Local sleep-challenged writer, Walter Dample, reports on the recent Antiques Roadshow at Crunge Hall.
I confess that due to a fitful night’s sleep my rememberings of this glorious day are a little muddled, but never have I seen so much mahogany in both the offerings brought, in hopefulness of an heirloom that would make fortunes, or indeed the presenters.
The beautiful Crunge Hall – so scenic – was the venue for the BBC’s burgeoning celebration of old stuff, be that the visitors, viewers or indeed the presenters.
One of the first surprises of the day was local post-mistress Bufty Von-Giro, who brought in a tiny exploding universe packed carefully inside a turbot. Expert Robert Tilney, resplendent in a moustache made for twirling, advised Bufty that it was from the glory days of Woolworths, when tiny universes were obtainable with Green Shield Stamps. But more surprises were in store as Robert, shrugging off a tweed jacket of pure chips and a yoghurt waistcoat, transformed into a steam-powered automaton and levitated above the table. He spoke of wars, love and tragedy to a rapt Bufty who cried tears of multicoloured lamps and accelerated back in time.
I confess that I appear to have blacked out at that moment, only to be brought around by some kind TV producers. By this time, Mr Tilney had reverted to his human form and moved to the next hopeful in line who had a small porcelain cat.
Feeling a little wobbly, I moved towards a gasping crowd who had gathered around a wonderful silver snuff box that was being examined by expert Bunny Campione. The owner, Frant Shandybass from Great Panhold, explained that her grandfather had brought it back from his time in Kettering and it had been in the family ever since. Bunny explained that the maker had hidden a little surprise inside each of his snuff boxes and proceeded to pull out a giant broadsword that glowed in a colour that no one had ever seen before. And not a moment too soon as a wolf-shaped creature of purest black had swaggered into the hall challenging Bunny to a fight to the death. Bunny, who had in a split-second miraculously changed into a four-story high Japanese Gundam, speared the beast and held him aloft before bellowing “Is no one going to fetch me a bloody sherry then?”
Once again, the shock of this resulted in me blacking out again and I came around in a darkened side-room of the hall sprawled on a small camp bed. After a while, I began to feel better and ventured forth once again into the vintage throng of the hall.
My last and most memorable visit was to the station of ceramics expert David Battie, who was examining a fine Carltonware teapot in the shape of an abstract goose. David explained to its owner, Tring Pushkin, that these were fired in a facility on the star Wolf 359 by floating beings that fed on pure helium. It was at this moment that the hall dissolved into a dense jungle populated by fairy folk with a sharp look in their eyes. I cried out to expert John Sandon for help but he just started laughing and repeating the words “Frazzles are the jauntiest of snacks young chap!”
As a result of this, I ran, but the syrupy jungle floor hindered my progress and the fairies were encircling me. I realised that I was naked in assembly in front of my younger self. It was at that point that my teeth fell out.
For the third time that day, I lost consciousness and was brought back around by a kindly BBC floor runner who I presume had pulled me out of my predicament and returned me to Crunge Hall. I thanked him for rescuing me and fixing my teeth, for which he seemed a little taken aback. Truly a silent hero.
I left, somewhat befuddled by the day’s events, but I commend the BBC for the seemingly inexhaustible array of special effects they have for spicing up a posh jumble sale. It almost felt like a dream…
Right… we’re not sure how accurate that report is, but be assured dear reader that we’ll be ensuring Walter has a good night’s sleep before he’s back out in the community.
Disclaimer – Here at MonkeyBroth towers, we take our editorial responsibility very seriously and would never stoop towards product placement. The following content is purely a happening that happened; a thing that went on, a shiny sixpence of experience in the chimney-sweep’s ear of life. So with that out of the way….
The other day, while perambulating the High Street of Upper Crunge I started feeling rather peckish, as one does after a heady morning buying reasonably priced, unusual family gifts and gilt cards at Rosemary and Frank’s Unusual Family Gifts and Gilt Card shop, just off of the Glambie Parade next to Next.
I high-tailed it to Mufkins Bakery – I think you’ll agree, the only place for lunchtime comestibles with options for wheat and gluten-free rolls and a variety of delicious fillings made fresh to order. If memory serves, it’s situated at 23 High Street, Upper Crunge, BF74 6NG – Tel 09875 4554 45631. But I digress. I quickly received my order of a Buffalo Mozzarella with Spanish Chorizo from the friendly, efficient staff and tucked into my tasty sandwich.
