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Mentioned Part 32

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 24/10/2001

Home > Features > Mentioned > Mentioned #32


"No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby..."

wednesday 24th october

The place from whence came the Children of the Corn

By Matthew Redpath

I was born and raised in Grimsby. Joy.

'And on the day of creation, the heavens opened and lo, God said unto the founding fathers (and mothers, for all the feminists of the world) of this green and pleasant land, "On the site of this clean, and just river thou shalt build me a fishing port, were at this port men (and women) from the town built about it shall come each day and gather fish, and shrimps, to eat, for ever and ever. Forever".

But lo, again, the river soon became vastly polluted, and the fish that were reaped from upon its dirty and impure shores became bizarrely mutated, spouting multiple heads and unnecessary limbs.

And lo, some more, soon the quaint little people of this quaint little town also became bizarrely mutated; they grew superior powers to the other creatures of the planet, and claimed it for themselves with an iron fist. That smelt fishy.’

-Unknown. Ok, not so unknown, I said it.

Ok, so the people of Grimsby didn't become mutated and gain superpowers, but you get the idea. The fact remains that Grimsby is built around its fishing industry and its docks, and that they will soon become unusable. The docks at Grimsby have long since past their 'sell by’ date, or even their 'use by before they become a threat to civilian health’ date. The wooden piers are so old that the woodworm are getting indigestion. There’s more wildlife living in Grimsby docks than at London zoo.

However, my first memory of Grimsby docks is when I attended an interview with my brother for the position of '3rd Dock subordinate workman' which roughly translates into 'Scrub on Dock 3 who gets coffee and sweeps up fish heads'. We had to wait in the office of the '3rd Dock works foreman' (Guy on Dock 3 who believes himself to be God) until he had finished his shift. His 'office' was a small weather beaten shack tilting uncontrollably over the edge of Dock 3. It made most weather beaten shacks look like the Taj Mahal. In his 'office' was a desk, randomly tilted before a wooden three-legged stool (with two legs missing) a dead spider-plant, a heavy smell of alcohol, and several pornographic magazines, neatly thrown beneath the three-legged stool. The man who thought he was God was a standard 10 Grimsby minutes late (Grimsby minutes are half as long as a standard minute if you are running for a bus, and twice as long if you are waiting for one) so my brother slumped himself in a corner and began to indulge himself with the finer points of 'Razzle'.

To give you an idea of how huge this place was, we were slumped in opposite corners of the room and our knees touched. This was when 'God' fell through the door and into the window. There was only one. My brother quickly disposed of his modern literature into his back pocket and leaped up like something had crawled into his shorts. 'God' had an identity. He had half a beer stained nametag reading 'Call me' and then 'Clive' scribbled underneath a dotted line in what appeared to be a four year olds handwriting. Now all three of us were in the 'room'.

I felt the oxygen levels would soon deplete and so made a valiant dash through the door and fell into Mr Clive's vehicle of choice, a rusty, battered pushbike so covered in rust I could've obtained several blood-born diseases by even thinking about touching it. I peered through the lone window at the situation. My brother held out his hand and muttered 'Hello...' he then paused to glance at his nametag '...Mr Clive'. An eerie silence befell over all as Mr Clive glanced blindly around the room. He looked like an escaped mental patient who managed to fumble his way into the houses of Parliament. The thought passed through my mind that there could be only two ways Mr Clive could've obtained the position he now had, and only one involved any type of mental ability. Mr Clive coughed, wiped his nose on his sleeve, and then offered his hand to my brother, who shook it unenthusiastically. Mr Clive pulled his hand away and slid it into an empty pocket to investigate the contents of his underwear. I took for granted that he had some, but at this point I was taking nothing of this interview for granted. Mr Clive sat down and spread his immense legs. He took up a good third of the room for himself. The rest of the interview I will leave to the imagination, as I had to, as I was forced from my position by a rather large and unsanitary object that is best described as a fishing ship. It had 'Pride Of The Humber' written along it. The lettering quickly disappeared as the ship crashed into the side of the dock, much to the amusement of its crew.

And that was employment BFP (Before Freshney place- anything prior to 1993).

But Grimsby’s fish industry remains the driving force of its people. Without the 2000 smoking, overweight fisherman with knotted hankies tied about their balding heads on their 500 ships, pulling 50lb of Cod in each day, their 2000 'pregnant again’ smoking, 3 times divorced, forever 30 (even if they were born in 1956) stick-insect wives with tea towels tied about their freshly permed hair would be out of a job at 'The greasy fork chippy’ or the 'Madame Palm massage parlour'. Admittedly, the chips at the 500,000 chip shops Grimsby possesses are all ½ of a ¼ different in taste, if you have the taste buds of a cobra on Prozac.

