Extracts From The Humorous History of Bristol by Jonty Morgan


In 1889 cinematography was invented by a Bristolian called William Friese-Greene. He first experimented with moving pictures in 1876 when he exhibited a series of still photographs on the theme of homeless people in Staple Hill. One critic called them ‘very moving pictures indeed’. This inspired the pioneering photographer. He thought it would be a splendid idea to make the pictures themselves physically move. So to this end he next staged the exhibition in San Francisco and waited for the next earthquake.

In 1888 it was announced that Friese-Greene had invented a machine that could take twenty-four frames per second. For this reason he was barred from entering the National Art Gallery. Removals firms also took a dislike to him. They feared that moving pictures would be the tip of the iceberg, with moving furniture next on the agenda, followed by moving ornaments, rendering them obsolete.

In 1889 came the awesome moment when Friese-Greene finally captured and displayed movement on film. It was a simple flickering movement, lasting barely ten seconds, of people strolling in a London park. He had moved to the capital because ten seconds wasn’t sufficient time to ever capture movement in Bristol. It was the birth of a new medium.

Instead of becoming a wealthy man, the new invention led to Friese-Greene’s ruin. The reason being that for several years he was the only person in the world making films. A Stroll in the Park swept the board at the Oscars ceremony in 1889. It cost him a bucket financially going to Cannes and California each year to receive all his gongs and it crippled him…because the mantelpiece collapsed on his foot under the sheer weight of all the awards it had to support.

It has been said that Friese-Greene’s films lack clarity because they are full of jerks and blurred people. Friese-Greene never liked to refer to his actors as jerks, and as for the blurred people, there just happened to be a lot more of them about back then. Indeed a law even had to be passed in parliament in 1885 to prevent blurred people from walking slowly, as other people were getting fed up with them appearing in the background in photographs. Friese-Greene was therefore the first director to bring social realism to the screen by using blurred actors. His most famous film was based upon the true story of Sam Whettens who had been blurred since birth and was sentenced to life imprisonment in America’s toughest prison for the offence of serial bar-hanging in an attempt to hit sales of alcohol. The film was called The Blurred Man of Alcatraz. 

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Further extract from The Humorous History of Bristol Shipshape & Bristol Fashion

In 1711 an amazing incident occurred in Bristol Docks. A suicidal young lady jumped in, but instead of drowning she floated because her dress resembled the shape of the Mayflower. As a result of this bizarre event, women in Bristol did two things:

1. If they wished to commit suicide they no longer jumped into the Docks….they drank from it instead!

2. It became the fashion in Bristol to wear dresses that resembled ships, including cumbersome masts, sails and rigging.

It was not all plain sailing for Bristol’s fashion conscious women who chose to wear the new shipshape designs. The most common problem they encountered was constantly having seagulls and albatrosses hovering over them. For this reason fashionable girls in Bristol were barred from taking their GCSEs in Ornithology.

Women also found it more expensive to wear the new nautical style as before they were allowed onto the streets they had to be registered with Lloyds of London. They also had to keep a daily tab of how many hands they had on deck. This was particularly upsetting for Miss Lucy Latrix who plied her trade along the Cumberland Basin, as she could only count to ninety-three.

In 1713 the findings of a report were announced that showed that women who wore the shipshape designs were prone to go down with scurvy. More alarmingly, it was also discovered that shipshape women while window shopping or merely walking down the street were likely to be mounted by pirates. This actually made the design more popular in some quarters, to this day Bristol Rovers sport a pirate badge on their blue and white quarters to mark this period in history. Ladies wearing the dresses also found themselves being drawn towards port, even if they were teetotallers. The designs also gave men an excuse to tug at womens’ dresses.

There were two tragedies in Bristol which were attributed to the unfortunate victim’s penchant for wearing fashionable shipshape dresses. The first involved Mrs Olive Plinth of Redcliffe. On November 8th, 1720, while walking through town at full speed in her shipshape attire, she badly snagged her dress on some railings and then sunk with the loss of one soul in a large puddle in Baldwin Street. This tragedy was followed two years later by the case of Miss Livy Pine of St.George, who in attempting to dry her runny nose with a series of coloured handkerchiefs was completely unaware that she was conveying an aggressive message in semaphore. As a result she was blasted to death by heavy cannon fire from a Royal Navy frigate as she was using the pedestrian crossing on Two Mile Hill.

