The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Snow Days

 

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What is going on with this snow reaction these days,really? Tuning into to a local radio station today, they are issuing ominous warnings and instructions similar to if there is going to be a war on or a disaster zone tomorrow. They provide a ‘hot line’ to the travel companies, the utility companies, school closures and so on.

The local newspaper too warns us that along with the normal disruption:

There’s a ‘good chance’ that rural communities could become cut off.

There’s a ‘potential risk’ to life and property

Along with an extensive emergency kit in our cars we are to take sunglasses due to ‘winter glare’

I do take heavy snow seriously and also understand full well its dangers, particularly to the more vulnerable who I have great sympathy with, having spent plenty of winter stretches in Canada with serious blizzards and snowfall (by the way, there is no adequate and full preparation to the type of winter conditions they experience in my humble opinion, as people elsewhere always seem to think). I feel though that there is a certain amount of sensationalising these situations here in the UK which helps nobody.

Time to calm this stuff down, report the facts and stop spreading panic

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December 9, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | | 3 Comments

Kev ‘Fynger’ Cooper

I am so very sorry to hear the news of the sudden loss of a friend, I met Kev ‘Fynger’ Cooper some years ago and had the pleasure of being regular online friends too. To say I am shocked is an understatement.

I post below, as a tribute to him, an image of one of his great interests, the fabulous Medieval gateway into Nottingham that was Drury Hill, Nottingham’s ‘Shambles’. Something that Kev’s research and modelling gave us a great insight into.

God bless you, Kev and my heartfelt condolences to Martine and loved ones. xx

 

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Drury Hill, Nottingham

(courtesy Picture The Past)

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

The Marconiphone Radiogram

I took a lot of musical influences from my family, the more obvious being 1960s Mod from my older sister but not only.

My mother came from a large family with music embedded in its soul, professionally. Saturday visits to my English grandmother’s home would always hear lots of music ringing out from a magnificent Marconiphone radiogram in the small living room with the piano in the corner and those songs and artists became part of my life too. Sinatra, Dean Martin, Mario Lanza, the great Ray Charles and all.

They were a thing of wonder emerging in their rich, deep bass tones from that handsome French-polished cabinet which I have never forgotten. Not least of all Jim Reeves and this song which to my young eyes, the words of which seemed to resonate with my mother when it was played over and over.

I give you a version of it which also found favour from her son.

Ry Cooder – He’ll Have To Go

November 20, 2017 Posted by | I CAN HEAR MUSIC | , , | 2 Comments

Nottingham: Wollaton Park Deer

Here’s a fair example of pond life behaviour and general stupidity in Nottingham.

The city is fortunate in having an attractive park within its boundary named Wollaton Park which red and fallow deer inhabit. The deer is a symbolic animal in Nottingham quite literally, forming part of the city coat of arms and so it’s particularly satisfying to to see these fine animals, happy and accessible to view from a safe distance.

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Today’s local newspaper has some quite disturbing images of people approaching the deer in rutting season, perhaps the worst one of a young child with an adult who should really know better. Another with a young fool manhandling a red deer.

Excepting the child, I would have no sympathy if these people came to grief for antagonising the animals. It occurs to me though that if they were attacked, sadly, the animals themselves would come under scrutiny.

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(Pics Nottingham Post)

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh In August

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN with the traditional long televised annual highlights of the Edinburgh Tattoo in front of me on the television as I write. Heralding the great Festival drawing in once more through the dying embers of August 2017.

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It’s probably easy if one is Edinburgh based to ignore some aspects of the Festival and not least the traditional Tattoo, even to find some of the proceedings frustrating and unappealing. Thank you for your patience though in bearing things out for those of us who hold Edinburgh dear and precious in our hearts. Especially those of who will always consider it ‘home’. I hope you enjoyed it in some way.

For it is making my heart sing and my head spin seeing those beautiful Edinburgh skies through the darkness that I know so well, under which I have stood so many times and indeed grown under since being a boy. Peering over to the Forth of my home, beyond the New Town below it. Seeing the majestic old Castle illuminated on the skyline. The sight that always say’s to us ‘I’m home again’.

i didn’t see you this time my dear old town, I will be back though. ‘Let me tell you that I love you, that I think about you all the time’, and your people.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | On The Road | , | Leave a comment

We Are Hibs

It’s a half after midnight, I return home. There’s a wee beetle scrambling across the floor in my bathroom, skittering about happily. It’s just me and the beetle – together.

I’m happy too. My beautiful Hibs have overcome their rivals today, strongly, assuredly and with a new vigour that we can hardly believe. We destroyed them, we own them…

So lad, I’m going to take you out into the garden and you can run around freely, pal. I sincerely hope you do. Tell your little beetle pals that the Hibees are back – with a vengence.

The only way is up.

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August 13, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

Hibernian FC 2017/18

I’ve just had the privilege of watching Hibs 2017/18 vintage via BBc Alba. And I am wondering what it is that has come over my club?.

That was a performance.

I’ll say it again, that was a PERFORMANCE..

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Professional, resilient and combative, every player looked like they knew exactly what their job was out there. They looked confident, aggressive, determined and not least, skilled. They carry the steel and know-how of their experienced manager with them. A little piece of his in will each and every one of them.

It’s easy to state that this squad of players is the strongest in some years at Easter Road. That is quite evident before a ball is kicked in anger. What is even more noticeable is the utter change in attitude which has engulfed the whole club and it’s now-packed stands of supporters since that staggering day back in May 2016 and the following convincing Championship flag. The self belief which speaks of great portents for the winter ahead. It is wonderful to see. It truly is. I love this club.

God Bless The Hibs

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | Leave a comment

Lowdham Book Festival 2017: ‘The Lord Of Milan’

IT’S FLAMING JUNE ONCE MORE and that means the annual Lowdham Book Festival, a very favourite series of events of mine in a local Nottinghamshire village. Driving into the village and observing a new 20mph limit on Main Street, Saturday’s fluffy white clouds were punctuated by spells of very warm sun shining on the familiar homes and businesses lining the village’s main thoroughfare.

My destination this afternoon was mainly about a visit to the quaint Methodist Chapel for a talk promoting a book about a somewhat little-known Nottingham sportsman, one Herbert Kilpin, by author, Robert Nieri. The book being the product of a labour of love and some thorough and serous, yet enjoyable sounding research in Northern Italy and nearer home in Nottinghamshire.

