Dennis was brought up by his mother’s parents after she went to live in Calhoun, Georgia, with an American Tech Sergeant, Buzz, in 1947. Dennis corresponds occasionally but has not met her since. His paternity is uncertain. He has lived all his life in the converted railway carriage known as The LNER.
He plays the banjo and guitar which he learned using the Bert Weedon Play with Yourself for a Day method. He also makes up songs: his most famous is Ladder to the Moon which is available on the albums Pedalling the Fen and Tiger Tales but there are many others, some of which are available in Dennis’s shop.
Gran is Dennis’s maternal grandmother. The long-time widow of a railwayman, she’s 92 years old and – as Dennis puts it – ‘incompetent’ at night. Her great interests are the Royal Family and embroidering mottoes on cushions. She often stitches mistakes, e.g.: Bless this Horse and A Miss is as Good as a Male.
As a gifted whistler, Gran has several sets of dentures for different tunes and she reserves one set solely for when she whistles The Dream of Olwen. Her basic, everyday teeth are known as her egnezols because she was sucking a lozenge when the dentist took a mould of her mouth and the word on the lozenge came out backwards on her teeth. The egnezols are used for chewing, informal whistling, crimping pasties and extracting splinters.
Maudie Deeks is Dennis’ fiancée. She’s always at the front when they go tandem riding, which may have something to do with Dennis’s ‘trouble’. Whatever the reason, he’s quite happy with the arrangement and has written a song about their shared passion: Pedalling With Maudie on the album Trouble Is.
Maudie runs Mr Thrussel’s coalyard office near her home at Swaffham Market. A diligent and neat worker, she wears a clean bobble hat to the office every day. She lives mostly on Ambrosia creamed rice and tinned spaghetti cooked on a paraffin stove beside her bed. Oh, and she knits the bobble hats herself.
To hear Dennis telling Mr South about Gran and the LNER, you need The LNER, Me Gran, The Flying Squad and the Four Rs from the album Tha’s All In Ya Loif.