The Scary Faces in the Gravestone – plus wanders in hidden places of York
City of York pond in a park
The Scary Faces in the Gravestone – plus wanders in hidden places of York
City of York pond in a park
Opening Ceremony 2016 Viking Valley, Gudvangen, Norway
Welcome, welcome, you are all welcome. So good to see you all gathered here for the opening ceremony of this the 14th Viking Market here in Gudvangen Viking Valley.
You are safe here, welcome; you can relax and enjoy yourself, even though you will be spending the day among huge, hairy, heavily armed Vikings.
We are glad to have you here eating our food, drinking our mead, looking at our stalls.
Yes welcome, so relax you will be safe here – it is when we visit you that you need to worry.
“And we won’t be emailing, there will be no polite email asking if it is OK to visit. We will suddenly be there but you will know straight away. You will be well aware we are among you.”
This is a very special place; there is something magical about this valley. Everyone says so. You begin to feel the effect of being here straight away.
These Vikings here, as soon as they step off the ship they calm down, which is unusual I assure you. All the time they are here they are friendly, easy-going and peaceful – well most of the time.
Look at me. When I am at home I am a wild, dangerous, rampaging mad thing.
You will enjoy yourselves! Do you hear what I say, and can you see the shine of sharpness along the edge of my axe. You will enjoy yourselves!
Besides, we have many things on our stalls which we want you to buy. We have been to many lands and learnt many skills; old, well-tried, traditional skills. We will enjoy showing you; try not to be nervous when you generously show your appreciation.
Yes, we have sailed to many nations. We have landed on a wide range of shores, seen people of many types – and robbed them, traded with them, I mean traded with them, yes, traded.
“Can we ask where you are all from?”
“Spain.” “Poland.” “Canada.” “Ireland.”
“Ah, those are the places we robbed.”
That’s where we got all these things we are selling.
“Hey, stall holders, lower your prices.”
Yes visitors we will sell your things back to you quite cheaply.
“And you will be safe here. Adrian remind them how welcome they will be, and how safe.”
Yes, yes, safe, yes. We have sworn an oath, an oath. We wanted to reassure you so we oathed an oath, and when a Viking makes an oath they make an oath and the oath that they oath is an unbreakable oath which we have oathed; an oath is an oath is an oath. Let it be known that we have oathed.
“What is an oath?”
A promise; and a promise is a promise and…
“Don’t start that again.”
No, right, of course, but we did; there is a ritual and a belief. To make that oath the first thing you have to do is – spit in a barrel.
Well we skipped that bit.
“Yes well we are selling lemonade and mead to you. So we thought it best not to spit in the barrels. Or talk about it even…”
No sorry. No spitting. The barrels are fine!
A promise is a promise though, and it has to be kept. We worry about where we will go when we die.
Oath-breakers have to walk through a river of gushing ice. This ice is formed into axes, spears and knives – then, you step out – to be kept in a tower made of living serpents. Bitten and sprayed with burning poison for ever and ever and ever and ever.
Or until Ragnarok; the end of the world.
“So we keep our promises; enjoy.”
If, you enjoy hearing of the old mythos – watch out for the ravens…
A shadow will flicker over you. As you look up, the second raven will fly in from the world waters, by you see the third raven it will be too late. There it will be upon the mast of an incoming ship; a ship so terrible you will quake at the sight of it. The Vikings are coming, and they are no ordinary Vikings. These are Njardar. Njardar Vikingslag.
We are coming to you and charging onto your land. Hear the roar. See the gleam. A huge army of huge warriors are upon you. These are the best (the Mayor of Aurland himself said that we were second in exports and visitors and soon to become first, so it must be true). It is like the sky itself is filled, and they wait, with weapons high, only for a command to charge. Step forward the chieftain; Olafr Reydarsson. When he speaks we listen. He is big! Very big!
Well, his beard is big anyway. He will give the command; the word and we will all, roaring, act upon that word.
The word is…
“Welcome; you are all welcome to come and visit us in Gudvangen. Everyone is welcome, except those who do not make others welcome. Come visit.”
And so they do, in their thousands, from all over the world.
We have had a battle though, a long, hard fought battle – a battle to build.
As you step though those gates into the fourteenth Viking Gathering here at Gudvangen you step back into the past. Now. The long battle is over. Now. As you step through these gates you are stepping into our future.
