Category Archives: Jeff Jefferty Jeff

1066 and all that jazz

 

hastings
This sums up the incorrect version of the battle of Hastings that we always been led to believe. Here, for the first time, the truth is revealed.

William was totally fed up. Not only did they keep being rude about his mother but they kept spelling his name wrongly. William might have been the son of the unmarried Duke Robert of Normandy and his mistress Herleva but it was cruel of everyone to call him William the Bastard and remind him at every opportunity.

In the middle of the 11th century, despite his total lack of interest in all things political, William was part of a power struggle for the throne of England, held by his relative Edward the Confessor (who had been given his name because of his habit of turning up at sheep dog trials and confessing,) who named the powerful English earl Harold Godwinson as the next king on his deathbed in January 1066.

William didn’t much care. He and Harold had long been rivals but in another, far more interesting sphere: fighting with marrons.

Marrons came in two varieties in England and in what is now called Continental Europe, edible and inedible. The edible type, sweet and nutty, could be used in many different ways in the kitchen and for many communities the marron was the sole source of carbohydrate. Aunt Bessie’s oven chips had not yet been invented and the potato was still an unknown root vegetable in an unknown part of the world. William and Harold did not fight with the edible variety – both of their mother’s had separately put a stop to the boys fighting with food many years before – but they fought with the inedible variety of the humble marron.

The game was itself was simple: two players, each with a marron threaded on a thong of rawhide, take it in turns to hit each other’s marron, until one marron is destroyed. The first player holds out their marron at arm’s length, hanging down, ready to be hit, the thong wrapped around his hand to stop it being dropped.

The opponent, the striker, also wraps his marron string round his hand, then takes his marron in the other hand and draws it back for the strike. Releasing the marron he swings it down by the string held in the other hand and tries to hit his opponent’s marron with it.

But this year, William was despondent. Harold across what he called the Sūð-sǣ (South Sea) was busy being king and wouldn’t play with him, his courtiers kept being rude about his mum and the marrons were small and hardly worth playing for.

Harold, however, was equally fed up. Marron season was here and what fine huge conkers they were and here was he stuck at the head of an army somewhere in Geordie land fighting some Danes to ensure that his kingdom did not become overrun with chubby Danish comedians called Sandi.

Sandi-Toksvig_2363071c
Here’s one I made earlier. (Serving suggestion only.)

Harold’s ministers were adamant that their new king could not have time off, so Harold hatched a plan and calling for his scribe sent a quick parchment to his old adversary William the Bastard, challenging him to a marron fight on the south coast in a couple of weeks time and upon it’s receipt William gathered the usual band of mates he took on stag parties and they set sail.

Historians have made much of William gathering an army to cross the water and Harold leading his war band to the area, but the truth was far less blood thirsty. It was just a friendly meeting between two groups of young men, intent on having a good time with old mates; the usual, wine, women and song, with marron fighting thrown in.

After carousing through the south eastern coastal villages full of good ale and mead, the two groups of men met at Senlac Hill. (Senlac later gave its name to a laxative tablet made of Senna. If you have trouble with constipation, please do not rely on laxatives for long periods as dependency can develop. senaSeek advice from your doctor about retraining your bowel. This is a public service announcement.) Anyway, as I was saying, the drunken, carousing groups of young men met at Senlac Hill and there, after more mead and ale had been consumed, the marron battle started, William against Harold.

It was Harold’s turn to aim first, but shock and horror! Live footage embroidered rapidly at the scene shows that Harold was cheating. He had two marrons!

Bayeux_Tapestry_scene57_Harold_death
This footage, embroidered by the marron championship correspondents live from the scene, clearly shows Harold cheating.

William’s men saw red. They saw other colours too, but predominantly red and furiously angry and totally tanked up on the alcohol, they broke every marron championship rule in the book and beat the shit out of Harold and his friends. In the affray Harold got a red hot poker shoved in his eye and William lost some of his clothes and damaged his ring. Then one of William’s friends took things too far, (there is always one), and skanked Harold with a broken mead jar.

Harold died.

The party broke up after that and the hung-over men slunk away to vomit behind bushes and sleep off the effects of the day.

William woke up later with the horrid, horrid memory of what had happened. Oh MERDE! What could he do? As hastily as his pounding head would allow he opened an eye and then, much later, another. Groaning he sat up. Bodies were all around him, dead, dying, sleeping, groaning, spewing Saxons, Normans. All a great jumble of stinking hungover men. It looked like a battle field.