Alas, after I had devoured half of my enormous but surprisingly reasonably priced treat, I remembered that I had to make an important phone call to Simon Thrombosis; MonkeyBroth’s own resident lifestyle guru, agony uncle and part-time conceptual artist. Not wanting my moreish morsels to go stale during what would be a long conversation on my iRola GTZ-58000 smart phone, (kindly loaned to me by Upper Crunge Carmobiles4you on a very competitive tariff), I decided to pay a visit to one of my very favourite people – Graham Shinysides of Upper Crunge Zip Bags – your only choice for re-sealable food storage.
Located at 42 Drank Lane, just off the High Street, Graham has made the storage of foodstuffs and other spoilable material his life’s work for just over 13 months. Graham prides himself in his ability to find the right plastic sealable bag for you, big or small, no matter the weather.
While chatting amiably to him, he reminded me that he also does emergency call-outs – perfect for that Summer fete cake stall that is suddenly infested by a swarm of wasps. He also pointed out his new Suck-U-Matic vacuum packing machine that is a new service for this year and is aimed at the budget-minded storage shopper. I also recall that he will be introducing a special discount for all MonkeyBroth readers who state the code ADVERTBROTH at point of sale, which is nice.
After but a few short minutes, my sandwich was safely nestled in a beautiful clear zip bag that really could have passed as made-to-measure. “What great service from Upper Crunge Zip Bags of 42 Drank Lane!” I quipped as I bade Graham a reluctant farewell.
I called Simon on time (thanks to such swift service) and, with the excellent call quality of my iRola, had soon bashed out the finer points of his next article.
Afterwards, while I finished my succulent lunch on the banks of the river Crunge, I reflected on the quality of the tradesmen that service the people of this fine market town. Surely, they are a jewel in the crown of Biffordshire commerce, that, because of the diligence and finely-honed prices that they provide, will remain an asset to the local populous of our Shire.
MonkeyBroth would like to thank ‘A-to-B-iffordshire Taxis’ for transport to and from Crunge.
Next Week – MonkeyBroth visits Crunge Retail Village – opening soon on the outskirts of Crunge!
MonkeyBroth’s own life-style guru, agony aunt and part time goat hunter, Simon Thrombosis helps you with those tricky life decisions and problems. And with no formal training too!
Darby Dale of Flab Corner writes: Dear Si, I’ve recently started having panic attacks when presented with mushrooms and other fungi. For most, this wouldn’t be a problem, but my work with the Forestry Commission means that these things are part and parcel of my day. It’s become so bad that during the scoping of a fire break project in Ashdown forest, I came face to face with a plate fungus and ran for over 4 hours to get away from it, eventually taking up a hiding place under the table of the Red Lion pub in Chelwood Gate. I laughed it off as a prank to my colleagues, but I’m not sure they bought in to my explanation. Please help!
Si writes: Hey Darby, irrational fears are so named because they are both fears and irrational. That’s a fact! But, we have to trace the fear back to its nucleus. I suspect that you had an occurrence such as a break in by burglars disguised as Toad from Super Mario or some such. Without that centre, it’s difficult to help, but can I suggest that you tell your colleagues? You may run the risk of being forever ridiculed, losing your job and the respect of your peers, but needs must eh? You’re welcome.
Dekin Dumpvalve from Leaky Grange writes: Since I was a boy, I always feared that my thumbs are plotting with my spleen to take over my cognitive functions and cause carnage. I swear that I can hear them whispering to one another just before I fall asleep. Does this happen to other people or am I special? I’d love to be special.
Si writes: OK Leaky, this may sound a little strange to you, but usually in these occasions, it’s your bladder that is the puppet master and the thumbs and spleens are just henchmen doing its bidding. I’d say go with it. The bladder is actually quite an astute character and I know number of high-profile celebrities that gave over control and never looked back. They do tend to spend quite a lot of time in the lavatory, but you have to take the rough with the smooth. Happy to help.
