Billy Don’t Be A Hero

Fabricius Fabrizio - Malmesbury Abbey - Athelstan Museum © Malmesbury Memories

Fabricius Fabrizio – Malmesbury Abbey – Athelstan Museum © Malmesbury Memories

Episode 13

Can I borrow a kiss? I promise I’ll give it back

Big Issue, Big Issue, cried out the White Witch of Transylvania stood outside the Griffin public house in the High Street, having just walked all the way into town from Sunny Corston accompanied by Tilly Whim. The White Witch whose real name was Gratiela Leocadia Gavrilescu, lived in Rodbourne Forest and sold Mushrooms and Toadstools from her baskets, and when empty, would tell peoples fortunes over in the Market Cross. Today she had one basket of Grey Spotted Amanita, and one basket of Red Cracked Bolete. Gratiela bid farewell to Tilly Whim, and had just taken up her usual pitch, when along came Roger ‘The Bishop’ Griffin of Salisbury, a newcomer to the town and on his way to oversee the construction of his new museum. Roger stopped alongside Gratiela and asked to examine her wares, he took a quick gander, and immediately offered to buy the lot, pushing seven silver coins into her palm. Gratiela looking down into her palm could see she had been paid generously for her foraged forest fungi, and offered Roger the baskets too, saying she would come and collect them empty at the end of the day.

Roger walked on through the alleyway next to the Griffin public house, looked up at its sign and chuckled at the name wondering if there could be any connection. He now emerged from the alleyway into the town’s main square, and could see the garrison soldiers busily carting stone, from the old demolished castle, to the site of his new museum. There in the middle of the plot stood a large wooden crate covered with a sheet, and two dragoons in full cavalry uniform standing guard over it. Roger greeted his Dragoon Guards and offered them a mushroom each, then told them if anyone asks what’s under the sheet, just say it’s Napoleon’s Waterloo Portaloo that should keep inquisitive minds happy. The two dragoons nearly choked on their fungi offerings, Roger wasn’t sure if he’d said something funny, or whether they didn’t agree with his taste in snacks.

Composite of Corbel supporting the Bamberg Horseman, Bamberg Cathedral, Germany

Composite of Corbel supporting the Bamberg Horseman, Bamberg Cathedral, Germany

A couple of carpenters now arrived, Richard and Karen, having just finished working on the Abbey roof repairs, a cheerful couple singing away out loudly to themselves, ‘Top of the World.’ They dropped their tool bags down and began to construct a room for the ‘Waterloo Portaloo,’ Karen looked at the state of the site and exclaimed, ‘Yesterday Once More.’ Now Tilly Whim and Hannah Twynnoy came skipping by, looking very much as if to catch the eyes of the dragoon guards who remained straight faced and serious about their duties, until Tilly and Hannah began whistling, ‘Billy Don’t Be A Hero,’ that was it, both the guards dropped their lances and gave chase, Hannah and Tilly shooting off down Griffin Alley towards the high street, with such lack of effort knowing full well they’d be caught, just as planned. A few minutes later two couples, arm in arm, came walking back into the square.

Having purchased the heavily waterlogged and damaged TARDIS from the Abbey Monks, Roger had already made friends and connections there, especially as his reputation came before him being known as ‘The Bishop’ and from Salisbury, the Malmesbury Monks guessed there must be some sort of connection with the church but more importantly, he seemed to be rather pally and with influence over old ‘Tumbledown Dick,’ son of Cromwell, whom they had saved the hide of, and returned safely to the New Model Army after the débâcle with the stolen TARDIS, with the subsequent damage to the Abbey Roof, of which Cromwell himself sent a generous amount of money towards its repair. So affairs at the Abbey were looking UP as usual.

Watcher of the skies, watcher of all
His is a world alone no world is his own
He whom life can no longer surprise
Raising his eyes beholds a planet unknown
Creatures shaped this planet’s soil
Now their reign has come to end
Has life again destroyed life?
Do they play elsewhere, do they know
More than their childhood games?
Maybe the lizard’s shed its tail
This is the end of man’s long union with Earth
A well known song from Genesis (Chapter 666)

Roger had been introduced to Fabricius Fabrizio, the inventor of the TARDIS who had organised its construction by the Abbey Monks, and as everybody knows, called the ‘Order of Jackdaws,’ originating from their Black Habits and other unmentionable deeds. Fabricius Fabrizio, Abbey Designer and Chief Monumental Mason and Stonework Sculptor, who had led much of the work of building the Abbey, had found himself with a little more ‘Time On His Hands,’ and that’s when the TARDIS was conceived, with the help of Brother Eilmer and uncle William of Malmesbury. So Roger had now persuaded Fabricius Fabrizio, to come and join him over at the new museum, and set to work restoring the TARDIS.

They were going to need a lot of money for this project, and so set about applying for a Grant from the Monasteries Special Fund set up by King Athelstan himself, a few Blue Moons Ago. After much work in their application for this grant, and the many gracious deeds accomplished else where in the town, over the following months by ‘The Bishop,’ it was carefully decided by the Abbey authorities to award funds to Roger for his projects, on one condition, he name his museum after Athelstan.

Work on the TARDIS was now well under-way in its new home the Athelstan Museum, and no longer needing the dragoon guards, they had now left the army and joined the museum as volunteers, working on the Waterloo Portaloo restoration. While working late into the evening, the ex-dragoons, John and Paul heard a loud banging on the doors of the museum and on tentative investigation found Tilly Whim and Hannah Twynnoy outside in some what of a tizzy thinking they’d been stood up. So having made their excuses, John and Paul were under pressure to explain their infatuation with this so called TARDIS. That’s when they made the mistake of taking Tilly and Hannah inside to explain to them what it was all about. Well you can guess what happened next, yes Hannah being the inquisitive, teasing and naughty girl she was, couldn’t resist touching and prodding at what she’d specifically had been told, Not To Touch!

Here we go again, four unsuspecting victims setting forth on a journey through Time.


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“Any resemblance between the characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle.”

23 October, 2017
All images and written works by David Forward are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License