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Herbert Kilpin

Hebert Kilpin, termed ‘The Lord of Milan’ was the ninth of fifteen children born to a butcher at 129 Mansfield Road, Nottingham, a modest and narrow building still situated though renumbered since Kilpin’s day. Young Herbert was a keen footballer and played for local amateur teams the Garibaldi Reds and Nottingham Olympic on the nearby Forest Recreation Ground, where Nottingham Forest were named.

Herbert entered the lace trade as an assistant in Nottingham, working in the Adams Building on Stoney Street in the city, as the author explained in a job that entailed him running up and down spiral staircases in the warehouse all day long, helping him keep fit for his football. It was here that he met Edoardo Bosio, an Italian-Swiss merchant and football innovator who formed the Internazionale Torino Football and Cricket Club. Herbert at 21 years, was persuaded to join Edoardo in Turiin to work in the textile industry and to play for the Torino club.

After a period, the Nottingham man moved to Milan to work where he continued to commute each weekend to Turin to play for Bosio’s club, probably a three-hour train journey each way in those days. Eventually, Herbert decided to form a club of his own in Milan. What followed changed the history of Association Football as the early AC Milan came into being, the storied Italian team in the famous red and black strip, chosen by Kilpin for its intimidatory qualities, which became for a period the word’s top club with fully seven European Cups to its name among other significant European and domestic silverware.

A few years ago, Milan supporters became interested in the origins of their founder and a number visited Nottingham to see the home where he was born in 1870. Unfortunately, at that time, some were unaware that since Kilpin’s day the buildings on Mansfield Road had been renumbered due to the building of the Victoria Railway Station down at the foot of the road. This resulted on some of the Italian fans reporting and visiting erroneously a restaurant some doors away. This misapprehension has been corrected since and a small ceremony held to herald Kilpin’s real home.

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Herbert Kilpin’s home, Mansfield Road, Nottingham (centre blue building)

Recently, a former long-closed restaurant in Nottingham has reopened as a public house and happily been named as The Herbert Kilpin, advertising Herbert’s great achievement in initiating the huge Italian football club. A city bus which travels Mansfield Road has been named after him and a youth football trophy is also named after him.

Affable, informative and pleasant speaker, Robert Nieri told us that he had been involved in talking to children in local schools about Herbert’s amazing story, of his modest skills but huge determination and spirit and that this is what the schoolchildren reported they took from the butchers son’s story – that you can achieve anything you want to in life given the determination and work ethic. Perhaps this message was Herbert Kilpin – The Lord of Milan’s greatest achievement of all.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , , | Leave a comment

Grenfell Tower

When one first set eyes on the horrific and harrowing scenes of Grenfell Tower engulfed in flames it was hard to imagine how hundreds of people could not perish. Figures for the fatalities have thus far however, remained relatively modest, albeit one life lost is one too many.

Suddenly today, that number catapulted to 70. Now word abounds that fire services are advising that more than 200 bodies have been removed so far and that the media is being gagged.

This I believe. My belief has been, from the first dreadful and sad embers, that a wholly sinister cover-up is being implemented. Politicians and others culpable are running scared. They are undoubtedly working away furiously in the background attempting to save their own skin from the blame they have.

There must be justice for the victims and families of Grenfell Tower and more broadly, the missing respect and care restored for the poorer people of this country.

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June 16, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 2 Comments

Betsy

A random email arrives from a family research site that I merely dabbled with around five years ago. It shows quite some information about my Scottish family that I previously knew little of.

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Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Drysdale Archibald. Born: 15 February 1893 – Died: 22 June 1922

Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Drysdale Archibald, my grandmother who I was never destined to meet, died in my father’s infancy, leaving husband Henry Frew and two young sons, my father, John and his older brother, Alexander ‘Sandy’. She lived in Musselburgh, East Lothian and died in Edinburgh where she had worked in the North British Hotel as a head seamstress, that I knew. It seems that Betsy came from ten children, just like my mother and father did. Her father, John came from all of eleven children too. So many, many children. I have never known the cause of her death.

Place names in the family tree linked in the email are most often solidly East Lothian: Gladsmuir, Elvingstone. Tranent, Haddington, as well as Musselburgh.

I have just one picture of Betsy. the only one in existence to my knowledge.

Although never having met her, I have a lot of love for her.

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 2 Comments

At Night

Returning home, late in the evening to my nice Nottingham suburb.

Dad brought us here. So many years ago.

Midnight approaches…

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A dark night as the heart of summer approaches. Comfortably warm temperatures and the night time air has that familiar sweet scent that is reassuring. A sense of knowing and of continuity.

Through the darkness, the pavement walk alongside the daytime busy main road, yellow tee roses peer out, smelling sweetly. There is a Weeping Willow.

Home and The Smiths’ clarion call…

‘Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people
And I want to see light’

This is how it feels.

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | | 2 Comments

View From A College Window

A part of my regular morning walk through the city of Nottingham becomes quite suddenly a striking view on a sunny April morning as the bright and and showy narcissi appear, heralding another Springtime.

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Arkwright Building, Shakespeare Street, Nottingham

Nottingham Trent University’s Arkwright Building is placed in stately fashion along the city’s Shakespeare Street and is a building of much familiarity to me over a period of many years. It was in this building in a former apparition as a technical college that I studied to be a compositor in the 1970s. Often distracted by looking out on those same pretty lawns, the green swards through the window seeming an attractive proposition as opposed to following instructions from an old blackboard.

Many years later, I studied again within the same institution when it was by now a university, also spending a period of time working within the university supporting disabled students.

Perhaps one of the college’s most famous alumni is the writer, D H Lawrence who graduated in 1908. A few years later in 1916 he wrote ‘View From A College Window’ of his own times studying in the Arkwright Building, his words very evocative of my own later experiences and feelings there a few generations on.

From a College Window (D H Lawrence)

From New Poems (1916).

The glimmer of the limes, sun-heavy, sleeping,
Goes trembling past me up the College wall.
Below, the lawn, in soft blue shade is keeping,
The daisy-froth quiescent, softly in thrall.

Beyond the leaves that overhang the street,
Along the flagged, clean pavement summer-white,
Passes the world with shadows at their feet
Going left and right.

Remote, although I hear the beggar’s cough,
See the woman’s twinkling fingers tend him a coin,
I sit absolved, assured I am better off
Beyond a world I never want to join.

