Heartbeat – Forever the 1960s

The grey sky engulfed Aidensfield as PC Crane whizzed around the tight Yorkshire country lanes on his motorbike.  With that heavy chill in the air Dan could feel that more snow would be on the way.  It had looked atmospheric when the first snowflakes coated Aidensfield with a blanket of snow on Christmas eve.

He had been sitting in the warm snug of the Aidensfield arms looking out of the window as the flurry floated gently in the December sky.  Smiling to himself he could still hear Tricia regaled the locals of how poor old Greengrass had got stuck in the chimmney as Father Christmas at the nearby school play.

Aidensfield was such a quiet, comfortable village were admittedly a lot of exciting things did happen for such a small place but and this was the thing, it was a feeling of reassurance.  Somehow everything always worked out well in the end and there was no uncertainty.  In some respects it was like that lovely mulled wine that warmed the cockles of Dan’s heart as he sang Christmas carols when singing with the rest of the village by the village square Christmas tree.

Still that would all change in a few hours as Aidensfield would see in 1970 heralding a new future.  Dan was looking forward to it but lovable rogue Claude Greengrass who had made a return visit could barely suppress a chuckle as he finished his pint when telling him.

‘I’m not too sure about the future in these parts.  This, this place is stuck in a timewarp!’

‘Greengrass!’  Oscar Blaketon barked with that glare of disapproval that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Judge.

‘Sorry Oscar, just, just playing with the lad.’

Nick Rowan who had passed by a couple of years back had warned him that not everything was as it seemed.  The words seemed to trouble Dan slightly but after today he would see in the New Year at the Aidensfield arms.  What would 1970 bring?  Would Leeds United go on to dominate football?  Would Harold Wilson gain another term next year or would it be Edward Heath?  Then of course there was the Beatles who had released Abbey road in September.  Dan loved the album and he hoped there would be more to come from the Liverpudlians.

Sometimes Dan thought back to when he first arrived in Aidensfield.  Admittedly it was all a bit of a blur and a bit foggy.  One minute he could picture himself looking at a screen and typing away on it.  Then there was a small, slim, like toy.  A bit like what they had on Star Trek but you could make phone calls, type messages to people, listen to music and even read the news on this device.

Dan smiled as it all so ridiculous that these day dreams seemed so real.  Like that time he thought he was on a plane to Barcelona.  Suddenly they had got entangled in the fog and didn’t seem to be going anywhere.  Then landing in a strange field and Dan’s mind was gone after that.

When he had arrived in Aidensfield it was dramatic as he raced through the country lanes in his bike startling the sheep.  His new sergeant, Miller didn’t take to him and thought he was too flash.  Nevertheless Dan had gained his trust when he had helped apprehend those bank robbers and gained his trust.  True he was a bit of a maverick who took chances but Dan always got the job done.

One thing was certain and that was visiting his Parents.  True they always phoned and vice versa but despite arranging trips they never came off.  That would be his new year resolution for 1970.

‘Oh blast,’ Aunt Peggy said to her nephew David.  ‘Here’s the local bobby.  Just keep quiet and let me do the talking.’

‘Morning Constable.’

Dan smiled as David shuffled nervously.  No doubt Aunt Peggy was up to some scam that would inevitably always end badly.  Nevertheless she was a alright sort who didn’t mean any harm.

‘Into the coal business?’  Dan said observing the sacks of coal in the back of her lorry.

‘Well we…’

‘David!’  Aunt Peggy screeched.  ‘Can we deliver you a bag Constable?  Much cheaper and better quality I would like to add than old Mr Woods.’

‘I’ll give it a miss thanks,’ Dan said pretending that he had not noticed the grouse that Aunt Peggy had no doubt poached from Lord Ashfordly’s estate.

There was another smirk as he watched Aunt Peggy telling off her nephew as he whizzed down to Marshes farm land to question some travellers who had taken root.

After solving and stopping an attempted train robbery Dan made his way to the Aidensfield arms.  Poor old Aunt Peggy’s latest scam of smokeless coal had ended badly with her choking out the residents and her own house.  Everybody enjoyed a little chuckle but it was all forgotten about. Besides 1970 was finally going to arrive.

‘Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!  Happy New Year!’

Suddenly there was shaking and Dan felt weird as though he was dizzy.  Violins screeched and Dan could see himself floating above the Yorkshire fields.  He could see Oscar Blaketon back in his Sergeant’s uniform, then another of him looking confused in a airfield.  Darkness and then…

‘Here’s to 1968!’

‘What?’  Dan said groggily.

‘A New Year Dan,’ smiled Nurse Maggie Walker.

‘Are you alright?’ Asked Gina.

