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At Home with the Falcons pt 3 - Search for Hugh

By Monkey1
February 8 2005

We re-join our small group of the Falcons as they enjoy a day out at Morpeth Fair, a typical small town summer day of chips, booze and family entertainment.

They have emerged from the ghost train ride to find that Hugh has gone missing.

Hugh has been kept prisoner by Rob Andrew by the cunning use of a ball and chain to stop him escaping to the Saracens for next season. He has captained the team through good times and bad, and without him the remaining Falcons were left leaderless.

After half an hour, the diminutive Dave Walder decided to take charge of the terrible situation.

“Right then lads, Rob will take us apart if we arrive back home without him so lets track him down.”

Walder speaking with such authority was enough to shock the others into action. They shuffled their feet, generally looked agitated, but still had no idea what to do.

“We will split up into pairs,” continued a taller looking Walder, “Ben & Joe, you check out all the taxis, and I mean all of them. Epi & Stretch, get up to the railway station as quick as you can to see if he has gone there. Warren & Mickey, you two check out the main streets, you should be able to spot someone that tall and ginger among the crowds, and keep Mickey out of the pubs for pity’s sake. You come with me Jamie, we will search through the park and along the river to the classic car & Harley Davidson display.”

Glad to have someone to lead them they looked much happier.

“We will meet back here at 6.30, if we don’t have Hugh with us by then we will need a bloody good story to keep Rob from hanging us up on meat hooks.” Walder grew even taller as he spoke, his teddy bear now left lying forgotten on the litter strewn tarmac. “Find him and find him quick, now off you go.”

Galvanised into action by the masterful words of Walder, they set about their tasks with a purpose.

 Mickey & Britz made their way back to the town square, now a tranquil pastoral scene once again, fully recovered from the carnage of just an hour or so earlier. They gazed hopelessly across the sea of joyous people who had amassed for another of the great highlights of the day, the beauty queens parade.

“Clock the one in yella, cor she’s a cannyun that” observed Mickey in the manner of a true connoisseur.

“Har cun shi wear su luddle un thus frizin withu?” commented Britz between sniffles.

“Nar man, she’s owerdressed for me” chuckled Mickey.

“Sod thu skunny iskimu, cun yu see Hu?”

“Nar man, burra can see a poluss geyin wu a ganda”

A policeman who had witnessed the earlier devastation in the town square had remembered the man wrapped up in winter clothing on a blistering hot day, and the other one with no neck, as having been involved in the assault of a morris dancer that afternoon. He started to move in their direction.

Mickey & Britz decided that it was time to move on and tried to disappear into the crowd. Just then the abattoir waste trailer that had been bedecked with gaily coloured material for use as the beauty queens float was towed down the street by an old tractor.

They jumped up onto the trailer and hid behind the coloured sheets. Britz was just glad to find somewhere a bit warmer, the smell of rotting meat waste going unnoticed behind his defences of cold and congestion.

Mickey peered around the edge of the sheet and noticed that the policeman had lost them completely, he also noticed that he had the best possible view of a dozen scantily clad women. He was a happy man.

The tractor towed its load of near naked girls, and two rugby playing fugitives, down to the end of the street and turned the corner away from all the festivities. The previously smiling and waving girls, away from the gaze of the crowds, were then able to start shrieking and squawking at each other as the prelude to real violence.

Mickey & Britz decided that it would be best to leave before the scene became too ugly, so they slipped quietly over the side of the trailer.

On the other side of the road, the open door of the Old Red Bull Inn quietly beckoned.

“Howay man, lets gan in heyu furra bit till things quieten doon.” Said Mickey.

Britz forgot about the warnings to keep Mickey away from pubs as he saw the entrance to the nice warm and cosy looking pub. He was drawn to it like a moth to a candle.

Inside it was indeed much warmer. Britz ordered a nice hot coffee to warm him up, Mickey settled for a pint of double strength extra brew Carlingsberg export plus.

