10. If you thought King Nicky Tams was a clot, wait until you meet King Canoe.

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself




If you thought King Nicky Tams was a clot, wait until you meet King Canoe.

He’s wobbly, he’s weedy,

He’s fat he’s wet he’s greedy,

C.A.N.O.E. Canooooooooe!

(Ang Gonnaseckian children’s playground rhyme)

The answerphone was on because Canoe, a fat King and a total pickled cucumber, was spending the morning at the Squash Club in York. He was in York because it was summer. In summer, the King and his Entourage (means ‘Hangers-on’) always retreated from their Scarborough quarters in the Pavilion Hotel, opposite the railway station.

They went to the country, the King and his Entourage, usually to a rather impressive house which is still there, not far from Malton, called Castle Howard. From there King Canoe would pop into York for his squash.

He was no good at squash, or any other sport for that matter. He didn’t realise this because, being the King, it was fairly easy for him to find creeps, suckers-up and other toe-rags who would lose to him on purpose.

So, every summer’s day, the King won at squash and whoever happened to be in the club at the time had to stand on the balcony and watch.

They watched, even though none of them could bear to see the dimpled, greasy folds of the King’s spotty, hairy, greyish white fat belly dribbling and drobbling down over the top of his shorts.

Drab flab slabs were revealed every time he bent or stretched to reach the ball. His violet, black, green and pink shirt (Scarborough FC away strip) would ride up, and urgggh, yuk, glarggg, there was all this lard, dripping and swaying about. Highly sick making, it was.

Anyway, when the game was over he would go, red and steaming, into the club bar and flop his great sweaty self on a bar stool. He leaked perspiration all over everywhere while he told the creeps, suckers-up and toe-rags how he had taken his latest victory over the club number one player on the last point, with a reverse angle backhand dropshot lob, boasted off three walls.

In between talking utter twaddle and wiping his great fat face with a great wet hanky, he drank six pints of orange juice and soda water with 16 teaspoons of sugar stirred into each pint.

Then he had a shower. Into the shower he took soap (no shower gel in the Olden Days), shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, a quarter of licorice allsorts, a chicken and mushroom pie, a pinky-peach coloured bath-sponge in the shape of a bunny rabbit, and a special, gold trimmed, miniature spade carved, he’d been told by the antiques dealer, out of unicorn horn. This spade was for digging the fluff out of his belly button.

While he had his shower and his in-shower snacks, his personal manservant, batman or valet, who was called Macdonald, warmed the Royal towel on the radiator and boiled a large billy-can of water on a Primus stove.


The water was to pour into four family-size tubs of instant noodles. One tub was Sausage and Tomato Flavour, one was Spit-Roast Weasel Flavour with Real Weasel (a delicacy in the Olden Days), and two were Standard General All-Purpose Factory Savoury Flavour with Red and Green Peppers.

When the horrendous great slob of a king came out of the shower he would sit, with no clothes on, shovelling the hot noodles into his mouth. All the time he would cuddle himself, the great useless flobbly rubberguts, in his lovely warm towel while quivering and quaking with sheer pleasure at his own Royal wonderfulness.

Eels and Mash


I’m not one for taking pictures of my own lunch but this has to be a worthy exception. Until last week I’d never had East End Eels. I’d heard about Pie and Mash shops and Jellied Eels, of course, but never sampled the delights. A trip to Hackney and there stands an old established Eel and Pie shop. On a perishing cold day, it seemed sensible to have a hot dinner.

Under that sea of green lurk the eels in question, the sea of green is described as liquor, but to you and me it would be parsley sauce ( though not made with milk ). The eels are slow cooked in a large pot there is a handsome dollop of mash to weld everything together. Hot and nutritious, I was not expecting the eels to have bones but they did have little delicate bits in the center of each roundel of fishiness. It was eaten with a spoon and fork ( no knives were apparent, but then this is the East End Guvnor )

The shop itself with tables firmly anchored to the floor and sawdust scattered over the floor made for the genuine article. What on earth was that for? Perhaps I was meant to spit out the bones.

It was delicious. Some people apparently have this combo with a meat pie. That will have to remain an adventure for the future.


eel shop

This is the place and it’s on Broadway Market in Hackney
Try it!

9. Let loose the dogs of war! Have at ye, varlet!

Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself



Let loose the dogs of war! Have at ye, varlet!

In the Olden Days, soldiers used to say things like that. They also said “Lay on, Macduff” and “I want my mammy”.

The Nosepipians’ journey across the sea was total chaos, with quite a few of the ships being sailed by people who had only done wind-surfing before. There were no signs or anything to give them directions, and the weather got worse and worse.

They thought they were sailing sort of out a bit and kind of south-ish, but couldn’t even be sure of that. How the fleet did not scatter into single ships all going different ways, nobody ever knew. It must have been good luck. It was certainly not due to good management among the sailing fraternity.

When the rain stopped, the winds calmed down and the mist and the clouds cleared, they could see land and a biggish kind of a town on the starboard bow.

“Biggish kind of a town on the starboard bow, aharr, Jim lad,” called the look-out from the crow’s nest.


The King looked out as well, then looked at Tracy, and she looked at him, but they didn’t know (a) if they were bobbing about off the coast of Ang Gonnasec, or (b) if it was half past a quarter to cheese by the village pump.

At that very moment, the tide turned to ‘IN’ and a stiffish breeze began to blow towards the shore. Without really meaning to, the Nosepipian fleet sailed, almost half tidily, into the harbour.

The town seemed like a fairly busy spot with quite a lot going on. There was a castle up on top of the cliff and, below it, plenty of nice houses with red-tiled roofs. Next to the harbour were some interesting little wooden huts painted white, but the Nosepipians couldn’t tell what they were because they could only see the backs of them.

When the Nosepipians got off their ships onto the quay, the townspeople thought they were tourists and started trying to sell them ice cream, postcards, caddy spoons and small painted statues of horses.

The women in the white wooden huts offered various kinds of miniature curly pink and brown things on saucers with pepper and vinegar. Voices boomed from big, glitzy, open fronted shops over the road, suggesting that the newcomers should immediately come in and sit down to a game of bingo.

“We’re not flipping trippers!” thundered Tracy. “We don’t want your cockles and your rotten One Win prizes! We are invading you! Where is King Canoe? We shall do battle!”

“Ooer,” said Mrs Avril Burblebottom of 33B Gladstone Road, Scarborough, and ran to the telephone box (they didn’t have mobiles in the Olden Days).

Aaarggh! It was one of those stupid ones you need a card for, so she ran to the next, put in her money and dialled 999. In her excitement, she had quite forgotten that you didn’t need any money to dial 999.

The person on the other end said “Emergency. Which service do you require?”

“The King and the Army,” said Mrs Burblebottom. The person wanted her address and everything first, and then she was put through to the King.

“This is King Canoe,” said a voice. “I’m sorry I’m not here to take your call, but if you leave a message with your name and number, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Please speak to me, after the funny noise. Beeeeep.”

“Hello, hello. This is Mrs Burblebottom, you know, from Glaggy Road, I mean Gladstone Road of course, sorry, your, er, majesty, I hate these answer thingies, anyway, look, how long have I got? You see, there’s been (and here her voice went to a whisper, in case she was overheard by the enemy) an invasion, you see. With an army. In Scarborough, for goodness’ sake (her voice went loud again as she suddenly became annoyed). It’s those Nosepipians, that’s who it is, pretending to be tourists. Anyway, they want a battle, so could you…”

And here the answering machine went click, so that was it. Mrs Burblebottom thought she’d done her duty. She went to the butcher’s on North Marine Road and treated herself to a nice pork chop for her lunch.