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“Our special guest today is a Roman general and statesman, so a warm salutation and ‘Salve’ to Julius Gaius Caesar. So Julius Gaius, if I can make so bold, welcome home from your latest campaign in Asia Minor and please tell us all about it. Where did you go, what did you see and what did you get up to over those long months away?”

“Veni, vidi, vici.”

“Haha, very ‘ad rem’, to the point. Seriously Julius, there must be a little more to your campaign. I’m sure your audience is dying to know.”

“Well, no, that’s about it really. One campaign is much like another. ‘Audere est facere’, to dare is to do as we say in the military. You set off with the lads from Legio Decem; a few forced marches; a little sightseeing, getting to know the lie of the land; mingle with the natives; negotiate with their rulers, which on this occasion  culminated in a bit of slash and bash and a battle at Zela. Then we split a few amphora of wine, had an impromptu bacchanalia before a triumphant return home to the adulation of the plebs.”

“Oh ‘mea culpa’, such modesty, Jules. There must have been one or two hairy moments, a few escapades and incidents you can share with us. You know, anecdotes from the edge of the world. You must have kept a diary or despatched the odd wax tablet or papyrus to Rome you can let us in on? Just between us, ‘bona fide’, it’ll go no further.”

“No. As I’ve already said. ‘Ceteris paribus’, all things being equal, it was all in a day’s campaigning. ”

“Oh. Well you must have been showered with tributes, looted and taken treasures from conquered tribes, brought back captured chieftains in chains and cart loads of slaves for the glory of Rome?”

“Err, ‘ars gratia artis’, art for art’s sake, the usual trinkets, some gold for my own coffers, a couple of good horses. That’s about it. The lads in the Legion laid waste the odd settlement or two, got smashed and raised merry hell, as I said earlier, and generally subdued the populace leaving our ‘Roma invicta’ stamp on society. Like I said earlier, all in a day’s campaigning.”

“So, no new discoveries then. No exotic creatures, wild animals, foods and spices, drinks, customs, wonders of the world?”

“No, ‘nihil novi’, nothing new.”

“Oh. So what’s next for our glorious commander in chief? A Gallic charm offensive, silencing the Germanic hoards, ‘Pax Brittanica’, or something closer to home?  Anything you’d like to tell your audience today, Jules?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“So back to work then, Roman nose to the grindstone haha. No time in your schedule for a few weeks off; perhaps a well earned trip south to the Bay of Naples, a spot of R and R, chillaxing in Pompeii or Baia?”

“Well if you must know. I’m looking to further my political ambitions. ‘Lacta est alea’, the die is cast, as you might say, I’m crossing the Rubicon. As for you; you are the stench of a low-life latrine with the brains of a sleeping two year old. ‘Vade retro me, Satana’, get behind me Satan. No, sod it, here, you deserve this; suck my gladius. ‘Valete’.”

 

Words and photographs Copyright © 2018 by Antony J Waller

 

Written for ThirskWriteNow, a group of talented local writers meeting every two weeks at The Golden Fleece Hotel, Thirsk. (If you would like further details please contact me.)

 

 

 

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It was a cold, crisp Tuesday morning in Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe and the locals were going about their business. Nimrod, a local for more years than many could actually remember was waiting for his pal Walter, also an inhabitant with more years tucked under his belt than most. Sitting cross legged on the communal seat, set a few yards back from the main road and footpath on a grass verge beneath a line of old yew trees which overhung the high stone boundary wall of Sweet-Feckle Hall, he was enjoying the warming rays of the sun and clutching a thermos flask of coffee and two slices of thickly cut ginger parkin wrapped in grease proof paper. It wasn’t like Walter to be tardy for morning coffee, he thought, and if his lifetime pal didn’t buck his ideas up there would soon be just the one slice of parkin and only half a noggin of coffee to share out between them.

A scuffling sound and a string of curses caught his attention and Nimrod turned to see his best mate stumbling along towards him resplendent in flip-flops worn over bright orange socks.

“Thy’s late, Walter.”

