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By Chris Sugden and Sid Kipper

A cornucopia of short stories, literary extracts, some songs, even recipes.  The distillation of a decade of Sid’s output, with an introduction by Rev Derek Bream.

Published by the Mousehold Press
ISBN no 1 874739 19 6


Awfully Good

Barley, Barley and Barley-O

Big Dick of Whittington

Bigots Against Tolerance – A Manifesto;  Breasting The Waves

Bunfight At The O.K. Chorale

The Burningham Bodyline

Cleverclogs and the Three Bears

Crackers For Fanny

David Kipperfield

Derek Bream’s Letters To The Truncheons

The Digression of the Three Gruff Billygoats

Recipes from Dot Kipper’s Book of Handy Household Hints

The Folk Singing Olympics

The Gimmingham Idiots Play

God King Whence The Last

Haul The Deck

The Headless Horse Man of Happisburgh;  How The Coypu Dug His Grave

London Spurning

The Lost Flock

Sid Kipper’s May to Z

Mutiny On The Bouncy

My Bootiful Mawther

No Room At The Goat


Peter Pain

Pick of the Weak

The Pied Blowpiper of Kings Lynn

Piering Out To Sea

Polly On The Floor

The Romance of Rumpled Stiltskin O’Bugger

The Sailor In Diss Dress

The Shaman of St Just

Ship Fashioned and Bristol Shaped

The Shoals of Whiting

The Sirens of Scroby Sands

Sir Wayne and the Giant, Peach

Sir Wayne, The Green Knight

Sleeping Beauty and the Beast

Tommy Kipper


The Ugly Sisters

Underwood’s Milk

Vaughan Williams Stole My Folk Song.

a generous chunk of


(Short Stories and Tall Tales)

from Chris Sugden and Sid Kipper


by Reverend Derek Bream

We can all learn a lot from stories, can’t we?  Indeed, did not Our Lord Himself use parables to teach His lessons?  I feel fairly sure that He did.

Of course, for many of us stories are just things that grown-ups tell to children at bedtime. But Sidney Kipper continues the tradition of stories that grown-ups tell to each other, after the children have gone. Not that they are, necessarily, vulgar or coarse. They simply deal with matters which would pass over a child’s head.  Things such as gender, decimalisation, and goats.

This book contains the very best of Sidney’s vast repertoire.  A few of his offerings do, I’m afraid, contain scenes of a rather dubious nature.  But, then, we mustn’t be judgemental, must we?  (Although, if some people do wish to be judgemental, then that’s a valid point of view as well, I suppose.)  But this book also contains a lot more than Sidney’s stories.  It is, in fact, a celebration of the simply super literary culture of my own adopted village of St Just-near-Trunch, in Norfolk.  Here you will find not only a veritable shoal of Kippers, but also other published authors, such as Augustus Swineherd, Mrs E. Sopp, and last, and most assuredly least, my good self.

When I was asked to write this little introduction I thought to myself ‘Derek, exactly what is a story?’  So I took a closer look at the word itself, and I realised that there are clues there, for those who will only see them.  A story is, for instance, a store – of wisdom and ideas.  It may be old-fashioned, and out of touch.  That is the ‘tory’ part.  Or it may stand out as something permanent, formed from the rock of truth.  That is, a ‘tor’.

It may, conversely, be all about choices, as represented by the ‘or’.  If told backwards it will probably contain a lot of ‘rot’.  And, just like a pig, it is enclosed in a ‘sty’. I think that all tells us a lot, and I hope it helps you. It certainly does me.

But I expect you’ll want me to get off, so that you can get on and read the contents for yourself.  So it only remains for me to declare this book open, wish it well, and thank the ladies who made the tea.

Derek, 2001


as told by Sid Kipper

You may be wondering why Big Dick was called Big Dick.  Well, I’ll tell you anyhow.  It was to extinguish him from his cousin, Big Sarah.  And Whittington is a small village two leagues from Downham Market, who are in the Premier Division.  It stands on the A134 Lynn to Thetford road.  Well, no, it stands either side of the road actually; otherwise it wouldn’t be so much a village as a road block, and people would get run over going to make a cup of tea.

Now Big Dick had decided it was time to leave home and go in search of his fortune.  Which was daft, of course, because he didn’t actually have a fortune.  And if he did why would he need to go and search for it?  He could just keep it in the Post Office like anyone else.  But for some reason he thought he did have a fortune, and what’s more he thought that fortune was in Norwich – although how he thought it got there I don’t know.  He was obsessed, if you ask me.

And another thing – you had to wonder about Dick.  I mean he wasn’t exactly a man’s man, if you know what I mean.  For instance, he never seemed to need to shave.  Well, not his face, he didn’t, although there were rumours that he had a go at his legs and armpits from time to time.  And some other things – he carefully looked after his nails and he always drank sweet sherry.  In fact, if you hadn’t known better, you might have begun to wonder if he was a real man at all.  But don’t let that put you off the story, which is just about to start, so brace yourself.

One day Big Dick got out a clean spotted handkerchief, tied it to a stick, slapped his thigh, and set off.  And along with him went his faithful cat, Pussy.  “Come along Pussy”, said Dick, in his soft, rather high-pitched voice; “You and me are going to Norwich to find my fortune”.  But the cat didn’t say nothing.

