Archive for February, 2012

Another blog about some Pontypool characters

February 28, 2012


Stories from a South Wales Valley

I have recently been in touch with Steve Parry who came across this blog and who lives in York. His mother and father are both from Pontypool and he was born in Panteg Hospital in 1958. He says that his Mum is full of stories of her growing up in Pontypool.

He says that his mother is a Curtis by birth and that her stories are about the Curtis/Hughes/Gregory families. Steve has put some photographs on the site. He says he regularly returns home to wander the family sites. Yes, the pull of the valleys never goes away!

I’m quite certain that visitors to this blog will love to read Steve’s. I’ve just done so and I found it very evocative of past times, many of which I’ve written about in previous posts. It’s called “Annie from Penygarn” – Stories from a South Wales Valley.  Just click here to read it:

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 3

February 25, 2012


A Strange Encounter


“I couldn’t have knocked it in a worse spot,” declared Titch in an anguished voice. “The trouble is it would have bounced such a lot in amongst all these stones. It might even have hit the cloister wall over there and bounced off in another direction.”

“I wonder if it rolled down that passage and into the cellar,” queried Bunny.

“I hope not,” replied Gogs. “It’s jolly dark down there.”

“It’s not very light out here now the sun’s gone down,” added Titch.

After searching unsuccessfully for some twenty minutes, Titch, feeling a little guilty as the main cause of the search, suggested that, as they really had no idea of the whereabouts of the ball, they should split up and each look in different places.

“Miff and Bunny, you look in the old refectory there,” he said pointing to what had once been a long room where the monks had eaten their meals. “You can get over that gap there where the wall is lowest. Gogs and Smudgie, you can look along the passage leading past that old room to the cellar. I’ll look over on the other side of the cloisters.”

This new search, although well organised, was equally as unsuccessful as the first. After a further fifteen minutes’ searching, the light was failing rapidly and Bunny and Miff rejoined Titch at the other end of the refectory.

“Sorry about your ball Bunny,” murmured Titch apologetically.

“Oh, that’s all right,” returned Bunny sportingly. “I don’t suppose . . .”

He broke off and all three looked quickly in the direction of the old cellar. They could distinctly hear the voices of Smudgie and Gogs who seemed to be having a heated argument with someone.

Their footsteps echoed as they ran through the old cloisters and, on turning a corner at the end of the refectory, they saw Gogs and Smudgie standing near the cellar passage and arguing strongly with a burly and rough-looking man in a black  leather jacket who held both boys by their collars.

“You let us go!” protested Gogs in his high-pitched voice. “These ruins don’t belong to you.”

“No!” joined in Miff. “An’ we’re staying till we’ve found Bunny’s cricket ball.”

“Oh!” grunted the man. “And who’s Bunny?”

“I am,” announced Bunny, calmly walking in the direction of the arguing trio.

“Oh, you are, are you? And what are you snoopin’ around here for, may I ask?”

“We’re looking for a ball,” returned Titch. “I accidentally knocked it into the ruins when we were playing cricket.”

“Well, my advice to the lot of you is to get out of the ruins, and quick!” yelled the man placing his hands on his hips and glaring at the boys who showed no sign of moving.

“All right Mason, I’ll handle this,” said a quiet voice. Turning round the boys saw a well-dressed and pleasant-looking man making his way towards them.

“Go back to the car. I’ll join you in a moment,” he said to the man he had called Mason, who, without a word, immediately left. When he had gone the man turned and smiled at the boys.

“Now then, what’s the trouble, eh?” he asked.

Titch explained about Bunny’s cricket ball getting lost and how they had failed to find it. Gogs and Bunny joined in and explained how the man had grabbed them by the collar and told them to go.

“Ah! I see,” said the man still smiling. “You must forgive my friend. I’m afraid he’s a little quick tempered and hasty. You see, we are members of the South London Occult Society. We make a hobby of investigating ghosts and haunted buildings and the like. At the moment we have some sensitive scanning equipment hidden at various places in the old abbey. Naturally such equipment costs a lot of money and I expect my friend, Mr Mason, was afraid you might accidentally damage it. I expect you’ve heard that a ghost is supposed to walk this place, and we hope that, with our instruments, we will be able to find out whether there is any truth in the story.”

“Oh, I’m pos’tive we haven’t damaged any equipment,” blurted out Gogs. “We haven’t even seen any, have we boys?” The others agreed.