By the fifteenth Viking Gathering there will be a Viking Town. It is a two year project with the first row of Viking houses ready by May – I have put my name down for one of these already.
Here is the first of the timber being delivered now…
You will be able to take part in the Glima wrestling…
With hardly any risk to yourself….
Hear Galda upon the holy hill…
Learn leather skills with Hamish, or buy his bags from Annabelle…
Visit Lady Chaga…
Be warned; slavers are in the area and you are at risk…
And it is no use complaining, we know that now.
But no, no, no, do not worry, as we have promised, you are completely safe here, well, until six o’clock. Once the market closes at six all promises are off!
Don’t spit when you speak!
Vikings will become Vikings again.
You will be greatly at risk – unless you buy a tunic and a pair of boots and stay here.
Then you will be welcome.
Before we actually open the market and get on with selling you your treasures back, there is one rather tricky thing which must be dealt with.
“Don’t tell them Adrian.”
No, we must.
“There is a rumour.”
A terrible rumour.
“It has been whispered over and over as people come through the gate.”
We are now going to deal with that rumour.
“People have been saying that they have heard that a group of tourists with plastic wrist bands came here to visit and were never seen again.”
“It is true!”
Never seen again!
They bought Viking outfits and became part of this marvellous experience.
“Now we must warn you.”
This may happen to you.
“This valley is such a wonderful, unique place that once you have visited you never wish to leave. Many choose to stay and be here forever.”
This we must warn you of.
“But there is a greater risk, a great and terrible sadness and yearning which may come upon.”
“If you do choose to leave here you will regret it forever.”
You will always feel that you are not where you belong and will feel terribly, terribly sad that you did not choose to stay.
“Terribly, terribly sad.”
“Now, finally, we welcome you with one piece of explanation about what you might expect here, here is the secret – it is all about love.”
“We will be opening the market again tomorrow.”
And this worries me greatly.
“I will be wearing my helmet. It was a wonderful gift to me and is an accurate reconstruction of a Viking age helmet.”
And why does it have a figure of a boar on the top?
“This is to signify that I command a team of specialist warriors.”
What kind of warriors?
And you are wearing it tomorrow? This worries me greatly. I have pledged to always stand by your side. To dress appropriately and be there in the way that you need me whatever you ask of me. What does a Berserker wear?
“A small fur collar.”
And that’s it!
Right I will have to get my outfit ready then.
“It worries me as well, I don’t think I will be standing next to you tomorrow.”
(“And if you blog about it tomorrow Adrian, do not do a drawing.”)
Thinking about it, I will make a great berserker. If you put all the fighters and all the wrestlers in the field ready I will be able to beat the lot of them, I will clear the field.
If I come screaming across to them wearing nothing but my berserker outfit they will scatter. I will see off the lot of them.
They will run.
“So will I!” “Enjoy yourselves today, because tomorrow is berserker day.”
We now declare the Viking Market open!
“This is a marvellous experience, with Vikings and visitors from all around the world, none of the differences you might notice elsewhere matter at all here, all beliefs, all life styles are for elsewhere; here everyone gets along and shares the wonder which is Gudvangen.”
So it is spoken by Olafr (Georg) and this is the world.
I hate staying in…
The first story mum wrote after stating in writing class…
(Please note it is in two parts, so you will need to watch the short film straight after.)
Radio York paid her for this story…
A poem in darker tone…
Mum explains how amused she was by the poem ‘I Shall Wear Purple’, it inspired her to create her own version. she would always perform them both.
There will be more of her short stories and poems and she has recently been interviewed by The National Railroad Museum here in Green Bay Wisconsin. Once they have those up in the museum archive I will blog a link. For now here are links to other pieces…
The Scary Faces in the Gravestone – plus wanders in hidden places of York
City of York pond in a park
Introduction to the Discworld of Terry Pratchett. What was I doing! My beloved friends ‘We Are Theatre’ invited me to audition for their forthcoming production of Maskerade (the play of the book by Terry) and here I am writing Fan Fiction!!!!!!
Or possibly summarising the work of a great writer in a few paragraphs is the greater crime of plagor…
Let’s not go there.
I am a big fan though. When I was asked to audition (and quietly knew I would be in there somewhere) I felt a synopsis of the whole world of Terry P would entertain and slightly redirect their approach to his work……
(So I wrote it on the train with all its inaccuracies)
Welcome to Budapest, I said walking in the door with a leaflet in my hand, “He’s started!” “Wait hang on, we haven’t sat down yet.”
