Occasional Limericks Only #49

King Of The Fells

During my youth and early adulthood, five names stood out in the pantheon of Cumbrian fell runners. Kenny Stuart and Billy Bland were certainly renowned, but the three that captivated me were Tommy Sedgwick, Fred Reeves and the ‘king’ of the fells, Joss Naylor.

Sedgwick and Reeves were renowned for their battles in the Grasmere Senior Guides race and their hair-raising descents of precipitous hillsides in those shorter disciplines. Throughout the 1970s, Sedgwick and Reeves had a terrific rivalry notwithstanding a strong friendship.

In 1976 Sedgwick set the Grasmere record of 12 minutes and 24 seconds over the 1.2 mile course, including an ascent of 870 feet (it was Sedgwick’s descents that saw him described as ‘brainless and brakeless”). Reeves broke the record two years later in a time of 12 minutes and 21 seconds; a record that still stands. I wonder if it was their rivalry that pushed them to such performances. Incidentally, Reeves also holds an unbroken record for the Ambleside Senior Guides race set in 1976. This will never be bettered as course changes circa 2016 resulted in a slightly longer course.

Such relative ‘sprints’ were not the forte of Joss Naylor. He was an out and out endurance man. A hill farmer based in Wasdale, Naylor’s achievements almost defy belief.

Descending screes in Wales. Picture taken from Keith Richardson’s biography, ‘Joss’, an oil painting by Jonathon Trotman based on a photograph by John Cleare.
According to Wikipedia, he felt his greatest achievement was his 1975 Lakeland circuit comprising “72 peaks, claimed to involve over 100 miles and about 38,000 feet of ascent in 23 hours and 29 minutes”. (Actually the distance covered was 108 miles). Chris Brasher who paced Roger Bannister to break the four minute mile barrier, who won gold in the 1956 Olympic 3000 metres steeple chase and who co-founded the London Marathon, agreed, calling Naylor “The greatest of them all”.

Naylor did not train according to the ‘scientific’, nutritional and spreadsheet methods of those who subsequently broke his records (and who often awaited optimal weather conditions). Naylor just ran. He ran with support, but only of the basic kind. Aged 70 he completed a Lakeland circuit of 70 peaks over 50 miles ascending more than 25,000 feet in less than 21 hours. Astonishing!

Sadly, Naylor has just died at the age of 88. Here’s my limerick-as-eulogy…

From Wasdale’s abrupt mountainside
And the peaks that he’d take in his stride,
O’er the hush of the fells
Rang the peal of the bells
On the day that Joss Naylor died.

Occasional Limericks Only #45

Tomorrow’s almost over…

A View From The Lanterne Rouge had a modest degree of weekly traffic when I was posting A Limerick A Week, but that understandably fell away as the limericks became (very) occasional ones only. So I was surprised to see a number of new hits on the blog that almost reached treble digits in the last couple of days.

On delving into the stats it became clear that this was for a rather unfortunate reason. The vast majority of those hits had been for a post that I’d published in December 2017 as a sort of obituary for the former Likely Lad, Rodney Bewes, who died back then. However, I don’t think Bewes or the associated limerick was the reason for the post’s renewed popularity. I think the interest was in another person named and pictured within it.

The following words from the original might give a clue…

… and I do also recall Anita Carey in her few appearances as Susan, Thelma’s sister … she was one of the 1970s actresses that remain etched in the memory of schoolboy day-dreams!

Sadly, Anita Carey’s death at the age of 75 had just been announced publicly, although she had died a few weeks earlier. As the blog’s stats also showed that Google, Yahoo and Bing were the referring sites to my original post, I can only assume that it was the actor’s fans, searching for information on her as a result of the news, that landed on the blog page. They would probably have been disappointed that the post was an old one about Bewes and not her, but I hope they appreciated the sentiment (above) and maybe the limerick as well!

Anita Carey, whose very 1970s look in this pic takes me back a few years (well, decades, actually!)

As well as her appearances in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, I also remember Carey as Carter Brandon’s fianceé in the mid-70s TV comedy I Didn’t Know You Cared and I’m sad to say that almost 50 years later I still occasionally use Carter’s Uncle Staveley’s very northern utterance whenever someone sends a disparaging comment my way:  “I ‘eard that – pardon?”

Anyway, here’s the limerick…

There was once a thespian lass
Whose acting exuded great class,
But fast forward to now
As she takes her last bow
‘Cos her curtain call’s just come to pass!

