Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another Bagful of Midget Gems

Everybody likes midgets (apart from Jeanette Cranky, of course), so what better way to chase off those post-Christmas blues than with a few ‘historic’ postcards (courtesy of Phil Barker at http://www.rossallbeach.co.uk/) featuring a selection of diminutive entertainers? Unlike our previous article on this topic, this particular troop of 'wee folk' weren’t owned by John Lester at Blackpool Tower, but were known as Chaffer’s Wonderful Midgets, a rival gang of alternative tumblers and acrobats inhabiting the Winter Gardens. (Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, eh?)

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a dwarf and a midget is, apparently (and we’re not scientists here, so don’t blame us if we’re wrong), dwarfs tend to have bulbous heads, stumpy fingers and bandy legs, whereas midgets are perfectly proportioned, just on the extremely small side; although the bloke on the far left in the photograph above is trying his best to fall into both categories.
One of the advantages that midgets have over the rest of us, of course, is their ability to create instant joy amongst on-lookers when they put on a humorous costume, as the following photograph (possibly a dark premonition of the rise of Hitler) demonstrates:

We don’t have much information about Chaffer’s Wonderful Midgets. However, Phil did receive an e-mail from some bloke in Australia whose forefathers (and possible foremothers) were midgets from Garstang. This doesn’t surprise us. The parochial stubbornness of the Over Wyre district often results in...shall we say 'thoroughbreds'; sometimes, even, the occasional court case concerning a goat. (It's a joke! It's in quite poor taste perhaps, but so's the exploitation of midgets and I don't hear anyone complaining about that!)
Several generations down the line, the Australian’s descendants have re-maximised in height, proving, if nothing else, that the rumours about the great orange continent aren’t necessarily true. However, family legend has it the original midget great-grand parents (under the command of John Lester) actually lived in ‘Midget Town’ (now Jungle Jim’s) rather than just inhabiting the model village during visitor hours. We can’t verify this, but the images of after-hour drinking, fighting and poker playing, all taking place in those brightly painted toy-town buildings, jars a bit, doesn’t it?
Still, we don’t want to end on a downer, so how about one last photograph before Wyre Archaeology (not to mention any other serious organisations linked to this site) disown us for ripping up the politically correct handbook, and we get mobbed in our sleep (and quite rightly too) by the Disabled Council of Great Britain?

13 comments:

Ozfemme said...

what rumours?

Brian Hughes said...

Bella,

If I told you that, they wouldn't be rumours any more. Those of a none-Oz persuasion know exactly what I mean, but we're all waaaay too discreet to mention them in public.

JahTeh said...

It's a red green bluish continent.

Let him have his secrets Bella, It's 3 degrees in Pomland and storms are brewing. We'll just go and sit in the garden with a cold beer or three.

Brian Hughes said...

Witchy,

It's blowing a force ten gale here (strong enough to wreck the Ireland to Heysham ferry on Blackpool Beach, and blow the BBC weather unit's outside broadcast van on the promenade over)and there's snow on the way.

A hearty log fire, a tumbler of scotch and bangers and mash for tea whilst the sheep bleat plaintively on the fellsides...who could possibly ask for more...well...apart from the sheep shutting up, of course?

JahTeh said...

I saw footage of the ferry going over. At least up Durham way they got the bus load of pensioners out of harm's way or not if they made it to the nearest pub.

Invite the sheep in you doozy twit, nowt like a woollen blanket in a snow storm. Just make sure you don't put the cat out with them in the morning.

Brian Hughes said...

The only sheep I'll allow into my house are the ones that sizzle and have mint sauce on top. We have enough problems with 'em leaving little presents all over the museum.

Phil said...

Midgets found in fleetwood.

Brian Hughes said...

I take it we're not talking about the bloke who used to run the ironmongery stall in the market here, Phil?

Brian Hughes said...

Actually Phil, the Fleetwood midget's now turned up in the 'Off Topic' section of the Fylde & Wyre Antiquarian Forum...

JahTeh said...

You let sheep in the Museum and you think Australians are weird.

Brian Hughes said...

Witchy,

We don't let 'em in...they just wander in of their own accord. It's not as though we actively encourage them or anything. Then they stand there bleating as though they want waitress service, leave a small mound of chocolate currants and end up being chased from the premises with a boat hook.

Do you get the impression that it's not the most professionally run museum in the world?

Ozfemme said...

Shut the door and that should keep them out. Always pleased to be of service.

Brian Hughes said...

Bella,

We've tried that, but they've constructed a series of complex tunnels that emerge without warning in the backs of various displays.