Jervis Practicalmouse from Skive writes: Last month, I lost my entire collection of Roy Hattersley signed prints in a house fire caused by a faulty cheese grater. Somewhat understandably, I’m distraught as the collection was both irreplaceable and implausible. Last week, I physically harmed a man who was loudly talking derogatively about Roy’s time working under Dennis Healey whilst shopping in Budgens. I feel it’s now somewhat out of my control. Stop my grief. Make the pain go away…
SI writes: I’m very sorry for your loss Jervis. I’m afraid that the grieving process has to be carried through before you can feel better. But in the meantime, can I suggest you avoid situations that are likely to present Roy as a subject of everyday conversation? Your trip to Budgens was particularly risky when viewed from that perspective. I’d also avoid steelworks. Glad to have been of assistance.
Well, that was concise and well advised as usual. Si will return mainly because we believe he’s found somewhere to live in the heating system and maintenance has been unable to flush him out.
Often overlooked due to their dour markings, the Pocket Snake is surely one of our most fascinating indigenous Biffordshire creatures.
The uninteresting skin of the Pocket snake is, in fact, one of its greatest defences. In the 1920s, the dandy Biffordshire blades around town would use the quality of their belts as a mark of their aristocratic social status. Only a lowly social climber would ever stoop to a belt made from the pelt of the dowdy Pocket Snake meaning their numbers remained high.
Due to their commonality, and their unusual preferred habitat, they are regarded as a pest by many. The Pocket Snake is attracted by the strong odour of ammonia and thus tend to take up residence in men’s toilets. Indeed, I’m sure you’ll agree that it is almost impossible to use the lavatories at a public house with seeing a Pocket Snake or two.
Because of their unusual choice of residence, the Pocket Snake has developed an extraordinary diet, feasting as they do on urinal cakes. This has caused the species to become the focus of a number of studies headed by the Biffordshire Polytechnic College.
Bryan Flocculation – Assistant Technician explains – “When we first heard reports of the Pocket Snake’s evolving eating habits, we couldn’t understand how the creature had adapted its biological makeup to safely digest urinal cakes. What’s more interesting is that we still don’t. Possibly never will. That’s why we’re studying it I suppose.
“We’ve currently setting up test centres within over 10 local pub toilets so that we can study Pocket Snakes more closely.”
Due to their docility, Pocket Snakes are becoming the pet of choice for trendy youngsters. Many clubs have sprung up to cater for this latest fad and are fast becoming a favourite hangout for the Biffordshire youth.
Dylan O’Ermatron of the Cleft Pocket Snake Handlers explains the attraction – “We get together as often as possible to show off our Snakes. They are such affectionate creatures and love to be stroked and played with.
“They are the perfect pets as they generally don’t grow too big to manage, although our treasurer Clifford has a fully grown adult that is over 12 inches long! That is quite a size for a Pocket Snake!
“They are addictive and difficult to put down as they are lovely to handle – so smooth and sleek. Although I do have to put ‘Little Dylan’ away at dinner time as my Mother won’t let me have him on the table.
“A word of warning to anyone thinking about owning a Pocket Snake though, is to not buy one off the street. I was offered one by a man in a long coat who was hanging around the park the other day. I’m not sure what it was that he showed me, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Pocket Snake. It certainly wasn’t any species that I’ve ever seen before as it only had one eye.”
“Ken, Marigold! Come through, we’re on the patio” I don’t think they heard me or if they had they chose to ignore my beckoning as I heard the side gate go before my old friends appeared at the patio from the side garden. Looking back I think it was perhaps Marigold who had been most shocked by my nakedness on that hot summer afternoon. Earlier that morning, spurred on by a most fortuitous weather forecast, I had spent at least half an hour rescuing a pair of sun loungers from the shed at the foot of our two-acre garden. They were stacked up behind my shovel, homemade noose and a rather tatty bag of birdlime, but by moving the bicycle to the side of the wooden- framed building and repositioning my Dionne Warwick vinyl collection I could just about create enough space to rescue the plastic, slatted garden chaise longues.
