Then prepare to enter a world quite different
from the one you live in.
Dennis is a sly, crafty,
self-sufficient and slightly surly fenman who lives
with his 92-year-old Gran in a converted Edwardian
railway carriage in Grunty Fen.
Dennisís home village stands Ė or rather, tilts Ė on a
patch of relatively firm ground in an otherwise soggy landscape.
The nature of the
be quickly gleaned from a glance at the Explanatory
Notes to the Tourist Map of Grunty Fen (right).
Grunty Fenís neighbouring villages include Gloat, Rat
Dyke, Little Harm, Dank, Drench, Windy Huts, Bitter End, Down
Market, Upper and Lower Nacker and the recently established trading community at Bottle Bank.
Christopher South, the eminent journalist and broadcaster, spent many years risking his sanity by venturing into
the bleak wilderness of Grunty Fen. In his words:
ĎSeen with a strangerís eyes, the world
of Dennis of Grunty Fen may seem shabby, dirty, even disgusting. But, seen
with the eyes of one who has grown familiar with this corner of the country, it
is clear the shabbiness, the dismal dilapidation and utter awfulness are only
superficial. Beneath this outer layer lie many more layers, each more
dreadful than the last.í
Every Sunday the erudite, urbane but ultimately hapless Mr South would doggedly
interview Dennis on the wireless, and two worlds collided. Dennis thought Mr
South was a stuck-up snob. Mr South thought Dennis was a dim clod.
Nothing ever shifted either of them from his view of
the other, and for seventeen years this abrasive relationship formed the
basis of the radio show Dennis of Grunty Fen.
Filling Dennisís stories and fuelling Mr Southís
disbelief and despair appeared an ever-growing cast of misfits and oddities,
such as The
Feral Nuns, roaming the fens on Vespas,
the only people ever to strike terror into the hearts of sturdy fen folk; Woollie Woollard, sloping-house owner and mudmog
Robinson, a Nissen-hut-dwelling
Ukrainian shepherd refugee from WWII; Oily Olly, the
fat-slopping chip-van man and many, many more.
Although Dennisís creator - musician Pete Sayers - died
in 2005, Dennis lives on, together with Peteís musical achievements, as his
So welcome to Dennis and his
squalid, poverty-stricken but essentially lovable world.
Itís advisable to
wear wellies when visiting Dennis of Grunty Fen: it's damp, thorny
and you never know what you might tread in. (It'll probably be one of the W.I.ís discarded brawn horns, but best to be on the safe