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Wednesday, 9 December 2015




My Star of Gold
 

To make an issue, and get excited about what at first seems unexplainable without ever thinking through what could be the cause of certain events that happen to you in this world we live in, is perhaps what many would describe as a ‘gut reaction’ that has, when thought through, more than likely a very simple explanation.
 

The majority of things are reasonably rational in this world, but some things are not. Many is the time that I have wondered and pondered an explanation to some of the events that have happened to me in my life. The incident I am recalling I will just tell you what happened, it’s then up to you to draw your own conclusions. If you have an explanation that to you may be obvious, I would very much like to hear what you have to say.

I can remember back to a time far beyond my reason to remember. A time when I hadn’t realised the meaning to anything that life had to offer, perhaps four or five years old. My elder sister usually had charge of me, and this was a time that was just that, a sunny afternoon spent whiling away the balmy hours in the tall grass verge opposite our home.

I seem to remember boundaries to my world, the apple orchard at the top of our road in those days being one of them, we never ventured further than the last house on our street, about ten houses up, the farm houses in the distance looked miles away to me. Then there were fields of cabbages or brussel-sprouts or some such vegetables growing in vast quantities. That was a boundary, no further. Across the road in front of our house was another boundary; there were more fields and another orchard full of trees with a fence around it that my small frame could just about squeeze under. I remember sitting on the grass verge in front of that fence opposite our house with sis’ one day making daisy chains in the summer sunshine, it was a time when mischief was not one of my pastimes, that, without doubt, came later. I was quite content to just sit there in the clumps of grass that bordered the field.

Down the road, that was never used by vehicles in those days, just tractors and farm lorries, I never thought it went anywhere, it exceeded my boundary, no cars went past our house, you had to be rich to own a car and there wasn’t many rich folks round our way, so our road was pretty quiet all things considered.

That afternoon all those years ago, I heard the distinctive sound of horse’s hoofs coming up the road, even way back then there was an enquiring mind developing underneath a mop of blond hair that I had, when it turned a dirty brownish colour I can’t remember, but it was definitely blond, there are photographs to prove it.

Anyway, up I jump to see this large white horse; there again it could have been grey, but I like to remember it as white, it was coming towards sis and me.

You have to understand I was only about three foot nothing, this huge animal snorting and puffing down at me I remember was quite frightening, and ever since I have had an unhealthy fear of them and they seem to know this, so I usually give them a wide birth, but I do admire their muscular structure, so long as there is space for me to run if need be.

Sitting astride this animal was a beautiful young woman with a grey shawl around her shoulders, as the years have passed my mind has probably exaggerated her beauty, but to me then as she looked down at me from that great height, the sun behind her gave a halo of light all around her as she sat there, and I immediately had the vision of an angel. I knew about angels you see from my Sunday school teacher, and the pictures she had shown us as we listened to her stories each Sunday afternoon was just like this lady that was looking at me and smiling. 

The way she looked at me with glassy eyes, bending over to reach down to me from her elevated position astride this magnificent animal. I think of her face now as serene, the sun behind casting her face in shade but illuminating her dark brown hair around her head, small as I was, I remember being transfixed and holding my hands out to her but not quite reaching, the desire to just touch this angel so great. She held my gaze and didn’t say a word.

I turned away from her with reluctance and found myself walking over to the fire buckets that hung on the fence on big iron hooks bordering the field, by the side was a standpipe put there during the last war. The red buckets were empty, full of dust from many years of neglect. Even then in days gone past it gave me great joy to find a stick from somewhere and clout each one of these buckets kicking up a din that would annoy everyone within earshot.  Reaching up to one of them I managed to lift it off its hook and carried it over to the standpipe. I had to wash it out getting quite wet in the process, the water splashed up and out of the top because the pressure was very fierce and for a little toddler such as I was difficult to control, I managed to get some water in the bucket and with a great deal of effort, both hands holding the handle, struggled back to her as the metal rim bumped against my knees. With relief I put the bucket of water where the horse could drink it, and once again this lovely lady stretched out her hand to me. Strangely, I found I could quite easily reach out and hold it this time not even having to stand on tiptoe. I couldn’t feel anything though, just a kind of warm soft delicate touch, it reminded me of the floating dandelion seed heads that I tried to catch in the late summer breeze as they floated above my head, jumping up to catch them they would hop out of the way as I closed my hands around them.  

I watched a bracelet full of charms fall down around her wrist and I remember staring at them, some of them glinted and caught the sunshine as if they were on fire. Each one was different from the other; there was a horseshoe, a heart, what looked like a purse and a star that I seemed to remember I paid particular attention to.

