The Auntie Doris Years: 1904

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The reason that cheese had recently been added to the diet was that my Grandfather had got regular work on the Trawlers, with a captain called Walter who maybe had a bit more skill at finding the fish than some of the others. He would be gone for weeks on end, but more often than not, when the boat came back, it would be loaded with fish and he would have a full wallet with his share of the profits. My mother says that they even got a bit of meat in their sandwiches at those times, but then he was off again, and it would be back to dripping, cheese and jam, and grandmother would smile less often and look a lot more worried.

She had reason to an’all. There were plenty of blokes went out on them trawlers that never came back. People being swept off the decks in storms, and drowned, and other accidents happened quite regularly. There was nothing as bad as what happened that October though. My Grandfather was on the “Mino.” One night, right out in the North Sea, Walter called out”All hands on deck!” Come and have a look at this!” There was a great big battleship, so close to them, they could see the sailors on board it. They thought it was a British one. No other country could build a ship like that, surely. Britannia ruled the ruddy waves, everyone knew that. It had a big searchlight on, and it was sweeping it over the Mino and the other trawlers in the small fleet. My grandfather was grinning with his mates and waving his hat. Then there was a great explosion, and the funnel of the trawler had a ruddy great hole in it! “Ruddy Nora Boys, they’re not firing blanks” Walter shouted and everyone dropped to the floor hoping that they weren’t going to be shot, hoping that the boat wouldn’t sink and hoping that if neither of these things happened that they weren’t going to mess themselves.image

Twenty ruddy minutes them warships fired on them little trawlers. The captain and mate of one of them, the “Crane” had their heads blown off, poor fellers. Twenty minutes! Then they stopped firing and buggered off. Apparently, what had happened was that the Russian navy were in a bit of a panic. The Tzar had got them into a war with Japan, and they were not used to actual wars at sea, so they were all messing themselves and trigger happy. They were also all half sozzled because Vodka was, and probably still is, the main way that Russians deal with stress. If they had been sober, things could have been a lot worse for the trawlermen. Things would have probably been better for them too, as the Russian ships did plenty of damage to each other with their wild shooting.

It nearly started World War One ten years early though. The Russians had to grovel to get out of that one. Poor old Walter never recovered from the things he saw, he died the following year. But my grandfather carried on with the trawlers. He had to. His family had developed a taste for cheese. There’s a statue in honour of the captain and mate of the “Crane” and Walter in Hull. At the junction of the Boulevard and Hessle Road, near where my mother was brought up.

Auntie Doris’s top pop hit of 1904: “I Can’t Do My Bally Bottom Button Up” by Ernie Mayne. Music Hall was the magic of the age, and a Ernie Mayne was a big star. A big fat star, who had difficulty getting all his buttons fastened.

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Auntie Doris’s They Died Too Young #30: Screaming Lord Sutch – Died June 16th 1999, aged 58

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David Edward Sutch wasn’t really a Lord, he was one of them maniac depressives. That meant that he spent half his time sincerely believing he was a Lord, or at least deserved to be one, and that everybody loved him and he could do anything that he turned his mind to. Sadly he spent the other half of his time believing that he was a useless lump, who everybody hated, and that everything he attempted was a waste of ruddy time. That’s the problem with them maniac depressives, they spend their whole lives flipping between those two moods. It can only be controlled by tablets to a certain extent, so they are always susceptible to wild highs and desperate lows.
During one of the wild highs, in 1963, he had the idea of paying musical tribute to Jack the Ripper, the famous serial killer and disemboweller of women. It might have been a chart success too, if it hadn’t been banned by the BBC. He followed it with a load of shocking, horror themed songs and used to have a crack potted stage act, where he came out of a coffin and ramped about with a real dagger and all weird ruddy make up all over his face. That ruddy Alice Cooper nicked all of Screaming Lord Sutch’s ideas, and made a fortune out of them. But that’s showbusiness I suppose.
Unfortunately, whilst he was suffering a low, in 1999, Sutch temporarily lost sight of what a genius he was and how much people actually did love him. So he went and ruddy well hanged himself. He always had style though, so he used a multi coloured skipping rope to do the deed with, rather than anything dull.
And he was a far from dull character, was Sutch. He was a funny and entertaining musician, a flamboyant dresser, (he usually had one of them top hats on, even when he was in bed, probably) and the leader of the wonderful Monster Raving Loony Party, in which role he stood as a candidate in forty elections and bye elections up and down the country. He never won any of them, but he brought a bit of colour, character and even common sense to a lot of dull, boring, and idiotic contests. He even gave that ruddy Thatcher a run for her money in the 1983 General Election, so the miserable old bint went and raised the deposit that people had to pay before standing in elections, just to be spiteful.
He knew how to have a good time though. On the night before every election he contested, he would have a victory party, “in order to avoid the disappointment of not being able to have one if he lost” and carried on doing his pop concerts right until the end of his days. Poor bloke. A lot of funny people suffer with that maniac depression. Tony Hancock, Spike Milligans, and that Stephen Fry. It must be something in their water that makes them so good when they aren’t down in the dumps.