So straightaway they set off.  But after a while, as they walked along the road, and just as they reached a milestone, they heard a strange voice.  It said “Turn again, Dick, three times vice-president of Whittington Pig and Produce Show”.  But Dick simply ignored it.  He wasn’t about to take any advice from a talking milestone!  He just straightened the seam of his tights, carried on walking, and said “Not on your Nellie – we’re going to Norwich to find my fortune, aren’t we Pussy?”  But the cat didn’t say nothing.

And so, after lots of interesting adventures in strange and exotic places like Watton (where Dick fought off some footpads with his hat pin), Wicklewood (where he had to defend his honour from a short-sighted lusty goat-herd) and Barford (where he had to defend the cat’s honour from a short-sighted lusty goat), they finally arrived in Norwich.  They made their way through the busy streets to an Inn, which they entered.  “Ho, Inn keeper”, called Dick, striking a suitable pose which I’ll leave you to imagine for yourselves – suffice it say that it involved thrusting one hip out and slapping his thigh again.  “Tell me, Inn keeper, have you a room for Big Dick and his Pussy?”.  But apparently this wasn’t the way to behave in the big city.  Now, it may have been that what he got in his ear was a flea, but if it was it was a hell of a big one, with very sharp corners.  As a consequence Dick and Pussy were forced to leave the Inn in a hurry.  But Dick wasn’t discouraged – just a little concussed.

“Very well, Pussy”, he said, his ample chest straining the buttons of his tunic, “If we’re not welcome there we will press on and go in search of my fortune straight away”.  But the cat, of course, didn’t say nothing.

The first person they came upon in the streets was a Pedlar.  “Excuse me”, said Big Dick, “I have come to Norwich to find my fortune – do you happen to know where is?”.  But the Pedlar ignored him.  He just carried on peddling and said “Why don’t you push off, bumpkin?”.  Well, Big Dick was speechless.  And the cat didn’t say nothing.

And the next person they ran into was a Haberdasher.  “Excuse me”, said Big Dick, “I have come to Norwich to find my fortune – do you happen to know where is?”.  But the Haberdasher ignored him too.  She just carried on dashing her haber, and said “Why don’t you push off, bumpkin?”.  Well, Big Dick was speechless.  And the cat didn’t say nothing.

Now the third person they met was a Family Butcher.  “Excuse me”, said Big Dick – but you know the rest of that.  And the Butcher also ignored him.  He just carried on with butchering his family and said – well, you know that as well.  And you can probably guess that Big Dick was speechless, and the cat didn’t say nothing.

And you’d be right, as a matter of fact.  Because the cat didn’t say nothing.  No – the cat said something.  It said “Mind your lip, sonny, or I’ll shin up your leg and grab your attention”.

Well, now it was the turn of the Butcher to be speechless.  “What’s the matter?” asked Big Dick, varnishing his fingernails; “Cat got your tongue?”.  But the butcher took no notice, because he was staring at the cat.  He swallowed a couple of times, and then he said “Are you a talking cat?”.  But the cat just stretched itself out, washed it’s whiskers for a while, and then it said “No – as a matter of fact I’m not”.  And while the Butcher was trying to work that one out, Big Dick and Pussy walked on.

But they hadn’t walked but 10 rods, polls or perches when this bloke came up from behind them, doffed his hat, and said “Excuse me sir; by the cut of your tights I take it you are Big Dick, the man with the talking cat who is seeking his fortune”.

“Well yes”, said Big Dick; “Though it’s all padding, you know.  But wait, do you happen to know where my fortune is?”

“Alas no”, said the man, “But if you’ll excuse me I’d like to have a word with your feline friend”.  Well this bloke took the cat off and they had a long conversation while Dick gazed in wonder at the bustling city – and tried to work out what feline meant.  But when he looked round again, the bloke and the cat had disappeared.

Well, Dick walked the streets of Norwich for a whole week in his little short tunic and long leather boots, asking after his fortune.  And he got some very interesting replies, most of which he didn’t understand, which was probably just as well.  He looked hi! and lo!, but no matter how hard he searched he couldn’t find his fortune.  Which doesn’t surprise us, of course, because we knew that he never had one in the first place.

But one day, as Dick was passing a theatre, a huge poster caught his eye.  It was a giant picture of Dick’s cat, wearing a top hat and eating caviar, surrounded by female cats dressed only in fur.  And underneath that it said ‘Come and hear the talking pussy, the Turn of the Century’. 

So Big Dick bought a ticket, and he went in and he watched the show, which was full of acts that did clever things.  There were dancing girls, performing fleas, waltzing donkeys and things like that.  And top of the bill was the talking cat, who gave a short address on the catching of mice.  Dick was enthralled.  He’d never known there was so much in it.

After the show Dick rushed round to the cat’s undressing room, and told it that it was wonderful, darling.  And the cat showed Dick its contract, which was for bags and bags and bags of gold.

