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Third series, episode 23

All 115 episodes are available here on the HebWeb.

In the latest episode of Murphy's Lore, there's the return of GPs, one dodgy knee, two painful maladies, a Happy Valley trio, a dead poet who comes alive, monologues and rock and roll,  and pre loved sex toys!

GPs are back!

One morning, I opened a bottle of milk and was going to pour it onto my nutty granola as per, when my newly errant left knee buckled, causing me to grab at a dining chair, which slid across the floor taking me with it, until I grabbed the more solid support of a sideboard with one hand, whilst delivering a dousing of semi-skimmed to my surroundings with the other. If only PW had been there to record the incident we could have sent the video off to You've been framed.

After I'd cleaned up, I contacted Dr Google, who diagnosed a slight ligament tear - best dealt with by lying around with my feet up for a few days and being waited on for the duration - when, gallingly, PW appeared on the stairs, saying she hadn't slept all night because of a terrible pain in her midriff.

An hour later, at Valley Medical Centre, whilst the receptionist and I booked a next day knee check in Mytholmroyd for me, in another room a GP (remember them?) was booking a next day slot for PW at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary - and gave her a much needed prescription for pain killers. So, I cancelled my check-up.

Next day at the hospital we were greeted by a new version of one of those STAY CALM signs, which PW didn't find especially reassuring, truth be told.

There followed two days of examinations and testing on my present wife, alternating with hours of sitting around watching commercial TV programmes in a crowded waiting room feeling grateful that at least we weren't in A&E.

On day two, an hour after my wife's final test, I escaped from The Chase on ITV and detoured past the nurse's station, where I noticed that Dearly Beloved's name was scribbled in black felt tip on a whiteboard, accompanied by the directive: Send home - ring with results tomorrow. But as PW hadn't in fact been sent home, I imagined they were waiting for further results in case she needed to stay in overnight for further observations.

Two hours later there were only a few of us left in the waiting room, and needing to move about once more, partly to avoid watching a Phil and Kirsty house selling programme, and hoping we could get home in time to watch United's match on our own telly, I meandered past the nurses' station again, and a Senior Nurse asked me, "You alright, love?"

I smiled and admitted, "Fed up! We've been here five hours."

"Oh dear! What name is it love?"

"Well, it's not me. I'm with Mrs Murphy, " I said, pointing past her to the whiteboard.

She turned to check.

"Ah … That's the lady we were told to … "

"Send home …" we both said quietly.

Safely home again, and five minutes before kick-off, I discovered that it wasn't my United that was playing, but the nouveau riche Saudi Arabian backed Geordies!

Then PW discovered a rash around her middle, which was diagnosed next day at our newly high speed medical centre as shingles, "It's like having nettles dragged across your skin," to go along with her gall stone pains. Not a good combo.

It's dear up here

Analysis in The Times shows that houses in London are worth three times the value of houses in the north, but we pay 20% more council tax. An average Band D householder in London will be charged £1,696, compared with £2,060 in the north. Eight of the ten cheapest council tax rates are in London. And Westminster Council has some of the most expensive properties in the country, but because the council can draw on its own resources Band D homeowners pay £781 per year. As a new MP back in 2015, the PM boasted to party members in Tonbridge Wells that the Government had changed the rules for distributing support from northern inner city councils to places like Tonbridge Wells.

Happy Valley Triangle

Sally Wainwright looks out from this 1971 photograph of Triangle CE school, which was just round the corner from us in lovely Millbank. Another pupil was Lisa Farrand, who works as an advisor on the show after retiring from a career in the police force.

I'd read about Lisa and her husband, also a retired PC, a few years back. Sarah Lancashire remarked on the way in which Lisa explained how police officers gain authority through their uniform and demeanour. She'd also explained that in American cop shows arrests usually follow violent encounters, but in the UK arrests can be a big shock for our criminals, and police often try to defuse the situation by offering their captive a cup of tea. After series two, a Daily Mail headline aptly described this approach as:


The Sunday Times has catalogued PC Farrand's own illustrious career. She won a Queen's police Medal for Distinguished Service after being run over by four men in a car following the Bradford Riots in 1971. In Halifax, she worked in a predominantly Pakistani Muslim community and learnt to speak Urdu, helping her to communicate with women in the area, particularly victims of domestic violence. Farrand says she would have loved PC Cawood to be her beat partner. "She doesn't even have to speak when she's in uniform, she just commands."

There was a nice comic turn alongside the growing body count in this week's Happy Valley episode, when the discussion turned to aliens from outer space landing in Todmorden. All I need now is for one of the officers to read their Ufologist colleague an extract from The Todmorden Triangle in the next episode and Hippy Valley sales will rocket.

Arthur and Vladimir

Sixty years ago in my girlfriend's room in college, the drama students gathered to sound off after the written part of their Drama exam. One of them, perhaps they'd say their leader, pointed to a quote in one of the questions, and said, "I wonder who wrote this quote… do you think they just make them up?"

I didn't want to sound like a know all, drama not being my subject, but I recognised the quote.

