Wednesday, September 30, 2015

People who never lived in Harborough: 1. Graham Chapman

Game Show Host: Good evening and welcome to Stake Your Claim. First this evening we have Mr Norman Voles of Gravesend who claims he wrote all Shakespeare's works. Mr Voles, I understand you claim that you wrote all those plays normally attributed to Shakespeare? 
Voles: That is correct. I wrote all his plays and my wife and I wrote his sonnets. 
Host: Mr Voles, these plays are known to have been performed in the early 17th century. How old are you, Mr Voles? 
Voles: 43. 
Host: Well, how is it possible for you to have written plays performed over 300 years before you were born? 
Voles: Ah well. This is where my claim falls to the ground. 
Host: Ah! 
Voles: There's no possible way of answering that argument, I'm afraid. I was only hoping you would not make that particular point, but I can see you're more than a match for me!

Graham Chapman never lived in Market Harborough, so there will not be a plaque in his honour put up here.

The reason this story came to be published is a moral tale about, not just the credulity of this blogger, but also the limitations of local newspapers.

There is going to be a plaque on Catherwood House on The Square, the home of Caffe Nero. But it will be in honour of the town's Nobel Prize winner William Bragg.

The local council announced the news on its website and included a mocked up image of what it will look like. They used a picture of the existing plaque to Chapman in Melton Mowbray.

Someone at the Harborough Mail saw it and assumed that Chapman had once lived here.

These days the Mail is edited from Kettering or Daventry or somewhere even further afield. The days when it had an editor who knew everyone in town and could check a story like this with one phonce call are long past.

My own excuse was that I knew Chapman's father had been a police office and had lived at various places across the county.

And, years ago, I was interviewed on BBC Radio Leicester about comedy writing. At one point the interviewer mentioned that Graham Chapman had come from Market Harborough.

I thought he meant Melton, but I was too polite to contradict him and he did plant the seed of the idea in my mind.

That, and it was a nice sunny day so I thought I would go and photograph Catherwood House and use it in a blog post.

Thanks for various local tweeters.

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