My Night Walk Folly

by

My Night Walk Folly
By Pete Wood

I’m going back a few years now as will be apparent from the number of pubs named here which are alas no more. It was at a time when I revelled on my Saturday nights in taking a bus from my home in Woodlesford – on the east fringes of Leeds – into the city centre. Once in the city centre I would have a drink in one or other of my favourite pubs and then set off to walk all the five miles back home calling in most if not all of the pubs on the way. I would start on bottles and make my way up to points as I got nearer to home.

I would always call in at The Adelphi just across Leeds Bridge, when there was a jazz band playing in the upstairs room I had to drag myself away for I was tempted to stay in there all night but ‘the way home was long and steep and I had miles to go before I sleep’. Next up would be The Crown Hotel on Crown Point Road then The Mulberry. Sometimes I would call in The Bankfield at the bottom of South Accomm, always the lively Wellington on Hunslet Road, sometimes The Red Lion but invariably I would always finish up in the Crooked Billet opposite the Stourton traffic lights where for many years Renee Johnson played the piano. I had to finish up in the Crooked Billet even through the last pub on my route should have been The John O’Gaunt at the top of the hill but the distance between The Billet and The John O’Guants entailed a twenty minute walk and I couldn’t spare twenty minutes of prime boozing time nearing last orders.
. (I wouldn’t like you to think I had a pint in all of those pubs all of the time or I would never have got up the John O’Gaunt’s Hill at all – I hardly drink at all now but those were my halcyon days). After being chucked out of The Crooked Billet I would roll up the three miles remaining to home in a pleasant alcoholic haze.
.
These weekly forays suited me very well and I had many a good night in this fashion. Then one balmy Saturday evening in mid-summer I got a little bit too ambitious. I was having my city centre drink in the old Railway pub which was close to the bridge on Marsh Lane and a pub we frequented greatly in our iconic ‘Market District Boys Club’ days. Sitting there in ‘The Railway’ that particular Saturday night I thought to myself, what if I walked home Whitkirk way instead of through Stourton for a change? This was my first mistake: I didn’t appreciate just how far that was going to be. The Stourton way home was about five miles but through Whitkirk, Selby Road Bullerthorpe Lane etc. would have been nearer to eight miles
.
So, off I set up Railway Street heading for York Road. This was my second mistake as it took me well out of my way and lost valuable boozing time. Eventually I made it to ‘The White Horse’ but was disappointed to find it far quieter than it had been in the good old days. On to ‘The Dog and Gun’ then; risking life and limb crossing the manically busy York Road. By the time it was already quarter past ten. I’m running out of time I thought, it’s quarter past ten and I’ve only had three pints, better miss out ‘The Whitebeck’ and make straight for ‘The Irwin Arms’. This was my third mistake, the place was a real mad house, and I had a job trying to get served at all. Anyway, I found a quiet back room and lining another three pints up (as it was nearing eleven o’clock) I proceeded to make up for lost time and managed to get ‘well oiled’. Now at one point, I had to leave those lovely pints on the table unattended while I visited the men’s room. Was that my fourth mistake? Did someone slip something into my pints? I don’t know but anyway I had no choice, when you have to go you have to go! And you can’t carry three pints with you into the toilets can you?

Upon leaving ‘The Irwin’ I perceived there were at the time: two pizza places and two fish shops within a hundred yards, so I ‘filled my boots’ while contemplating my route home. It was now near to midnight; when the evening had been young I had initially envisaged my route home would be by way of walking home up Selby Road and the down Bullerthorpe Lane, now at this late juncture and me in my present state that route seemed an awful long way round – at least five or six miles would be still left to complete. On the other hand if I should cut straight through the Temple Newsam House Estate that would definitely cut out a mile or two. This was my fifth mistake; I hadn’t appreciated how dark that route was going to be. By the time I reached the last lamp, which was at the end of the street where Billy Bremner used to live – it was absolutely pitch black, I could hardly see my hand in front of my face.

Ten minutes later saw me stumbling through the cars parked in the car park of Temple Newsam House, which at that time of night is a haven for courting couples, who have no wish to be disturbed. My stumbling intrusions onto car bonnets etc. in the utter darkness brought many shouts of derision and much switching on and off of headlights; obviously they were taking me to be some perverted ‘Peeping Tom’, or perhaps the Temple Newsam ghost. Extracting myself from this potentially sticky situation it dawned upon me, that as there would likely be security guards on duty around the Temple Newsam House itself I’d better give the house a wide birth to the south or I might be taken for a burglar. This was my sixth mistake as I nearly decapitated myself on an unseen climbing wire, strung head high across the rose garden. While tottering down the hill to the east of the mansion and trying to stem the flow of blood from my forehead it came even to my befuddled mind that walking through a wood, after midnight, in total darkness, was not all that of a fantastic idea, there was the touch of the Gothic horrors about it all. It was at that point, my foot struck something solid and picking it up I saw it to be a nicely shaped wooden stake. In my present state I interpreted this as a sign from God that I was about to meet vampires but here was something with which to defend myself. (See what I mean about the possibility of my drink in ‘The Irwin’ being spiked?)