“Bloody miracle I’m ‘ere at all,” came the tetchy reply.

“And what’s with t’outfit and clartin’ about like a worm in quicksand?”

“Hutch up and let us sit down and I’ll tell thee. Come on, Nimrod, move over.”

Nimrod duly shuffled along, grumbling as he went as he’d just warmed that bit of bench up. “Anyways what’s wrong with thee?”

“I’ve bruised me toes, soles of me feet are tender and I can’t get me boots on.”

“But Walter. Socks with flip-flops?”

“Mary would give us hell if I wore me slippers and I’m not a barefoot hipster.”

“Thy’s got a point,” said Nimrod. “Coffee and parkin?”

He unscrewed the thermos, poured out two cupfuls and carefully unwrapped the sticky ginger treacle and oatmeal loaf which he had made himself.

“You’ll have to have it without cheese. I’ve not been to that new supermarket yet.”

“Well my advice is don’t,” said Walter. “Or if you do mind where you put yer size tens. I tripped and went arse over tip on the kerb by the disabled bay in the car park.”

“Eck,” replied Nimrod, munching on a mouthful of cake whilst taking a slurp of coffee.

They sat chewing and cogitating in silence for a while watching as Mrs Perks approached, walking  her pet Poodle, Ollie.

“Clever dog that,” said Walter. “Watch when it reaches the dog pooh bin. Always cocks its leg, never misses.”

“Humph,” said Nimrod. “And it also never misses crapping down the lane too. And when you’re shod in flip-flops then that’s definitely somat you ought to be missing.”

“Oriflamme Ongar Olivier the Third.”

“Eh. What’s thy wittering about now, Walter?”

“Ollie, the dog’s proper name is Oriflamme Ongar Olivier the Third. He’s got pedigree. Mrs Perks told me he was shortlisted for Crufts ‘Best of Breeds’ the other year.”

They raised their mugs in salute and chomped on as Mrs Perks and Ollie drew level.

After another brief respite Nimrod cleared his throat, “Are you up for a pint today then Walter. Do you think you can ‘obble as far as the pub for opening time?”

“Too reet I can, Nimrod, even if it means teking me socks off.”

 

Words and photographs Copyright © 2017 by Antony J Waller

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It was a beautiful morning in Ramfeckle under Whiteskelfe. The early wisps of mist clinging to the fields had dispersed, burnt off by the sunshine, and the low clouds which had earlier cast a veiled shadow over the village chased away up to the top of the bank. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and all was right with the world.

Walter was enjoying the moment, lounging on a new oak bench commemorating a recently departed villager. Set back from the road on the grass verge in front of a high stone wall, marking the boundary of Sweet-Feckle Hall, his seat afforded a view of all and everything that passed by. He saw Nimrod approaching.

“Morning, Walter. Thou’s up early. Owt wrong?”

“It’s our Mary,” replied Walter. “Spring cleaning. Deadly she is with a brush and duster, so I got out the way before I took a clout. How can I chill over a mug o’ tea with all that activity going on. Anyway, what about yerself. You’re out and about early too.”

“I’m off to the shop. Only it’s slipped me mind what it was I wanted. It’ll come back after I’ve had a sit.” And Nimrod plonked himself down on the bench next to Walter. For a while neither of them spoke.

“Feckle Hall’s looking good these days,” said Nimrod. “Spruced up a treat under the new owners.”

“Well those Bell sisters let it go a bit,” added Walter.

“That’s going back a piece. Rum lassies, those three. Life in the village was never dull with them about. The three Bell sisters,” echoed Nimrod.

“The tri-Bell elders as we used to call ‘em,” said Walter. “Destiny, Liberty and Southern.”

“Destiny,” repeated Nimrod. “Dessie. She was the eldest and most vociferous of the three.

 

Worked as a doctor, if I remember, though never married. Her final tryst was with the local vicar. Unfortunately one warm summer’s evening after Vespers the rector found them in the crypt. He was unfrocked and Dessie was struck off.

