Share this page

Small ads

Third series, episode 26

All 118 episodes are available here on the HebWeb.

In the latest episode of Murphy's Lore, there's a canal with a makeover, time travellers endangering granddads, Happy Valley coach tours, ancient sex toys, Ukraine one year on, people photos, a painful look at Shingles, kids creating online, a poet recalled and readers who've written.

In the 70s, I used to run from Halifax to Hebden Bridge, then up to Heptonstall. Nearing Hebden Bridge, the towpath was in a bad way back then. I had to detour through Mytholmroyd sewage works to continue my journey.

50 years later, I'm in a bad way, but at least I don't have to go through the sewage works when I stroll along the towpath, and everything these days is in colour.

But imagine if folks from the industrial age could have travelled into the our times …

Uncle Herbert's Machine
(an extract)

' … uncle stared up at t' mill chimneys,
Saying, "Look lad, no smoke's coming out!"
And all down our street,
Folks weren't using their feet,
Horseless carriages took them about!

And some dined at pavement cafes,
Or cruised on t' canal in a barge.
And t' best thing of all,
Wor this hole in t' bank wall,
That wor giving out cash, free o' charge!
from Hippy Valley (2018, FBP)

The Grandfather Paradox

Mind, if you did travel into the future, could you be sure of getting back? And if you could travel back in time, what problems might occur if you overshot your intended arrival date?

At the White Lion, Jude told me he'd been watching a DVD about the Universe. He's quite taken with the conjecture that people can go back in time – by travelling through black holes.

But when I got home, I was reading an old issue of New Scientist (October, 2020) when I happened upon Tom Gould's comic strip The Grandfather Paradox, which begins, "Travelling back in time and killing your grandfather before he has any children will make your own birth impossible."

So think on, Jude.

Fun filled breaks

Newcastle based J.G. Travel have announced a season of Happy Valley coach tours. Prices start at £339.

As well as taking in our dramatic scenery, trippers will be shown the exact location of incidents from the celebrated series, including the King Cross house where Sergeant Catherine Cawood lost her spleen, that spot on t' tops where a rooky PWC was run over, the cellar off Tuel Lane where a kidnap victim was held captive by Tommy Lee Royce, those posh houses above Ripponden where a pharmacist murdered his neighbour, the Luddenden Valley beauty spot where trippers can enjoy a picnic in the actual field where Tommy slaughtered three of the Knezevic gang, before visiting the Hanging Royd house where the arch villain went up in flames, despite Catherine's best efforts to smother him with her sister's crochet blanket.

Somehow, writer and cast managed to outweigh these depictions of cruelty with portrayals of bravery and kindness, often evinced through tersely comic dialogue, without which I don't think tourists would be flocking here.

Ancient tool

Male archaeologists have been brought to a state of excitement when reassessing a two thousand year old object found in a ditch at the site of Vindolanda Roman fort. The tapering six inch long object was dug up in 1992, and was originally thought to be a darning tool.

Now Rob Collins, Newcastle University's Senior Lecturer in archaeology, has told The Guardian, "I have to confess part of me thinks it's self-evident that it is a penis." He didn't divulge which part of him reacted in this way when holding the object, which he thinks should be relabelled as a dildo.

Female commentators have questioned Rob's theory, pointing out that wood has a tendency to splinter, especially with heavy use. And a social media friend remembers making a darning tool of exactly this classic design at her school back in the 1960s.

February 24th

The lost children

One year on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I thought about the lost children. Hundreds of thousands of them have been abducted and bussed into Russia, for 're-education'. Some of them were brought onto the stage at Putin's rally, others hugged a soldier they called Uncle Yuri, who 'rescued' them from Mariupol. An investigation by an Associated Press team discovered that abducted children were often taken from their parents, and lied to that their parents had disowned them.

A report by Yale University identified 43 locations described as holiday facilities or foster care and adoption centres. 32 camps have systematically tried to re-educate children with `Russia-centric academic, cultural, patriotic, and/or military education.'

Trades Club Open Mic

Star of the small screen, after her appearance on the Breakfast Time sofa, MC Sarah Courtney invited a group of spoken word performers to share the Trades Club stage with musicians from near and far. She gave a particularly warm welcome to one chap who had come over from Belgium. Which brought a round of applause from the audience. Except he hadn't. Sarah had misheard him. He was actually from Baildon.
And very good he was too. Here's his picture.

And to represent the spoken word gang, here's one of Cornholme's Emma Decent, relating incidents from her teenage diary, brave soul.

I performed The Cautionary tale of Joan, who spent too long on her mobile phone 'and wor eaten', and The Acre Mill song, where my ageing and reedy voice seemed appropriate in a lament for those who didn't survive to old age.