Somewhat fortified by the thought that I had a weapon to fend off the supernatural I pressed on into the woods but now with a growing awareness of my ludicrous situation: many a time I had read horror stories of folk being caught out in a wood miles from anywhere after midnight and thought, ‘a likely story’ and that anyone who was daft enough to put themselves into such a situation surely deserved all that was coming to them. Yet here was I in that very same ridiculous position and with blood pouring out of my forehead to boot: vampires like blood don’t they! Anyway, I pressed on, I could just make out my pale jeans making a good pace in the darkness. Occasionally I had to beat a tattoo on my thighs with the stake to send those who would make crackling noises in the bushes, scurrying on their way.

It’s a good job I was at least familiar with the layout of the terrain by day or I would have been hopelessly lost by now. I finally reached the brow of the hill where I could look back at Temple Newsam House in the west and forward to the ribbon of a pathway in front of me. The moon had made an appearance and gave the whole panorama a magical effect. It was quite uplifting after the gloom of the woods. I suddenly felt high as a kite and got this idea into my head I could fly (there must have been something in that drink). I became aware of a dream that I quite often have in which I flap my wings and I can take off. I thought this is it; this is the occasion I have been dreaming about all my life, now is the time I’m really going to fly! With that I ran down the hill and launched myself into the air. This was my seventh mistake; after I’d picked myself up I was coherent enough not to make a second attempt.

Eventually, I reached the road and the earthly dangers of a country road without a footpath and cars racing towards me on main beam, completely blinding me. No doubt the drivers themselves would be a bit startled too to see this wild looking bloke wandering about Bullerthorpe lane in the middle of the night with a stake in his hand, blood pouring from the wound in the forehead and now covered in dust from the flying incident.

Presently the lights of Swillington hove into view and I felt a great sense of elation – sort of akin to climbing Everest – well perhaps not quite that. Next morning when I awoke it took awhile to piece together, why I had a cut head and why there was a wooden stake at the side of the bed – but I had this over-riding feeling that I’d had a B…. GOOD NIGHT!

Last Month’s pic was of course Leeds Central High School for boys and Ralph Thoresby School for girls.

How about this month’s pic? ‘Lance corporal’ tram passing what Leeds edifice on the right?

lance corporal tram

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9 Responses to “My Night Walk Folly”

  1. aussiepom Says:

    Haven’t we all had moments of euphoria after one drink too many. Started telling a funny joke then forgot the punch line, thinking you could sing like Peggy Lee and sounding like Minnie Mouse. Ah the folly of youth but Pete i never did try to fly. Tears were rolling down my face with laughing when I read your story. Lot’s of antics from the past fad but the memory lingers on. I’m still laughing at the mental picture i have of you flapping your arms. You’ve not only made my day you’ve made my entire week

  2. Douglas Says:

    Peter, your story fills me with wistful yearning for times when one was free from all constraints except those of immediate impulse. There you were with a few bob in your pocket and the world was open before you for you to choose what you would eat and drink ( or should I say drink and eat) and which way you would wend. I realise now just how constrained and controlled my days have become – always other people, budgets, occupational health and safety issues to consider. prudence, rationality, etc, etc etc to consider. But there you were, flag flying, exemplar of glorious freedom days, folly maybe, hangover next day maybe, but flying! Thank you mate, I would love to fly again, and maybe I shall cast off the ropes of habit and obligation, and savour freedom again!

  3. Eric Sanderson Says:

    Hi Pete
    Noticed that you avoided that haven of tranquility on your travels – The Shaftsbury. A friend of mine was a waiter there for a short while in the 50’s but after being struck on the head by a flying beer bottle, and beaten up in a case of mistaken identity, he left to find a safer job such as a crocodile wrestler, film stuntaman or lion tamer.

    Knowing the pubs you mention, you’ll have been “mixing your drinks” which always seemed to accelerate insobriety quicker than sticking to the same brew
    Happy Days

  4. Eric Sanderson Says:

    By the way Pete, I think the pic is of Oakwood Clock

  5. clenbuterol stack Says:

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  6. michael rowley Says:

    Is it the same Peat Wood i used to play in the same football team at market district if so we had a few pints in the railway after winning a cup or two.

  7. peterwwood Says:

    It certainly is Michael. Please have a look at ‘Good Old Snakey’ too on this site. My you scored some goals, Michael, I think you once scored six for the league team? I’ll try and send you an e-mail

    Pete..

  8. Peter Lyon Says:

    Hi Pete,
    You did well passing by “The Wykebeck Arms” as the beer in there was an aquired taste so to speak. However you should have passed “The Irwin Arms” too and stopped at the “Middle House” as it was colloquially called, otherwise known as the “Travellers Inn”. Great place, great Tetleys beer.

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