D H Lawrence

The building’s somewhat intricate Gothic design has an individual slant as it brings together three great aspects of Victorian education: the university college itself, a public library and a museum of natural history, complete with stuffed animals.

D H Lawrence called it the ‘finest pile of public buildings in Nottinghamshire’, although qualifying this by opining Nottingham of the day as a ‘dismal town’. Lawrence, a brilliant writer could be described as a difficult man who upset many people of his own locality, particularly in his home town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

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The Western end of the the Arkwright building sustained a serious direct hit from the German Luftwaffe in 1941. Not to be deterred however, the shattered end of the building was rebuilt in its former glory.

April 2, 2017 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | Leave a comment

On Mothering Sunday Week…

My beautiful mother.

Happy Mothering Sunday, Grace Marian.

Remembering your gentleness and selfless courage. I still hear your soft voice talking to me when I awaken or when I close my eyes at the end of the day, You are always in me.

Stuart x

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March 28, 2017 Posted by | I CAN HEAR MUSIC | , , | Leave a comment

Byron and Boatswain

Seldom can such an epitaph have been written to a faithful friend. Byron was no ordinary poet though and nor seemingly was his loyal, Boatswain an ordinary pet in his eyes and heart.

‘Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.’

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When Byron wrote his moving words in 1808, he had deep financial problems. His beloved Newfoundland dog, Boatswain, had died after being bitten by a rabid dog in nearby Mansfield Market Place. The poet concluded to a friend that he had now lost most everything.

Despite his acute pecuniary problems, Byron was driven to demonstrate his love and affection for his dog by commissioning an impressive marble monument at the poet’s ancestral home, Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire.

Boatswain was buried in an elaborate tomb, which was indeed larger and more impressive than that erected for Byron himself in St Mary Magdalene’s Church at Hucknall, after his passing in Missolonghi in Greece in 1824.

I have many times, when wandering and dreaming through dear Newstead’s remains, admired this monument and its fine and devoted words, many of which were faded over the years. I am very happy to read today of its refurbishment.

Dedicated to the memory of my late friend, Alistair Tait. The kindest and warmest dog lover it was my great pleasure to know.

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 1 Comment

The Cockle Man of Nottingham

I like this man. Dave Bartram, The ‘Cockle Man’ has been a familiar sight and local character around Nottingham’s pubs since before my first student steps into the city’s many and varied hostelries in the mid-seventies. Dave’s cry of ‘cockles, mussels’ often bringing a response of ‘alive a live-oh!’ in the likes of the Elizabethan Bar in the Bell Inn where I would often see him and the many other public houses where Dave can be found doing his rounds, as he has been since the 1960s

Additionally, each pot of seafood sold to people in Nottingham’s bars these days sees a donation heading towards the Rainbows Hospice for young people and children.

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Dave Bartram, Nottingham’s ‘Cockle Man’

I applaud these fabled great characters of the city like the Cockle Man, people such as Sally the ‘painter girl’ and the late Frank Robinson, also known as ‘Xylophone Man’. In a bland generally characterless modern society these individuals bring colour, fibre and identity to a city.

At the age of 70, Dave, walking along a precinct from The Thurland Arms to The Old Dog And Partridge, was jumped and attacked. As he has professed before, he tried to protect himself with his big basket, what a man. After the incident, whilst being examined by doctors at the Nottingham City hospital, Dave was found to have a cancer diagnosis. Crucially however, a very treatable one that was fortunate enough to be found in its early stages.

I’m happy that some somewhat unlikely good has come out of this story.

Long live ‘The Cockle Man’.

‘The show must go on’ for Nottingham’s famous cockle man after mugging attempt and cancer diagnosis

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 2 Comments

Denis Law – The King

I came across the below pressing clipping on Twitter on the excellent Scots Footy Cards @ScotsFootyCards account. It reminded me of what was a quite pronounced Indian summer to my number one football hero, Denis Law’s career. The memories came flooding back. I will write more extensively about ‘The Lawman’ on another occasion but just wanted to acknowledge this nice snapshot into his latter dynamic career.

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I remember this period of Denis’s career very well. Manchester United’s glory days receding into the distance at the time. The legend of Sir Matt Busby pushed ‘upstairs’. Bobby getting older and the Belfast Boy sadly succumbing to the drink.
Denis was 33 years-old and by some people’s reckoning it was pretty much all over for the mercurial ‘Lawman’. Injuries had seemingly taken their toll. And then…a new lease of life and an eventual Scotland recall in time for the World Cup in West Germany.

Around this time I remember Jimmy Hill waxing lyrical about Denis’s performance on Match of the Day one Saturday evening. Back from injury or suspension – the latter hardly a rare occurrence – he dominated the whole game covering every inch of the pitch with his electric pace. I swear sparks were flying off him in all directions. Clearing off his own line one minute, buzzing menacingly in the opposing penalty box the next. He was totally irresistible He was Denis Law.

March 5, 2017 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , , | Leave a comment

Tommy Gemmell ‘Lisbon Lion’

TODAY SAW THE PASSING of the great Celtic and Scotland full back, Tommy Gemmell, immortalised ‘Lisbon Lion’, and formidable warrior in the green and white hoops for a decade between 1961 and 1971. Tommy, a driving force of nature from his defensive berth scored in two European Cup Finals for Celtic, most memorably the pile driving hammer blow that bulged the much-fancied Inter Milan’s net in 1967.

The Craigneuk, Wishaw man played on some 418 occasions for the Bhoys, scoring a remarkable 63 times and making 18 appearances in the Dark Blue of Scotland. The Celtic defender was also a fearsome penalty taker with a success rate of 34 goals from 37 attempts. It is my belief that the Celtic side of that era was not only the finest club side in the world but certainly the best I have witnessed in my fifty-something years of watching the beautiful game. That every player in that side hailed from a reasonably close radius of Glasgow made their greatness even more notable. it is a great and wonderful player indeed that can dominate in that kind of company for such a prolonged and consistent period.

It was a memorable night indeed 25 May 1967 when I ran home from playing football on the local recreation ground with my friends to find a place with my dad in front of the small black and white TV in the corner of the room. Although dad and I were died in the wool Hibs fans, Celtic represented not only themselves but also Scotland that night and we sat in great excitement whilst home-grown Celtic imposed themselves on the great Milan giants of the game. Dare I say even, a team of our own ‘ilk’ in Celtic, speaking as a Hibs fan.

