I spotted this tiny museum in a converted phone box just up the lane from my mother’s house in Scarborough, North Yorkshire and made a little film of it for her (I’ve tagged a bit of footage of her garden on the bottom too).
I saw a spectre, no a person, not a ghost, it was a man in a hat. None of that covers it. Something was wrong. I sought advice.
I nipped across the road to my pals Julie and Arthur (those of Carowagon fame).
“I think I may have seen your ghost,” I said.
Julie had earlier sent me some footage which was inexplicable. A view from the skylight shows the tall Dog and Duck steps next to our house. There are two mysterious figures on the steps; the lower figure looks like some sort of priest and the one higher up and above our house appears to be a boy. Both are in black and white and seem quite old fashioned. They look real enough but why on earth are they dressed like a century or so ago, especially so early on a morning.
My sighting had come a few weeks after seeing the footage. I had awoken very early and been unable to settle so eventually had decided to get up and take a walk.
I had turned right on Quay Street which is parallel to the seafront and passed Arthur’s and then left through a cobbled lane towards North Wharfe.
I stood looking at the lights of the boats for a while and then wandered to opposite the way through towards the end of Quay Street, (yes this was a short walk, as I was getting hungry), my plan being to turn right and head home. Before I could turn I noticed a figure passing me heading towards the seafront. I would have noticed him anyway as there was no one else about but he seemed to be suddenly there.
I was halfway up the short street and there he was to my left, I hadn’t noticed him coming out of the carpark or down Long Greece Steps to the side of the car park. So I looked at him in surprise. He looked back in the same way. I looked away and looked back, he did so a couple of times. It was as if we were both thinking, ‘where did you come from and don’t you look strange.’
Later that day I went into more detail during my visit to Julie and Arthur. Why I had said I thought I had seen ‘Julie’s’ ghost was that he was dressed very similar to the boy in the footage. That was why I had looked at him, he was out of place. I hadn’t felt like I was seeing a ghost, it seemed like a man, yet I felt that something was wrong.
Partly that was the way he was dressed; tight black trousers, (although, unlike the boy figure, his were full length), boots, a long jacket with many buttons up to the neck, a white ruff or frilled shirt and to top it all off I could just say a black flat cap but it was very large; too large.
Now he could have been in a period drama – but at half past six in the morning.
It was at this point that Julie pointed out that the footage of the other out of place figures was filmed at around the same time of a morning.
Arthur asked me how old I thought he was and I said about fifty or perhaps a little less and that he had large round glasses and a moustache but that his face and all these features were quite grey.
I realised that seemed strange as he seemed like a real man. Arthur looked up at this and said perhaps it was a timeslip. It would make perfect sense that this was so, as if 2017 and (let us say) 1917 had interlinked for a while. This would certainly make sense of the mutual surprise and confusion.
It was a couple of days later that I awoke early again; this time with a start, a sudden thought: it was a timeslip but not to the past.
I leapt out of the bed, dressed, and hurried out the door – yes, at that point I was hunting my portal to the future. I was looking for a visitor from the future; one who thought he blended in.
There was something I hadn’t told Julie and Arthur the earlier evening; I had doubled back. On that first morning after the guy had passed I had rushed down Quay Street and taken a right up one of the cobbled alleys, back to the seafront. There he was.
He rushed up to the edge of the wharfe, held up a device, and moved on.
It looked like a phone, but didn’t have a screen and he didn’t seem to need to look through it. He moved a little way along and took a picture of Vincent Pier and its lighthouse, turned snapped the novelty shop and headed to East Pier and the Toll Gate, snapping systematically as he went. I left.
On that second early morning expedition I was intending to catch a record keeper from the future who was dressed inappropriately.
For this was my thinking now, our visitor had dressed in such a way as to blend in but had got it wrong by about 80 to a 100 years.
So it was that I dashed out of the house, but I bumped into another neighbour who was out walking her dogs. We chatted for a while, about my blog, and then I headed off up Quay Street. I got a glimpse of a group of people crossing the end from near the car park and they all seemed to be wearing something red.
They have adapted, they have seen a man from this time period and have emulated his look to blend in.
