab for it but the fellow was too quick.
‘Just owd thee foot up a touch owd soul’, he grunted.
‘Is that a Constable?’ gabbled Club Paper Jack,
The fellow emitted a snort of derision.
‘Ar dunner deal in Constable trash’, he sneered. If you knew owt abite fine art- yerd know as this is an impression of the eastern trancept of a venetion cathedral by Brandenberg Vergelsuck’. Jack’s jaw dropped open. He had never heard of Brandenberg Vergelsuck. Neither had anybody else but Jack wasn’t to know that, the name conjured up an image of some amazing artist and the description of his work indicated that he was a very important person whose work would be of great value. Club Paper Jack nearly swallowed his teeth.
‘Ar much dust want fer it?’ he gasped.
‘Well, Sothebys ‘ave said as it’ll fetch a couple or thray grand but that means takkin’ it dine ter London an’ ar conner be mithered with that…
They give me fifty quid an they cost ‘ave it’.
‘Give us till termorrer’, prattled Owd Grandad Piggot .
‘Ar’ll bay rind termorrer aft’noon’, said the fellow. ‘Ave thee money ready an’ dunner mess me abite!’ With a curt nod, the swarthy looking fellow took his leave.
‘Bloody ‘ell!’ gasped Owd Grandad Piggott…’ What dust reckon?’
‘Ar reckon weyve got find fifty quid frum someweer’, said Club Paper Jack flatly, ‘Wey’ve got twenty fower ‘ours fer get it!’
So a plan was hatched to obtain fifty pounds by hook or by crook. Club Paper Jack agreed to sell one of his whippets and his best ferret in Tummy Dawkins’s pub, and Owd Grandad Piggott made a plan to rifle his wife’s purse and the oxo tin where she kept her savings for a new pair of shoes and they set about their quest. By the time they had parted company, they had managed to sell Club Paper Jack’s ferret, the whippet and Owd Grandad Piggott’s missus’s purse lay empty on the kitchen table but she had hidden the oxo tin containing her savings, so after an exhaustive search to no avail, he had served to empty the gas meter of its sterling contents and by the following afternoon and having counted their spoils, it turned out that they had amassed a grand total of thirty two pounds, two shillings, fourpence halfpenny and six park drive cigarettes. Owd Grandad Piggott uttered a vile oath and regarded Club Paper Jack hollowly.
‘Ay inner gooin’ accept this!’, he ground out, ‘Wey’re eighteyn quid short…’
‘Wey’ll tell ‘im wey’ll owe ‘im the rest til wey’ve sowd it on’. At three oclock that afternoon, a knock came on the door and the smart looking fellow stood there with the painting held tightly under his arm.
‘Well?’ he ground out ‘Have yer got the money?
‘I-it’s lark this mar mate’ stuttered Club paper Jack, ‘Way couldner raise ow on it... wey’re a few bob short… but listen!’ he added quickly ‘- give us another couple o’ dees… ay gets ‘is pension ar get me dole money an’ way’ll settle up with thee then… wey’ve worked it ow ite... ar’ve got pay a bit off me fine an’ they cost ‘ave what’s left.’ The smart looking fellow studied him closely.
‘Ow much ‘ave yer got?’ he grated.
‘Just ower thirty two quid… an’ a couple or thray woodbines’, gabbled Jack. The fellow emitted a long sigh but came to the realization that Owd Grandad Piggott and Club Paper Jack had hit the bottom of the barrel of their available funds.
‘Fetch it!’ he grunted curtly. Owd Grandad Piggott dived quickly into the house and came back clutching their funds and the cigarettes and passed it all over with trembling hands. The smart fellow gave them a sour threatening look and handed them the picture.
‘Right - listen. I’ll be back for the balance in one week from now to collect eighteen pounds… You’ll ‘ave it ready okay?’
‘Oh ar, definite’ said Owd Grandad Piggot earnestly. Without another word, the fellow left and the pair disappeared jnto the house to examine their prize. They turned it over and there on the back sure enough was scrawled the name ‘ B.Vergelsuck’ in an untidy script which Club Paper Jack said was typical of a talented artist.
