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“Historic Occasions”

by ‘Alfie’
‘Stills’ by Jock Orr

Editors may come, and editors may go, but that indefatigable body – the Belfry Bulletin; Scientific and Historical Research Unit – still presents its annual report, and once more creeps from its bat-infested garret to present yet another amazing piece of research to a bewildered public.

This year, by diligent search in old attics, rubbish dumps and the like, an enormous amount of old cine film has been unearthed and, by careful editing and splicing – and the consumption of vast quantities of ‘Sutton Red’, we proudly present a cinematic record of Historic Occasions in the childhood of various club members, for the edification of all.

The original intention was to provide each reader of the BB with a copy of the film; a projector and a screen.  This scheme has been vetoed on the flimsy grounds of expense.  In the face of this pinchpenny attitude, we must fall back on verbal description – although we confidently expect various cinema tycoons to vie with each other in securing the worldwide distribution rights.

On, to coin a phrase, on with the show: -

……..The camera reveals an outdoor scene.  A small, sturdy boy is standing by a table outside a pub on which a full pint glass has been left.  He looks around furtively.  Satisfied, he reaches up and grasps the glass in podgy little hands.  He raised it to his lips, a little unsteadily, and drinks – and drinks – and drinks.  With a sigh, he replaces the glass on the table above his little head.  He burps.  Suddenly, an expression of extreme anguish comes over his little infant face.  He bends double and is violently sick.  We have witnessed an Historic Occasion.  Alan Thomas has just drunk his first point of rough.

‘He looks around furtively’

……..Now we see a scene inside a pub.  A small group of serious faced young men are sitting around a table.  There is a single sheet of plain paper in front of them. They all stare at it.  “It’s no good”, says one of them.  “We have just got to think up a name for this club.  We can’t go on calling it ‘US’.  After all, the lot we have been calling ‘THEM’ for the last few years have just named themselves the Wessex Cave Club”.  There is a long pause.  One man finished his pint, looks in to the glass, and says, “How about the Beer Emptying Club?”  There is a sad shaking of heads.  “I like the initials,” says another.  There is general agreement on this, except for one member.  “What about the Westminster Speleological Society?” he suggests.  “Black mark,” replies the Chairman.  “They haven’t been invented yet.”  The offender collects all the glasses, and this makes it his round.

……..In a garden, a small boy is playing.  He has just taken his mother’s clothes airer to pieces and is tying all the round wooden rods together with strings.  He works away industriously.  At last he is finished.  He ties one end to the branch of a tree and begins to climb up the wooden rungs. Nearly at the top, the string breaks and he falls down.  “I shall never grow up to be a Tacklemaster at this rate,” sighs young Norman.

………Back to the pub again. The same group are sitting round the table on which is now a piece of paper with the initials B.E.C. written on it. All stare at it in silence.  “How about the Booze Education Club?” suggests a member at last.  “All our members already know how to drink,” replies the Chairman, “Which reminds me….” The offending member collects the glasses…..

………The scene is now a schoolroom in which a solitary boy sits writing lines.  The camera advances and we see what he is writing ‘I must not poke fun at Mr. Symes’ on each line.  He swears fluently under his breath as he writes.  Suddenly, he pushed the paper away, takes a clean sheet, and writes: -

This is the tale of Mr. Symes

Who made me write a thousand times

That fun I must not poke –

He stops; thinks, and mutters ‘Joke? Folk? Soak?’  The door opens, and a forbidding figure in cap and gown enters.  “What are you doing Collins” he says, “Nothing, Sir.” Replies the boy, crumpling the paper.  “I don’t think I’m old enough to write a speleode yet.”

………The camera now reveals a group of young choristers about to sing a hymn.  The face of one of the boys looks familiar.  The organ plays the first notes, and the boys start to sing, “when I survey….”  At this point, the boy we have seen noticing stops singing and, oblivious of the hymn being sung all around him, mutters, “That’ll be the day” and starts to doodle a Grade 1 survey of the North Transept in his hymnbook.  It is the Wig.