I looked up into a lovely unblemished face as a tear emerged from a dark brown bewitching eye, it slowly travelled down a rosy cheek to eventually drop off the bottom of her chin. So gradually it fell, falling and splashing onto my hand, I was fascinated, it was warm and silky spreading down through my tiny fingers, something inside of me prevented a reaction to wipe the moisture it left away, soaking into my skin and drying almost immediately.

There was disappointment and bewilderment and as I looked up to question the strange tingling it left on my hand, she had gone though, no horse, nothing, an empty road in front of me which I found myself standing in the middle of.

Turning round there was sis still making her daisy chain. The fire bucket was in the middle of the road empty, no water, not even wet.

As I went to pick the bucket up, I opened my hand to grab hold of the handle and the little charm in the shape of a star that had caught my attention on her bracelet made a clatter as it fell onto the metal at the bottom of the bucket.

I picked the bucket up and removed the charm, putting it in my pocket, as I replaced the bucket on the hook I noticed how dry everything was around the standpipe, no water that I know I spilled and splashed all over the place.

Sis looked at me rather oddly I remember, but carried on with her daisy chain.

Why were my little white socks that my mum had put on me that morning with the toes protruding out of my little sandals wet through? Was it the moisture from the depths of the tall grass on that very hot sultry sunny afternoon?
 
The thing is I carried that little charm all wrapped in a tiny hanky of my sisters that I must have pinched from her and stuffed tightly in a weights cigarette packet for many years.

There is more, even stranger than that. You might think a figment of a young imagination? I don’t think so, it was so vivid and has over the years become even more so as I relate different events that I couldn’t explain, they all go back to that encounter when I was so young. My dreams at that time were all about the clouds, all about the stars and how each time I felt lifted to float above my troubles. I could see down below me the trauma of my life’s ups and downs all disappearing leaving clear the road ahead, no matter what that held. Underneath my pillow was my little star that no one knew about, that was my secret from the world. It seemed to give me a comfort totally unexplainable; Mum, I’m sure knew it was there, when she made my bed she must have noticed it and had a look to make sure I hadn’t started smoking, but it was always returned to the same place and nothing was ever said or the contents of that cigarette packet questioned.
There was the time I had the ‘mumps,’ terrible nightmares started and kept me awake until I reached under my pillow for my little star, clutching it in my hand as I fell asleep, only to float above the horrors and see them disappear. So familiar were my dreams I seemed to know them off by heart.
Who and what was it that presented me with all those wonderful memories I have had in the years that followed? Was that star meant for me to find, purposely placed or given with the knowledge of future events? It has been a lovely thought to hang onto.
I do remember where it ended up; trying one day to impress a pretty girl that I took a fancy to in later years, I gave it to her to put on her charm bracelet, hoping I suppose she would take notice of the little hooligan that was always following her. It was gone, I had given it away, and it obviously didn’t work its charm for me anymore, because she totally ignored me after I had given her the present of my precious little golden star. 
Many years later, after growing up, (It was in my travelling around the country period), I was walking along an isolated country lane after sampling one of Wainright’s favourite walks feeling quite melancholy but never the less uplifted in the beautiful scenery this land we live in has to offer, when passing a small cottage I noticed the net curtains in one of the windows being pulled aside. Standing behind the glass was a young woman of astounding beauty, draped in a grey shawl, her arm raised to hold the curtain to one side she very sheepishly smiled and touched the end of her very fine gold chain around her neck, hanging down between her well developed open front, catching the sunlight shining through the window was the little gold star I had once treasured in my youth.
In an instant she had gone, the curtains fell back to shield her from my gaze and I was left alone to ponder on the enchantment that life very often puts in our path that we take.
 
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Wednesday, 10 June 2015




Speed !