‘Just a bloody minute!!’, snarled Owd Grandad Piggott. ‘What’s this??’ He had turned the picture over and was looking intently at what appeared to be another signature. He put his glasses on and squinted at it and as he did so, a dangerous glint came into his eye.
‘It says ‘Dilhorne Church by Eric Smith’. Somebody had tried to erase it but had only made a half hearted job.
They both charged out of the door. Owd Grandad Piggott went up the street, Club Paper Jack hared off down the street but despite half an hour of intensive searching the fellow was well gone. Like the fabled Macavity the cat, he simply wasn’t there.
That night, a fight broke out in Tummy Dawkins’s pub. Despite the fact that neither of them had any money, they naturally gravitated to the pub and were quick to blame each other for being taken in by the scam.
Fortunately for the smart fellow, they never saw him again and had to be content by beating seven bells out of each other.
September 10th 2020, Issue 100
Seagulls and stuff
I went round to Owd Grandad Piggotts and knocked loudly on the door, I wanted my drill back because I knew that if I didn’t get it back soon, I’d never see it again. His wife came to the door.
‘Ay’s gone ite’, she told me.
‘Has he gone far?’ I asked.
‘Eee ar dunner know lad - ay dunner tell may weer ay goos.’ she replied. ‘Probly gone dine th’bookies knowin’ ‘im. An hour later, a police car pulled up outside. Owd Grandad Piggott hadn’t gone to the bookies.
He had been arrested. He’d bought a pork pie and gone down to St John’s churchyard to devour it. He had taken a single bite out of it and a large seagull had swooped down and relieved him of it, then a couple of pigeons had mugged the seagull and done the same thing. With a wild bellow of anger, Owd Grandad had seized a stone and hurled it at the marauding birds, missed and the stone had gone through the window of the shop opposite. Owd Grandad Piggott had obviously thrown it with some force for it to take out a plate glass window. But that wasn’t the end of it.
At that time, Walter Mellenchip was taking his constitutional through the churchyard and had stopped in amazement when the stone had gone through the shop window with a splintering crash.
‘What at they gorpin’ at??’ bellowed Owd Grandad Piggott. Walter was an inoffensive come day go day little bloke who didn’t go looking for trouble and when Owd Grandad Piggott set into him, a passing lady called the police who quickly turned up and arrested Owd Grandad Piggott. He was of course well known to the local constabulary.
‘Bloody pigeons!’ shouted Grandma Piggott fiercely ‘Gets himself arrested and a bill for a shop window because two pigeons pinched his filthy pork pie.
Again, it wasn’t the end of it. Owd Grandad Piggott was fined, had to pay for the window and was served with a good behaviour order with a dire threat that if he stepped out of line again, he would be tied to a gun carriage, horse whipped and the salt rubbed in.
Staying out of trouble was not Owd Grandad Piggott’s strong suit and Walter Mellenchip knew that he could walk the streets unscathed for a few weeks. He exploited this by deliberately goading Owd Grandad Piggott. One day, he superglued a half crown piece to the cobbles outside Owd Grandad Piggott’s front door Of course, Owd Grandad Piggott spent two hours trying to pick it up, pouring hot water on it, smashing at it with the coal hammer and finally giving up, then Perce Lockett told him what Walter Mellenchip had done whereby Owd Grandad Piggott swore terrible vengeance on him. The next day, while Walter was having his haircut at the barbers, Owd Grandad Piggott loosened all the wheel nuts on his bike.
When Walter tried to mount his bike, the bike went one way, Walter went the other way and finished up in Lijah Coleclough’s dustbin.
It took three months, the duration of Owd Grandad Piggott’s good behaviour order for the dust to settle on the matter but Walter Mellenchip walked on glass for quite a few weeks after.