“No, no, of course not,” hastily added the man. “The stuff is well hidden, naturally, and I’m quite sure you haven’t touched it. Now then, to whom does the lost ball belong?”

“It’s mine,” replied Bunny.

The man offers Bunny a £5 note to buy another ball.

“Well, then,” said the man putting his hand into his pocket and pulling out a wallet, “suppose I give you a five pound note and you get another ball. I’m sure you won’t find it now it’s almost dark, and we really must get on installing our equipment. If I were you I should have a look for the ball when it’s light. If you find it, then you’ll have two.”

“Thank you very much sir!” exclaimed Bunny taking the proffered note.

“Well, boys, I really must be getting back to my car to rejoin my friend. Good evening!” And with that he walked away in the direction of the Straight Mile which was the main road bordering the common.

Interesting comments on Panteg Hospital

February 24, 2012


I received two emails from Harold Clark following my post about Panteg Hospital. He worked there in the 1950s. This was the same time that my wife and I went there with the Toc H film projector. We usually arrived about 7.30p.m. and left about 10.00p.m. Harold, being only 15 at the time, did not work in the evenings so he cannot remember us going there.

I can sympathise with Harold and his comments about the behaviour of Olive. When I was unpacking the projector and getting it ready to show the film, it was quite common for a dozen or so of the women to crowd around to watch. Some of them would ask “Will you be my boyfriend?” and similar questions. I was glad I had my wife with me! Perhaps Olive was one of those who asked!

Here are some of the interesting comments Harold made:

“I first started work at Panteg Hospital at the age of 15 in 1955 as the first apprentice the then Newport and East Mon Hospital Management took on. There was one tradesman for every trade then based at the hospital. They also had a small building site based at St Woolos, Newport. 

“The Block C for the women I remember well. One of the inmates there called Olive used to call me a “buddy nutent”. She had a speech problem.  This caused some excitment when I started seeing my now wife on Saturday in Pontypool when Olive started calling loudly across town “Hey carpenter boy you buddy nutent” nearly cost me the person who was to become my wife. Some years ago I heard that Olive was one hundred years old. 

“Some inmates were placed in there with not a lot wrong with them but could not get out unless someone took charge of them. These would be the ones that took the women out on Saturdays. They also did a lot of work in the hospital. It is a different place now. I remember the gardener putting in a gold fish pond and the head porter put some fish in. One was a catfish which grew very large and somebody put it in the header tank for the boiler house. The water was quite warm. One guy on cleaning this out got a shock when shoveling the mud from the bottom. He came across the catfish and they say he came out of the tank like a rocket. The tank had 6ft sides and he was not all that steady on his feet at the best of times. Each person that saw the fish I think added a foot to its length but it must have been large and may still be living in the canal.

“As you enter County Hospital the building on the left we converted to a medical stores. In the days of the workhouse this was split into cells and in the rear wall backing onto the now car park were metal grills with holes in them where inmates would have to break up stone in the cells and it had to fit through the holes in the plates. I believe they had to break a certain amount every day. I would think you can still make out where we removed the plates.

“In the field that was behind the maternity block, which is now built on and used for other things, there was a row of stones from the rear of the houses on Stafford Road to the canal, the end nearest the swimming baths (long gone now). Apparently these stones accumulated again in the days of the workhouse when the field was where a lot of the food was grown for the workhouse. Inmates would be lined up in a row and had to walk across the field where they would pick up the stones and throw them in front of them until they got to the other end.

 “I remember one year at the bonfire that was put on for the patients of bloc C a member of staff’s son was larking about and accidentally caused a firework to end up in the box with all the rest setting the lot off together. It cut short the bonfire party that night but nobody was hurt. I have left out the name of the boy but if he reads this he might add to it.”

Panteg Hospital, Pontypool and “Retlas” revealed

February 19, 2012


Panteg Hospital was built in 1837 as a workhouse. As it was built on Coedygric Road, Griffithstown, it isn’t surprising that it became known as Coedygric Institute.

Later it became a mental hospital for women. Some of these could be seen from time to time walking the streets of Griffithstown in their drab white uniforms. They were in a crocodile formation with two men leading and two men at the rear.

It might be because of this that there was a section of the hospital for mentally ill women in the late fifties when I used to visit the hospital once a month on behalf of the Toc H Film Unit to show the patients a film. This was before television really took over. Once inside we were locked in. I well remember my first visit. I needed to plug the projector into the electricity supply and I knew that there was both DC and AC available in that section. As no member of staff was present I asked some of the patients which plug was used by my predecessor. They confidently pointed out one of the plugs which I then assumed was the AC supply. Unfortunately they were wrong and I plugged in to the DC supply. When I switched the projector on I blew the whole supply for that section of the hospital.

