The Battle of Birkenhead Park (from the Morris Dancing List)
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 20 May 97 23:34:09 -0700
Subject: The Battle of Birkenhead Park (from the Morris Dancing List)
[Are you sitting down? Good...
And I thought being a musician was tough in the U.S.
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Forwarded-by: Paul Millennas <PaulMillennas@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Sender: Morris Dancing Discussion List <MORRIS@LISTSERV.IUPUI.EDU>
Subject: Battle of Birkenhead Park
This one had to be good. It was an earner. A hundred quid. Well you felt
obliged to turn up for that, don't you? But too few had. It was near the
end of the Mersey Morris winter campaign, and losses had been high. Most
the officers had been lost, to shopping with the wife, and playing with the
kids before they return to school from the lengthy break.
Four dancers, a boy, a musician and a rabbit huddled together against a
small prefabricated plastic Ice-Cream Booth, which had not bothered to open
for the season. Wearing white shirts and baldricks, they shivered as the
force 5 wind found its way into their every crevice.
Old Bill, the musician, was frail. We huddled round him to keep him warm.
The team was very proud of him. There are few Morris Men, alive today, who
were born before Cecil Sharp. And today we need him. He squinted over the
Mersey, in the direction of Liverpool. "I saw her once, you know". "Who?"
a disinterested voice asked. "The Fairy", he replied. The following silence
was not so much a reflection on his words, but more an indifference to enter
a conversation that may go nowhere. However, the silence, if it could be
called that in this wind, built its own tension that finally prompted the
same disinterested voice to inquire "Which Fairy?". "The Fairy across the
Mersey" Bill grinned. Amongst the shivers, everyone groaned. For what Bill
would call a sense of humour, the rest of the world calls dementia.
"Five minutes to go", said Eddie. Eddie was "in charge" today. He had always
wanted to be "in charge". He felt the team didn't take him seriously. They
didn't. They thought he was a wanker. In fact, they _knew_ he was a wanker.
He held his open pocket-watch in his hand, watching the seconds tick away.
"A Pocket watch makes one look distinguished", he thought. "What a wanker",
thought everyone else. In his other hand he held a metal whistle connected
to his neck by a large white lanyard, part of his cub leader uniform. "Those
Cubs show me no respect" he thought. His lips puckered towards the blowing
end. "I hope the pea doesn't fall out". Part of the low esteem held for
Eddie by the team, dates from their famous 5 Slums tour of '89 where he
refused to believe the warnings about the laxative effect of Theakstons Very
Peculiar, then refused to leave the coach when this advice, like his
underpants, appeared to have some substance.
The rabbit hopped a few yards away to nibble grass amongst the discarded
rubbish, his long snowy white fur protecting him from the elements. It was
never sure whether he was a dancer or a mascot. The crowd just don't seem
to notice him. But at least _he_ had turned up.
"Yer bunch of nancy southern shites!" growled Long John, for no apparent
reason. This really hurt. People from Liverpool and the Wirral consider
themselves Northerners, and vent their contempt for Southerners. In fact
this issue is just a pecking order. Northerners are the people where you
live. Southerners are those immediately geographically below you.
Northerners are people of substance : proud, honest and industrious.
Southerners are overpaid, effeminate Malibu drinkers. This is the same the
world over. Long John comes from Preston, at least 25 miles up the motorway.
This grudgingly earns him the kudos of being a "Real" Northerner. To
exacerbate the matter, Long John does Rapper, the dance of Real men. Mersey
dance Cotswold, the poncy pretty dance of the corrupt South. John now lives
on the Wirral. There is only Mersey. He just has to put up with it. Or they
have to put up with him."Call this a wind?" he mutters.
Young David attends to his acne. He rubs the glass-fibre wall with his shirt
sleeve, to get a reflection, and starts his pre-dance squeezes. Someone
in the huddle retches, as the ejected biomass floats around like snow in a
novelty Xmas shaker. Young David is an asset to those less experienced
members of the team. On his forehead, the spots trace out the "clever" moves
of their version of "Black Joke". The back of his neck describes most
popular Bledington figures, although you'd have to be in a hey with him to
Everyone looked at Bill. "I'm not going out on my own!". "Yes you are" said
Wobbly Bob. "There's no point us all getting cold. We'll run out when we
hear your first note". Bob was the voice of reason. People listened to Bob.
It wasn't as though he was a good dancer. He wasn't. But no-one told him.