The great city of Budapest was originally two towns; the two towns of Buda and Pest. Buda was very poor and filthy and Pest was filthy rich. Hang on, that’s not right, that’s Ankh Morpork!
Ankh was filthy and Morpork was filthy r…, well you’ve got the idea.
Terry stole it off there.
Two towns and they grew and grew till they came towards each other and when they became connected by a bridge they became a huge city.
Long ago that was and new folks come along of all types all the time; if you want to be in the city you build in the city, so folks built on tops of old buildings. There are several layers of buildings sinking away below what you see. Many of those layers far below (shiver) are still lived in.
The city is protected though. It has the Watch. It needs protecting because everything in this world was stolen; stolen by the master storyteller himself. The very Terry who robbed from history, folklore, religion, tourist guides – and they call this comedy.
We are safe though. There is the Watch. The honest one on the Watch is Carrot; the huge strong tall leader of it all these days; he is huge, strong, tall, proper and slowly steady. He could keep the whole city in order on his own.
He is six foot eight and he is a dwarf. They found him when just a babe with just his regal sword by his side and raised him as their own. When he no longer fitted in the cave without a double stoop they felt he ought to venture into the world of those, er, other, er, folk…..
The Watch, yes that was it, the Watch.
There is a lot to be said for the highly untrustworthy Corporal Nobbs. Nobbs. Nobby Nobbs for short; he is short, and ‘technically’ human. You can trust him to find the thieves though, because he is very interested, in a personal way, in the things which they took – he will find them.
The night shift is also the best place for his boss Captain Fred Colon many decades he has been on nights, his wife is on days, any other arrangement would take the romance right out of it.
Commander Vimes, who married the lady of the manor, puts on his old ‘copper’ boots and comes back to help out in a crisis, these old boots have huge holes in the soles which he has lined with cardboard. You can feel the cobbles under your feet and you know just where you are.
He probably got involved when the Kings Head was demolished over night, but it was rebuilt in minutes early in the morning. Soon as Tiffany found out.
Yes, you knew it, it was the little, blue all over guys with nothing but a kilt and a very very bad attitude, (and mouth).
They got in a fight with the landlord and demolished the place.
Yes, Tiffany the girl witch of merely eight or so, “Hag o all hags yer ken,” she knew.
“Ok nay., she’s makin of the folding of the arms, she will be doing the tapping of the foot…..”
They ran back down there and rebuilt the Kings Head in minutes, trouble is they built it backwards. Now everyone has to go in through the back way – so, they don’t call it the Kings Head anymore…
You are safe in the city, well unless you buy a sausage. Cut My Own Throat Dibbler is out there hollering his wares and if you are to buy one of his so-called sausages you will soon begin to understand why the River Ankh is almost possible to walk across.
You would be safer doubling up your expenditure and buying his top of the range product, the rat on a stick – at least you would know what it is.
All stolen, even the disc; if you peer over the edge of this round flat world you may see that it rests on the back of four elephants, they in turn stand upon the back of A’Tuin the giant turtle. A’Tuin is on a galactic mission, flying through space to meet another turtle with a disc on its back – to mate.
The worry is, is A’Tuin a male, because we will probably be all alright then. Or, is A’Tuin a female, in which case when they meet up we are all in trouble.
You may wish to be rushing back to the city nearer the centre of the disc, for there behind you is the great mountain. You may need to pray to a god for protection. If you want to please one you will need to eat a lot of broccoli, to please another you will need to eat a lot of chocolate – I cannot influence you too much, it is your choice in the end, broccoli or cho……
If you are wanting to get away with things you may wish to choose Blind Io.
There they all are on the mountain above Ankh Morpork which is ruled with an iron fist of subtle manipulation by the Patrician.
Carrot of the Watch should be the ruler, he has the royal sword and the birth mark and just might go about killing a dragon, but if he does everyone will have forgotten by morning.
He does his best against the Thieves Guild. But the gentle Patrician, who is only standing in till the real king is found, has the guild organised. If you are robbed they will take eight per cent of your current monthly income and they will utilise half of this to employ the Assassins Guild to remove from the city any unregistered thieving types.
You are safe here though. Across the gulf of the Ankh is the great bridge, and, looking out forever upon the sea, from this bridge are huge great brass hippopotamus’.