Well, immediately Dick went into a short dance routine, paused for a round of applause that didn’t come, and then threw himself at the cat.  “Oh Pussy”, he cried; “I knew I would find my fortune here in Norwich, and it is you, faithful feline (because he’d worked out what it meant by now, what with being in Norwich and getting sophisticated) it is you faithful feline who has found it”.  But the cat just threw him back.  And as Dick picked himself up from the floor, patting his hair back into shape and adjusting his rather prominent cuffs, the cat leant back in its chair, lit a cigar, looked at Dick, with his stick and his handkie and his ridiculous buckled shoes, and said “What do you mean, your fortune?  I don’t see your paw print on the contract.  I tell you what – why don’t you push off, bumpkin?”.

“But you’re my Pussy”, protested Big Dick.  “You’re my faithful friend.  At least, I always thought you were”.

The cat looked a bit sheepish, but made no comment.

“And another thing”, said Dick, “All the time you were with me, all the adventures we shared, why did you never let me know that you could speak?”

“Well”, said the cat, “You were never interested in anything worth speaking about.  You just went on and on and on about going to Norwich and finding your fortune, and did your bum look big in this, and bugger, you’d laddered your tights.  Now, if you’d wanted to discuss something interesting like catching birds, or sniffing bottoms, I might have been up for it.  But you were too busy doing your make-up and worrying about which neckerchief to wear.  I tell you, getting rid of you was the best thing I ever did.  Now, why don’t you do like I said, bumpkin, and push off”.

And with that the cat turned it’s back on Dick, and started fishing in a bowl of live goldfish which had been provided for it.

Well, once again it was Big Dick’s turn to be speechless.  Reluctantly he left the theatre, and if he’d had a tail it would definitely have been between his legs.  In the end there was nothing else for it – he could only tuck his long blond hair into his feathered hat and go all the way back home, where the prediction came true, and he was three times vice-president of Whittington Pig and Produce Show.  And in due course, with his charming ways and girlish good looks, he wooed and wed a rich merchant’s daughter, who had a very big disappointment.

And as for the cat – well, the cat found fame and fortune and lived nine times happily ever after, until it was finally drowned in cream in a freak dairy accident.

And the moral of the story?  Well, that’s quite beyond me, as a matter of fact.

So – let that be a lesson to you!


by Chris Sugden

In its earliest form this tale was one of that large family of stories where good triumphs over evil, persistence overcomes tribulation, faith is rewarded with fortune, and innocence protects its owner from the perils of the big city.  And if you’ve ever come across any of that family you’ll know that most of them are extremely difficult to live with.

Luckily for us, however, this particular member of the family left home, loosened up, and stopped moralising all the time.  As a result it is now a perfectly healthy story, leading a constructive life in the community – although it has been counselled not to see too much of the rest of it’s family if it wants to stay that way.

But perhaps I should have told you that before the story began.  So from now on I’ll get my retaliation in first.

Chris Sugden


by Augustus Swineherd

Augustus Swineherd was a writer with style – or, strictly speaking, styles.  Unfortunately none of them was his own.  He tended to write in the style of whatever author he had been reading most recently – in this case, surely, Charles Dickens.  Thus he produced David Kipperfield, a huge, rambling novel which I believe nobody has ever actually finished.  Which is probably just as well.  If they had  they would discover that Swineherd never finished it either.

It was published in episodes by The Strand magazine, a popular periodical with shore-hawkers and beach-combers.  This episode finds various of the protagonists spending Christmas together in Mr Rickety’s residence on Yarmouth Beach.


I Spend Christmas in Great Yarmouth, and Get Change

It was the best of chimes, it was the worst of chimes, but as soon as Mr Rickety heard those chimes he answered the door to the postman.

“Merry Christmas, Smethurst”, he cried, giving the postman his box.

“You wouldn’t be so bloomin’ merry at this time if you was a bloomin’ postman”, came the reply, as Smethurst handed over a brace of seasonal missives.  “And what I’m supposed to put in all these boxes I’m sure I don’t know”.

Mr Rickety closed the door on his grumbling, whereupon Mr Macabre, who was in his element in the making of punch, turned to me.

“My dear Kipperfield,” effluxed Macabre, “I am sure that I speak for Mrs Macabre and myself when I confide how tickled I am to be spending Christmas in company with yourself and these fine people.”

Here he waved his ladle to encompass all those sitting in the stranded boat that was Mr Rickety’s house.  I had somehow never resolved the conundrum of whether it was a boat-house or a house-boat.

“And I am touched, sir, quite touched,” continued Mr Macabre, “To be in such company aboard what, given that it is made from a maritime vessel of some sort, yet nevertheless stands high and dry upon the sand, I can only describe as a veritable ship of the desert.”

“Is that not a camel, my love?” asked Mrs Macabre.

“A camel, you say?  No, my dear, you are mistaken, surely.  A camel – I am certain that I am correct in this – has a hump, or, in the case of the noble bactrian, a pair of such protuberances and – again I am quite positive of my accuracy – it has a quartet of legs, a brace of ears, a single snout and a tail, although these features, I hasten to append, are not necessarily arranged in the order in which I have named them, but are, nonetheless, present without exception in any animal which wishes to bear the noble name ‘camel’.”

There was a profound silence, broken only by the gentle snoring of the assembled company.

We roused soon enough, however, when Macabre loudly announced that the punch had reached a peak – perhaps he said a hump – and must perforce be taken at once.  And so, with steaming bowls in hand, we toasted each other quite brown.

Nothing would then do but that we recharge our vessels and drink a drop to Absent Friends.