It is my intention to get up early tomorrow and head to the end of Quay Street and the access road from the car park. I fully expect to see several adults and teenagers wearing blue and white Converse, black jeans, a red and white shirt, a blue jerkin and a flat cap.
Snappy chat, looking back at the recent past, punchy parts, highlights and future happenings.
I will try to be light, I would like to be light for this is a time of tears; far too many tears. If we can try to spread love, be fair but resolute in justice, if we can embrace the lost and the forever injured. Cry those tears yes, as we look up for rainbows through the glistening. I wish to bathe the world in glorious light.
That being said, I am a right grump and a grumbler. You know what I say, ‘Things were different before the changes.’ Think about it and know it’s true.
So it must be time for a visit to OldMan Comics…Well I guess it is time I grabbed some elephant tusks.Not that I really need any ivory or anything
But soon there won’t be any elephants leftNow Britain has legalised the import of Ivory you got to grab it while you can
I am getting used to the idea of local small town news. I had experience of it before I came here to live. Yonks back I said to a musician friend how the guy from the Scarborough paper loved my stuff, how he was really encouraging and used everything I sent him. Nah, said Dave, he is just desperate for stuff to fill the paper with.
When mum and dad first moved here we were taken with the headlines….
Then the letters pages was filled with concern, wishing Esmie Smethick lots of love and luck with finding her cat.
Then the astounding headline.
How pleased everyone in the letters page was.
One highlight of recent weeks has been my feature on Quay Street here in Scarborough here in the vacinity of this laptop in fact. Local history from the rich word of mouth of locals.
This was the quay. Step across from our step and there is the Three Mariners Inn, and there is the harbour wall, the old harbour wall. The first of a few built as the land builds up here, (I think this is where everywhere else’s errosion turns up). As buildings on that side of the street are reworked there is the harbour. All around it are dug up limpet shells discarded from the top of the wall by long long ago fishermen.
No. 1 Salmon Steps, (the only house on Salmon Steps), was built circa 1780 so perhaps salmon were caught using limpets???
Quay Street the blog has proved immensely popular, not just as local history but around the world as interest is peeked in fishing, shipping and sea rescues.
There is a link at the foot of the page – go enjoy.
Which leads on nicely to Seafest.
I will be storytelling on West Pier Saturday and Sunday (22nd and 23rd July) 12 and 2 then moving on to things all a bit more grown up…
Seafest 2017 presents
‘of Soldiers and Sailors and things a bit fishy’ – A fascinating show
By storyteller Adrian Spendlow
For members and visitors of the (newly reopened) Royal British Legion Ex-Service People’s Social Club, Bar Street, Scarborough.
Sunday 23rd July 5 till 7 Admission free with charitable activities.
Tales of daring, endurance, superstition, adventure, personal experience and amazing history.
Long tails, Britain invaded, North Sea rescues, Victory by Butterfly, Strangeness in Scarborough and much much more.
Bob is Gramey
At last we can reveal the true identity of Bob, the companion of OldMan, yes he really in real life is; Gramey. Except Gramey isn’t called Gramey anymore because he says he doesn’t like it. so we still have no idea who he is.
Anyway, Gra and I have been working on a York Stars project empowering people through the arts.
As part of that we wrote I know someone who poems. This is the one I did.
I know someone who had spikey blue hair
I know someone who has a secret identity
I know someone who drinks sharks fin tea
I know someone who changed his name to be in a band
I know someone who has biscuit days, vegetable days and pie days
I know someone who watches blue bars
I know someone who cooks mushrooms all soggy
I know someone who records birds sounds to upset people
I know someone who likes Boney M
And that person is Gramey Smith
At last the shopkeepers secret is revealed, enter the world of tiny things in the link at the foot to discover mighty (but miniature) revalations in this newly updated blog post.
Stephen Fry was right.
And it might even be quite interesting too. A banana is a berry! A strawberry isnt a berry because the seeds are on the outside. A plum isnt a berry because it only has a stone or just one seed which doesn’t count and it hasnt got a shell. A berry has an outer shell (the skin) and contains seeds. So here at last, by random chance is the proof. All I did was bite. The banana did the splitting into three seeds all on its own. It sometimes happens; if you left a narna to dry there would be the three seeds. Here they are in full clarity…..