It became Panteg Hospital after World War II and had one of the best maternity sections in Wales. Immediately below the hospital is Coed-y-Gric Farm which is one of the oldest buildings in Wales.

If any visitors have information about the hospital building, particularly any photographs, or memories of working there, please contact me.

*     *     *     *     *


In my posting about the Welsh international rugby player Cecil Pritchard, I mentioned that I had obtained my information about him from a page in one of the club’s programmes and that it was written by someone with the pseudonym of “Retlas”. I asked whether anyone knew who he was and my friend, Eric Smith, has come up with the answer. It’s the reversed surname of Jack Salter who for many years was Editor of the Free Press.

Jack Salter was very active in the Pontypool area in a number of diverse ways. He was the first Secretary of the Pontypool District Motor and Motorcycle Club and also a member of the Trevethin cricket Club. My uncle, Granville Hughes, was also a member as were two West Mon masters: Messrs Whitty and Mosely.

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 2

February 18, 2012


Lost Ball

  Pontyrabad, according to the official holiday guide, was “a small peaceful Welsh coastal town, one of its main attractions being a 12th century Benedictine Abbey, the ruins of which grace a peaceful green common a short distance from the sea”.

At the moment. however, the common was anything but peaceful.

Titch and his friends playing cricket on the Common

    “Howzat?” bellowed four voices in unison. Titch  turned quickly, bat in the air, to look with dismay at his middle stump now lying flat on the ground behind him. He turned and grinned good-naturedly at Gogs, the cause of his downfall.

“Well done Gogs! I must remember to do the same for you sometime.”

The other four boys converged on Titch who was still standing at the wicket.

“I vote we have tea now,” said Bunny, and to reinforce his idea he started to pull out the two remaining stumps. But no one disagreed with him. All five were hungry after their afternoon’s cricket and it was now well past their normal teatime.  It was often their custom to have what they termed a ‘cricket picnic’ on Pontyrabad common. Having collected their gear together they sat down on the springy green turf to eat their meal.

They were halfway through an assortment of sandwiches, fruit, cakes and other tasty items when their banquet was suddenly interrupted by a man’s voice right behind them.

“I hope you young gentlemen don’t make yourselves sick.” Turning around they saw a middle-aged man with a large moustache making his way across the common. As the boys turned he gave them a smile and waved his walking stick.

“Evening sir!” chorused the boys suddenly realising who the speaker was.

“Coo!” exclaimed Miff in a half whisper to the other four. “It’s old ‘Fungus’ our new history teacher.”

“Whacko and bang on!” joked Titch twirling an imaginary moustache now that the teacher was at a safe distance and out of earshot.

“I wonder where he’s going,” mused Smudgie.

“Home of course,” replied Titch.

“Does he live around here then?” asked Gogs looking over his shoulder at the now distant figure.

“Yes,” replied Titch. “He lives in one of those flats in the big houses on Common Crescent.”

“Oh yes,” added Bunny. “I can see his car parked outside.”

“What I don’t understand,” drawled Gogs in a puzzled voice, “is why he came to our school when none of the other teachers have left.”

“Yes, I wondered about that too,” added Smudgie.

“I thought it strange myself,” agreed Titch, “until about a fortnight ago when I had to take some chemistry books to the staff room for old ‘Stinks’. ‘Fungus’ was chatting to him and said that he had come to relieve the staff shortage a bit. Apparently there’s a great shortage of men teachers all over the country and really we could still do with a few more at our school to balance the staff better.”

“A few more teachers!” eclaimed Miff. “Coo! I reckon we’ve got a few too many. I’m willing to part with a few of ours any day.”

“Me too!” agreed Gogs.

“Well, anyway, that’s why he’s come,” ended Titch.

“We could have done a lot worse,” stated Bunny.   “He’s not a bad sort really. He’s jolly interesting, and that’s more than you can say for Miss Morrison’s history lessons.”

“You must be joking!” burst out Miff. “Hist’ry interestin? What’ll the boy say next?”

“No, I mean he’s not all dates and names of Kings and such like,” replied Bunny defending his opinion of the new teacher. “He tells you how people in olden days used to live, the things they used to eat, and the games the kids used to play and all that.”

