The Ballad Of Beggar’s Bridge

This bridge, in a traditional Pack Horse shape, has remained intact straddling the River Esk near the moorland village of Glaisdale, in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, for 400 years.   The village is about ten miles inland from Whitby, where the River Esk flows into the North Sea.
It is known as Beggar’s Bridge, and was built in 1619, by Tom Ferris, a local man, son of a poor moorland sheep farmer.   Having been turned down as a suitable suitor for his love, Agnes, by her wealthy land-owning father, Tom vowed to seek his fortune and to one day return to claim Agnes’ for his wife.  After many adventures at sea, Tom returned, now a rich man, married Agnes, and prospered, to such an extent that he eventually became the Lord Mayor of Hull.  The bridge, it is said, was erected by Tom as a memorial to his wife, and as a means for future lovers to cross the river without having to brave its often flooded waters.  The story, as it has been passed down, is a mix of fact and fiction.  The basic facts are essentially true, but the story, has become a local legend and has, no doubt been embellished over the course of time.

I have tried my hand at re-telling this story in a simple and traditional ballad style, the results of which efforts I give below . . .

THE BALLAD OF BEGGAR’S BRIDGE

He lived beside the river Esk
In a fair delightful dale
His story I must tell you now
A truly stirring tale.

Tom loved a lass of high estate
It was not meant to be
For she was of the Manor born
A lowly lad was he.

Her father disapproved the match
Tom was of lowly birth
No land, no money, no position,
Of very little worth.

But their shared love was sound and solid
So secretly they met.
They shared their passions willingly
But always under threat.

Poor Tom was restless and intent
To run away to sea;
He held fast to the thoughts that stirred
Inside him to be free.

He knew one day he’d win his bride,
He would not be gainsaid;
Beyond this dale there was a world
Where fortunes could be made.

So one dark night he set off late
To wish Agnes farewell
To promise to return for her
To ever with her dwell.

She lived beside the river too
But on the other side.
He therefore had to swim across
He would not be denied.

The Esk just then was in full spate
It swirled along the dale.
It almost took Tom’s life that night
He knew he must prevail.

With strength of ten he forged a path
Across the raging stream;
He dragged his aching body out
As if within a dream.

With his goodbyes Tom gave his word
That some day he’d return;
And Agnes gave her solemn oath
She’d wait for him in turn.

Tom took himself to Whitby town
And soon with Drake joined battle;
Against that Spanish fleet he fought
Saw off the invading rabble.

A rover in West Indies then
And piracy his game.
Plunder and pillage gave him wealth
And brought a kind of fame.

He felt that now he could return
To claim his promised bride;
Confront her father without fear,
With new found hope and pride.

And so to Glaisdale Tom returned
His roving days now past.
True to her word Agnes rejoiced,
Her hopes fulfilled at last.

They married soon and lived in bliss,
Or so the story goes.
Tom grew in wealth, in fame, in power,
Commanding all he chose.

Throughout the north he garnered fame
His name grew ever bigger.
Lord Mayor of Hull he then became,
Now a respected figure.

And when his Agnes died at last
Their story he declared,
Would with a bridge over the Esk
With all the world be shared.

A bridge to join the river’s banks
To help new lovers’ trysts;
A bridge secure from spate and flood
Which to this day exists.

The reason it’s called Beggar’s Bridge
No one is very sure.
‘Tis thought was done to prompt us all
That Tom was once so poor.

THE FORSAKEN MERMAID


Photo: WHB – taken in Aberporth, Ceredigion, on the West Coast of Wales, facing towards Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea

She emanates wistfulness
melancholy, sorrow
bound to her rock
out of sight of her sea.
Andromeda’s prison
awaiting her Perseus.

She thinks of the sea,
beseeching the ocean,
to roll in and take her
to wash her away
to be lost in the waves
to swirl with the kelp
in that pellucid world
in those welcoming depths
to join the white horses
to laze in the rock pools
bask on the corals
where once were her friends

No coteries here
no sisters, no mermen,
no one to favour her –
offspring or lovers.
That whirlpool which bred her
the spray which had bathed her
sequestrated and gone now
no longer her milieu.

