Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Poaching: Poddy's Ear Woz 'Ere!

The library in my town is housed in an imposing building in the central square. It's only been a library for a decade or so and before that it housed the County Court. In the square outside there are some trees; fairly modest, fairly dull trees - this is, after all, a fairly modest, fairly dull town.

Poddy the Poacher nailed his ear to one of these trees. History doesn't record which tree. Miserable old bugger, history; all very good for dates of Kings and Queens and what have you, not quite so good at testimonial plaques for blokes who nailed their ear to a tree.

Poddy nailed his ear to a tree as a protest about paying a fine for being caught poaching. The clue is in the name, I suppose: Poacher, Poddy the Poacher.

Poddy was famous hereabouts for not being quietly and politely subservient to the respectable requirements of the Law of the Land. Clearly, he nicked a lot of game from places where they'd have been happier if he hadn't. He very often landed up in court and, when he did, he very often did so in a theatrical manner: once he showed up in front of the Magistrate dressed in full scuba gear; once he had himself borne aloft to the Court in a coffin; once he appeared in front of the Judge covered in foul-smelling manure and sporting a freshly slaughtered pig's head as a hat.

Around Christmas 1977, he scaled the walls of Shrewsbury jail dressed as Santa Claus with a goodie bag full of fags & tobacco for the inmates and regaled the town with cries of Merry Christmas until he was removed by officers of the law - all of them, no doubt, not too chuffed about being pulled away from their Turkey dinners.

It's possible, also, that he held the title of World Frog Swallowing Champion. The Guinness Book of Records, inexplicably, no longer seems to feature this activity or hold any mention of Poddy's feat.

The town square today was full of agonisingly peppy teenage chuggers bounding up to strangers and saying "Hello Matey! Can I have a minute of your time?" None of the trees in the square bore any sort of plaque, blue or otherwise, recording the fact that this Elm, Beech, Oak, mighty Redwood - whatever - was the very tree to which Poddy the Poacher nailed his ear.

This, it seems to me, is a shame. It's not a shame because nicking stuff is right - nicking stuff is wrong, nicking Lord and Lady Wotsit's pheasants is, quite clearly, not on. It's a shame, I'd say, because someone living so as to make it clear that here, here is someone who is living, this is so unusual a thing as to make it worthy of note, worthy of record.
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5 comments:

  1. Thanks for this.

    My Uncle farmed at Styche in Moreton Saye. We knew Poddy. He was quite the colourful character.

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    1. I know it's been ages since you posted this comment Julian, but if you had a moment to sketch a few details here of Poddy the man as you knew him I'd be very grateful.
      With all best wishes,
      HH

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  2. That court also saw the jailing of George Newman CBE, chairman of Staffordshire County Council. Who was the bigger rogue?

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  3. I think Poddy's tree was the oak nearest the Shire Hall. I was in town that day and it was quite a kerfuffle

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    1. You were there that day! That's a bit of history! There really are are no actual witness accounts on the the net of Poddy & the tree that I can find. But you were actually there! So do please feel free to add anything about that day here that you can remember - it'd be most welcome.
      Best wishes,
      HH

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