Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 01 – A Pocket or Two
A Pocket or Two
It was a busy evening in the pub of dreams, busy with diners, so as I didn’t want to disturb them I thought I was in for a quieter session; I ended up gathering some fascinating tales. One by one a select and interesting few would wave one of the Ales n Tales flyers at me and I would be drawn in to listen.
You sit and you have a chat and you steer the way towards hearing a tale and then you listen; in this case to listen to someone telling me how they were a pick pocket. They worked a barge they tell me, and as you can imagine, as well as being intrigued to hear more, one part of my mind was on my pockets and my possessions. We are being led astray here however, this was a medieval pick pocket, you may be wondering if this is going to be another tale of someone’s past life belief, but no, they were dressed medieval. The time setting is the seventies, and I was relieved to hear that this was a play. There is still a film out there of this production and we started to wonder if it might be on the internet somewhere. This had been a play set on a barge primarily to be filmed but I wonder if readers of this site have memories of seeing this going on upon the river Ouse? It is a past life experience in a way, from life in the past of a person you meet in a pub, who you discover all sorts of things about that you didn’t know.
Strangely the next person to sit down with me was a director with his own theatre company, so perhaps a new career is imminent for our, er, pick pocket?
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 02 – More Thievery
This time in the form of the man in green (who probably wore scarlet), yes the legendary robber of the rich who gave to the poor: Robin Hood. The man in the hood isn’t coming back to life exactly. This is a play, or perhaps more like a pantomime, an April production that our friend is the producer for. So here with me at the table was the creator of a new production company; York Footlights Theatre. York is an interesting place, during the course of the evening; I was to meet an actor, a producer, a singer, a writer, members of a band and a burlesque artiste.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 03 – Man in Red
Man in Red
Which brings us to ghosts; a man in red of sorts… Our pal, the producer, tells us that he has had an experience of a ghost at almost every place he has lived. As someone who came to York initially as a student, that is probably quite a few places of abode. There was one tale that stood out in particular, the old man who wasn’t a ghost. There were a few students shared that house together and they got on well with the landlady, the landlord however didn’t really mix but he did turn up quite a lot. He would just turn up and wander through; he didn’t ever really react to them but would overlook them with such an air of belonging that they didn’t like to question him. He was elderly and quite smartly turned out and always wore a bright red cardigan. In he would come and go through the living room, they would be in there, watching TV, or on a games console, or even occasionally studying, and he would just look at them and then carry on. He always just went straight through into the dining room. The students never managed to work out why he was there or what he was doing, but he didn’t seem to bother them so they didn’t mind. They did think it was odd that he visited so often and acted like he owned the place, but then again he did didn’t he.
After a while of this our narrator says that when the landlady next visited he would bring the subject up. So once all the bits and pieces of business were sorted out he decided to ask her. He explained that he didn’t mind the chap visiting but that he and his housemates had wondered why her husband needed to visit so often, was there something wrong that they should know about. He was informed that her husband definitely hadn’t been visiting and wanted to know what the man looked like. So he described the man in the red cardigan. She responded by saying this did indeed sound just like her husband but that it was impossible because he had been dead these past five years. The group of students had never for a moment thought that they were being haunted, because their visitor was so very real, just as real as me and you, well, in appearance anyway. He always had this sense of belonging about him too, with a calm need to be there and travel through into the next room. It was only later that the group of housemates got to thinking, the chap had often visited and had always gone through into the dining room, they hadn’t thought till now though; they had never seen him come back out of there.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 04 – Messages From Within
Messages From Within
The story of the ghost which didn’t seem like a ghost got the party thinking and deliberating. The fact that the students in the house had felt that the man was alright and that he belonged; they didn’t feel a need to question him, or to doubt his existence in reality, led our current group to express an idea; The ghost was communicating with them! Somehow he was sending a message to their brains to not be concerned, he was the landlord; he was inserting an impression in their minds. Ghosts communicate on a different level, straight into your consciousness. Well, when I started Ales and Tales I didn’t expect to be collecting discussions such as this. Here was a concept the group were getting their teeth into. I say group, the discussion carried on outside with yet more chipping in with an opinion. Other ghost tales came to mind, and other firsthand experiences. The one who had been in an empty house late at night finishing a renovation and the hoover kept either being switched off or unplugged, he felt a really strong antagonistic sensation, he wasn’t welcome there – he ran. Another pal from the pub reminded us of his story, he had been in an empty house late at night, yes, doing a renovation, and, yes, his hoover kept switching off or being unplugged; to him, in his mind, this was mischievous, he felt the impression of a playfulness, he smiled and told the thin air that they were cheeky.
