Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
Words on WIDOWER'S (1980s)    | FOOTNOTES Page | Obituary Page |


Triad Memory Enhancer Module by Harry Turner

I was recuperating from a final eye operation, sight restored, grateful
that I lived in the 20th century and the miracle was possible, and planning
a vast scheme of reading and art projects to catch up with the enforced
neglect of the past few years, when the phone rang.

" ... doing a fifties fanthology", announces Eric** from far-off Holmes
Chapel. "How about some stuff from Now & Then - three, four pages long
plus a batch of WIDOWER'S jingles. Something redolent of the times but
not dated... not too many esoteric allusions, like..."
** [Eric Bentcliffe Ed.]
So much for my plans. How do you reprint anything from a quarter-century old fanmag without hitting obscure references? As I recall, we had to publish a "Glossary of Esoteric Names, Words & Phrases" after the first three issues of N&T to help new readers catch up then... So you'll have to leap in at the deep end. WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL PRODUCTS appeared in the mag early on. Eric Needham, my co-producer, did some bulk-buying to economise on his house-keeping, and confessed he was getting fed up with a steady diet of Batchelor's Baked Beans. After a discussion on the techniques of persuasion, Eric tried his hand at some advertising jingles for the products from an imaginary company - Widower's. I used the results as fillers in N&T, and we found readers joining in with new jingles. There was a time when we had so many jingles on our hands that we had plans to produce a WIDOWER'S CATALOGUE... And in the third issue of N&T, Eric came up with the strange story of WIDOWER'S WART REMOVER. But read on. * * * * * * * HOW STRANGE IT IS that throughout life it is the small things which have the greatest influence on us. So small a thing as a hundred gallon drum of Widower's Wart Remover brought me to a fate almost worse than death... marriage. It was in this way. Have you tried Widowers? by Harry TurnerWhen not cleaning windows I try to earn a living by pushing Widower's Products. One night at home I was demonstrating, with a number of toads, the efficiency of the Wart Remover. The prospective buyer, however, seemed more interested in the spectacle of Algy quietly absorbing a toad in the corner of the room by the Nuremberg Maiden. Imagine my surprise when he said to me, "There's no market for wartless toads at present." "Could you not create a demand for wartless toads?" I asked. "Get in on the ground floor on a revolutionary new product?" "Who wants wartless toads?" he enquired irascibly. "There was no demand at one time for Mexican Hairless Dogs," said I, thoughtfully, "Or wireless telephones, or soapless detergents, or seedless raisins." The buyer looked at the clock and rose to his feet. "I have no time to waste", he said. Sensing weakness, I pressed on. "Flameless heaters, strapless bras, tubeless tyres, or ... " "Roofless houses, bottomless bottles, wingless aircraft", he snarled, stomping out. Some days are like that. Sadly I covered up the drum of Wart Remover, and shoved it into place between the cage of Black Widow spiders and the snake venom distillery. Tossing the rest of the toads to Algy, I soothed my ruffled feelings with Artie Shaw. But still the thought persisted... wartless toads. The following day at work it occurred to me that a wartless toad would encounter supply difficulties, since toads are scarce, and when wartless resemble frogs, of which there is a world surplus. Frogs even fall out of the sky in showers of rain, according to Charles Fort. Far be it from me to contradict Charles Fort, but since I work in the open and it rains often, I have yet to see a shower of frogs descend on roof-tops and fire-escapes. Once, in Titus Livius's History of Rome, in the first chapter, I came across a reference to a shower of stones on the Capitol, which is just as well since I only read the first chapter. I asked a fellow window-cleaner, and he admit- ted that he too had never seen a frog on a fire-escape. This puzzled me immensely. Do frogs dislike fire-escapes ? No man shall ever know the cunning with which I stole a three-storey fire- escape and smuggled it home unnoticed, all in the spirit of pure scientific research. Or how in a single night I erected it, single-handed, but I am essentially modest. On a rainy day, I borrowed a ten-ton lorry, drove into the Cheshire swamplands and gathered ten tons of frogs, determined to find out why frogs never seem to be found on fire escapes. It was appalling. The carnage was indescribable. Ton after ton of frogs I carried upstairs in a large bucket. One by one I placed them on the top of the fire-escape outside my window. One by one they hopped off and fell down, down, down on to the jagged rocks and cruel crawling foam below. After seven tons of frogs had been swept away by the outgoing tide, I called a halt to the senseless suicidal urge. Wearily, I scooped up Algy in the bucket, carried him downstairs and poured him evenly over the remaining three tons of frogs, and left him to deal with them. Swearing horribly, I pored through Freud, Brill, Kraft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis, Jung, Hubbard, and Edgar Wallace to find some cause for this insane spate of batrachian self- destruction. Even the sale of the fire-escape at a fabulous profit did not lighten my mood. How, in the name of Noshabkeming or all the devils of the Seven Purple Hells of Palain could I get into the mind of a frog without a Lens? Inspiration - Scientology! Perhaps one form of insanity could explain another, I mused. Did some phantom fire-escape in some previous incarnation haunt these hag-ridden frogs? So Ole Faithful came out of its cabinet, and was modified into an Electropsychrometer. It may not be on the same lines as Hubbard's, but the results are pretty much the same. Using the existing line time-base, I added modulators to the frame time-base, and pumped in respiratory waveforms, brain alpha-, beta-, and xi-rhythm waveforms, cardiac waveforms, and amplitude control dependent on electrical conductivity of the skin of the frog. The resulting composite waveform was murderous, and matched my mood at having to do this to a perfectly good television set. Still, the lust to know overcame my desire to see Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Connie Mackenzie. Three weeks and five frogs later, I had probed back 637 trillion years without result. In despair, I lightly took the motor-bike and gat me to Romiley to see Harry.
