Testing the Water

M.E by Hazel Schofield

Here’s a little acrostic poem written by Hazel a few years back. Still a great explanation of that little charmer we call Myalgic Encephalomyelitis from someone who lives with it every day.

Mood swings

Yawning incessantly

Aching all over

Lethargic all the time

Groaning in pain

Incapable of bathing oneself


Energy levels depleted

Not sleeping well

Can’t get warm

Exhausted after even simple tasks

Predominantly housebound

Hate feeling like this

An abysmal illness

Limited mobility

Oh so very forgetful

Mobility scooter user

Yet again feeling frustrated

Emotional outbursts

Loneliness and isolation

I’ve forgotten what normal is

Trying to pace myself but failing miserably

In bed again today

Slow recovery

Testing The Water: The Rape of Sanity

When I started this offshoot of my blog, I used the phrase “play around with some fictional writing”. Perhaps experiment might have been a better choice of word. This is something I recently unearthed that I wrote back in the eighties when my drinking was near its zenith (and my sanity close to its nadir I should imagine). I’ll make no further comments. Punctuation is as it was then. Trigger Warning. Veggies and Vegans read at your own risk.

The Rape of Sanity

Bubbles…..that’s what I felt. Touching my skin. Breaking. A tickle then a wet sensation. Bubbles. Champagne bubbles leaving the glass and settling on my skin. Bubbles. A Michelin Man hung, drawn and quartered. Bubbles. Children’s joy. Bubbles


It was a pleasant alarm bell as alarm bells go
Come to that it was a pleasant morning as mornings go
A pleasant September as……….

Breakfast was on the cards
Two eggs – cooked not naked
Bacon – off the trotter
Black pudding – a bloody feast
Breakfast was on the table

The woman; I never remember her name, acted busily, impatiently awaiting my breakfast plate. I slowed, deliberately, savoured every mouthful, relished every bite. Slowly, slowly I dragged the bread through hardening yellow puddles, greasy crumbs of clotted blood, sickly bacon rind, and then the bubbles came back

Bubbles….the bit of an Aero you pay too much for. Bubbles….M.J.’s chimpanzee. Bubbles….children’s pleasure. Bubbles.

Clink clink clink

‘Will that be all sir?’ like some cliché from Dr Finlay’s Casebook or Upstairs Downstairs. No, that will not be all. I want you to take a 12” knife and slash your wrists you intolerable old cow. Unuttered of course. Manners are hard to override.

The paper arrived creased and cold. The gentleman’s gentleman had long ago run off with a man’s man.

Bubbles. This is the last time that I drown.


Those of you who follow my normal facebook rantings will know that a few weeks ago I woke up with a post claiming I had dreamt an entire plot overnight. It was pretty much a true claim and I thought this new Testing The Water section of my blog might be a good place to ‘float’ (Pun intended with gusto). I think it would take me too long to try and do a detailed synopsis so this is very much a precis. The other big issue with it, is that some of it is very local and may not mean much to non-Norfolk folks. So it could fall flat on its face but that is why I started Testing The Water. A place to put some fiction ideas out there and see who bites. Please, please comment even if it is only to say what a load of old squit this is.


So, two Great Yarmouth dwelling friends (Amanda Botton and Maryla Mazur) wanted to make Yarmouth great again and they created Herringworld, a technological wonderland celebrating the silver darling that made the town so prosperous. That’s the Herring that made Yarmouth prosperous from the Middle Ages until the middle of the 20th century.

There is already such a museum here called Time and Tide but Herringworld was to be T&T on digital steroids.

Built out on the marshes in the byte of the Bure at the end of Paddy’s Loke, Herringworld is largely ‘manned’ by programmed Androids in various forms. Yes, this is quite deliberately a spoof of Westworld, which is one of my favourite films of its era.

The key characters are Amanda and Maryla, our protagonists, heroes, and villains all rolled in to one. Much of the cast are animatronic robots who are set up as Fisher Girls (who can gut more than 50 herring a minute); fishermen (Scottish and East Anglian boys); and other local characters. They are supplemented by humans such as:


Keith (Played by Keith Skipper – well why complicate things). Keith is a language engineer brought in when a huge batch of androids from China arrive with a Somerset accent instead of the Norfolk one they should have. Due to the shortage of time it is quicker for Keith to reprogram them than to send them back for replacements. If he had only had Amazon Prime!

However, one of the androids (Stephen played by Stephen Merchant) steadfastly refuses to be reprogramed and retains his West Country accent. Unable to use him as part of the exhibition, Keith keeps Stephen as his assistant. As we will discover it is Keith and Stephen who eventually save the day.

