William John Owen Rowbotham MBE

Once in a generation a particular individual leaves his mark on the world. One such man was William John Owen Rowbotham MBE, or to use his stage name, Bill Owen.
Bill was born on the 14th of March 1914 in London, England. He was an accomplished actor and songwriter.
He made his first film appearance in 1944, but didn’t inhabit this nation’s hearts until the 1970’s when he took on the role of Compo Simmonite in the longest running comedy series “Last of the Summer Wine” alongside Michael Bates, Brian Wilde, Michael Aldridge, Frank Thornton and the brilliant Peter Sallis who played Clegg.
Sallis’ voice will be familiar to anyone who has watched the Wallace and Grommit television series, along with the accompanying film “The Curse of the Were-rabbit”, in which Sallis lends his voice to the character of Wallace.
Compo(Owen), Clegg(Sallis) and Foggy(Wilde) still remain the favourite threesome throughout the thirty plus years, “Last of the Summer Wine” ran for. 
For those of you not residing in the United Kingdom, the show was about three old age pensioners who had reverted back to their childhood days and were always getting into scrapes of one form or another. Usually Compo was on the receiving end of some hare-brained scheme or other dreamt up by Foggy.
The love of Compo’s life was his next door neighbour Nora Batty, played brilliantly by Cathie Staff. While she terrorised most men, especially Clegg, with her battle-ax exterior and her trademark wrinkled stockings, Compo only ever saw the unobtainable object of his dreams and desires.
Compo is easily distinguished from the other two by his dress. Clad in a woollen hat, old torn jacket and trousers full of holes, held up with a tie tied around his middle and, not forgetting his trademark Wellington boots.
During the 1960’s Owen had a successful second career as a songwriter, including the song Marianne, sung by Cliff Richard. Bill also appeared in the highly successful Carry On films.
Bill carried on working until his death from pancreatic cancer on the 12th of July 1999. He is buried in the churchyard of St John’s Parish Church, Upperthong, in the much loved town of Holmfirth, the home of “The Last of the Summer Wine”.
Rest in peace Bill, you are, and always will be, missed by the thousands of us whose hearts you touched in your long running role as the lovable scruff Compo Simmonite.
The Last of the Summer Wine first series is currently being repeated on the British television channel Yesterday at 2pm daily.

Have times really changed for mankind?

Out of discontent comes war

While we may be living in the early years of the twenty-first century, to an outsider visiting our planet, you could forgive them for thinking that nothing has really changed for humanity.

Countless millions are out of work. Disease is rife, civil unrest is on the rise. Wars and hunger kills millions daily. But despite all this, the financially greedy and power hungry still remain in charge.
Our world was plunged into chaos by greedy investment bankers. How many have been prosecuted? Instead of punishing them, the various governments of the world punish their own citizens instead.
We hear that by the end of this century the world’s population will exceed 15 billion. As I write, it is inexorably approaching 7 billion.
The great experiment that is the European Union and its single currency, the Euro, is failing dismally. Last night the financial brains of Europe voted to increase the amount of money set up in a contingency bail-out fund. They also called for all banks to write off fifty per cent of debt owed to them by those countries fast becoming insolvent like Greece, Italy and Portugal. All this is designed to assist those country’s within the EU that cannot settle their national debt. But despite this financial sticking plaster, nothing will really change for the ordinary man or woman.
What will the bank’s response be? Simple – they will merely pass on that debt to their ordinary customers like you and I, who don’t count in their eyes, except as cash cows to be milked till we bleed.
We are only half a step away from reverting back to the life of our ancestors, one or two hundred years in the past, where the rich grew richer while the vast majority starved.
Oh no wait a minute, thinking about it, we’re already there.
How much longer will it be before we all finally cease to tolerate the way the rich and power hungry totally ignore common decency and the wishes of the general population? What will it take to bring sanity, and wellbeing back I wonder, another world war perhaps? Don’t forget that through starvation and humiliation fascism rose in the 1930’s.
Nothing really changes for mankind does it, only time itself.