A battlefield?

As fast as his inebriated brain would process it, he realised that was the answer. Deny it was a stag party and insist that it had been an intentional invasion. The murder of the king could then be passed off as him having been killed in rightful combat!!

He tried to smile. It didn’t work. Some hangovers are like that. Not smiling he called the embroiderers to him and with a hefty pay off he got them to tweak a few bits of their tapestry interpretation of the day showing him not as William the Conkerer, but William the Conqueror.

William became king, but forever mourned the best marron fighting partner he had ever had. Under Norman rule, Angle-land became  très Frenchified, altering the language forever although here in England we now call marrons ”conkers

Source material:

A bit of old hessian I found in the garage

A small square of calico

Linen

I read a few books too.

Conkers-Featured

© Jeff Jefferty Jeff 6th October 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle building through the ages

I was in the middle of a meeting. We were discussing why so many mediaeval castles were in ruins, dilapidated and falling down. Did those old kings just build broken castles, were they bad builders or was there some other reason that as yet had not been contemplated?

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The topic turned to why castles were so often in out of the way places and so often were very hard to find.  Why oh why could those old kings not have indicated the post code of their old broken castles on their old mediaeval documents?

I was thinking of these weighty issues as I left the meeting and not thinking at all about the young person who hangs around the house. He telephoned in a panic. The freezer in the student digs had broken down and there, rapidly defrosting, were 400 plus chicken nuggets. What could he do?

Having pondered the problem during the drive home, the 6 o’clock news, the glass of G and T, the dinner, I eventually turned to Google…

Not helpful!

No hints or tips or conclusions how to use up four hundred plus of the world’s worst culinary mistakes.

Thinking, as only a satirist can, out of the box, I eventually came up with a cunning plan. ‘Baldric’ I called… (forgetting that I was not Blackadder)… ‘I have a cunning plan’.

Baldric gently explained that he was a screen character and he was the one who came up with the cunning plans, so that firmly scuppered, I went back to the drawing board.

It was hard and cold trying to sleep on that drawing board, but by morning I had a solution. I also had goose bumps.

For this you will need four hundred chicken nuggets and four hundred (plus) cocktail sticks.

Spray paint.

Authentic landscape.

Place cocktail sticks in nuggets.

Bake at 100 degrees Celsius for 7 hours until rock hard.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Spray paint the nuggets in a stone grey and brown paint.

Allow to dry.

Join nuggets together using the cocktail sticks.

Place on landscape of pretend grass.

Market as Ruined Mediaeval Fort for small children.

The castle I built today.

The above photo is one I built earlier.

The amazing simplicity and beauty of this interlocking system is that many other types of left over or prematurely defrosted food can be used this way, therefore creating whole villages and shires for sale on eBay.

chicken-nuggets
Care MUST be taken with assembly or the whole thing lacks the authentic Mediaeval Castle look. The builder of this example is having further training.

One could also organise day trips to the ‘place’ and target wealthy people with more money than sense (except for the potential down side: get caught and imprisoned for fraud,) but some masterpieces are now changing hands for an amazing amount of money.

Ruined castleSo by accident I had solved the problems discussed at the meeting. Castles were hard to find as they exist solely in toy boxes and appear ruined simply because the ‘builder’ ran out of chicken nuggets!

I realise now there have been clues right in front of my eyes, like the advert from a world renowned burger chain that reads ”Live like a King – 10 chicken nuggets for only £1.49”

Digest and enjoy.

Sources:

Most often tomato, usually at extra cost.

© Jeff Jefferty Jeff 04/09/15

The Black Dahlia Murder: The Truth.

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Baby New Zealand White Rabbit. (Strictly speaking this picture has not a lot to do with this blog, but you may like some light relief to go ”aw” at.)

Hollywood. Tinsel Town. A town of smoke and mirrors, the epicentre of a global entertainment industry, but along with the glitz and the glamour, Tinsel Town has a darker side – one of dirty tricks, cover-ups and even murder

Hollywood is all about deception, always.

For more than a century Hollywood’s glamour, its people, its money has captivated people from around the world. Movies have as much power today as they did when they first hit the screens. When entering a cinema we are transported by from our humdrum existence to a world, literally as well as figuratively, much, much larger then real life as we gaze past the head of the person in front to the star who we are temporarily in love with.