Dean, the landlord, was well versed in the art of conversation with life’s eccentrics, and soon he and Britz were in deep discussion about the merits of a summer in warmer climates. The coffee kept coming, warming up Britz enough for him to remove his hat, scarf and gloves, Mickey contented himself with another pint.

  Joe & the Gollings began their search for taxis. This was no easy task as with the main street closed, the usual taxi rank was out of use for the day. They eventually found a line of battered old death traps with plastic lights temporarily stuck to their roofs. The tell tale signs of the true criminal were evident on the faces of the drivers, they had found the temporary lair of the taxis.

The Gollings leaned through the driver’s window of the first in the queue.

“Have you seen a tall ginger bloke with a ball and chain mate?” he enquired.

The driver recoiled as the odour hit him. “No I haven’t, please go away.”

“Could you check on your radio to see if any other drivers may have seen him?” continued the Gollings.

“Yes pal, straight away, anything to, oh Jesus.” He replied as he turned the fan onto full power and leaned even further away from the window, swatting away the flies as he reached for his radio.

Had Joe been standing towards the rear of the car, the enquiry may have continued to some use, but unfortunately he was standing at the front next to the Gollings. When he broke wind it was immediately sucked into the car by the now audible ventilation system.

“Oh bloody hell, I’m going to be sick” exclaimed the driver as he threw the old Granada into first and sped off with a squeal of tyres like Michael Schumacher.

Joe and the Gollings moved along to the next old heap to continue their enquiries.

  Epi & Stretch set off for the long walk to the railway station. Their route took them past the Joiners Arms, a quiet enough little pub. There were a few people sitting outside enjoying a drink in the sunshine, and the sight of the bedewed glasses of fine ale was enough to tempt them inside for a quick pint.

Stretch ordered a pint of Old Tramp’s Foot, Epi opted for a pint of Musty Dangle, and two plates of assorted sandwiches. They drank and ate in silence, like two mountaineers at base camp contemplating an ascent of Everest. In their ruined condition brought about by weeks of summer inactivity, the steep climb to the station was a daunting prospect.

They finished their pints and continued their journey to the station. On the platform, Stretch gazed up and down, disappointed at not seeing Hugh waiting to catch a train to London. Epi, panting and sweating from the exertions of the hill, was disappointed not to see any sort of shop or food outlet.

They checked all around the station for a trace of hugh, listening for the clank of a metal chain.

After a short wait, a south-bound train pulled into the station. No tall ginger bloke appeared from the shrubbery to make a dash for the train, and it continued on its journey without incident.

They made their way back down the hill into town, Stretch consumed by disappointment at not finding Hugh, Epi consumed by hunger.

Noon & Walder passed over the footbridge towards the park.

“There you are Dave, the ducks you wanted to see. Shall I get some bread?” asked Noon.

“Stuff the bloody ducks.” Growled Walder as he walked purposefully towards the park.

The park was full of families enjoying the festivities. The usual array of swings and slides was boosted by the addition of a bouncy castle and a Punch & Judy show.

“I don’t mind if you want to watch the Punch & Judy Dave.” Offered Noon.

“What on earth are you prattling on about?” retorted an even taller Walder, “Can you see Hugh anywhere?”

They looked around, all that Walder could see were children and parents enjoying themselves, all that Noon could see was the white bouncy castle wall moving in a menacing manner.

He launched himself into the biggest tackle of his life, and this one was spectacular.

The whole side of the bouncy castle collapsed, throwing children across its width to bounce off the other side. Fortunately there were no serious injuries, but several of the smaller children staggered out from the crumpled mass to find solace with their shocked parents.

One of the little urchins squealed with delight, leaned over the deflated wall and shouted for Noon to do it again. Walder rolled his eyes to the heavens and recovered the trembling Noon to head along the river path to the display of classic cars and Harley Davidsons that are a feature of the Morpeth Fair.