To Romiley by Motorbike by Harry Turner
He was sitting at the window, proudly gazing at the new mangrove swamp which, at great expense, he had imported from Belfast and installed in his back garden. Seeing my frown he tucked the hibiscus blossom he held behind one ear and raised his eyebrows. Accustomed by now to Harry's decorating schemes, I praised it. He does look sweet with hibiscus blossom behind one ear... But, as ever, he drove straight to the heart of the problem. "I seriously doubt", said he, "if there were any fire-escapes 637 trillion years ago." So I sadly took the motor-bike and gat me hence. An Experiment with Time offered me a clue. Did the fear of fire-escapes exist in the future? I asked Madam Clara in her Oldham Street salon how to determine the future but she, being a palmist and clairvoyante, could offer no help, though she did give me the address of a horoscope manufacturer. But here, as always, there was a snag. When is a frog born? As frogspawn? Tadpole? Or when it loses its tail and becomes a true frog? So, to be certain, I had a horoscope cast for a frog of each sex at each stage in its development. If any of these six remarkable horoscopes comes true, there is a surprising future in Algy. I banged my head against the wall, and went to see Harry again. Ploughing through the dense bougainvillea which festooned No. 10's entrance, I gained access to the mangrove swamp. And lo! there was Harry in an attitude of intense thought contemplating the largest frog I ever saw. It was a beauty... 3 feet high, 2 feet thick, and 4 feet deep. Two hours solid bargaining with Harry, the exchange of 7 shillings and sixpence, and a two-ton truck brought the Frog home. Rejoicing at this find, I made room for the Frog in the living-room by tipping the Black Widow spiders into the snake venom, and poured the lot into the Nuremberg Maiden, and shovelled Algy in on top. The cage went into the sea, and then I brought the Frog in. And I got the shock of my life when the Frog sat in my armchair, looked at me, and said: "You must kiss me". Numbly, I answered, "Kiss you? Kiss you? Kiss you?" "I am really a Princess", said the Frog, "and if you would wed a fair princess, all you must do is kiss me and restore me to my true shape and form". Fishing in one of its ankle socks, it handed me a book of instructions. The instructions were plain enough, but my eye caught a revealing phrase in tiny print - "This princess is not transferable".
The Frog Kiss by Harry Turner
Suspicion deepening, I dragged the tipsy Algy out of the Nuremberg maiden and arranged him around the Frog in a circle. Algy shoved out several eyes and watched with interest. I took a deep breath and kissed the goggle-eyed horror, stepped back and opened one eye, and regarded the transformed apparition, vaguely aware that Algy was deserting me by oozing under the skirting board. Alone with the princess, I retreated behind the snake venom distillery. "Am I not still desirable?" it said, raising skinny arms in an attempt to to embrace me. Clutching the Wart Remover drum and gasping for breath, I asked: "How long have you been a frog?" "Six hundred years, good sir", she said, still advancing... * * * * * * * Selection of WIDOWERS jingles Socrates died by his own hand. Imagine what this means... A whole life wasted - he never tasted WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL BEANS In winter, Apollo's chariot Needs no starter handle to crank it. Engine Frozen? You should have chosen A WIDOWER'S ELECTRICAL BLANKET Where Florence Nightingale kept her lamp Is a source of many rumours. She had it concealed, it's now revealed In her WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL BLOOMERS Lucifer fell from heavenly grace And landed in the gutter. What caused his slide was not his pride but WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL BUTTER A poltergeist, when moving things, Can often cause disasters. Furniture moves smooth and sure on WIDOWER'S GLIDING CASTORS Lewis Mumford's most excellent thesis Of buildings baroque & rococo Was initiated, and then stimulated By WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL COCOA We read of the Battle of Bunker Hill, In first form history lessons. Why did they run? It wasn't for fun, but for WIDOWER'S COFFEE ESSENCE Since Jael murdered Sicera All righteous men despise her. Girls, keep your glamour: don't use a hammer Get a WIDOWER'S EUTHANIZER Pluto muttered in Stygian gloom: "It's too dark to distinguish a Thing in Hades, since Charon displayed his WIDOWER'S FIRE EXTINGUISHER Nero was a frolicsome lad, With many a whimsical, sly