July 30th 2020, Issue 99
This new bloke started coming in Tummy Dawkins’s pub. His name was Stewie Ingle but it didn’t take him long to get the nickname of ‘Tapper’. The reason was that he had a white stick signifying that he was blind and he used to tap... tap… tap his way into the bar at around half past eight at night and stay until closing when he used to tap his way home again. He was a friendly approachable bloke, sixty odd, with a lived in face and a pair of dark glasses. My mate, Nostrils Moffitt came to idolise him.
In his younger days, he had been heavily into motor bikes and had once owned a Vincent black shadow - Nostrils Moffitt’s dream bike.
A week or so after Tapper had rocked up, ale started going missing. Nothing mega to start with, just the odd pint off the shelf near the dart board. When there are a dozen or so pints on there, getting them mixed up and sorting them isn’t difficult as long as there are the right amount of glasses, but when a pint goes missing, problems can occur. One night, a pint went missing and a fight broke out between Billy Drummond and Gummy Webster and Tummy Dawkins became concerned.
‘This is no bloody good!’ he said that night within the earshot of Owd Grandad Piggott. ‘An ale thlef in yer pub’s no joke…’ Owd Grandad Piggott took him to one side.
‘Ar much is it woth if ar ketch ‘im fer thee?’ he murmered
‘Ah’ll give thee free ale fer a day’ said Tummy Dawkins.
‘Meck it a week!’
‘Yer mun bugger off!’ growled the landlord. ‘Scurrilous owd sod’
‘Owrate - Just one day then’
The next day at lunchtime, Owd Grandad Piggott slithered into Tummy Dawkins’s pub and he and the landlord hatched a plan.
The next night which was a Saturday was the night which Sid Ellis came in and played the piano. Sid was a popular bloke and more people than usual came into the bar, the area around the piano being a popular gathering place. Pint pots adorning the top of the piano on a Saturday night was commonplace. One of the pint pots, set slightly apart from the rest was being carefully watched.
‘The pot - it’s gone….’ Despite the close surveyllance, the spiked pint had been taken, suddenly whisked away by some nefarious hand unseen by the watchers. All to do now was wait and watch!
It took fifteen minutes for it to happen. Quite unexpectedly, a sudden eruption occurred from the corner of the bar where Tapper Ingle quietly quaffed his pint. I had never seen steam come out of someone’s ears before - or indeed the end of a white walking stick but that’s what happened. Tapper Ingle’s eyes suddenly shot out like organ stops, he grabbed his stick and shot out of the pub like a bullet from a gun. The piano stopped playing and the whole of the bar fell silent.
Nostrils Moffitt said;
‘Bloody hell, I’ve never seen anybody move so fast!
What was in that pint pot??’
‘Washing soda and angustura bitters - topped up with Tummy Dawkins’s best.’ Owd Grandad Piggott told him. ‘Mix that lot up an’ theyst got a rate prescription… it ow reacts ‘gether dust say.dust say… way used soak bread in it an’ put it in th’pantry… Keeps the mice away.
That was the last we saw of Tapper Ingle. Word had it that a similar thing had happened at The Congress a couple of months earlier but that time retribution had been a bit more severe.
June 25th 2020
It was a well known fact that Owd Grandad Piggott used to be adversely affected by a full moon. This particular night he was in The Red House at Caverswall. And as the moon rose, he was becoming more and more agitated. He marched up to the bar and demanded that they filled his glass up. They didn’t notice that he had had a serious gulp out of it and though they regarded him suspiciously, the request was honoured. Eventually however, he became even more abusive and was eventually thrown out. Outside, he threw a fit of violence and two off duty policemen sent him firmly on his way. But he hadn’t finished yet. He lurched homeward looking for trouble and came to a spot where he suddenly heard a noise. The noise bothered him. It was a squealing horrible sound which grated on his nerves and he decided to investigate.
He festered into the garden of this house and came to what looked like a pigsty and thirty seconds later, all hell broke loose. There was mayhem in the pigsty. Owd Grandad Piggott was in violent confrontation with ‘ezza’, a large Tamworth sow pig who he had got in a headlock and Ezza, baring serious yellow teeth was trying her best to escape and kicking up a hell of a row. There was a sudden loud gunshot. The sow was owned by ‘big Jim Fairbonks’ who had appeared with a twelve bore and loosed it off, not knowing what the commotion was. A dozen phone calls resulted in the police. Big Jim Fairbonks was arrested along with Owd Grandad Piggott.