“Abs and French,” declared Willis the carter.  Eggerty, that dearest of creatures, once my nurse, but now Mrs Willis – smiled indulgently.  “Willis is barkin’,” she said fondly.

At that point the door was thrown open by a rough fisherman acting in a desperate manner.  “A clipper from Spain have foundered!” he cried; “She’s a-breaking up!”

“From Spain, you say,” said Mr Rickety, thoughtfully.  “Well now, we aren’t about to take ourselves out on a bitter night and get ourselves cold and wet on account of no bunch of foreigners”.  And with that he called upon Pork to slam the door firm shut, which deed was quickly done, none of us caring to note whether the fisherman had previously removed his face from the frame or not.

“Abs and French” cried Willis again, and the whole party of us laughed heartily.

“But there are so many absent friends,” said Little Elmlea sadly, her shyness quite overcome for a moment.

“Indeed there be,” agreed Mr Rickety, agreeably.  “But that reminds me – where did I put those missives?”

And from somewhere deep within his raiment he drew – not without some searching, and a great deal of difficulty – the two Christmas cards, which were now gently steaming.

“Read them to me, Elmlea.  My learning is not so learnéd as yours, and I should like to hear you speak out the words”.

Elmlea blushed a little, and glanced toward Pork, who was opening walnuts for Mrs Gumboil by the method of placing four at a time between the toes of one foot and then squeezing.  The result was such a wonderful mingling of shell and nut as to keep Mrs Gumboil quite at a loss separating them out again.

“Yes”, said Pork, and though it was but a single syllable his meaning was clear enough.

“Very well then,” said Elmlea.  “The first is from Uriah Dump.  He ‘umbly wishes us a ‘umdinger of a Christmas, and he hopes we will be ‘umming a merry tune and not getting the ‘ump”.

“There,” declared Mr Macabre; “I knew that camels came into the matter somewhere”.

“Indeed”, said his wife, “Although I cannot deprive myself of the belief that all Dump’s fine words are nothing but humbuggery”.

“That may be so,” said Mr Rickety.  “That may be so, and I’m blessed if it ain’t, but nonetheless I have a mind to indulge him.  After all, the ass is a in-law.”

“The other card,” continued Elmlea, “Is from David’s friend Mr Sneerforth.  He wishes us the greetings of the season, and hopes that, although we are but poor, both in wit and wealth, and certainly not refined enough to appreciate the exquisiteness of his felicitations, we will nonetheless take some sort of crude pleasure from the time of the year.  After all, he opines, regulation will occur in the most-accidental families”.

Mr Rickety was visibly touched.  “What a fine gentleman Mr Sneerforth is”, he declared, “To take a moment of his precious time to write to the likes of us.  Why, if I weren’t so simple then I’m sure I would appreciate the sentiments something sumptuous!”

It seemed to me there was more to the note than that, but when Elmlea’s eyes fell upon the remainder she blushed, and put the card away in something that looked commonly like her bosom.

Had I but known then that she would later seduce Sneerforth, that she would ruin and abandon him, and that she and her father would be forced to emigrate to Australia;  had I but known then that when Mr Macabre announced that ‘Something will turn up’ that very something would be the toes of both Pork and Sneerforth himself, drowned together but a handful of yards from where we kept such merry company, had I known any of that then this might have been a considerably shorter book.

But, of course, I didn’t know any such thing, so it isn’t.

“God bless us every one!” cried Tinny Tom, who was immediately caught by the heel and thrown overboard for being in the wrong story.  Mrs Gumboil, especially, was livid with him.  But then, livid was her most favoured disposition.  Which was, in itself, quite felicitous.  Because, given her past, and taking her future, and allowing full consideration of her present, she was quite clearly destined to be happily livid, ever after.


In 1994 Rev. Derek Bream, the vicar of St Just-near-Trunch, was laid up in hospital after an unfortunate incident with a passing lorry.  Never one for idleness, and fearful that his flock might go astray without its chief crook, he wrote an uplifting message for the church notice-board.  There it remained, unread, for several months.  Eventually it was noticed by Mr Clerk, the Parish Clerk, who took it own and placed it amongst the Parish records.  In due course, however, this much ignored missive was to become the first of a remarkable series of letters.

Life’s like that, isn’t it?  Only the other day I was bicycling home from the Women’s Bright Hour high-fibre bran-tub evening, when I ran into Len Kipper.  And after he’d pulled me out from under his lorry, picked me up, and straightened my crossbar, he said “You want to look where you’re going, Reverent Bream”.  “Call me Derek”, I was about to say, but then it struck me that he’d actually said something quite profound.  For we all want to look where we’re going, don’t we?  In fact we’re often so busy looking where we’re going, that we forget to turn around, sometimes, and see where we’ve been.  And then, when we do turn and see where we’ve been, Len, or someone like him, chooses that very moment to pull out of a side lane in front of us.  And immediately all thoughts of where we’ve been are knocked aside by Len’s lorry, and we can’t even remember where it was we were going in the first place.

Let me ask you a question.  Is there a Len’s lorry in your life?  I know there is in mine.  It’s big, and black, and has ‘Len Kipper, Abstract Painter and Decorator’ written on the side in bright green letters.  And, do you know, I think the maker of Len’s lorry was the maker of us all.  I think He put Len’s lorry here to stop me fretting about where I’ve been and where I’m going, and to make me jolly well think about exactly where I am.

