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Fourth series, episode 1

All 133 episodes are available here on the HebWeb.

George Murphy starts his fourth series of Murphy's Lore in the crucial Election year of 2024, mixing humour, light verse and prose.

Award winning writer and poetry reviewer, Hebden's Peter Riley, has pithily responded to his work:

Witty, humane, serious,
Cheerful, satirical, wise
Local, global, continuous

To which George adds, "I better continue then!"

Four candles

On a tourist crammed, pre-Christmas day, I found a space in that little cottage café downstream from the medieval bridge. There was a row of four tea candles spread out across my table. I settled down on one of the captain's chairs, and was engrossed in reading the news, when a member of staff ran in and snatched one of the pull out sections which had caught alight. `Wait!' I yelled. `That's the sports section!'

Too late. She rushed outside and threw it into the raging River Calder.
Candles aren't my thing. Half a century ago, at a dimly lit party in Chester, I lifted a candle up in order to find out the title of an LP, and my shoulder length hair whooshed into flames. Within moments, whilst other women stood about screaming, my present wife emerged from the darkness and battered me about the head. Which put out the fire.

And a Happy New Year

2023 was the first time I haven't first footed since my age was in single figures. This year there was no coal, nor parents, children or grandchildren here. PW was still recovering from her fourth major illnesses of the year, the last being scarlet fever.

We'd enjoyed some telly in the last few days of the year, especially the Caroline Ahern documentary and the episode about Nanna's death, and Belfast where the recently bereaved granny, the almost unrecognisable Judy Dench, was left on her own as the family escaped the Troubles.

I wasn't bothered about turning off Jools Holland and the firework displays in various cities around the globe. It's the loss of a family get together I missed. Still, time waits for no man. I went to bed before midnight and took Chekhov with me – the great Russian writer, not the Star Trek guy.

Will we weather the weather?

Last year was globally the hottest on record, although you wouldn't have guessed that in the Pennines. The Met Office is predicting that 2024 will be even hotter, due to the full strength El Nino in the Pacific Ocean.

Making a drama of it

A quote has been connected to the Shaggy Dog Storytellers website for many years: "Tell me a fact and I'll learn. Tell me a truth and I'll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart for ever." Which gets close to the truth. But Mr Bates vs The Post Office had the added power of drama, in which re-enactment also teaches us facts, establishes truths and engages our emotions. Two emotions are anger and a build-up of exasperation. Drama can do that.

The acted story keeps linking us back to lies told as facts in courtrooms and then in local newspapers up and down the land over quarter of a century. People just like us are the victims. Good dramas usually end with a resolution, but this saga exasperates us even more because it is not over yet.

Campbell Malone, the renowned former Todmorden solicitor, has worked with investigative reporter John Sweeney on a number of cases. He recalls that Sweeney made a Panorama documentary back in 2015 in which "the issues were clear then. How can it have taken so long?" Well, perhaps because the genres were excellent but not dramatic enough.

Gwyneth Hughes, writer of the PO drama, has written and enjoyed documentaries, but explains why dramas have greater impact. They invite the audience "to be there when the big moments happen." Their vicarious power draws on empathy that perhaps only drama can engender.

Our institutions, our courts and elected representatives allowed the Post Office case to rumble on. It took just four hours of drama for the mass of TV viewers to demand justice. Now the public will only be satisfied when the truly guilty ones are punished.

Rah Rah Café Bar

The Café Bar seems to be thriving, especially for take aways. I usually turn up with my memo for a fish and chips and mushy peas combo. Their fish and 'die for' chips are currently the best in the area. Just walk in and order a quality coffee or half a Rat (other hand pulled ales weren't available last time I called), and before you've finished your drink your food order will be delivered to your table - if there isn't a whopping queue, which there might be after this item goes viral!

A Romantic Tale from the Dales

And now for something different …A bodice ripping yarn

A Ration of Passion
One warm summer at Moorland House,
Where posh people shoot at grouse,
Sally, the rich owner's daughter,
Joined in with the season's slaughter.
Daryl was her trainee beater,
In a shooting butt he'd meet her.
Daryl did not woo with flattery,
He was Mellors to her Chatterley.
Sally's favourite word was `Super!'
She loved reading Jilly Cooper.
Sally once went out with Roger
Now she was a Roger Dodger
As Roger shot another pheasant,
He vowed, "One day I'll bag a peasant."