Is this always and ever
is this life’s stricture
retribution for what?
For loving her kingdom
her aquatic birthright?
Or for being in form
not fish, fowl nor fiend?

For living a life
half tide-borne,
half earth-child,
hermaphrodite, epicene,
ambiguous, undefined,
a shadowy being,
crippled, malformed?

Her joy now –
the sunlight,
the breeze
and the dew
the song of the seagull
the far sigh of the sea.

Only these now remind her
of when she was free.

Poem: WHB (Copyright)

Lustic Limerick #1

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Over the next ten weekdays I give you…

A Limerick every other day
To keep my Covid Blues away …

There once was a beautiful couple,
Who did press-ups to keep themselves supple.
She said “Look in my eyes”,
He said “I love those big thighs”.
He was clever but not very subtle!

 

Icons of my Past

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Icons of my Past

My era has passed and gone,
And with it all my heroes,
But memory lingers long,
Of giants, saints and weirdos.

These I have loved and known,
They made me who I am,
Imbibed while I have grown,
Since I lived in a pram.

How they have coloured my life,
These heroes, these comic bygones,
But through victory and strife,
They’ve ever been my icons.

How many do you remember,
Who live and colour your dreams?
Valiant or tender,
Feeding both laughter and screams.

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These are the ones which live on in my own memory . .  .

Just William:  ‘Just William’ is the first book of children’s short stories about the young school boy, William Brown, written by Richmal Crompton, and published in 1922. William Brown is an eleven-year-old boy, eternally scruffy and frowning. He and his friends, Ginger, Henry, and Douglas, call themselves the Outlaws.  Also appearing in the books is Violet Elizabeth Bott, who is renowned for crying out “I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick”.  The stories were also used in numerous television, film and radio adaptations of the books.

Roy of the RoversA British comic strip about the life and times of a fictional footballer and later manager named Roy Race, who played for Melchester Rovers.

Biggles & his sidekick, Algernon (‘Algy’) Lacey:  James Bigglesworth, nicknamed “Biggles”, is a fictional pilot and adventurer, the title character and hero of the Biggles series of adventure books, written for young readers by W. E. Johns. There are  almost 100 Biggles books published between 1932 and 1968.

Wilson of the Wizard – The Wonder Athlete illustrated stories first published in 1943 as a comic strip, in the British illustrated story paper ’The Wizard’, written by Gilbert Lawford Dalton and drawn by Jack Glass.

Garth – action-adventure hero, created by Steve Dowling, in a comic strip published in the British newspaper ‘Daily Mirror’ from 1943 to 1997.

Rupert Bear — (with friends, Bill Badger, Edward Trunk and Algy Pug) – comic strip character created by English artist Mary Tourtel and first appearing in 1920 in the Daily Express newspaper.

Desperate Dan was a wild west character in the now-defunct British comic magazine The Dandy.

Dennis the Menace:  a long-running comic strip in the British children’s comic The Beano.

Billy Bunter is a fictional schoolboy created by Charles Hamilton using the pen name Frank Richards. He features in stories set at Greyfriars School, originally published in the boys’ weekly story paper ’The Magnet’ from 1908 to 1940. 

P. C.49 was created for radio by Alan Stranks. PC 49 (Police Constable Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby) was an ordinary bobby on the beat, solving crime in the late 40s and early 50s.

Flash Gordon is the hero of a space opera adventure comic strip created by and originally drawn by Alex Raymond. It was first published in 1934.

Superman is a fictional superhero, created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. He first appeared in the comic book Action Comics #1 in 1938.

Dan Dare is a British science fiction comic hero, created by illustrator Frank Hampson who also wrote the first stories.  Dare appeared in the Eaglecomic stories from 1950 to 1967. It was also dramatised seven times a week on Radio Luxembourg from 1951to 1956.

