Day 396: Organ Street

Though historically part of Lancashire, Leigh is situated far south of Lancaster between Manchester and Wigan, and is today part of greater Manchester. Organ Street (number 52 in Rude UK) in Leigh was the final destination of the day’s tour, but before going there, Laetitia wanted to take her group to several museums in Manchester that she missed when they toured there before.

The day’s itinerary included the Manchester Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and, finally, Ordsall Hall, the stately house that was home to the Radclyffe family from 1335 until 1662. There is a local legend that Guy Fawkes hid in the house and escaped from pursuing soldiers through a tunnel after the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, but the story has never been verified. There are claims that a lady in white haunts the house, and the museum features overnight ghost watches for interested participants.

Late in the afternoon, the Mind’s Eye group arrived at Leigh, pausing on the way to their destination to browse the windows of a Scottish butcher shop that featured haggis and a musical instrument store with an array of accordions. On Organ Street, a lady pruning her roses told Laetitia that the street was named for nearby Organ Hill, and that the hill’s name had something to do with raising money to pay the organist at St. Mary’s Church. She mentioned that there was a free organ recital at the church that afternoon featuring the music of Bach.

There was a bit of time to kill before the concert started, so Laetitia took her group to some nearby shops to browse before going to the church. Nearby were a bunch of college students also waiting to go to the concert. One of them made a joke about Bach’s 20 children and how “Bach’s organ lacked stops.” In the concert, Laetitia’s mind began to drift as she gazed at the towering array of brass organ pipes during Toccata and Fugue, and by the time the organist played JesuJoy of Man’s Desiring, the piece she had heard at so many weddings, her musings were distilled into the required limerick of the day.

When folks come upon Organ Street
Some likely will think organ meat
The kind made from offal
That some think gawd-awful
And others view as a fine treat.

But some, though not all, I’m afraid
Think an organ’s not eaten, but played.
‘Tis said that in Louth
Some play organs by mouth
Or by hand—even folks who are staid.

As when Alistair says to Veronica,
“I would like you to blow my harmonica”
Or when Steve says to Rox,
“May I squeeze your squeeze box?”
In the greenhouse among the Japonica.

There are organs that can be gigantic
And are used on occasions romantic
And folks of high class
Even play during mass
As Bach played, though to some, he’s pedantic.

Most others think Bach is terrific
And he certainly was most prolific
As was said in the shops,
“Bach’s organ lacked stops”
But, to get to the issue specific.

In Leigh you will find Organ Hill
The kind climbed by Jack and by Jill
And the street there is named
For the hill, it is claimed
This should my requirement fulfill.

Day 395: Willey Lane

Not far from Lancaster is Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Dales are scenic area of green hills and valleys with picturesque stone arch bridges and quaint villages. Laetitia and her group spent most of the day hiking there before going to Cockerham, a Lancashire village that is home to a street named Willey Lane, which is number 66 in Rude UK.

Willy is one of a plethora of names like Peter, Dick, Johnson, and Earl (the latter if you are a Bobs fan), become slang synonyms for penis. Another such synonym is John Thomas, though it is not in common usage today. That was the name that Mellors, D. H. Lawrence’s male protagonist, gave his own male organ in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, published in 1928. Coincidentally, there was a Welshman named John Thomas in Laetitia’s group, who was traveling with his significant other, Tilly. As they walked down Willey Lane, he made a comment that Laetitia turned into a limerick.

‘Twas said by John Thomas to Tilly
“They’ve named Willey Lane for a willy,
And none with my name
Of Chatterley fame
Those folks who name streets are quite silly.”

Day 394: Foulridge

As Laetitia poured over a map of northern England in preparation for the day’s tour, she noticed a village in Lancashire called Midge Hall. Once when Laetitia was traveling in Scotland with her grandmother, they stayed in an inn that had warning signs advising guests to close their windows when they had lights on in their rooms to avoid being invaded by midges. Laetitia didn’t know much about midges, but the insect featured on the poster was clearly not a midge, but rather a greatly enlarged damselfly, no doubt downloaded from the internet and put on the poster to enhance its visual effect. She thought about leaving the window open so she could find out what a midge actually looked like, but decided against it. She thought it odd that the denizens of Lancashire would name a village after such a pest, but she needed to focus on choosing a place to go on this day’s tour, so she let it pass.

She picked for the day’s destination a place near Pendle in Lancashire called Foulridge, number 39 in Rude UK. The natives pronounce the town name as though it were “foalridge,” but it’s clear that Bailey and Hurst included it in their book because of the way it is spelled, not the way it’s pronounced. Despite the town’s name being in Rude UK, Laetitia’s impetus for coming to Foulridge was the unique mile-long tunnel that the Leeds-Liverpool Canal passes through. During the heyday of the weaving industry, barges brought raw cotton to the Foulridge Warf to be used making textiles. The group boarded an excursion boat and spent much of the day on a canal cruise that included the tunnel. While sitting on a deckchair enjoying the passing scene, Laetitia made up the limerick of the day.

That small pesky creature, the midge
Belongs in a place like Foulridge
For like vampires at night
They come out and bite
Same as fish who lurk under a bridge.

Day 393: Bashful Alley

Laetitia decided to bring her group to Lancaster for a second day. This time they began with a visit to the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, a modern museum founded in 1986. Then they visited the Judges’ Lodgings, said to be the oldest town house in Lancaster and now a museum.

Perhaps the house’s most famous resident was Thomas Covell, who lived there from 1590 to 1638. Covell is best known for having caught, imprisoned, and hanged as witches a dozen poor women from nearby Pendle Hill in 1612. They were all likely guilty of failing to attend church and take communion, a criminal offense in those days, and some of the accused may have believed that they could cast spells. Even today, Pendle Hill is associated with witchcraft and hosts a hilltop gathering every Halloween.

After visiting the Judges’ Lodgings, Laetitia and her group went for a hike on Pendle Hill. Returning to Lancaster, they visited another Rude UK site called Bashful Alley, and then went to a nearby pub. In the pub, an old man named Paul who joined the day’s tour told Laetitia that he’d grown up in a flat on the alley. He was a shy youth, and blamed his home address for his lack of success with woman, especially a classmate named Sally, whom he found especially attractive. Laetitia turned his story into a limerick.

When Paul came upon pretty Sally
His courage he just couldn’t rally
And was really quite vexed
Over what to do next
For he came from nearby Bashful Alley.