Back in the merry month of May I wrote this piece on the woodland back where I grew up. I also mentioned Wanker Bill and said I’d write a piece on it. And here it is!
I wasn’t sure how widespread in Wincobank the tales of Wanker Bill were. I contacted some friends to see if they knew anything about it, alas it seems only me and my brother remember it. Even then my brother only heard of the name and that’s it. Either way, when I was a young boy in the local Scout Troop, the tales were enough to scare three lads back to the HQ during a night time game in the woods.
On reflection, I’m convinced that the WB stories were made up to scare the younger boys who joined the troop:
There was a little girl who lived on Newman Road. One day, she went to go and play in the shed in the back garden. This time, when she went in, she wasn’t alone… Huddled in the corner was a tramp who called himself “Bill”. Taking pity on the homeless squatter, the little girl would smuggle food into the shed for him.
The mum had caught onto something being a little odd and watched her daughter, so she followed her into the shed to find the tramp eating biscuits whilst wanking* in front of her daughter…
Wanker Bill is a man who walks around Wincobank Hill and Woolley Wood with his two dogs. He only walks around at night and without a torch. He lies in wait until there is someone going through the woods alone, then he sets his dogs on you. They chase you, knock you down and pin you to the ground until Wanker Bill comes along and bums** you…
So, during the years of 1993-95, young boys were telling these tales about anal rape and child molestation. No wonder these stories were enough to scare the hell out of three boys during a night time activity I was present at:
The whole troop was playing a Wide-Game, I forget which version*** although I think it was the one where the boys were split into two teams and we had to put tokens into the opposing team’s camp without getting caught. The Scout Troop loved Wide Games and would really go to town on it, some lads even buying camoflauged outfits (myself included) or even camo-face paint. Come the end of the night, the Troop Leader would blow his whistle with three long blasts, signalling the end of the game and for all of the troop to get to the meeting point we all knew. After a head count, there were three boys missing: Mr. C, Scrubber Dave and Skaven (we were cruel in our nicknaming). Troop Leader blasted his whistle two more courses between 5 mins each. We were all split into teams and anyone who had a torch was asked to use it. One team was sent off to the HQ, just in case. We searched for about 20 mins and heard the three blasts to meet back. One of the lads from the HQ team had reported back that Mr. C, Scrubber Dave and Skaven were found at the HQ.
“We saw Wanker Bill!” Scrubber Dave exclaimed.
“There was a man with two dogs, we thought it was Wanker Bill, so we ran back here after he’d walked past us…”
Everyone compared notes to what dog walkers went through the wood, there was a woman with a large dog and a man with two small terriers… But nothing like the heavy hounds of Wanker Bill.
One lad who was in the troop the same time I was, never heard of it. So I’m now thinking the stories were told in my last years at the Scout Troop, 1995-96.
With the lack of response and information, I’m beginning to think that WB was less an urban myth in the making and more a practical joke I must have mis-heard some of the boys talking about all those years ago. Or perhaps WB was the product of Scrubber Dave’s creative imagination, he did like to spin a yarn, especially when he tried to convince us all that his uncle could dodge bullets!
*Wanking: British slang for masturbation
**Bumming: British slang for anal sex, which in this case wouldn’t it make more sense for Wanker Bill to ‘wank’ on someone rather than ‘bum’ them? Not a term I normally use.
***Wide Game: a game with of the Cat and Mouse variety. In our local scout troop, they were always at night and in the woods. Sometimes it was teams in the woods having to catch other teams, or boys against leaders, there were various types.