How much faster do we have to go? Is there a limit? Time these days passes so fast, half way through the year, goodness its flying past me much too quickly, everyone in such a hurry to get there just that little bit sooner.
I had to have a check-up at the hospital this week and as usual the car park was rather full. As I pulled into a vacant space out the corner of my eye a very young oriental girl of about seventeen or eighteen took a very nasty tumble, how she fell I am not quite sure but was obviously in terrible pain. A couple of people went for help while I cradled her in my arms and tried to console and reassure her.
Image if you can this poor young thing looking up to see a huge wheel inching towards her face; a monstrous 4 x 4 doing its very best to obtain a vacant space a few yards further on from where she lay. She screamed, bless her, who wouldn’t? This arrogant inconsiderate individual had to grab the space he had seen that his brand new shiny monster could be parked in, not caring an iota about this poor young thing that was in his way. His excuse . . . . . he was going to be late for his appointment! If I could have got my hands on him he would have needed another appointment in A & E! But fortunately for him I was restrained by one of the nurses that stretcher’d the young girl into the hospital. Needless to say the consultant was rather concerned about my heart rate when I eventually calmed down.
It seems to me its got to be bigger, and of course much, much faster. But why?
Perhaps I am missing something hear, has the speed limit been lifted? Have these monsters special dispensation to exceed the seventy-mile an hour limit on our roads, and are there a lot of steep muddy dirt tracks they all need to travel up that I haven’t in my seventy odd years driving around this country seen?
I’ll stick to my little Ford thank you very much, it only needs a little space to park in, and I am never late for an appointment because I always try to leave home with time to spare.
Incidentally, the young lass had shattered her ankle and was hospitalised, she was made comfy by all the marvellous staff hear in Bournemouth General and although very drowsy with whatever they had injected her with a little smile was on her face when I paid her a call before returning home.  
 
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Monday, 4 May 2015


 
 
Horology
It’s a new word for me, Time:
Something that flies by as the years trundle on, but Hey! For me it’s the age of discovery, the good intentions of keeping this Blog going as I mentioned at the beginning of the year, have been replaced by so much unearthing of fascinating things in the workshop that over the years have passed me by.
The dying art of watch and clock making, because I suppose the mere reason for the exceptional skill that is obviously required, takes a lot of patience and that magic chargeable service, time.
As many of you know, one of my hobbies since retiring has been woodturning; many hours spent digesting and studying Ornamental turning lathes of bygone days, not only the skill in operating them but also the ingenuity which the likes of Holtzapffel and Fenn were producing back in the early eighteen hundreds; what brilliant minds they must have had.
The stunning beauty and intricacy of the turned pieces those early machines were capable of, sometimes beggar’s belief in this modern world of today, but time didn’t cost what it does today. I made a bolt for a friends Joseph Fenn machine which was date stamped 1848, the thread was totally unique and it took a pleasurable four hours to make, but I had the time, just imagine the cost if I charged an hourly rate at today’s prices, prohibitive for just one bolt.
Anyway I am rambling on as Michael would say, the reason for blowing the dust off the computer key board is I have been fortunate enough to acquire a very tiny watchmakers lathe which I intend to hopefully bring back to its original pristine state, box and all, at present looking the many years of service it has obviously had, hence the title ‘Horology’
So watch this space, I will be reporting my progress as each part takes shape and the obvious problems that I envisage I will come up against.   
 
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Sunday, 18 January 2015


A rubbish recycling facility! ! ! !

I love listening to people telling me about their childhood, but they have to be nippy, or I will be telling them with a little more relish than perhaps I should about mine, there is a necessity in most people to share their own enthusiasm, a need, which is often in their opinion a more exciting past than anyone else.

I was born at the beginning of the Second World War in a large Kentish town by the side of a curving sheltered shore, a beautiful bay to the left of the town and a splendid sandy beach that stretched for miles for my little legs to run along. Bracing sea air mixed with the smell of coffee, fish and chips, hot-dogs with burnt onions, and candy humbugs up Harbour Street all mixed in with the smell from the sands and harbour activities.

Ramsgate:

In some places a lovely town with sprawling smug suburbs, Prestedge, all new and posh. Newington with lots and lots of prefabs now all replaced. Whitehall with its ever-pumping water works down Whitehall road.

The civic pride of the beautiful Palace theatre in the high street and the many shiny shops full to bursting with jostling holidaymakers.

Its many pubs waiting for Saturday night when the music started, bursting with revelry, everyone was singing, dancing and laughing, everyone was happy.

Getting to the town centre as fast as us boys legs would carry us. There were the impressive gas cylinders that could be seen from any point in the town at the end of St. Luke's avenue and the smelly coke works at the bottom of Boundary Road with the acrid stench rising high over the town tickling the nostrils.

This was my world where for a tup'penny ticket we could spend all day in the station waiting anxiously for the thunder of the next 'schools class' to appear over the viaduct pulling ten or twelve coaches full of carnival spirited children with their parents spilling out onto the platforms accompanied by the roaring clouds of expelling unwanted steam from the trains cylinders into the station.

Those smells; Freshly baked bread up King Street, hot pies, piece pudding and fagots drifting out of Woods after a night in the Odeon.    

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On the subject title:

On the beautiful coast overlooking the channel; I'm the first to agree with recycling, but for goodness sake how daft can this council get. Surely they are joking!

