Doesn’t time fly when a life-size Victorian ventriloquist dummy becomes your lodger?

Typical, isn’t it? Everything’s rolling along nicely, you’re reading; writing about what you’re reading; you’re four books into a forty-five book blog series and it’s all going swimmingly and then you turn round and three months have disappeared. A quarter of a year, flown by without you even considering writing an entry on the blog.

In fairness, I have been extremely busy in the day job (which is, weirdly enough, making custom leather-bound books for other people to write in!).

But the main thing which has been keeping me busy is . . . errr, how do I put this?

Well, for my birthday last year my wife presented me with a large box with a head in it. This is what greeted me when I opened it:


This is a life-sized, Victorian/Edwardian, fully working ventriloquist dummy head of a character called Ally Sloper. Naturally, we couldn’t let this old gent live out the rest of his days as a head so we set to building him a body.

And we now have a 6′ 6″ Whitechapel born, ne’er-do-well living in the house. He’s over there now, in the corner, watching me write this. Just look at him sitting there!


The problem is that Sloper was hugely (in)famous in his day. Massively popular for fifty years or so, he even had his own top-selling weekly comic journal entitled Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday. Now though, he’s faded into obscurity and no one has heard of him. So, he’s set out to rectify that by starting his own blog  and the fact that I’ve been helping him out with that has meant that I’ve been neglecting my own work here at When Churchyards Yawn.

I do have a sneaky suspicion that, in the great tradition of Maxwell and Hugo from ‘Dead of Night’ and Corky and Fats from ‘Magic’, I’m sure the old sod Sloper is trying to take over.

This post is definitely going in the Oddities & Ephemera category!

Anyway, click on this link or the picture and it will take you to Sloper’s very own blog:


4 thoughts on “Doesn’t time fly when a life-size Victorian ventriloquist dummy becomes your lodger?

      1. Nicely spotted, Nancy. Yes, it’s generally thought that Fields was very much influenced by Sloper and, of course, Fields played Mr. Micawber in the 1935 adaptation of David Copperfield. It’s also thought that Sloper’s creator may have been influenced by Dickens’ original portayal of Mr. Micawber in his novel. It’s a right old tangled web of Cockney goodness and no mistake.


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