include_once("common_lab_header.php");
Excerpt for What's He Like? by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

What’s He Like?



Copyright Frankie Lassut 2018



Published by Wonky Books at Smashwords





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 Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



***



What’s He Like?



A Bizarro portrait of the small English Lake District fringe town of Millom and its completely normal people.

Frankie! Time for your medication!

What do I need medication for?


Frankie 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.

An unbelievably fantastic introduction (All true!)

Oh Frankie. Medication time!

I don’t need medication.

Keep still. Or it’s electric time!

The North West of England is popular as it plays host to the ‘Lake District’ which manages to attract several tourists every year just with sheep key rings, never mind the lakes, rivers, trees and mountains. Oh yes, and the real sheep which tourists can stare at, point at and take pictures of. Only in the Lakes does this happen, as the Australian tourists who take pictures of them are usually the owners of dating agencies back home (just joking; honestly). Indeed, several sheep have found employment in the Welsh film industry (I am prohibited from mentioning the kind of films they appear in).There is a negative side. Try and park at peak season.

There was thought of building a massive underground car park to cure this problem, but that idea was stolen, and the nuclear boys and girls decided to use the pit as a nuclear waste storage site, which will be coming soon! Free radiotherapy will be available to ramblers but watch out for the local rabbits a hundred generations down the line. P.S. with rabbits a hundred generations takes about a month; gamma radiation is that good!

If you’re having trouble conceiving, get a tin of gamma radiation spray; available from the Sellafield Exhibition Centre Gift Shop. Mind you, having the baby’s fangs removed costs a lot and you can only do it if you can find a Dentist with a whip and a chair. Find one who does lion taming at the weekend.

That’s the lakes. If you decide to visit, first watch films like Deliverance and A Lonely Place to Die ... oh, and study Paganism and you will then understand the behaviour of the locals. If you’re travelling up to the lakes on the M6 for instance, if you see a big truck with a large figure covered in canvas in the rear, be scared, it may be a wicker man, for you.

As the crow flies, which in The Lake District means ... after it has landed on a pub garden table and entertained the tourists by drinking a half pint of Bluebird bitter; down in one. The nearby radioactive coastline plays host to several fringe towns; and you thought the glow was Blackpool.

Barrow in Furness, famed for ship building at Vickers, and for producing the late Emlyn Hughes, England footballer, a real nice chap. Ulverston, the birthplace and home of Stan Laurel. Whitehaven (Rum), Workington (erm), St Bees (probably beekeeping?) ... and the King of North West coast towns, MILLOM! That’s where I lived from just after birth in Ulverston (same place as Stan Laurel). So, I really have had the Millom experience and lived to tell the tale; which nobody will believe.





I now live in Coventry. 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 was just like any other North Western town, plodding along, heading for more plodding along on the road called life’s great journey. It was hanging onto its claims to fame, The Ironworks, 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 became the Ca le. The Ship, 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

(Question: If there was no-one around to hear it i.e. the big bang, then what big bang are they talking about?)



Quite a while ago:

Realm: Heaven

Location: The kitchen in god’s parents’ house.

Day: Tuesday? (Might have been Wednesday as the bin angels had just been.)

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, quandrillion 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 (a silent vibrational request; like a radio signal). The only problem was, desires are usually answered by God (true), 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 his head and he realised with a sudden feeling of dread what he 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. His idea was, ‘I’ll put them on the bloody map! Oh yeah!’ God was as good as his word as always, well, read for yourself (he then forgot again as building future Universes requires a lot of focus and concentration). It all happened about fifteen years ago. I got word when I was ...



***



Millom

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! Platinum with mother of pearl inlay by soul Michelangelo. What does he do with them? What’s the bloody point of nicking things here?”

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 ... 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 forget about straight away. 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: “Joe Isaacs. Erm … Millom?”

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 and ask him if he can put my handbag in the post). 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’. I would love to be sued for this book.



Popular Characters

The usual bunch of vagabonds you’ll probably find in any town. For e.g.

The Reverend Joe: He was head of the local church. God was actually in awe and a little fear when it came to Joe.

Arthur Ferguson: King Arthur. He ‘founded’ the town (in my panto) with his wife Cissy.

Sharpo: A local vagabond hero, always fighting, always chasing women, catching rabbits and other furry things. Head of the local flower arranging club.

Peggy: She’s the horse (one horse town).

Brick: Oh Dear.

Togo: Oh Dear.

Freddie Hunter: Owns Peg and drinks in the Harbour Hotel at nearby Haverigg.

Chris Mayne: Landlord of the Harbour Hotel.











Look out Millomites! Low flying newspaper articles!





This next cutting was my gift of Manna in the wilderness.



***



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. He is warning me, saying “Don’t put me in any book or your life won’t be worth living!”

This picture was taken a few years back now. I reckon that a spot of Grecian 2000 wouldn’t have gone amiss. It’s probably too late now. H’s probably a chrome-dome now.



***



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? It will save them coming down here every other day?’

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 Frankie 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 Frankie”.

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 Hematite 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 Frankie”.

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/it’s 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 Hematite 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 Pearly 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 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 cousin’s brother’s feet. 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 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 naggedly, 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 Hematite iron 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.

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. 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 Knighthood! (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 Millom 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 Millom; boring eh!? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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 Millom, 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 Millom 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 heiffer

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.



M’lud: “And now Mr Lassut, just before we finish this first session, could you please tell us the reason why the 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 Frankie, 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 Millom 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 Frankie”.

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 Millom’s Midland cousins may want to claim the former, more entertaining (?) work. Remember though, the M lot are well prepared to fight for them!

However, whatever and, of course, ‘whichever’ he 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) watched the bowls players in the Coventry Sports Centre. 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!”


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-30 show above.)