Foul play at the Slip Inn

by

A TALE FOR CHRISTMAS

Foul Play at the Slip Inn – a fantasy tale of murder & mayhem
By Eric Sanderson

In the immediate post war years up into the ’60’s, the East End Park area of East Leeds was for the most part a comparatively tranquil place to live. However when the Slip Inn ( whose correct name was The New Regent but nobody called it any other than the “Slip”) opened it’s doors to the newly built concert room in the ’50’s & began staging live music, the area took on a livelier atmosphere & was a big attraction, drawing large, regular crowds of young people – many from outside the immediate area- & which inevitably turned rowdy at times.
One or two other establishments offered similar entertainment around the same time , notably The Prospect in Accommodation Rd & The White Horse in York Rd.

The following tale is one which to be truthful, is fictitious & which I had a bit of fun writing but why not put yourself in the front row & go along for the ride anyway ?. But a word of warning , every second you spend reading this piece of trivia may turn out to be
a second of your life totally wasted & wreck your sanity by reading such drivel.
I also know that there are a few historical timing conflicts but then, that’s the least of the nonsense.

Friday evening, which was probably the venue’s most popular time, always crowded, was buzzing as usual but one particular evening, just before Christmas and as the stage curtains were pulling back & the band were about to strike up, a gasp arose from the audience as the resident pianist – known as Light Fingers , for a good reason that didn’t include his piano playing abilities, was seen slumped over the keyboard with his face buried in a congealed, half eaten parcel of newspaper wrapped fish & chips. Oddly the other members of the troupe appeared not to have noticed, but were probably used to seeing him comatose as he only worked there to pay his bar bill. It brought a chill to the customers who were there expecting an evening of Christmas cheer & music amongst the brightly lit festive decorations.
The police were speedily summoned ,although their response was slow as the officers involved from Millgarth Police Station happened to be esconced in a nearby
bookies trying to recoup last weeks heavy losses . Reluctantly leaving the bookies as they were convinced they were onto a surefire winner to boost their Christmas backhanders, they jumped into their souped up Ford Granada & roared along Marsh Lane, up Shannon street past the coal staithe, tore into Lavender Walk & along Ascot terrace , fi- nally racing down Temple View Rd to screech to a tyre smoking halt outside the Slip. A little street furniture & a couple of dogs were the hapless victims of their reckless high speed journey, along with a few pedestrians diving for cover & needing rescucitation afterwards as well. Into the concert room strode sharp suited Det Sergeant Beauregard
Sidebottom, his immaculately tailored suit being marred only by the slight bulge from a couple of knuckledusters in his jacket pocket. He was accompanied by his assistant, Det Constable Euric Head who unsurprisingly appeared a little tipsy , having a legendary re- putation for imbibing copious quantities of Premium Bitter & claiming that his investi- gatory powers remained unaffected, even enhanced, except for his need for regular toilet breaks & for him to stick his head into the porcelain for a good barf . Both were well known to the local villainy, especially for their vigorous interrogation techniques so
there was an immediate scramble for the exits, many of East Leeds finest scattering in all directions , fleeing to the more remote regions of East End Park, Black Road or the dark alleyways & safe houses of Saville Green to lie low ‘til matters cooled down some- what.
A posse of bobbies tried to pursue them through the Glendsdales, Charltons & along Welbeck Rd but the pursued were fleet of foot & well used to outrunning the police foot- men .The unfit & mainly overweight rozzers were soon gasping for breath & quickly gave up the unequal struggle, repairing back to the Slip for the odd rejevenating pint of Hemingway’s Cloudfest Bitter to start their Christmas celebrations early.
On being briefed about the situation, D.S Sidebottom declared “I smell a rat”. Not so said several of the audience, it’s the miasma from a decomposing body. Some had spotted the pianist slump over the keyboard just as the stage curtains were closing at the conclusion of the previous friday night’s concert & just assumed he was in his usual drunken stupor. “That means the man must have been dead for almost exactly one week” ventured D.S. Sidebottom & glancing at his assistant murmured “that’s what makes a great detective – the ability to think on your feet & make complex deductions at the
crime scene”.
The D.S. immediately put those remaining or trapped in the room, around 150 or so, on lockdown & permitted nobody to leave, or even served with a drink ‘til someone had ‘fessed up. This brought howls of protest but unsurprisingly nobody owned up, so D.S Sidebottom placed all 150 in the room under arrest on suspicion of murder and/or complicity in the deed. Unfortunately, he had insufficient pairs of handcuffs to go
around so had to improvise by commandeering empty coal sacks from a nearby coalyard ( Wriggleworths – better known as “Lizzies” & just across the road from the Slip Inn) & placing them over the heads to blindfold the 150 suspects before frogmarching the lot down to Millgarth Police station .
There, devoid of any of the Christmas spirit goodwill towards all men, the interro- gation, conducted under the strictest human rights directives of course, commenced in due course but only after banging everyone up overnight, 25 to a cell on stale bread & water only and a prolonged waterboarding . As the suspects were gradually released, some appeared with bruised faces, black eyes & clutching bruised ribs – & that was only the women. Many of the men appeared with missing teeth & bandaged hands where fin- gernails had been ripped out. Not a great start to the festive season’s break.

