Fears were growing tonight that a mystery virus which has struck down two people in the Saddleworth area could cause the cancellation of this years Whit Friday Brass Band Contest due to be held on the 1st June. The world famous contest which is traditionally held in the villages of Saddleworth every Whit Friday draws thousands of visitors from all over Britain to see this local event that has been a feature of the area for well over 125 years. The area draws brass bands from all over Northern England, who compete at each of the villages contests throughout the day and into the night, for prizes in excess of £50.
But now health chiefs in Oldham have warned that thousands visiting the area may just catch the bug and infect people in other parts of Britain on there return home. Local health chief, Bob Cowheel, told us "Early tests show it appears to be the E-Bygum virus, which is local to this area".
"E-Bygum is most likely to be caught from eating foodstuffs not originating in the local area. You have to remember that local folk around here tend to live off the foodstuffs they have had since they were children. Its a very insular community, with many people never leaving the area, at any time in their lives, although there is a local folk tale of one resident actually going as far as Stalybridge. They stick to the local area and just eat local produce. Things like Black Puddings, Tripe, Savoury Ducks, Pigs Trotters, Polony, Haslet and Brawn, are classed as a staple diet.
However. Locals are of the opinion that the virus has arrived in the area due to the selling of "foreign food" within the community, and have sited a branch of Spar in Diggle as the prime suspect. In a bid to save the contest, members of the band committee and volunteers have put up road blocks and are checking cars for anyone bringing "Foreign Food" into the area.
The chairman of the bands committee, Ezra Mantletop, 85, told us "Anyone found with goods deemed as not local, are politely asked to leave them in the bins at the checkpoints. It's a pity we have to go upsetting people by asking them to throw away their jars of Bhuna sauce and packets of Taco mix, but we cant take the risk of the E-Bygum virus getting out of Saddleworth, and infecting the rest of the country. The cultural damage could be incalculable. Can you imagine in a few months that residents in Chipping Norton could well be trying Tripe and pigs feet. ? The very culture of local Britain is at stake here.
Local resident Doris Bonkers, 79, told us she was recovering from the virus almost a week after admitting purchasing some "Foreign Food" from the Spar shop in Diggle. She went on to say " Normally myself and my friend Jessica go shopping at the Cooperative (Good with Food) in Uppermill, but on this particular day my friend had pain from an ongoing leg ailment, so we went to the local shop nearby. I purchased a black pudding, a loaf of bread, and was hoping to buy two slices of Haslet for my husbands (Jack) evening meal.
The shopkeeper informed me they didn't have any in the shop, but he did have a cooked meat called Salami which he invited me to try. I must admit that I was a little reluctant to try this strange looking item, so I asked for a piece of best tripe or maybe a pig's trotter, but sadly he had neither.
I purchased some of the Salami, and served it to my husband (Jack). I must say that he was less than impressed with my purchase and told me that "He wouldn't be eating that foreign shite", and could I replace it with a slice of corned beef. Well. The Salami had to be eaten, so I invited Jessica around for tea, and we had the Salami with a salad garnish, a slice of farmhouse bread and a pot of tea.
The following morning I felt quite unwell. I had stomach pains and diarrhoea, and I felt really quite ill. I telephoned Jessica to inform her of my ailment, only to find that she was in a worse condition than me, with both sickness and diarrhoea.
I don't think I shall be purchasing foreign food again, as I don't think it agrees with me.