Saturday, 6 June 2009

Northampton - A History Lesson

I love history. I hate history books.  I love Northampton. I hate Northampton.

I love a bit of prose, though.



Ages ago. 

Before the Reformation and even Coronation Street.

The Jews crucify a young boy.

And Northampton folk, ever thorough and fair,

Drag fifty Jews through their own thoroughfare.

Gold Street turns red as they’re drawn at horse’s tails and hanged.

I’m drawn, myself, to Gold Street 700 years later.

Though I seek biology, I’m too young for history.



Still a while for that Bet Lynch smile.

Charles Bradlaugh, MP for this borough.

He wouldn’t lie and ally to a God.

Enter party-loving Northampton folk to start the hokey-cokey

Four times in and out he went as we shook Parliament all about.

Joyce supported him.

Gandhi attended his funeral.

Dossers and drunks now accompany his statue

Forever searching and lying and trying to ally to a God.



Nineteen years to go.

A returning Stirling bomber. Crippled and circling

Enters Gold Street at 100 feet and not rising.

Wood Hill turns grey metal where it landed

Northampton’s one and only raid by one of its own.

As kids, one of the only nightclubs we could enter 

Was in Gold Street named after this bomber

How I wished a German Fokker had crashed

We’d have never got in!


I have recently felt very, very special indeed. 

Not because I know my wife loves me very much. She has to. She made a promise that I’ve so far made her keep. Not because the kids think I’m a cross between John Cena, Dog The Bounty Hunter and Oopsy Daisy. That’s obvious to anyone who knows me. It’s not even down to the fact that recently I’ve had a mini-series of lottery wins that, whilst not keeping the wolf from the door, have at least moved him on to the next little piggy.

The reason is that just over two weeks ago I found out that I was the victim of debit card fraud. Me! Steve Kerr. 3rd in the 1500 metres at the British Timken school athletics meet in 1980. Football league and cup winner with Delapre Middle School in 1981. One time bank clerk and builder and soon-to-be-baker, though never candle-stick maker. Married with three children, tall guy, likes a pint, you know him. You might not be able to put your finger to a name, but you know the face.

Someone who put all outstretched, greedy little fingers on my money was an unknown company called A grand total of $34.77, around £22, was taken by this company. Most likely in the middle of the night, from my own bank account, whilst I slept upstairs, blissfully unaware that my internet account was being raided. They were very, very quiet. It hardly instils fear into you does it? Glaxo or Total, now they’re companies not to be messed with. But Please. 
Then I realised. A small amount has been taken by an unassuming company…genius!
How many people check their debit and credit card statements like I do right now? I’m like CSi Kingsthorpe when it comes to my financial situation at the moment and I was on it in a flash.

The camera pans to me, close-up, phoning the bank at 7am. One bead of sweat slowly falls down my wrinkled forehead. I’m through…to a number that has now been changed. I redial, take two, re-apply sweat. I’m speaking to a lady who seems genuinely pleased to inform me that I have passed their security checks. I’m thinking that if security is that high on their agenda then my money would not have gone missing in the first place. I decide not to tell her this. Camera pans out. I explain the situation. She checks my account. Yes, she confirms. An amount for $34.77 has been taken from my account. I know this, I tell her. She then asks me the purpose of my call. Fast zoom in. I tell her that I have been the victim of a crime, that I want my money back, and that I want the “perps” rounded up and pistol-whipped, preferably with the shooty end. She didn’t hear the last part as I only thought that. She tells me I need to phone their Special Investigations Department. I’m impressed. They sound, well, special, and they can definitely get me my money back. 
I imagine a dark basement, lots of computers, papers flying around, people cussing the D.A. and coffee being spilled on important case files between expletives.
 She informs me that Kevin doesn’t start work until 9. Fade and cut.

Stephen Kerr received his money back within 10 working days after the Special Investigation Department intervened. A new card was issued and activity on the account has been quiet ever since, though S.I.D. are monitoring.
 This note is dedicated to Kevin and all those brave souls in S.I.D. Making your world just that bit safer. Go Kevin.