To cheer you up a bit during these strange times we thought you’d like to hear from Mr South so we have a new Fencast for you!
The problem with calling people on the telephone is that you don’t know what they’re doing at the other end. They might be up to their elbows in soap-suds, or up the other end of the garden, knee-deep in compost and nettles.
But with Mr South, you know that he’ll be mostly thinking.
So when he got a phone call from someone in distress needing help, he did think about it. But had he put himself in danger?
And where does the Bus Shelter (pictured below) fit in?
Find out more on our Fencasts page by listening to Help! Help! Mr South!
I must admit that when I heard the phone ringing in the kiosk outside AGAIN, I was in quite a bad mood because as you all know I’m a very busy woman and I haven’t time to chat to all and sundry.
Turns out it was only Mr South, who’d been making a nuisance of himself constantly making the phone ring. He went on and on about some picnic or something, as you can hear in our new Fencast. It’ll also explain why there’s Modern Ferretting down below.
Well dear readers I have some exciting news for you : Mr South’s fourth book about Grunty Fen has been published!
WHERE TO FIND A WARM BUCKET
And other TALL TALES of a LOW PLACE
This book is the fourth of Mr South’s series of investigations into the world of Grunty Fen. Described by the author as “…non-existent tourist trails around imaginary locations…variable geography, questionable history and unreliable truth…”
Discover an English region you never knew existed yet it is right on your doorstep. Up that boggy lane, behind those thorny bushes, over that stagnant ditch.
Let Christopher South lead you on a strange East Anglian journey to meet outcasts who can neuter wrens in flight and crafters who whittle whisks and whistles. But don’t go near the radioactive cosmetics and plague laboratories.
And don’t forget your bucket.
About 90 glorious pages plus an introduction and a free index.
The WARM BUCKET will be available very shortly. The people at McCaw Press (they now look after all the Grunty Fen books) tell me the books will be ready by Tuesday 10th December so that Father Christmas can have some if he wishes.
How cheering to hear on the wireless today a reminder that on this day in 1969 some brave men took off in a big rocket to travel to the moon with the intention of walking upon it! Imagine that.
Of course I remember back in 1969 when I first heard, on the same wireless, news of the original lunar landing. How exciting that was. We had such a demand in the shop for rocket-shaped iced-lollies that Dennis nearly wore his lips out sucking ordinary lollies into a pointed shape.
Speaking of Dennis, here is a clip of him reminiscing with Mr South about the lunar landing.
The clip is taken from an episode of Dennis called “Venusians” which you can download or play for your own personal use from here.
Dennis recently reminded me of the wondrous occasion when I and he were children the people of Grunty Fen and surrounding villages held a re-enactment of the terrible day in the 16th century when the the Revenue men of Cambridge came to the fens. But I’ll let Dennis describe this himself with words “out of his head”.
A Ren'actment eh? We 'ad one of them in Grunty Fen once. We Ren'acted the occasion from the olden days when the revenue came from Cambridge to the Fen to discuss with the roobab men how much tax they owed. Yer see, back then rhubarb grew in the wild and was basically free food to yer average fenman. But some folks took to making roobab wine, then they distilled it an' sold it as rooshine. which upset the Revenue them not getting any share so they work pretty hard to discuss it with the roobab men. The roobab men discussed it just as hard back agin. Eventch'lly as ya know the rhubarb died out and the revenue lost int'rest. In the ren'acment the roobab men was armed with sticks of roobab (jus' like the real event) an' the revenue rattled chains as they try to catch the roobabs to arrest 'em. Still remember the chant of "rhubarb, rhubarb" from the roobab mob.
So there you have it. It was a rather unruly mob stumbling around, as I recall, waving lengths of rhubarb. As you would expect some ended up in custody.
Yours sincerely Miss Edwards Grunty Fen General Stores and Post Office
Exciting News dear reader for those with a wireless set: we had thought that Grunty Fen was forever banished from the airwaves but that is not the case – at least for this Christmas! Grunty Fen has popped up in the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire schedules.
The Grunty Fen story is the result of a long investigation by that splendid young man John Devine. In it he interrogates Mr South about Dennis but also interviews Liz Sayers about Pete Sayers and his role in the creation of Dennis and his other career. For example, did you know that Pete presented music shows on both American and British television? Various fans and friends of Grunty Fen also appear in the Radio Cambridgeshire documentary and, I believe, some old episodes of Dennis will be “aired”.
All that is a lot to squeeze into one programme so it will be split over two days. The first half will be broadcast on 27th December at 12 noon. The second half will be broadcast on the following day (that’s the 28th December) also at 12 noon.
If you will be too busy to listen due to meat or vegetable duties you can listen at your convenience using the BBC Sounds application.
Please do listen and if you like what you hear please remember to thank Radio Cambridgeshire very loudly.
Grunty Fen General Stores and Post Office
Hello there. I’ve heard it said that Grunty Fen folk never stray over the A10 but that is a gross exaggeration. For example, take the case of Arnold Bazeley the famous explorer. This is an extract from the Who’s Who of Grunty Fen.
ARNOLD BAZELEY (1919-2001)
While the majority of people born in the Grunty Fen area are content to spend their entire lives travelling no further than Stuntney or in the more restless cases, Ely, there is a wanderlust gene in their blood which manifests itself in a rare line who are born with their eyes on far horizons.
So it was with Arnold Bazeley, one of the greatest in a long line of Fen explorers going back to the legendary Wanda Aetheling who discovered Dire Pits in c.900 AD. Bazeley followed his father in the pitch-tosser’s trade but from an early age became restless in the spring. Each April he bade his family farewell and with a small sack of liquorice allsorts flung over his shoulder and his trusty bagging hook through his belt set out on foot he knew not whither.
In old age he published an evocative memoir, Far Afield Afoot in the Fens, telling how he stumbled across many hitherto unheard of villages and recorded their local customs. There is a sense of wonder in his words as he describes, for example, Great Sorely where the people washed every day and bathed at least once a fortnight or Bastardy where women with large feet were thought especially desirable and baby girls’ feet were cruelly clamped between boards from birth to flatten and expand them.
I forget my own name sometimes but I never could forget Reverend Barnard. He was quite a character in his day. Here is a brief extract from Who’s Who of Grunty Fen.
According to Barnard’s new calendar, by which many Fen folk now live, the standard week runs Sunday, Unday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
By some force of nature, we are unable to remember the events of an Unday. Mankind lives and goes about its business on Undays but is forbidden forever from remembering what it did on that day. That slice of cold pie missing from the larder sometime between Sunday and Monday was eaten on Unday. That otherwise inexplicable graze on one’s skin was suffered on an Unday. That stranger towards whom one feels an unjustified antipathy is because of something he or she said on an Unday. That strange sense of sadness or gladness we sometimes feel for no good reason springs in fact from the events of Unday. All strangenesses, all mysteries, all odd dreams and curious happenings, and, above all, that impression one has of having “been here before” are down to Unday.
It goes without saying that you can read more about the thoughts of the Reverend Barnard in the book written by Christopher South called Who’s Who of Grunty Fen.