Stay on the Road, Keep Clear o’ the Moors

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.

Harris, Crowe and O'Toole

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.

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.

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.

American Werewolf in London

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.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

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?

Mick McCarthy

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.)

There are 21 comments

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  1. PeteW

    There is so much here I don’t know where to begin other than bravo, and that York, werewolves, Jenny Agutter, Neil Young and Purley are among my very favourite things in all the world, for a whole variety of reasons.

  2. Der_Kaiser

    I can only echo Pete’s comment; Creedence and Kate Bush too – little more one could want on a grey Friday morning, especially having only crossed the A23 in Purley a couple of hours ago. Cap suitably doffed in a Blue Bayou direction.

  3. Anonymous

    What a fine use of the technological possibilities of our new home – and you managed to slip in a few gratuitous railway pics too.

    Speaking of Jenny Agutter on a biographical note too, I thought for years that we shared a birthday until I later discovered that the disreputable rag I had read it in – Sunday Mirror magazine I think – had mis-typed her birthday and we were only born in the same month.

    I still find it hard to get my head around the thought that I’m only days older/younger than both Jenny Agutter and Mel Smith of Alas Smith & Jones fame [ and Morons from Outer Space, sadly, but then as Joe E. Brown said, “Nobody’s Perfect”.]

  4. Anonymous

    I was invited to take part in a survey today

    It’s the mother of all surveys so only attempt it if you’ve got stamina.

    Under the personal profile section it asks skin colour, religion and sexual preference which I thought was a little nosy. I might have ticked some wrong boxes so presumably next season my season ticket seat will be relocated to be with the other oriental lesbians.

  5. bluebayou

    Jenny Agutter and Railways are of course conjoined forever in my mind.

    She was/is frozen in my imagination as one of the Railway Children and given my sheltered upbringing combined with a certain diffidence when it came to interaction with ladies, seeing JA removing her clothing at regular intervals thereafter just didn’t seem right. Waving your pants around to avert a transportation disaster was one thing. Getting your kit off was completely another (although I’m sure it was always purely to maintain the artistic integrity of the piece).

    Thankfully years of therapy have enabled me to normalise my relationships with women.

    It was also a good job Bernard Cribbins kept his clothes on throughout an illustrious career or I’d have been entirely lost.

  6. bluebayou


    It’s like letting the little old lady behind you in the queue put all your manly “purchases” on her tesco club card..

  7. Anonymous

    I never quite got over feeling a bit shameful about Jenny Agutter, myself being an ongoing victim of Moist Eye Syndrome, whenever I hear those fateful words ‘Daddy…my Daddy’…..go on, admit it, you’re welling up just reading them! The guilt goes from seeing her as innocent young teenage girl waving knickers and saving lost schoolboys, into nubile vampire nurtuing nurse. Even her recent Spooks appearances showed she has a certain…….mature allure. Aaah the perils of approaching the half century.

    Neil Young – best ever tune for me is Like a Hurricane, magnificent for cycling to. Always had a crush on Kate Bush as well….I think David Gilmour might have had as well, being as he gave her a sort of ‘friendly Uncle’ career boost wioth use of studios etc. As for railways…..we have a staion near to us on The Watercress Line, called Medstead and Four Marks…even the name is good…which is utter chocolate box stuff, straight from the days of The Railway Children in every way. I’ve enjoyed many a Christmas Santa Special watching my daughters get excited over St Nick, whilst me and pa in law did similar over the engine.

    BB – a splendid friday pick me up. Merci beaucoup pour votre contribution a propos le chemin de fer!!!

  8. PeteW

    Two related anecdotes.

    1 The letters editor of Time Out used to make up letters about Agutter purely so he could put pictures of her on his page every week. Nobody complained.

    2 I once had a run in with Mel Smith during a screening of his godawful film ‘Black Ball’. I had consumed a number of beverages before the screening and had to nip to the loo. When I came back I spied an empty chair with a prime view and plonked myself down. Problem: this was Smith’s chair and he had only temporarily vacated it.On his return, he scowled at me and jerked his thumb in an aggressive ‘hop it’ gesture. I responded in print, by slagging off his film and calling him a human beanbag.
    This is how journalism works.

    • bluebayou

      Warren was seriously considered but ended on the cutting room floor. It’s a rigorous editing process before work of this quality can see the light of day, I can tell you.

      Staggered that Misty Morning Albert Bridge and other Pogues stuff never made it on the list but pleased with Number 29 in the light of recent postings.

      If they think Little Ilford Park is anywhere near Manor House they’re going to struggle to get around.

  9. FanSinceTheSixties

    That was odd.Logged on expecting to find the latest buzz on the trip to Blackburn and instead I’ve been transported to a realm inhabited by werewolves, ginger assassins lingering adolescent crushes.That’s what trainspotting can do for you.Splendid work, and still relevant – it’s all about what goes on Up North anyway.

  10. Clive

    I sometimes wonder when I read this wonderful blog, if someone has slipped me some rather tasty hallucinogens. That’s not to say I know what the said effects are of such things, but one can only but imagine.
    Perhaps I need a visit to BB’s clinic for psychiatric evaluation, you’re never alone with Schizophrenia are you?

    Still, wonderful read and assorted clips!

  11. FanSinceTheSixties

    Frank’s still out, but Alex is available and Ramires is possible.

    Now that Jose is also in the frame, we’re starting to get the squad back in time for the next bit of mid-week congestion.

      • Clive

        I understand the sentiments Mark, but quite frankly I don’t give a damn on how we get 3 points. We didn’t deserve to lose against Citeh, and there will be upcoming games we’ll end up drawing, or losing when we don’t deserve to.

  12. Clive

    For all of the scientific theories, and uncertainties that surround quantum physics, with string theory, singularities, and higgs boson particles. It’s always good to know there’s one constant in the Universe that always remains… you can never rely on Spurs!

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