July 6 2018: past Shadows

Is there something on on Saturday afternoon? Sunderland RCA man Tim Robinson emails that their opening friendly with Northumbria Police – “it should be a criminal offence in this heat” – will now have a morning kick-off.

The North Yorkshire and South Durham Cricket League, meanwhile, has told clubs that games can start as early as 9am. Perhaps there’s a siesta in the middle.

But back to Wearside. Following reference the other day to Stars Fell on Stockton – B-side of the Shadows No 1 hit Wonderful Land – blog reader Vince Taylor recalls that the flip side of Stingray, a slightly more penumbral Shadows recording in 1965, was Alice in Sunderland.

Perhaps it acknowledged the band’s North-East roots. Hank B Marvin was a Newcastle lad, Bruce Welch was raised in Chester-le-Street. “Like most of their 1960s output,” says Vince, “it still sounds great today.”

Googling Alice in Sunderland, however, chiefly brings stuff about a “comic novel” of that name, said to explore the links between Lewis Carroll and the city but which had something about the Hartlepool monkey, too.

In the matter of ritual sacrifice – those unfamiliar with the Hartlepool monkey legend may care to google that, too – Tim also points out a 200-year mistake in yesterday’s blog. The burning of the Lewes Protestant martyrs which still is commemorated every November 5 was in the 1550s, not the 1750s.

Each is now represented by a flaming cross, carried through the streets in what’s claimed to be the world’s biggest November 5 celebration. Up to 80,000 people throng the Sussex town with a population barely a fifth of that.

The seven bonfire societies deny sectarianism. When Ian Paisley showed up to fan the flames in 1981 they burned his effigy – among others – the following year.

It’s doubtless all very jolly, but still sounds a bit scary to me. As usual, I think I’ll just stop home with a packet of sparrklers.

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