Tuesday, 30 November 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas..in legalese

Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including the species of domestic rodent known as Mus Musculus.
Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of Saint Nicholas.
The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums.
My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.
Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration. Noting hereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself. Thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance, drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer.
Piloted by a minuscule aged chauffer so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller.
With his ungulate motive power traveling at what may have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen: "Now Dasher, now Dancer", et al..
Guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities. As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180 degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved -- with utmost celerity and via a downward leap -- entry by the way of the smoke passage.
He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebon residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle. His orbs were scintillating with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability.
The capillaries of his molar regions and nasal protuberance were engorged with blood which suffused in subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the later that of the Prunus Avium, or Sweet Cherry.
His amusing sub- and supra-labials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small tabular and columnar crystals being.
Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose gray fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly.
His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of pectinous fruit syrup in a hemispherical container.
He was, in short, neither more or less than obese, jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being.
By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head to one side he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.
Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the afore-mentioned hosiery with various of the afore-mentioned articles of merchandise extracted from his afore-mentioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle.
Upon completion of his task, he executed an abrupt about face, placed a singular manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating, in reverse, the smoke passage.
He propelled himself in short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed.
But I overheard his parting exclamation, audibly immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility:
"Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self-same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn!"

Confused? You may know it better as this:-

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Snow joke

This morning four Bradford Council workers did a dedicated snow shift down Main Street in Haworth, plenty of grit outside the right frontages, were treated to tea and coffee by a friendly trader, and then beggared off.
Bradford Council take note. There are council tax payers on every other street of the village, can they have the same treatment please? People actually walk on these streets as well, or try to.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The letter The Keighley News didn't publish.....yet

Time to clamp down on Haworth's demise?

I congratulate Ted Evans on having the most successful business in Haworth (The Changegate Car Park). Anyone who can make £75, less wages and expenses of course, by slapping a wheel clamp on a car, within the boundaries of the law, is to be admired, but may I invite him to take a look at the wider implications of what his business is doing to the village, and what he could do to change it?
He is the only local businessman I know of who has been the subject of a TV documentary, and numerous news items.On special days he trots out his old Rolls-Royce and proudly poses with it, and his published books, on the Changegate car park, safe in the knowledge that by the end of the day he will be several hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, richer thanks to his staff's efforts at clamping the poor beggars who came to see us in the first place!
Well done Ted, I'm not being sarcastic, I wish I'd thought of it first!
However, other business people and traders in the village do not have the same income, not for want of trying, and I wonder if, having achieved a surely substantial bank balance from your entrepreneurial acumen, you might like to consider giving something back?
Your notoriety means that some traders post notices in their shops warning unsuspecting visitors about your car park. I perhaps don't blame them, but on the other hand am not uncritical about the way a minority of traders have manipulated the state of the village into what it is today. Devoid of visitors for most of the time and busy only when the same traders choose to put on events to suit themselves and milk the financial rewards.
Mr Evans operates seven days a week, and even on a bad day won't worry too much about where his next drop of profit is coming from. Messages from people who have fallen foul of his legitimate operation are legion, I have had several, and I must say that a drop of compassion might not go amiss sometimes.
I believe he has recently applied to become a member of The Haworth Village Association, which I am not, but his application was not exactly received with enthusiasm. The same association is not without its own critics, justifiably.
Apart from at weekends and on special occasions, usually organised by The Village Asssociation, Haworth is becoming almost as much a cultural and commercial graveyard as the one fronting The Parsonage. This weekend we had the Victorian Christmas markets, organised by the association of course, which have brought much needed trade into the village. I suggest that a regular weekend market would be a tremendous boost to the village, and is much needed. The bottom of Main Street would be an ideal spot for it, and perhaps overseen by a drop of new blood on the commercial and community front. Never mind the obvious bleats which would come from higher up the street, this village needs a shot in the arm, if not somewhere else. There are locals here as well as tourists and I am sure they would welcome the opportunity to be a part of it.
Ted, you're as famous as The Brontes and might even be making as much money! You've earned a handsome income and become almost as famous, or infamous, as them, why not consider putting something back and becoming part of a real effort to revive the village which has given you a good living? A founder member of Haworth Chamber of Trade perhaps? You're not on the bench now so perhaps you have a little spare time.
If you or someone doesn't, you might find yourself clamping the Bradford Council van that comes to turn the lights out when everyone has left.

Friday, 26 November 2010

A common soldier

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew whereof he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For old Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing, 'tho a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Someone who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend and the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate, to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out, with his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a soldier—
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common soldier,
Who would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict, we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honour while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline in the paper that might say:

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Victorian markets

A great weekend of trade thanks only to the fact that we had open Victorian markets in Haworth. The thing now is to have more of the same, and under the control of someone totally independent of all local traders.
It makes no sense not to maximise the popularity of such markets in our village and recognise that it could be the saviour of local trade, not, as some think, the end of it.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The deserted village

Even now the devastation is begun,

And half the business of destruction done;

Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand,

I see the rural virtues leave the land.

From Oliver Goldsmith's poem "The Deserted Village". How apt!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

When are they open?

A question I am sick of answering about various shops in the village. The short answer is usually when they feel like it and not necessarily when customers would like them to be.
Can I just remind readers that there is life at the bottom of Main Street and some of the best quality goods in the village.
I'm having maps printed!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Time to be counted

OK, I've kept quiet for long enough.

Nearly three months of trading on Haworth Main Street and I'm disgusted at the traders' attitude.
They open when they feel like it, expect everyone to flock to join The Village Association, think they own the place, but are offering no reason for tourists to come back again and the locals might as well not exist.

Couple this with our notorious clampers' car park (most lucrative business in the village by the way), zero encouragement from local or central government and I wonder why I am bothering, but I am.

I suspect that from next week the traders will all come alive, expect to earn a fortune in a short time and then go comatose again until March. That is no way to run a business or a village.

Haworth deserves better. Who, apart from me, is going to give it? Come on, shape your bloody selves.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Meeting jobsworths

Just been to a meeting about the Haworth Parish Plan.Nonsense.

Paid Bradford Council officials running a kindergarten style session where we had to break up into small groups and write on large sheets with large pens and answer their nonsensical questions.

I dared to raise two realistic issues which affect the village and was not well received by those running it. As Tony Blair said, "Am I bovvered?"

No more meetings for me thank you. I prefer real to surreal.