That was the first Owd Grandad Piggott story I ever wrote and went over the air on BBC Radio Stoke in September 1968. It was the first of a trial of four and I am now older than he apparently was when I first wrote about him. Over a thousand stories later, the job’s still a good ‘un.
May 11th 2020
The Terrible Turk
‘Just owd thee foot up a touch wut!’, said Owd Grandad Piggott. Him and Club Paper Jack were sauntering along by Cresswells ironmongers and he held Club Paper Jack back as they sauntered. Someone was making a row ahead of them, spouting that The Terrible Turk was taking on all comers and offering fifty pounds to anyone who could last three rounds with him in a wrestling ring that had been erected in the lane. The fair had come to Longton and there was all sorts going on.
There were coconut shies, a fortune teller, 3 darts for a pound, you name it. It was all happening.
This Terrible Turk was a formidable fellow. He was about six feet six with muscles that went everywhere and his little black eyes roved the crowd looking for possible challengers. Nobody seemed keen to take him on and rumour had it that he had a secret weapon. He had two holds.
The half pretsol and the full pretsol. The half pretsol merely broke your back and the full pretsol killed you. Club Paper Jack didn’t like pain. There were two things he didn’t like. One was pain, the other was work but earlier in the day, Jack had drunk several pints of strong beer and was
feeling quite ready for a tussle with the Terrible Turk and the fifty pound reward for lasting three rounds gave him dutch courage.
His hand went up and five seconds later, he was in the ring, and a sudden crowd of people had appeared from nowhere to yell encouragement. So the fight began. Brutal wasn’t the word. The Terrible Turk began by lifting Club Paper Jack over his head by his shirt collar and top lip, then slamming him down on the canvas with a thunderous smash that could be felt through the tarmac. Jack emitted an agonised howl of pain but it didn’t finish there. Jack was flipped over like a rag doll, a leg like a tree trunk laid across his windpipe and half a second later, he was in a half pretsol.
Another quick flip of a sinewy muscle and shazam… the full pretsol. Club Paper Jack had never known pain like it. How his back didn’t break he would never know. At one stage, he saw the outline of a set of genitals, what he didn’t realise was that they were his own. The final act was to deftly lift him up and casually throw him out of the ring whereby he landed painfully on his coxis.
It took six hours to get Club Paper Jack home and nobody saw him again for over a week but from that day to this Club Paper Jack has never been known to visit a fairground again.
April 6th 2020
Harold Thornton’s funeral was well attended. He was a well liked and highly respected member of the Uttoxeter farming community and people came from near and far to pay their respects. The wake was held in The White Hart and the pub was packed to the gunnels. Throughout the afternoon, Harold’s two sons came across and joined me. Phil, the eldest bought me a pint and sat down by me. He told of his problem.
Harold Thornton had never thrown anything away. Three huge barns held the contents of Harold’s life in the belief that one day, whatever it was would ‘come in for summat’. The three barns were like a vast museum. There was everything from old tractor parts and ancient tools to boxes of clog nails, hundreds of assorted nuts, bolts, screws, carefully wound lengths of string, wire, elastic; if you wanted something obscure, it could be found in a dark corner of one of Harold Thornton’s barns.
‘I don’t know what the hell to do!’ said Phil spreading his hands and Tom, his younger brother nodded in agreement . My mind went immediately to Mick and Seamus O’Rourke. Mick and Seamus would tackle any job, large or small and were well known for being able to outwork a gang of twenty council operatives on an average road job. I told Phil that Seamus O’Rourke could be contacted at my local pub in Weston and I agreed to meet him there to introduce them to each other.
Seamus was quite happy to visit the farm and went the next morning where Tom and Phil showed him around.