Tommy was hugely instrumental that night and we cheered wildly when his rasping right-footer from the edge of the penalty area hit the net to do Celtic and Scotland proud. The first British team to win the trophy, as is sometimes overlooked south of the border I have to add.

European Cup winners, 1967 Celtic ‘The Lisbon Lions’

Even as a youngster, I was always struck by Tommy’s great likeness to the superb entertainer, Danny Kaye. So alike, they seemed almost interchangeable at times. It amused me today to read in an obituary that Tommy himself was very aware of this fact and indeed saw himself as a master entertainer!

Big Tam was not a man to be messed with though as West German internationalist, Helmut Haller found out to his cost after taking a sly kick at the Celtic man in a 1970 World Cup qualifier against Scotland. Tommy chased Haller down and simply kicked him up in the air after the whistle had blown. The full back would tell a tale in later years that he was ‘still looking for his foot’ after the incident! Unfortunately, Celtic Chairman, Sir Robert Kelly was not amused, claiming that Tommy had besmirched the name of Celtic with his aggressive behaviour which resulted in Celtic Manager, Jock Stein dropping him for the Scottish League Cup Final the week after. Not best pleased, Tam immediately slapped in a transfer request which he later withdrew. Damage, perhaps lasting, had been sustained to his relationship with the legendary Parkhead Manager though.

Tommy later played 39 times for Nottingham Forest and on 94 occasions for Dundee before retiring to a stint in management with Dundee and Albion Rovers. He will be remembered for his dynamism, power and irresistible, surging ability from his defensive position. He was most certainly one of Scotland’s greatest men.

God Bless, Tommy. Sleep well.

Tommy Gemmell 1943-2017 ‘Lion of Lisbon’

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , | 2 Comments

Queen’s Chambers, Nottingham

Queen’s Chambers, Old Market Square. One of my favourite local buildings and one that I always think of as quintessentially Nottingham when away from here. Many a time caught a bus home to the suburbs from the shadow of this showy and stately building, in the days when buses and other vehicles were actually allowed to use the city’s roads extensively.

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Queen’s Chambers, Nottingham

Designed by Watson Fothergill, (1841-1926), a feted local architect with a penchant for turrets, towers, tall chimneys and wall decorations of horizontal blue-black bricks.

Fothergill, who designed some 100 buildings in Nottingham and the East Midlands also enjoyed a little Gothic imagery through the addition of gargoyles, animals, plant life and heavy dark wood beams in his unique designs.

His striking buildings remain testament to his imagination, dotted around the Lace City still to this day.

March 1, 2017 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 4 Comments

On A Hillside Far Away

I’ve no idea where this is, or is supposed to be, more accurately but I’ve decided that I’d really, really like to live there, especially if there is a beach to walk on nearby too.

World: ‘(Knock knock) Hello, are you in there, Stuart?’
Stuart: ‘No, go away’.

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January 22, 2017 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 4 Comments

Goodbye, Philippe Montanier

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NOTTINGHAM FOREST BOSS,  Philippe Montanier’s reign of just seven months ends making the club increasingly rudderless. Perhaps surprisingly quoting Churchill, the Frenchman departs with the words ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts’. Poignant words for us all to consider.

Montanier evidently made a few mistakes but he is a decent man of honour and one with considerable experience and success. Crucially, I don’t believe he was allowed to run his own team due to the meddling of crackpot Chairman, Fawaz. This was most spectacularly seen when Scotland starlet, Oliver Burke, was offloaded to Red Bull Leipzig for £13M and replacing with very little – despite promises to the contrary.

His leaving mirrors the departure recently of John Sheridan, from Notts County – another good football man and talented manager, also after seven months.

Is anyone else utterly bored stiff with the stupid and pointless managerial merry-go-round that is professional football these days?

January 15, 2017 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , | Leave a comment

Christmas Approaches in Southwell

THE PICTURESQUE MARKET TOWN of Southwell in Nottinghamshire is a place that I’ve felt drawn to talk about on several occasions on this site in the past. Often those times reflect pleasant days of clement weather in the warmer months with time spent outside strolling, perusing it’s elegant and historic buildings and it’s architectural jewel in the crown, the magnificent Minster.

The town lies on the gently rolling River Greet which provides a relaxing walk through the scenic surrounding countryside whilst the centre of the conurbation owns several sites of significant historical interest such as the National Trust owned Workhouse, built in 1824 and the Saracen’s Head hotel, dating back to 1463 and the scene of King Charles I’s capture by Scottish troops in 1647 when it was known as The King’s Head.

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The Saracen’s Head

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Southwell Minster

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Southwell is also notable as owning one of the former homes of romantic poet, Lord Byron in it’s pretty spot on the Burgage and being the site of the original Bramley apple seedling which spawned what many to believe to be the finest of all cooking apples. It is a small town which punches very much above its weight in terms of significance and interest.

Something I like to do each year though is take the short drive to Southwell during December as Christmas approaches. The atmosphere and classic aspect of the town somehow lends itself to a Christmas-like feeling. This is not least due to the local custom of Christmas trees attached to the buildings on King Street and leaning out into the street at an attractive angle.

On this visit, the town was bathed in gorgeous Winter sunshine with skies reminiscent of the high days of Summer. A healthy smattering of shoppers and visitors were going about their business through Southwell’s narrow street and alleys in it’s small, independent shops and outdoor market. I ambled, bought a little food, took tea and spent some moment at the Minster. After so many years of visiting, going back to school days, taking walks with friends, drinks in its attractive pubs and relaxed and pleasant lunches, not least many a historic sojourn and even working in a university building nearby, Southwell is the Nottinghamshire town I would surely miss the most.

December 22, 2016 Posted by | On The Road | , , , | 2 Comments

Ice Bars

PAH! NOTHING new about ‘ice bars’ in Nottingham. As a lad doing my drinking apprenticeship in the late 1970s, several pubs here were absolutely freezing in the winter. I even recall a portable calor gas heater being wheeled into one hostelry, The Wilberforce Tavern, as the landlord fought valiantly to stop friends and I from entering an extreme hypothermia induced coma. (It was either that or the local, infamous Shipstones bitter which owned an over-optimistic anagram of ‘honest p*ss’.)

