Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Infamy Game

We’ve mentioned a few of the Fylde and Wyre’s more famous exports before, but now it’s time to turn to the dark side, and where better to start than with the most evil man in the whole universe ever? Yes, I’m talking about John Simm, the bloke who on New Year’s Day made thousands of eight-year-old girls (and quite a few overweight middle-aged divorcees as well I suspect) burst into tears all at once when he killed David Tennant so that he could nick his role in Hamlet.


All right, not the best portrait in the world, I admit…in fact he’s got more than a touch of the Julian Clarey’s about him, but who cares? This is the Master we’re dealing with here, not the masterpiece. (Copyright Giles Brandreth Psuedo-Intellectual Jokes Inc. 1873.)
John Simm was actually born in Yorkshire, but had the good sense to escape to Nelson in Lancashire when he was only a couple of years old. Eventually he found his way to Blackpool and, at the age of sixteen, attended Lytham St Anne’s college. (That’s the same college Michelle went to, incidentally…although in her case it was a bit earlier than 1986, I have to be honest.)
His acting credentials are quite impressive, it must be said, ranging from appearances in ‘Rumpole of the Old Bailey’ to ‘Cracker’. In more recent times he’s been carving a niche for himself as temporally-challenged characters; firstly as Sam Tyler in ‘Life on Mars’ (the series that brought us the immortal – not to mention immoral – line: ‘We’re making about as much progress as a spastic in a magnet factory!” What? Don’t blame me! Blame the BBC scriptwriters for that one) and secondly taking over the aforementioned role of the Master in Dr. Who from Derek Jacobi.
But before we end up writing his entire Curriculum Vitae, let’s move on.
Now, everybody knows that Albert Pierrepoint, the last hangman in Britain, retired to Fleetwood following his final execution, don’t they?
Except that he didn’t.
He retired to Southport actually, and possibly never went near the Fylde and/or Wyre in his life.
However, the last hangman in Britain did retire to Fleetwood.
Confused? Hardly surprising really, because regardless of the numerous books, plays and television spectaculars written about Pierrepoint, he wasn’t actually the last hangman in Britain at all.
That somewhat dubious honour goes to a bloke called Harry Allen.
Let’s have a picture of Albert Pierrepoint for comparative reasons then shall we?


Hard to believe that he made a living by hanging criminals, isn’t it? Especially considering that he looks like a cross between an elderly Stan Laurel and a hamster.
Like Simm, Albert Pierrepoint hailed from Yorkshire, but had the good sense to get out before it was too late. Whilst living in Failsworth, Manchester, he ran a pub called the 'Help the Poor Struggler'. I know…sick, or what? But sadly true.
He took over the role of public executioner in 1932 from his father (his granddad having held it before him – it’s a good job nepotism wasn’t a hanging offence), but relinquished it in 1956. The last hangman of all was in fact two people, those being Robert Stewart and Harry Allen.
Both officiated at the last hangings in England, in August of 1964.
It was Harry who retired to Fleetwood, so let’s have a picture of him now as well, to avoid confusion.


Looks very dapper, doesn’t he? Apparently he always wore a waistcoat, bow tie and bowler on the job. Obviously he didn’t want the victim to be scandalised by a scruffy appearance in his last few moments.
Harry passed away in August 1992 (not long after Pierrepoint, coincidentally), which was a pity, because I can think of a number of idiots around Fleetwood who wouldn’t be particularly missed if he’d given them a demonstration of his craft from the flagpole on the Mount.

27 comments:

Andrew said...

Part 2 of the last episode with Tennant in Dr Who to be screened here this coming weekend. Never mind, I kind of guessed what was going to happen.

Brian Hughes said...

Andrew,

Bugger! Apologies for that! I thought it had already been screened in Oz...although, strictly speaking, the Master didn't kill him anyway. In fact, far from it, he actually saved his life. I've said too much haven't I? Time to zip it, I reckon, before I reveal how Donna Nobel dies at the hands of the Daleks as well...

Jayne said...

Next you'll tell us Wilf is actually James Bonds' father who begat Davros during a stop over on Venus :P

Brian Hughes said...

Actually Jayne, because I'm a bit of a boffin when it comes to all matters Whovian, I can tell you that, once the filming on the Tennant era had finished, Bernard Cribbins (a.k.a. Wilf) was presented with a plaque, apparently, inscribed to 'The Doctor's most faithful companion' along with a photo-montage in a frame showing Mr Cribbins with David Tennant on one half, and Mr Cribbins with Peter Cushing (because he appeared, of course, in the Daleks Invasion of Earth back in the 1960s with said Peter Cushing playing the Doctor at the time) on the other. With the exception of the Brigadier, this probably makes him the longest serving Dr. Who companion of all time.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try and find out where I've misplaced my life.