Postscript: To many folks, the header for this post may not seem to have much relevance to the content, but those of us who grew up watching Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads will recall the words from the programme’s theme tune. There was always an air of forlorn nostalgia amidst the show’s comedy and that was perfectly encapsulated by the song’s mournful chorus:

Oh what happened to you?
Whatever happened to me?
What became of the people we used to be?
Tomorrow’s almost over, today went by so fast
It’s the only thing to look forward to, the past

My rearguard action against ageing is to look ahead and not behind and, to paraphrase Clint Eastwood’s words, to not let the old man in. Unfortunately, when you read the obituaries of people you remember from your youth, like Carey, it’s difficult to avoid a degree of reflection and makes you confront an interesting paradox:

the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” Adam Rooney

True, very true!

Occasional Limericks Only #36

Bare your soul, Leonora!

Here’s a somewhat belated limerick-as-eulogy for the recently departed actor Leslie Phillips. A better thespian than the smooth and rakish image his career landed him with, he was another regular fixture on film and TV during my youth (and for decades after – including a spell voicing the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter film franchise!).

A serious actor as Falstaff in the RSC’s 1996 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Here’s the limerick…

“Oh, he-llo” he’d say, “have a drink?”
A lecherous fellow, you’d think!
Ding dong, you’re not wrong,
But now the dings gone
And expired with a nod and a wink!

Puzzled by the header to this post? It’s adapted from an exchange between Phillips’ and Liz Fraser’s characters in the film Doctor in Love.

With Liz Fraser in the kind of rôle that rather typecast him (from the film Doctor in Love)

The Doctor series of films (seven in all) was a close relation of the Carry On movie franchise; quite literally in terms of their directors as the Doctor films were directed by Ralph Thomas and the Carry Ons by his younger brother Gerald. Phillips appeared in productions of each.

Anyway, back to the header. An avid fan of the genre couldn’t fail to notice a typical Carry On moment in each of the Doctor films, and one such moment is this…

Dr. Tony Burke: Tell me about yourself. Bare your soul.
Leonora: My soul? No one’s ever asked to see that before.

(FYI my favourite Carry On moment in a Doctor film comes when Dr Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) auscultates the chesty Eva (Carol Richmond) in Doctor at Large. You can look that one up yourself – answers on a postcard to…).

Occasional Limericks Only #27

The Carnival (Really) Is Over…

Here’s a folksy playlist from the Sixties:

I’ll Never Find Another You
Georgy Girl
Morningtown Ride
Island Of Dreams
When Will The Good Apples Fall
A World Of Our Own
The Carnival Is Over

If you’ve ever heard any of them, then you will probably have heard what Elton John referred to as “the purest voice in popular music”.

Sadly, Judith Durham, who possessed that voice, has died.

I celebrated her 75th birthday in a post four years ago with a bit of a cheeky limerick, whilst highlighting the fact that she sound-tracked my early life when I was so often ill and off school; looked after my my grandmother who was a big fan of The Seekers.

She was Australia’s Sweetheart (Judith, that is, not my grandmother!), and I guess the saddest guys around today will be Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley; the remaining members of the group. Mind you, I bet St Peter’s witnessing a cracking version of this…

The Seeker whose voice would bestride
The world of my childhood has died.
Now her tears are falling
And the harbour light’s calling;
As she makes her last Morningtown Ride.

Occasional Limericks Only #26

You’ll never get nowhere if you’re too hasty

Here’s a question for you: which singer had two top ten hits (and a third in the top thirty) in 1962 all produced by George Martin (clue; not one of The Beatles)?

I could add some extra clues and, perhaps, yesterday they would have helped some-but-not-all of you, guess the name. However, since his death was announced this morning the explosion of tributes to him and his career means you would have to be something of a troglodyte not to know of whom I speak.

Yep, Bernard Cribbins is the answer (aka ‘Perks’ the station porter in the original Railway Children film and star of many other productions). I shan’t repeat here what has been said elsewhere, but I will reinforce the thread that states what a lovely man he was.

As a 12 or 13 year old schoolboy (circa 1970/71) and a keen angler, my English teacher had asked everyone in my class to write to a famous person with whom they shared a hobby.

I wrote to Bernard Cribbins, telling him that I’d heard he was a keen angler and could he give me any tips. I didn’t expect a reply, but I did receive one. Just a short handwritten note telling me he that he was glad that I liked fishing, wishing me ‘tightlines’ and his tip was “don’t fall in”. I was one of the very few, if not the only pupil, that got a reply from their ‘famous person’. I don’t know what happened to it, but I wish I’d kept it safe.

Later in life, one of his top ten hits (his were all novelty songs), Hole in the Ground, became a favourite that Firstborn and I regularly belted out (we tried the same with his other hit, Right Said Fred, but could never remember the words beyond the first verse).

It was a delight to see his resurgence as the country’s favourite grandad in Dr Who although he had never really disappeared from public performance. I shall certainly look out for him when he appears in the Dr Who 60th anniversary episode(s).

Here’s the limerick:

The actor that sang “Right said Fred”
And voiced all the Wombles is dead
It looks like he’s found
His “Hole in the Ground”
As he’s finally reached life’s railhead.

