BBC Radio4 listeners will be familiar with the programme “Mark Steel’s in Town”. The infamous comedian visits a town or region in Britain and finds the funny side to local peculiarities. Mark recorded such a programme in Speech House in the Forest of Dean at the beginning of December in front of a packed audience.
Residents of Bream and Coleford were most indignant that he concentrated his talk on Cinderford, on Ruardean — which he found difficult to pronounce — and the Dean Heritage Centre. He was fascinated by “Vorrest” dialogue, expressions such as “Fern Ticket” (look it up!), long-standing Forest traditions, and VIP’s such as Dennis Potter. He felt safe enough in Speech House to ask “Who killed the bears?”, and was treated to tales from a resident who made that mistake in the old Roebuck pub in Ruardean Woodside.
At one time, wandering sheep would have featured in his talk. Now the wild boar — more precisely, the feral pigs — took centre stage. The audience was divided on its attitude toward the beasts.
If you found this post baffling, listen to the programme at 6.30 on BBC Radio4 on 14 February. All will be explained!