With so much money and power flowing through the town many believe there were – and still are – people who would do anything to advance their interests and then cover it up in a passel of lies. That may be the clue to why Hollywood is so fascinating; you cannot believe anything about it and yet you want to so you do, you suspend disbelief to soak up what can only be described as Fairy Stories.

The ‘tradition’ of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story comes from Hollywood’s golden era, the 1930s and 1940s when names and biographies were invented for the ‘big names’ to portray the squeaky clean image that Hollywood required, with agents and producers working closely with Police to keep their stars out of trouble and their reputation unsullied. Indiscretions that broke every one of the Ten Commandments and invented another ten were not so much as hinted at, unless it was in the interests of the Powers That Be to so do.

It was into this place of outward glamour and clean living, bling, colour, sparkle and glitz that twenty two year old Elizabeth Short walked in 1946 hoping for an opening in films. She was an attractive, slim but well formed girl, with clear blue eyes and deep brown hair, her looks marred only by badly decayed teeth.

Like so many hopefuls, Elizabeth failed to find work as an actress and was employed as a waitress, (a job which does actually involve a fair amount of acting as I can testify from my own experience as a student.) She claimed she had been engaged to an airman who had died and whilst there is no evidence to suggest that she was ever a prostitute, she certainly used her blue eyes and charm to persuade men to lavishly subsidize her income.

Her big break came on New Year’s day 1947 when she met Harry Blackstove Sr., a courtly, ‘old school’ magician and illusionist. In the town where deception was a way of life, mind over eye tricks such as his were elaborate and sought after. Among his especially effective illusions was one in which a girl lay on a divan, draped with a gossamer shroud and then seemed to float high in the air and then disappear as Blackstove pulled off the shroud. In another illusion, a woman stepped into a cabinet in front of many bright, clear, lights. When the magician suddenly pushed the perforated front of the cabinet backward the light bulbs protruded through the holes in the front of the box (to the accompaniment of the lady’s chilling screams). The cabinet was then rotated so that the audience seemed to see the lady impaled by splinters of filaments.

Great_Blackstone_at_the_Pantages

His ‘sawing a woman in half’ involved an electric circular saw some three or four feet round mounted on a swing-down arm. Blackstove demonstrated the efficacy of the device by sawing noisily through a thick piece of wood. Then a female assistant was placed on the saw table in full view, as wide metal restraints were clamped upon her middle section. The blade whirred and appeared to pass through her body, as ripping sounds were heard, the woman shrieked and particles of what seemed to be flesh were scattered by the whirring blade. When the blade stopped she, of course, rose completely whole and unharmed.

Goldin's_illusion_1_svg
Join the dots to get a straight line.

Harry was looking for a new assistant to tour with him, his previous lady accomplice being so ‘great with child’ that the restraint no longer did fastened and Elizabeth seemed perfect for the position. She gave a week’s notice at the diner and undertook a rigorous week of training with Harry for her new role.

She was perfect!

ElizabethShortBlackDahlia

Harry also had another assistant, a large New Zealand White rabbit that for reasons unknown he called Rampant. Rampant Rabbit was the atypical stage magician’s rabbit, adept at popping out of hats and from sleeves at the right moment.

Everything seemed good in the lives of Harry, Elizabeth and Rampant.

But on the morning of January 15, 1947, the unclothed body of Elizabeth Short was found on waste ground in Leimert Park, Los Angeles. Local mother Betty Bersinger discovered the corpse about 10:00 am. and first thought it was a discarded shop display dummy. When she realized it was a naked body she rushed to a nearby house and telephoned the police.

Short’s body was completely severed at the waist and drained entirely of blood. The body also had obviously been washed by the killer. The lower half of her body was positioned a foot away from the upper, and her intestines had been tucked neatly under her buttocks.

It did not take the coroner long to rule out suicide and a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown was recorded. Short soon acquired the nick name The Black Dahlia from newspapers in the habit of nicknaming crimes they found particularly lurid. It may have been derived from a film noir murder mystery, The Blue Dahlia released the previous year.

Black-Burgundy-Dahlia-Flower-350
What a black dahlia really looks like.

There’s never been a shortage of suspects in the Black Dahlia murder — but even after sixty eight years police have never been able to pin the crime on any of them.

Here is, however, a reason for that.

Elizabeth Short was NOT murdered!

