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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 didn’t buck his ideas up there would soon be just the one slice of parkin and 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 through quicksand?”

“Hutch up and let us sit down. Come on, Nimrod, hutch up.”

Nimrod duly shuffled along the seat, grumbling as he went that he’d just warmed those particular wooden slats 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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