Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Slaithwaite Moonraker Chippy Incident



We took a trip just over the border from Oldham to Yorkshire yesterday evening, not something that comes easily, you know. We went to experience the Moonraking festival at Slaithwaite.

Each year the villagers of Slaithwaite (they say Slawitt - don't ask me why) celebrate the nineteenth century triumph of local smugglers over the customs and excise officers of the day. The story is quite simple: the smugglers were caught raking barrels of illicit liquor from the reeds on the canal bank; the quick thinking chaps claimed to believe that the reflection of the moon on the water was in fact the real thing, the moon having fallen in the water. They were merely raking the moon out in order to return it to its rightful place.


The customs and excise officers who believed the tale left them to it. Thus was born the Moonraking festival and its glorious winter procession of paper lanterns through the streets.

The streets were teeming with people and the cold winter wind had whipped up a bit of an appetite among me, Mrs C and her mum; so I joined the queue that snaked out of the Captains Table chippy - a nautical name, I know, but I put it down to its proximity to the canal - I suppose narrow boats have captains too.

After an age, I reached the front of the queue and spake my order:
"Two lots of fish and chips, and a fish on its own, to eat now please. Oh, and a buttered muffin."
"A what?"

The queue hushed, and I swear people in streets outside stopped what they were doing. I stood my ground,
"A buttered muffin, please."
"You, mean a teacake."


At this stage I'm sure I heard an Enrico Moriconni tune play in the distance. Mothers pulled their children closer, shopkeepers pulled down the shutters and the undertaker with his tape measure whistled cheefully.

"I whipped my poncho to one side, stuck a cheroot between my teeth and met the challenging stare of the assistant with what I hoped was a Clint Eastwood look. Then I remembered Mrs C and her mum stood in the cold outside, and sighed.

"Yes, a teacake please."

The world relaxed and we stood outside eating our
food with greasy fingers, happy with glistening chip fat lips while we watched the lovely winter spectacle.

But it was a close thing; it's not safe over that border you know... it was a muffin though.

Here's a photo of one of the fantastic giant lanterns in the parade. I know it's a bit blurry - I'm sure someone, Lisa, will have something technical to say about light, shutter speed and movement, but you get the idea.


12 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

When you wrote -
"the undertaker with his tape measure whistled cheefully"... do you mean like a chee bird (Rare antipodean crow) or like a member of the Chee tribe of New Mexico? Very confusing.

Clearly Yorkshire Border Control were a bit slack that evening. Buttered muffin? You must be raving bonkers old chap! God should have made the Pennine chain more in the mould of the High Andes! (Only joking!)

Crofty said...

I was thinking more in the line of that spiritual stuff inside you that that funny tea is supposed to do something to, me mam told me about it on the phone the other night.
"You need a cup of green tea to help yer chee she said".

Lisa said...

It's a muffin, teacakes have currants and fruit in them.

Even worse when they call them barms. . . . . . you're doing this deliberately now aren't you?? ;-)

Lisa said...

Oh, and shutter speed yes! faster and a higher ISO!!

Crofty said...

I knew I could rely on you Lisa!

Of course, as regards camera stuff, I felt that allowing a slower shutter speed and that bit of blur lent a sort of surreal mystery to the shot that captured the ethereal nature of the softly lamp lit procession.

Sorry if I made you snort out a mouthful of tea then.

Lisa said...

*wipes screen of coffee. . . decaf*

I'm all for a bit of arty blur, but this isn't arty blur! And I know what I'm talking about when it comes to blurred pics !-O . . . . ooOOOooo did I really say that? meow

Bill Blunt said...

What about barm cakes? And stottie cakes?
It makes a journey across England fraught with difficulty for the lover of small bread products. Goodness knows how a foreign visitor deals with the problem!
Can a bread really be a cake? Shouldn't there be standards, for goodness sake?

It reminds me when my mother visited me in Oldham and popped into the local butcher for half a pound of cooked ham and some pease pudding. She might as well have been asking for caviar, the response she got.

A fine insight into the cross-border difficulties of living in this sceptred isle. Thank you, Crofty.

Lisa said...

And bunnies! Don't forget bunnies!

Crofty said...

...oh yes, it's not a buffet without a bunny! Of course unless you are posh and call them finger rolls. (not it will really kick off!)

Crofty said...

...that went well....the punch line should have said "now it will really kick off"...too late now....hey ho.

Mystic Veg said...

I'm forced to ask for 'Baps' in this part of the globe. I swear it's what we used to call breasts when we were teenagers.

Crofty said...

Ah yes, asking for floury baps (which were smaller, rounder bread things in Oldham, as I'm sure you'll remember)was often the cause of juvenile hilarity in the baker's near school!