‘But isn’t it 1970?’  Dan said confused.  He was positive it had been 1969 a few minutes back never mind 1968.

‘I think you’ve had too much to drink,’ Oscar Blaketon said roughly.

‘That bang on the head must have scrambled your senses,’ said his colleague Bellamy.

‘Let’s have a look over you,’ Doctor Merrick said as she took a confused Dan to a quiet seat in the corner.

‘But I didn’t take a bang on the head,’ protested Dan.

‘That train robber did give you a crack.’

Grimacing as Blaketon watched him sharply like a hawk, Dan was sure that he hadn’t received any blows to the head.  What was that album that the Beatles had recently released?  Grimacing poor old Dan couldn’t remember.

‘Abbey road.’

‘What are you on about?  There is no Abbey Road here,’ Said Bernie Scripps.

‘No the Beatles.  It’s their latest album.’

‘That would be Sergeant Pepper’s.’

‘Come on let’s take you home,’ Bellamy said.  ‘I’m sure he’ll be as right as rain after a good rest.’

Puzzled that it everything seemed so familiar and as though he had been in 1968 before Dan allowed Bellamy to take him home.  Maybe everything would make sense after a bit of shuteye.  Still Dan was positive that it had been 1969 and that 1970 was not now two years away.

After getting some sleep Dan woke up as he struggled to remember the name of the Beatles latest album.  ‘Yellow submarine?’  No it was a road with the fab four walking over a zebra crossing.  However the album was not there.  Everything was blurred as he remembered how happy he had been to purchase it at the local record shop in Aidensfield.  It had been Dan’s favourite album especially… Now he couldn’t even remember the song and it was frustrating him.

There was a knock at the door with Oscar Blaketon inviting himself in.

‘I hope you are a lot more better than you were last night,’ Blaketon said.  ‘A cup of tea would be nice by the way.’

‘Two sugars?’  Dan said obediently as Oscar nodded.

‘Gave us all a funny turn.’

‘I could have sworn it was meant to be 1970.’

‘Little accidents Crane, can scramble the senses.’

‘But it does seem weird,’ Dan said earnestly.  ‘I feel I don’t know as though I’ve already lived 1968.’

‘A word of advice.  Just enjoy the tranquility.  Yes these are meant to be a new age never mind a new year but there is a certainty and reassurance that Aidensfield brings.’

‘That sounds rather weird Oscar if you don’t mind me saying.’

‘Just enjoy the future.’

‘But that’s precisely that.  I feel I’m constantly in the past.’

‘It’s comforting though and little Aidensfield is in it’s own little world.  Don’t start worrying or otherwise you may regret it.’

The last bit sounded very much like a threat as Oscar now stared at him like a Mafia Don as they now chatted over little things such as Lord Ashfordly.

‘Think on what I said,’ Blaketon said as he finished his tea.  ‘Don’t spoil what it is a very cosy life by dwelling on silly nonsense otherwise you’ll end up at the Royal.’

None of this made sense for Dan as he decided to mess about with his wireless.  Suddenly amongst the crackles he could scrambled noises.  

‘There is no such thing as society!’  A female voice screeched.  Then came ‘the miners, the miners will never be defeated!’  ‘Nobody ever remembers the printers,’ came another voice.  ‘And Liverpool have won the double,’ then came some music which sounded like things can only get better then a strange American talking about making America great again, and then the Beatles broke out ‘with all you need is love.’

‘Weird,’ Dan grimaced.  He suddenly felt out of synce as though he really didn’t know where he was.  Maybe it was the New Year after all 1967 was over and now it was 1968.  ‘Again.’  He thought but then that didn’t make sense or what Oscar was warning him.  Looking at the clock, Dan decided to go for a ride on his bike and see if he could get outside of Aidensfield.  One time he had meant to ride to London to surprise his folks but somehow he ended up back in Aidensfield.  Today Dan was determined he would at least get as far as Newcastle.  

‘He seems on a mission,’ Ventress said to Blaketon.

‘Aye.  It’s a shame.  I had high hopes for that one.’

‘Oh well.  Plenty more where he came from.’

Dan kept on pushing his motorbike to breaking point.  He was already getting agitated as he now put his head down and pushed the  bike down the hill.  Everything was a blur as he now raced up another hill and then there was the feeling he was in the air as though Dan was flying.  There was a loud rip as the bike smashed through the screen of Yorkshire dales and cloud as the motorbike landed with a heavy thud in a warehouse.  Confused Dan looked around at what seemed a desolate film studio.  

It didn’t stop him riding along looking for an exit until he spied a door.  Grappling with the lock it was too stiff so Dan got a crowbar and with a loud moan forced the door open.  Dan grinned as he got back on his bike and raced out with glee.  There was a new world out there and Dan wanted to see what Oscar Blaketon was hiding.  

