Going Undercover


The following should be read to the accompaniment of the Outer Limits music.

This photograph (Exhibit A), which has not, unlike the Moon landing ones, been photo-shopped or tampered with in any way or form, may come as a shock to many. As Chris Kamara once said "Unbelievable." 

I am unsure if this scene was something from a parallel universe, or a symptom of Covid. It would appear that those in the queue have won a Willy Wonky type golden ticket to be served at North East's most renowned fish and chip establishment. How else would so many people know when Verrills was open?

When the chosen few entered the premises I overheard each of them ask in turn for a fish fritter and chips. The reply was "Sorry, we don't do fish fritters any more."  Obviously this was the password and its acknowledgement. I asked myself if these people belonged to a secret society or some form of 'Closed Shop'?

I have spent many a sleepless night trying to comprehend the strange phenomenon of Verrills actually being open. Note, not one, but both doors are open. Must have been expecting a crowd ...or perhaps facilitating entrance and egress to some of their stouter customers.

After they had been served I followed two of their clientele to the Tea Gardens and watched them from afar enjoying their half-lots and their dandelion and burpdocks. As they made to leave I followed this well-sated couple but unlike most people they actually sought out a litter bin to dispose of their chip cartons and wrapping paper rather than in the traditional manner of dropping it on the pavement. Very suspicious indeed.

When they were out of sight, unbeknown to them, I retrieved their litter from the waste bin. For a moment I feared I was spotted when someone shouted 'Oi, What do you think you are doing scavenging for food from the bins?' Fortunately his friend told him that I must be from Middlesbrough and let me be.

Safe at home I rummaged through the litter which I had extracted from the bin. Imagine my surprise when I came across a sheet from a Hartlepool United Calendar. (see Exhibit B below) Nothing unusual in that unless, as I did, I made a second inspection, which was as revealing as it was shocking.

Picture of calendar page

If one looks at the penultimate line of dates from Monday 17th to Sunday the 23rd it is as one would expect. But in the final line, instead of starting with Monday 24th it starts with Monday the 28th. The 24th 25th 26th and 27th are all missing - Why? Are these the opening days?

The last line of the Calendar proceeds with: Mon 28th. (28th is actually a Friday). Tues 29th. (actually Saturday). Weds 30th. (a Sunday). Thurs 31st (Bank holiday Monday). The calendar then reverts back to norm: Fri 28th. Sat 29th. Sun 30th.

For the record I have also noticed that the clock on Saint Hilda's church tower has been stopped at 15.20 for some weeks. Is this in any way connected to Verrills' trading times? 
"I have spent many a sleepless night trying to comprehend the strange phenomenon of Verrills actually being open."

Does the picture of Micky Barron tell us anything? The DNO sponsor's logo on his shirt could be code for Do Not Open. His very greasy hair could denote that the beef dripping is prepared. His left hand is giving the thumbs up. Chippy open? The number of furrows on his forehead, five in all could mean opening at 5. However it does not specify whether it is a.m. or p.m.

This is all speculation at the moment but I am sure that we are very close to the truth. If any of our readers can provide further evidence or information, which naturally will be treated in the strictest confidence, Monkey Business will actively pursue all leads in the hope that in time we will track down those responsible for keeping Verrills' opening hours from the innocent.

Postscript: In doing my research for this article I happened to use Exhibit B, the Calendar, to check what day my son's birthday fell on: Thursday 31st of August (Actually 27th August) I read.

He was most displeased when his card arrived five days earlier on the 27th of August instead of Monday 31st. These people are truly evil and must pay for their crimes.

[Note: Our undercover correspondent put in an expenses claim to MB Towers for reimbursement for one half lot. After much consideration we declined as our correspondent claimed that they were lush and we considered that reward enough - Ed.]

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