Then there was Liberty, the middle sister. A real artiste,  and quite a talented actress. Had her name in lights, ‘The Postman always rings twice’, ‘For whom the bell tolls’. But the drink got her. Fell off the stage at the Alhambra when playing Tinkerbelle in a musical version of Peter Pan.

Southern was the baby of the three, apple of her father’s eye, practical and philosophical. Conceived in First Class on the London to Brighton line. ‘Well it might have been worse’, she used to say to anyone who asked after her unusual name. ‘Daddy could have named me after the steam train or one of the stations.’ Often bumped into her in the village shop and she always had time for a quick chat.”

“What a font of knowledge you are Nimrod, and what a memory too. Now if you could only remember what it is you want from the shop….”

* *

Words and photographs Copyright © 2017 by Antony J Waller

The small village of Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe can be found nestling in the shadow of the Hills to the north of York, closer to the Moors and the sea than to the Yorkshire Dales. Typical of most Yorkshire villages of its ilk Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe’s roots go back through the centuries, though the angst and demeanour of life in the village is very much a part of the present day and not the past. This and subsequent stories are how village life and events are observed and perceived by Walter and Nimrod, two of the village’s more stalwart inhabitants.

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The small village of Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe can be found nestling in the shadow of the Hills to the north of York, closer to the Moors and the sea than to the Yorkshire Dales. Typical of most Yorkshire villages of its ilk Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe’s roots go back through the centuries, though the angst and demeanour of life in the village is very much a part of the present day and not the past. This and subsequent stories are how village life and events are observed and perceived by Walter and Nimrod, two of the village’s more stalwart inhabitants.

* *

It was Tuesday in Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe and black bin collection day. Nimrod was ensuring his wheelie bin was correctly parked at 90 degrees to the kerb. Satisfied it was he gave the bin a final shuggle and lifted the lid to check the contents.

“Lost summat, Nimrod?”

“Morning, Walter. Nah, just checking the stuff I should be recycling is hidden beneath the rubbish. I’m using the recycling bin to store logs. And there’s a bit of garden waste in there too. I’m not paying to have my green bin emptied.”

“They’ll catch you one day, Nimrod.”

“Then they’ll have to be up early.”

“Fit for the Arms tonight?”

“Is the Pope a catholic? I’ll be there, Walter. See thee later.”

* *

Tuesday evening was dominoes night at The Whiteskelfe Arms. A game of penny a spot and five pence a corner washed down by a couple of pints of Brown Belch. And to round the evening off the Arms signature supper dish, a pork pie submerged beneath a sea of mushy peas covered in mint sauce. A proper Yorkshire aphrodisiac after a game of bones.

* *

Nimrod was already hugging his first glass of Belch and staring into the flames licking the logs in the fire place when Walter slid onto the wooden pew beside him.

“I wonder what the origins are,” he said, eyes still fixed on the fire.

“Chinese I think,” replied Walter. “Then mid 18th century European.”

“No, not dominoes. Tuesdays. Where do Tuesdays come from?”

“Eh? What’s that got to do with owt?”

“I was interested, that’s all.”

They both took a sip of Belch and looked into the fire for an answer.

“Germanic gods,” said a voice.

Walter and Nimrod averted their gaze towards the newcomer as he scraped the legs of a chair on the stone floor and plonked himself down opposite before setting his glass down on the table to join them.

“Now Sid,” said Walter. “Hope you’ve brought some money. I want to be touching it this week.”

“Tuesdays,” said Sid.

“Oh, don’t you start as well. What is it with you two and Tuesdays?”

“If you’ll let me finish,” said Sid. “I was about to tell you about Tuesdays.”

“And Germanic gods” added Nimrod.

“That’s where Tuesdays come from,” continued Sid. “An Anglo-Saxon warlike deity, ‘Tiwesdaeg’. It all goes back to the Romans who called it Martis dies, day of Mars, after their god of war.”

“An apt night for dominoes then,” said Nimrod. “Least the way you two play.”

“Supposed to be a good day for getting married too.”

“You mean better than a Saturday if United are playing at home,” Walter chipped in.