Whizzing out at high speed Dan raced over the gates and landed on what seemed to be reddish, orange dusty surface that seemed to go on for miles.  Slowly he saw Big Ben’s clock face or what was left of it on it’s side as it was almost buried.

‘What the hell have I done?’

‘It was then that he felt a large whack around the back of his head with everything becoming dark.

Slowly Dan came round and found himself in a car that pulled up outside St. Aiden’s hospital.  Looking puzzled and wondering why he was wearing a smart suit he opened the door to be greeted by a grinning and rather dapper elderly gentleman.

‘Welcome to Elsinby Doctor Crane,’ beamed Mr Middleditch.

‘Where I’m I?’

‘The Royal.  Yes it may not look modern for 1968 but believe me the staff and I am sure you will provide the highest quality service.’

‘But I’m from Aidensfield.’

‘You were but this you’re new life Doctor Crane.  The lovely world of the 1960s were life was much simpler and nicer.’

‘AAAAGH!’  Screamed Dan.

 

 

Citizen Cliff in “Cliffy and his magic torch”

Citizen Cliff in “Cliffy and his magic torch”

A cat meowed with the slow solemn twinkling of a piano that sounded so sad that the end of the day had arrived.

‘Night, night, Cliffy,’ His Mum said to her fifty plus son.

With the door closing the family dog Bertie threw on his guitar on and growled out a mean riff.  On cue Cliff jumped out of bed and flashed his torch on the rug which showed a big hole with Cliff and Bertie jumping down a kaleidoscope slide of multi-colours.  Speeding furiously along that Cliff could feel a draught as he had his pyjama bottoms on back to front the pair suddenly came out of a tree as they bounced on a marshmallow cloud down below.

Rubbing his backside Cliff could see a large purple rabbit and a Policeman whose feet were made of wheels.

‘Woah dude,’ the rabbit lazily said as he chewed on some grass.

‘Have you seen big foot?’  The Policeman said suspiciously who looked like a hamster.

‘I think he’s over there,’ Cliff said as two feet plunged through the clouds.

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‘No that’s big feet,’ the Hamster Policeman on wheels said.

‘It looks like a talking head to me,’ Cliff huffed as a floating head raced amongst the purple sky.

‘You certainly wouldn’t want the demon slipper from that,’ Bertie said.

Cliff shuddered.  ‘I think it would be a psycho slipper.’

With that Bertie grabbed his guitar with a sinister and heavy ‘dum, dum, dum,’ as the rabbit put his arm around Bertie as they sang ‘Psycho slipper, ou, ou, ouch!  Psycho slipper, how far, far can Cliff run away!’

‘Anyway Cliff we need your help,’ the hamster Policeman said.  ‘A dragon has been causing mayhem that Mr wibble wobble is still in a state of delirium.’

‘Delirium?  Are they a poor man’s magnum?’  Cliff chortled.  ‘Show me the way PC hamster.’

‘Follow me,’ and with that PC hamster wheeled away leaving a bemused Cliff watching as he raced into the distance.

‘Hey Mr Talking head,’ Cliff asked the floating head hovering above. ‘Where has PC Hamster gone?’

‘He’s on the road to nowhere,’

‘We all know that,’ Cliff snorted.  ‘But where has he gone?  I need to get this pesky dragon before I wake up.’

‘As I said the road to nowhere.’

‘You’re not much help,’ Cliff snapped.

‘Just follow the path amongst the clouds,’ The talking head replied.  ‘I must go as someone is burning down the house.’

And with that the talking head sped away.

‘There she was,’ the rabbit sighed.

One minute Cliff was lying in the grass and the next he was floating high up towards the cloud path.  There was no doubt about it  Bertie told him whilst a huge mushroom smiled at him in the sky.

Cliff bounced along the clouds chortling as he jumped up and bashed a cloud only to yell in pain as a ton of coins hit him on the head.

‘A penny for your thoughts Cliff?’  Bertie asked.

‘I wish I hadn’t called heads,’ he groaned.

On and on the pair went although Cliff followed Bertie’s lead as he ate the smiling multi-coloured stars as they furiously raced throughout the sky.  It seemed like they were going to catch the dragon who was now in the distance but had to scream to a halt for the traffic lights.

‘Is this red light permanent?’  Cliff asked feeling very annoyed.

‘At last,’ Cliff sighed as it went to amber and then green but as he took a step forward quickly went red with a hand stopping him to go further.

‘But you didn’t give me a chance!’  Cliff wailed.

‘We’re a slave to the traffic light,’ Bertie groaned

‘Phish,’ Was Cliff’s response.