If ever there were to come, it is said, foreign enemy fleets from the seas toward Ankh Morpork the hippopotamus’ would be the on the bridge looking out, they would see the enemy and they will come alive and – promptly run away – this is the nature of this city.
You are safe here, until a dark figure is cast in a role and walks into a dark theatre with a dark mask upon his face and audiences are entranced; when I played him in audition he fell below the casting table and stretched back up with a mask upon his face, “You call this a comedy!”
See Maskerade in the Upper Theatre of the ancient Black Swan Inn 26th to 28th February 2018
Supermarket conversation hardly worth a blog…
But I overheard it and felt I needed to share…
“Oh, do they live in Strensal?”
“Oh, I thought they lived somewhere else – or is that someone else?”
“Yes someone else lives somewhere else.”
Click here to view OldMan 04 – Star Trek
Click here to view OldMan 05 – Missing Time
Click here to view OldMan 06 – Back When I Was Abducted
Click here to view OldMan 07 – Pickles from the Polish store
Click here to view OldMan 08 – of Socks and Slippers
Click here to view OldMan 09 – Fame at Last
Click here to view OldMan 10 – Battle of Hastings
Click here to view OldMan 11 – This time it’s personal
Click here to view OldMan 12 – Bob’s Life
Click to view OldMan 14 – Magazine Feature
Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – (some of it is a bit grizzly) – (Please share, like and add comments).
There I was sat in the centre of the park by the river in my Hobb outfit, (which is basically a dress and tights), with a huge black cloak with a huge black hood; waiting. I was waiting to suddenly start in a deep scary voice. ‘Long long ago!’
I could not see ahead of me because of the big hood, but eventually I heard a group approaching and saw their feet gathering around, ‘Long long ago!’
Luckily it was the right group!
Jules Montgomery of Barmby Moor School had asked me to be there to meet her group, or rather groups. They had teamed up with Garton on the Wold School for a trip to York to go around Cliffords Tower.
There was only room for one of their groups at a time, so they were to split up and spend an hour in there and an hour with me.
Life with the Normans was Jules’ suggestion and, as they had been studying the topic, plus would be hearing the relative history of the tower, I thought I better be a bit different to all that. Jules suggested tales of the Normans from the local perspective.
Hence Hobb’s view.
Long long long
Long long long
Long long long ago (the hood was off)
There used to be a great tower here upon a hill.
Do you know where it was?
“There!” “There!” There!” they all point.
Oh, no, you’ve got a new one.
In my-a-days it was over there. I point to where the Eye of York is now.
This one wasn’t there in my-a-days. It must be from your-a-days. What do you call it? “Cliffords Tower.”
Oh no, what did you call it that for?! You have called it after the enemy.
Clifford was one of the nasty bad guys from that horrible place over the mountains; the place of the red rose.
Ah, I think I know why it got called that. It is a joke.
When they caught him they hung him. They hung him from the tower and left him there.
For a long long long time, is that enough longs or should there be more?
For a long long long long long long long time, is that enough longs, er, yes perhaps so.
A long long time he hung there, and people would look up as they passed and say, ‘Hello Clifford.’
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha…
Well perhaps it isn’t funny now-a-days, but it was then.
‘ Ha ha ha ha ha ha,’ is that enough ha ha’s or should there be more?
“No!” “No more!”
After years of folk saying, ‘Where are we going fishing?’ Down past Clifford’s tower ha ha ha ha ha – it all wore a bit thin, but the name stuck.
That is what I say about it and I should know because I am Hobb.
Let me introduce myself I am Hobb, Hobb the pigman.
Not that I have got any pigs, but you know how you all have a pig in your house don’t you. “No.” “Yes.” “No.” Well some of you have. Everyone did in my-a-days. Not in your-a-days but in my-a-days. And you know how you would get fed up of them around your feet? And would push them out of the door, so they were all wandering about in the street. Well I felt sorry for them all and I have them all round at my house. I am always warm on a night, and I am never short of company. People don’t tend to like me very much, because of the smell, but the pigs like me, so that’s all right.
They was a tower here, a big castle on a hill you know, long long long before that-there William feller came here. The Saxons built it, or the Angles or both of them. That one was destroyed. The Vikings came and the Vikings destroyed it. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Is that enough Viking laughter? “No.” Everybody then; “Ha ha ha ha ha ha.“
Well there I was in The Globe in Shambles having a glass of porter, and then I went across the street to a pub called The Globe and had a glass of porter. I like the Globe, but the porter isn’t as good, I don’t like The Globe but the porter is far better there and it is only across Shambles so I popped back into The Globe for another, while my pigs waited outside.