Even so, the people of Grimsby are 'proud' of their 'heritage', and take it very seriously. That’s why £5000 of taxpayers' money was slapped into building the 'National Fishing Heritage Centre’. Located right slap-bang next to Sainsburys, so when the smoking, overweight fisherman with knotted hankies tied about their balding heads and their 'pregnant again’ smoking, 3 times divorced, forever 30 (even if they were born in 1956) stick-insect wives with tea towels tied about their freshly permed hair go shopping once every three months in their fabled F-registration fluorescent orange Ford Fiesta (with bullet holes ripped into each surface for 'added speed') he can say "We'll go in their one day petal and see what my bloody giro’s gone into payin’ for".

Not far from the Heritage Centre is the huge, inescapable mass, maze and structure of 20th century Grimsby glory that is Freshney Place.

'And lo, just for a change, the heavens again opened, and God said unto the fathers (or mothers -I don't know which, do I?) of the mildly Green and kind of still a little pleasant land "On the site of this river thou shalt build me a Shopping Centre- because you screwed up the fishing port- (God can say that because he's God) were at this centre the unemployed people of the town and surrounding villages shall come, and spend their giros on alcoholic beverages, motoring magazines, and McDonalds takeaways'

It’s the place the teenagers go every weekend to mull about in. They believe it their God-given right to be able to look round every shop in there, be rude to the staff of every shop in there, harass the cleaners, fill up McDonalds, and mindlessly walk into 'real people’ in a zombie-like trance. But of course, they never actually buy anything do they? They're always broke because their smoking, overweight fisherman (look, let's just say you've read this bit, Ok?) never give them any money because all they ever do is go to Freshney Place every weekend to mull about in and never do anything worthwhile with their lives.

So they get told that they will end up failing their exams, having no qualifications, and having to work the docks, or at 'The greasy fork chippy’ until they retire, and that they will become fat and bald, or become a 30 something stick-insect, and that they will wear knotted hankies, or tea towels, tied about their heads.

But Grimsby isn't all scrubs and slobs. For deep within the inner rectum of Grimsby's sleazy underbelly lies it's council. They divide periodically were all Grimsby's money goes. Within one room lie umpteen men in dark suits, exchanging shifty looks across a large table until the head of Grimsby council enters the room, and they all pay their respects. The whole ordeal is shadowed in darkness, drawn curtains and locked doors. It's a somewhat unusual cross between the 'Godfather Trilogy' and 'The Exorcist'. Has anyone ever seen the head of Grimsby council? No. Sure, we've all seen (or heard) the mayor, an aging dim-witted buffoon who emerges from the Town Hall once a year at Christmas to light up Freshney Place's Christmas tree, but the head of the council? Many rumours fly by about him. The most realistic being that he doesn't exist, and that the council is, in fact, a group of over-paid gibbons who drink tea and leer into the outside world, to which they have no connection with whatsoever.

So then (as I was saying) Grimsby's fortune is split into four major areas. Public services, the gibbons themselves, Environmental issues, and the gibbons themselves. The gibbons can very easily splash speed bumps (that do little all than provide an interesting bicycle jump for the tranced-out teenagers when McDonalds rafters are bending at the seams and the cleaners union has called a strike) about the town, but it's too expensive to throw a few bob into regenerating Dock 3 because that would result in all the Clive's out there loosing their jobs, their homes, their pensions, their pornographic magazine and alcohol collection, and their dignity. Ok, so that was a small exaggeration. They'll never loose that smell of alcohol, will they?

Saying that, there is one area of Grimsby the council has no control over. I'm talking about Grimsby's darker side, the suburban metropolis that all the gibbons fear: Cleethorpes. A little down the way from Grimsby lies it's evil Doppelganger, Cleethorpes. I say this because it's hard to distinguish were Grimsby ends and Cleethorpes begins. Every night at about eight, all the tranced-out teenagers enter their trances and march toward Cleethorpes. This is when the unholy parade of darkness begins, the exodus. If you've ever seen the yearly salmon migration, the people of Grimsby see it every night. They get there by any means necessary - bus, car, or walk. They take to the streets like locusts on harvest. Some have even been known to attach shopping-trolley wheels to their shoe soles and grab the bumper of an unknowing motorist. Or they can just steal a shopping trolley, (Great value. Pay £1 and get free transport for life, no tax, no MOT!) But that would result in 5000 teenagers all being unable to turn left. Cleethorpes is where all the teenagers whose parents refuse to let them go to Ibiza go. It's an unusual second choice. To compare Cleethorpes to Ibiza would be like comparing Nostradamus to Michael Fish.

And that’s my story. Grimsby in 18 paragraphs. But Grimsby is a wonderful place (sorry if I gave you the wrong impression, how thoughtless of me...) Grimsby is the town that has everything, a huge sitcom that BBC2 would reject. But Grimsby has a lasting impression on people. Quite literally.

'And lo, I need a better catchphrase, soon other creatures flocked to Grimsby, and ate the mutated fish. And so the creatures that left the town also became mutated, and carried the plague throughout the country. And lo, kill me now, the effects of Grimsby became an international emergency, as the creatures soon took the world by storm, and claimed it for themselves with an iron fist'

And that iron fist still smells fishy, even today.

Spotted by Jonathan Parkes.

Mentioned Parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36

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