“Of course there is one good thing he’s helped with,” said Gogs thoughtfully as he surveyed the grass and brushed his long dark hair away from his eyes. “He helps out a lot with the boys’ cricket.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” added Bunny. “With old Millie, all she wanted us to play was rounders. Huh! Rounders! We do get to play more cricket now.”

“I must say I was jolly surprised at all the things he knows about Pontyrabad,” said Titch, “considering he doesn’t come from round this way, I mean. I wonder where he does come from?”

“London,” replied Gogs simply. The others were amazed at hearing such a confident reply coming from him.

“And how on earth do you know that?” asked Miff.

“Well, I was outside the Head’s office the day he came. I was waitin’ for a telling off by the Head and I heard him tell the sec’try”

“Just imagine, Gogs,” teased Titch, “if you hadn’t been sent for a telling off we’d never have known where he came from.”

“I’m not a bit interested where he comes from,” protested Gogs. “I’d much rather not had the telling off I can tell you!”

“Cissy!” jeered Smudgie, at which Gogs flung his empty banana skin at him catching him full in the face. Smudgie launched his reprisal attack at once and fell upon Gogs trying to stuff a hastily gathered handful of grass down the back of his shirt, and in a few seconds the two boys were rolling over and over on the grass until they were interrupted by a shout from Titch.

“Come on you two nitwits, it’s time we were going.” Then he grabbed his bat and ran a few yards off.

“Just one last knock, Gogs, before we go. I’ll knock you for six this time.”

Gogs, who was always ready to fall in wih a challenging suggestion, rose to his feet. He grabbed the ball and, after brushing his hair from his left eye, flung the ball down hard at Titch. A smart piece of footwork enabled him to take the ball on the half-volley and it soared high into the air. Up and away it went followed by the admiring gaze of the other four, and eventually fell amongst the ruins of the old abbey where it bounced amongst the stones.

“Six it is!” yelled Bunny as he dramatically raised both arms above his head in true umpire’s style. “The only trouble is that now we’ve got to find my ball. Come on you lot, that’s my new ball. We can gather our kit together when we’ve found it.”

Though the grass on the common was fairly short, being regularly cut by council workmen, their search for the ball was considerably hampered by the stonework which was scattered about where the grass was much longer. The five boys made their way in amongst the old ruined cloisters, but, although they looked everywhere for it, the elusive ball could not be found.

 [D1]Illustration: Boys playing cricket on common   DONE

Titch’s Secret Society Chapter 1

February 11, 2012


 Titch Has an Idea

Four young boys were leaning in silence against the stone wall of the old tower on the steep hill rising up from the sea in the small South Wales coastal town of Pontyrabad. They were enjoying their half-term holiday. Their eyes were fixed on the distant figure of a strangely dressed man making his way towards them carrying an artist’s easel and a large portfolio bag.

Gogs Palfrey, the tallest of the four, glanced at his watch and was first to break the silence. “Can’t think where Titch has got to, but here’s old Louis again to do another of his paintings.”

“Wonder why he spends so much time painting the old tower?” mused  Bunny Francis.

“Dunno,” replied Miff Smith  “There’s already plenty of his paintings on sale in the art shop in town. Perhaps they’re popular with the tourists.”

“Sometimes he paints the scenery you can see from the hill. I’ve even seen him inside the tower sketching the scene through the doorway,” added  Smudgie Wright.

“He’s coming straight towards us,” said Bunny      “Perhaps he’s planning to sketch inside the tower again.”

“Don’t want him in there while we’re having our meeting!” exclaimed Gogs. “Let’s go inside so he’ll go somewhere else.”

The others appreciated the sense in this suggestion so all four slowly walked around to the side of the tower and mounted the solitary step to go inside. They sat down on some of the very large stones strewn about which had previously been part of the tower wall.

A short while later, the artist Louis, appeared framed in the doorway. Seeing the boys inside he hesitated at the door as he greeted them: “Ello lads! Having fun?”

“Hi Louis!” they chorused in return.

Bunny looked up at him from his large stone armchair, “Going to do another painting Louis?”

The artist looked slightly hesitant. “Er. . . well I was thinking . . .”

“We’re waiting for Titch,” chimed in Smudgie. “Don’t know where he’s got to or how long he’ll be”.

