Extract From: Brunel The Fridge Builder by Jonty Morgan (Number 2 in the Marked Absent Series)

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If Brunel was subverted from his true calling, then Bristol Temple Meads Station wouldn’t exist. All sorts of solutions would be applied to getting passengers off safely from a moving train once it was within the city’s environs. As this following advert from The London Evening Comet testifies:


Do you fear possible fatal injury when you attempt to jump off?

Then your worries are at an end.

Loak out for Jacob Wrenthrow’s Farm near Keynsham on the outskirts of Bristol.

There, adjacent to the track, has been placed three different piles to soften your landing.


  1. HAY. Land in our soft bales of hay for just sixpence. A first-class experience.
  2. MUD. Soften your landing by jumping into our mud heap for just threepence. Good quality Somerset mud. You will not be disappointed.
  3. DUNG: Jump into our dung heap and be charged just a penny. A third-class experience to complete your journey.

JACOB WRENTHROW’S FARM: Guaranteed to bring you down to earth with a soft landing.

The success of this enterprise is measured by the appearance, a few months later, of this advert:


Have You Suffered Injury That Wasn’t Your Fault?

Did you pay out for a MUD landing at Jacob Wrenthrow’s Farm but find yourself covered in DUNG instead?

As a consequence did you suffer the INJURY of losing your friends, business and your appetite?

Then contact SHERBOURNE & HEATHERSMIRE SOLICITORS (preferably by post at 129 Baker Street, London) and tell us that you’ve been dung.

There will be various means tried to bring the express train from London to a stop in Bristol to allow loved ones to disembark safely as this report from July, 1878 testifies:


The inquest was held yesterday at Bristol of local woman Miss Priscilla Garbutt, 20, who met a most unfortunate end when she was run over by a train that had travelled from London as she lay upon the tracks in Bristol in an attempt to stop the engine to enable her acquaintance, Mr David Robey, to safely depart from it.

Her mother, Mrs Muriel Garbutt in her evidence to the court revealed that in the days leading up to the arrival of her suitor she’d entertained a melancholy as she fretted about his safety when leaping from the moving train upon arrival in Bristol. As she was an avid reader of adventure novels, Miss Garbutt devised the idea of lying upon the track, like a heroine trying to escape being tied up on one, in an attempt to bring the engine to a halt in Bristol and thus allow Mr Robey to disembark safely.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t often parallel adventure novels and this attempt at the recreation of one was doomed to failure. Miss Garbutt had hoped that not actually being tied to the track would ensure her safety, but in attempting to roll away from the track as the engine was almost upon her, her dress caught upon it and she was killed instantly, her body being distributed in various pieces along the track. The engine driver, Mr Harold Stropp of Maypole, Birmingham, brought the train to a halt and GWR staff left their duties to gather the pieces of the unfortunate Miss Garbutt. Her identity was also established by means of a letter addressed to her carried in a pocket of her dress. A request was made for anyone who knew Miss Garbutt aboard the train, whereupon Mr David Robey made himself known to the staff.

Mr David Robey informed the court that he was told by the porter, Jeremiah Sackville-South, to take a seat in the second-class carriage he had occupied. He replied that he had already tried but they were screwed in too well. He then explained that he was travelling to Bristol with the intention of asking Miss Garbutt’s father for her hand in marriage. It was at that point that the porter broke the tragic news and then, in an attempt to cheer the grief-stricken passenger, said that if it made him feel any better he could have her hand in carriage instead and promptly left to fetch it.

VERDICT: Death by Miss-Adventure.

Extract From: Warwick The Ringmaker by Jonty Morgan (Number 3 in the Marked Absent Series)

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Rchard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (aka Warwick The Kingmaker)


Born Richard Neville on 22 November. It is unknown exactly where he was born but it was likely to have been in the vicinity of his mother in Bush an, Berkshire.


Richard, aged six, betrothed to Anne Beauchamp, daughter of the 13th Earl of Warwick. The best man tells a cracking story at the reception, although Richard confesses that he would’ve preferred the one about the three little pigs.


