The Legends of Wanker Bill (aka ‘The Stuff Young Boys Come Up With’

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!

Woolley Wood, the haunt of Wanker Bill?
Woolley Wood, the haunt of Wanker Bill?

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:

Tale 1:
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…

Tale 2:
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.

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All Good Things…

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That NEEDS a wash, Mister!

It’s Monday, 3rd of August and I am lying on my bed.  Absolutely stuffed after being to an All You Can Eat buffet with my Parental and Brotherly Units.  This morning, my body still felt the events of Pagan Pride 2015: a tiredness from being awake from 5am to be on site for helping set up.  Hips, knees and ankles aching from running around checking my venues throughout the event (not to mention legging it at the parade to find it was much longer than before), my voice; hoarse from yelling to keep the parade spirit up with jeering.  These are not complaints… They are badges of honour!

I’ve been with Pagan Pride UK since it’s inception back in 2008.  2009 saw it as a picnic in Nottingham.  2010 saw it’s first festival complete with fundraisers (PP has been and is a non-profit organisation, it relies on donations from the fundraisers and people to make it happen.).  It has been getting bigger and bigger each year.  Always on the first Sunday of August, come Sun and rain!  Hey, it’s an outdoor festival, you’ll experience Nature in ALL of her glory! 😁

If you’ve never been, it’s a free festival that starts with a parade from Nottingham City centre which leads up to the Arboretum where an opening ceremony takes place. It has stalls, food vendors (never seems to be enough), there are bands, dancers (Belly Dancing and Border Morris), story tellers, speakers and workshops.

And it’s been my job to sort out the last three, for 6 years.

I have learned much about festival organisation and about how much to inform the potential speakers, or how to politely refuse any speakers if they aren’t suitable (“That’s a great talk but has nothing to do with Paganism…“)

I have learned that negotiation is a great tool.  And if something is just impractical to work out, then refusal is the last option.

Patience is a virtue… Only in the world of books.  There have been times I’ve yelled out in frustration (“Whaddya mean they fucking cancelled!?”) or wanted to throw my smartphone across the room (“But I already told you about THAT!”). Alright! I’m parodying myself a lot here, this doesn’t apply to any specific person except me.

Ok, shit happens. Deal with it.

It’s all been worth it though.  If someone wanted to be at a different time slot, ask others if they are willing to help before refusing, you’ll be surprised at Human Kindness!  Fulfilling requirements to help someone’s disability or anxiety issues and they deliver a talk with a big audience, priceless!   If a workshop leader cancels, leaving you with an empty slot, call on your backups… In fact, ALWAYS have backups!

And remember your team on the day! Advise them, tell them everything they need to know.  Treat them like people and don’t assume they can read your mind.  Help them to help you! Luckily, I worked this one out really early.

Chat, laugh, take no shit (like the guy with the boom box who me and a big marshal escorted off the premises, when he called me a ‘fucking fascist’, I glibly replied with “I’ve been called worse.” Step in when you need to (“You have 5 mins to wrap up!”)

When I check that all the speaker zones are running well and folks are good, that’s when I know that all those late night emails, material checking, insurance evidence asking, experience checking, problem spotting, information chasing has been worth it.
I’ve truly enjoyed my service for Goddess and Country and have met many wonderful people during the past festivals, a lot of whom I can call friends*.  I sincerely wish the rest of the PP team the best of luck for next year as I have been part of that team and know what effort it takes to get each festival underway. And no, it isn’t easy.

Well, it’s time for me to step down and let fresh blood take my role of Performance Manager.  This year has actually been a struggle for me to balance this, my full time job (with two reassigned locations this year) and focusing on my performing.  I can now hang up my purple shirt as I won’t be at PP2016 in an official capacity.  I’ll be there to help set up on the day, but that’s it for now.  I can definitely say that I’ve ended on a high, that I AM PAGAN AND I AM PROUD!

If you’d like to know more about Pagan Pride UK, or get in contact, visit the site: http://www.paganpride.org.uk

*And to those random people who snuck me sneaky drinks of Hobgoblin from a horn, or mead in a plastic bottle, ta very much!