I don’t know where you live but here in Britain the dialects, accents vary greatly from place to place. What somebody says in one part of the country might not make any sense in another part. Here in Hull we have quite a few different words for things. A back alley is called a ten foot. If someone says to you, ” Giz a skeg?” It means ‘ Can I have a look please? ‘ In summer it’s mafting (Hot) and in winter time we say it’s nithering ( Cold) Oh…..and a bird is called a bod…
What do you think makes art…art? I haven’t got a clue to be honest. You’d probably find more culture in a yogurt than you would in me. I can appreciate the old masters but I don’t know much about the rest, apart from Banksy of course. There was that mad fella who put a dead cow in a glass case full of formaldehyde but let’s face it, if you or I would have done that and stuck it in the front window for the world to see we would have been arrested, even if we called it art. But right here in this part of the world we have a masterpiece that would make Monet or Van Gogh jealous.
In the 1960s the fishing industry here was massive, the docks were always full, ships coming and going day and night. The money flowed, pubs were full. They called the trawlermen ‘Three day millionaires’ because they’d spend the wages quickly before going back to sea.
One day the trawler ‘The Englishman’ set off with Captain ‘Tulip’ Hopper. After a day or two a pigeon landed on deck, injured and barely able to fly. Now Captain Hopper took pity on the poor birdie and took it under his wing as it were and he tended it for a while, feeding it small pieces of bread. When the bird had recovered enough he took it in a shoebox on deck with his friend Len’ Pongo’ Rood to watch it fly away. He put the box down and carefully opened it, stepped back and waited for the now fit and healthy bird to walk out, head moving up and down. At that very second the bosun of the ship appeared. Bob Skelton took one look at it and said,” What’s that?” Before the Captain could utter a word the bosun kicked the poor feathered beast and sent it flying to birdy heaven . “That,” said Pongo matter of factly ” Is a dead bod” The captain shook his head, looked at the bird killer and said unhappily,” Three weeks of shit and feathers in my cabin for that! Thanks Bob!”
Time went by and one day a very drunken ‘Pongo’ took a pot of paint and a ladder to the sheds on Alexandra Dock and his masterpiece was created, just for a laugh. Onlookers were very limited as it was only really seen by passing ships, trawlers and boats coming along the River Humber. It also gave the dockers a chuckle as they worked unloading the vessels, so more people started to hear about it.
The fishing industry here died a death in the 70s and 80s and a huge part of the docks were left to rack and ruin, so Pongo’s work of art started to rust and rot. In 2015 the powers that be decided to knock the buildings down but people across the City petitioned for the dead bod to be saved. It was taken down carefully and now sits in an art gallery in a trendy part of town, for all the world to see.
And so now it’s everywhere, from tee shirts, posters and birthday cards.
It’s very much a part of Hull and who would have thought all those years ago a drunken fisherman would leave a lasting legacy way beyond a jokey but very unfortunate bod….