A few years ago Bournemouth was, like a lot of seaside towns in this country, suffering from a depression with the lack of tourists visiting the town. So the council, (all three parties at the time) put their combined heads together and came up with the idea of a centre that could accommodate functions for the benefit of many of the town needs. The BIC came out of the many numerous meetings (The Bournemouth International Centre) it was built ahead of schedule seventeen months later, right on the sea front, concert hall, ballroom, function rooms and restaurants, also a conference centre, of which two of the main party political persuasions have used since, filling the many hotels to capacity. One of these main parties has tried to book for next year, but unfortunately for them this centre is fully booked for the foreseeable future. Each weekend the main dual carriage way is full of coaches and cars flooding into the town bringing in the much-needed finances, filling the hotels. There are no empty shops, no derelict spaces, no dirty streets, no unwanted litter. The place is thriving beyond even the dreams of the councillors who first thought of the idea.  

The rocks on the western under cliff where many of us children of my age  collected winkles for Sunday tea, has been turned into a concreted area that I'm sure, with a little bit of forethought, could accommodate a facility such as the BIC.

Whatever is decided let the people in the town build it, give the employment to the people of Thanet that are having difficulty finding work, not give the project to an off shore company who are in it to drain the ratepayers pockets of their hard earned cash. 

Dare I say it, like they did with Pleasurama?

 
Just a thought        
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Friday, 16 January 2015





I never win anything in raffles or tombola where there is a draw from tickets that I have purchased from my small pension. But just before Christmas I did, you could have knocked me down with a feather. I was presented with a small box with a bulb in it, along with some dirt and a pot to put it in.
‘To late’ I was told!
‘Won’t flower for another year’ was the advice from all the experts in the club.
‘Put it in the pot and forget it until next autumn, somewhere dark.’
One of my so-called friends even gave me some seeds of the same species.
 ‘Won’t grow yet Al’, you have got to be patient with these little devils.’

John Wyndham’s “Day of the Triffids” is NOT science fiction, no more than six weeks later this bulb that won’t grow until next Autumn has taken over its own little corner of the kitchen, and I swear to you moves around at night time trying to escape outside, perhaps to take over the world. I’m a bit reluctant to get too close unless it bites me, or spits in my direction, my hand shakes a little when my tea wants a 20 second nuke’ in the microwave, can’t quite remember how they bumped off us humans.

The seeds?

Oh yes the seeds, well they obviously want to catch up with their big sister as you can see in the picture.


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Monday, 12 January 2015

 
 
An excursion to a garage sale advertised in the local paper the other week just before Christmas, I discovered under a pile of old papers a calendar from way back from 1958. I remembered seeing this calendar that hung in a workshop all those years ago and the paintings each month as you turned the pages over, the same character on each of them with different humorous implications. It was Hilda! The bumptious lass that made us all laugh at her antics.
Mentioning it over the club a couple of nights ago I was very surprised many had not heard of her, so I have endeavoured to illustrate in my own way one of Duane Bryers famous paintings. Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago, but lived to a grand old age and I am sure he will be greatly missed.
I hope he will forgive me for my attempt, but I hope my effort will bring back some small attention to such a brilliant artist and humorist of our time. 
 
 
Thanks for calling.
 
 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015




It seems such a short time ago the fragile miracle of life that was put in my arms after I had showered one summer evening; the delicate soft skin of a newborn baby against me that had that distinctive smell of freshly digested milk from her mother.
I remember there was uncontrollable moisture in my eyes rising from deep down inside as I looked at such a beautiful tiny wonder in my arms. She didn’t cry, just snuggled down into my bare chest and closed her eyes. From that day on I have watched from a distance her grow into a very photogenic young miss.

Sitting in front of me for a good two hours the other day, she never seemed to move an inch, intent on her new tablet from Santa.  Nervous at first that what I drew would disappoint her, she just gave me a very beguiling smile and said “Don’t worry Uncle, I’m sure it will be fine.” And carried on with studying her new toy, content and quite happy with the silence, disturbed only by the rustling of the trees outside in the isolated countryside. It was an idyllic situation she told me afterwards that we had both created together which very often she yearned for back home in the city.

My attempt to capture her stunning young adolescent features with my pencil over the last few days has kept me occupied for many hours since, and although I am not completely satisfied, it does I think show the very determined character behind such a pretty face, believe me, this young miss is going places. Perhaps fortunate enough to have devoted parents who have spared no expense in an education that has given her the deportment and self-discipline far beyond her 14 years.

 

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