Wednesday, 11 July 2007



The Old Coal Road across the Wolds passes the highest railway station in England, and proceeds through glorious scenery. Savouring the wide horizons, I wondered whether my new post would be too windswept. However, the road dipped into a sheltered glade of mature trees, and there, alongside a swiftly flowing river, nestled Anticant’s Burrow – an old coaching inn with an arched gateway leading into an inner courtyard.

Soon I was presenting my credentials, furnished by my esteemed friend and mentor, Mr Bumble, to Judge Anticant and his sidekick Ben Trovato. Judge Anticant is a kindly though somewhat pernickety old gentleman, usually clad in a flowered dressing gown and surrounded by piles of books and several marmalade cats. Ben is a genial, jaunty young fellow who is in general charge of the establishment, and Mine Host of the Snug Bar, which is the social centre of the Burrow.

Having successfully passed their scrutiny and answered all their questions to their apparent satisfaction, I was offered the post of Burrow Beadle with responsibility for ensuring the safety and good order of the premises and its inmates and guests. I was proud to accept, and was then given a tour of the Burrow and grounds. Ben explained that, owing to its slightly off-the-beaten-track situation, the Burrow was largely spared the incursions of vulgar charabanc crowds and the type of unwanted intruder who roused the ire of John Fothergill [of An Innkeeper’s Diary fame] by enquiring the way to the lavatory, using it, and then departing without spending another penny. Also, the dining guests are generally well-behaved – unlike all of Fothergill’s, one of whom once yelled across the dining room: “Have you anything in this place fit for me to drink, Fothergill?” – to which Mine Host haughtily replied: “Poison!”.

I was then introduced to the Burrow’s resident St. Bernard, Wooffie, with whom I was destined to have many adventures, bearing life-saving brandy barrels to travellers lost on the snow-bound Wolds and even on one occasion in Northern Lapland where Santa’s reindeer had been grounded. Making my first inspection of the premises, I noted that the river bank, which formed the Burrow boundary on two sides, was vulnerable to unauthorised landings by audacious canooists and others, while the Burrow flagpole, bearing Anticant’s personal standard proudly aloft, was also adjacent to the river. A past experience as a young apprentice before the mast in a three-masted tea clipper, where I enjoyed two of the three pleasures memorably chronicled by the late Mr George Melly – lots of rum and concertina, but no bum because I was already, though still at a tender age, enamoured by the late lamented Mrs. Flarge – had commended me to Anticant and Ben, who were concerned about the incursions of a certain Naked Kayaker who apparently from time to time ignited intemperate bouts of knicker-waving in the Snug which they considered detrimental to the decorum expected by their more sedate guests, such as Dame Barbara Cartland and Miss Marple.

It was clear, from my initial interview, that I might well have my work cut out in preserving good order and decency, and as I snuggled down that first night amid the snow-white sheets I wondered whether I would have the stamina to meet the challenge of the Burrow. Only time would tell!


lavenderblue said...

Oh !!
Truly Wonderful xxxxxx

Merkin said...

I quoted Anti in The Guardian today in reply to a Pikey comment.
More wonderful, I think.

Emmett said...

'TIS All the vitamin E in the Vegemite & Weetabix that accounts for the periodic outbreaks of knicker-waving, I should say. Good thing that New Labour ("We're For Your Own Good!') won't let you devils have any over-the-counter supplements or DHEA!

ben trovato said...

Ooh Merkin, where, where? Anticant is a terrible old narcissist, and will be wetting himself to know what you said.....

zola a social thing said...

Poland awaits you all.

Merkin said...
'Pikey, you are on a wrong one there.
I agree with Anticant 'I would ensure that dubious subjects such as creationism were taught - if at all - as examples of controversial opinions which need to be weighed against alternatives'.

However, the argument is that Gonzales is going to have a fraudulent approach to teaching his own discipline.
ID is cloaked in science when in reality it is a religious viewpoint.
Same as dealing with heroin junkies, these guys are very plausible but they have an agenda which over-rides everything.'

trousers said...

Great stuff, with shades of Stanshall's "Rawlinson End"