Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rememory: Big Bad Ben Thompson

Big Bad Ben Thompson’s house was at the end of the lane, at the end of the road, a mile or so from the village. It was a journey we, the children of Wheaton Aston, never made. Big Bad Ben was rumoured to have a shotgun. Worse, it was thought to be one of those slingshot guns that fired pellets in all directions. The furthest we went was towards the end of Mill Lane, where the tarmac road turned into an earth track. Even though we were adventurous in other directions, we considered the pain of having lead planted in the body at speed, and stayed away.

We also knew why Big Bad Ben Thompson protected his lair. He had had children with his daughter. The fruit of this unnatural encounter went by the name of Edward. He was thought to be about the same age as us, but he never went to our school. By the age of 11, Edward had facial hair and looked strange – a confused look set upon his face. He went to a special needs school. We also heard that pigs were allowed to roam freely through the house. Various people had gone to see if everything was all right; no one escaped without a scrape, or a threat snarled at them from Big Bad Ben.

It was rare for anyone to ever see Big Bad Ben Thompson. I saw him once or twice at the local Spar shop. He was a large man, about twenty stone or more. He had poacher’s whiskers, and a look of permanent malcontent was stained across his face. We saw, or rather felt, his daughter (I forget her name) more often. Whenever we had to get the old double decker green bus back home, she got on when we reached Penkridge – she was making her way home from the market. The bus would tilt imperceptibly when she climbed aboard. She was even larger and more ferocious looking than her father. She would have made a fine female sumo wrestler, had there been need for such a category back then.

For years after I left home, Big Bad Ben Thompson’s house lay empty. What became of him, his daughter, and his son/grandchild Edward, I don’t know. A local builder-developer finally bought the land, and is planning to build a moat around a developed version of the old house. We also hear that he may have a helipad there. Before he bought the place, we went for a walk to the house. How strange it was to walk down the lane, into the no boy’s land of my youth. The house was small – just two small rooms downstairs and upstairs. I listened to hear the ghost of Big Bad Ben Thomspon, but all I could hear was the sound of the wind in the trees and a crow in the distance. Perhaps Big Bad Ben Thompson, his daughter, and poor Edward roam the earth still.


Anonymous,  8:23 pm  

Please more reminiscences of the Wheaton Aston that included the Thompsons and Worzels of this world, my memory is invoked by these tales. I’ve just has a fun time explaining this and other stories to my disbelieving wife. Including Lornas (that was her name) additional children Herbert and a daughter who old man Thompson accused of being that of a policeman and subsequently picketed the station in Cannock.

Anonymous,  10:37 pm  

Lovely imagery.

Anonymous,  8:35 am  

I don't know what to make of this tale.

Is that folks of Wheaton Aston were prejudiced against fat people and thought they (fat people) indulged in incestuous liaisons or that fat children or children with a disability are necessarily the product of an incestuous union?

Mind you, you were 11 years old and at that age most young people have very colourful minds and did you say you ‘felt her’?

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