You see what I’m saying, don’t you?  We are none of us quite sure where we’ve been; and we really have no idea where we’re going; but we do at least have the comfort of knowing where we are.  We are under the Len’s lorries of our lives.  So the next time you wake up thinking “Where am I?”, and you look up and get a splash of sump oil in the eye, just remember this.  If God had meant you to be anywhere other than exactly where you are, He’d have given Len Kipper driving lessons!


as told by Sid Kipper

The same story may appear in a number of forms.  This one was originally a musical, written by that prolific Norfolk librettist Andrew Smethurst.  It’s original title was Educating Greta, but after threats of legal action from Miss Garbo, it was changed to My Bootiful Mawther – ‘mawther’ being a Norfolk word for a woman.

Smethurst also wrote the smash hit show East Side Story, which older readers will probably be familiar with.  If you haven’t been privileged to see it, perhaps I might offer you a brief outline.  Set in the tough East side of Kings Lynn, it follows the feuding of two local gangs, the Crabs and the Swedes.  It begins with the Crab girls performing a Norfolk ‘Flamingo’ Dance, and singing;

I want to be in East Anglia,

Far from Torquay in East Anglia,

Nowhere to ski in East Anglia,

Sing out of key in East Anglia!

Then one of the Swede boys sees something in Crab territory that he simply must have.  Rather than grab it quickly and get away, he can’t resist bursting into song – this being a musical, after all;

Manure, I’ve just seen a load of manure,

And suddenly I feel, I must go fetch my wheel


And so he gets caught by a Crab girl, who tells him where to go.  In song, of course;

There’s a place for you, a time and a place for you;

But its not here, and its not now,

So best you go, and hold your row,

Somewhere, somehow, Somerset!

But that’s not this story, and I don’t want to give the whole plot away.  Go and see the show for yourself if you get a chance.  I will tell you that it ends in a typically Norfolk fashion, in that everyone lives happily ever after, and none of them ever speak to each other, ever again.

But back to the story in hand.  My Bootiful Mawther has two features of particular interest.  Firstly, in performance it gives Sid an opportunity to demonstrate his not inconsiderable acting talents (although that doesn’t come over so well on the page, of course).  And, secondly, Sid seems to be completely unaware that it ever had any musical content at all.

Bert Baker had a wine bar.  He wouldn’t sell it in his pub under any circumstances.  Because the Embalmers Arms in Walcott was a proper, old-fashioned sort of pub.  And when our story begins Bert was down in the cellar, watering the beer.  He did that because he believed in saving his customers from the evils of drink.  That, and making a profit.

Upstairs, Norman Nobbs stood at the bar, nursing a half pint of something.  He was waiting until the time came when his wife would let him back into the house, due to it being a Friday, and therefore Women’s Quiet Night In in that part of Norfolk.

Farmer Hicks and Ruby Slipper were in the corner, playing cards.  He was playing ‘Beggar my Neighbour’, and she was playing ‘Old Maid’, so the scoring was quite complicated!

And our heroes, ‘Pigmy’ Leon and ‘The Professor’, were sitting at their usual table, near the door.  Of course, those weren’t their real names.  They were nick-names.  Pigmy’s real name was Leon Sea, and The Professor’s was Mark Wide.  But they got their names by the basic rule of clever nick-naming.  You see, Pigmy was six foot three and built like a brick privy, and The Professor had once got the bottom score of minus three out of ten in a mental arithmetic test at school, more years ago than anyone who got less than seven out of ten in the test could calculate.

So, like I said, all was peaceful when the door opened, and in came a strange woman.  She wore a brand new waxed jacket, shiny green gum-boots, and a head-scarf with horse shoes on.  Not real horseshoes, you understand.  They were printed ones.  Otherwise when she shook her head she’d knock herself out, and forget all about whatever it was she’d been disagreeing with.

But she didn’t shake her head.  She did something even more amazing.  She opened her mouth.  And out came a most peculiar sound.  It sort of sounded like English, but not how they spoke it in Walcott.  You could recognise some of the individual words alright, but put them together and they made no sense at all.

“Oh I say”, she said; “How pahfectly quaint!  How absolutely authentic!”

Well, all the regulars stared open mouthed at this strange noise.  Except for The Professor, but I’m coming to that.  Because just then the stranger spotted Bert Baker popping up behind the bar.  Well, he never liked to let a customer get away.  So she went straight over to him and said; “Tell me, my good man – I take it you are Mine Host.  So, tell me, may one acquire a capuchino in your charming hostelry?”

Well, Bert couldn’t understand a word of that.  So he looked at The Professor for a translation.  Because The Professor had been to London.  Oh, it was only the once, and purely by accident, obviously.  He’d simply forgotten to get off the train at Stowmarket, due to lack of ebriation.

“I reckon”, The Professor told Bert, in proper Norfolk, “I reckon she want a corfee”.

“Well”, replied Bert, in the same tongue, “If she want a corfee, wha’s she doin’ in a pub?”

“Buggered if I know”, said the Professor.

Well, the woman looked puzzled for a while, but not for very long.  That wasn’t her way.

“I say”, she said, “I mean, it’s simply sooper to hear your vernacular, but I’m afraid I don’t quite follow the meaning”.