Daryl got an invitation,
To `Sally's Christmas Celebration.'
On party day there was a warning,
Snow had fallen since the morning.
Mum, who worked at t' Barge and Barrel,
Said, `Wear your right apparel, Daryl!'
But though his venue was remote,
He did not think to take a coat.
Mum's driver friend, Uncle Ron,
Came round with a slapped face on,
And drove uphill with mounting dread,
Skidded once and then he said,
"Daryl, come back down with me.
Put t' fire on and watch TV.
Or come with me to t' Barge and Barrel,
There's karaoke on, our Daryl!"

But up the hill Sally beckoned.
TV came a distant second.
He got out halfway up hill.
Into late December's chill.
To get warm he thought he'd run,
Which for a time was almost fun.
But when he'd not gone very far,
He knew he'd left his phone in t' car!
And Daryl learnt to his great cost,
Phones are useless when they're lost.
And with each step and by degrees,
Snow rose up above his knees.
And as the snow got ever deeper,
So the incline grew much steeper.
Daryl's outfit could not withstand
A shower of sleet of Pennine brand.
Though wet through he soldiered on.
All feeling in his feet now gone.

He wandered onto blanket bog.
And every step became a slog.
Lost on t' moor at dead of night,
When t' smartphone could have given light.
But just as he felt broken hearted,
Clouds thinned out and then they parted.
The moon turned on its silvery light,
The moorlands scintillated white.
And when he got to Sally's lane,
His spirits lifted up again.
But focussed on the house beyond,
Fell in an ornamental pond!
Though he climbed out saturated,
He was still infatuated.
Nearing the house he thought he saw,
Roger in a 4 x 4!

Sally looked out on t' scene below,
And saw a shadow in the snow.
Her shout stopped dead the choir's Carol,
The butler opened the door at last,
And died from Roger's rifle blast!
Then melting snow on t' roof advanced,
Which soon became an avalanche,
And Roger, forty feet below,
Was covered by a ton of snow.


Sally, who could not get much thinner,
Did not stay for Christmas Dinner,
But Mum and Ron, and rest o't cast,
Loved each course of their repast.
The extras strolled down to the pub,
Roger kissed Daryl in the tub.

Are you a GI guy?

Surveys have shown that wives lose affection for husbands who act like children after they marry. Such husbands expect their wives to act like substitute mums. A third of wives fall out of love altogether when their husbands fail to share the burdens of childcare.

Despite which, scientists are pleading for more understanding for an unfairly denigrated group of husbands who suffer from a condition known as `G.I Guy.' These husbands suffer from the enduring disability of 'Genuine Ineptitude.' They try their best but in the end they don't succeed.

You might see a G.I sufferer at the local take away. He was given a short list by his wife, but when he reaches the front of the queue he can't find it. He searches his pockets, but somehow the note has vanished. GI Guy recklessly orders the list from memory. Then he returns with the wrong order, perhaps ordering for one too many children. Too late, he finds his wife had tucked her note into his wallet where she thought he was bound to find it! GI Guy secretly blames her, but stays silent in what he likes to think is a dignified fashion.

GI guy is given unskilled, low status chores, such as shovelling cat shit off the garden path. He cedes control of the TV channel hopper to his wife. He has to record sporting events or catch the recorded highlights at dead of night. These days, in an era of houses without chimneys, his magical, cave dweller instinct for making a nice fire is rarely called upon.

The cruellest part of the GI husband's plight is when his wife calls on the miraculous skills of the local Shamen, aka village handyperson, and sighingly muses if only she'd married, 'Handyman Dan … No problem too small.'

However, all is not lost for the GI husband. Scientists believe there is a reason GI guys have not died out through natural selection. One theory is that they charmed their partners by being brilliant and entertaining lovers. Perhaps, whilst other more macho men went out hunting, GI Guy managed to share his DNA with a range of stone age wives.

Recent research suggests that wives can boost the morale of their GI Guy by using a strategy known as `fabrication'. She tells each visiting artisan that her husband is a concert pianist who needs to protect his precious fingers, and Shazam! Suddenly roles are reversed. GI Guy retires upstairs to his study bedroom and turns up Radio 3 to drown out those less gifted minions down below.

I've got a ukulele!

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 133 episodes.