Louis waved his one free hand. “No trouble. No trouble. I’ll go down to the shell house and work down there. I come back here later. Bye lads!” With another wave of his hand he walked around the tower and down the side of the curving hill in the direction of the old shell house.

Gogs looked through the open doorway at the retreating figure. “Didn’t seem to want to do any painting here with us around,” he said.

“Perhaps artists like a bit of quiet when they’re working,” suggested Miff.

“Are you suggesting that we’re a noisy lot?” protested Bunny in mock indignation.

“Well, we have been known to make a slight amount of noise from time to time,” returned Miff with a smile.

The impatient Gogs hauled himself to his feet and strolled to the doorway to look down the hill. “Hey! I can see Titch. He’s on his way up. Wonder where he’s been till now.”

The other three joined Gogs outside the doorway. “P’raps he was late having dinner. You can ask him in a minute or two,” replied Bunny.

As Titch neared the crest of the hill Gogs sauntered down to meet him. “Where’ve you been?” he asked. “You said you had a good idea to talk about at our meeting. Let’s go inside the tower. There’s no one about now we’ve got rid of Louis.”

“Yes, I passed him on the way up,” replied Titch. “I think he’s going to do another painting of the shell house.”

Titch chatting to his friends by the wall of the old tower

As Titch joined the others they all chatted for a few minutes and then went inside the tower. Bunny and Miff sat down on two of the large stones, and Gogs, Titch and Smudgie hauled themselves onto a large rectangle of rough masonry just over a metre high that was built into one of the walls.

“Tell us about your idea Titch,” said the ever-eager Gogs.

Titch took a deep breath. “Well, you know we said that, as there’s not much for us to do in Ponty, we could consider forming a club of our own.”

“That’s right,” chirped in Bunny. “I think it’s a good idea. We could decide what sort of things we want to do, and we might get some other boys to join us later on.”

“Makes sense,” added Smudgie. “We do all sorts of things now but it would be good if we could have our own rules and get things organised, especially in the  holidays.”

“Yes, August holidays especially need a bit of organising,” added Gogs who was already warming to the idea.

“But there’s something else I’ve been reading about in my boys’ magazine which might be useful,” said Titch.  “It was advertising a small book which is free and tells you how to form  your own secret society.”

There were interested mutterings all round. Gogs jumped to his feet. “That’s real cool Titch,” he cried. “How do we do it? When can we start?”

“Let’s send for the book,” suggested Miff, “especially as it’s free.”

“I already have,” replied Titch. That’s why I’m a bit late arriving. I went round to the post office first to post the form asking for the book. That’s why I came up the path past the shell house.”

“Well, what are we going to do in this society?” pursued Miff.

Titch was hesitant. “Well . . . I think it might be a good idea to wait until the book arrives to see what is says, but we did say that one of our activities was going to be playing cricket.”

“Yeah, we’ve got to play cricket,” enthused Gogs, “especially as we all had some equipment last Christmas.”

At this Titch stood up and announced with an air of finality, “I suggest we have a game of cricket now.” He went to the tower doorway and looked down the hill. “There’s nobody playing on the common so we can play there,” he said.

By now they were all on their feet. “We’ll all collect our cricket gear and picnics and meet by the Abbey,” announced Titch. “First one there bats first.” This challenge resulted in a mad dash downhill towards the town.

FREE new e-book for visitors to this blog

February 9, 2012

FREE new e-book for visitors to this blog

A couple of years ago I wrote a children’s novel for my grandchildren. They knew nothing about it, but when I’d finished it I designed a cover and used a pseudonym instead of my own name so that they wouldn’t know I was the author. I printed several copies and bound them into paperbacks so that they looked like any normal book you’d buy from a shop.

My grandchildren are keen on reading and are used to being given books so I casually gave a copy to each of them and asked them to let me know what they thought about it. I was pleased that they all gave it a good report, but one of my grandsons said he would have liked some illustrations in the book as he prefers books with illustrations. It was only after this that I confessed to being the author of the book.

So, for some while recently I’ve been busy making illustrations for the book, two of which appear on the newly-designed cover. I intended the book for children who are about 8 to 11 years of age and have decided now to offer it as a free e-book to any visitors’ children or grandchildren – or anyone else for that matter – who might like to read it.

The title of the book is “Titch’s Secret Society”. Visitors who have read all the posts on this blog will realise that it’s partly autobiographical – except the exciting bits !