Suddenly a red hand came out of the traffic lights and stuck two fingers up to an outraged Cliff.

‘You have to go green!’  Cliff yelled as he got himself ready to sprint as it now went to amber then green, before quickly hitting red.

After a few attempts Cliff came with a fiendish idea to get the better of the traffic light.  Whistling to himself Cliff made as though he was walking away and out of the corner of his eye spotted it was green.  Spinning around the light went red.

‘Mmm,’ Cliff thought.  This needed a crafty plan that was as a subtle as a brick on the head.

So it was that Cliff turned around and quickly sprinted as it went green holding Bertie’s paw.  Momentarily they raced through the air with Cliff landing like an overweight rugby player scoring a try.

‘Ah!’  Cliff shouted triumphantly at the furious traffic light as he landed in ecstasy on the other side.  ‘See if you can stop me now!  That’s why they call me Mr Fahrenheit!’

‘Cos we’re travelling at the speed of light,’ Cliff and Bertie sang as he banged out a few more chords.  ‘Cos we’re having a good time, having a good time, so don’t stop me now!’

Two red fingers were shown and out of nowhere it grabbed hold of three grey sullen clouds who angrily chased Cliff and Bertie through the clouds.

‘I knew you shouldn’t have had that cheesy treat,’ Cliff yelled at Bertie at the loud rumble.

‘That was the thunder cloud.’

‘Aaagh!’ Cliff screamed as a bolt of lightning scorched his backside.  ‘I’ve been thunderstruck!’

Frantically the pair raced across the clouds hurdling and jumping to avoid the lightning and now the golf sized hail balls that were flung at the pair.  Below in the distance lay the dragon with Cliff and Bertie holding their nose as they jumped into the green calm waters below.

There was a whale and a beautiful seabed as they saw a submarine stop.  After a wait two 80a submarines turned up.

‘I should have known submarines travel in pairs,’ Cliff chortled as he raced upstairs to be first to get to the periscope.

‘There’s the dragon, Cliff.’  Bertie cried.

With a ding, ding, ding of the bell the red submarine soared into the air with Cliff shouting after the dragon.  As they got closer Cliff got himself ready on the roof of the submarine and jumped off by a land called Honnah Lee.

‘I didn’t know you lived by the sea,’ Cliff cried.

‘Where else would I live?’

‘Anyhow you’ll have to stop causing mayhem…’

‘Oh thank you Cliff,’ Said the dragon’s Mum who swooped in from nowhere.  ‘You’ve managed to bring Puff home safe and sound.  You shouldn’t have strayed too far away Puff.  There are people who don’t like dragons and want to slay them.’

‘I don’t know about that,’ Cliff said scratching his head.  ‘I’ve been with a few dragons in my time and one even threw tins at me but I didn’t want to kill it.  Besides my Auntie Hilda she’s an old dragon!’

‘Oh Cliff how can I repay you?’  the dragon’s mother said.  ‘Would you like some apple crumble?’

‘With custard?’  Cliff cried excitedly.

‘Of course.’

‘Well then you can count me in!’

After a sumptuous meal and a game of snap that ended abruptly when Puff burnt the cards Cliff and Bertie made their way home.  It was a long journey back on the 80a submarine that seemed to take eighty days with Phyllis Fogg who was on the phone to someone about going to art class.  ‘Oh Percy!’  Cried Phyllis.

 

‘Alan Bradley!’  Cliff shouted as he saw a tram hurtling towards his friend across the road.

Eventually they got back to peppermint land with Cliff and Bertie getting an heroes welcome.  After getting a medal from the Mayor Spud head who had plenty of ‘kudos,’ that he managed to get an open red submarine ticker tape parade with a famous breakfast tv presenter.

As the red submarine soared and made rainbows a girl with kaleidoscope eyes turned around to the rabbit who was chewing on grass and asked who it was.

‘Oh that’s Cliffy in the sky with Anne Diamond!’

With that the multi-coloured slide smashed through the sky meaning it was time for Cliff and Bertie to go home.  Jumping down the slide Cliff screamed in terror as Bertie lapped it up by getting a surf board and racing it as though he was on a huge wave.

As usual Cliff landed on his backside as Bertie landed inch perfect by his basket.  The loud thump of Cliff hitting the deck prompted the big light to come on.

‘I hope you haven’t been playing with your torch again, boy!’  Cliff’s Dad cried.  ‘You’ll get hairy hands.’

‘Of course not,’ Cliff shouted as he rubbed his backside.

‘Well settle down then Clifford,’ His Mum.

‘At least you didn’t get the demon slipper,’ Bertie said.

‘Yeah but I always seem to end this story with a sore arse,’ Cliff grumbled.  ‘Anyhow night, night!’