Captain Marvel, also known as Shazam, is a fictional American comic superhero, created by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker 1939 appearing in American comics originally published by Fawcett Comics. He is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a boy who, by speaking the magic word “SHAZAM!” (acronym of six “immortal elders”: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury), can transform himself into a costumed adult with the powers of superhuman strength, speed, flight and other abilities. Based on comic book sales, the character was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, outselling even Superman.


TheSaint

Simon Templar, The SaintSimon Templar, a Robin Hood-like figure, known as the Saint, the protagonist of a book series by Leslie Charteris and subsequent adaptations on TV., a Robin Hood-like figure, known as the Saint, the protagonist of a book series by Leslie Charteris and subsequent adaptations on TV.

 

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Shielding in the Nursery

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Shielding in the Nursery

 

Jack Sprat Is getting fat,
He’s nibbling while he shields.
Weight reduction and old age
Are now his battlefields.

His wife has quite a different plan
As she battles with her weight.
Her diet, filled with pop and coke,
And cake upon her plate.

Tommy Tucker no longer sings,
Waiting for his supper,
Gorging on sweets and chocolate,
And loaves of bread with butter.

Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey
No longer are enough
To satisfy her appetite,
She huffs and puffs and stuffs.

Georgie Porgie’s pudding and pie
Were never enough for existence,
He’s taken to feeding on fat chicken thigh
As the line of least resistance.

Little Jack Horner still loves his pies,
But one won’t suffice for a snack,
So he adds to his meals a pair of Cartwheels
And a toffee and treacle flapjack.

Now Humpty Dumpty sits on the floor,
He’s had quite enough of falling.
He contents himself with Smarties galore,
His appetite something appalling.

Jack and Jill are filling out,
Snacking all the time,
Drowning their recent lockdown sorrows
In patisseries and wine.

All seem now to have given up trying
To take more care with their diet,
Which causes us all to be sad at their fall,
At least they’re not having a riot.

 

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‘Play Dead’ – Two Word Tale #13

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‘Play Dead’ – Two Word Tale #13

We laugh as our pets are taught to ‘Play Dead’.  Children too love to do the same, and there are numerous childhood games which involve encouraging the participants to maintain silence or stillness for as long as possible. Such games are often used as a means (a bribe even) of calming excited children down.  The ones I have come across, often involving a musical background, include the classic freeze-game of ‘Statues’ or ‘Play Dead’. . Then there are the closely related ‘Sleepy Lions’ and ‘Dead Donkey’, which similarly require that sudden and prolonged stillness.

This further ‘Two-Word Tale’ of mine tells such a mini-story.

To-day
I said
Let’s play
A game.
‘Play Dead’
Its name,
No fear
Or dread
You just
Play Dead.
So that’s
Its name
– You’ll like
The game.

Lie down
Be still
Don’t frown
Strong will
Stand firm
Stay put
Don’t squirm
Nor ‘Tut’.

I’m judge
Yes me,
Keep watch
To see
Who blinks
Who sighs
Who winks
Who cries

So off
We go.
Don’t move
Lie still
You need
To prove
You’re dead
Not ill.

Yes George,
You twitched.
Your nose
It itched?
Oh well
Too bad
You fell?
Poor lad.

Don’t Boo!
You did.
Yes you,
Not Sid.
You were
The first
Not her,
To sneeze
To stir
To wheeze.

You’re out
You moved,
I shout,
That proved
You can’t
be dead
Don’t moan
I said.

Yes, it’s
A shame,
But all
The same,
You know
I said,
It’s just
A game.

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Two Word Tales: #4

photo of body of water with boulders

Photo by Inge Wallumrød on Pexels.com

Two words

‘Good Bye’

Were all

It took

 

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My ‘Two Word’ Verses

Throughout this week, I shall publish each day one of a series of short verses which, together, by the end of the week, will have told a story. 

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LONDON Strolls … #3. Waterloo

Waterloo Walk

On Revisiting the gentle London strolls of my Youth . . .