Shaggy Dog at Stubbing Wharf

Friday evening, it was my turn to MC, at the latest Shaggy Dog Storytellers event.

This club is really bouncing again, with good performances from experienced, professional and debut tellers.

And for the moment, the entry fee is £0. Folk arrived from Rochdale, Leeds, Manchester, Poland (via Heptonstall), Leeds and, in the case of Joan (pictured right), Georgia USA (via Pudsey).

Shingles week

If you don't want to be scared by shingles, go onto the NHS advice page, where it is described as short lived (4 weeks with occasional pain afterwards) with the pain being treatable by paracetamol.

But if you want to really inform yourself, go onto the International Shingles Week website in search of the latest scientific research. Our medical centre have been very supportive, but nowhere is able to provide the comforting cream which (don't mention Brexit) can't be found anywhere these days.

Brave New World

Granddaughter called in and told us she'd sold two of her homemade masks on eBay for £104. She's also manufacturing false nails. One day her mum collected her from school and found the whole class was copying her design for 'witch's nails'. She didn't tell us this, but her mum confided that Rosie now has 500 followers on social media after producing a cartoon, without advice or help from older members of the family.

Later that evening, we watched a TV programme about a 9 year old American girl who has half a million followers. Her specialism was testing and reviewing the quality of firearms.

The other Hughes

In the 80s, Glyn Hughes, much admired by his more famous namesake, was our neighbour in Mill Bank, Triangle. He bought his tiny cottage for £50, and liked our garden, his own place lacking one. We discussed the word Lumb, which he described as a 'chimney', but I suggested it was probably synonymous with waterfall around here. He said his novels were the first time he made any money from his writing. Although, I imagined that Millstone Grit,* had done well. Peter Tinniswood, (a comic writer I admired) described it as, "the work of a subtle poet with the ear of a stand-up comic and the most delicate of water colourists."

I chatted to Pete Morgan, the Robin Hoods Bay poet, about Hughes's work. We both preferred his poems to his novels. Here's an example 0f his poetry from Best of Neighbours, (1979, Coelfrith Press), which Hughes dedicated to Tony Harrison.

The Wages of Sin

Nobody knows
where the Garden of Eden is.
But for certain, Man was expelled
to Sowerby Bridge.

Can you see those crowds in ecstasy shifting, singing –
nineteenth century weavers, spinners,
on their way to hear a Wesleyan preach
about the Fall and t' Wages of Sin –

twenty miles by rush-lights over the smirched
moor that would never offer them
childhood's first, naked
walk in the Garden again.

Here was the first landscape on earth to lose
the visionary gleam,
the gloss that children see on the hill;
to poison the trout stream.

The attention to restrictive Methodism, would later become the focus of Glyn Hughes's novels. Reading the poem 40 years later, I'm reminded of a lawless, oft arrested farmer we all knew back then, who I once saw disgorge his slurry into the river behind our Mill Bank house, a practice condoned these days by government, although Hughes had in mind an even deadlier pollution during the Industrial Revolution.

I'm reading

Proof (Shearsman, Swindon, 2023) by my celebrated friend and neighbour, Peter Riley, which I'm told is his last collection.

Cycling in Search of the Cathars, by Elaine Connell and Chris Ratcliffe (Pennine Pens, 2022 edition)

I've finished reading Jill Liddington's brilliant Rebel Girls, (Virago, 2006).

More on all three publications next time.

We're watching

Gold, which is great viewing, but will become notorious for romanticising the character of the murderer Kenneth Noyes. The dialogue crackles along in convincing fashion, apart from the set pieces where the cast talk about class. Not that I disagree with them about the ruling class, but showing and not telling is a motto the writers have forgotten and is part of the reason Kenneth Noye appears as a Robin Hood type character, rather than an amoral thug.

Readers write

Thanks to those who have been contacting me online. Here's two reactions to Episode 25.

Heather Wilson: Very good George … especially, the wads worth in Old Town comment … ha ha xx

Sue James (from Suffolk) Great read as always George, loved the fairy tale. X

Whisky George: thank you WG, so pleased you noticed PW's plight, and presented me with a miniature. Unfortunately, she can't take it because of her medications, but I'll see it doesn't go to waste. Keep up the good works.

And finally …

Last word from Private Eye:


*Reissued by Toller Publications (2022), with an introduction by Ben Myers.

Murphy's Lore, the book, is available to order here

If you would like to send a message about this piece or suggest ideas, email George Murphy

More Murphy's Lore

See the Murphy's Lore home page for all 118 episodes.