Ales and Tales
I have produced two book length blogs over the last month or so. There is the collection of Skaldic writings I have written for my chieftain Georg, which are linked to below. There are also the results of the best job I ever had. It is often quite good to be paid to tell stories in pubs, it is even better to be paid to drink beer and listen to other people’s stories. What amazing stories they were. You don’t tell people in York pubs what to talk about, you sit and you listen, and you listen good.
And the First Stage of a Publication
A mass of research has gone into this forthcoming online Graphic Novel: Doom of Zeus. The gripping tale of Earth Mother’s creatron of the monstrous revenger Typhon. It sounds like I made it up. Given that I researched the whole thing while in hospital having a major operartion and being filled with morphine, perhaps I did. These Greek myths though, you can’t make them up, they did that already!!
Follow the link below to the first draft of the G.N. D of Z. There are also links there to the individual stories of gods and goddesses I developed during the course of the research. Athene, Pan, the Fates and Hermes the Babe are in there.
Yes I was on a lot of morphine at the time. I recall shelves full of nightshirts rippling along. Strange apperatus seemed to dangle from the sky. The whole room was repeating my conversations about the head of Buddha.
I was aware for most of the time that this was all drug induced, and didn’t lose insight, well not that often, I did really believe the nurses were dancing though. The night staff that is, I saw them in the distance in silhouette having whispered meetings, then in my mind, they broke into competative disco routines, then went back to the meetings. At one point they broke off from a serious debate to have a go at a demonstration of the ministry of silly walks.
When the drugs were wearing off I described these illusions to one of the night staff and he said, ‘Ah yes, we do do that’.
Strangest though. During the research for Hermes I was listing interesting observations I was gathering from Robert Graves Greek Myths and I found a strange thing listed in my notes. At some point among such as Hermes had golden sandals there in the midst was, ‘Hermes was a taxi driver who delivered bendy ferret.’
Luckilly it didn’t make it into the final blog (I think).
Luke says, – “My Dad is publishing a graphic novel, this is the first draft. It’s still awaiting the artwork so he’s contributed his own, temporary mini-masterpieces.
His style is pretty unique as it is but add to the fact he did a lot of it off his nut on painkillers makes it something special! – He’s still waiting for the artist so the first draft features his own illustrations and his artistic style is… unconventional.
They make a dramatic and terrifying tale oddly hilarious.
Please have a look, he worked on the majority of it in hospital having cancer cut out and was on heavy medication for the majority of the time so it’s quite trippy in places!” Typhon Doom-slayer
It is quaint is Quay Street, let us hope I do it justice. I write this for a neighbour. For a short while back there she thought she had lost her family in that terrible night at Manchester Arena.
So for all those who did lose loved ones and for all of us who suffered through that disgusting tragedy this is a tribute, a sense of belonging, in the way of praise of; the street where you live. – For us, here, that is the historic easy-going Quay Street in Scarborough.
The narrow lane of fishing boats and fisher people has widened along most of its length yet it starts and finishes as a cosy cobbled alley. Quay Street (Pronounced ‘key’).
Cobbled its full length still, set just a little back from the ‘Cobles’ in the bay.
We are the bottom-enders. There is a large grass bank behind us built up of the rows of fisher people’s houses; stacked rows of tightly placed dwellings all rubble now. Rubble.
Above the grass banks of long gone kitchens and bake houses is the most prominent feature of the town: The Castle.
Down below Scar’s Burg our row survives. The Bottom-enders.
I have stayed here on and off for many years with my parents; now, I live here, with Mum while I recuperate – stitch-knitting time.
Fishermen from the street told us when Mum and Dad first got the place of living here man and boy, as did their father before them and his father before that.
A house just a little further down from us still has its bake house out the back, (a few of them do). The lady there, three doors up from me, passed away recently and the moving eulogy to the packed church just up Dog and Duck Steps for here, a step beyond Paradise, spoke of her skills; smoking, baking and sousing the herring, roping the mussel, and dressing the crab; she could dress a crab in less than fifteen seconds.
I chat across the wall to our neighbour, but she has another friend. Her back garden is in two levels; two walled terraces. Her new friend lives on the roof and spends his time on the top terrace – He is in love with her. He has built a nest and comes down to the upper patio to tap on the glass of the French windows with his beak to attract his love. He knocks very loudly. As loud as a large fisherman knocking.
She says it is not her he is knocking for. She says he is knocking for the love of his own reflection.
But you know what they say about albatrosses, perhaps it is true about seagulls too.
Her late husband was a Skipper, I am sure he has worked widely in the sea trade throughout a life of Scarborough, it is as a Skipper that I remember him. Skipper of the ocean-going pleasure cruiser the Caronia, or at other times the Regal Lady. Many a cruise with glass in hand and majestic creatures just off the bow I remember. Many remember and the fiddle plays in our souls as we think back.
There they await you among the 300 plus boats betwixt the three piers of no peer; Scarborough harbour. They have been called on from here before at times of great need as you will hear in the accompanying blog linked to below.
I awake early, it may be the sea birds, it may be the operation scars re-knitting, it maybe is the boot segs, ready to grip the sea boards, clattering the cobbles still.
I hear them I swear. For the street is narrow and the bottom-enders are an endless march along here all through time.
“My father before me, man and boy as I was, as his father before him: Fishermen.”
Yes they were, but something doesn’t quite ring true. After living here a couple of years my dad suddenly realised what was wrong with this claim. The hosues weren’t old enough; they were about 70 years old and the chap living in the one to our right was in his eighties man and boy.
Turns out, the fisher families have always lived here just not in the same building. When the old timey Quay Street was demolished, along with all the lines of houses along the bank above, this road was widened. All this side now housed luxurious semis and lots of the fishermen moved back in, back into a new house, back in to the very same spot man and boy man and boy.
The old street is still there, winding through the centre of the wider road; there are the cobbles.
One can well imagine this narrow street filling as rowing boats are lifted off the bake-house roof and carried through the narrow passage and out onto the street towards the sea.
When I first came here I was surprised to discover that my neighbour at the other side of Dog and Duck Steps was the great uncle of a good friend in York; well-known singer/songwriter Dan Webster. He sings of his relatives: of his grandfather, “I have always loved the sea, but fishing not fighting was for me.” And of his great grandfather who bravely lost his life; Frank Dalton.
There are rumours among locals around the tea stall that when the seas are real rough and the life boat call comes some rotaed crew are hard to find; rumours. The older seasoned seamen are there and ready.
So it was with two who were in their late fifties and early sixties; Jenkinson Mainprize and Frank Dalton.
Thomas Jenkinson Mainprize was best known as Denk and was a relative of the Mainprizes who run a wet fish shop in Scarborough today.
He and Frank were the brave ones who went aboard. It was the Dutch coaster Westkust. The skipper had delayed accepting assistance and had survived eight hours in heavy swell before requesting assistance.
All of the crew were aided by our two heroes who lowered them all one by one down to the life boat deck.
Then Denk and Frank. They swung over the side. The Westkust rose up. Denk made the leap and was down safe. Before Frank could join him a huge wave parted the craft and he was left high up hanging from the Westkust. The coaster dropped, the life boat was pushed up and in, they met in a sickening crunch. The Westkust again lifted and Frank fell, to lay dying on the deck of the life boat.
At his funeral, well, just after his funeral, the Second Mate of the Westkust stepped alone from the crowd to stand at the grave.
He took off his cap and he knelt, “Frank Dalton, as soon as I saw your smiling face climbing over the side of the Westkust I knew we would be saved. Frank Dalton thank you.”
All the more reason for fellow fishermen the next day to have a Cobler’s Monday. That is when there has been a hard time of it and just a weekend is not enough time to ‘recover’. So the crew of the coble agree between them they will all claim a sickie and spend the day ‘recovering’ together; most likely in the Golden Ball or the Newcastle Packet.
Scarborough is known: for these few old buildings here on Quay Street, for its two bays with its harbour between and of course being looked over by both Olivers Mount and the Castle.
It is the natural spring near the end of the south bay which brought people here; 3000 years ago this way a sacred spring was visited and adorned. It was much later that these waters caused an expansion of grand buildings. We came here to take the air, (we still do, just watch the walkers up and down), and we came to take the waters too. Spa town.
The Spa was built and people came in their droves to go down the steps to draw the magical waters.
Trains helped. Workers starting to get actual holidays also brought more trains and very busy patches.
There was another fame, a fish, a big fish which brought the rich. A tough fish: the tunny. Strongest fish in the sea so they say: the North Atlantic Tuna.
Not that there are many now; the mackerel and the herring runs diminished massively in the 30’s through to the 50’s as more intensive fishing techniques developed unchecked (before my 17 year old niece became the fear of the unwise and the inspector of nets).
Interest in the tunny was intense, but on a much smaller scale – Which is strange for such a very big fish.
They say now they are returning and are up to 500lb but the records say far bigger.
Very rich pickings indeed, for the very rich. They came in their droves, filling the best hotels, finding fame and indeed further fortunes.
One poorer catcher of a tunny got rich by charging for photos with it.
Fame came with the danger, small boats, small crews and fishermen in ones or twos. Some fought for hours, only to lose the line and the monster in a sudden snap. Some might be relieved at such a result as the boats were hardly large enough for the big big strong strong fish.
The record holder wasn’t a rich visitor, well he was a Lincolnshire farmer, so he probably was reasonably wealthy. Lewis wasn’t a fisherman, he was taking a break after being discharged from the RAF and was talked into having a go.
Some say he doesn’t hold the record. He caught a fish a full pound heavier at 852lb than the previous largest but someone complained later that the rope was extremely wet. What a wet fish! What a slime! I say, “Pah!” I won’t have it, I hereby award the record to Lincolnshire farmer Jack Hadley Lewis for his amazing 852lb tunny.
Go see the impressive statue on the Northern pier.
You might try finding the entrance to the Three Mariners Inn while you are on your way from Quay Street.
The RAF are responsible for one eyesore on Quay street between two of the three beamed buildings in the street; an ugly flat-rooved intrusion between the Mutiny (formerly the Lancaster) and the Three Mariners Inn. Them bombers they had disposable petrol tanks, like bombs attached to the wings. When they were empty into the sea they went. They weren’t at sea on this occasion, they were above a beautiful old building – gone now.
I think the horrid flat building should be covered by a commemorative mural.
The devil brought his revolution here. His Brigg at Filey pierced a ship or two. Perhaps it stabbed at John Paul Jones. The American revolution came to this coast and his sword was left here. So the legend goes. It is said that he ‘safe harboured’ at the Three Mariners Inn across from me. I’ve seen the sword, that missing sword. It was said to be his and I saw it when the oldest complete building in the area (circa 1430) was a museum.
What a cranky museum it was, everything was everywhere, stuff heaped up, jewellery, toys, weapons, clothes – piled on every surface.
Rummage away visitor, ride the toy vehicle children, steal away visitors. Well some did. The sword somehow went one day, that was the last straw for them and the museum is no more.
You might want to buy the house though.
Sit on the bed, look in the mirror. Well, that’s what my young daughter did. Incidentally there is a long running (now suddenly exacerbated) family argument about which daughter it was.
As we left she said, “I didn’t like the man in the woman’s hat.” I asked where this was. “When I was sat on the bed.”
I was in the room, in fact I lifted my little girl up onto that bed. There was no one else there. So I told her I had seen no one. She looked up at me and with a serious face said, “Oh, you could only see him when you looked in the mirror.”
You might want to buy the house though.
I wonder if Dr Strange would? My mum has a claim to fame and I utilise it whenever I do publicity for my story-walks over in my home city: son of York’s first ghost-walker. It is true.
So it is a shame for her that after a lifetime of telling ghost stories, now in her retirement, she has to listen to loud ghost stories outside her window. Yes, Dr Strange of Scareborough Ghost Tour stops right outside to tell his screamer tale (which mum tells me is quite tall).
There is another fame to be experienced in this street, and I don’t mean just international blogger Adrian Spendlow (me), There is a great fame in Quay street, wait for it; Quay street is the home of the most famous vehicle on Scarborough.
A truck and a caravan welded and melded into one stupendous vehicle. The ornate homely transport is to be home to some of my stories – the side opens to provide a raised patio stage; my stage.
We will be appearing at various venues with Travelling Tales.
As Anne said, and you may still hear her voice if you visit her grave just above our house, “But he, that dares not grasp the thorn. Should never crave the rose.”