The ‘sawing a woman in half’ illusion went badly, badly wrong. Rampant Rabbit, fed up with sitting in a top hat, decided to investigate and hopped out and spying what he thought was food, nibbled through the hemp rope that was holding the safety guard in place. The safety guard zoomed up, the circular saw buzzed down and with a whir and a shower of entrails, Elizabeth Short was no more.

The magician panicked. Had he telephoned the ambulance or the police he may have got away on a rap of accidental death, but all he could think of was the dead woman, a murder rap, the electric chair and his own death. Freezing like a rabbit in the headlights (not Rampant – some other rabbit) he was unable to think or function for hours and then suddenly had a brilliant idea. In this town of many murders and hidden crimes one more stiff on a vacant lot would not be a big deal, but a world renowned magician cutting a woman in half for real? Why, he would never get a booking again!

He carefully washed the dead girl and stripped her, not for any sexual reason of his own but to make it seem like a sexually motivated murder. Under cover of darkness he loaded his van with some large illusion ‘furniture’ and concealed the two bits of the Black Dahlia beneath the self same gossamer shroud that she had lain under for the illusion just that afternoon.

He seemed to drive for hours looking for a dark and lonely place to dump her but at saw that Leimert Park was deserted. Getting out he looked this way and that and seeing no one he dragged the legs out and carefully put her intestines under her bottom – he was a very neat and tidy man. He was just dragging the top half into position when a police car siren could be heard somewhere near, so he left it where it lay a short way away from the legs and jumping in his van fled the scene.

As for Rampant, he went on to father 14,003 babies who in their turn have populated the United States with a further 2, 749, 307 rabbits, all of whom have a passion for hemp – the rope variety of course!

rabbit-antibodies-polyclonal-antibodies
Rampant rabbit relaxing after living up to his name.

Source material

Hemp rope making for intermediates (Adult education night school course)

Hemp by B. Stoned (purchased by accident.)

Fifty years in the saddle by Major Bumsaw

Trying to get tidy by Ina Mess

Insect Bites by Amos Kito

The photograph of the Black and Burgundy Dahlia was taken from the website http://www.fiftyflowers.com

© Jeff Jefferty Jeff August 12th 2015.

(Aha! The glorious 12th, when all self respecting game birds hide. This is my sort of game bird .blend_fam2 Anyone for some Famous Old Grouse?)

Rameses the Great

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Osirid statues of Ramses III at his temple in Karnak (in the first courtyard of the Great Temple of Amun) with what appears to be a Leprechaun in the foreground.

Rameses the Great was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is often talked of as the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. Later generations of Egyptians referred to him as the Great Ancestor.

Son of Seti, he was born around 1303 BC and died in 1213 BC. His reign lasted from 1279 to 1213 BC. His great longevity was one of the factors that led to his renown, living until the age of ninety when the average age at death was 54 years for men and 58 for women. This lengthy life and reign enabled him to leave a much richer legacy to Egyptologists than many of the shorter reigning Pharaohs.

Double history Rameses the Great
Rameses the Great with a bottle kiln on his head reading Braille.

Much of his life and work is still being sifted and catalogued. Of particular interest is a series of 15 leather-bound papyrus codices found buried by a French archeo palaeontologist in a sealed jar on the banks of what he calls ‘De Nile’, strangely echoing the later Nag Hamedi find (except that was not found on the banks of De Nile by a  Cairo dwelling Frenchman.)

The writings in these codices comprise mostly religious treatises but two stand out by their extraordinary difference. The first appears to be what we would describe as a cookery book. It is a series of papyri in Hieroglyphics which are believed to be in Pharaoh’s own hand. However unlikely this may seem Pharaohs could and did write. It would not be seemly for a ruler to be an uneducated man and this Pharaoh was particularly accomplished in writing, drawing, mathematics, logic and what we would call science. He was also a dab hand at cooking! He loved his food as is evidenced in the second of the unusual papyri which is in two parts.

For the high ranking in Egypt at this time, the diet was varied and interesting; some meat, fish, water fowl, vegetables, fruit, beer and wine were part of their regular diet, as was the bread in one of its many forms. The Egyptians used condiments and spices familiar to us: salt, cumin (tpnn – tepenen), dill (jms.t – ameset), coriander (Saw – shaw), vinegar (HmD – hemedj) and lettuce seeds. Mustard was also grown in Egypt and cinnamon and rosemary were used widely.

These bounty days were not to last however and the first known labour strike in recorded history occurred during the twenty ninth year of Ramesses III’s reign, when the food rations for the Egypt’s  royal craftsmen and tom builders in the village of Set Maat her imenty Waset could not be provided. Something, possibly a volcanic eruption, prevented sunlight from reaching the ground and stunted tree growth for almost two  decades until 1140 BC. The result in Egypt was a substantial increase in grain prices under the later reigns of Ramesses VI–VII, whereas the prices for fowl and slaves remained constant.

The first part of the papyri is a list of all the meals, foods, condiments and chefs that he held in high esteem and includes some wonderful tips on economy and thrift in times of paucity of food.

The second part of this document lists all the foods he abhorred, the meals that had not worked out well and the chefs he had had to have punished for producing abysmal dishes. Throughout the document we can hear Rameses voice as clearly as if he were speaking to us today. He is outspoken, his words are angry and he uses Egyptian curses and swear words with amazing regularity.

Channel 4 TV here in the UK is currently filming a series about this document. The document and series is entitled ‘’Rameses’ Kitchen Nightmares’’…

Need I say more?

Source: There is no one universally accepted definition for the source de Nile.

Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff is missing Mrs JJ and wishing he knew how to make friends and influence people. The two small people who hang around the house are staying with their Aunty Margaret in Burgundy and even the dog does not exist, except in JJ’s imagination.

He has been writing this whilst listening to two pieces of music:

The Lark Ascending, by Vaughn Williams

The Lark Going Back Down Again by William Vaughns

lark

The feature photograph is of Rameses sparking up a primitive cigarette.

© Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff 21.05.15

Saint Richard? Miracles in Leicestershire!

Last weekend, Easter weekend, I went to visit my cousin Jess and her husband Jezz in Tamworth. Jess suggested that we drove to Shackerstone, about 20 miles away, to the Railway Museum and maybe to have a ride on the wonderfully restored steam railway.

My own inclination was to sit in a quiet country pub and drink copious quantities of Real Ale and  so we went to the Railway Museum.

Thank you Jess.

Shenton Station
Shenton Station

Despite my slight reluctance, it was a very interesting and enjoyable trip and after picking up our cars at Shackerstone, we parted as I had to drive to London. This is when I realised where I was! Just fifteen days before King Richard III had been taken along this very route on his final journey, a procession from Fenn Lane Farm to the wonderful cathedral in Leicester, where he was to be  interred.

Richard III route

In case you have not heard of this unusual event – it was not very well publicized and hardly any one knew about it –  Richard III, a Mediaeval King, died in battle in 1485, came briefly among us and shared his secrets, told us what he ate and the illnesses he suffered, suggested to us his hair colour and body weight and wowed the ladies both young and old, before his time on earth again was over and he was returned to the soil from whence he came (or quite close to it anyway).

Driving along this processional Richard III route I noticed something strange and a little magical. Everywhere I looked trees were bursting into leaf; chestnut, crab apple, beech …taking on a vibrant green mantle along their branches, clothing themselves in leaf.

Crab Apple BudHorse Chestnutbeech

 

 

 

 

The Willow, Salix caprea, was covered with furry looking Pussy Willows, desirable for flower arranging but a bane to hay fever sufferers when the pollen starts to blow, but oh! how spectacular on this bright day.

Pussy Willow

Baby rabbits were hopping in the fields

Jeff the rabbit
Jeff the baby rabbit, from the recent article in the Metro. The baby rabbits that Jeff the adult man saw were a lot, lot smaller than this, (or that is a normal sized baby rabbit and a very tiny child. )

and lambs frolicked with their mother

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I really was enjoying all of the splendour of nature and felt what a pity it was that the hedgerows and fields had not been so abundant 15 days previously for the journey of the king. Even the flowers were showing their colours, shy violets peeping, primulas unfurling their primrose petals, jonquil escapees from gardens making little  sunshine patches in the green.2015-04-07 14.23.08 2015-04-07 14.26.19 2015-04-02 15.58.35

It was then that I began to wonder a strange and wondrous thought. Maybe Richard had not missed all of these miraculous happenings. Maybe he had caused them! Fifteen days before there had been no leafy buds, no lambs or baby rabbits, no flowers and now there were! What had changed?

HE had traversed this route.