It wasn’t so bad. We all got nattering and chatting and we got onto the Vikings. There was Ragnar you see, long long long long, shall I? No, OK, just the one long then, long ago there was a Viking king called Ragnar. Ragnar Hairy-breeks; he of the hairy trousers. He stormed through Europe taking town after town, city after city. He came to Paris, oh, he took his army with him of course, he didn’t do it all on his own. Paris was a bit trickier. A big strong city. So he put the place under siege. That’s where you don’t let anybody out and you don’t let anybody in. It tends to make you hungry does that, but more on that later. For now, let’s just say that they had a lot of food in there; they managed to survive for two years. Eventually they gave in because they were very very hungry, very.
They gave in, and they gave him all their treasure; gold, jewels, crepe recipes, everything.
Trouble was, most of his Vikings said, ‘We quite like it here, we have got used to it, we think we’ll stay.’ That left him with a smaller army when he came to Britain and it left France with a load of Vikings who would later turn into Normans, or their off-spring would many many years later. Many.
So along here came Ragnar and died terribly at the hands of a Saxon king, but that is another story for another time.
Those ones he left behind though, many many years later their children’s children’s children’s ch, you get the idea. The king’s army, the king of France (as we call it now).
Along came a Viking, well a few. The leader of this army was a big guy, you might call him Rolo, or Rolf, he said he was called Hrolfr. Ganger Hrolfr in fact. Ganger means walker.
He ran mainly, very fast, and right at you. He was so big that no horse would carry him; his feet trailed along the floor when he sat in the saddle. So he ran, with his army riding behind him. Well, not when they were on a ship, then they sailed. There were ships full of them. A hundred ships they say, with a hundred men in each one they say. How many is that? “A thousand?” “Ten thousand?” “A hundred thousand?” I will tell you how many and you will repeat it after me. How many? A lot! How many? “A lot.”
They went in by river and then they travelled the lands. Till presently they came again to the great river around a great bend far from their ships. There across the waters was a huge army. The king at their head. His army was far larger. He was about to call for a charge to ride across the river and kill these invaders with their tall leader when he heard his own army talking behind him. ‘Those fellers over there are from the North.’ ‘They are Northmen.’ ‘That is where our forefathers were from.’ ‘We are kin.’ ‘Family.’ ‘We can’t fight them.’
The king heard this and thought that he had better change his plan. ‘What is it that you want?’
Ganger Hrolfr replied, ‘All this. All the land at this side of the river.’
The king was not happy with this but felt he had no choice, ‘This you can have as long as you swear allegiance to me.’
‘How would I do this?’ called Ganger as he strode across the river with his strongest few.
‘You must bow down and kiss my foot.’
‘I will bow down to no man,’ cried Ganger. He turned to his mightiest warrior, ‘Would you do this duty for me my good friend?’
Tor Eric stepped forward with a wry grin, (that is a bit of a smirk if you didn’t know). He walked forward towards the king who was sat before him on his horse. Tor Eric took the king’s foot, he didn’t bend, he lifted the foot quickly to his mouth and kissed. The king flew off his horse. As he crashed to the floor Hrolfr laughed loud, as did his warriors, their whole army behind them across the river could be heard to be laughing wildly. The king’s men were not laughing; his close knights were reaching for their weapons and stepping slowly forward. The king laughed. The king stood, and laughed and laughed. His knights looked, looked back at Tor Eric and Hrolfr, and then they laughed, a whole army behind them laughing and laughing. Both banks of the river were filled with wild loud hearty laughter.
Hobb laughs, the teachers laugh, the children laugh – a timeless hearty laugh.
So that is even more descendants of the Norsemen settled in France. No wonder the Norman invasion fought so well!
Anyway I went for a walk. To be more correct, I took my pigs for a walk (Oink, wheet wheet wheee), they were fed up of being in the house, well, the hovel actually. Anyway, we went for a walk.
So there I was in the ale house on the street of stone, the pigs were in the front yard and I was sat with a glass in the inne: Yee Newe Starre Inne. You might know it better as Yee Olde Starre Inne, but this was a long time ago when the Starre Inne was newe.
