Once upon a time there was a lawyer, a school master, a mariner, an accountant, a bookmaker, a salesman and a chiropodist. Together they ventured forth into the waters of the North Sea that lapped around the South Bay in their home town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The only thing was, they chose to dip their toes and every other part of their shivering bodies into the foaming briny during the middle of winter. Fortunately, the task was made that much easier in that they emerged from the frozen depths and plunged into a Victorian bath tub that a French Maid had thoughtfully filled with hot water.
For the final touch, a case of chilled champagne, glassware and crisp white napkins had been thoughtfully placed close at hand. In due course, the seven less than temperate eccentrics adopted the name “The Sons of Neptune” and the local press was invited along to report on the proceedings. Whilst all of this might sound like a barrel of fun, there was an underlying current – in more senses than one. Freddie Drabble, Geoff Nunn, Captain Sydney Smith, Chris Found, Cecil Ridley, Bryan Dew and Charles White, were in fact drawing attention in their own sweet way to Scarborough Town Council’s decision to pump untreated sewage directly into the North Sea.
Aside of all the high jinks and the jackass jocularity, the task in question was an extremely serious one. Apart from anything else it showed just how out of touch the authorities were with environmental developments. It was also out of kilter with the wacky ways of the Neptune’s star turn, Charles ‘Dr Rock’ White. This Dublin-born podiatrist has long been larger than life, both literally and figuratively. He broadcasts regularly on the BBC, he has written articles for the Observer and the Independent, and he’s authored books about his rock & roll heroes, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. His personal philosophy to “live life to the full ’cause this ain’t no rehearsal” sums the good doctor up better than any ham-fisted P.R. release.
Charles White is now the Neptunes’ number one son, in that he has written “The Adventures of The Sons of Neptune” which was published on August 1st. Within the book’s 310 purified pages, he tells how the group fought a 20 year battle that fundamentally changed EU laws on the dumping of toxic disease-laden sludge into our seas without proper treatment. When the establishment cut off the democratic life line, the Sons, supported by the worlds leading scientists, came up with their outrageous stunts and adopted catch phrases such as “Britannia Waives The Rules” in order to enlist the mainstream media to get their message spread world-wide.
The good news is that the Sons of Neptune’s bizarre efforts have paid off. From the days when raw human waste along with 180,000 gallons of detergent was being pumped directly into the ocean and the council treated the immediate coastline as a treatment plant on the basis that the sea would kill off bacteria, Yorkshire Water is now planning to invest more than £40 million to upgrade Scarborough’s sewage network with the aim of attaining the new EU excellent standard for bathing water off the Yorkshire Coast. To underline the point, a blue flag is already flying in the North Bay. Congratulations are therefore in order and Knighthoods cannot be ruled out. Just one question remains for the man at the helm. Does a news conscious chiropodist with a freshly-published book keep his clippings?