Could Richard III be causing miracles to happen?

I stopped the car and tried to access Google. Of course I couldn’t. Richard may be able to make miracles happen in nature, but even he cannot get an internet connection in rural Leicestershire!

Later, safely in a hotel room, I found the Facebook pages I was after. Fans of the dead king were convinced that he should be canonised for his unerring goodness. Maybe they were right! Maybe this mere man, just a normal king, did have magical or miraculous powers.

He, Richard, was most certainly the instigator, the very cause of the splendiferous nature display I enjoyed and witnessed that day. I consulted Wikipedia on how to make this king into a Saint and consequently wrote (not emailed) to the Pope.  Although the Pope does not make someone a saint – the designation of sainthood only recognises what is already there – I hope that he will respond favourably and try and progress this.

Miracles happened all along this saintly man’s processional route. His sainthood cannot be denied.

I hope to go to his tomb in Leicester Cathedral next week. I need a miracle to cure this ingrowing toenail.

Miraculous baby duck on a Leicestershire pond

(Source material is unavailable.

Cotton material and a bit of velvet material is available.)

Photographs are from http://homepage.ntlworld.com/candj_simmons/SHENTONS.HTM

The Hinckley Times

Wikipedia

Author’s own collection

© Jeff “Jefferty” Jeff: 09.04.2015

Was Richard III dig a hoax? Leicester council worker’s tale.

To prevent Brides digging Richard up prematurely LCC cannily ensured that his remains were hidden under a car park.
To prevent Brides digging Richard up prematurely LCC cannily ensured that his remains were hidden under a car park.

His story was a strange one.

Very strange.

Believable?

I will allow you to judge.

He had worked for Leicester city council until his – I could hear the quote marks around the next word, “accident”… and then … but I get ahead of myself.  I will begin at the beginning.

I was sitting in the waiting room of a famous burns unit somewhere in England having lost a fight with a chip pan, when this small and elderly man came in hobbling painfully on two sticks, his face and hands as badly deformed by the scars of burns as the face of the racing driver Nicki Lauder.

The only vacant chair was by me and the man came slowly towards it and with difficulty sat down and rested his sticks. He turned his head towards me and I realised he was trying to smile an acknowledgement or apology for me moving my paper to make room for his bottom and I gave a warm smile in response.

The clinic was running late and as gradually we began talking I noticed that his voice was young and that the apparent age was caused by his disfigurements.

He burbled on. I was only half listening but I felt he was lonely and was saying yes and no, hopefully in the right places. His voice continued – ‘generally, we repaired places of historic importance straight away – blah blah – if  they are beyond repair then they should be replaced on a like for like basis – burble blah – like for like means same materials, design and level of craftsmanship’…

and so on and so on – and I was wishing fervently that my name would be called when my ears perked up – ‘Greyfriars, that was the one,’ he was saying.

I knew the name! Some history bloke had written a book a bit ago and said it was important. The man and I were talking in February 2013 and by that time Greyfriars was very, very  important, suddenly shooting to global fame with the discovery of a medieval king, Richard III, in the car park the previous year. Just the day before there had been a news conference confirming that the DNA had proved that the remains were indeed that of the long dead king.

‘We found him,’ he said, ‘me and the team, we –‘

At that point my name was called and it was my turn to see the consultant.  ‘Wait for me,’ I said, ‘We can go for a coffee after you have been seen.’ His eyes looked hopeful and then resigned. He did not expect that he would get either the coffee or to tell the rest of his tale, but tell it he did over enough coffee to refloat the Titanic.

His name was Dimitri Shukla (– my parents took the idea of United Nations into their own hands, said Dimitri whose father is second generation Indian and his mother Russian. ) He worked as overseer on site for Leicester City Council, his main area of responsibility being historic monuments and carparks. Car parks! That was where the problem had started.

It was in the spring of 2011 and the carpark of the council office worker’s building in the centre of Leicester was pitted deeply with pot holes following the icy conditions of the long winter of discontent and bitter cold of 2010 and 11.

The city’s finances were in a mess (a bit like my own) with far more going out than was coming in and no way to make the books look better in the foreseeable future. Revenue was desperately needed. Tourists were bored with Leicester and the only thing of interest to see was a crisp factory.

A ‘must see’ sight on the Leicester tourist trail.