Video inside Nottingham’s first Ice Bar – what the punters are saying

 

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The former Wilberforce Tavern, Wollaton Street, Nottingham – several Trent Polytechnic students may have perished on these premises in the 1970s. At least there was a good chippy next door for the wake.

December 21, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 7 Comments

Nottingham Exchange Arcade

One of the most attractive places in Nottingham’s city centre in my estimation, the Exchange Arcade in the Council House in Old Market Square. Despite its situation at the very core of the city, the arcade often appears a little deserted as thousands of Nottinghamians hurry-scurry through the thronging streets outside.

Opened in 1929, the Council House succeeded the Exchange building which housed the city’s own ‘shambles’ – an area where the butchers of the town and country would show their meat for sale. The word shambles was derived from the invading Normans who used it as a term for those tradesmen, ‘flesh hewers’ as the Saxons had called them, and indicates how long that trade was carried out on this site in the city.

In more modern history, the arcade housed a fabulous and much-loved food store, Burtons, which local people still talk of in fond terms. If I close my eyes in today’s arcade I can still easily imagine the wonderful aromas from the store and picture the pre-Christmas visits there as a child with my mum, Grace, to buy those special items for the festive fayre in our family home.

December 15, 2016 Posted by | On The Road, Times Gone By | , , | Leave a comment

Nottingham’s Medieval Town Wall

Nottingham was one of the ancient cities that had a wall for defence purposes. It stretched around a good part of the conurbation for well over half a mile with the remainder protected by a large earth bank and ditch and the natural obstructions of a river and marshes to the south.

After the Norman Conquest of England, Nottingham became a town divided into two peoples. The former Saxon settlement which is now known as the Lace Market area came to be known as the English Borough whilst the area stretching from the castle east towards the Lace Market came to be called the French Borough. It is my understanding that the two peoples lived in relative peace side by side with the original Saxons being allowed to continue practicing some of their original indigenous customs. It is also my understanding that the people of the French Borough were considered more educated and enjoyed a superior quality of life to their neighbours. The Nottingham Town Wall was built in response to the wars of the Barons and linked both French and English Boroughs

Map: The Nottingham Heritage Gateway

The town wall construction, comprising blocks of local sandstone bonded with mortar, is thought to have been initiated in around 1260, taking approximately 60 years to build.The majority of the wall was demolished by 1540 and almost totally by the end of the 17th century. Little of it remains uncovered in the 21st century. A small section of the wall is still extant and is visible inside a city centre hotel near Chapel Bar from a viewing platform, it being unearthed during the excavations of 1964 when building the city’s Maid Marian Way thoroughfare. A road that has been seen as unlovely and unloved due to its bland appearance and the fact that it butchered its way through a number of historic and mediaeval streets. Nottingham’s city fathers do not have a good record in the matter of preserving the city’s heritage in these respects.

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Local dignitaries inspect the Maid Marian Way excavations of 1964

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The last remaining viewable evidence of Nottingham’s Town Wall, situated in a city hotel

The impressive construction is estimated to have stood some 8m/26ft high at its tallest with a walkway along the top and protective battlements.

The old wall briefly showed itself again some years later in 1970 during further excavations in Theatre Square to build a pedestrian subway, ironically now closed and buried itself. The image above shows the ancient defence surfacing once more and re-opening the history book at the beginning of the seventies.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Times Gone By | , , , | Leave a comment

Hibs open Easter Road on Christmas Day for those less fortunate

Hibernian FC is a football club that in recent times has rediscovered and unearthed overtones of its original purpose in the community it represents. That early initial purpose, born and conceived back in the 1880s, is one of the cornerstones of why I love this club so much, that together with family tradition, truth, loyalty and the glue it embodies to me.

Christmas time should be one of joy and yet sadly, we understand that it can be distressing, lonely and heart-breaking for many, many people.

I am happy to read today that my Hibs are opening the doors of Easter Road on Christmas Day to those in need, providing up to 250 people a Christmas lunch, carols, a Christmas movie and other festive activities.

How proud can you be? Perhaps no more proud than I am at this precise moment at reading this announcement. You know what too? I have come to expect no less of them.

Bravo, my beautiful football club. x

http://www.hibernianfc.co.uk/news/7039

hibs

hibs-chris

 

December 3, 2016 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , | Leave a comment

My Generation

Is this really what we have descended to? Most people that know me understand that I’ve been a fan of The Who since i was old enough to reach a record player and spin a vinyl disc.

Now I see that ‘Wholigans’ (what the hell are they?) can purchase a bath robe with the Mod roundel on to display their appreciation of the boys from Shepherd’s Bush, or maybe a ‘onesie’ with a Quadrophenia logo on it. Their sales blurb is taken straight from Wikipedia I note.

Dear marketers, please just go away and die will you. You don’t understand and you will never understand.

My Generation indeed.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | I CAN HEAR MUSIC | , , | 1 Comment

‘Reviewed by Shilpa Shetty’

Actress, Shilpa Shetty has an interesting conception of book reviewing. I had never in fact realised that George Orwell’s classic political satire, Animal Farm, written in 1945 was about animal husbandry.

I’d like to offer a one line book review of my own too and would like to encourage you to do the same…

‘Oliver Twist – a book about a young boy named Oliver who invented a dance craze popular in the early 1960s.’

 

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | Leave a comment

Some thoughts on George Best

On the subject of George Best…

One could easily write many thousands of words, whole essays elucidating his dynamic story and life. For now though, just a few words on why I  believe George was he greatest of them all.

I count myself fortunate enough to have seen George in his pomp playing for Manchester United alongide Denis Law and Bobby Charlton and also with Hibs and Fulham.

I consider George to be the best of all-time, simply because at his peak it was impossible to understand how anyone could play this beautiful game any better.

besty

His dribbling was mesmeric and artistic, quite different to anyone else’s and he had an ability to absolutely demoralise opponents by beating them again and again. His surging breakaway runs from deep were something to behold, likewise his fabulous and insightful passing which seldom seems to be mentioned. He was tough and durable too as many a hard man defender in the sixties would testify. It’s accepted that football habits are different now but going down under the slightest pressure for George was not something he did. Notorious defenders such as Ron Harris, Norman Hunter would hack and chop at him and he’d just get up and make them look stupid.

Georgie was not only a supreme attacking talent but would also run back after players and was an excellent tackler. For not a big man his heading was superior due to his athleticism and superb timing.