The police pathologist, Dr Hugo Ruff-Trayd, was beginning to sober up when he
commenced the autopsy & apart from his badly trembling hands resulting in a few mis- placed slashes from his scalpel, managed to complete the autopsy without once falling over or throwing up onto the cadaver.
His alcohol blurred vision proved unable to discover any obvious clinical impedi- ment, declaring it was “death from natural causes, that is until it was pointed out by his recently released assistant, Dr Garth Vayder – “that is a load of old b******s there’s a b******g deep penetration wound between his f******g shoulder blades”.
Unable to control himself because of some genetic predisposition , his language skills unfortunately suffered & were often the cause of conflict between himself & their clients.
Aha, declared Dr Ruff-Trayd, this means a criminal offence has taken place & I’ll be required as an expert witness.
This finding unleashed the constabulary to widen their searches far& wide amongst local hostelries , the railway cuttings between Pontefract Lane, East Park Rd & all other
known refuges in the search for potential fugitives ,those with information which might lead to an arrest ( i.e. -a stool pidgeon) or the finding of a weapon. Not unaturally for the force in question, a few beatings, threats & late night forced entries were employed to speed matters along. Finally, the list of suspects was narrowed down to 24 but this was such a bonanza arrest list for the beleaguered W.Y. Police Force , that D.S. Sidebot- tom was assured of promotion at the earliest opportunity.
The main suspect was the 94 year old , tiny & frail widow Lawless solely on the grounds that she had not answered a single question put to her. The reason for that being because the interrrogation team had simply failed to realise she was stone deaf &
couldn’t hear a word said to her.
Meanwhile, the SlipInn Concert Room was declared a crime scene & closed for a full half hour whilst the forensic team did their work before packing up for a complimentary liquid lunch with pork pies from a nearby shop run by a zit faced youth who, unknown to his clientele, because of his inattention to the job & his total uselessness, used to end up doing disgusting things with the pies & sausage rolls. Dropping them onto the floor
& wiping them clean with his filthy , chest cold filled hankerchief was one of his more hygenic procedures, often resulting in his customers projectile vomiting liquids from both ends of their torso . Some said this was deliberate on his part.

The trial date duly arrived & the accused, all 24 of them charged with joint
& several responsibility, were to appear at Leeds Crown Court, before High Court
Judge, his Lordship Theopholus. P. Bulstrode – a man of jurisprudence known chiefly for his illiberal opinions, robust court discipline & harsh sentencing. He announced that
there was to be no time wasting, wanting the matter cleared up quickly so that he could get into the season of good will a.s.a.p.
Dr Ruff-Trayd was due to be first up to provide the court with his autopsy findings but was found asleep in the witness waiting room, clutching an empty absinthe bottle & requiring several bucket of cold water to be thrown over him and a gallon of strong
black coffee poured down his throat before he was deemed fit, although looking some- what dishevelled, to enter the witness box, much to the relief of his deputy who, suffer- ing from an almighty hangover , believed his inability to speak in any other than the most offensive expletives may have got him into troublewith the judge.
Naturally, His Honor was furious at the delay which meant his lunch break would be curtailed to a mere 2 hours & a measly half bottle of Navy Rum. His fury was plain to see with bulging eyes, neck veins standing out & his alcoholic red nose glowing like a rear stop light.
“You sir, are an incompetent, unprofessional fool & a drunkard to boot” bellowed the judge.
M’Lud enquired Ruff-Trayd’s counsel, “why so aggressive & insulting towards the ve- nerable Dr.”
“Because it takes one to know one” thundered the judge.

