Monday, 2 January 2012

More than a woman. And a village.

I only popped in for a brew and a few malted milks. Blaring on HD was the River of No Return, a light hearted spit and sawdust rom com featuring Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum from 1954.

Impossible a feat as it would be to rip off a film of similar ilk that was spawned later than it (The River Wild, 1994) both directors thought that the premise of a macabre bit of family high jink on an out of control raft down some dawg gone river would be an afternoon’s entertainment.

Monroe, I have to say on the otherhand, looked magnificent. Awash as we are now with pastel coloured shiny celebrities which resemble more pipe cleaners than people, it was beautiful and refreshing to see a flawless creature of such elegance yet a deeply sexy attitude which almost made her seem like she was playing herself than the yelping mum on the raft. “God, she was really pretty” I said to my Grandma between mouthfuls of my breakaway biscuit.

As I always do, when I visit the grandparentals, I am given the indispensable education into the devious world that is the sleepy suburb that is Rishton.
Now, most people from the East Lancashire district are staunchly proud of their roots. They love the football teams, the weather, the attractions, the food, and even obscurities like the mayor. A pastime even more enjoyable is showcasing facts on the many celebrity visitors that the local area either created or attracted.
Rumours that Jay Kay used to busk outside Burtons in Blackburn town centre have done the rounds whilst I was at school. Chinese whispers of the fact that Shane Warne may well have a lovechild roaming Accrington from his stint as a cricket pro in the early 80’s. All add to the subterfuge and mystique of our beloved BB1 district.
A well seasoned scripture that have been told many times in many a school lesson and dinner party in the borough is that Mohandas K Gandi himself once graced Darwen.
Poor lamb.

Apparently he came along to Greenfields Mill to see the impact of India boycotting the cotton mills.
My Grandfather was a mill worker himself in Rishton. A paper mill though. Gandi did not feel a visit here was appropriate.
Now Gandi is good and in the celebrity top trumping stakes, he is flying high however I feel that this legacy may take the edge.
Back to the movie and at this point the family have just seen the demise of their make shift raft breaking into smithereens on a rather torrent rapid. Marilyn herself displaying all the poise and resourcefulness of bear grylls as she trugged up on the banks.

It was at this point my grandparents almost in unison, revealed that MM was a one time visitor to our beloved Rishton.
I was still watching Miss Monroe at this point being flung around on a horse and cart through a dusty village on this film, when I tried to visualise her walking around Rishton high street. Surreal stuff.
I asked the seemingly stupid question to my Grandmother, why on this earth would Marilyn visit Rishton?????

Whilst waiting for some back catalogue to be revealed of whom she may have dated in the area or perhaps President JFK himself had good reason to be in the area, perhaps a late visit to Liverpool to see the Beatles? Yet, I was given a perfectly rational reason for her now infamous visit which was relating to the sheer affection for her interest in manufacturing.
“You see love, some people are just really interested in how things are made.”
Of course they are. Aside from her iconic fame for singing and being a serious love interest of the late great President John F Kennedy and simultaneously dying tragically, I had been illuminated with the fact that Marilyn also had a penchant for the operating functions of post war loom machines.
I do love visiting Rishton, with probably equal affection as Marilyn.
She may have the killer curves and the egg shell skin but she doesn’t know the short cuts and ginnels as well as I do.

To the outsider, this may appear your average thoroughfare village, but to the life long residents, it is it’s own little Chicago town right in the heart of the pendle valley.
First stop of the day with my Grandma was a walk to Rays. A bizarre store, which Alan Sugar and Theo Pathitis would certainly have issues with. What is it’s product placement or USP? Half sweet shop quarter stationary and naff kids toys.
Who knows what it’s place in retail is. If you want cat litter you’ll get it. If you want a high school musical lamp, you won’t be disappointed either.
I just wanted some cheap Cillit Bang.

I loved growing up in this village. I had an extremely innocent and hedonsitic upbringing which consisted of all day bike rides, buying tub lollies, calling for people and making dens in my friends back garden.

Those days are a distant a memory as Gandi’s audit at the factory.
It is half term and the kids are chasing each other across the road, queuing for lunch in the chip shop or sitting on the library wall texting.
I wanted a few oddments so it was a quick call at the butchers. The same plastic red and green parsley adorning mountains of mince meat and paving stones of gammon as 20 years previously. As a puritan of hygiene, I winced when he took a grubby fiver off the lady in front and then proceeded to squelch and paw at her mince meat.
Bit of alcohol gel son. Nil poi.

As we trundled back home, I reflected upon some good advice from my good buddy, Ty Pennington. Who also has more to him than ripping out kitchens and installing home rollercoasters. For example, did you know before he started moving buses, he was the diet coke man?

The bloke is ridiculously cut mind even for a wizened old bloke.
Watching an episode of extreme home makeover, Ty, ever the educator and champion of community spirit, highlighted another little fact that I have been blanketed to, was that trainers wrapped up on an overhead telephone line denotes a location of a drug den.
I always thought myself it was a nasty stag do prank. This is the innocent child in me again.
I would also take everything Ty says with a big salt sprinkled hyperbole. He does have a tendency to romanticize.
As I walked not too far from her house, my Grandma pointed up to a telephone wire that someone had lost their trainers.

Oh yes grandma.
I didn’t want to pass on my Ty Pennington knowledge though. I think that pair of trainers have been on that wire since I was about 6.

I love my village too much.

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