I’m not one to decry the modern greats but for me it’s a fact that if George was around today, with better playing surfaces more protection from officials and better diet and training he would be the best player in the world…by a significant degree.
He was utterly magic and you couldn’t take your eyes off him when he was on the pitch, so blindingly brilliant was he and so charismatic and stylish.

What’s more, he had a wee time at my club and I for one am happy that is woven into the fabric of Hibernian’s rich history.

November 27, 2016 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , , | Leave a comment

Remembrance

A somewhat sobering moment for me. Watching Songs of Praise on Remembrance Day evening as it shows Highland soldiers in their kilts running into battle on a World War One battlefield. This was followed by footage of the barbaric and frightening conditions experienced by the Merchant Navy personnel on an Atlantic convoy.

Then you remember that this was your grandfather and your father…

Those handsome and proud Musselburgh men:
Henry Frew of the Gordon Highlanders
John Archibald Frew of the Merchant Navy

This evening I salute you both and each and every one of your brave comrades.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Times Gone By | , , , | 2 Comments

‘Market Square, Nottingham’ by Arthur Spencer

‘Market Square, Nottingham’ by Arthur Spencer, 1950.

I really like this fine, atmospheric painting which, as the winter draws inexorably closer, reminds of colder, less hospitable days. The Council House and it’s huge  dome containing Little John”s quarter-hourly chimes, standing sentinel over the city landscape as Nottingham’s citizens brave the snow and ice, huddled against the cold in their winter clothing.

A magical image that evokes a wintry Nottingham of a different era.

market square

October 15, 2016 Posted by | On The Road, Times Gone By | , , | Leave a comment

‘We Must Always Love Our Own, Stuart’

Nottingham Goose Fair memories: ‘Big George, The Gentle Giant and my dad.

UP UNTIL THE EARLY NINETIES, ‘George the Gentle Giant’ was a Scotsman who would visit the fair each year who I remember as a youngster being a travelling attraction. Big George Gracie was a Lanarkshire man who measured fully 7ft 3ins tall, weighed 28 stone and stood in size 18 shoes. His size was caused by a brain tumour in his pituitary gland, as I understand.

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Gentle Giant – George Gracie

The big man’s living was to allow people to come and stare at him on a fairground sideshow stall for a few pennies. People would pay their money and file around his pen. The big man was a most affable fellow, in spite of it all.

I recall dad took me to the Goose Fair one early October Saturday afternoon. After the various round of coconut shies, rifle ranges, Waltzers and confectionery, dad decided we would go and see George after spotting a garish ‘Scotland’s Tallest Man’ sign..

What followed was extraordinary to my young eyes. Dad walked in, me trailing behind him hand in his huge strong hand and greeted George like he had known him all his life – as he did everyone in fact. Big George instantly recognised dad’s very strong Scottish accent and they began talking like two brothers…far from home. It should be remembered that this was the 1960s when distances had a different conception and where having family 300 miles apart in England and Scotland, as I did, felt like having relatives on the moon.

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George was from the village of Forth in Lanarkshire whilst ma daddy and me had family just a few miles away in Uddingston and Bellshill. The two men sat and talked and talked for what seemed like a very long time, maybe an hour passed instead of the prescribed two or three minutes, everyone else,the sightseers filing past being ignored, These two ‘brothers’ from the auld country, talking of young days, people, places. In a world of kinship and brotherhood, of blood being thicker than water. Two Scots lads who had found themselves meeting in strange circumstances.

I learnt something that day from this extraordinarily tender scene between that giant of a man and my big rough, tough dad.

‘We must always love our own, Stuart’ John said as he bade a fond goodbye to a newly met friend in George,

And I always have…

~

In 1993, after having mobility issues from an overworked heart, gentle George passed away from cancer, the same illness that had made him so large claiming him at the age of 53 years.

God Bless, George.

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October 8, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , | 1 Comment

Southwell Minster, Southwell, Nottinghamshire.

Southwell is my favourite town in the county of Nottinghamshire by some distance. It has many places of interest and charm in its beautiful aspect and storied and historic environs.

The Minster dwarfs the centre and is barely commensurate with the reasonably modest acreage of Southwell. It is impressive, notable and loved.

minster

The first time I recall visiting this impressive structure was as a child in school when it was a firm favourite for school educational visits. I recall being instructed to take brass rubbings and playing the game of trying to find where all the ‘church mice were. The interior has a number of ‘mice’ carved into and secreted about the building. In those days the West entrance shown to the left of the image above was most often used and is, as I understand, the oldest part of a building which was constructed in stages as so many older churches were.

Another story I find interesting regarding Southwell Minster is of its ‘Eagle Lectern’ which apparently at the time of Cromwellian distaste for Catholic tradition and imagery was disposed of unceremoniously. It was later discovered in a lake at Newstead Abbey, romantic poet Lord Byron’s stately home situated some miles away. The lectern was lovingly restored and stands proudly in the Minster.

I have visited numerous times over the years and grand though the building might be there is always a friendly and helpful welcome. There is no admission pay but you are kindly asked to make a small contribution.

October 1, 2016 Posted by | On The Road, Times Gone By | , , , | 2 Comments

Rest in Peace, Jackie Sewell

In this past week, the news came through that former Notts County hero and England forward, Jackie Sewell has passed away at the age of 78 years young.

Jackie was pretty high up in my English uncles’ estimation when I used to get taken to the games in Nottingham as a youngster and I recall the hushed tones in which he was spoken of by them, referring to when they watched him at his peak in the 1950s.

sewell

Jackie played alongside the legendary Tommy Lawton for the Magpies as his inside man and rattled in a startling 104 goals in 193 appearances for the Meadow Lane side. He later featured in the British record transfer fee at the time of £34,500, to Sheffield Wednesday and also appeared six times for England among a galaxy of star names.

It’s fair to say that Jackie was a legend of Nottingham football and his presence upon his passing at 89 years will be sorely missed. Not least at Meadow Lane where he was often to be found attending games into his senior years.

Jackie was quite some player  and ‘Lawton and Sewell’ were quite the thing in the Lace City in their day by every account and they were synonymous as a pair. England centre forward, Lawton was the perfect, classical number nine according to accounts from people I have spoken to whilst Jackie feasted expertly and clinically from the prowess of his partner. They must have been a pretty awesome pairing, to employ a sometimes overused word

Good night and God bless, Jackie.

.