The Professor translated for Bert:  “She say as how she like the way we mardle, but she can’t foller it”.

“I aren’t surprised”, he responded.  “Arsk her if she want suffin’ proper to drink, or can I get on with my wuk?”

“Sartenly”, said The Professor.  “Bert asks if you require some sort of an alcoholic beverage, or can he return to his duties?”

“Oh, I say!” exclaimed the woman.  “How frighfully clever; you’re bilingual.  But what luck – you’re just exactly the sort of person I’ve been looking for.”

And with that she forgot all about the coffee, pulled up a three legged stool, and joined Pygmy and The Professor at their table.  She made herself as comfortable as she could, which wasn’t all that comfortable, because the stool was actually supposed to have four legs.  And then she launched herself into a little speech.

“You see, it’s this wise.  I moved into the village a few weeks ago, and of course it’s absolutely delighful and so on, but I don’t feel that I am quite fitting in.  It’s not that people won’t talk to me.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Many of them even shout.  It’s just that I cannot understand a single word of what people say, although I think some of them might be inviting me to count their fingers.  So, as you seem to understand both English and whatever passes for a language in these parts, I would like to engage you to instruct me in the local idiom”.

“What she want?” asked Pygmy.

“She say she want me to larn her to talk proper”, replied the Professor.

“That you won’t”, said Pygmy.  “I’ll bet you ten bob you don’t”.

“Awright, yer on.  When I’re finished with her I’ll pass her off as a lucal at the Stalham Shew!”

“Bless!”, said the stranger.  “Why, it’s almost musical.  But tell me, what have you and your charming companion concluded?”

“I’ll do it”, replied The Professor.  “We’ll start tomorrow”.

It was just her good luck that Pygmy didn’t understand her when she called him charming.  Of course, he would never have hit a woman, but he’d certainly have born a grudge.

A week later The Professor was beginning to have his doubts.  Well, not so much beginning as nearing a conclusion, to tell the truth.  Oh, she was keen enough, alright.  She tried really hard.  For instance, she’d been to the rummage sale, and bought herself an new outfit of old clothes.  But even then he had to explain to her that most people didn’t tie binder twine round their ankles unless there was a real threat of something running up their legs.  However, there was one good sign.  She had at least changed her name from Dominique, which not only sounded posh but also foreign, to Domie.  Just now he was giving her what they call a vocal exercise.

“So, say arter me;  ‘The doo in Koo fall nooly on the foo’.”

She had a go.  “The due in Kew falls newly on the few”.

The Professor despaired.  “No, no, no!  It’s not ‘due’; it’s ‘doo’.”


“Well, thas a bit more like it.  Go agin”.

“Deeoo.  Deeoo.  Doo”.

“Thas it.  Alright, go on.  Do the whul thing”.

So she did.  “The doo in Koo fall nooly on the foo”.

The Professor sat up with a jerk.  “She’re got it”, he cried;  “Blass bor, she’re got it!”

“The doo in Koo fall nooly on the foo”, she repeated.

“Awright, so where do the doo fall?”

“On the foo; on the foo”.

“And where’s them duzzy foo?”

“In Koo; in Koo”.

And with that she got up and started dancing round the room, almost singing “The doo in Koo fall nooly on the foo”, like she was gone out.

“Well”, said the Professor to himself, “Now we’re a-gettin’ somewhere.  Though I’m buggered if I know where it is!”

Two more weeks went by, and now it was the eve of the Stalham Show.  Pygmy and The Professor were sitting, drinking, at their usual table in the Embalmers Arms.

“Best you have your ten bob ready”, said Pygmy.  “I’ll be havin’ that orf of you tomorrer”.

“That you on’t”, replied The Professor.  “I’ll pass her off as a Norfolk mawther, and you’ll have to swaller your own wuds, just you wait and see.”

Bert Baker offered his fourpenny worth.  “She’re bound to put a foot wrong somewhere.  That take a lifetime to larn Norfolk.  Longer, if yer a slow larner”.

The Professor wasn’t bothered.  “Well we’ll see, sharn’t we?  I’re larned her all I know, and now she’re got goin’ she’re took to it like an owd sow to mud.  I’m confidently quiet”.

There was a pause for thought.  It was soon broken by Bert Baker, who’d run out of material.  “What did she do afore she come hare, then?” he asked.

“I hud as how she used to be a flower seller”, said Pygmy.

“Well, tha’s not whully right”, said The Professor.  “As a matter of fact she wus the top boss at Bartam Mills, which is a grit old company down London way.  They reckon they supply flour all over the shop”.

“Are you narvous about tomorrer?” asked Bert.

“That I in’t.  And if I was, well, I’m now goin’ out the back for a bowels match, so that’ll take my mind orf it, even if it was on it, which it in’t!”.  And he spent the rest of the evening on the bowling green, just like he’d said he would.

And so the day of the Stalham Show dawned.  Of course it was raining, because it always rains for the Stalham Show – that’s traditional.  Nobody can work out whether the rain knows when the Show is on, or whether the organisers know what the weather will be when they fix the date.  But it always rains for the Stalham Show.

