A multi-media triptych in which Dr. Bayou visits the North of England and is somewhat discombobulated by what he finds
Part the First
I’ve been to York.
Plain old York, so good that anywhere else they would have named it at least twice. But Yorkshire folk are nothing if not down to earth and practical. Needless embellishment is for those as have too much time on their hands and too little sense in their heads. One word. One syllable. That’s quite enough.
In a city so redolent with history I was fully expecting encounters with the past at every turn.
After all, the Romans had marched up from Lincoln.
Bringing with them a cohort of hard drinking thespians.
Then the Vikings sailed up the Ouse bringing Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.
Me, I brought the kids on the 9.35 East Coast Trains service from Kings Cross.
What I didn’t expect was to keep being reminded of Paul Scholes.
There I was, wandering through the Jorvik Centre soaking up the Vikings, when I started to read about Old Norse and its links with our language of today only to be informed that Scholes comes from the Norse, Skali, meaning hut, or something like that.
Mmm a hut you get hit by.
Then a day later I sat down in the warehouse section of the National Railway Museum, surrounded by an astonishing collection of railway related artefacts, looked up at the wall and there was a nameplate for the now defunct Scholes Station.
It was enough to send me running up onto the Moors…
Part the Second
But on further reflection I was glad to be in a walled city, protected by stout stone. For believe me, the Moors were not the place to be on Saturday night. Oh dear me no. Not because Kate Bush was up there, but because it was a full moon.
Did you pause to wonder why there wasn’t a 5.15 p.m. kick-off for anyone on Saturday? Imagine playing against Wolves as a bad moon rises.
No better to get it done and dusted with a 3 p.m. kick-off and then hurry home in the gathering gloom. And let’s not take that short-cut through Brompton Cemetery.
Sky had no intention of offering a hostage to fortune. Can you imagine Jamie Redknapp anxiously looking at Richard Keys and wondering if that was even more hair appearing from under his cuffs? Cut to the ads. Return to a bloodied Redknapp sitting there, gaping hole in his neck, windpipe exposed and the continuity girl trying to get the blood off Richard’s jaws.
Wolves. Through time there has been a duality in man’s relationship to the wolf. Today in the west they are very much symbols of man’s primordial fear of the natural and supernatural world that surrounds him and touchstones for unspoken psycho-sexual urges welling up from within. Portrayed in fables as preying on virginal innocence, representations of ever-present danger cloaked in the familiar.
I stood by the wolf compound in Whipsnade Zoo last year. There wasn’t an animal to be seen. Then suddenly out of the trees, a silvery shimmer, gliding stealth. Half a dozen wolves were padding noiselessly towards me. No more than a gentle disturbance on the surface of the light. I felt an involuntary chill and yet their beauty was overwhelming.
Back in the dark ages, to move away from the warmth and light of your fire meant being plunged into an all-encompassing darkness where predators and spirits moved through the forest, and every step took you into the unknown.
The werewolf, crystallised that terror. A terror made all the more intense by the knowledge that out there in the glare of the full moon you might fall to the curse. Not victim, but a beast yourself.
Several people seemed to be surprised at Wolves footballing abilities on Saturday. But the werewolf is a shapeshifter, capable of dramatic transformation. Mick and his boys can change at a moment’s notice.
Is there not something unsettlingly lupine about our Mick?
Part the Third
Anyway, safe within the city walls, sitting by a warming fire, with a 2-0 win safely tucked away, gave me an opportunity to put these dark imaginings to one side and reflect that Saturday was a Harvest Moon, a time for love and mellow reflection… (you gotta see the brushwork)
Perhaps we were fortunate to play Wolves on the Harvest Moon and not on the Wolf Moon this coming January, when maybe they will show their real form. Well, I’ve checked and thankfully we play them on the 5th January. That’s the day after the first New Moon of the year, a whole other story.
Staying with the mellow, my journey home was tinged with a little sadness when I read that the great mellifluous voice that was Gregory Isaacs, had gone. The Cool Ruler was no more. This was always going to be one of my Desert Island discs.
(Short biographical note: In the early 80s I was driving on the A23 through Purley. At a set of lights I pulled up next to a car being driven by Jenny Agutter, who stars in An American Werewolf in London.)