Postscript#1: Cribbins’ third musical ‘hit’ in 1962 (Gossip Calypso) is much less well known than either Right Said Fred or Hole in the Ground. It joined the post-Windrush episode of calypso cultural appropriation of that era.

What set Cribbins’ song apart from those of, say, Lance Percival is the latter’s attempt to assume a mock-Caribbean accent when singing; the vocal equivalent of ‘blacking up’. Cribbins song was all Cockney (or as Cockney as a northerner could effect) without a single Caribbean overtone in sound or word. Still, it certainly wouldn’t be made today as the ‘gossiping women’ trope would be widely deprecated.

Postscript#2: Here’s a birthday/Christmas prezzie hint!

Occasional Limericks Only #12

I’ll have to hurry you…

So, Bamber Gascoigne has died at the grand old age of 87. I remember him as the oddly-named question master of University Challenge who presided over the TV show throughout my childhood and youth, so it has come as a bit of a surprise that his first name was the altogether more prosaic Arthur!

He was the originator of a number of quiz-orientated catchphrases such as Fingers on buzzers, please and No conferring as well as a couple of others on show in this post. Moreover, as has been said elsewhere, you really believed that he could answer all the questions himself – unlike Jeremy Paxman, his successor, who carries what appears to be a mock intellectual air about him.

Bamber Gascoigne (centre) along with my alma mater’s University Challenge winning team of 1983. I’d graduated a year before and can’t say that I knew any of the team well, if at all. Peter Burt (seated right) studied zoology like me and was clearly more learned, but then again, he didn’t represent Scottish Universities at rugby (haha, see postscript here: https://blog.piscibus.com/a-limerick-a-week-131)

… and this is the limerick

Bamber was one of those men
Whose name, every now and again,
Brought a smile to your face,
But has now left this place
‘Cos he’s run out of starters for ten

A limerick a week #246

Running out of time…

I was sorry to hear that the British long distance runner Ron Hill had died recently at the age of 82.

Not only was he the UK’s leading marathon runner of the 60s and early 70s, but he was also a manufacturer of running kit that never wore out – perhaps that’s why his business ran into financial difficulties in the early 1990s!

I still have a pair of perfectly serviceable Ron Hill tracksters from the late 1980s!

Longevity extended beyond his eponymous running kit as he also ran at least one mile a day for over 52 years; his continuous daily running streak ended in 2017 at the age of 78!

Here’s the limerick…

An athlete who could never stand still
Kept on running and running until
He could no longer race
Or keep up with the pace
‘Cos by then he was over the hill

A limerick a week #240

… as the waves make towards the pebbled shore …

As a 1970s teenager I really, really disliked The Bay City Rollers. I’m not sure what it was about them that I disliked – everything except their Scottishness probably – certainly their clothes, their hair, their songs and their appeal to the girls I rather fancied, but who never fancied me in return. The only group that I thought less of was The Osmonds.

(Confession. I once pretended to like David Cassidy’s songs to impress a girl I was keen on. It didn’t work and I’m embarrassed by it even today!)

Still, it’s sad to hear of the death of Les McKeown, the Rollers’ lead singer. Sad not only for his family, friends and fans, but also because one’s abiding memory of him relates to ‘youth’ at the time now in your life when you increasingly make grunting sounds as you lift yourself out of a chair!

Here’s the limerick:

A tartan-clad boy-band’s front guy
Now sings from a stage in the sky.
Though he ran with the gang
When he sang Shang-a-Lang
Now it’s Bye, Bye, Leslie (Goodbye)!

A limerick a week #238

Consorting with royalty

So, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Member of the Order of Merit, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu, Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Lord of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Privy Councillor of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom …

       … has died at the age of 99.

I’m not a monarchist, but I did once meet him in the line of duty when I staffed a display stand about the scientific fish stock assessments of North Sea demersal gadoids (ie, cod, haddock and whiting). My first reaction was how small he was; très petit.

The display boards were mounted on the old Fisheries Research Vessel Clupea that was berthed in Aberdeen harbour for the occasion. Our comms person of the time had decided it would be a good idea if the Clupea could be filmed by the TV news media whilst on the move, so we did a partial tour of the harbour whilst I tried to explain to HRH, in as few words as possible, what was meant by “when we’ve caught them all, we know how many there were”.

HRH wasn’t at all interested in such plebian fish and simply commented with a pithy “I prefer salmon”. Perhaps I should have replied with “and I prefer republics!”.

Here’s the limerick:

There once was a monarchist clique
That maintained a royalist mystique
But it’s all come to nought
For our Queen’s prince consort
‘Cos it’s ‘αντιο σας, Phil the Greek’

(from Dr Google, αντιο σας [antio sas] is Greek for ‘goodbye’)