Possibly the nicest thing about the CFZ bloggo is that it is a living, breathing community and new people arrive on a regular basis.
We first met dizzy Ms L. at Uncon, where she bought some books from us, briefly spoke to Richard and had a charmingly old-fashioned habit of referring to me as `Mr Downes,' when everyone else calls me `Jon` or `Hey You` (or sometimes something more scatological), until I told her not to.
She is also the unpaid bloggo sub-editor and author of a charming and very elegantly written fortean novella called The Second Level, which I strongly urge you all to buy at this link:
Sick eels seem to be rather on the agenda at the moment. Not only are the CFZ’s slippery set all out of flunther but I have (believe it or not) been idly researching the demise of eels in my locality for the past four months.
My Grandad used to talk about a “snigoyle.” Only in recent months have we established that he meant Snig Hole, an area of Helmshore, the Lancashire mill town where he was born and spent his childhood. ‘Snig’ is a colloquial word for an eel, and in old, old Lanky, ‘o’ was pronounced ‘oy’ (and I thought I sounded broad!).
Helmshore Pocket Park (also known as Snig Hole Park) now sits where the old Snig Hole mill lodge once was, beside the river Ogden. Both once swelled with fat little eels, which local boys liked to catch, stick in a jar and take home to show their mam.
Sadly this practice did not survive into the twentieth century. The industrial revolution brought with it prosperity and work but also severe pollution to local waters. Those dark satanic mills spewed out their waste and the greedy snig was doomed when he gorged on lanolin from the wool. A similar thing happened in the river Irk, where it joins the Irwell near Manchester cathedral.
More hopefully, eels were recently sighted in nearby Bury, while trout now inhabit the Ogden, much to the delight of a Helmshore heron.
I am indebted to my friend Chris Aspin; writer, historian and Helmshore resident; who gave me a lot of information.