September 30, 2016 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , , | Leave a comment

Three Things About Nottingham

I have today been asked by a new friend to consider three things that I like about Nottingham. I took about twenty seconds thinking about this one and came up with the following:

For the first, I am tempted to say ‘the view of Princes Street in Edinburgh’. It’s 275 miles away precisely and I think you can see where my real love lies as a qualifier…

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1. I like the way that it is very easy to access the countryside – even from the very centre of the city. Nottingham, though one of the relatively larger UK cities, has a smallish, concise city centre that is easily navigable on foot. Genuine country villages lie perhaps only 15-20 minutes away. Like this one:

https://stuartfrew.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/in-and-around-lambley-village-nottinghamshire/

2. Underground stuff. Back in history, Nottingham was known as ‘Land of Cavey Dwellers’. There are literally hundreds of man-made, hand-carved caves burrowed out underground the cities buildings by local people. They have been used for all manner of things such as tanneries, gambling dens, food and beer stores. living accommodation and air raid shelters in World War 2.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-37429173

3. The rebellious nature of the locals is something I tend to admire. The world’s first Socialist, Robin Hood, if you choose to believe the ancient ballads, resided here and it was notable as the home of Ned Ludd the legend from whom the word ‘Luddite’ was derived. The Luddites were a decent bunch of lad who smashed factory textile machines to keep the poverty stricken in work. People over the ages have rioted about practically everything in Nottingham. including the price of cheese. They even burnt Nottingham Castle down because they didn’t like the Duke much. Bravo!

There may be three negatives to come…

September 26, 2016 Posted by | On The Road | , , | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

I WAS GLAD TO HEAR that Jeremy Corbyn won his ‘re-election’ today. It had seemed totally unfair to me that he had to go through this process after his resounding win to become leader just a short while ago – just because some Labour people didn’t agree about what he had to offer and weren’t prepared to accept him. Or the fact that the media and to some degree the electorate, seem to believe that owning a somewhat unkempt beard and not dressing in power suits are relevant political portents in a leader. We rue the fact that Jeremy is not a ‘smart young man’, like Blair and Cameron for example. Excuse me while I rid the thought of them out of my mind… Jeremy Corbyn however, appears a thoroughly decent, fair-minded and scrupulous individual by comparison. That will never do in 2016.

What’s noticeable is the miserablist attitude of the losing Labour side today who seemingly would happily like to see him hung out to dry in a General Election as they were unable to divorce him from his position – by quite some margin actually. Albeit, I do agree with reservations regarding Jeremy’s leadership abilities. Another of the many reasons why the Labour Party is heading nowhere –  apart from oblivion, sadly.

I’m afraid though, after being a solid Labour supporter all my life and a member in the past it all leaves me somewhat cold these days and it is unlikely they will ever receive my vote again. Their duplicitous attitude, when they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories over the Scottish referendum has seen to that. Many of us will not forget talk about armed border controls between England and Scotland by the ridiculous Labour leader of the time and the sickening deceit and lies of Gordon Brown. I have family in both countries and this is unacceptable to me. I actually spoiled my voting slip for what it is worth at the last General Election, scribbling the candidates out and adding SNP – this in Gedling Borough constituency in the heart of England.

Good luck Jeremy, you’re going to need it, my friend. Far from being the raging lefty you are presented as, you merely represent what a mainstream Labour Party should be all about. As distinct from the red Tories they have scandalously become Labour died in this decade I’m afraid. They are sadly, no longer.

‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’

September 24, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , | Leave a comment

The Strange Saga of Hughie Green

IN THE 1960s, when game shows were king, perhaps one man stood out for the sheer bulk of presence on our television screens. Hughie Green a Canadian born in London, UK hosted Double Your Money a show that ran for fully 260 episodes until 1968. Based on the US 64,000 Dollar Question the programme was the required viewing on ITV when there were but two and latterly three channels only to choose from as many families would gather to watch Hughie’s antics.

His popularity went from strength to strength as a household name and celebrity as he then hosted Opportunity Knocks the classic talent show which then ran on Thames TV up until 1978 with Green at the helm.

Green, at times, displayed a less savoury side to his character and many were the stories regarding his heavy drinking and generally obnoxious behaviour. The former was said by some to have been the reason that the popular show took a hiatus and he lost his position heading it. Green complained bitterly, even to the degree of a remarkable display of self interest on-air at the end of the final episode when he waxed lyrical, boasting about his wartime service as a veteran.

He was central to something of a scandal at the time when it was revealed that he was the biological father of TV presenter, Paula Yates – a fact she found out through the press.

I recently came across a recording of Green making a personal appearance at the Cavendish Woodhouse furniture store in Nottingham at the time, when he had recently had his show taken off the air and was not at all happy about it. I recall it being reported at the time in the local press that local radio station, Radio Trent, had been there to cover the occasion but refused to air the recording made of journalist, John Darby, also a Canadian, as Green rounded on him in bizarre fashion. The recording can be heard here and is transcribed below.

Green seemed to take umbrage straight away at being corrected on the name of the radio station. He then pounced on where interview Darby hailed from:

Green: Hey listen, we’ve got John Darby from Radio Nottingham, is that right?

Darby: No, it’s actually Radio Trent.

Green: Oh, it’s Radio Trent so…It’s Radio Trent we’ve got John Darby from…and we’ve got some special customers here this morning, John.

Darby: It’s rather fun to be here but one thing I was just thinking about and that is that we’re both Canadians.

Green: Well that’s great, where are you from?

Darby: I’m from Toronto.

Green: You’re from Toronto, well I’m from Montreal so let’s fight. We’ll have a fight right now and have a fight between Montreal and Toronto. So go on, what else have you got to say?

Darby: Well, we want to know what you’re doing now?

Green: What am I doing now? Well look at me, I’m surrounded with beautiful women. The most beautiful women in the world of course come from Nottingham and we were really having a marvellous time, are we having a marvellous time? Come on over here madam (interviews an onlooker).

It was at this point that Darby, unintentionally or not, somewhat hamfistedly admittedly, found Green’s achilles heel when he mentioned the loss of the presenter’s show:

Darby: Hughie, do you think that now that the show (Opportunity Knocks) is now over you may be forgotten?

