Thursday, 28 August 2008

Great British Eccentrics

Reading Tom McKinney's recent post I met this bloke the other day... prompted me to reminisce about some of the nutters we used to enjoy observing on Scilly every October. I wish I had photos of these people to illustrate them, but I haven't, and it would be unfair to identify them anyway. You may recognise some of these characters, or even have had different names for them. Or you may be a normal person who just gets on quietly with their birding and doesn't feel the need to deflect attention away from their own inadequacies by mocking the afflicted...

The Oven-ready Wanker. So named (by Stephen Dean) as he had several Pheasant tail feathers sticking out of his hat, which was a deerstalker type thing, so pretty silly to start with.

Sid the Sexless. The daughter (we think) of the Oven-ready Wanker. Actually this is already getting a bit dodgy, as I think she may have had some sort of syndrome. Perhaps I'd better stop now before I get more complaints. No, fuck it I'll carry on.

Running Man. Stephen Dean memorably described him as a 'scene leech'. This guy didn't appear to know anything at all about birds, or even own a pair of binoculars, but apparently went to Scilly every year simply to enjoy being part of the scene. He always wore a camouflage jacket and trousers, and used to run everywhere, usually carrying a shopping bag.

Crawford Crayon. Crawford is (now) quite a well-known birder, who lives in Suffolk, but in the early 90s he was the original 'Creeb' ('place names explained': a jumped up little twat who follows L.G.R. Sole around on Scilly in the vain hope of gaining some cred). The name came from his striking similarity to a one-off character in Viz.

Ronnie Corbett. Oh dear - another one who probably had a syndrome. Probably best not to say too much more about him, except that Rob, Richard and I once saw him on Shetland, appearing out of the mist coming down the road from Sumburgh Head. When we realised who it was ("is that... it can't be... fuck, it is!!!), we collapsed in helpless laughter as he went past. He must have thought we were strange.

The Man from Del Monte. No idea why we called him that. Perhaps he said yes a lot.

The Walking Cock originally had bright purple hair, hence the name. I think he was the same kid lister who later became 'Lap Dog' as he used to follow those two blonde girls around all the time with his tongue hanging out. Remember them? One of them was called Victoria, I think; their parents had a labrador. Not 'had' as in 'gave birth to', obviously. I presume they just acquired it in the normal way.

Mr Porridge. Again, I can't remember why he was called that, but I seem to recall he had a very lumpy face.

Desperate Deborah aka Handjob. Another quite well-known birder. We called her Desperate Deborah as she always seemed to be in a blind panic whenever anything turned up. Dave Hall christened her 'Handjob' from the distinctive 'wanking' motion she made with her right hand while walking at high speed to the next good bird.

I'm sure there were more than that, but that's all I can remember at the moment. Ah - I miss Scilly sometimes.


6 comments:

beast said...

Andy......yeah...sometimes I miss the Scillies too [and not just when the plane overshot the airfield]!
Had some fantastic autumns down there and yes, it used to be stuffed with weird characters. It was 'syndrome city' from what I remember. Trying to distinguish between you're regular ronnie 'barker' and the seriously brain damaged was not an easy task. Lets face it, most birders are 'damaged' in some way..but thats kinda the way it should and always has been. The birding scene would be a lot sadder without these characters...wot the hell wud we bang on about? Okay, sometimes you just wanna shoot them between the eyes and have done but, on the plus side, they give us stuff to talk about. Here's one for you: I was painting a friends house front this morning and this old guy just appeared behind me. He looked me straight in the eye and with all the seriousness he could muster said "Hitler was a painter you know" What do you say to that? I was kinda speechless for a few seconds and then said "I think you'll find he was an artist and part-time time mass murderer...not a painter and decorator"! This old guy then muttered something about Hitler not being all bad and then shuffled off down the road! So whether yer birding or not you just never know wot sort of looney tune yer gonna meet....happy days!

Earl Gray or Dave for short! said...

Andy,I think Victoria is now a reserve warden on the suffolk coast not far from Minsmere and her parents were really nice if a bit manic when chasing rarities!

Boulmer Birder said...

Oh man I though only we did that! Up here we used to have -

Ruff dotterel aka Pigeon Cuckoo - named after his id inadequacies.

Flat Face - Self explanatory female.

Black Beard aka Schinzii Dunlin - Now a mate of ours.

Monthly Marathon - he used to show us shit photos and claim they were rarities. Every time you saw him.

Goldcrest - a dwarf no taller than the bar in the pub after bird club meetings.

20 Questions - Where can I see a whinchat? How many telegraph poles along? Do I look left or right? Do I know my arse from my elbow? Am I hungry? Male.

Gruesome twosome - 2 males who looked similar, one with fearsome acne.

Swampy - A male who fell into a Norfolk ditch and emerged like the creature from the black lagoon...

I could go on!

Andy Mackay said...

Thanks Boulmer! Your '20 Questions' character reminded me of one I'd forgotten about from Scilly - Mrs Dimbleby (as in Question Time). She sounds very similar: Do you know if the Upland Sand's showing at the moment? Where exactly on the airfield is it? What time's the boat to St Agnes? Where should I go when I get there? Will the cafe be open? And so on.

John Hague said...

What about our flatemate from St Mary's 'Desert Storm' So called over the airwaves because of his sand-coloured camouflage trousers and his ability to route march all over the islands at a great pace, not seeing much other than the rarities/crowds. Funnily enough this one has actually morphed into his recognised call sign on the radio showing at least some self depreciating humour.

I'll have to ask Skev to join with me to name the old guy and who we presume to be his (bearded0 daughter from the hides at Blacktoft. Mark he's the deaf one that can't see anything even the 'Merlin bush' and she was the eqaully comic bearded lady at his side.

abbey meadows said...

I used to go birding regularly with Boulmer birder and the list went on. They probably had names for us but I can add a few like Aldridge prior (the hapless liar), Da do ron Ron or was it Da dude wrong Ron?...... There are 33 Tufted duck at Druridge bay CP.. worth having a look...There were in fact 31 Tufted's 1 Scaup and a Ring necked duck, Roller redface, a stringer with a flush complection and Binsroondthebaalls (binoculars around the testicles) I think he didn't realise that you could shorten the straps; good birder though and incidentally Goldcrest is still going strong Stew.