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.
Miss Edwards is thrilled to announce that Mr South’s books – The Authorised Guide to Grunty Fen and Who’s Who in Grunty Fen – make an appearance in the 50th edition of the quarterly magazine for book lovers Slightly Foxed!
Esteemed journalist Sue Gaisford has written entertainingly about how she came to discover Dennis of Grunty Fen, and how she has enjoyed Mr South’s books.
Needless to say all of us here at Grunty Fennery thank Sue most heartily for her article, and we are over the Honolulu Moon to be included in such an august and elegant publication!