A Nottingham Lad’s True Tale of Woe – Part 12 – Billy Smart’s Escaped Effalent!

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Inchcocks, True Tales of Woe. Of utter failure, depression, frustration, and abject poverty. This episode relates a rather more frightening episode of his early experiences than the usual. He tells me he can still smell the aroma the emitted from the elephant when he opened his bedroom window, stuck out his head to find out what all noise and kerfuffle was, and found his head about five foot away from the elephants! This is no bull, records at the Evening Post will prove this, and Georges Stables were also used for the storing animals in advance of the Billy Smarts Circus coming to Nottingham

Now Inchcock will now take over, and tell his tale…

George’s horse stables were underneath the railway viaduct that supported Arkwright St Station, were at the end of our terrace of houses.

Under the arches, was where the big cats were quartered, and the actual stables were used to my knowledge over the years to pen, elephants, rhinos, horses, snakes, ponies and zebras.

As I lay in bed that fateful night, I was aroused by an indescribable noise, as I struggled to find the matches to light the candle, Dad came rushing into the room, and dragged me out, nearly knocking me out as he bashed my head against doorframe, rushed downstairs, stuffed me under the sink and shouted “Stay under there until I tell yer to move!”

He disappeared, and I knew something was amiss (I’ve always been sensitive to these things you know).

But curiosity got the better of me, and I sneaked back upstairs, and stuck my head out of the window in an effort to find out what all the commotion was… and found my head about 5ft away from an elephants head that was coming towards me!

Within about 15 seconds I was back under the sink! I can still remember the smell of that elephant!

Anyway, it transpires that the elephant was a young one that was missing his mater, so he bashed down the stable doors, walked up and down our terrace, then up Brookfield place, on the way head butting in Mrs Wing’s front door, then overturning a blokes Morgan sports car on Derwent Street, then bending a lamppost, then walked up to the Willoughby Street bridge and lifted a man up and put him on the bridge (severely injuring him in the process), turned back into Derwent Street, and charged into mothers illegal bookies house front window, wedging himself firmly in that position! Whaling noises, and crumbling bricks indicated he was not happy being stuck where he was. Boy did he kick up a verbal commotion!

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The Cricketers Rest – Where the night-watchman was well sozzled!

Billy Smart’s watchman who was supposed to be looking after the animals in the stables, was apparently in the Cricketers Rest, well sozzled!

The police fetched Mr Widdowson a man who lived on Kirkewhite Street to the scene. Mr Widdowson had worked with elephants during the war in India. Apparently he had been used before to help the police with escaped elephants, but I can only recall this one such event personally.

At this time, I had sneaked out from under the sink to have a proper look, and saw Mr Widdowson with the armed police officers.

Mr Widdowson took a quick look at it, and he said loudly over the nose of the beast; “Shoot it, it’s African” So he went with the marksmen, down the alley to the back of the house, and they broke in and he told them where to shoot it for optimum results.

Then the occupants of the house appeared from upstairs, totally oblivious of what had happened until the gun shots awoke them! (Talk about heavy sleepers?)

It seems that a neighbour saw me at the window earlier, so I got a further taste of the belt buckle and leather for disobeying daddy again by leaving the relative safety of under the sink!

Ah well…!

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