They searched through the mass of gleaming chrome and paintwork, and the strange bearded people, most of them men, for a sign of Hugh. They did their best to discretely check inside the boots of the old cars that would have made good taxis had they been battered and poorly maintained, and driven by murderers.

With no sign of any tall ginger bloke they headed back into the main street to continue the search. As they passed the gipsy caravan Walder had an idea and dragged Noon inside.

Rosie Lee was sitting behind her old table fiddling with a dead rabbit.

“Could you cure my friend of a rather strange affliction?” enquired Walder.

“I can cure most things with my crystal ball.” She replied putting down the rabbit  “what exactly is his problem?”

Walder explained about Noon’s unfortunate habit of tackling anything that is white and moves ever since his Twickenham experience against Sale.

“Well it is a difficult one but I am sure that the crystal ball will bring about a total cure. It’ll cost you ten quid.”

Walder was more than happy to part with the cash if it would stop this embarrassing affliction. There was very little furniture left at Snitterton Manor that was not showing signs of a heavy impact.

Gipsy Rosie Lee pocketed the crisp tenner and cracked Noon over the head with the crystal ball.

“That’ll cure him.” She said as Noon slumped to the floor.

She removed her teeth from a glass of water and poured it over the unconscious Noon. He awoke spluttering and dripping, massaging the bump on his head.

Walder dragged the dazed Noon to his feet and back outside into the sunshine. Further up the street he could see a cloud of flies which indicated the presence of a Shaw and the Gollings. He steered the sodden Noon in that direction.

Hearing that the malodorous pair had found no trace of Hugh, they all headed back to the ghost train to meet up with the others.

As they neared the now quiet and closed fun fair, they could see the lofty form of Stretch already waiting for them.

As the six of them waited for Britz and Mickey to turn up, the fun fair became quieter as people headed for home or the pubs, the shadows grew longer as the sun sank behind the trees by the river.

It was only faint at first, but as they listened there could be no doubt.

Coming from the boarded up ghost train was a well known song being sung in melancholy voice, a melancholy voice that was strangely familiar.

“Miybe its becaws oim a landana, that oi lav landan tahn.”

Epi pulled at one of the barred and padlocked panels that closed in the front of the ghost train ride and it gave way easily under the pressure.

They moved slowly forward into the gloomy interior and found Hugh with his back resting against a plastic skeleton.

“Hello boys”, he said in a sarcastic manner, “nice of you to pop by. I thought I was going to be stuck here all blasted night.”

The chain had become stuck under the train track. Epi lifted it up to the sound of screeching metal and pulled the chain free, releasing Hugh from one form of captivity and back into another. He collected the heavy ball and stood up.

They all made their way back outside. Hugh didn’t look angry, disappointed, surprised. Hugh didn’t show any sign that life was not perfectly normal. Two months of being cooped up in Snitterton Manor with a ball and chain could do strange things to an otherwise sane person.

“Alright then, where are Mickey and Britz?” enquired Hugh.

“I’ll hazard a bloody good guess”, said Walder. Hugh looked at him with surprise, noticing that the teddy bear was gone and he was much taller.

“Pub?” asked Hugh.

“They should have been here twenty minutes ago. As they obviously haven’t found you, I reckon the pub to be a cert”, answered Walder with a menacing expression.

“Ah spleckin luvly, thu must be aboot thutty pubs un thus toon”, commented Stretch.

“Not a problem”, declared Walder with the authority of a man in complete control.  “You can rule out anywhere with loud music or air conditioning or Britz wouldn’t stay, and Mickey will only stay somewhere with decent beer. I know this town and that narrows it down to three pubs.”

The nearest of these was the Joiners Arms where Epi & Stretch had stopped for some refreshment.

They all entered the now busy pub, Walder & Noon in the lead. They all stopped dead in their tracks as a barmaid, dressed all in white and carrying an unfeasibly large stack of glasses approached Noon.