There is a saying that writers should write about things they know, so the setting for the book is Pontypool, but a vastly different Pontypool. For one thing I’ve moved Pontypool to the Welsh coast, a Pontypool-on-sea !!!  I’ve also given it an abbey. I stole this from Tintern, but don’t tell the people of Tintern; they haven’t missed it yet.

There is a stone bridge (which was made of wood many years ago when it was first built) which leads from the abbey towards the town. It is because of this bridge that the town is known as “Pontyrabad” (Abbot’s Bridge in English). The full historical account of the murder of the abbot is included in the story.

This is the cover of the book:


The top illustration shows Titch and his four friends playing cricket on the green common with the abbey in the background, and, if you look carefully, to the right of the abbey set high on the hill is the old tower (The Folly). The bottom illustration shows the abbey set close to the sea and to the left the new stone abbot’s bridge. The town of “Pontypool” (Pontyrabad) rests resplendent along the coast with a beautifullly curved beach. Did I hear someone say “I wish!”? The Grotto is off to the left of the bottom picture. Known as “the old shell house” it also features in the book.

So, in the hope that some Pontypool children (or any others) might be encouraged to do more reading, I shall be publishing an episode from the book every Saturday morning so that children can read it when they are home from school. Incidentally, please feel free to make any comments.

Although the book is coyright and cannot be published by anyone else, please feel free to download it and print a personal copy if you want someone to have it in printed format.

Some Pontypool Baptists in hot water

February 3, 2012

Many children and young adults now living in Pontypool will remember the Trevethin Comprehensive School which was opened in 1982 and closed in 2007. Before this, for 85 years, it was the home of Pontypool Girls’ Grammar School, known locally as “The County”. When my friends and I from West Mon were walking home through the town we invariably saw a long string of girls from The County, in their green uniforms with large wide hats, walking the other way.

The old, regency style building was built about 1835 as a Baptist College for the training of Baptist ministers and I expect it turned out many effective Baptist ministers in its time. However there was one occasion when some of the senior students behaved in a very un-ministerial way. Whether these students were influenced in any way by the publication of “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” by Thomas Hughes which was published just after the college was opened, I cannot say. But certainly some of the senior students, instead of being role models for the younger ones, started behaving rather like Flashman, the bully  in “Tom Brown’s Schooldays”, and tried to make the junior students their servants even to the extent of sometimes beating them for disobeying their commands.

Apart from this they also saw fit from time to time to smash the college crockery and to cause all manner of disturbing noise at unreasonable hours.

As a result of all this totally unacceptable behaviour, the Principal, Dr Edwards, charged the students concerned  with insubordination. His charges were confirmed by the junior students and, at an extraordinary meeting of the college executive committee, 17 of the senior students were instantly expelled.

I made this pencil sketch of the college so that visitors who might not
 seen the it, particularly those living in other countries, will
some idea of what it looked like. 

To put things into perspective a little, and to convince my many Baptist friends that I am not just “having a go” at them, I’d like to point out that high jinks in ministerial colleges is not a new thing. My greatest Methodist hero was the late Dr. W.E.Sangster. I have both volumes of his excellent sermons and also the story of his life as recounted by his son Paul Sangster in his book about his father, “Dr Sangster”. He recounts the following tale about W.E.Sangster and some of his fellow students:

“In the college at that time was a student from darkest Wales who developed a graveyard cough which kept his corridor awake all night. ‘Look here —,’ said a furious fellow-student, ‘if you go on coughing like that you’ll cough your inside out.’ The Welshman’s suffering face blanched. ‘I won’t, will I?’ ‘You certainly will.’ And in that evil moment a plot was formed.

“My father dispatched a student to the local slaughter-house for two pennyworth of sheep’s intestines. The revolting mess was placed gently on the sleeping Welshman’s counterpane the next dawn, and the rest of the men, who had dressed silently in the half light, crept stealthily down to breakfast before the gong should wake their victim.

“He did not appear at breakfast. The jokers conferred. Had they, perhaps, overdone it a little. Was he really ill? They resolved to go and see him.

“But they were too late. As they reached the hall a figure tottered down the stairs, clutching the bannisters for support. ‘It happened !’ quavered the figure. ‘What?’ they asked, relieved to see him walking and delighted at the success of their joke. ‘My inside ! I coughed it up !’ Murmurs of deep sympathy broke from them all as they hid their grins. ‘But it’s all right,’ continued the figure. ‘By the grace of God and with the aid of a small toothbrush, I have succeeded in putting it all back.'”

By the way – don’t try this at home !