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by Johnny Glover
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Episode 46 - "The Bull Shavers" - (May 19th 1998 00:30)

fredFred Ricketts finished his story about The Dog Slimmers and took another sip on his whisky. He liked nothing better than some willing listeners to his old tales of the fens. Fiona Morgan was enjoying her drink and relaxing in one of Fred's old and very comfortable armchairs. Yaxley Farcett was slumped in the adjacent chair on the verge of sleep, his head lolling about and snapping back to attention every now and again. Fred leaned back and continued.......

"There's an 'ol Fenland custom I'll tell yew about: Bull Shaving ! It were very popular in the Parishfiona of Barnham in the late nineteenth century. Legend hes it that the pastime began after the traditional Plough Monday festival had turned into nothin' more than an excuse for drunken local ol' bors to demand money from villagers. "Bull Shaving" were normally held at Whitsun and involved picking the hairiest ol' bull in the village and six of the strongest 'ol bors to do the job. The bull were dressed in ribbons and finery and led through the village by the Rector; the 'ol bors running ahead, door to door, collecting money for the poor of the parish. Once the party had reached the green opposite The Skaters, the bull would be tethered to four stakes with leather straps so as not to cause too much discomfort to the animal. The half dozen ol bors would then gently divest the bull of it's bullouter coat, using cut throat razors; a skill they were taught by Amos Woodbridge of Main Street. Once the bull were clean shaven, it were covered up in the colourful "Bull Monday" waistcoat which were knitted by the W.I in Ealham. Unfortunately, "Bull Shaving" became unpopular when modern ways took hold and it were thought to be demeaning to the animals. However, people in the village yewst to point out that it were never done in winter, 'cos that woulder bin cruel"......

Fred finished his drink and poured another one. He looked across at Fiona and Yaxley, who for the moment was awake. "My God" said Fiona, "That's barbaric ! No wonder they stopped it. I'm surprised that it was ever allowed in the first place. I've read lots of books about the Fens and never heard about such an horrific thing". Yaxley took another gulp on his water and turned to Fiona; "Yeah, but they used to do some bloody strange things in those days, didn't they ? I 'spose at one point people thought Witch dunking was an excellent form of local justice". Fred looked across at Farcett and said, "You're very wise young man, although not wise enough to know what you're drinking limit is". Yaxley's cheeks coloured slighty and he replied, "I don't think I'll ever be as wise as an old Fen Tiger like you, Fred. I 'spose that story's done the rounds in your family, hasn't it ? You don't need books for information, it's all passed down. Father to son". Ricketts gave a mischievous grin and took another sip of whisky. "No, you're right. I didn't read that in a book, but I also didn't hear it from my Dad. In fact....." and he began to laugh...'I only bloody made it up while I were pouring out my drink. Yew should hev seen your faces !"

The prologue - Episode One -  Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4 -  Episode 5 - Episode 6 - Episode 7 -  Episode 8 -  Episode 9 - Episode 10 - Episode 11- Episode 12 - Episode 13 - Episode 14 - Episode 15 - Episode 16 - Episode 17 - Episode 18 - Episode 19 - Episode 20 - Episode 21 - Episode 22 -  Episode 23 - Episode 24 -  Episode 25 - Episode 26 -  Episode 27 - Episode 28 - Episode 29 - Episode 30 - Episode 31 - Episode 32 - Episode 33 - Episode 34 - Episode 35 - Episode 36 - Episode 37 - Episode 38 - Episode 39 - Episode 40 - Episode 41 - Episode 42 - Episode 43 - Episode 44 - Episode 45 -  Episode 47 - Cast List - 'Did you see the wrist watch in Ben Hur' ?- The Colly Continuity Page.

Comments to drove@ely.org.uk

Hugh, exiled fenman from King's Lynn says "Hev you ever thought about running a bus trip to see where "collie" is made like they do for Last Of the Summer Wine, Emmerdale, Corrie and the like. Could be a laugh!!!!!"

Who Dunnit? Your suggestions Please.

Mike Northfield says "Oi reckons that there was one of those there freaky weather thingies that frew that there pitch fork 'ard enough t' stab 'im and cause serious illness such as death thats wot i fink......." - So Mike reckons the freak fen blow caused poor Reg's death.

DG says "I did you this time!!!!!!! Shame I hadn't pushed you harder in 1966!!!!!! Shame Nursy Broadhead saved you?????????????????" - after he sent this message they locked him up again!

MG says "I reckon it were suicide. You see, Reg was quite obviously a bit iron hoof or POOF as we call 'em, and in them there days, well it wer'nt propper wus it?

James Brown says "I suspect a fallen pitchfork from one of the overhead helicopters ferrying a local farmer to the office of KLFM for one of their match reports on a Lynn home game."

World Leader reckons "I think that Monica woman did it. Damn girl never could keep her mouth shut. And she was always letting things drop". Yours World Leader