The two ghosts had communicated straight into the brain, but had given a distinctly different message. Someone else chipped in, so we are all psychic but on an unconscious level! Another sees a child in their present home and feels they are in need of love. How did I react to all this? I supped up my pint and I ran!
Footnote: The two guys with the hoover experiences were good friends and the discussion of their ghostly tales made them realise that they had both worked for the same firm before they had met?!
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 05 – Self Image Dressed-up
Self Image Dressed-up
The guy having memories of being in a medieval play in the past led folks to bring up the topic of my storytelling, and a few people had seen me round and about in my medieval costume; which to put it bluntly is skirt and tights basically. I might not be the most authentically dressed character for the period, with my elasticated hose, and my burgundy tunic, but I am generally entertaining to see (or so I am informed by those present). One, had seen me wandering down Marygate a while back in my outfit and I felt I had to tell the tale of why I was there. I had been asked to meet a group off a coach, why they thought Marygate Car Park was a good place for a coach to drop off I do not know. So I had got there half an hour early, then a text came in, they were running late; an hour late. So I ended up standing an hour and a half down a dark little lane by a street lamp in what is basically a skirt, tights, cape and furry hat!
Footnote: the following evening I had met up with my family for a meal out and my mother said a strange thing, how something odd had happened that day. She had been in town in the afternoon and two women had passed her. She heard one of them say, ‘That woman is the mother of that man from last night.’ The other lady replied, ‘Which man?’ And the first said, ‘That one who was wearing women’s clothing!’ Oh no, let me explain………
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 06 – Seals and Good Times
Seals and Good Times
We had memories of when the world went to Whitby, via York. Here in our company was a member of the brilliant York-based group Chechelele. This world music choir have travelled afar and have much renown. Our happy memories weren’t of an African township or a Romanian village square however; they were of Whitby and the Musicport Festival. I was not just host on stage I was also host for the lodgings for the acts. And we would all get together and watch seals, share good times, and generally feel great about our time at the festival. As the exciting young band was setting up across the room from us in the Fulford Arms, I was thrilled to be in the company of someone whose voice I recall resonates through your spine.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 07 – A Stinking Singer
A Stinking Singer
My poem what I wrote to introduce Chechelele was fondly remembered. Those Musicport times have stayed with us all and we are always glad to get back there again. The guy from Chech tells us that at a recent Chechelele party someone had read out my introduction poem. As well as being thrilled that they had kept a copy I couldn’t help but wonder which version. I had rewritten the poem to fit their style and experiences every time I had introduced them. Mentioning this made us think of the kippers. One of my poems to introduce them had cause ‘ruptions’. Now the main stay of my original poem had been a jibe that all of their songs (back then), whatever language they were in, had the same message; basically I claimed that all the songs were about two women in the market arguing about halibut! Not so that one fateful weekend at Musicport. My poem set off a right clammer, and one poor guy was almost ousted from the lodgings, almost ousted from the band! That was the poem which referred to the fateful morning of the kippers for breakfast; the microwaved kippers for breakfast; the kippers that filled the whole of the lodgings with their reek for the whole of the weekend.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 08 – Angelic Moment
Yes so I went into this project with a bit of a preset mind about what kind of conversations I would be listening to. How I was wrong. When people are relaxing they can talk about whatever they want to of course, and there was such a wide range of subjects, some quite surprising. Those who had travelled far came out with some very interesting experiences and sometimes such steps away from our normal existence bring out elements that are seldom shared. One person shared a tale with us that they had never spoken about in all their life, an ordinary steady person with a regular life. Their friends were stunned to hear their tale of when as a young person they had been for a long walk through the woods and had seen something amazing, at this point there were misty eyes and a little bit of hesitation along with a blissful smile; there was movement ahead, a sunlit clearing, and light was coming down into the flowered area. There ahead of them suddenly were a group of figures all made of light and gradually turning less translucent. They smiled so lovingly, they were beautiful and they were angels. You might think that this is an imagined thing, or a dream or a quirk of the light, but you aren’t there listening to this person and seeing the joyful pleasure of sharing at last, or the blissful look into the distance as if still there: The hair, the light, the shine in the eyes, the overwhelming feeling of safety and welcome.