caper. His favourite jest was to seat his guest On a WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL FLYPAPER Achilles girded up his loins, And nothing seems as absurd as This curious fact – he achieved this act With WIDOWER'S H-SECTION GIRDERS Lenin's October Revolution grew To a torrent from a trickle. In collective farms he praised the charms of a WIDOWER'S HAMMER AND SICKLE Capone ended up in Alcatraz The worst Chicago Mobster. His life of crime left him no time for WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL LOBSTER Picasso's weird and outré shapes Appeal to those neurotics Who genuflect and then inject WIDOWER'S NARCOTICS The most intimate article of lingerie Won't cause a moment's unease if You secure your scanties, your briefs or your panties With WIDOWER'S PATENT ADHESIVE As Salome shed her seven veils With Herod as an audience They beheaded John to the Sound of one of WIDOWER'S PIANO ACCORDIANS Diogenese lived inside his tub, The lovable old sceptic, This brilliant Cynic kept it hygienic with WIDOWER'S PINE ANTISEPTIC The early demure Victorian maid Was shocked by intimate waltzes, So each young charmer wore as armour WIDOWER'S PNEUMATIC FALSIES The Mona Lisa's secret smile Which hints of gay adventures Could be more daring if she were wearing WIDOWER'S PORCELAIN DENTURES To shoot an apple from his small son's head Tell used an accurate, true barb... Descendants flourishing, reared on nourishing WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL RHUBARB The water supplies of Ancient Greece Were affected by pollution. A certain cure for a leaking sewer is WIDOWER'S RUBBER SOLUTION Elderly maids who blush deep red At the mention of phallic symbols Display no shame when they acclaim WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL THIMBLES Elizabeth the Virgin Queen Was chaste to the end of her days. Although they hurt you, keep your virtue with WIDOWER'S WHALEBONE STAYS (All the above by Eric Needham) Copywriter Chuck Harris: Godiva ran not the slightest risk In cantering out in her pelt... She was in fact a virgo intacta With a WIDOWER'S CHASTITY BELT Salome's dancing and demands Caused John's decapitation. "Was Herod entranced because she danced Without her WIDOWER'S COMBINATIONS? Copywriter Archie Mercer: In Xanadu built Kublai Khan A pleasure dome for his workers ... An illuminated, prefabricated WIDOWER'S TRAVELLING CIRCUS The peak of Everest was reached By Hillary and Tensing, Who staked a claim and surrounded same With WIDOWER'S PORTABLE FENCING Leda cuddled the Jovian Swan, An unprecedented thing. But she got a bit more than she'd bargained for - A WIDOWER'S CYGNET RING King Canute defied the sea, But couldn't stop it flooding. He should have made a barricade of WIDOWER'S XMAS PUDDING If you've sensations of' U-radiations In almost unbearable dosages, We're safe in assuming you've been consuming WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL SAUSAGES The Receivers ought to ask a court (Whether High, Beth Din or Consistory) To pin-point the brains behind those quatrains And solve WIDOWER'S FINAL MYSTERY.
(Archie Mercer's response to a request in 1996 for clarification of authorship – his verses [no] or Eric Needham's [yes])
Copywriter Robert Bloch: The Boy stood on the Burning Deck: That fire it was a wow, sirs! Yet he could, without doubt, have With WIDOWER'S ASBESTOS TROUSERS Moses climbed up Mount Sinai For ten tablets to cure mankind's ills; But when internal growls distress your bowels Buy WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL PILLS When viewing the wringers of washing machines, Ample-bosomed young women show fears; But if you've a full bust, then just put your trust In WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL BRASSIERES When the Serpent caused Adam and Eve to fall (Was it python, asp or viper?) They had to leave Eden and shortly were needin' WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL DIAPERS Copywriter Pat Darrell: Archimedes said: "I'll move the Earth!" The limit of his science. You can do the job for twenty-five bob With a WIDOWER'S LIFTING APPLIANCE Hercules cleaned out the Augean Stables, A problem that seemed a poser. To clean out your byre, you now can hire A WIDOWER'S WONDERFUL BULLDOZER The Scarlet Pimpernel came and went Like a French Revolution drea. Why his success ? Cannot you guess ? WIDOWER'S VANISHING CREAM ! Finale, by Eric... Perhaps your child has his mother's eyes But appearances can be deceptive. Undoubted maternity, but as for paternity WIDOWER'S are unable to offer any assistance!


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