Newly promoted Det Superintendant Sidebottom – who now styled himself
Siddybotham as more befitting his new, higher rank and had taken to wearing even sharper suits along with equally lurid hand painted kipper ties , proceeded to out- line the evidence against the suspects , i.e. that they were present when the body was discovered & that they were all from East Leeds – Q.E.D. ,in particular the damning evi- dence against the incommunicative 94 yr old widow main suspect.
This was followed by defence “ counsel ” ( a self educated ex con & AA attendee who’d recently bought a second hand copy of “Idiots Guide to Litigation”) presenting witnesses to attest to the character & somewhat dodgy alibis of the 24 in the dock.
The judge quickly became bored & fell asleep to be awoken only by his own thun- derous double bass snoring. He immediately & grumpily declared he was suspending proceedings & would find all the accused guilty as charged on the basis of an ancient le- gal tenet of Common Law known as Excreta Taurus, because none had proven their in- nocence to his satisfaction & he was therefore redacting all defence testimony & pro- ceeding straight to sentencing.

However, before he could do so, the huge Cuban cigar he’d been secretly puffing behind the bench before he’d dropped off & was still burning, made contact with his vo- luminous scarlet robes which he’d only recently purchased cheaply on EBay . Unfortu- nately for him, they’d been manufactured in Hong Kong from a highly flammable mate- rial, soaked in Saltpetre to preserve their lurid colour and on which he’d spilled a large
tumbler of cognac as he fell asleep ,very quickly caught fire becoming a blazing inferno within seconds. The self immolation became complete within minutes & all that re- mained was a bareboned skeleton, slumped in the judges high chair but still clutching the Smouldering Cuban Cohiba with a cheap & nasty nylon Judges wig askew on the skeleton’s skull. Along with the tempting aroma of roast pork. Bang went his Yuletide orgy plans.

During the ensuing chaos, all the 24 accused managed to escape , the chief sus- pect, 94 yr old widow Lawless overcoming her burly minder by head butting him fol- lowed by a hefty kick to his groin & escaping the building by clambering through the high level lavatory window. Still dressed in her Santa Claus costume & jumping onto a high powered police motorbike she raced off heading South on the motorway but in the Northbound carriageway, creating havoc & multiple pile ups & so preventing the police from pursuing her .(they never thought about using the Southbound carriageway), reach- ing Southampton in record time where she managed to smuggle herself onto a tramp steamer heading for S.America. Hiding in the ships hold , she managed to find a few pal- lets of convenience food but was troubled by a horde of black rats which tried to share her food & gnaw at her ankles. She was able to keep them at bay however by a few well aimed shots from a Kalashnikov AK47 she discovered in a secret arms cache in the same hold & which the ships captain obviously intended smuggling into Mexico.
Once in Mexico,& after enjoying her brief period of notoriety, she decided to con- tinue her criminal career & ultimately became the dominatrix of a leading drugs cartel , striking up a relationship with a 23 year old Mexican drug smuggler toy boy & reaching a notoriety & villainy matched only in later years by Hillary Clinton.
All the other escapees, having fled the country quickly & so having little or no as- sets, developed successful careers as arms dealers, drug smugglers, timeshare salesmen
, unauthorised plastic surgery clinicians & illegal moonshine production. A few how- ever had to revert to type & resorted to the less savoury activities in which they were well versed .So far, all have managed to avoid extradition & subsequent jail sentences but
Chief Constable Siddybotham, now styling himself “Sidboam” continued to keep the case open.
The understudy pianist who stepped in immediately following Light Fingers demise was said by some to to have a knowing smirk on his face and curiously, had blood like stains on the lapels of his white Tuxedo jacket which proved to be resistant even to liberal ap- plications of “Vanish”. Nonetheless, Ch Cons Sidboam refused to investigate his fellow Freemason, even though he’d been a member of a notorious biker gang & covered in af- filiation tattoos before his damascene conversion to Freemasonry.
Bizarrly, shortly afterward he too disappeared suddenly to be replaced by a highly ac- claimed classical pianist – a strange choice & yet another mystery.
Nonetheless being a classical musician, he was a stickler for detail & perfection and con- cerned that his grand piano appeared to miss a few notes & seem out of tune. On raising
the lid, he discovered to his horror, a discarded white Tuxedo jacket & several half ea- ten, heavily tattoo’ed body parts.
The gruesome discovery, on the eve of Christmas, increased the tempo of the investiga- tion resulting in ever more officers being pulled away from the vital & pressing activites of parking tickets & raiding pubs that stayed open 5 minutes later than thy should have, unleashing them yet again to practice their ferocious intimidation on the locals.