Pygmy and The Professor picked Domie up on the Stalham road, so they could go to the Show together.  The Professor had a surprise up his sleeve for the others.  He’d entered Domie for the Norfolk Dialect Competition, or, as it was known to one and all, ‘Mardling Lucal’.

It was a cunning plan.  You see the Dialect Competition was always the opening event of the Show, and he knew that if she did alright in that she’d be home and dry.  Or away and wet, given the place and the weather.  As a sort of insurance he’d let it be known that she was his cousin from the other side of the Broads.  And she suffered from a speech impediment.

Well, when they got there the crowd was milling around, singing a song about how wonderful they all were, but that was nothing unusual for Stalham.  The Professor led Domie straight to the registration table.  She’d changed a lot.  For a start, she’d lost her snooty manner.  Now she had a proper Norfolk slummock, which is hard to describe, but you’d know it if you saw it.  Nobody gave her a second glance, which, of course, meant she’d passed the first part of the test.  Now came second part.

“Wass yer nairm?” asked the clerk.

“Thas Domie”, she answered, word perfect.

“Right you are Domie.  An’ what you goin’ in for?”

“I’m a-goin’ to do the Norfolk Talking cerstificate”.

“Awright.  So whas yer piece?”

“I’m doin’ ‘Boadikippa'”

“Well that’ll be nice for us orl, I’m sure.  We’ll corl you when we need you”.

And, before very much longer, entries were closed and the competition was opened.  Well, there were all sorts of pieces, performed by all sorts of people.  Why they all went in for it nobody knew, because the competition was always won by a bloke who came over from Catfield every year, and was never seen at any other time.  But they still went in for it, anyway.  A young boy did “A pome called ‘The Bor Stood On The Bunnin’ Deck'”.  A middle-aged woman gave them “Wuddswuths Daffs”.  And a very shy man performed “‘Whas Owed To A Greek’ by a bloke called Ern”.  At least, they thought that was what he performed. They couldn’t actually hear any of it due to his very shyness.

And so it went on, until there was only Domie and the bloke from Catfield left to go.  Well, it was the bloke’s turn next, and up he got, and did what he always did:

“This here is by a bloke called Tom Gray, and thas called ‘An Allergy Writ in a Country Chuchyard’, though I don’t know what country that was in.  Here go;

The curfoo toll the knell of partin’ day,

The lowin’ hud wind slowly or the lea;

The ploughman humwood plod his wary way,

And leave the wuld to darkness and to me; silly bugger”.

And as soon as he’d finished, people began to pack up their belongings to go.  Because they all thought they’d heard the winning entry, as usual.  But they were stopped in their tracks by a voice that rang out in tones of pure Norfolk.  It was Domie, of course.

“I’m a-goin’ to do you a bit from The Song of Boadikippa, by T.S. Idiot:

In the town of Nooton Flotman,

By the shinin’ Elsie Waters,

Up the crick without a paddle,

Sat a slummockin’ great mawther.

She’re the Queen of orl Iceni.

With her was the mighty hunter,

Known to orl as Higher Puchase,

He say “I will lie with Boadi,

I will get my outside inside”.

She say “I should bloomin’ cuckoo”.”

And so on, for quite a long time.  But the time didn’t seem to matter.  Because the audience, the judge, and all the other competitors were completely entranced.  All except for the bloke from Catfield, who’d already gone home, leaving a forwarding address for them to send his prize.  But, of course, he didn’t get any prize.  The prize went, by the unanimous vote of the judge, to Domie.

Well, it was a total triumph for The Professor.  He got his winnings from Pigmy double quick, and then the three of them couldn’t wait to get back to Walcott to celebrate, in the dry.

“Get me to the pub on time”, cried the Professor.

“Yis”, said Pigmy, “I feel pretty much the same.  An she’d better come an all – I’re grown accustomed to her fairce”.

“Come you on Domie”, said The Professor.  “We’ll drop you orf on the street where you live”.

Well, Domie just smiled.  Then she sighed.  And then she declared to one and all; “Now, wouln’t that be lovely?”

And, for some totally unknown reason, I feel like the story ought to finish on a song.  But it can’t, of course, because for the life of me I just can’t think of a single song that would suit.


Although Sid is clearly the family’s literary genius, he is by no means the first Kipper into print.  His mother, Dot, was published some years ago by the local firm of Sodder and Roughton.  Her Book of Handy Household Hints, subtitled: All What The Newly-Wedded Wife Need To Know About Womens’ Things, and now sadly out of print, was something of a bible for many young brides in the area.  Some of it is now startlingly out of date, or even bizarre.  Take her advice for the wedding night; “Just let him get on with it, while you lie back and think of Ringland”.

But Dot’s plain, no-nonsense approach to cookery is a breath of fresh air in today’s welter of sun dried tomatoes and unripe avocados.  So let’s hope these recipes will bring inspiration to a whole new generation of young wives.

EGG SOUP – This is a very rich and satisfying soup, what is economical and never fails.

METHOD – Just take one egg per person and pop them in a saucepan, but take care you don’t crack the shells, or that will spoil the broth.  Now, put in just enough cold water to cover up over the top of the eggs.  Put the pan on the range and sing the Egg Boiling Song, which should take exactly four minutes and a half.  Then you just fish out the eggs and serve the soup before it gets cold.