 

  1. WATERLOO

I set off excitedly, without trepidation, from Waterloo Station.
Via Hungerford Bridge, I briskly traverse the Thames.
At a jaunty pace, I cross The Embankment,
before enthusiastically undertaking the short climb of Villiers Street.

Swiftly crossing The Strand,
I tread vigorously into St Martin’s Lane.
Almost strutting into Charing Cross Road,
I pause to browse the books in Cecil Court’s shops,
soon afterwards  cutting through Garrick Lane.
I drift back now to St. Martin’s Lane
to take a welcome break in Goodwin’s Court Georgian Tea rooms.
 
Then on to plod the length of Long Acre
before lazily cutting through James Street to reach Covent Garden.
Ambling sluggishly, I pass the Royal Opera House,
from where I step out with determination,
although somewhat less purposefully now.

Thus I return to the Strand,
following it along into the length of Fleet Street until,
visibly wearying, I reach St. Paul’s Cathedral and turn right
to cross the Millennium Bridge over the Thames.

Now, heading languidly westwards,
I sluggishly wend my way upriver,
along the South Bank of the Thames,
past the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern Gallery,
Oxo Tower Wharf and the Royal Festival Hall.

Meandering now, very slowly and decidedly weary,
until, much relieved, and decidedly thankful,
I find myself back at Waterloo Station.

 

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LONDON Strolls … #2. Hyde Park

 

Gloucester Rd Walk

On Revisiting the gentle London strolls of my Youth . . .

 

  1. HYDE PARK

On foot from Gloucester Road
I step out briskly and with soaring expectation along Cromwell Road.
Striding forcefully then up Queens Gate,
I shortly find myself, almost trotting now, beside the Royal Albert Hall.
Soon afterwards, I am jauntily following Kensington Gore.
Slowing a little, I meander now, across the width of Hyde Park.
Pausing frequently and sauntering to take in the scenery,
I haltingly cross over the Serpentine.

Slackening my pace again, I keep heading North to Lancaster Gate.
Then, at a relaxed pace, I drift into Sussex Square,
from where, slowing even further,
I tread the hot pavements along Sussex Gardens.

Working my way sluggishly along Westbourne Terrace
I then trudge the length of Praed Street
to reach Paddington Station.
Thence, struggling increasingly, I head to Edgware Road. 

Continuing south to Oxford St and Marble Arch,
I move, almost idling, and with the occasional stumble,
along the exacting side-walks of Monopoly Land.
Then through Mayfair, plodding now, 
down Park Lane.

Slowing even more, (Is that possible without actually stopping?)
I traipse across Piccadilly and round Hyde Park Corner.
I turn, unsteadily, into Grosvenor Place,
heading towards Buckingham Palace,
but, after taking a breather,
and deciding to simplify my intended route,
I make a right turn through Belgravia.

Treading heavily, I work my way through Embassy Land.
I stumble across Sloane Street
to Cromwell Road and the V&A Museum.

Thus, at last, weary and definitely plodding now, 
my failing feet drag my exhausted body
back to Gloucester Road, to relaxation and
the sought after assuagement of the aches in my trembling limbs

 

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Book Swap – Red Renaissance

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Photo: WHB … In a Devonshire Village – 2019

Book Swap – Red Renaissance

Why not? 
The phone now silenced
Calm contemplation
corners the kiosk
The urgent queue
becomes now
The Silence of the Library

Culture creep
now succeeding conversation
Cerebral centre for sure
Telephone Exchange
gives way to
Book Exchange

A new purpose in life
for the
candid kiosk
Lifeline for the lonely 
Book Barter 
brings back to back
book for book
blood red fervour
to the village

Once the life saviour
Now given
to silent contemplation
Shilling meter
and B button gone

Silence Of The Lambs
and Passage To India
now broadening 
Lost Horizons

Gormenghast
and Shades Of Grey
fostering Fantasy for 
lonely locals

A Rebirth for
communication 
Red Renaissance
for both Book and Booth

 

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