Metropolitan Chief Commissioner Sidboam was determined to see a conclusion to his most famous case but, getting no result other than multiple claims for compensation for wrongful arrest & extreme brutality, meant that suspicion fell , & remains upon all the community, especially by association ,those who frequented the Slip Inn concert room. However, some believe that those who have no vices , often have very few virtues.
Lord Si’Bome subsequently lobbied for a judicial enquiry & felt the £20million spent was fully justified though has yet to reveal a culprit & conviction, the 120 year old widow Lawless still being his main suspect & remaining at large even though a 12
strong team of West Yorkshire’s finest spent 3 weeks at the 5 star Shangri La in Acapul- co , making searching enquiries as to her whereabouts. But they did come back with su- perb all round tan and a pretty hefty expense account bar bill.

The tragic loss of life of talented, hard working musicians, the spectacular demise of the illustrious Judge Bulstrode & the consequences of 24 escapees to ply their illegal trades in the seedier parts of the world’s stage is one thing but the frightening thought re- mains that a cannibal killer could still be stalking the highways & byways of East Leeds. Alas the Slip Inn no longer exists (as a pub) , it’s former glory long past &it’s ignomi- nious existence as a convenience store hiding the history of many a good night for lots
of us to remember. But I wonder how many would be happy to shop there for their Christmas turkey knowing the grisly acts which took place where the frozen food cabi- nets now stand ?
Rest easy but take care out there.

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15 Responses to “Foul play at the Slip Inn”

  1. Doug Farnill Says:

    My sides ache from all the deep belly laughs. An absolutely brilliant piece of fun. The technique of a stand-up comedian is to get a good laugh and then to keep it rolling with gag after gag. This written story emulates that, no sooner than I had convulsed with a belly laugh, I was hit by another and another. On a more serious note, I immigrated to Australia in 1952. No regrets, life has been terrific, but I am touched by a nostalgic sadness that I didn’t have opportunity to enjoy all these East Leeds things as well. When you open a door to life you close other doors – sadly.

  2. Eric Says:

    Thanks Doug, your comments are gratifying & I’m delighted it achieved the desired result with you.
    Not sure what happened to some of the punctuation & spacing , probably a file transfer issue.
    It may interest you to know that although the fabric of the tale is fictitious, the framework is based on a real incident which took place at the Slip, just before Christmas , in the late ’50’s & involved a close neighbour of ours. However, so far as I know, no murder was ever committed there , it may well have come close to it a few times though.
    Although the story lampoons the police & judicial systems somewhat, neither came out of the real life event with any great merit.
    As you suggest,there were many good times to be had way back then but I’m sure you also experienced many such, different, but just as good times out there in Oz.
    Best wishes for Xmas & New Year & to all who frequent this blog.

  3. peterwwood Says:

    Great tale, Eric, What I love about our tales is that although few of us still actually live in those few square miles of old East Leeds it is fulcrum point that transports all who lived there back though space and time to be reunited, the time being the years that have sped by since those great days and the space being how it brings back our friends across the world, especially those in Australia back into our little circle,

  4. peterwwood Says:

    further to my last comment. Would any of us, when we were actually living in those times, have thought we would be waxing lyrical about them 60/70 years on ? It just shows what they say is true: ‘You don’t know you’re in a golden age until it’s over!’

  5. peterwwood Says:

    further to my last comment. Would any of us, when we were actually living in those times, have thought we would be waxing lyrical about them 60/70 years on ? It just shows what they say is true: ‘You don’t know you’re in a golden age until it’s over!’

