Posts Tagged ‘History’


To make sense of this you will need to read

Part 1 here!

Part 2 here!

Waving Flags – Part 3

The Iron Duke, Wellington, arrived with a haughty demeanour one would naturally associate with the greatest living Englishman.  He inspected the Rocket, prodded wheels and tubes with his riding crop and asked questions of its construction, nature and performance to the nervous pairing of Locke and Stephenson.

After satisfying his curiosity and perhaps allaying some of his nerves, The Duke and his retinue retired down the platform to their specially prepared carriage. The crowds of people cheered such a grand presence, Napoleon’s conqueror no less,  in their shabby town of Manchester, although one or two expressed regret that the Prime Minister was not wearing his medals. For his part Wellington graciously raised his riding crop to his hat  to accept the adoration.

Locke signaled to William. Now was the time.

“All Clear. All Clear! Those journeying to Liverpool should all board now!” he shouted. He and Arnold, the would be assassin,  pushed the crowds away from the train and carriages to allow Wellington to make safe passage.

Once the Duke was safely aboard, William unfurled his flag and waved it energetically in the manner he had hoped. Stephenson standing on the footplate with the suddenly energetic Edmonds, gave him the thumbs up. The Rocket’s whistle produced a shrill blast, causing the crowds to draw breath. Once more steamed spewed from all the machine’s orifices as she began to slowly peel away from  the platform.

William realized that he had waved them off with his Red Flag, when he had intended to use Green. In the excitement he had got mixed up. A small point to most, but to a man as fastidious as William something for him to brood upon at home that night.

Locke had noticed to. He shook his head at William. There would be a reckoning.

Slowly the carriages passed by. Wellington and William caught each other’s eye. There was a look of palpable fear on the great man’s face, not even the threat of defeat at Waterloo had caused such a base fear in him as the fear of being hauled hauled by this ghastly traction contraption, conceived, designed and built by Northerners.

On iron rails!

William had intended to doff his stove pipe to the Duke, but time, circumstances and the paper lining now made that impossible.

The train was now free of the platform, puffs of steam arose from the Rocket as it chattered and cursed in its mechanical tongue and busied itself with its journey to Liverpool.

The silence of the crowd soon gave way to cheers and roars. Even Ezekiel Pardew, who endlessly preached of the ungodliness to be found in joy let alone happiness  cheered to the rafters as the world changed irrevocably in that moment. The moment a train passed from view.

William walked back to the Storeroom, his boots squeaking in accompaniment. This time he remembered to remove his hat before entering.

He was pleased. He had set the first ever passenger train on its way and his flag waving had proved a vital feature of the proceedings. Even if the flag was the wrong colour and  the Duke of Wellington looked decidedly off with the whole venture.

Quilley was once again brewing tea.

“Could have bagged him with a single shot. I could have set Ireland free. Tea?”

“Aye,” replied William. He sat, brushed a piece of stray cotton from his hat and flicked the piece of bacon still stuck between his teeth.

It had been a special day.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Here is a song called…..Waving Flags – by British Sea Power – who are brilliant!

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Here’s a three-part Train Travel Tale – We return to the earliest days of the railways…………

Waving Flags Part 1

Manchester, England, November 1830

William Bleasedale was sure that the aroma of a frying rasher of bacon was the finest smell of all. An event so rare in his household that it guaranteed a special day was in the offing. And today was most certainly a special day.

As he made his way down the rickety stairs, the sound of children playing, fighting, or just being children filled the small cottage which was home to William, his wife Anne and their offspring, Cedric, Charles, James, Caroline, Lottie, Henrietta, Elizabeth, William and Florence.

For William, a man with a bent towards melancholy, it felt that the children occupied every nook and cranny of the house. He constantly fretted over providing enough for them and for Anne a sturdy, stoical woman who combined the duties of motherhood with working on the looms at Joseph Sander’s mighty linen mill in Newton Heath.

James took his Father by complete surprise as he clambered out of the cupboard where he slept. A boy clambering out of a cupboard was not in itself unusual, young Cedric slept in the coal scuttle, but it took William several seconds to recognise the boy as his son and thus part of their chaotic but effervescent home life.

Anne, dreaming of universal suffrage, tended the rashers and eggs sizzling in the pan. William watched her with silent ease,  pleased that the lustre of their relationship still shone as witnessed by the plethora of children but also in the quiet moments they shared when his humourous anecdotes and mimicry would cause his earnest wife of fourteen years to giggle and slap his arm in mock outrage.

“Morning!” William said.

“Morning Father!” the five children present chimed. The three eldest Elizabeth, William and Henrietta had already left for work hauling coal from the Pit whilst the youngest, three month old Florence, slept peacefully in her cot, a welcome relief from the croop that had caused Anne seemingly endless nights of interrupted sleep.

William sat in his chair by the hearth and examined his boots, left specifically there each morning. The soles were worn but the uppers remained in good condition and Charles had given them a fine polish. The promise of a fresh penny did wonders for the boy’s concentration.

“Well done Charles! I can see my face in them!” William tossed the promised penny to his son who stared at the coin as if it were treasure plundered by Drake himself from the Spaniards. The other children gazed upon the fortune in their brother’s hand.

William pulled the boots on and double knotted each lace. As usual the left shoe felt tight around the little toe, but that was a private discomfort and not for anyone else to know or care about. The boots squeaked as he stood and walked to the table.