"It's from On Social Plays, by Arthur Miller. After watching The Crucible, a woman said to him, surely no one can be as evil as Judge Danforth?" But when he thought about it later, the playwright decided that he didn't make the judge evil enough.

How quickly Miller's audience member, post Hitler and Stalin, had forgotten that such evil can exist on a much grander scale than the Salem witch trials. How trivial the evils of the Salem hangings and Joe McCarthy seem now, when compared to the mass murders being committed by Putin and his mafia henchmen. If I was setting a question in an exam paper, for History perhaps, it might be: 'Many of the famous leaders in world history, including those we label as "Great," were actually evil tyrants. Discuss.'

New Year gift

Local poet, Phil Foster posted a lament for the passing of the Serbian American poet Charles Simic, who was famous in Europe and the States apparently, although I'd never heard of him. The Poetry Foundation magazine contained a broad selection of his poems. As the poet's eyes were closed, mine were opened. I like this, for instance from Evening Walk …

The sky above still blue.
The nightbirds like children
Who won't come home to dinner.
Lost children singing to themselves.

Trades club open mic

I enjoyed catching up with old friends at the Trades Club open mic, including The Naked Truth duo. One of the standout songs for me was a teenage band's rendering of the Pixies' Catfish Kate, although I feel guilty about singling anyone out on an evening of great variety, enthusiasm and skilled musicianship. John Cooper Clark, who should know, writes in his recent autobiography, that spoken word can't compete with music. So, providing a contrasting and entertaining diversion was the brief I gave myself.

In order to get up on any stage, you need to be driven by your ego. At a post lockdown launch at our local bookshop, Ian Macmillan admitted to me, "I love showing off!" But I have also adopted the motto of the Tiger Lilies: 'Don't take yourself too seriously, no one else does,' which helps me to stay relaxed. And if I do feel nervous, I remind myself that nerves are really adrenaline - nature's legal drug for helping performers.
At the Trades, borrowing from the world of rock music, I managed to tick off number one of my three personal goals for my comic monologue performances:

  1. Members of the audience recognise the words and join in – a bit like the Woodstock crowd with Country Joe and the Fish. TICK! (One guy joined in at times with The Todmorden Triangle).

    That just leaves me to pursue the other two goals …
  2. I hold the mic out and the audience take over, reciting my words for me – just like at Glastonbury.
  3. I dive into the rapturous audience and crowd surf, in the manner of Val Kilmer in that film about Jim Morrisey.

This sporting life

The board at Everton football club were told not to attend the club's home match this weekend because police had information that they would not be safe. This followed an incident where a female Director was held in a headlock. Which reminded me of an article by Camilla Long in last week's Sunday Times, bemoaning the fact that Pele's death got more attention in the media than the death of Vivienne Westwood. Long reckons men get so wound up about football because they can't cope with the realisation that it's absolutely unimportant.

Valley fever

After weeks of wet, overcast days, Sunday was sunny. During the long dreary wet spell, new neighbours asked us about the threat of floods. But having checked Met Office reports, I wasn't unduly concerned. I know about global warming, of course, but at heart I'm still unused to the new normal. Being a throwback to the 60s, I wait until a neighbour has pummelled our door, PW has carried the furniture upstairs and the flood siren has sounded, before I move the car to higher ground. Midsummer's Day in 2012, Vicky from Lockkeepers rapped on the door and informed us that the gardens along the street were all under water. Ten to midnight, Christmas 2015, we were watching a noisy film when Beryl from the mill alerted us. The river had broken its banks.

But global warming is a two fisted beast. Last summer, the reservoirs were half empty, and in the valley the temperature touched 39 degrees centigrade. Down south, arid grasslands ignited and houses went up in flames. Despite which, last year was only the sixth hottest on record, the cooling effect of La Nina taking the edge off the heat. More sobering is the knowledge that the eight hottest years on record have all been registered since 2015.

As for 2023, the cooling effects of La Nina are expected to wane in April. So think on.

My Daughter's Darling Daughter

Vikings, Normans, such as these
Came to these islands as newcomers,
These verdant lands in pewter seas,
Shone emerald bright in rainbow summers.
With birds tumultuous in the trees
And fish abundant in clear water,
And I would like to leave you these,
My daughter's darling daughter

But it's late, grandad, it's too late …
Smell the smoke from the redwood trees,
And it's late, grandad, it's too late …
Hear the ice crash in the Arctic seas.


With barefoot prints on jewelled grass,
When days are long and nights are shorter,
Be sure these precious hours to grasp,
My daughter's darling daughter.


But it's late … etc.

With valleys clear from poison air,
And moorlands safe from rich men's slaughter,
I close my eyes and see you there,
My daughter's darling daughter.

But it's late …

Taking Note

Unusual gifts to charities in 2022 included a tea pot given to Tenovus Cancer Care in south Wales, which had tea and cold water inside. The Red Cross reports that their donated items included 'preloved' sex toys. Come again?

Peter Jackson, a regional manager added, "We've also had stuffed family pets that have been donated, people's ashes and false teeth …"

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