  6. Eric Says:

    Thanks Pete.
    And a great observation too, & so true

  7. Edward Blackwell... Says:

    Thank you Eric for a very interesting and illuminating tale, I recall those days at the Slip Inn well, and did in fact frequent on many occasions the entertainment in the concert room, which could get a bit rowdy towards the end of the night, I always put that down to the fire water they served as bitter, although the testosterone of youth may also have played it’s part, many’s the time one had to walk away with a black eye having bumped into the lamp post conveniently place at the end of the street, but in general they were happy times to remember, I was sad to see the demise of such an active vibrant place of entertainment reduced to an emporium purveying groceries and suchlike. I remember as a boy going to the Times Laundry to collect the washing, and collecting the football tickets from Wriggleworths in the hope of winning a football, my Dad used to say you’ll have bought ten footballs before you win one with those tickets and he was right of course, but he liked a pint at the Slip Inn himself, under the pretext of supporting Hemingway’s which was a local Brewery in York Road…

  8. Edward Blackwell... Says:

    A merry Christmas to one and all near and far, have a great time and all the very best for the New Year…

  9. Eric Says:

    Hi Eddie
    I remember the Times Laundry , directly across from the Slip & the clouds of steam billowing from there . It also affected the local atmosphere as you could always detect the aroma in the surrounding area.
    I don’t know how we used to drink Hemingway’s electric soup, for the most part , at least in the Slip, it was awful. Still, it didn’t stop us enjoying a good night out. I believe Hemingway’s had only 3 pubs, the Slip, the White Horse further up York Rd & the Wise Owl at Cookridge.

  10. Edward Blackwell... Says:

    Hiya Eric,
    I recall the aroma you mention from the Times Laundry, and the clouds of steam, I was always fascinated by what went on in there, as a small boy I used to help my Grandma who lived in Ascot Street opposite the original Quarmby’s Fish and chip shop, to do the Monday washing manually, with the washing tub, scrubbing board, posser and of course the mangle, and I always wonder what techniques the Times Laundry would employ to cope with the volume of washing, but from the counter where you collected your washing, there was always clouds of steam and young ladies dashing backwards and forwards with sheets and things draped over their shoulders, oh and a huge spinning drum, which with hindsight must have been a spin dryer, then Mum changed to a bag wash system which took place at the lower end of Freehold Street near to Torre Road. There was also a strange smell in that area, but I think that came from the old Tannery on the other side of the Street.
    When I was young I went to All Saints School at the beginning of Pontefract Lane and Hemingways Brewery in York Road formed part of the perimeter to the school playground, so we grew up with the aroma of Malt, Hops and Barley. In later years when I took to drinking their beers I must admit to an aroma of a different kind precipitating into the surrounding local atmosphere, On such occasions Dad would always say were you in the Slip Inn last night Edward…lol..

  11. peterwwood Says:

    I know Hemmingways only had a few pubs but wasn’t ‘The Prospect’ Hemmingways? I’m not at all certain about it. They had a few off licences too. Our House in Cross Green Lane was next to an off licence and we paid the rent to Hemmingways

  12. Edward Blackwell... Says:

    I remember the Prospect Pete, my Mums youngest Sister had her Wedding Reception there, I was a page boy on that occasion, and just a small boy, I remember they had those cast iron decorative tables that accommodated two stools and two chairs, I recall being lifted up onto one of the tables and asked to dance for the reception, and I did frequent there in later years, but for the life of me I can’t remember if it was a Hemingways pub or not although it’s proximity to the Brewery made it a likely candidate, or was it a Free House that stocked a variety of beers…

  13. aussiepom Says:

    Loved your vivid imagination and hilarious yarn of Foul Play at The Slip. Better than Keystone Cops, Marx Brothers or 3 Stooges with the very funny dry sense of Yorkshire humour. I think the agile widow Lawless still lives and is living in my suburb. After lots of complaints from shoppers the manager of our local supermarket gave an elderly lady on a mobile scooter several warnings and finally told her she was banned from the store as she was whizzing up and down all the aisles expecting the rest of the shoppers to jump out of her way. She had also tried to mow down some of the staff who nicknamed her Molly the mobile menace or Lunatic Lucy. Life round here isn’t dull or boring but you do need a sense of humour.
    I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and looking forward to a very Happy New Year. Keep on writing folks

  14. Eric Says:

    Hi Audrey.
    Yep,it sounds like the Widow Lawless has fled Mexico & is now terrorising Oz.
    On the other hand, it may be a doppelganger, we have one like it too – although it could just be her progeny because don’t forget, she came from these parts originally !!
    Anyway, thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed the spoof.

  15. Steve Says:

    Anyone remember Tommy gibbons or gibbons used to weara teddy boy suit Irish fella or Mavis cook bit of a stunner in those days

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