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©Gary Hogg 2014

The Great Amblethwaite Cap Mystery
By Gary Hogg

He was a right flamin’ fidget was Alec McGarr
And one night, his best mate Jimmy Gower
Says “For heavens sake Mac, what you doing with your cap?
You’ve been fiddling best part of an hour”

He says “Summat’s not right, see it got wet last night,
So it got hung on the fender to dry,
I must’ve been drunk, you see the caps gone and shrunk,
But the linings sort of stayed the right size”

“Time you’d a fresh’n, you’ve had that since the depression,
I can remember it once had a pattern,
It don’t owe you nowt, why don’t you splash out?
Get a new’n and chuck away that’n”

Mac says “You needn’t talk, yours is old as the hills,
I’ll only get one if you do an’ all”
Jimmy thought for a mo then said “Okay then, right-o,
There’s a cap shop next door to the Town Hall”

So the very next day they checked the display
In the window before they went in
There was felts there was tweeds ‘fact owt you might need
And yet Mac chose the same one as Jim

“That’s not a problem,” said the man serving on
“They come in all sizes and shapes,
Even blue ones and reds, now give us your heads”
Then he measured them both with a tape

“Right, seven and three quarters, that’s the one that fits you,
And yours sir, is five and seven eighths”
Mac turned round and said “You’ve got a big head!”
Jim says “What’s two flamin’ inch between mates?”

The man showed them the caps, best Donegal Tweed
And they tried ‘em and they fitted dead good
Then he wrapped them in two brown paper parcels
And they paid him and left. Like you would

Mac says “I’m excited” Jim says “I’m delighted”
So they nipped into the Swan for a dram
It was three hours later they fell out of the pub
With their parcels and went for the tram

They carried their packages up on the top deck
And sat in two seats at the back
“Can’t wait till the chaps see our spanking new caps”
“Hic, and so’s I an’ all too” said Mac

But that night when they met in the Plasterers Arms
There was neither of em wearing their hats
Mac says “Mine’s the wrong size, it fell down over me eyes”
Jim says “That’s a coincidence, that”

“Cos mine’s far to small it was no use at all,
Sat on top of me head like a bap,
I’m going back and play hell” “Aye, and I am as well,
He’ll get the sharp end of me tongue’ll that chap”

So they met the next day outside of the shop
“You know, I’m not really a complainer” said Jim
“No, I’m not an’all - and that bloke’s really tall”
So they went into the Swan for two gins

They’d a couple of quick’uns then a couple more slow
Washed down with a couple of stouts
Then a couple of beers just to keep their heads clear
Then they picked up their parcels and went out

They got to the cap shop, Mac pushed Jim in first
“I’ve a complaint!” “You’ve a what?” said the bloke
“A complaint” He says “Oh?” Jim said “Aye” He says “So?”
“It’s these caps. Were you having a joke?”

“A joke?” said the bloke “I don’t do that to folk”
“Well how d’you explain this then” Mac said
And he took out his cap from the brown paper wrap
And plonked it on top of his head

Then says “Heavens above… bugger fits like a glove,
That’s funny cos it didn’t last night”
So Mac tried his on and it fit, whereupon
They both turned as red as back lights

They apologised and left with their tails ‘tween their legs
“Summat strange happened there, don’t you think?”
Said Mac, scratching his head “I’m quite puzzled” Jim said
So they popped into the Swan for a drink

Now as true as I’m standing here telling this tale
You’ll not guess what happened that night
After Jim had his nap he went to put on his cap
And blow me but the bugger was tight

And Mac, at his place, had just washed his face
And went to put on his cap to go out
But instead of being snug it fell down over his lugs
“What the bloody hell’s going on here?” he shouts

So they’re still wearing their old caps are poor Jim and Mac
The strange phenomenon was never resolved
They’ve a theory or two, ‘spect you’ve got one too
They think a sinister force was involved

And from that day on, they’ve never drunk in the Swan
They don’t trust the landlord it’s said
They think it’s quite clear, he puts stuff in his beer
That alters the size of folks’ heads

©Gary Hogg 2001