The conversation switched, the same person was back to telling us about setting up home and building a life and a happy relationship with children growing around them and all the hard work of general living. There was a moment there though, there was a moment.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 09 – Places
Talk of angels had led to discussions, when outside, of magical places, someone had said there were places which had some odd but wonderful resonance, another mentioned Robin Hoods Bay; we then got to hear of the small area of woods just along the coast, all new to me, but familiar to a few, here was a place that many had visited over the years. Perhaps long long years of visitors had been there on a quest or a vigil. One of our group had heard of this place and way back, when young, he had decide to go there, he had entered and sat and waited. Well, our friend, who is now rather stanch and almost ordinary, couldn’t recall to tell us of anything that happened to him, he still finds it hard to articulate or recall, but he did still feel that it was one of the defining moments of his life.
I had walked that area at one point, along the cliff tops viewing the coast as you go. I and my party had got lost and roamed a wood till it had got very dark, at last we came back out to the cliff path. We had lost our tent but here ahead was a ramshackled abandoned coastguard station. We went in, propped the door back in the space where it had fallen from and got the gaz on to make a hot drink. I started worrying that coastguards might come and get us and throw us out; at that, I was hit on the head from behind. I was convinced it was the coastguards come to throw us out or arrest us for trespassing; it was the old loose door being blown over in the strong wind and landing on my head.
Not really magical my tale, so I felt a bit left out?!
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 10 – Me, the Blonde and the Rambler
Me, the Blonde and the Rambler
Not long after arriving I had thought I would go to the bar, whilst receiving my pint of blonde the guy being served next to me smiled and let me know that he had a tale to tell. I said I would wait till he had finished his meal and be over.
When I joined him he started off by saying that he wasn’t sure his story was about York. I said not to worry because I was sure I would find a connection. Turns out he had had quite an experience. He and his partner had been on a bit of a walk; they had walked to Rome: Quite a ramble. Did you by any chance set off from York I wondered? They had. So I had my connection.