Sipping away at my porter and listening to my friend who was a porter, lending a tanner to my friend the tanner, and… – that’s quite enough of that, let’s just say there were a few of us. Then I was asked what I thought of the news, I wasn’t able to think about the news, because I hadn’t heard the news. Then I heard the news; the king was dead. My friend the Crier was quite upset about it, yes he had been crying about it all over town. I didn’t know. The pigs are so noisy you see. Edward? The King? That Edward feller? I asked. Yes I was told. Well, I asked, did he confess anything in the end, but nobody knew.
Anyway I wasn’t worried, he was from down there and it wouldn’t bother us up here I reckoned. Some of my friends agreed. The one who was a Wait said we would have to find out in the end. Mostly though they were worried, because, it turned out, there were many coming who thought they ought to be king and there would be trouble. There would be trouble mainly round here, fighting and that, they reckoned. (One of them-there would-be kings is buried under that great big church you have, a Viking feller.) They were all going to be coming over here they said.
What did it matter I wondered, as a king is a king is a king is a king, but I was informed I was wrong. The one that worried everyone was coming over from France to conquer. What was he called? “William!” No. Guillaume. That is French for William or any rate maybe William is English for Guillaume. We maybe should end up calling him William but for now he was Guillaume I was told. One of my pals said he was called Guillaume le Rude-word. I wanted to know what the rude word was and it was whispered in my ear. Goodness me that’s a shock. We can’t call him that. We had better call him a conqueror. Yes that would do it; William the Conqueror. Any way there was going to be trouble.
It was true. In no time there was talk of a big battle raging over a bridge just a little way from here. I was told I had to go, not to fight, but because I had pigs and they might need pigs. I couldn’t guess what they might need my pigs for, but I went anyway.
It took a while; these pigs of mine are slow to shift. I had a switch and I switched it, the new one wasn’t any better but I switched with it anyway. There was a lot of noise and a lot of wandering off but eventually we got there. It was too late. It was all over.
I made the mistake of looking around, I shouldn’t have done it, I looked around. It was terrible terrible. You can be sure that when we meet in person for me to tell you all this there will be a lot of stabbing and crying and groaning and dying going on. For now though, just imagine. I wish I hadn’t looked.
Then suddenly there was an army running at me.
They ran right past me, ‘Come on, come on.’ What? ‘Come on, come with us.’ ‘We are running all the way to a place called Hastings, it can’t be far.’ That was going to be their downfall I thought, but I didn’t say anything. What do you want me for? ‘We don’t need you, we need the pigs.’
I had no idea why they might want my pigs but I set off anyway. It was a long slow journey. Oink, oink, oink – switch, switch, switch – wheeet wheeet wheeee. We got there. It was too late. It was terrible, terrible, terrible. Slashing, and stabbing and crying and groaning and dying. All that was over. Well except for the odd bit of groaning maybe. It was all over. Imagine my face as I look around for a very long time. Imagine. That is how horrible it was.
We all know what that battle was called. “The battle of Hastings!” No. The battle of Hastings which isn’t the battle of Hastings because it didn’t happen at Hastings did actually happen at Battle. So it is the battle of Battle. Except if the village of Battle is only called battle because it was where there was a battle then it was just a battle. Then again if battles before the battle of Battle weren’t called a battle and they only started being called battles after there was this one in Battle it isn’t even the battle of Battle. It is called .
That’s where I was anyway .
There ahead of me was a huge army running right at me, this was a horrible terrible army and they were running right at me as I said. I hid. I hid behind my pigs. But because by now I was starting to get an idea of why they might want my pigs I hid the pigs. Once I had hid the pigs in the ditch I hid among the pigs. The horrible army hurried past. They were led by William somebody… “William the Conqueror!” No. The Malet. Him and all the knights and their retinues were a great army and they were being sent north.
It is said they went and crushed York. Crushed it. Then they went back down a bit (which was rather a long way round to do things, but they were new to Britain) and they went to Nottingham.
They went there to crush that place too but I don’t think they managed very well because Nottingham has another name. What is it? “We don’t know.” The City of Caves.
By I got there with my pigs people were starting to come up out of the caves blinking. I was glad they were alright. I was also glad they were blinking because they didn’t see my pigs.
I did meet someone else, someone interesting; the Pig Woman, but that is another story for another time when you are older. She did tell me something though. She said that Malet had been ordered back to York to take charge (See I told you they did things in a long way round sort of way).