Green: I couldn’t care less whether I’m forgotten or not, I mean that’s that, doesn’t matter, you can see all the people (shouts) have you forgotten me? Have you forgotten me? I mean that’s the kind of a snide remark you would get from someone from Toronto. That’s why people in Montreal hate Torontonians. They all say you know (affects voice) ah so and so, you’re all so and so. And we’ve got a much nicer city in Montreal than you have in Toronto. Now go on, ask something else nasty.

Darby: Well what are you going to be doing now?

Green: That’s none of your business. Now ask another smart question.

Darby: You must have some future plans?

Green: Never mind. Now may I ask you a question?

Darby: You certainly may.

Green: Why don’t you shave? Ladies and gentlemen, we have just been talking to the four-eyed interviewer from Radio Trent and it has been a delight. We are all enjoying ourselves, now why don’t you go back to your morgue and bury yourself. Thank you very much indeed.

Hughie Green spent his latter life as a recluse in his Baker Street flat. After a life time of heavy drinking, pipe smoking and a latter recreational barbiturate habit he was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in 1997 at the age of 77.

September 19, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , , | Leave a comment

Notts County 1975/6

This is Notts County pictured in 1975/6 when they finished fifth in the old Division Two. Apparently this was the last time the Magpies finished above neighbours, Nottingham Forest in the league. Of course, a genius had just taken over the reigns on the opposite bank of the Trent and truly amazing things were just about to happen in Nottingham…

county

At that time I watched a lot of football, each Saturday afternoon visiting Notts’ Meadow Lane or Forest’s City Ground. Most Tuesday and Wednesday night fixtures too. These familiar and affectionate imposters in my football allegiances were however only ever secondary to my one true football love residing at Easter Road and the always treasured trips home to see the green and white. What a team and what players we had in that era too…

The interesting thing about this shot to me is that I can instantly, without hesitation, name every single individual in that team photo, even the reserve goalie. In these times, of numerous loans, Bosmans and short term contracts we can barely even remember who played for our team the season before last.

Just to prove the former point, here goes:

Back row: Dave McVay, Kevin Randall, Pedro Richards, Les Bradd, Arthur Mann
Centre: Ray O’Brien, Steve Carter, Eric McManus, Frank Lane, Dave Needham, Ian Bolton
Front: Jack Wheeler (Trainer) Eric Probert, Paul Hooks, Ronnie Fenton (Manager) Brian Stubbs, Ian Scanlon, Mick Vinter.

September 18, 2016 Posted by | Sporting Tales | , , | Leave a comment

The Beatles – Practice Makes Perfect

I’m always interested in stories of big bands and artists that played in more humble environments in the early stages of their career – particularly intrigued if they had already earned a degree of fame and popularity at the time. As an example, way back, I was fortunate enough to see The Specials, Madness and The Selector in the perhaps surprising surroundings of Kimberley Leisure Centre in Nottinghamshire. Another memorable night in a similar era was of The Police appearing at Rushcliffe Leisure Centre in the same county. They were pretty big at the time too.

beatles

The greatest band of them all, The Beatles, played Nottingham on four occasions in 1963/64, earlier in their recording career. Once at a banqueting suite above the main Co-op store in the city and three times at the Odeon cinema, cinema gigs being popular in that era. My own sister was at a couple of the Odeon performances where nobody heard much apart from a crescendo of screaming girls. Nobody cared.

The building that housed the Elizabethan Rooms still exists these days as a casino on the main thoroughfare, Upper Parliament Street. The Odeon, which had the distinction of becoming Nottingham’s first multi-screen cinema is sadly, no longer, having been demolished in 2012. Flats now stand on this hallowed and very centrally situated site in the city,

At the beginning of their career The Beatles played more than two-hundred times in Hamburg in Germany, including a ninety-two day residency at the Top Ten Club. It’s estimated that they spent over five-hundred hours entertaining the crowds in Hamburg alone, polishing their skills, musicianship and stagecraft.

Kids, this is how you get good.

September 16, 2016 Posted by | I CAN HEAR MUSIC | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Prince

THE LEGENDARY Cecil Bustamente Campbell, aka Prince Buster, the ‘King of Ska’ has died on the 8th of September 2016 at the age of 78. The Prince was a great pioneer of Jamaican music and bequeathed a legacy of the music to the many that he influenced.

Buster was born on the famed Orange Street, the main thoroughfare in Kingston, Jamaica and gained the name ‘Prince’ due to his boxing ability with his early singing being in church and private family faith meetings.

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Campbell became involved in the operational side of running Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd’s sound system in Kingston in a variety of roles, one as security in which he put his boxing ability to good use. Before long, using his experience to create his own sound system, the ‘Voice of the People’.

The singer’s career took off in the sixties with appearances such as on Ready Steady Go! and his first top twenty UK hit, ‘Al Capone’ in 1967.

He is widely credited as the foundation of ska’s revival vanguard in the late 1970s – the 2-Tone movement. With Madness naming themselves after a Buster song and their first single, ‘The Prince’,  recorded as a tribute to him. Contemporaries, The Specials, also recorded a Buster track in ‘Enjoy Yourself’ in 1980.

I’m going to resist the temptation to link ‘The Ten Commandments of Man’ or ‘Big Five’ (uncensored version) here and go for perhaps the most obvious one, ‘Al Capone’. Happy memories for me as it was one of the early Ska songs that I first heard and that me and my friends danced to in local youth clubs. Happy days.

(Dedicated to Frankie Allan. Rest in Peace, buddy)

September 9, 2016 Posted by | I CAN HEAR MUSIC | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Focusing on Suicide Prevention

Today marks the first day of Suicide Prevention Week 2016 in the US and World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th. Much is said about talking to people who are in difficulties and appear in need. I’m going to add to that the suicide survivors – those who survive the suicide of a close one, whose life changes forever and who are dropped into a strange and frightening world of self-survival, grief, trauma, guilt and anguish.

I unfortunately, became a member of that group over two years ago and the attached article from that time illustrates just some of the myriad ways it affected my life.

The Twenty Truths of Losing Your Partner to Suicide


The only benefit I understand is that in my work, it has allowed me to talk to people who have suicidal feelings, clearly, concisely and without judgement.

I kindly ask you to talk similarly to these people. Please help them the best way you know how.

In those momentous days afterwards, I called The Samaritans – not primarily because I wanted to die but because I wanted to understand how to live. You can find them on:
Tel: 116 123
Email: jo@samaritans.org
http://www.samaritans.org/

Suicide Prevention

http://www.suicidepreventionapp.com/

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 3 Comments