BwcaBrownie said...

as far as I'm concerned, Cribbins CV is Right Said Fred, then The Rat Inspector in Flawty Towels, but Mr Simm and Mr Tennant both have a serious effect on me, State Of Dr.Hamlet Meets Casanova On Mars.

John said...

You know, i haven't seen these episodes at all yet, so may I kindly ask y'all to zip it? :0)

back to archeology, please, until I can afford the outlandish price of the latest Who collection on dvd.

John said...

Okay, now that i've actually read teh post, I must ask you to desist from bashing Yorkshire! Not only did my ancestors escape, er... hail from Yorkshire, but we now have that delectable bit of chocolate called the Yorkie.

As for Blackpool, anyone growing up in such a place, from what I hear, would obviously develop the credentials for being an evil mastermind at a very early age. Survival would make that a necessary requirement.

Now, are we all through with this senseless bashing?

And no more talk of Tennant! I haven't seen those episodes yet!

Anonymous.

Brian Hughes said...

Annie,

To me Mr. Cribbins will always be Orinoco in the Wombles. (Why are we writing about him as though he's dead?)

John,

Lancashire and Yorkshire never really stopped fighting the Wars of the Roses. I was particularly pleased with Wallace and Gromit's 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' (Nick Parks, of course, being another grand Lancastrian) and the sign in it surrounded by barbed wire that read: "Danger! Yorkshire Border."

Jayne said...

A chocolate called a Yorkie, John???
In the words of a former Aussie politician best forgotten, "please explain" ?

Hmmm Casanova with Tennant...hmmmmm

BwcaBrownie said...

Yorkie bars.

Brian Hughes said...

There used to be an old joke about Peter Sutcliffe and Yorkie bars...but it was rather tasteless, so I won't repeat it here.

BwcaBrownie said...

Dear tasteful F.A.W.A
your readers appreciate your restraint.
On the other hand 'ripper' or 'rippa' is an Aussie slang term for 'excellent' ie: we had a ripper Yorkie bar.

Brian Hughes said...

Annie,

The joke I heard was more tasteless than that. More tasteless than a Wagon Wheel in fact. Now that's really tasteless.

Anonymous said...

can one brian hughes of fleetwoodshire please txt a very depressed librarian his phone number as she has lost it(the number, not her mind, but then again...)

Brian Hughes said...

I keep telling you to get a SKYPE phone, Carol. They're free and you don't even need a number.

Anonymous said...

well that helpful...i have an irate librarian wanting copies of your opus for our local publications thingy...

Brian Hughes said...

Carol,

I've texted my number to you (again), so if you want some more books then send me the usual details and I'll get onto our distributor about it. (Er...assuming both the anonymous requests above were actually from Carol, of course.)

swbirdy64 said...

I used to work with Harry Allen in the early 80s his party trick to keep his skills sharp was upon meeting anyone new he would tell them their height, weight and how long a drop would be needed to do the job cleanly. A sobering thought he always said he was ready for duty should the need arise !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brian Hughes said...

Steve,

When you say you used to work with Harry Allen, what exactly was the job? Freight loading? Campanologist? (I'm trying desperately to think of jobs involving ropes and trapdoors here, and, as you can see, having very little luck.)

Jayne said...

Dark or milk chocolate?
'Caradine, Hutchence and McQueen' would make a nice heading for rope importers...but that would be rather distasteful so I won't mention it.

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

That's what I thought, which was I didn't mention them either.

BwcaBrownie said...

It is well-documented that Mr Hutchence and Mr Caradine did not die by rope. The late Mr McQueen, being a couture designer, probably did not use rough old rope either.
Tasteless is OK if humourous, misinformation is not.

Brian Hughes said...

Annie,

Substitute Saddam for the previous three suggestions then. I haven't actually seen the video, but I've been lead to believe that he was well hung. And if I'm wrong about that, then the bloke from the inside sleeve for Monty Python's Matching Tie and Handkerchief should suffice.

Anonymous said...

your picture of Harry looks very much like that old codger Len Goodman of "strictly" fame.
carol

Jayne said...

I did say it was distasteful, never claimed it was 100% accurate or a school lesson lol.

Speaking of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart I see he's turned up in the Sara-Jane Adventures but not in DW yet...can't you go draw him in or something, Brian?

Brian Hughes said...

Carol,

Don't know who Len Goodman is, don't watch 'Strictly'...no wonder you're depressed. Incidentally, have you got my telephone number yet?

Jayne,

I saw the Brig in Sarah Jane (ahem). The blogger board, unfortunately, isn't wide enough to accommodate a drawing of his increasingly rotund girth I'm afraid.

RVB said...

The new series of Dr Who is fuckin' A at the moment.

Also yes, I have returned. For a brief period of time and then its back into the time vortex I'm afraid.