Between 1717-1721, the fashion was so popular that demand outstripped supply. For this reason it became perfectly legal for press gangs to pounce upon seamstresses in order to alleviate this problem.

Under Government safety regulations introduced in 1722, as a consequence of the official enquiry into Olive Plinth’s death, women wearing the shipshape fashions suddenly found they needed to carry at least three lifeboats around with them. Only one woman, Mrs Ffion Twyther of Clifton, remained in fashion after that. However, her joy was short-lived for she was swiftly commissioned by the Royal Navy to engage in battle with the Spanish fleet off the coast of Cadiz.

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Extract From When Saturday’s Gone by Jonty Morgan

When a football mad kid goes to live with his grandpa, a former soccer coach who cannot give up the game, shouting such things as “Man On!” whenever he sees a crucifix, they make a significant impact on a club’s fortunes in the competitive but secret world of The Premhairy League.


(Statto, Coach’s grandson, realizes that he needs to decipher Coach’s mixture of football language and the English language to fully comprehend the wisdom he seeks to convey.)


Added Time: If someone has had their life saved by medical means, or intervention by a Good Samaritan, Coach says that they are into added time.

Against the Run of Play: A harsh critic of a theatrical production.

Aggregate Score: Whenever Coach sees two adjacent gravel drives he scratches his chin as he assesses them and then declares which one he thinks is winning on aggregate.

Anchorman: If Coach observes someone choosing butter to spread on their toast instead of margarine he calls them this. If that same person is halfway through their meal at the time, he then calls them ‘a mid-filled Anchorman’.

Arrive at the Edge of the Box: Coach is most impressed when pallbearers do this.

At Full Strength: When Coach is in a supermarket he is prone to approach the deli counter, take a strong whiff and say that the Stilton is at full-strength for today’s encounter.

Attendance: If Coach notices five couples on the dance floor he says this. If it is at a ball for civil servants he calls it ‘The Official Attendance’.

Auto Promotion: Any advert for car sales gets called this by Coach.

Back Heel: Any old fashioned remedies. Leeches are a good example of what he’d call ‘back heels’.

Back Ten Yards: Directions given to a lorry driver, by Coach, who’d overshot his delivery location on an industrial estate by quite a margin.

Bicycle Kick: Anyone using pedal power is said to have this by Coach.

Between the Sticks: A rock star between two model girlfriends.

Bore Draw: A newspaper cartoon that doesn’t make Coach laugh.

Bottle: Whenever Coach hears a baby crying he always says that he or she ‘lacks bottle’.

Bundled into the Net: If Coach sees someone putting a calculator into a bag he says, ‘Bundled into the Net…Well, they all count’.

Business End of the Season: Coach says this when approaching the till at the supermarket if he has salt or pepper in his basket.

Byline: ‘See you soon,’ would be an example of this.

Centre-Half: A concessionary bus fare and destination.

Charity Shield: An item of clothing, such as a Real Madrid shirt with a big ZERO on the back, which tells charity collectors that he isn’t worth bothering with.

Copa America: Kojack is a very old example of this.

Counter Attack: If Coach hears that Start I has been told off by his math’s teacher he calls it an instance of one of these.

Creating Space: Refuse collectors impress Coach by doing this when they empty the bins.

Cup Final: This is what Coach calls his last cup of tea before retiring to bed for the night. The following morning he says that it’s time for the First Round of the Cup again.

Cup-Tie: A commitment to visit someone for a cuppa.

Cut Down the Angle: Whenever Coach watches a programme where an invading Viking thrusts his sword into a native of England, he says this. If the invading Norsemen are deliberately starving an Englishman he says that they are ‘Narrowing the Angle’.

Deadly Marksman: A gravestone.

Dive: When Coach observed the rubble being loaded onto a lorry from a sleazy nightclub in town that had been demolished he remarked, ‘He took a dive, there’.

Far Post: The British Ambassador in Australia.

Fifty-Fifty Ball: A celebratory event attended by an equal mix of men and women.

Flick-On: What Coach does with his light switches.

Football Hardman: Any statue of a soccer player.

Fresh Legs: Any new vertical parts of a table or chair.

Free Transfer: A concessionary travel pass that costs nothing.

Full-Time: The point where it’s best to stop eating.


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