He thought that he was a great dancer. The artificial leg really did not
seem to be an impediment to him. You really would not notice it. You really
would not notice it if he didn't keep taking it off and waving it over his
head when he was drunk. Which was most of the time. It was a common view
that if he had only lost his leg below the knee, he would not get drunk so
often. But this was a long limb. The team would crash into the pub, and he
would be first at the bar. With a quick click and half-turn he would whip
this hollow limb off and hand it across the bar, loudly proclaiming
"Landlord, fill this up!" The suprise and embarrassment to the bar staff
would usually result in his beer being free.
A well aimed kick propelled Bill into the open. He landed in a running
position, and disappeared round the corner towards the dance spot. Everyone
braced themselves. "How does Orange in Bloom go?" whispered Wobbly Bob.
Long John stared intently at young David's cheek, searching for inspiration.
There was a faint cry and then the sound of all of Bill's squeeze-box keys
being hit at once. Then the sound of all of Bill's squeeze-box keys being
hit simultaneously. They all looked at each other. Eddie decided that it
was time to act. A pathetic rasping noise was emitted from his pea-less
whistle. "Bill's in trouble! Let's go!" To his utter suprise, they all got
up and dashed towards the direction of Bill.
As they dashed towards the dance spot, they could see that there was no
audience. Only a boy with a car jack. "There's no-one here except for a boy
with a car jack!" said Eddie authoratively. They looked towards Bill. There
was something wrong. There was something there that was not there before.
Bill was crouching, whilst still trying to play, with a pit-bull terrier
hanging from his leg, performing those up-and-down movements that many dogs
find pleasurable, whilst holding Bill's genitals in his teeth to steady
himself. "That wasn't there before" said Eddie. "I would have noticed".
The dog yelped and let go as an artificial leg hit him, like an Olympic
Javelin. "Not bad, for 20 metres" said Wobbly Bob as he fell over. "Oi!
That's my dog" cried the kid. He picked up the leg and ran off after his
canine pet. The dog spotted a movement of white in the bushes, and dashed
in to slake his lust. Within moments, a high-pitched girly whine eminated
from the shrubbery, as the dog demonstrated why he had been so aptly named
The group consolidated. Bill recovered quickly, and claimed that he had
hardly felt a thing. He was thankful for any below-the-waist action these
days. "Well, at least it was a hundred quid" enthused Eddie. "Bunch of
shites" repeated Long John. He was in a good mood today. They walked back
to the pub car park, where they had left their cars. Well almost all of them
walked. Wobbly Bob hopped. But he hopped and whistled, as though this
concealed his deficiency in the limb department. Looking at their cars, they
noticed that they were all on bricks, less wheels. Unperturbed, they all
opened their boots (trunks) and each pulled out four spare wheels, essential
spare parts for those living near Birkenhead. Wobbly Bob cursed as he pulled
out the spare limb from under the car blanket. It was his wife's. They had
met at Amputees R Us. Owning only one car, but both being registered
disabled, they receive two official Disabled Person stickers, annually. One
is sent down to the Disabled Person Stickers auctions, in London, providing
a handsome income to pay towards Bob's alcohol bill.
Unfortunately for Bob, his wife had her other leg amputated. She was also
shorter than him. Her leg included an integral moulded red high heeled shoe.
Thanks to EEC standardisation, these limbs are interchangeable. Being in
such close proximity to the pub, Bob did not care about any problems the
misdirected appendage should cause him.
As plastic legs go, it was a pretty leg. But then his wife Jasmine was a
pretty woman. A very pretty woman. Bob was unworthy of her. As he spent most
nights down the pub making unsuccessful lecherous advances to every female,
each night not passing without his leg waving. He left Jasmine at home to
her own devices. Fortunately for the rest of the team, these devices
included a rack, a motorised colonic irrigator, and a foot operated vacuum
chamber. Having sex with Bob's wife was one of the things that bonded the
team, all sharing a common interest. If you ever get close to Mersey's
beast, the Liver Bird, you will notice a strong smell of banana and custard.
As they entered the pub, they spied the rabbit in a corner, drink in hand,
glint in eye, with his arm round his new found friend. Whilst Wobbly Bob
struggled to extract his stilletoe heel from a crack in the floor boards,
Long John swept past to the bar, and ordered a drink for himself. He was
not a selfish man, just picky about who he bought drinks for. "A pint of
your watered down piss" he growled. Whilst Eddie counted coins from his
purse, Old Bill ordered a medicinial brandy with lots of ice, and gently
emptied the contents of the glass into the front of his breeches, numbing
the discomfort that he had hidden so well from the team. A satisfied smile
grew on his face. A smile that also spread to the rest of the team, except
Long John, of course. "A job well done" said Eddie pompously.
Outside, night fell and the wind dropped. The lights of Liverpool twinkled
over the Mersey. All was quiet, except for the sound of the squeaking of a
© 1997 Peter Langston