YORK businessman Dr Norman Slater wondered what he had done to deserve being berated by a passenger on a Swedish train.

Dr Slater, managing director of Aurora Conservatories in Naburn, was travelling from Copenhagen Airport to its final Swedish terminus in Helsingborg.

He was about to seal an export contract with a Swedish company but was uncertain exactly where it was located.

So, safe in the knowledge that Scandinavians tended to be totally bilingual, he asked the passenger next to him. The rosy-cheeked Swede instantly looked him in the eye and declared: "Bastard!"

"I was really taken aback. Up until then everything I'd heard about jolly Swedish hospitality was true. So why had this complete stranger questioned my parentage?" he asked.

But being British, Mr Slater was not going to take insults from any foreigner lying down.

"No need to be rude. I was only asking," he retorted. To which his ruddy-faced adversary replied. "No, that is where it is located. Bastad. Which is a little bit outside Helsingborg."

Dr Slater's overview: "I felt like a silly Bastad."

LAST week we ran an appeal from Eve Sadler in Australia, who was trying to find out the history of the York Minster Fiddler. Why? Because she has an old door knocker with a fiddler on the front from the great cathedral.

This prompted quite a tale from Brian Oxberry, once of York and now a Scarborough resident.

He once wrote a song called The Stone Fiddler for his group The Foresters, inspired by the life of a former Archbishop of York, Lancelot Blackburne.

Legend has it that a young Lancelot stole a fiddle from Oxford University and ran away to make his fortune playing it.

A musical career proved fruitless, however, and he joined the merchant navy and later, legend has it, became a pirate.

Then he returned to England and took up a series of church posts, rising to become Archbishop between 1724 and 1743. It is said that he had a carved fiddler added to the Minster.

This ties in with an observation from Janet Ponsford, a York Minster guide. "The Fiddler is on the wall of the South Quire Aisle of the Minster, and apparently has been there since 1946," she told the Diary. "It was originally outside on the faade of the South Transept and is quite weatherworn.

"Not sure about the 'door-knocker' or Australia connection though!"

Minster guide John Robson and colleague David Kempley both know the Archbishop Blackburne story, and they add two extra pieces of information. Firstly, the Archbishop died of extreme cold and is buried in St Margaret's Church, Westminster.

Secondly, if you are keen to see the Fiddler, find the model of the SS Vale of Pickering in the Minster and look almost opposite, and fairly high up.

AFTER our very own ode to the Stonebow, a reader has come over all poetic about the unlikely subject of York bins. This is called Peel Of Doom, and it is by John Hocking, of Albemarle Road, York.

Abandon hope, call out the Guard,

I dropped a potato peel in the yard.

And in an act of eco sin,

I threw it in the compost bin.

But worse is to come, let me get to the point,

I'd left the potato by the Sunday joint!

What retribution will now come my way

From the mouth of a vengeful Galloway,

As a million tons of composted green waste

Is contaminated through my throughtless haste?

Updated: 09:00 Tuesday, October 18, 2005