Saturday, 5 February 2011

Believe it or not...

I thought I ought to sit down and string a few words together, since it's Saturday morning. It's nice to have a bit of time on my hands when I'm not feeling utterly worn out. I've had a cold for the last few days and this week has been a bit of an effort. What to write about? My head has been full of things musical for the last few weeks so definitely nothing to do with music (although I'm tempted to sound off about a Weather Report CD Karen kindly bought me).

A long time ago I came across a booklet in a second hand bookshop called Believe it or not, it happened in Yorkshire by Cyril Oxley. Oxley was an avid collector of Yorkshire trivia and oddities. He produced several similar pamphlets. I've often thought of posting about it, so here goes.

Did you know...

In 1878, a Miss Sykes walked 248 miles in Brighouse Town Hall? She started walking on a Monday evening and continued until the following Saturday. A huge crowd gathered to see her finish.

There seems to have been a lot of it about. In 1843, James Searle of Leeds became the first man known to have walked 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours on the stretch of road between the Shakespeare Inn, Meadow Lane and the New Peacock Inn, Holbeck. It seems -and Oxley doesn't mention this- that he has something of a celebrity in his day: his success was celebrated with a public ox-roast in Battersea, so presumably the walk was a high-profile event.

John Wesley thought that the people of Huddersfield were the wildest he'd ever seen. He added, however, that they were "tolerably quiet while I preached, only a few pieces of dirt were thrown".

At Hull, in 1654, a number of locals reported seeing a battle between phantom soldiers in the sky between 9 and 10 in the evening: "the rival combatants formed a red and a black army, the conflict being accompanied by the dread clash of arms, explosions and cries of the wounded." A similar phenomenon was reported in October 1658, the sound of which, it was said, could be heard forty miles away.

In 1818, in a Wakefield mine, a five-inch long reptile was discovered in a solid block of coal. Apparently, "upon being exposed to the air the creature died immediately." However, call me stupid, but I don't see how anyone could know it was alive before being exposed to the air as it was inside a lump of coal at the time.

At Northallerton in 1798, a Mrs Metalf's cook discovered a gold wedding ring that had been lost twelve years previously inside a turnip. That was a turnip for the books, if you ask me.

The shortest river in England in the River Bain in Wensleydale. Cyril Oxley reckons it's only a mile long. Wikipedia offers two and a half. Don't ask me why it's called a river and not a stream, or why other streams couldn't be called rivers.

12 comments:

The Solitary Walker said...

I love trivia, Dominic, so I liked these.

Carmen also lost her gold wedding ring. It went missing for several years. Then she suddenly came upon it when turning over a sod in the garden. (No, that sod wasn't me. On that occasion.)

The Solitary Walker said...

PS Why isn't the Bain a stream not a river?

PPS Hope you get better soon!

AquaMarina said...

thanks Dominic - did you know this is the end of national storytelling week? My favourite is the one about the turnip, it's like a fairytale !

tony said...

It's kinda strange.Yorkshire Folk like to be thought of as plain speaking;level-headhead:pragmatic types...yet...........some weird stuff in themtherehills!

Dominic Rivron said...

SW: Good story. I lost my first wedding ring on a NUPE picket line in the early 80s.

SW: Questions like that are the "bain" of my life.

Aquamarina: No I didn't. It is a good one, isn't it?

tony: There certainly is. It's no coincidence that the saying "there's nowt so queer as folk" seems to have originated here.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Another strange happening, rather like the wedding ring one. A friend's brother (who was a lovely man and had Downes Syndrome) lost one of his rings (he loved rings and had a lot of quite valuable ones) in a field while out walking. A number of years later my friend turned up a sod of grass in this field and there was the ring. All her brother said was, "Thank you dear" as though it were an everyday occurrence.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Another strange happening, rather like the wedding ring one. A friend's brother (who was a lovely man and had Downes Syndrome) lost one of his rings (he loved rings and had a lot of quite valuable ones) in a field while out walking. A number of years later my friend turned up a sod of grass in this field and there was the ring. All her brother said was, "Thank you dear" as though it were an everyday occurrence.

The Solitary Walker said...

These strange happenings keep recurring in a rather eery way, Pat!

Rachel Fenton said...

I love this stuff...which reminds me I was supposed to do a meme from Dick's some time ago...imagine how boring it must have been walking around and around a town hall!

Dominic Rivron said...

WG: There's a short story in that.

SW: They do, they do.

RF: Yes! Especially when there are so many wonderful places to walk round about!

Kat Mortensen said...

Well, these were some fun, Dominic! (Did you write the turnip pun, or was that Oxley?) A good un' in any case.

Do you read Alan Burnett's blog, (I can't recall). He would be interested in that Huddersfield comment, I'm sure.

With all this road-walking referenced, you might like my latest poem as you did the last few.

Kat

patteran said...

I guess Yorkshire is so enormous that it's going to net itself more than the average number of weird and wackies. That having been said, one or two of those tales have me glad that I'm this end of the A1...