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.
That lovely gentleman from the BBC, Mr Christopher South, will be in Ely on Saturday 24th March at Burrows Bookshop. This will be an ideal time for you to get your books signed. Including, of course, The Who’s Who in Grunty Fen and extract of which is attached.
Mr South will be discussing Who’s Who and his other books with anybody who would care to attend his event at Burrows Bookshop, Ely on March 24th. The Burrows Face Book is here
The particular “Who” this sample page refers to isMOTHER MARJORY (fl. 1490) Founder of the Theory of Duality of Purpose and originator of the edible poultice.
Grunty Fen Post Office and General Stores
It is with great excitement I have to announce that Mr Christopher South will be having an Event! If you would like to meet Mr South and put a face to the senior voice of Radio Cambridgeshire please do go along to Burrow’s Bookshop in Ely on 24th March between half-past ten and twelve o’clock. That’s a Saturday.
All of Christopher’s book will be available to purchase and to get autographed including the latest Customs and Folklore of Grunty Fen. I am sure the author will be very pleased to meet you – he does like to know who reads his books and what their gardens are like.
Hello there. Many people think that the Grunty Fen General Stores have been here for ever! But before my sister and I took over the little post office Grunty Fen was visited by characters such as this gentleman who would deliver and sell all matters of comestibles. Everything from cement to elastic for under-clothing. Just you read the chapter on Old Rep in Christopher South’s latest book.
Just to let you know that if you are in Soham you can now purchase Chris South’s book Customs and Folklore of Grunty Fen from Soham Books. Two of the nicest people you can meet work in that shop; Richard and Joy. Such a lovely little town too.
We are all very pleased at Grunty Fen to hear that Dennis’s shop is now able to supply the Best Of Dennis Vol 5 on CD or a digital download. This is a collection of Dennis episodes originally released on cassette tapes.
To quote Mr South “This compilation features a wide variety of subjects involving mince, custard and gravy, army life, tortoises, the mysterious spirituality of the hadnabinfers, strange offerings in supermarkets, Gran’s bloomers, budgie cages and the light harvest festival. ”
Dennis spoke on several occasions about the hadnabinfer problem but I’m no closer to an understanding. Listen to Volume 5 yourself and then perhaps you can explain it to me.
This rather racy young lady is Noreen Coldwick who was was once elected Queen of the Carrot Scrubbing Sheds. Her title (if you can believe what Christopher South says in “Customs”) was “Miss Scrubber”.
If you ask me this shows the kind of behaviour that wouldn’t be tolerated in my day. Smoking in a carrot shed indeed!
To celebrate the opening of our new website (hurray!) and because it’s that time of year when things are ‘burgeoning’ (according to Mr South), why not have a listen to Dennis singing Springtime in Grunty Fen? Just click on the bramble below and mind how you go.
In case you missed it, Dennis’s theme tune, Fen Tigers, recently made it onto American airwaves, courtesy of a duo called Fingermouse and Rubberneck!
The two musicians – Tom Few and Simon Murfitt – are just about to release their first record, but in a move which surprised all of us, ended up playing their version of Fen Tigers on WPSC Brave New Radio in America on their Ukulele Day! All of us at Grunty Fennery would like to thank Tom and Simon for their very enjoyable tribute to Dennis.
Click on Dennis to hear the track. Click on Mr South to read more in an article from the Cambridge News. Click on the wireless to hear their interview on American radio.