Anne redesigns the Neville family’s ‘Bear & Ragged Staff’ emblem during needlework class. She calls the new smartened image ‘The Bear & Immaculate Staff’. But Richard is furious and says that he is having none of it. Anne replies that when they’re a fair bit older he can start having some of it then.


Richard is knighted


The Duke of York leads an unsuccessful uprising against Henry VI (House of Lancaster). Richard (Warwick) is on the side of the King. This he considers safer than being in front of him.


Hentry VI becomes insane. Warwick isn’t at the King’s side anymore, mainly because the King thinks himself to be a crab. Henry VI’s wife, Margaret of Anjou, takes the reins with the Duke of Somerset. Despite pulling quite hard on them, they can’t get Henry VI to budge, not even in a sideways direction, as he withdraws into a catatonic state. It is thus decided that Margaret of Anjou and the Duke of Somerset should rule the country and Henry VI just pose for coins.

Warwick is no fan of Somerset, possibly because he endured a soaking at Glastonbury one summer, so sides with the House of York (White Rose) in their dispute with the House of Lancaster (Red Rose) over the claim to the throne.


The first battle of The Wars of the Roses takes place at St Albans. The Duke of Somerset is killed. It’s decided to cancel the 1455 Chelsea Flower Show in case anyone else important gets the chop.


Henry VI becomes a virtual puppet king (aided by his catatonic state), his strings pulled by Margaret of Anjou. This is kept a secret from the people. The truth only emerges in the 1960s when he makes a guest appearance on The Woodentops.


Warwick and Salisbury’s forces capture London for the House of York. Warwick then captures Henry VI at Northampton. Henry VI is allowed to remain king for the rest of his life and the Duke of York act as protector and succeed him upon his death.

The Duke of York is killed at the Battle of Wakefield. Warwick joins forces with his son, Edward of York, the new claimant to the throne of England.


Warwick and Edward march on London and are accepted by the citizens of the capital who are anti-Lancastrian. The Prince is proclaimed King Edward IV. The two head north to engage in battles at Ferrybridge – where Warwick picks up a leg injury – and Towton, rated the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil which Warwick misses due to failing a late fitness test. The Yorkists are triumphant. Margaret of Anjou flees to Scotland.


Warwick repels uprisings in the north orchestrated by Margaret of Anjou. The Last Night of the Proms is cancelled as Warwick doesn’t want to provide her with the chance to orchestrate anything else.

Warwick negotiates with French royalty to marry Edward IV to a princess.


Edward IV marries the widowed commoner Elizabeth Woodville behind Warwick’s back. Warwick only discovers the truth because Elizabeth, in her excitement, says ‘I do,’ too loud which causes Warwick to turn around.

The Woodville family become increasingly powerful at court at the expense of Warwick’s family, the Nevilles.


Prespects look increasingly bleak for Warwick as he receives a Christmas card from Edward IV with the ‘Happy New Year’ bit crossed out.


Warwick devises a plan to install Edward IV’s younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, as king. George marries Warwick’s daughter, Isabel, to cement the union. Warwick laments the fact there isn’t enough left over to cement his patio as well.

The forces of Edward IV suffer defeats and the King is captured by Warwick’s brother Archbishop Neville of York. To celebrate the Archbishop designs a new range of monastery wear for his monks incorporating a caged white rose motif. Warwick decrees that it will be acceptable for the monks to wear their new outfits occasionally, but not to make a habit of it.

Edward IV is released from captivity. He isn’t that grateful as he thinks he should’ve only got community service anyway.


Warwick and the Duke of Clarence flee to France where they are accepted by King Louis XI.

In the surprise move of transfer deadline day, Warwick moves from the House of York to the House of Lancaster for an undisclosed fee. He promises Margaret of Anjou that he will get her husband, Henry VI, back on the throne.

Warwick and Clarence land in Devon with an army. Lancastrian forces also assemble in the north. Both armies head for London. Edward IV, finding himself surrounded, flees to the Netherlands.

Warwick frees Henry VI and restores him as King, though takes on the responsibilities of ruler himself.


The Royal Mint ask Warwick who he intends to make king next, as they are in the process of designing their coins for the next five years.

