BILLY: The Pit Of Shadows

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Issue 1st September 2012
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BILLY: The Pit Of Shadows
SYNOPSIS
Billy’s Nan resides in the local nursing home run by the Matron whom Billy is convinced is a vampire. Matron and Billy are natural enemies. Billy has made it his mission in life to save other old people from Matron’s clutches.
But darker forces are at work.
A family crisis and the discovery of the family album leads to the unearthing of secrets long buried in the past destined to change Billy’s life forever.
Nothing is as it seems. For Billy and Buster, his enormous ginger tom cat, it is the beginning of a perilous adventure to save Nan and an awakening to the staggering truth of his own identity.
And that is only the beginning. . .
Remember Mum
Listerine Fights Bad Breath


Billy & Matron
 
        "Matron and Billy were natural enemies. To begin with he was a child. In Matron's eyes the only saving grace children possessed was they would one day grow old, very old if they lived that long. Billy was a particularly disgusting example of the species. A spindly, scruffy urchin too knowing for his years. 'Streetwise', she believed was the popular expression. . .
         .  . . Matron lived upstairs in what had once been the attic. Rumour was that when Matron walked in the spiders packed their bags and walked out. And Billy should know, because he had started it in the first place. He often thought about
  hiding under Nan's bed, sneaking out when it got dark  to climb the stairs that led to Matron's lair. Billy was an expert on Vampires and he knew that Matron was definitely one of them. "
Buster
"Buster had appeared out of nowhere. One morning Billy opened the front door and there he was.  A great big scruffy Ginger Tom staring up at Billy through his one good eye. He made such a fuss rubbing against Billy's legs that the milk bottles scattered like nine-pins. The noise brought Mum to the door armed with dustpan and brush and a very sour expression on her face. The sight of Billy cradling the most enormous cat she had ever seen in her life stopped her dead in her tracks.
The Gaffer
“I almost feel sorry for those golf balls they way they bash them all over the place.” Mrs Gardner-Allen knew very little about the noble art of golf but her innocent comment had an astonishing effect upon the Gaffer. He leapt to his feet and glared at the television set just as a large individual in a tartan sweater was about to belt the ball another 300 yards down the fairway. The individual in question did not know how lucky he was to be almost half way round the world from the Gaffer at that moment. Reaching forward the Gaffer turned off the television set and disappeared to his room. They heard the door slam loudly. Slowly they turned to look at each other. “What?” bleated Mrs Gardner-Allen. In response Mr Gardner-Allen merely shook his head."
How To Play Conkers
For readers with little or no knowledge of this ancient form of combat we offer a brief explanation.
 "It had been a sunny day in early September and the conker season was already in full swing.  Billy and Ross Tudor, encircled by an expectant crowd of children, were eying each other warily. Hector and Achilles preparing for battle before the glistening walls of Troy could not have been studied with more eager anticipation."
  From Chapter 13: The Great Conker Conflict


1. Find a suitable conker.

The best conkers to play with are uncracked, firm and symmetrical.
 "Legend had it that Ross Tudor’s conker had been handed down from generation to generation and its victims could now be numbered in the hundreds. Ross often boasted his great grandfather had been one of King Arthur’s knights and that his conker yielding prowess was so deadly he could unseat a man on horse at a hundred paces with a well aimed swing and a long stretch of string."
 
From Chapter 13: The Great Conker Conflict
 
A conker is the seed of the horse chestnut tree - a hard brown nut found in a prickly casing.
2. String your conker.
Make a hole through the middle of of your chosen conker. Thread a strong piece of string about 25cm long, through the hole and tie a knot at one end, so that it doesn't pull through.
3. Prepare for battle.
"Ross Tudor was undisputed conker champion. He possessed a wickedly accurate downward swing that had never yet failed to smash his opponents conker into several large chunks scattered across the playground to the accompaniment of loud cheers from enthusiastic supporters. On the rare occasions he did miss the opposition conker he never failed to whack his opponent squarely across the knuckles with a sickening thud. "
 
From Chapter 13: The Great Conker Conflict


4. Rules of combat.
1. Each player has a conker hanging on its string. Players take turns at hitting their opponent's conker.

2. If you are the one whose conker is to be hit first, let it hang down from the string which is wrapped round your hand.

3. The conker is held at the height your opponent chooses and is held perfectly still.
4. Your opponent, the striker, wraps his conker string round his hand just like yours. He then takes his conker in the other hand and draws it back for the strike.

5. Releasing the conker he swings it down by the string held in the other hand and tries to hit his opponents conker (yours) with it.

6. If a player misses hitting his/her opponents conker they are allowed up to two further goes.
7. The game goes on in turns until one or other of the two conkers is completely destroyed.
 
8. A victorious conker assumes the score of all its victim's precedent foes.
 
9. Thus, in a contest between two fresh conkers, the winner would then have a score of 1 (known as a 'one-er'). If it then beat another three one-ers, it would become a four-er.
This Weeks Debate: "Is Soaking Your Conkers In Vinegar Cheating?"
"Others even dared suggest Ross Tudor soaked his conker in vinegar overnight and then baked them in the oven, a blatant violation of the rules of combat. This accusation was always denied with a hurt expression and a solemn  oath sworn on the lives of his pet guinea-pigs. Billy often wondered about that because as far as he knew Ross Tudor didn’t own pets of any description. "
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  CHAPTER 10 Great Grandfather Glyn
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In Next Months Issue:

  • We investigate Firgrove Colliery - 'The Pit Of Shadows'.
     
  • Meet more characters from BILLY:Family Secrets including Auntie Vera.
     
  • Amazing Escapes - Glyn 'Lazarus' Jenkins is not alone! Meet others who have cheated Death.
     
  • Featured Guest - an interview with 'The Gaffer'.
PLUS extracts from CHAPTER 5: A Stroke Of Luck

2 comments:

  1. So many childhood memories just came flooding back to me. Happy times before first the H & S brigade and later the technological revolution robbed our children of such simple pleasures.

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  2. Coalmining disasters are all so engrained in the history of the Welsh valleys, including the Gwendraeth Valley, where I grew up; the sense of community too. They carry on to this day, as the Gleision disaster of 2012 demonstrates. It's the centenary of the Senghenydd mining disaster this year - the loss of life was the highest of all. Very, very sad. Billy, in his way, keep their memories alive.

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