The entire Sandringham W.I. play themselves as visitors to Herringworld on the day things go awry. I thought about asking the Queen to play a cameo role but I figured the W.I. were more likely to show. On their visit, as a large group they are assigned a personal tour guide. This is Jason played by local Yarmouth lad, Jason Statham. I thought he had just the right gravitas to play a guide to such an esteemed group.

The Singing Postman is an animatronic model of one of Norfolk’s best known pop stars.

Stephen Fry will have a part. Any part he bloody wants. Alan Partridge, on the other hand, is coming nowhere near it.

And so, it is normal day at Norfolk’s newest most successful attraction. Except in Server Room No. 1 an engineer has unknowingly dropped a chip from Yarmouth Market. Superbly chunky and glistening in beef-dripping, the chip slithers into a small drainage pipe and forms a clot. With fast food outlets all over Herringworld, the clot soon becomes a fatberg and the coolant system starts to overheat.

Circuit boards spark and sizzle, chips (the digital kind) warp and short. Corrupt signals spread like tendrils from Server Room No. 1 to all parts of Herringworld, and things to start to happen.

Baskets (Crans) of animatronic herring on the quayside start to snap and bite like piranha. Only the absence of water leaving them dry and helpless on the Quay stops a bigger disaster from occurring.

As workers try to shovel the defects into bags, they are attacked by killer Harnsers (Herons) from the sky. Savage beaks, more used to spearing fish, take out the eyes of the workers.

Meanwhile, Jason leads his Sandringham W.I. group toward the Quay unaware of what is going on. As they approach the line of Fisher Girls sitting gutting fish by the 1000s he fails to notice the glint in their eyes. Their filleting knives are twitching like mad and as the group approach, as one the Fisher Girls turn their attention from the fish to the W.I. It is a massacre. In seconds the entire party is gutted from top to tail. Only one survives – a certain Jason who turns tail and flees like the coward he is.

Just as he thinks he has escaped, the Singing Postman steps out in front of him and smashes him in the face with his guitar.

And, well I think you must be getting the gist.  Keith and Stephen are eventually alerted to the problem and a strategy is born. Can the Engineer and the Android save the day?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  

I’m glad that some of you seem to be enjoying my Reflections of My Life blog. Publishing some autobiography notes/memoirs has been a long term plan and this seems the easiest way to achieve it. I shall be continuing.

However, I’m hoping you will indulge me further. I want to play around with some fictional writing. Some of these projects have been knocking about for decades and its time to poop or get off the pot. I’m going to publish some extracts from prose projects under the subtitle Testing The Water (I wanted to run a separate blog but WordPress doesn’t make that easy). I’d be really keen to have some feedback on these projects to see if they are worth pursuing. You can comment on WordPress, facebook, or email me steve@largeinnorfolk.com.

I really appreciate your help on this.

This is the first one:

Testing the Water: The Windlemean Chronicles

Chapter 1

It was a little after two-thirty in Windlemean………or it may have been a large after two-thirty as time could be so lumpy here. On a cold day there might only be 37 minutes in an hour whilst on the hottest Yewsome days there might be as many as 76 or 68 minutes.

I was sitting by the River of Letters as I often did, trying to arrange the incoming tide into a word I didn’t yet know the meaning of. The Gumble was watching me. If he thought I was making a word too interesting or too useful, he would casually pull a minute out of the hour so that the tide might turn more quickly and I would be left marooned with only an adjective or maybe an adverb.

I hadn’t made too many interesting or useful words of late. The affair at Shalenvale had left a web of Cangleweed over my heart and my mood was as a sour as fresh Septanos cooked in grey Squibble juice. The Gumble knew this. He knew everything about me. In a way he was me. A dark refraction of my inner-self.

A brown Ow ouched. They say that these creatures came from Other World and once had their own distinctive call but on drinking from the River of Letters, a consonant was pulled from them and they were left wallowing in self-pity. Frankly, or more precisely, Geraldly, I thought this tale was something made up by the out-keeper in Shalenvale. I didn’t even think that Other World existed.

I heard another screech of pain. I looked toward the Brown Ow but he was busy filing his talons by scratching the Gumble’s back for him. Then, in the distance I saw a clock crying. I told you time was lumpy round here. A whole 12 minutes had just gone through in one go. No wonder the clock was in pain. It also meant I was late for my Mendfast, so I stood down and got ready to go home.