How pleased I was that my sweaty efforts were now being rewarded as the sun beat down on our, my wife Maureen and I’s, small patch of rural Biffordshire. Dear, loyal Maureen had been a little concerned that my nude sunbathing would perhaps cause some discombobulation with our neighbours for the past ten years, George and Umbinga. However, George and Umbinga had decided to spend the hottest afternoon of the year at the Biffordshire Steam Falcon show, so I felt emboldened enough to go as our Lord Jesus Christ intended. Umbinga, hailing from rural Ghana, had not witnessed steam driven falcons before, so I felt sure they would be away for most of the afternoon if not into the early evening, as she wondered at the steam-powered bird of prey technology on display. Maureen and I had visited the show last year, although poor Maureen vowed never to return having lost an eye in an unfortunate accident with a piston-powered Kestrel. Fortunately, we found her eyeball in amongst some discarded candy-floss and although the team at Biffordshire General were professional and courteous, poor Maureen has never really been the same since.
As I stripped to enjoy my naked sun worship, Maureen quite correctly pointed out the dangers of sunbathing in this way and was, she admitted, fearful that I would get ‘myself’ caught up in the slatted seats of the now wiped clean and fully restored sun-loungers. To protect the ‘colonel’ from such an unfortunate mishap, Maureen had spent most of her morning creating a little rest for the old chap, from an old egg-cup and a pre-used pin cushion. As I sipped a refreshing cocktail, Maureen donned a pair of medical gloves before delicately, and with no great skill, positioned the colonel up and across so that his skinny hood was posed neatly on top of the homemade construction. I couldn’t help but think that the good colonel rather looked like a fleshy pink bridge leading to some dark entangled forest, perhaps with a muddy and swollen Asian river churning and billowing below.
The pin-cushion and egg cup combination did a fine job of stopping the colonel from falling to the plastic surface of the sun-lounger and becoming mangled in the slats of the chair. Marigold, judging by the hot flush coming to her cheeks, was perhaps not as comfortable with the homemade willy bridge as Ken appeared to be, who was by now loudly slipping his gin and tonic and regaling me with the tale of when he took five wickets and made a fifty against Flange CC just last week. I think perhaps Marigold’s embarrassment was heightened when the sun was rather unexpectedly obscured by a bank of heavy cloud. Reacting to the sharp drop in temperature, the colonel had suddenly recoiled and had lazily lopped off his perfectly comfortable egg cup rest to fall almost silently to the slatted chair below. As Marigold rather nervously sipped her cup of tea, I vowed to ensure the colonel, now becoming quite red after nearly three hours of hot sun exposure, would be back on his perch as soon as the clouds passed. It wasn’t long before the sun peeked out from behind the wispy white cotton and with a small cough I managed to reposition the colonel back onto his podium, confident that he would not escape from the cushioned comfort of the egg cup again.
Marigold asked for another cup of tea and a few moments later, dear Maureen returned to the patio area with it. Unfortunately, a few cubes of sugar escaped from the bowl she had been carrying, clumsiness being a cross she had had to bear ever since the loss of her eye. The spillage forced Maureen to place the hot cup down onto the garden table before bending down to retrieve the sweetened cubes. Given Maureen had decided to join me in my nakedness, it was suddenly Ken’s turn to flush hot red and another loud slurp, this time sufficient to drain the last remnants of ice and gin from his glass, indicated to me that perhaps he had decided that their afternoon with us was at an end.
Normally I would have risen to bid farewell to my two old friends, but given the colonel was in such a fine and comfortable position I was reluctant to disturb him. Instead, I allowed Maureen to undertake the hostess duties, which she performed admirably by giving our departing friends a big, fleshy hug farewell. It had been an absolutely marvellous day, especially I suspect for the colonel, who later that evening I noticed had turned a most glorious, nutty mahogany brown as he rested contentedly on a big hairy bag of conkers.
MonkeyBroth’s own agony uncle, lifestyle guru and part time Penguinologist, Simon Thrombosis sorts your life right out. More than likely. Possibly.
Bethan Moleskin of Winkie on the Rye writes – Dear Si, lately, I’ve become irrevocably addicted to retro comestibles. Just last week, I polished off over 60 bags of Burton’s ‘Fish and Chips’ baked snacks and I fear that it’s now getting out of control. The other day, I ate over 40 packets of Fizzers and, due to an enormous sugar high, was found passed out on the floor of our local aquatic centre spooning a puffer fish. My family are surprisingly unconcerned. Please help!
Si writes – Ah Bethan, snacks of the past eh! Remember that these rehashed favourites are never what they once were. I remember when a McVities Wagon Wheel was so large, you had to physically roll it out of the shop. It could then be used as a makeshift wheel for your BMX in the event of a puncture. Now, they are the size of a Jaffa Cake. The Japanese obsession with micro-engineering has a lot to answer for.