TIP – You can dry the eggs off after, and use them again as often as you like.


from E. Sopp’s ‘A Bunch Of Fairies’

Some scholars say that there is, at root, only one basic story, on which all others are based.  On the other hand the saying has it that there are two sides to every story, so that surely means there must be two basic stories.  And then there’s the other side to each of those two, and so on.  So really there must be an infinite number of basic stories, of which all the ones we know are just a sample.

Mrs E Sopp of Southrepps specialises in the telling of the other side of the story.  In works such as Jack, The Giant Murderer and The Terrible Deeds of Handsel and Gretel (where two greedy children label a poor old woman a witch, slay her horribly, and proceed to eat her out of house and home) Mrs Sopp was always concerned to set the record straight.

Here, in ‘The Ugly Sisters’, she gives us a fresh insight into the real truth of that sickening goody-goody Cinderella.

There were once two ugly sisters, which, as you’ll know if you did your sums at school, is equal to twice one ugly sister, or four ugly half-sisters.  And they were known to one and all as The Ugly Sisters.

Of course nowadays many people say that you shouldn’t call people ugly.  They think you should ignore the fact that the sisters were horrible to look at, and call them something else, such as ‘ornamentally challenged’, or ‘differently lovely’.

But if I did that, then there wouldn’t be any story for me to tell.  I wouldn’t be able to explain why people screamed and ran away whenever they saw them.  Besides, the sisters were actually quite proud of their ugliness.  They thought it was the thing that made them stand out from the crowd.  Although, strictly speaking, it was more the thing that made the crowd move away in a hurry, leaving the sisters standing out on their own.

And when I say that they were ugly I don’t simply mean that they failed to conform to some fashionable idea of beauty.  I mean they really were ugly.  So ugly that you might easily have mistaken them for men dressed up as women.  Especially as one of them had a large luxuriant moustache, and the other had a wonderfully hairy chest.  So ugly, in fact, that nobody ever bothered to even find out their names.

Now the two sisters spent most of their time in a large kitchen, along with a pure, innocent, wide-eyed girl called Cinderella.  Cinderella was somewhat retarded, and still believed in magic, and Fairy Godmothers, and the like.  So clearly she had to be looked after for her own protection, and out of the kindness of their hearts the sisters found her simple things to do, such as raking out the cinders, which is how she got her name (the other thing they let her do was gut fish, which is how she got another name.  But she didn’t use Salmonella very often).

And they were all just getting on with their ordinary lives when one day they received an invitation from the Handsome Prince, who lived in the fairy castle a little way down the road, opposite the greengrocers.  The Ugly Sisters read out the note to Cinders:

‘Dear Ugly Sisters’, they read, ‘I am having a Grand Ball next Thursday week, and I do hope you will be able to attend.  There will be champagne and dancing and a posh buffet with vol-au-vents and the like.  Please do come, and wear your best.

Signed, Charles Charming, Prince.

PS; please do not bring that soppy, skinny, wet looking Cinderella, as she would only be an embarrassment.  If you ask me she’s anorexic.’

Well, Cinderella wasn’t sure about the PS regarding them not bringing her along.  In fact, if she hadn’t been so pure and innocent she might have suspected that the sisters had made that bit up, and that they didn’t want her coming along and showing them up.  For she was indeed kind, and gentle, and if she’d been scrubbed up she might have been quite beautiful, in a rather slender sort of a way.

“Ah, well”, she sighed, “I couldn’t have gone anyway, because I’ve got absolutely nothing to wear”; which, if it were literally true, meant that if she had gone to the ball she’d have shown everybody up, to coin a phrase.

Well, the days and the nights passed by until the afternoon of the Prince’s ball finally arrived.  The Ugly Sisters spent hour upon hour getting ready.  They washed themselves all over.  They curled their hair (but not the moustache or the chest hair, because they were naturally curly).  They powdered their faces and blew their noses, and vice versa.  They dressed up in their very best clothes, and put on lacy bloomers.

And the result was a minor triumph.  Lo and behold, now they didn’t look really ugly at all.  Now they just looked extremely unattractive.  And Cinderella, in her old frock, which was tattered and torn in just such a way as to make her look all the more lovely, could only look on wistfully as they put the final touches to their primping and preening with a spokeshave and a pair of pliers.

Finally they were ready, and they set off for the ball.  But not before giving Cinderella her instructions.

“Make sure you keep raking those cinders”, said the first sister.  “We’ll be checking them when we get back”.

“It’s for your own good”, said the second.  “The work will keep you warm”.

“Oh dear”, thought Cinders.  “If I could only stop all this raking we might actually have a fire to keep me warm.”

How the evening dragged for Cinderella.  Oh, how she longed to be at the ball.  She thought about the sisters, and all the glamour, and the fun they would be having.  She thought about Prince Charming, who she’d once seen from a distance as she came out of the greengrocers.  Local gossip had it that he was the answer to a maiden’s prayer – especially if the prayer was that she wouldn’t be a maiden for much longer.

But what was the use of dreaming, she thought.  She’d never get to meet him.  She wasn’t even going to the ball.


“I have been doubled up with laughter and tears streaming from my eyes reading Big Dick Of Whittington as told by Sid Kipper.  Knowing the original tale so well, I’m not sure I can tell it again without a secret chuckle”.

(Storylines – the journal of the Society For Storytelling)