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As part of #NottsHaunts Alan Dawson have posted a poem about his favourite place, Vicar Water, featuring local characters and stories from the pit.

The Fearsome Tale of Lank, Frank & Gruesome May: An Epic poem

Afters, the longest shift of them all -
Begins in the day and ends at nightfall.
Big German switches off the pig -
The men, their shovels, no more to dig.
On the conveyor belt they do ride -
Under low work lay well to the side.
Towards the pit-bottom and full of glee -
Hold up, someone's trampled wee Tommy MacPhee.
Unlit Glennies bouncing 'gainst bony thighs -
First one there is guaranteed a ride to the sky. 10
Pack 'em aboard so hard and so tight -
A cattle truck is a much prettier sight.
The lame and lazy crawl from their cabin -
Sore sight for eyes - but don't let Sam in (the queue).
An athletic sprint across the pit yard -
Sons of miners born and run so hard.
Black Albert is the first under the shower -
And into the welfare well within the half-hour.
Watch if it starts to rain me duck -
Your face will once more be covered in muck. 20
Agen' his side is Marrow's comedian's tongue -
He'll punch 'is face a fore too long!
Tis only the ale that removes all the dust -
Though a gallon later and still the thirst.
Clipo born Norman, quietly sups his ale -
Fifteen pints and he still won't fail (tomorrow days).
He'll easily take three shears afore his wane -
As straight as a die his cutting plane.
A dustier place this welfare hall -
More coal cut 'ere than ever came off the wall. 30
Many rings set and dintings complete -
From shiny trousers stuck to these seats.
Our hero from the rippings joins the lads -
He sits down at the table and deals the cards.
Winning so much money in such a short time -
Sure beats tinning in or turning to crime.
Again short of cash - to drink this much is so dear -
Nelly hands over ownership of his treasured fishing gear.
With his new won treasure now more than a wish -
The Rad is on his way to Vicars for to fish. 40
With rod on his back and basket in hand -
He mounts his bike and flies across the land.
After a supped gallon, he's not too steady -
Wobbling about under the moonlight, he's fell already.
A bump to his head - like when the roof crashed down -
His curses can be heard well into Forest Town.
Even on this moon lit night, the old tunnel looks daunting -
Rad recalls the many stories of the haunting.
He is a lot surer in the kind light of day -
Nevertheless the brakes have failed and he's on his way. 50
Out of the tunnel like a bat out of hell -
He peddles furiously but dares not ring his bell.
He thinks a rustling wind turns the autumn leaf -
However, from the darkness steps the Ranger, Keith.
- What are you up to? - asks the Ranger man -
I'm up for fishing as soon as I can.
- Have you a license for yon rod? -
- Aye - lies our hero with his head in a nod.
A fore him the calm waters shining and blue -
- In the morning I hope I'll see you. (said the Ranger before he left).60
- Hopes he see me? - thinks our cowardly cur -
- I'd rather be near the fire and even with her.
His Gert would be waiting for him right now -
Ready to slap after he called her a sow.
Her ticking heart is made of coal -
Plucked from Hell - she has no soul.
She threatened to take a knife whilst he slept -
His manhood, at least, tonight would be kept!
He couldn't face that ugly Sith outright -
To go fishing is surely a turn to the right. 70
Whatever monsters can rise from the deep -
He'd rather embrace them than with her to sleep.
Whilst unpacking his tackle, an owl flies overhead -
It's high-pitched squawking surely waking the dead.
Gripping his heart his blood to rise -
To fish on such a night is none too wise.
For from the dark waters, fine in the day -
Can rise three gob monsters, Lank, Frank and Gruesome May.
Poacher Pete, whom used to tread nightly this way -
Hasn't seen Lank or Frank - but has been chased by May. 80
Never will I return there in years - (said Pete)
His words soon return to the Rad's flapping ears.
Taking a deep breath, won rod soon in grip -
Casting out, under the shadow of what were the tips.
Relaxing back into the fisherman's seat -
Boots removed from aching feet.
Tic-Tac-Toe soon takes its toll - (And a bellyful of ale)
Rad's eyes, unstoppable, begin to roll.
Very soon, he's pushing out the Zeds -
This seat more comfortable than his homesome bed. 90
Dreams can be tormented by many things -
Forty pounds for a dozen rings. (set of course)
His slumbering mind recalls the said tales -
More terrifying they are than Jonahs and Whales.
If he'd been awake and eyes about the river bank -
He would have surely noticed the emergence of Lank.
Lank's gasping breath - frozen from the ice water -
Should have woken everyone up, a feared for slaughter.
Twelve feet tall and lungs like leaking bellows,
His pointed head could be seen all the way to Wellow. 100
The German, without tegs, may have been an ugly bugger -
However, compared to Lank, he was made from sugar.
Lank put his mouth to Rad's as if for a kiss -
Even for the neutral watcher, something could be seen amiss.
Blowing into the young man's gob he put -
Left over coal dust, shingle and soot.
Rad jumped up with an asthmatic wheeze -
A flighty Lank flew back and sunk below the reeds.
Rad gripped his paws to his barrel chest -
Maybe, like his Mum had said, he should 'ave wore a vest. 110
A quick draught of whiskey did no good -
His chest still sounded out like hollowed wood.
No longer would he run about the welfare pitch -
A malady as this is worse than the stitch.
Taking advantage of the resultant blood rush -
Frank jumped out from behind the shaking bush.
Frank, although not nearly as tall as Lank -
Had shoulders that would stop him crawling the bank.
Our hero as frit as two chockers with work -
Could not believe the horror from the murk. 120
Into the claws that were once called his hands -
Frank once held a driller run by large elastic bands.
His fingers still a buzzing he tries to get our Rad's neck -
The collier fools him and falls straight to the deck.
All is not as well as it appears if you linger -
Frank has grasped the end of his flailing fingers.
The quake from the monster's shivering digits -
Is enough to pour the draught bitter without a widget.
The shakes hit Rad like no other -
Four whiskeys and a gallon will not rid this quivering brother. 130
He makes a dash - his fingers unfeeling -
What he sees next jumps him up towards the ceiling.
Gruesome May comes hither from the tips -
My God, Rad, you've now 'ad your chips.
The scared Ripper does nothing but a benny -
He was not one trained by big Kenny.
May is as ugly as a Deputy in June -
His Frankenstein's head is illuminated by the moon.
He opens his jaws to let out an almighty shout -
Snot, blood and entrails hang from his snout. 140
His roar is louder than the hooter come noon -
It's rude awakening thrown to the moon.
Too late for Rad to put bungs to his ears -
Never again would he hear the whisper of his dear (girlfriend).
Too much has this poor lad seen tonight -
He falls into unconsciousness without so much of a fight.
Waking up in Kings Mill in a hard framed cot -
He is taken into X-ray alongside a King's Mill Scot.
- He's Deaf, gasping and his fingers are numb, utters a Doctor within -
Make sure they pay him well... and his kin. 150
Now... now the pit has long since shut -
Vinnie Vick guards it from his hut.
Rad can be seen, but don't ask for a sub -
Every evening in the Top Club.
It seems to take two hands to hold on to his pint -
But don't tell him they're on to him or he'll drop it in fright.
Vicars water still fishes well upon a sunny and bright day -
But don't dare at night unless you want to meet, Lank, Frank & Gruesome May!

The End


New Perspectives is an East Midlands' based touring theatre company, specialising in bringing new work to rural and community audiences. Through an annual programme of original adaptations, rare revivals and new writing, we aim to bring live theatre that is diverse, affordable and accessible into the heart of wide-ranging communities, as well as to regional, national and international venues.  
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