So I went back to York. It wasn’t so bad. There was plenty of work. Well there was mainly plenty of work because there weren’t that many people left. The people who were left were very very cross. That Malet feller got us all working though. Well except for the one or two who ran off to send messages about the terrible horrible things that had happened.
There were walls and gates around the town, but not across the river. The river was surrounded by marshland as well. So we had to dig in it and get all the muck and mud and rocks and clay and pile it up. We didn’t know why. Well not until they started building on top of it. A castle, a great big castle. Now there was water all around it. That water would become known as Kings Fishpond in later years.
There was a huge draw bridge to get in and they all lived up there looking out at us.
Some of those quietly cross people who hadn’t stayed to dig mud had gone to meet other people and make them cross; livid might be a better way of putting it. They all came here for a fight. Out across the Vale of York they were steadily gathering. The farmers, the Northumbrians, the Scottish, the boy king, so that’s Saxons and maybe Angles too, maybe even three or four Jutes, and one or two Picts perhaps, some Celts or Irish anyway and at last – the Danes. And we, snigger, were all set to let them in. They all were in this together and they were far more than cross or even livid.
William was worried but it took them all so long to get together that he had time to send for William; the other William.
He turned up with a huge army and he saw them all off. We were all alone again (oink).
He was horribly cruel, torturous even, you can be sure that if ever you invite me to your group to tell this I will be torturous to be sure.
For now just imagine the screams.
He built that tower over there at the other side of the river in eight days flat! “What tower?” It’s flat! Well it was over there back then in the back-then-i-days.
The Danes came back!
We all joined in!
3000 Normans died.
King William is said to have said something about God’s Splendour, but what he meant was he was going to kill us all. And he did. Well, no or I wouldn’t be here to tell you. That’s what he said though.
Next thing we know, we can’t get out and they are all around the place.
We got very hungry.
This is the bit where I got to find out just how horrid children’s imaginations can be, because I asked them what they would have to eat. Yes there was sausages and chicken nuggets and Macdoodles (we only ate the box actually), and pigs – No, I hid the pigs on Barmby Moor just in time – we raided all the butchers on Shambles, we drank everything in all the innes and wayside places, we caught birds out of the air and ate them whole (we won’t mention the puppies and kittens because we don’t like to talk about it). Mud, leaves, grass, slime, there was nothing left.
I asked for volunteers and a few came forward. To be eaten. I crept up on them from behind all ready to kill them and eat them, well we had been hungry for like a year or something. I was baring my teeth and raising my claws to swoop and there was a shout. It was coming from outside the walls. ‘If you surrender we will be nice.’ Well something like that. ‘We have lots of scrummy things to eat.’ ‘Come on out it is all alright really.’
We went out and it wasn’t alright. They were horrid, more horrid than you can imagine. Screams and mess and chopping and stabbing and burning and searching. I don’t think there was anybody left.
That wasn’t enough for him.
He sent troops all over the place. Took all the food, broke all the farming things, burned all the farm houses; the land around here and as far up as Durham was a desert. Nothing grew, everyone starved. It all turned wild. Imagine if you will all the weeds and hedges and trees taking over and nobody anywhere. The Harrying of the north. A wilderness was all that was left and a wilderness is nothing.
William built two new castles here, filled them with troops, and then left and never bothered to come back here again. There was nothing to come back to.
Everyone listening to this – lower your head – turn – and slowly quietly walk away.
Hobb’s Tale of the Time of the Normans – by Adrian Spendlow
This story follows research of history and folklore and is told as Hobb would understand it.
I hope to recreate the live atmosphere of dramatic storytelling, but of course a whole lot of the acting out, the facial expressions, the sound effects are a little lost – for instance, the moment of the child who volunteered to be eaten will be forever lost on you unless you see this live. Thank you to the child I hardly met.
There were, at one point, two inns on Shambles opposite each other and both called The Globe.
Porter was a strong dark beer.
Tor Eric is a popular Norwegian name rather than the actual name of the warrior. Pronounced approximately as Tour Eeirik, Tor is of course the root of what a British person would describe as Thor.
A Wait was a musician, they marked the hour and sometimes called the news in the way a Town Crier would.
To this day there is a whole network of caves under Nottingham and you can go on a tour. Perhaps they were a good place to hide even in the days of William.
My art work is intended to illustrate the story in an impressionistic way.
A more complete story in an historical format will shortly be available as a download, for now we do have a history download relating to York…
Also try the Viking Comic Book and History links at the top.