Whenever I have mentioned this since, people have said that they have heard of it and that the couple who did it are writing it all up as a story. Yes indeed he did say that he is currently writing it as a blog and he has promised us that he will forward a link to add in here. I had another connection, a nun had walked from York to Rome to see the Pope, I had to ask, if it had taken him seven years like her.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 11 – Road to Rome
Road to Rome
The guy from the couple who had walked all the way from York to Rome tells us of the path which they found themselves upon. Once they were in France they followed a path which led the way to Rome. A good clear path, and they started to realise this was a busy path. Their informal, yet exciting, walk had changed to being a walk along an ancient path; a pilgrim’s path. They were following a route which had been walked for a century or two. They were in the company of many of those pilgrims. He tells me that everyone presumed that they were pilgrims too, they treated them like pilgrims and he found himself saying to his partner, ‘OK then we are pilgrims now.’ People befriended them, and helped them. They were advised on where to stay and where to stop off for good food. There was a guided visit to a ruined castle and around fascinating monasteries. They were in very good company.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 12 – Passport to Experience
Passport to Experience
As our couple journeyed along the pilgrim’s way towards their far off destination they made friends and teamed up; two in particular travelled with them, a man who turned out to also be from York and a lady from East Germany. They started telling them of where to stay and indeed they all would stop off together. One stop at a nunnery for the night led to a good evening out dining and to quite a worry in the morning. As they were preparing to move on the next morning the woman travelling with them was suddenly in a terrible state; she had lost her passport and all her money. She searched everywhere to no avail so it was decided they should all retrace their steps of last night. The walk to a lake and a return visit to a pizza place and a general tour around were fruitless, so they decided to go back to the nunnery and tell the nun about it to see if she could help. She was a very small elderly woman, well under five foot, and after she had listened to their tale she said that they should follow her. As they followed her through the town everyone greeted her and as they turned to cross a road all the cars would stop for her. She led them down a little side street and there hidden away at the end of a cul-de-sac was the police station. She walked in and asked to speak to the person in charge, out came a very tall young man and he looked down at her as if he was looking up at her and followed her instructional finger-pointing with his eyes. He would do whatever she asked, and it was imagined that she had probably christened him and had connections with his family all through his life. They were intrigued with this conversation and decided that she was great. It was felt that all would turn out alright.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 13 – Last Bite
The tale of deep respect for the diminutive nun was told so well that I had thought it was ended. There was of course still the mystery to be solved. The lady our couple were travelling with had lost her passport and all of her money. Once everything was tried and had failed she was in a bit of a pitiful state. She had no idea what she would do, or how she would cross the pilgrim’s way over into Rome when they got to the border. She seemed to pull herself together however and said how a body still has to eat and that at least she could sit down with the food she had been carrying and dine in the sun in a beautiful setting. They all sat together and unpacked their food from their bags. There was a recap of their long futile searches as she brought out her loaf of bread and spilt a chunk apart; then out came a jar of olives and last of all her large pack of cheese. She was pleased with this cheese because it was very good quality but also that it came ready sliced; she peeled off a slice and dropped it upon the bread. The slice seemed strange, it felt heavy and it sat high upon the bread. She lifted the large slice of cheese back off the bread and turned it over; there stuck to the back of it was her plastic wallet with her passport and all her money in it!
Footnote: She had put her valuables back in her bag the night before and they must have slotted into the opened pack of cheese in her bag without her knowing.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 14 – Fun of the Walk
Fun of the Walk
I asked the walker to Rome if the pilgrimage road he and his wife had found their selves upon was to see a particular saint and it wasn’t but there was a saint’s remains at one place they had stopped over at and as well as visiting her they had been taken on a tour of extensive catacombs.
The topic of connection with York came up and we were told the story of The Venerable Mary Ward. As I remember it from that telling within the pub, she set up a Catholic community for women in York and travelled far, setting up similar communities. We were told that she too had walked that way along the road to Rome to ask for the Pope’s blessing. As she had stopped off along the way to set up further communities her walk had taken seven years. We are told that the Pope said no.
The Pope didn’t say no to our walkers to Rome, for as it turned out he was on holiday when they arrived.
Ales n Tales – The Fulford Arms Stories 15 – York Travellers
As our teller of tales along the road to Rome is writing a blog he tells us that he looked for connections to York and for others who had walked that route. He came across the fact that York’s very own Alcuin had travelled that way from York to Rome, but it turns out, when he looked further, he hadn’t walked, he had travelled by boat up the Rhine and rode on horseback over the Alps and most of the way.
We were just a pocket of people around a table and I may not even recall all the details properly, so if anything peeks your interest do look further into a story, but the above reminded one of us of the tale of an Archbishop of York who didn’t have the blessing of the Pope so he sailed away to Rome to seek his approval, he didn’t get it either. This didn’t lessen his popularity here in York however, upon his return the majority of the population were out to greet him; So many in fact that as he approached the bridge the weight of welcomers caused it to collapse in to the Ouse. No one was hurt and it was declared a miracle and the Archbishop who wasn’t an Archbishop became a saint.
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