Noon allowed the moment to pass without appearing to notice, the expected tackle did not materialise and they all breathed a sigh of relief. Hugh was so surprised that he dropped his heavy metal ball. It crashed to the floor causing the raised bar hatch to fall down just as the barmaid passed through, knocking her unconscious and sending the glasses to smash onto the floor.

Noon caught the barmaid as she swooned backwards, leaned her against the wall beneath an old poster of a Greta Garbo film, and they all legged it back outside.

On the way to the next pub, Walder explained about the miracle cure so efficiently executed by gipsy Rosie Lee.

They entered the Old Red Bull and saw Britz chatting away to Dean the landlord with Mickey beside him. For the second time they breathed a sigh of relief.

“Well at least Mickey is still on his feet”, commented Hugh just as Mickey collapsed into a heap on the floor.

“Pick him up and get him to the car.” Ordered Walder “Warren, get your thermals back on, we’re going.”

They set off back to where Hugh had abandoned the people carrier, dragging along the happily unconscious form of Mickey, not raising so much as a curious glance from the locals who were battle hardened to this sort of behaviour on fair day.

Back at the car they tried to sit Mickey in one of the seats but he kept slumping forwards and sideways out of the seat. They considered putting him in the luggage area at the back, but that would mean some poor soul having to sit next to the windy Shaw or the odiferous Gollings.

Eventually they opted to put him in the roof box and they made the journey back to Snitterton Manor in silence.

Back at the crumbling old house they decided to try to sneak Mickey in the back way to avoid the wrath of Rob Andrew. Huge turned into the drive that leads to the stables. They saw Jonny running past Bert Grimble’s cottage as he always does as part of his routine every night.

Suddenly, Rob appeared from around the corner of the stables. Hugh stamped on the brake pedal, the roof box containing the comatose Mickey shot forwards, skimming over an unkempt privet hedge, and slid down the bank into the stream.

They all got out as Rob approached, obviously in a contented mood as he did not comment on them being 3 hours late, perhaps he was just relieved to see that Hugh was still there.

“Be more careful please, someone will have to go down and collect that roof box.”

 “Mickey is already down there boss”, replied Walder.

“Ah good, good, very good.” Rob beamed at them “Well It looks as though you have enjoyed yourselves, tomorrow is Sunday and I think we can just have an easy day.”

Jonny went past again on another relentless circuit of the grounds.

Walder exploded.  “We have had nothing but easy days for two bleeding months.” Rob noticed that he seemed taller.

“We are all totally bored, out of shape, sick to death of sitting around", continued Walder.  “Nesdale arrives next week, what will he think of this bunch of couch potatoes?”  With a sweep of his hand he indicated the less than peak condition of the assembled players.

An uneasy silence fell, Epi belched quietly, the Gollings scratched himself, and Joe farted discreetly.

“Tomorrow we start training”, carried on Walder with quiet authority, “and tomorrow you can take that stupid ball & chain off Hugh & let him go to London.  What use will he be on the team with that thing on his leg anyway, just let him go.”

Rob looked upon his motley crew with renewed respect and smiled. “Right then boys, I’ll see you at six in the morning then when Jonny starts his routine.” He smiled and turned back towards the house.

Joe and the Gollings scrambled down the slope to recover Mickey. The stream was barely a trickle due to the hot dry weather and Mickey had floated along a short distance before coming to rest against a fallen tree.

They dragged him back up the slope and decided to leave him in the box on the roof of the car overnight.

They parked the car and wandered into the old mansion for an early night, ready for a fresh start in the morning.


The next instalment::

Hugh leaves for London and the training begins. Can they manage without the huge one? What happens when the even more huge Luke Gross joins the squad? How much fun can I have with his American accent? Can they get back into shape? Will they remember to get Mickey out of the roof box?


Find out in episode 4.


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