We recently ran a local history writing competition and promised that we’d put the top three up on here for people to read. In third place was this entertaining piece by C.L. Peache. We loved the humour and the fact that it went straight to the heart of Newark’s historical past, as well as name-checking a few current pubs.
Ric and his mates thought it would be hilarious to jump over the Castle gate after a night taking in the delights of The Prince Rupert, The Ram and The Flying Circus; the fact that they were all in fancy dress just added to the hilarity. They planned to re-enact the siege of Newark Castle. Little did they know that they had chosen the wrong night to attempt this dangerous feat! Ric had received a free drink in the Prince Rupert for his costume; Pete had gained more than a few comments for his hobby horse and Ben had been delighted with his costume until someone pointed out he was dressed as a Viking!
Sniggering like children, one by one they climbed over the gate. Two locals walked by and looked at one other.
“That’s the last anyone will see of them, mush,” he shook his head sadly.
“You’re right there, mush. Shame someone turned round that ‘Strictly No Entry Tonight’ sign,” he said with a smirk as he carried on walking.
After much hilarity, which mainly involved Pete and Ric attacking Ben the Viking, they soon decided it was time for another drink. They had noticed that the gate to the Castle Undercroft was unlocked and decided it would be a great idea to finish their beers down there.
Beers finished, one by one they fell asleep.
They were woken by the sounds and smells of the Castle.
“Bloody hell, what’s that racket?” said Ric.
“No idea, but I wish they would shut up, my head’s banging,” said Pete.
“I’m already dead,” said Ben.
“They must have some kind of re-enactment event on today. Handy. Means we can slip out without being noticed,” said Ric.
“Where did all these barrels and stuff come from? I thought this place was empty when we came in here last night and it bloody stinks,” said Pete.
They all looked around, the place was full of caskets of ale and baskets of food; surely they couldn’t have missed all this lot last night, even if they were wasted on real ale.
“What the hell’s going on, how did they get all this stuff down here without us hearing and why didn’t they wake us up?” said Ric.
“Will you two shut up, I am busy dying over here,” said Ben.
“There’s something not right about this, I am going to have a look and see what’s going on,” said Ric.
He went to get his phone out of his pocket, but it had disappeared.
“I have lost my bloody phone, has anyone got theirs? I can hardly see a thing in here,” said Ric.
There was only a thin slip of light shining through the door at the top of the steps.
“Mine’s gone an’ all – they have robbed me hobby horse as well, my missus is gonna kill me, she’s had that since she was a kid.” Pete bowed his head; not only was he in trouble for staying out all night, he had lost his missus’s prized hobby horse that he had promised he wouldn’t take out!
“What about you Ben?” said Ric.
“Shut up, I’m dead,” said Ben.
“You will be in a minute, have you got your phone?” said Ric.
After a few minutes of grunting and chuntering, Ben announced, “nope.”
“We can’t have all lost our phones. Wait a minute. I can’t find my wallet or my watch either,” said Ric.
“Bloody hell, have we been robbed in the night?” said Pete.
“Wish they had taken my hangover,” said Ben.
“Shut up,” they both said in unison.
Ric climbed the steps, the only light available was from the doorway. There was a wooden gate at the top; he could have sworn it had been metal. It was locked. The noise from above had been getting louder the higher he climbed. He tried to peer out of the slits in the wood but he could only make out vague shapes. He rattled the door but no-one came.
He went back down to the others.
“This is all a bit weird. I am sure that gate was metal last night and I’ve visited the castle loads of times with the family and during music festivals and I am sure it was metal not wood,” said Ric.
“Who cares about the door, I need to find that hobby horse or I might as well not bother going home,” said Pete.
“Shut up Pete, I think something strange is happening,” said Ric.
There was a groan from behind the barrels. Ric sighed and Pete tutted.
Suddenly there was a noise from the door. Two figures descended the stairs in a pool of light. Pete and Ric ducked behind the nearest barrels, while Ben continued ‘playing dead’ behind the barrels.
“I am fed up of these soldiers, Mary. About time this war was over, idle so and so’s, lazing about all day, demanding food and drink every two minutes. I swear one of these days I am going to grab one of those pikes and teach them a sharp lesson,” said Elizabeth.
Mary cackled until she started coughing. Finally she managed to speak, “Good one, Elizabeth, about time someone ended this siege. I heard that Prince Rupert is heading our way.”
“Oh yeah? Better lock up your daughters, Mary,” said Elizabeth.
That set Mary off again, she nearly fell over with coughing.
“We better get this ale upstairs before them lazy soldiers start moaning at us. Let’s see if we can get you something for that cough, that’s turning nasty,” said Elizabeth.
They grabbed the ale and made their way back up the stone steps, Mary coughing away.
Slowly Ric and Pete made their way from behind the barrels. They were silent for a few minutes, listening to see if anyone else was descending the steps.
“Bloody hell, Ric, what the hell is going on, did you hear what they said?” said Pete.
Ric had gone very pale. “I didn’t think they stayed in character when they were out of the public eye,” he stammered.
“That wasn’t no acting, Ric, I think we have gone back in time, like that Outlander programme! Bloody hell, Ric, we have gone back to the Civil war!” said Pete.
“Don’t be daft,” said Ric, but there was no conviction in his voice.
“Did someone mention booze? Bloody hell I’m never drinking again,” Ben’s weak voice called from behind a barrel.
“Shut it,” they both said again.
They sat down and were quiet for a good few minutes; they heard louder noises from above. It sounded like an army on the march. They both got up and climbed up the stone steps to the door, suddenly it swung open.
“What you doing in my store? Bloody soldiers. Go on. Get out, they are on the march, get on and join them,” said Elizabeth.
Pete and Ric were dragged out of the door and pushed towards the departing army. Ben slept on behind the barrels, oblivious to the fate of his pals…