Edward IV gathers forces and lands in England. The Duke of Clarence rejoins his brother Edward IV citing lack of opportunity under Warwick. His brother later rewards him by having him drowned in a barrel of wine.

At the Battle of Barnet Warwick The Kingmaker is killed. Henry VI is bumped off in the Tower of London after the Battle of Tewkesbury in which Edward IV is triumphant.

Anne Neville, Warwick’s daughter, widowed at the Battle of Tewkesbury when the Prince of Wales is killed, marries Edward IV’s youngest brother Richard Duke of Gloucester, later to become King Richard III. Thus Warwick was not only a Kingmaker but quite literally a Queen-maker too.

Extracts from Nelson & The Bottle of Tagged Lager by Jonty Morgan (Number 4 in the Marked Absent Series)

Nelson & The Bottle of Tagged Lager by Jonty Morgan Available from the Kindle Books Store on Amazon

What would life be like without Horatio Nelson?

Nelson made turning a blind eye an acceptable, even heroic, option when he placed the telescope to his unsighted eye at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. Had Nelson been absent from history this famous incident wouldn’t have occurred and turning a blind eye would have been nigh on impossible for future generations to do.

J.H. Dillinger, gunslinger, escape artist, bank robber and the FBI’s public enemy number one wouldn’t have been famously cut down by a hail of bullets in an FBI ambush outside the Biograph Movie Theater in Chicago in July, 1934. Instead, in a world without Nelson, this would’ve happened:


Public Enemy No.1 Saved Outside Movie Theater.

J.H. Dillinger dramatically escaped an FBI trap last night outside the Biograph Movie Theater in Chicago last night. He was on his way out when he passed an agent of J. Edgar Hoover’s new law enforcement agency who signalled to his fellow officers by lighting a cigar. Dillinger was immediately suspicious and reached for his gun but was surprised when a man in the street ahead of him, who’d wantonly dropped some litter, was cut down in a hail of bullets. Dillinger was then able to make his escape as the scene descended into chaos accompanied by the screams of shocked onlookers and much spilled blood.

It’s believed that the dead man is a Chicagoan called Darby Cincantona and that the scrap of litter he’d dropped was the stub of his theater ticket. Late last night an FBI spokesman said that they deeply regret allowing their Public Enemy Number One to escape their ambush but they could not turn a blind eye to the public nuisance caused by littering.

Aready, the failure of the FBI to turn a blind eye has caused consequences:

  1. Overnight the USA has become virtually litter free.
  2. The Federal Bureau of Investigationhas now been re-christened as Forthwith Bin It.
  3. Bookmakers have installed Dillinger as favourite to hold the Christmas Public Enemy Number One spot.

In a world devoid of Horatio Nelson, Napoleon would’ve led a successful invasion of Britain. Bonaparte had disparagingly referred to Britain as ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ and would’ve sought to address this by issuing the following proclamation:


A’ll shopkeepers shall relinquish their places of business and hand them over to Napoleon Bonaparte and the Committee of Conquest for Britain Provisions Sub-Committee. Thereafter, the following laws will apply:

  1. Anone, other than members of the Provisions Committee, caught in possession of a till shall have its contents confiscated and then they will be beheaded by guillotine.
  2. Anyone suspected of harbouring price labels shall be submitted to torture and once their confession is extracted, be taken to the nearest guillotine and have their treacherous head lopped from their neck. A label shall then be attached to the remainder of their body saying ‘25% OFF’, as a deterrent to others.
  3. Saying ‘Can I be of assistance?’ will only assist in the perpetrator’s speedy conveyance to the guillotine.
  4. If someone rings a bell when another enters a building, a bell will instead toll as the perpetrator enters the kingdom of Hell via the guillotine.
  5. Remaining in a shop for more than 15 minutes without purchasing any goods shall henceforth be classed as ‘Loitering with intent to become a shopkeeper’, and be punishable by execution by the guillotine.

A’ll capital offences previously punishable by hanging shall henceforth be punishable by the guillotine. By these means I shall transform Britain from being a nation of shopkeepers to being a nation of chop-weepers instead.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Bonaparte Palace, London, 1806.