‘We want the barns emptied’ said Phil. ‘The lot... gone!... apart from a pile of stuff in that first barn. ‘That’s sentimental stuff and not to be touched! I’ll show it to you and you’ll know where it is. I’m not paying you for the job but You can have it all, I just want it gone!’ ‘Ye can trust us sor so ye can...’, said Seamus earnestly shaking the brother’s hands. ‘We’ll have to bring a few friends to help us ‘cause ir’s a big job sor... so it is , but don’t you worry about nutt’n sor... Ye can trust us - so ye can!!’
The next morning, Seamus and Mick turned up at the farm with half the itinerant population of Staffordshire and there followed a dawn till dusk operation which involved copious quantities of bad language, several fights and frenzied activity but miraculously, with a lot of coming and going, the site was cleared. Harold’s two sons could hardly believe their eyes and that evening, Phil Thornton rang me, full of gratitude for the efforts that had been put in by the men. For some reason, I felt a twinge of apprehension.
I was soon to find out that the feeling was justified. Two days later I had a phone call. It was Phil Thornton. Gone was the cheerfulness in his voice. ‘Is that little irishman likely to be in the pub later?’ he growled ominously
‘Eh - yes’, I confirmed. ‘Why - what’s up?’
‘I want a word with him’. Phil said shortly and put the phone down. That evening, early doors, I wandered to the pub and found Seamus propped at a thirty degree angle between the floor and the bar. He blinked at me inimically when I spoke to him. Phil wasn’t yet there, but when he did turn up, Seamus gave him a hunted look.
‘Is everything okay?’ I ventured. ‘He looks a bit upset’.
‘Everytin’s foine sor’, muttered Seamus watching Phil warily as he bought a drink strode over. I came to the conclusion that everything wasn’t ‘foine’
‘I’m an anvil missing!’ ground Phil. Seamus’s reply was too quick.
‘Oi dont know nutt’n aboot no anvil sor’ said Seamus earnestly.
‘Well, somebody does!’ grated Phil, ‘There was an anvil among that pile I told you not to touch - and it’s gone!. If it’s not back there by this time tomorrow, I’m going to the police... Somebody’s had that anvil!’
Seamus looked hurt and offended.
‘OO sor, dey wouldn’t do nutt’n loike dat sor! Gabbled Seamus, ‘Dat would be dishonest sor, an’ we’re as ‘onest as de day is long...’
‘Of course you are’. Said Phil, ‘Butter wouldn’t melt, but I’m not kidding, if that anvil isn’t back by this time tomorrow, it’s the police.’ and with that, he drained his glass and strode stiffly out of the pub leaving Seamus and me blinking at the closing door.
‘You had better get it back!’ I told Seamus curtly, ‘His father was a good friend of mine and my name is on that job!’.
‘Oi don’t know nutt’n aboot...’ began Seamus, but he was talking to himself as I also walked out of the pub.
The next morning at seven thirty, Phil Thornton rang me.
‘They’re here!’ he told me.
‘Have they got it?’
‘They’ve got summat in the back of their truck... under a tarpaulin... I’ll keep you posted’, he rang off. Two hours later, phil phoned again and couldn’t keep the mirth out of his voice as he told the tale.
With great ceremony, the brothers had parked their transit in the middle of the farmyard and took the tarpaulin off the item in the centre of the bed of the lorry. Whatever it was was massively heavy and after they had divested it, they spent fifteen minutes inch by inching it to the edge, then after composing themselves and taking a series of very deep breaths, they seized the anvil and handballed it to the ground. As they wrestled with it, cords of muscle stood out hard on their arms and with a final gasp of relief, the thing hit the ground. The anvil must have weighed at least three hundredweight and when the brothers finally stood up, Mick gave a dismissive wave of his hand.
‘Twas an unfortunate accident Mister Toruntun sor’, elaborated Mick, ‘Y’see phwee wus up aggen de clock... We’d oniy got de men for a single day, an’ dey wus workin’ loike demons sor, so dey wus an’ de wus stuff flyin’ all over de place... it’s easy for tings to get a bit mixed up, an’ loike dat anvil, It must o’ got on somebody’s shovel by accident’.