Anne dished the rashers and eggs onto the plate. William cut himself a slice of bread and savoured the wonderful meal set before him.

“Enjoy Father.”

“I most certainly shall Mother!”  He ate with relish, giving silent celebration for the pig. A pig which had shared the couple’s bedroom all summer. He felt a pang of regret as Mr. Jellicoe, the butcher slaughtered the swine (whom had been christened Thomas by the children) for sixpence three weeks previously. But it meant that there would be meat to feed the family through the long winter that had now settled upon them.

With the exception of Charles who remained enraptured by his coin, the tots stared at their Father in the hope that he may cut a slither of bacon or egg for them to taste. Experience had taught them that this kind hearted man would usually provide one or two with a titbit. But not today. This special day.  

Having wiped the grease off the plate with his bread, William lit a pipe. A piece of bacon rind was stuck between his two back lower molars, the only molars still in his mouth. He flicked at the rind with his tongue, trying to dislodge it.

The tobacco smoke plumed and furled in the low ceilinged room like a genie leaving its clay potted lamp. The children sniffed the air and enjoyed the giddying aroma of the Virginia Leaf.

“Shall we fetch it down now Father?” Anne asked.

“Indeed Mother.”  Anne scuttled upstairs. Lottie followed her. There was clumping and bumping on the ceiling and the sound of a door hinge in need of lubrication creaking open. Before long Anne’s heavy footsteps were heard on the rickety staircase. She returned carrying a large box, nearly the same size as her. She set the box on the table, opened it and revealed a magnificent stove pipe hat, fully two feet in height.

The children were agog to see such millinery splendour in their small home and gasped  as their father still sat at the table, placed it regally upon his head.

“My, my Father, aren’t we the handsome one!”

“Thank you Mother. Not bad for an old ‘un! Did you find the pea for my whistle?”

“I’ve allowed each of the little ‘uns to lick it for their breakfast, should keep the pangs at bay for a while. Don’t forget your flags.”

“I won’t.” He smiled at her. She returned the smile and began to fuss around the kitchen, lifting pots, wiping crumbs, cleaning children’s faces with spit and a cloth. She felt nervous for him. Her man.

“Both the green and red one?”

Yes. May I say Mother, you have excelled yourself with this canister.”

The leather canister containing the flags was Anne’s idea. It was her late Father’s who claimed he had plundered it from a dead Boneapartist at Waterloo fifteen years previous (a claim that barely stood up to scrutiny given her father was in prison for eating a stolen potato peeling at the time).

How fitting that the Old Iron Duke himself, Wellington was going to grace the day. The man who had saved England from tyranny, frogs legs and the evils of metrication. Anne found the flags fitted perfectly into the canister after she had cut an inch off the flagpoles. William had not noticed. Normally he did.

He was pleased as punch. A man who carries his tools to work is definitely man of substance. Especially on a day such as today.

Part 2 Tomorrow!

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Hello People,

It’s been a while. This is because I have been busy having lots of lovely dates on the Reincarnee’s Dating Agency, Have We’ve Met B4? (www.previouslovepreviouslives.com)

Joachim from Hannover, turned out to have been a Eunuch in the Caliph of Baghdad’s Court (nice man but a little underpowered) and Claudio was an ancient Mayan human sacrifice and was loath to meet in public as a result of his night terrors.

I had higher hopes for Henry, who was previously a Norse warrior with a penchant for raw fish and discovering new lands in the frozen north. We’ve even had a weekend away together. In Northumberland. Sadly he burned down the local church, wenched and boozed with abandon and then stole a pedillo and headed east for Jutland, only to be picked up by the Royal Navy as he launched an all out assault on an Oil Rig. Foolhardy I’d call him but he has a larrikin’s charm if nothing else.

He’s coming round for a meal tonight actually. Roast pork with all the trimmings and trifle for afters. His sort always like trifle.

Tatty bye


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“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my sausage, in this life or the next.”

crowe sausage

Strength and Sausage

crowe2 copy

More Strength and Sausage

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Aunty Bill - A Tin Opener Short

Aunty Bill

Dear Aunty,

Three weeks ago I met a really great guy. He is honest, sincere, satisfying and great with kids. Last week he asked me to move in with him. I went round his house and it was lovely. Roof, walls, doors the whole kit and keboodle. My only problem is that he has only a right hand side (his left being lost during a re-enactment of Pa Walton’s lumber yard at a Walton’s Fanclub meeting in 1986).  Do you think I will be able to support him in years to come?

Lavinia, Sawbridgeworth

Aunty Bill Replies;

Dear Lavinia,

Glad you’ve found love albeit with a guy who is half the man he used to be, but don’t despair and cast him to one side (it’d have to his right hand side I guess).

This condition is not as uncommon as you think, some famous people have overcome this handicap, Yuri Gagarin being perhaps the best known. His lack of side helped him get into the spaceship.

Construct scaffolding from bamboo canes to support his missing side. No point in going out for a good time only to find him on a heap on the floor when you get home is there?

Most people in the UK are right handed (ONS statistics 2010) and therefore he should have no trouble in carrying out simple day to day tasks i.e. making toast, going to the lavatory or cleaning the car (but remember the scaffolding for any outdoor tasks).

Right on!

Aunty Bill

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Red or Dead He’s Under My Bed!

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Prince Ghandi Andy - who would have thought?

Prince Ghandi Andy – who would have thought?

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