Friday, 14 February 2014

A Penny to See a Corpse

     You will note my profile describes me as an "amateur polymath". I thought that would be the simplest and shortest alternative to "widely read collector of useless information". (Some people, knowing my reputation, have sought my assistance in obtaining useful information. It doesn't usually take them long to be disabused.) However, as an amateur polymath, I feel I must bow to the Rev. Lionel Fanthorpe, author, radio personality, member of Mensa, and leading light in several Fortean organisations. And it was thus that I found the following story - totally irrelevant to the essay in which it was included, I might add. And since the good Rev. Fanthorpe is a much better wordsmith than me (he once wrote 180+ books in a period of nine years), and since he is unlikely to sue me for plagiarism, or even read this site, I shall quote it in his own words.

     In the early nineteenth century, not far from Saffron Walden in East Anglia, there lived a rough, tough, old squire named Perry. He married a beautiful, young, Romany girl, whose tribal chief was one Abraham Green.
     When the robust old squire and his nubile gypsy parted a year or two later, Abraham and the lads took umbrage and went after Perry in a big way. The war escalated from caravan burning and livestock slaughter to an all out nocturnal assault on Perry's Hall. Unfortunately for Abraham and his men, the squire heard them coming and let fly with a blunderbuss or two which he kept parked in readiness for such eventualities. Abraham Green departed this life in a sudden and spectacular fashion, and his cohorts fled. Perry, now undisputed master of the battlefield, returned casually to his bed leaving the late Mr. Green decaying quietly on the kitchen floor until morning.
    One of Perry's farmhands was a part-time sexton, who obligingly removed the corpse in a wheelbarrow and then decided to provide for his old age by exhibiting it in the vestry. He placed a notice on the church gate accordingly: "One penny to see the gypsy shot by Squire Perry." His entrepreneurial efforts were a great success. Almost anything, it seems, can be turned to profit.
Reference: Unlike many bloggers, I am an honest plagiarist; I will always tell you whom I steal from. This passage comes from Lionel and Patricia Fanthorpe (1995), "Albatross Pie" pp 1-6 in Debbie Cross, Down the Badger Hole, R. Lionel Fanthorpe: The Badger Years." (This is an anthology of the most humurous passages from his books.)

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