Goblin Tales For Adults – A close encounter of the feathered kind

This morning (2.30am) when Glob returned to dictate the next part of his latest story, he was not alone. The following is an interview I conducted with Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak.
Jack.      Good morning sir.
Bejuss.   Rarrk – juth call me Bejuthth, everyone elthe doeth.
J.            I beg your pardon. I was wondering if I might ask you a few questions.
B.           Go ahead.
J.            How is it you are still alive Bejuss? By my reckoning you must be the oldest raven in 
               existence; at least twelve thousand years old.
B.           Rarrk – that’th eathy. If yer ith hatched in Goblindom likes me n Glob yer live forever.
J.            If you don’t mind my asking, how did you get your twisted beak?
B.           Rarrk – me mum trod on me when me wath breakin free from me egg. 
              One time thhe puthed me brother’th egg out of the netht by mithtake. 
              He never wath the thame after that. He flew upthide down from then on. 
              Probably thtill doeth.
J.            So is that why you have your vocal impediment?
B.           Pardon?
J.            Is that why you lisp, because of your mother treading on you while you were pecking
              your way out of your egg.
B.           No. That happened when me lotht me eye. 
              Me wath buthy huntin beeth ter eat when one on them thtung me tongue. 
              It hurt tho much that me poked me eye out on a twig when me wath tryin ter get away.
J.           Well thank you for answering my questions Bejuss. I see Glob wants to
              return to the woods. I hope we will meet again soon – goodbye.
B.           Rarrk – nice ter have met yer.
At that point the two departed into the night, heading back to the woods and I returned to bed.

Goblin Tales For Adults – Tale No: 27 – "Thicker Than Water".

Limberespan Van der Graff
Escaped convict

The twenty-seventh tale begins. Glob spent nearly four hours last night telling me the story of his cousin Lim (see above picture) who was on the run after escaping a convict work gang, overseen by a fierce mountain goblin named Grizweavil Bragsbill, a thoroughly nasty character.

More later…

Nothing is new, only rediscovered

There was a time when I used to write several thousand words per day. In fact I subscribed to the idea that unless I wrote at least five thousand words a day, I wasn’t really writing, merely dawdling. Oh how wrong I was. These days I barely write two hundred words per day.
Simple – I spend the rest of the day and the one after, even the one after that, endlessly checking each word, often substituting a far better one. I lengthen or shorten sentences, move them around in the paragraph before me, until the end product flows.
I was watching the fifth in Steven Fry’s latest series “Fry’s Planet Word” on the subject of the written word last night. He was discussing James Joyce’s work with an aficionado in Dublin.
Imagine my total surprise when it came out that Joyce approached his then current work in progress in exactly the same way as myself. Some days he would write a chapter, some days a paragraph. But more often than not he would only write a sentence, spending hours poring over it to make sure that each word was the best possible choice to use, and that it was in just the right place within the sentence.
Now I’m not claiming by any means to be the 21st century version of people like James Joyce, or George Orwell, or even my literary fantasy hero J.R.R Tolkien, who all used this method. But when I learn from programmes like Steven Fry’s that I have unwittingly adopted and employed the same techniques of my literary hero’s, all of a sudden I don’t feel alone anymore. More to the point I no longer think, or believe, that my daily word count is the be all and end all.
My current work in progress is a fantasy anthology of thirty sequential short stories set in a mythical land about the lives and adventures of five wood goblins. While the concept is a simple one, my characters are anything but simple, with one exception who is a simpleminded soul. They engage with all of the other beings living within their mythical land of Goblindom in their daily struggle for life.
I finally finished writing the twenty-sixth tale two days ago. Instead of what had become the norm (four days) to complete each tale, this one took nearly two weeks. I agonised over each word, each sentence, and each paragraph until I was happy.
The acid test of all that agonising will be when my editor gets his hands on the manuscript and whips out his red pen…

Rugby World Cup 2011

New Zealand – Simply the Best
New Zealand 8 – France 7
Within the world of rugby, there is only one competition that truly brings out national pride, and that is the Rugby World Cup.
While the New Zealand All Blacks are arguably the premier team, they had only won it once before back in 1987. Who would have thought they would be playing France, a team who are hardly consistent, in the final. I would have put my money on them playing either Australia, or South Africa.
The game of rugby may have been born in England, but it has become the property of the tough sons of pioneers who now inhabit the Southern Hemisphere, dominated by New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Unlike that other game soccer, rugby is a hard physical game, played by fifteen players on each team. While being an aggressive game, like those of us who follow it in the stands or at home watching on television, rugby does not generate violence and hatred off the pitch like soccer does.
In short rugby is by far the most noble of sports, inhabited by gentlemen, unlike the overpaid morons who play, and the hooligans in the stands, which soccer breeds.

Goblin Tales For Adults

Mountain Goblin Archer
With the second part of “Beware of Crellan’s Mine” now completed. I fully expect another visit from my old friend Globular Van der Graff at 2.30 am tomorrow (Sunday). 
He mentioned a tale about a distant cousin of his being on the run, hunted by a mountain goblin archer, bent on revenge. For what, I know not – yet.
More later…