Percy Shaw. There’s a name to conjure with. Percy Shaw. Percy Shaw of Halifax, Yorkshire. I never met him, at least not when he was alive any road. But loads of us probably owe our lives to him. He invented the Cat’s eye, the little studs that sit in the middle of the road, and light up in the headlamps of a car. He patented them in 1934 and made a ruddy fortune out of them as he produced them in his own factory to government order for the rest of his life. But he was a proper Yorkshireman too, and his success never changed him a bit. He stayed in the same house, and continued to drink in the same pub (The Old Dolphin, in Queensbury, not to be Confused with the New Dolphin, Queensbury), and wasn’t a toff at all. Even when he went to get the OBE from the Queen. Bless him.
Yorkshire men are pretty inventive though. Some of them are any road. Not my Raymond. He couldn’t invent himself out of a paper bag. Not his fault, he was born like that. He didn’t have an inventive bone in his body. Arthur Knaggs the butcher was inventive though. He just didn’t invent anything worth taking out a patent on. He made a marvellous device for removing pigs’s eyes by suction. Most butchers used to gouge them out, but you wasted meat that way. He created a device from a bicycle pump and a funnel, that sucked them out clean, with a little pop, and placed them into a wax coated cotton bag underneath. He used to slip them to me for my little Yorkshire Terrier. The sight of those eyes got my Hairy Mary all quivering and drooly. If she thought that he had eyes for her, my Mary used to press herself up against his trouser leg and get it quite moist with her excitement. In later years he replaced the bicycle pump with a vacuum cleaner. He could walk down a line of carcasses with that in his hand and pop two dozen eyes out in a matter of seconds. He used to sell them to one of those beefburger companies, one of them that has a clown, along with all the other horrible bits, like tumors and stuff. I dunno what they did with them at all. What I do know is, he always kept a couple back to pop between the hungry lips of my little Hairy Mary. Just as an appetiser. He’d get my beef dripping and slip her a sausage too! Happy days
Doris’s Pop Pick of 1934: “With her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm” by Stanley Holloway” A cautionary Tale about Anne Boleyn – One of Henry the Eighth’s misuses. When I was a lass, if I was ever set on doing something that my Mother thought might be dangerous, she always used to say “Well – don’t come running to me with your head tucked underneath your arm.” I used to think that all dead people had their heads tucked under their arms. Now, of course, I know better.