….The pub.  Now, someone has scrawled on the paper saying BEC the words ‘ Ban Easy Caves.’ The Chairman is speaking.  He is in a bad temper.  “Now that we had dealt suitably with the member who wrote that, has anyone any sensible suggestions to offer?”  One of the members is in a state of great excitement.  How about ‘Best Ever Club?’ he asks.  “It’s accurate, simple, and it conveys the feeling of the essential modesty for which we are noted.”  The Chairman scowls.  “Quite a little orator today – aren’t you?” he sneers.  “It won’t do”.  “Why not? “You should never state the obvious,” replies the Chairman, handing his empty glass to the member in question.

…..Now we see a children’s party.  A small girl has just recited her party piece, and an equally small boy is being pushed into the centre of the room.  He looks round; takes off his jacket, and starts in a clear, high voice: -

‘She was as beautiful as a butterfly
And as proud as a queen
Was pretty little Polly Perkins
Of Paddington Green.’

Yes, it is Norman again.

……Another schoolroom scene. The room is full of small boys at their desks, their heads bent over their work.  The master is walking between the rows of desks, glancing at the boy’s work.  He stops; frowns, and speaks.  “Bagshaw!” He says, “What was the problem I gave you to solve?”  Repeat it boy.”

Dutifully the boy answers – “A club has assets of £50.  It receives a donation of £20.  What are its assets now?”  The master pauses and collects the attention of the class.  “Why then, Bagshaw, is your answer £60?”  You have got it wrong.”  A cunning leer diffuses itself over the boy’s face.  “It’ll work, sir” he announces confidently, “It’ll work.”

…..Once more, the pub. All members are showing signs of extreme frustration.  The paper still contains only the letters B.E.C.  A member speaks.  “What about Bagshaw’s Exploration Club,” he suggests.

Very close replies the Chairman.  “Very good indeed, but not quite right.”  The member reaches for the Chairman’s glass.  “No need for that” replies the Chairman, actually smiling.  With a look of amazement, the member sits down again. Suitably emboldened, another member speaks.  “How about the Building Erecting Committee?

There is a silence. “Again ahead of time again!” sighs the Chairman.  There is a shout of “Usual penalty” as the member rises to collect all the glasses.

…..A boy sits in a very small room, regarding the clean, painted surface of the door.  He produces a grubby pencil and draws a head, then a body and legs.  He concentrates.  He draws one hand with the fingers outstretched form the nose, making a rude gesture.  He draws the other hand making an equally rude sign.  He writes underneath a completely unprintable word. You-know-who has just drawn his first cartoon.

…..The pub, for the last time.  It is Christmas time, as we can see from the sign behind the bar wishing all patrons a Merry Christmas.  The Committee do not look merry.  The Chairman speaks.

“Gentlemen.  It is Christmas Eve.  If we can’t find a name for this damned club tonight, I suggest we disband it.” There was shocked silence.  Then one member speaks, “Which town are we in?” he asks.  The secretary consults his notes.  After some time, he announces triumphantly, “ Bristol

“Good,” replies the member. “Now, what are we trying to do?” Patiently, the Chairman replies, “We are conducting an exploration to find a suitable name for our club.” “Then why not,” explains the member, “Call it the Bristol Exploration Club?”  There is a long, dramatic, broken at last by the Chairman who takes the member’s glass.

“I think we all owe this chap a pint.  Let us drink to the – what was it?”  The secretary hastily consults his notes.

“The Bristol Exploration Club.”  He says.  They drink.

(Copyright in all civilised counties and Hinton Blewitt.)

P.S.  If the reader likes this style, we suggest he reads the books by S.J. Simon and Caryl Brahms.  ‘No Bed Bacon’; ‘Don’t Mr. Disraeli’ etc.