Arthur and the Divebomber



By Eric Sanderson


Eric’s tales always entertain us and this is one of his best


Arthur Crabbe was a good friend of ours (but is sadly no longer with us) & lived lower down East Park View, quite close to the park. Arthur’s family were stout Roman Catholics & one of his daily tasks was to fetch a bottle of holy water for his elderly neighbour, Mrs Orbell who was an even more devoted worshipper and always dressed in black from head to foot.

Now St Patrick’s was a fair old walk from where Arthur lived & as he became older, grew increasingly exasperated with this chore. The solution came to him one day, – he decided to call at our house in Charlton Rd (which was a couple of hundred yards away from Mrs Orbell, far enough to avoid detection) & fill his holy water bottle from the tap .This practice of his continued for some time, Mrs Orbell was none the wiser and remained very happy with her daily replenishment of “holy water” , frequently blessing Arthur for his devoted unselfishness. However, his ruse was discovered & he had to face the music from his strict parents. He was made to do penance by “volunteering” his services to the church for quite some time but I don’t think Mrs Orbell ever did find out that she’d been using common or garden tap water instead of the blessed variety.

Arthur was a little older than most of us & started work some time in 1953/4.The week he drew his first wage packet also coincided with the York Road Fair which was held at the top of Torre Rd. Like all of us, he never had much money & this was the first time ever that he was “flush” & couldn’t wait to get out & spend.

That evening, a few of us, waiting for him outside his front door narrowly avoided death or worse when their attic window frame (which his older brother was replacing), slid from the roof & crashed to the floor literally inches away from us. Whew, a number of East End Park’s finest nearly wiped out at a single stroke.

Undeterred, off we all went to the fair & Arthur headed for the divebomber, the ride with the huge, windmill style rotating arm with a spinning “cockpit” at each end, He climbed in & his cockpit slowly rotated to the top so that the other one could be filled. Unfortunately, when he was at the top, he was also upside down and his newly acquired wealth began to fall from his pockets, dropping to the ground in the “flight path” of the divebomber. Arthur was distraught but had to endure a few more minutes of being hurled around on this fearsome ride before being able to do anything about it.

On disembarking Arthur rushed to the operator, asking him to stop the ride for several minutes so that he could scavenge for his lost fortune. The ride operator had little sympathy but said that he could crawl on his hands & knees to look for his money, at his own risk, whilst the ride continued to operate. Arthur decided he had little option & taking a huge risk, did just that. I don’t think he realised just how dangerous it was, had the braces holding up his trousers caught on any of the divebomber’s projecting parts, he would have been hurled into lunar orbit, never to return.

Amazingly, he recovered most if not all of his cash but his enthusiasm for the fair had disappeared, so he & a couple of us decided to go to the cinema instead. The Princess in Pontefract Lane was the favoured venue & to celebrate his rite of passage to manhood, he purchased 10 Capstan Full Strength for we three to share whilst enjoying the film from the cheap seats.

There we sat, luxuriating in the pungent aroma and managed to finish off the whole packet before the end of the film.

Walking home, conversation became increasingly less animated & eventually petered out as we became greener around the gills by the minute. Close to home, we passed Mrs Jones’ house at the corner of Welbeck Rd & East Park View. She had a wide, farm style gate at the bottom of her path, convenient for us all to hang over it and begin synchronised projectile vomiting. It must have been funny to see three youths, throwing up the contents of their stomachs firstly together & then in sequence like a well rehearsed orchestra, the sight of one encouraging the others to continue ‘til there was nothing left to bring up.

But, salvation came in the form of Mrs Jones mongrel dog,Roy, coming to our rescue by trotting down the path & lapping up the whole sorry mess.

The following day,Roysuffered a severe bout of febrile convulsions & Mrs Jones said “it was probably something he’d eaten”. Curiously,Roy never came anywhere near us after that.

As for the three of us, well, we were certainly cured us of the smoking habit but I think Arthur did return to it later in life.

The episode of my new shoes will bring this yarn to a close.

I’d just acquired a new pair of shoes that day,  shiny, fake leather light brown affairs which makes me shudder to think of now, I’d purchased them from Stylo inYork Rd for about 7/6d.

They were splashed by the aforementioned acidic expulsions from our stomachs and developed a scabrous appearance, not at all what you’d want to see on a brand new pair of shoes.

My mother asked what had happened & I told her that I thought it had been caused by rain.

She immediately returned to Stylo with them explaining what had happened. “But“, said the shop assistant,” it hasn’t rained for over a week”.

“There you are then” said mum, “they’ve must be faulty because they’ve developed this rash without even being rained on “

Faced with such unassailable logic, what option did the hapless assistant have except to exchange the shoes for a new pair?

Phew Eric! I wonder what the ‘elf and safety mob would have thought of that divebomber escapade today?  


  Eric also sets us a poser: This is not our old ‘Slip’ where is it?   

7 Responses to “Arthur and the Divebomber”

  1. Douglas Says:

    Absolutely side-splitting Eric. You have real talent as a comic writer. Love your stories and reminiscences. Doug

  2. Eric Sanderson Says:

    Thanks Doug – glad you enjoyed the yarn but here’s the really funny thing, much as it may seem unlikely – it’s all true .

  3. Audrey Sanderson Says:

    Laughed at your crazy exploits Eric. Please tell me where The Slip in the photo is from. My guess is it’s in York. but really have no idea. Sorry I missed seeing you, Dave and Bernie while I was on holiday but I did manage to have a picnic on East End Park while I was there.

  4. Eric Sanderson Says:

    Hi Audrey – glad you enjoyed the yarn. York is a very good guess but I’ll keep the answer for a few days in case we have a few more stabs. Pete told me about your unfortunate experience – hope you’ve fully recovered and have no bad effects. I know your a strong person so good luck

  5. Eric Sanderson Says:

    For those interested, The Slip Inn is in Harrogate. It’s located just above the White Hart Hotel in Cold Bath Road.
    I have to say that it’s not the same kind of establishment as the “Slip” we all knew and loved but it’s good to know that the name’s still alive & kicking.

  6. Dave Carncross Says:

    I remember Arthur vaguely and odd bits of this story came back to me as I read it. Read as a whole it`s hilarious. I take it Tony was one of the others ?


  7. Eric Sanderson Says:

    You’re correct, those of us at the vomitorium were Arthur, Tony & myself and of course Roy, Mrs Jones’ well loved dog who saved us from disgrace.

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