Brave words hide a sorry story. You may look at the complete statement of account at http://www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council-services/council-and-democracy/key-documents/annual-accounts/ but I would recommend that you pass on that dubious pleasure and get a life.

Dimitri and his team were told to ‘make good’ the council workers car park as the workers, social service personal, were revolting. His words, not mine.

Work began on 1st April 2011. Dimitri looked into the distance as he told the next bit, obviously still worried about telling his tale. He and the three man gang were to remove the existing tarmac and resurface. No sooner had the digger started when the shovel uncovered a bone, two bones, a whole skeleton. ‘‘We felt awful’’ he said with a shudder, ‘‘The JCB had punched a hole in this poor skeleton’s head and there he was all naked and boney and laying there. I called the boss at Glenfield and he said not to go offsite. One of the office workers came towards the window and then suddenly all the blinds were drawn.

Greyfriars,_Leicestershire_Council_Offices_building Credited to Greyfriars, Leicestershire Council Offices building by RobinLeicester
Greyfriars, Leicestershire Council Offices Building Credited  to Robin Leicester

“We were all sat round and not allowed offsite and there was this bloody thing in the hole we had dug, with its empty sockets just staring at us and that mouth grinning like he was laughing.  Lost a tooth, it had. Laying all twisted and broken up a bit I reckon.’’

Dimitri was getting very worked up so I suggested a bite to eat and a chat about something else. The food – pastrami and gherkin with mustard mayo on rye – he accepted but the offer of another subject he rejected. I was glad. I wanted to hear the rest of the saga.

‘’The boss, Mr M, arrived and saw the body – the skeleton. I told him we had to call the police. I watch Time Team. They always call the police when they find human remains but Mr M said no, he’d call his superior and we must just wait.

‘it didn’t seem right. It was all wrong. This human laying there dead and us not telling the police or a pastor or someone.

‘’Waited most of the bloody morning, we did and then Mr M gets a call and another call and then three  other suits from Glenfield all turn up and start looking in the hole and talking and arguing. Me and the lads, we needed a drink and we needed a p**s, but no, we weren’t allowed off site.

‘’Jase (I gathered Jase was one of the workmen) gets out his phone and one of them suits just dives at him and chucks it in the hole with the bones, then he says to put a tarpaulin over it and to go home and not say nothing to no one.

“Jim and Jase went in the van together and Stuey set off on his bike. My car was in for its MOT and it’s not far to the bus so I was about to set off walking when Mr M catches me up and pulls me round sharpish and says ‘Dim, you not to tell anybody this or you are finished here. No reference. No job. No future. No nothing.’

“ I was shocked. Mr M isn’t a bad sort for management and I just didn’t know what had had got into him. He looked scared sh*tless himself. Grey under his South of France tan.

“ Just then there was a squeal of breaks and Stuey went sailing past the gate, his bike following in a rainbow wheeled arch. Thud. Screeches, yells, shouts screams. Me and Mr M, we rushed for the gate and there was Stuey without a head in a mangled mess on the bonnet of a Skoda. Police. Ambulance. Sirens. The rest is a blur. A nightmare. Cops asking questions, Mr M saying we aint seen anything, protecting himself or protecting me? I don’t know. I remember Mr M saying he’d give me a lift back to the house I share with me mam and I remember her fussing and making me some tea in Great Grannies old Samovar that she only uses for special occasions.

“All that afternoon, all that evening, the phone was ringing, anonymous callers, breathers, scarers frightening  poor mam, laughter, deranged laughter. It was a nightmare, the memory of the bones, the thought of mangled Stuey, the calls. I wept. I’m not ashamed to tell you I wept and wept and me mam she just sat there and stroked my head like I was a baby.

“Worse was to follow.

“Central News came on the television. Jase and Jim had been killed outright in a hit and run incident on the way home.

 

“Three of us – dead.” Tears formed in his lashless eyes and one oused it’s way down his scarred and withered cheek.

“The knock came at the door at 7 p.m. I knew it would be ‘them’ waiting to get me but it was Mr M battered, blooding heavily one finger hanging by a lump of flesh. Mam, she pushed past me to get the poor man off the doorstep – she was proud of her clean doorstep – genuflecting at her iron crucifix in the Prie Dieu as she went.

“What happened next is in tatters, in fragments in my mind. A shot, Mr M goes down with a bullet through his head jolting mam, the crucifix fell from the Prie Dieu impaling her through the jugular and a bottle came whizzing past my ear.

