Friday, 5 November 2010

Well that went wi' a Bang!

"Bonfeer Neet" in Skeffling - a time to catch up

"Ah's bin ti Skeff fer Bonfeer Neet" would perhaps be a more appropriate way of telling you about my whereabouts on the annual commemoration of Guy Fawkes' failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.
For in this quaint little corner of south east Holderness, the village of Skeffling, it's good to know that East Riding folk speak like East Riding folk should speak!
We chose "Skeff" as our Bonfire Night destination due to the village's reputation for doing things like this well.  As it proclaims on its excellent website"there is a strong sense of community spirit" and it shows.

It's often said that you don't appreciate the places nearest to you.  And that's certainly the case with me and the villages in close proximity to Easington.  So, back in May (Spring Bank Holiday Monday to be precise) we'd enjoyed a family jaunt in "Skeff", beginning with the Hodgson's Fields walk, set up by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 2002 and named after local farmer (& character) Tom Hodgson.
 It's the sort of thing the Slushettes love to do; getting out in the middle of nowhere where they can let their imagination run wild.  As an added bonus, you'll be lucky to see another soul on this particular stroll.
After we'd completed the circular route, we had a drive up to the Humber Bank before stopping off at the St Helen's Church.

Prior to it being deemed unsafe to use, this 15th century building annually provided one of the year's Christmas highlights courtesy of its Carols By Candlelight.  It's also the place where the Younger Slushette was Christened.
Skeffling is writ large in my background.  Many of my late mother's family originate from there and many of them are also buried there, including both her parents; Grandad' Douglas's grave there being recorded in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database.

Mum was one of Maggie's ten children, of which sadly only three remain - all boys.  The six girls - Elsie, Gladys, Monica, Jean, Kathy and Mary (mum) - plus one of the lads, John ("Jack"), are no longer with us.  Of the three who do, Ted still resides in Skeffling and was there to see the fireworks tonight.  T'others, Frank and Pete, both live in Easington (or Esinton if you please!) with Frank still a regular at Low Farm.
Mum's family have a strong connection with local football.  Ted, Jack and Frank all played for the Skeffling team of the late 40s/early 50s  (now there's an idea for a blog) and all went on to play for Easington once the former club had folded.  The connections carried on through many of the ten Douglas children's offspring and in turn their children too.
Ted - a footballing Douglas
Ted is a case in point, with younger son Melvin forever associated with 'The Eastenders', not only for his then record tally of 294 goals in 286 appearances, but for the fact that he died shortly after having been taken ill during a league game in the club's first ever divisional title-winning season of 1990/91; a campaign I'm revisiting in this season's match programmes.  Melv was just 30 years old.
Older brother Keith ("Kite") was also a stalwart of the club and was at the Fireworks tonight, as another of the Douglas clan offspring, Allan Atkinson (son of Elsie).  One of many players whose contribution to the cause has been diminished due to a lack of official records pre-1972, goalkeeper "Acky" still has some 256 appearances recorded from that date up until his final appearance, at Hessle Rangers on 24 October 1988.  The fact that he was United's keeper for much of the Sixties would suggest that his final figure could be up there with current record holders McNaught and Clarke.
The Ack in the Hat at Burton Pidsea circa '66/67
Up until a few years ago Acky would be found at Low Farm on match days in a spectator capacity,  usually accompanied by his German Shepherd.  On one memorable occasion when a visiting goalkeeper took exception to a comment he'd made and wanted to pursue the matter further, that same German Shepherd ensured he'd think again!  Perhaps it's as well that he now feels he "gets too wound up by referees" to venture down to the Farm these days.
The club's progress over the past few years means we often lose sight of those who plied their wares at Low Farm in somewhat less auspicious times.  Meanwhile, I  know I don't see enough of those who I really ought to catch up with.  It shouldn't come to events like Bonfire Night to enable the addressing of both shortcomings!

Having come back round to the date in question and of course the Gunpowder Plot has its own Holderness connection, given that two of Fawkes' co-conspirators, John (Jack) and Christopher (Kit) Wright, were born in the nearby village of Welwick.
As for the fireworks this evening, they were very impressive.  Given that I was someone whose Dad only had to threaten him with a cap gun to get immediate obedience when young that's quite some statement!  On tonight's evidence, the Younger Slushette's taking after me ("Can we go inside Dad, they're too loud?").  And despite the damp conditions, a healthy-sized crowd, made up of Skefflingites plus interlopers from east and west, enjoyed the display, the barbecue and the beverages on offer in the nearby Village Hall.  Word has it some were still there at two in the morning...some five hours after the last rocket had taken flight.
Yep, they know how to put on a do in Skeff!

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