Back to your problem, every time you reach for a snack, just remember a deeply disturbing part of your childhood. Eventually, your brain will associate sweets of yore to your beloved cat dying or something. Good luck Bethan.
Monty Whirlygig of Mosely Grimp writes – I’m a direct man. I call a spade a spade and a hammock a tree-spanning sleeping sling. The trouble is that, for all of my honest, down-to-earth practicality and sound unsolicited advice, I just don’t seem to get along with people. I’m one of the world’s good scouts and have a 98% history of being right in all situations and I always take the time to tell people when they are wrong, which is most of the time. I’d like to get along with folks, offer my wisdom and maybe meet a lady to become Mrs. Whirlygig. I don’t expect you to be able to help as I think you’re a fraud, but hope springs eternal eh?
Si writes – I think you need to tone down your advice giving Monty. Being right all of the time is a tricky thing (I should know) and it unnerves people. Oh, and saying ‘I call a spade a spade’ is essentially just telling people that you are bloody rude.
For the record, I’m not a fraud Monty. Which means one of us is wrong.
Little hint, it’s not me.
Matthew Damppatch of Frottington writes – Hi Si, the other week, I day-dreamed that I was flying a hang glider with Graham Gooch. Since then, I’ve been able to think of nothing else. I’m not in love with Mr. Gooch,(impressive as his cricketing achievements are), or hang gliders (although I admit I adore the feel of ripstop nylon), but for some reason the thought of the two of us flying high above the wonderful Biffordshire countryside is impossible to shift. Help me Si, I can’t sleep and my work as a subeditor for Vauxhall Zafira Monthly is suffering.
Si writes – Oh Matthew, this is a difficult one. For some reason, it’s a mental image that really does stick in the old noggin. So much in fact, that since reading your letter, all I can think of is catching a warm current and soaring across the sky with Graham’s manly arms next to my own, stretched out in front of us and contrasting the azure blue of infinity…
Can someone go and get Si down from the roof please? Yeah, he’s up there singing that Berlin song again. No let him keep the cricketer effigy otherwise he starts sobbing…
Once the plaything of the Victorians, the Radar Mouse – Biffordshire’s acoustically over-endowed small mammal – had one of the most obscure of all the roads towards endangerment.
Initially, they thrilled our ancestors with the discovery that, by forcing air through the mouse, a tune could be played. However, after the inventing of the mechanical mouse pipe, the fad of blowing small mammals quickly died out.
Looking like a cross between a common mouse and the ear trumpet used by Madame Fanny in the BBC comedy, Allo Allo!, the Radar Mouse had long cut a curious dash amongst the woodlands of our fair shire.
The few that remain live a life typical to a common mouse but have evolved a curious survival technique. When threatened, they can reverse their talents and emit a loud noise similar to a Chinook gaining altitude. This shocks the approaching predator into thinking that they are about to be sucked into a whirling vortex of rotor blades, giving the mouse ample time to beat a hasty retreat.
Common belief holds that the decline of the Radar Mouse was due to an epidemic of Pirate Radio stations that cropped up in Biffordshire in the early 90’s. The Mouse, with its complicated attenuation was thought to have been able to pick up these off-piste shows over 30 miles away from their source.
Driven mad by the harmonics of Drum ‘n Bass ruff cuts, over 90 per cent of this native species were lost when a stampeding pack of Radar Mice threw themselves in to Buttercludge gorge.
Frank Leyspeaking, president of the Biffordshire Association of Failed Creatures, recalls the scene…
“It were horrible I tell you. They were cuing up to jump!
“It fair makes me shiver to think of those poor little mites, falling to their demise with nothing but the soundtrack of ‘Bump up da eeezee rider caaaaammmm down!!!’ playing in their little heads.
“All those tiny bodies…… Still, I had me wife knock up this lovely set of gloves with the remains. Look! She even kept their little noses on!”
Happily, the Radar Mouse is a creature very much on the bounce. Since the culling of the Pirate DJs back in 2010, the remaining mouse population (believed to have survived by corking their ear trumpets) has been on the rise with sightings cropping up regularly across Biffordshire.
We can only hope that the happy parping of these tiny creatures continues to become more common-place.