“Jesus saved our mam” he said, “Saved her”.

“You mean she lived with a heavy cast iron crucifix through her jugular?” I asked incredulous. Dim looked bewildered…

“No. Not mam. She was dead long before she hit the ground but Jesus saved her from seeing her little  Dimitri Varunovitch like this. He was merciful to her, was Jesus.”

Molotovin_cocktail
Molotov Cocktail, similar to the bottle bomb that Dimitri described

For once I was speechless but gathered myself enough to ask about the bottle. “It hit the wall and seemed to implode” he said, “I know nothing more. Months later I came out of a coma and found my body…” he indicated his battered livid and red scarred flesh,  “I’ve been moved from hospital to hospital ever since. I’m still in one.”

He paused. “I didn’t remember my name at first and no one knew it as I was unrecognizable so when the horror came back into my mind I decided to stay unknown. They call me John Smith now.

“Last year they announced on the news that they had found that dead king, but Mr. Jeff, it was a hoax. It was me and the lads that found him and they tried to shut us up by any way they could till they got the maximum publicity. They need the money, you see. Money is all it is about.

“Murdering bastards’’.

Two men in hospital uniform approached the table. “Ready, Mr. Smith? Time to go home.” I saw their identification badges. Nurses from a psychiatric hospital.

“Has he been weaving his tales again?” one asked of me, “Great story teller is our John,” and they took him by both arms and walked him out of the room.

 

Jeff ‘Jefferty’ Jeff has recovered from the burn to the hand, but has not attempted deep fat frying since. Mr Shukla aka Mr Smith was never heard of again (except occasionally on Facebook someone  who may be Mr Shukla under an assumed name insists that the dig was a hoax.)

 

Source material

A bag of Walker’s crisps.

A bag of  McCoy’s Crisps

Finding Richard III, the unofficial account; by eminent mediaevalist Dr Don Ashtray-Pill

A kettle of fish

A bag of Kettle crisps

“Greyfriars, Leicester site” map by Hel-hama

© Jeff ”Jefferty” Jeff: March 4th 2015

A very merry Christmas to you all! Richard and the Brussels Sprout.

Merry Christmas to you all.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, and most of all healthy, New Year.

When Mrs JJ flounced off to her mother’s last week, she took with her the key to the cupboard with all the baubles and dangles and sparkly things and streamers and bunting and angels sans wings, so Christmas was looking bleak in the Jefferty-Jeff household until I came across a large and knobbly thing with a ‘use by 25th December 2014’ sticker on it. It also had a sticker on saying ‘Reduced to 83p.’ Mrs JJ, despite her faults and playing bridge and being bad at cooking (and that occasional funny smell,) is a most remarkably thrifty lady. She often spends pounds saving money.

Assuming by the use day date that this is one of her more bizarre ideas for Christmas decorating I have improvised to make the humble home look as festive as possible and I want to share my ‘Thing’ that adorns the hall in Chez Jefferty with you all and invite you to raise a glass of red with me to celebrate.2014-12-22 14.53.18

Do any of you realise that is was Richard the III who made Brussels Sprouts a traditional English Christmas meal food? When he and Edward had to flee to the Low Countries they had no money. Edward even had to pay for the sea voyage with the coat off his back. Desperately hungry they made their way to Brussels, sleeping in ditches and eating where they could. Some days the only food they could find were small cabbages – sprouts up a stalk of a Brassica.

That Christmas was cold and they were hungry and lonely and they were sitting around the fire cooking snow for Christmas dinner when someone tripped and dropped the small cabbage they were all sharing into the cooking post. After weeks of cold, hard and half-frozen small cabbages the taste of the overcooked, mushy, smelly green thing was such a welcome change that they vowed to take some back to England and always have them for Christmas day for ever more.

Eating sprouts at Christmas became law in 1479 and despite the Puritans trying to get the law abolished in the late sixteenth century, the statute still exists and that is why still we all have to eat Brussels Sprouts at Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Original source material and references:

Morrison’s own ‘Orange and Lemon Jelly Slices’ (85g)

Wikipedia

Phillippa Gregory.

A Christmas card my Aunty Pat sent me.

A car parking ticket from the city centre.

Santa Claus and all his Elves.

The Radio Times Chistmas (2013 edition.)

© Words and picture: Jeff Jefferty Jeff December 24th 2014