“You’re a font of knowledge Sid,” said Nimrod.

“Well, if you want superstition, it’s a good day to have your hair cut or your nails. It’s supposed to bring wealth or a new pair of shoes.”

“I’d best make an appointment then, if I don’t take all your money playing doms, said Walter.”

“And don’t sneeze on a Tuesday or you’ll meet a stranger. And if he’s left handed…”

“Ey up lads. What’s thee gassing about? You haven’t got the dominoes unboxed yet?”

“Now then, Harry. We were just saying about strange left handed men who worshipped Germanic gods and got married on Tuesdays.”

“New boots, Harry?”

“Hope you clipped your nails before we start.”

“You’re crackers, you lot. Must be Tuesdays.”

* *

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2017 by Antony J Waller

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The small village of Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe can be found nestling in the shadow of the Hills to the north of York, closer to the Moors and the sea than to the Yorkshire Dales. Typical of most Yorkshire villages of its ilk Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe’s roots go back through the centuries, though the angst and demeanour of life in the village is very much a part of the present day and not the past. This and subsequent stories are how village life and events are observed and perceived by Walter and Nimrod, two of the village’s more stalwart inhabitants.

This week souvenirs are discovered in the village and they’re not being discarded by disgruntled tourists!

…..

Walter was genuflecting in a moment of rapt concentration when a familiar voice drifted over the low garden wall.

“Are yer knees givin’ out or ‘as t’teken to prayin’?”

“Shit,” replied Walter.

“I beg yer pardon?”

“Dog poop, Nimrod.  Some bugga’s dog keeps desecrating me lawn.”

“Ah, I wondered why you had bald patches on yer green sward. You’ll have to erect a sign.”

“What? Dogs can’t read.”

“Yer daft bat.”

“So what then? It’s not exactly conducive to a serious game of croquet if yer ball strikes a hardened chocolate sausage and is deflected past the hoop. ”

“I’m going to keep watch. Sit up all night with a flask of soup and a torch.”

“Well your Mary won’t like that. And the dog might not be regular. Could take a while. Have you got a jam jar with a lid.”

“Eh? Nimrod, I’m not looking to preserve it.”

“Doh. We’ll take it to the vets and ask him to run it through his spectrometer for analysis. It’ll tell us what the dog eats for its supper.”

“Oh great. Then all I have to do is ask round as to what folk feed their dogs on.”

“Aye, well it’s only an idea.”

“Sometimes, Nimrod, I wonder about you.”

“Sorry, Walter, lateral thinking’s not so easy at my age. My creativity is thinning.”

“Aye, like yer head.”

As they cogitated and scratched their thinning thatches a little cream coloured Schipperke trotted into sight and completely ignoring the pair squatted in the middle of the lawn.

“Well would yer look at that.”

“Brazen, I’ll give it that”, added Walter

They watched as the dog completed its ablutions, scratched away at the grass and trotted off again.

“Oh ‘eck,” said Walter. “I recognise it now. That’s Mrs Braithwaite’s pooch. She lost her Jack a few months back and dotes on that dog. Always talking to it. I haven’t the heart to say owt. I can’t.”

They looked at the steaming deposit on the lawn.

“Then I’m afraid,” said Nimrod wistfully, “you’ve got another souvenir to add to your collection”.

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2017 by Antony J Waller

 

 

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NIK_9355Yorkshire Day, the first day of August, a day when Yorkshire folk wear with pride the White Rose and celebrate all things Yorkshire.

A day when Yorkshire puddings are eaten, ferrets stuffed down trousers, pigeons fancied, whippets raced, flat caps thrown in the air, rhubarb thwacked and ale quaffed with much mirth and merriment.

Nowt so queer as folk, you may think.

But as we say hereabouts:-

‘Ear all, see all, say nowt,
Eyt all, sup all, pay nowt,
And if ivver tha’ does owt fer nowt
Allus do it fer thissen

‘ave a reet good (Yorkshire) day.

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“Brrr”. She thought it was still a tad chilly!

 

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

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