Anorak News | Old Cock And Bull

Old Cock And Bull

by | 9th, September 2003

‘IT was one of the great remaining mysteries of the 20th Century – what on earth happened to heavy drinking Lancashire folk singer Barry Halpin?

At home in St Helens

A well-known character in the pubs and clubs of north-west England who always addressed friends as ‘old cock’, Barry disappeared from view in the mid-1970s.

But thanks to a new book by former Scotland Yard detective Duncan MacLoughlin, we (and the rest of the world) now know that Barry drank himself to death in Goa, southern India, in 1996.

All well and good, except that Mr MacLoughlin had set out to solve another of the great mysteries of the 20th Century – what happened to disgraced peer Lord Lucan?

Mr MacLoughlin’s extensive investigations – chatting to a couple of old blokes in a pub – had led him to suggest that Richard Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, and Jungle Barry were one and the same person.

But this morning the papers are queuing up to debunk the theory, even before the book Dead Lucky has hit the shelves.

In a letter to the Guardian, folk singer and comedian Mike Harding said he had cried with laughter when he first read the suggestion.

‘To think that anyone could mistake my old pal Barry Halpin for Lord Lucan,’ he said.

The Telegraph says Barry Halpin’s death was reported in his local paper, the St Helens Reporter, as the ‘dearly loved brother of Rita and Mildred’.

And it finds plenty of people in St Helens who remember the ‘somewhat unconventional teacher who always walked the two miles to work’.

So, what do the book’s authors and publishers make of all this?

They are sticking by their story, claiming that Lord Lucan took on the banjo-playing teacher’s identity.

‘We have always said that Lord Lucan did take on an alias,’ Mr MacLoughlin (who resigned from Scotland Yard after being suspended) tells the Telegraph.

‘I would like to think I am a professional investigator. I wouldn’t have got involved in this if I thought it was a sham.’

Mr MacLoughlin is now working to solve another of the great modern riddles – whatever did happen to Ian Minnis, the landlord of Flashman’s pub in Halifax?’

Posted: 9th, September 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink