Welcome one and all to my beach hut

Grab a deck chair, Tea or coffee and help yourself to a buiscuit but you'd better mind the seaguls or they'll grab them first. Just look at that view and doesn't the sea look inviting.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Time Marches On

It as been some time since I last posted a blog here and its not that I have run out of things to post about. There will be times in everyone’s life when pressing or unforeseen events seem to take full control of your time to the exclusion of all else and I have had two such events come together unexpectedly over the last three months.

I have been contemplating the progress of time recently and there are many mystery’s attached to it. When we are young time seems to us to go very slow. Time must seem agonisingly slow for a young infant unable to move and fend for itself and even once we have learnt to crawl we are even more impatient for the time we can stand, walk and run. During our formative years time drags for so many. We can’t wait for school holidays to arrive then not long after we wish it was time to finally put our schooling years behind us, we long to meet someone of the opposite sex, for that first kiss and eventually to settle down with someone. We long for the time when we can get our first wheels whether they are four or just three, it seems at this age that time always drags. Once we have married, got a home and start raising a family our time always seems so full. Every moment of the day seems to be full of chores and we seem to have to work very hard to find any time for ourselves. Then something very strange happens, just when you finally loose all your shackles because the family have grown up and left home and you look forward to retiring from work, time seems to move up a gear and you find that even though you have less demands on your time there never seems time to do all the things that you always wanted to do. Because of the aging process things take longer to do and some days it seems that time is going far to fast.

I can recall the time when I was a boy and each year I would go away for a whole week to the seaside. It always seemed to me that the first half of the week went slowly and there was plenty of time to enjoy all the pleasures associated with the seaside but once Wednesday had gone by the final three days would be all a blur and before you knew it you were on the station waiting for the train to take you home. What kind of illusion is this and why does it seem to re-occur in the cycle of life.

I mentioned at the start of this blog that two things had happened that had taken over my time in recent days. The more pressing of the two was the recent death of my father in his 90th year. What can you say about the closing of someone’s life, the words of him having a good innings spring to mind, being born in 1922 he had seen many changes and experienced many exciting events of history. He had served his country by joining the RAF in 1939 but due to unsatisfactory eyesight had to take a ground post. However he was still able to be involved in the action, during the Battle of Britain he was stationed at Biggin Hill and later served in Europe after D Day before being shipwrecked after the troop ship he was travelling on was torpedoed, which must have been a terrifying experience for dad considering he couldn’t swim. Dad spent most of his working life as a bus conductor, first off working for Barton’s in there Long Eaton depot and then for 20 years working for London transport which from story’s my father told could have been a very hazardous job at times. My father always wanted to reach 90 and we made what he said was the best day of his life by organising a small party for him at is sheltered housing complex in Peterborough in February ( see photo above with dad surrounded by is friends at Millfield House). Seeing to the closure of a person’s life is both an emotional and tiring experience. Travelling between Skegness and Peterborough during is short illness in hospital and then seeing to all the arrangements that need to be done after death is time consuming and energy sapping. Dad only lived in a one bedroom flat within the sheltered housing complex, he only had is pension to live on and so there was very little to pass on. Most of his possessions were great usefulness to his daily life but of very little monetary value to others. The most valuable assets to me were finding his RAF medals and a few photograph’s which I will treasure and most of all the memories I will have of times with him.

What do you say to close the life of someone who has lived to a good age, that he ran a good race or he stayed the course. What will be the reward no one can tell because none of us knows the rules? Time does march on and all you can hope for in this life is that you can live it out honestly and long to the end. I am reminded of the words of Shakespeare the world is a stage:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Time does march on but I hope to have a little more time to devote to this blog in the future and I hope that you all continue to enjoy reading it, where ever you are.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Music: Food For Our Soul

There’s a saying that the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach, then surely the way to a man’s soul is through is ears.

Music is the food of our soul. Even if we're not composers there is always a song that reflects our feelings, thoughts, mood culture and traditions.
Music awakens our imagination making us fly in time bringing back memories from our childhood, youth, or important events that can make us smile, laugh, cry, sigh or even dance!

Notice any child, as soon as they learn to stand, even before they can walk instinctively they move and sway along with music. The love of music I believe is passed down through the generations. I have always loved Brass Bands but it is only in recent years through researching my family Tree that I have discovered my grandfather’s love and devotion to Brass Band music. He was a member of the Long Eaton Silver Prize band club and accompanied the band on many trips to the Albert Hall, London for the National Finals. My Grandparents even had a band member lodging with them during the WWII years.

I have my school days to thank also for my love of classical music, thanks to an enthusiastic teacher I first discovered how music can tell a story by listening to a piece of music by Sergei Prokofiev sometimes referred  to as ‘The Young Peoples Guide To The Orchestra’ but more commonly known as ‘Peter and the Wolf’. In the piece each instrument symbolises a character in the story. Follow the link to hear how this works.  http://www.philtulga.com/Peter.html.

Through my teenage years I learned to love many forms of music from Traditional folk to what was called the protest folk music of Bob Dylan before moving on to more popular forms of music like the Liverpool sound of the Beatles.

I have from my youth also been a lover of the musical theatre, there is something magical about adding a song to a story as anyone who has had the opportunity of viewing classics like Les Miserables or West Side story will tell you it just seems to enhance the emotions of the characters and story.

I also enjoy the swing era of the 1940s and the sound of the dance bands that originated during that period. There is something about the sound generated by a group of talented individuals coming together in harmony and combining to create what has sometimes been referred to as a wall of sound.

I recently had the great frill of being able to attend a concert by the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra who were performing in the Embassy Theatre in Skegness. This was for me the first time I had experienced live a concert in which a 61 piece orchestra had performed and it was wonderful. I can’t really explain it but it gave me a warm glow of well being and I couldn’t stop smiling all through the performance. It was truly a joyful experience.

There are many messages in music and for me the vision I got from the Helsingborg concert was that if only our world could run in harmony just like that 61 piece orchestra did, what a wonderful place it would be to live in. The orchestra contained many individually talented musicians but to create the sound that so many of us enjoyed it was necessary to work together as one. If only it was possible for everyone to work together as one for the benefit of the whole how wonderful that would be. But I guess that will never happen because we all get lost in our own needs and we are all in competition with each other, so it seems that only in music can we experience true harmony.

I feel sorry for those who are not emotionally moved by music for I feel they are missing out on so many things.

I can truthfully say in the words of John Miles “Music is my first love and it will be my last, music of the future and music of the past.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Day Three Onwards Of The Queens Jubilee Celebrations weekend

Carrying on from my last blogs account of the Queens Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in London as well as here in Skegness we move away from the wet weather of Sunday to the more promising outlook of day 3 of the celebrations.

Monday morning was spent watching recordings of yesterday’s river pageant on the river Thames. The Thames has been called London’s greatest street, if you study its course you will discover it links many royal palaces together. It is hard for us to imagine that when the British Isles was a part of Europe before the last ice age that Thames was an extension to the Rhine, the ice melted and the land we now know as Britain became a group of islands and it was the Thames that carried trade and people deep into its interior that establish London as its capital.  So it was fitting that it was the Thames that was chosen to feature as the main event of the Facilities and what a great pageant it proved to be. So much of our recent history was on display, from the early trade vessels that worked on the river to the small which set sail from the Thames to rescue the British army from the shores of Dunkirk.  http://www.rmg.co.uk/about/press/royal-river-power-pageantry-and-the-thames

 In the Afternoon I visited the nearly named The Village Church Farm museum. Skegness was till just over a hundred years ago a mainly just a rural community with a small group of fishermen and there family’s dwelling along the shore and it would be the village green where all the celebrations would take place. There would be games organised for the children and plenty of ale to be drunk before the lighting of the beacon to spread the news of the happy events.

The evenings celebrations began with a visit to the impressive St Mathews Church which was built as part of the redevelopment of Skegness as a Victorian resort by the sea. Plans were drawn up in the 1880s to develop an area in the centre of the town to cater for the people who would be brought to the coast by the newly established railway link. This area was to incorporate a pleasure garden, hotels and also a new church built in the center of a road island on what was planned as the main thoroughfare that would lead to the developments magnificent new pier that would carry visitors out to sea to enable them to enjoy the sensational bracing air that was the reason given by many for visiting the coast.

The Concert was a community effort entitled ‘ Rule Britannia’ with contributions from local school children and groups like the Skegness Playgoers, choral societies and I was really pleased to see contributions from the popular Alive and Kicking group who have been providing social events and activities for those with learning difficulties of all ages in the town for many years. The accompanying music was provided by the every popular Skegness Silver Band. The church was full and a good time was had by all and everyone enjoyed the finale of the singing of Rule Britannia.

The night concluded for me with a second visit by me that day to the Village Church Farm for yet more singing of popular songs like Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and of course God Save The Queen before the welcome site of the lighting of the Skegness Beacon that would join a string of over other beacons throughout the British Isles before the final beacon was lit by the Queen on the Mall.

The Final morning of the celebrations on the Tuesday was spent visiting Winthorpe which is a community just on the edge of Skegness. The residents association had done a marvellous job in putting together an event that would please every one and was well supported by the community and those who were elected to represent the community. There was a five a side football, side stalls and trade stalls and all the things you would associate with this type of celebrations. The Weather was fine and everyone was enjoying themselves, I congratulate the community association for putting on a grand show.

Finally I settled down to watch the recording of last nights Jubilee Consort for the Queen performed on a stage built just in front of Buckingham palace. It was billed as the concert represented the music associated with the queens 60 years of reign. I enjoyed it so much because it was not only music that had been a major part of the Queen’s life but it was the music that had run through my life also. From the early days of Paul McCartney and Cliff  to Tom Jones Elton John and Stevie Wonder and on to Gary Barlow and Jesse J of today’s music. It also included a long list of comedians who announced the acts and filled in between acts which could have been reduced considerably if they had handed the job to Peter Kay who was in my opinion the best of the lot.

All in All a good time was had both in London and Skegness despite the appalling weather on the Sunday     

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Queens Jubilee Celebrations

Wonderful four days of Celebrations to mark the Queens Diamond Jubilee here in Skegness. As always the weather played a big part in how the events panned out, but overall we were very lucky  as they say 3 out of 4 ain’t bad. Saturday started us of with a mainly sunny start, I have a very relaxing day in Tower Gardens, enjoying the exhibition of work by some talented artists from the Skegness Art Club, Browsing through some well preserved Vintage cars and motorcycles from Boston and sitting back and enjoying the wonderful sounds of Brass from the talented Skegness Silver band, what more could you ask for. Unfortunately I arrived home to see my horse (bonfire) in the Derby put on a dismal display to come in way down the field behind the Triumphant Camelot.

Sunday was a complete washout as far as the main celebrations in Lumley Road Skegness went. It had persistenly rained all through Saturday night and Sunday morning. The main shopping area had been closed off to traffic and groups and a parade had been booked. The groups had to be moved indoors and the parade was cancelled, so disappointing for all the orginizers. We made the effort to be there for the opening ceremony but only got drenched in the process and it was so cold as well.

We had been invited to a local street party at 4pm on the same day and it was still raining but by now it had been reduced to a drizzle. We arrived to find the party still set to go on and small band was playing under a make do shelter and one of the hotels in the area had opened up there dining room for the food. It was a case of carry on regardless and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The earliest street parties were held around the end of World War I in 1919 with “Peace Teas” to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. They were tea parties that were focussed on a special treat for children in those times of hardship and were quite formal sit down affairs. These street parties organised by residents were very popular and were probably a development of the more formal public street dinners that had historically been held for occasions such as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Since that time the community get-together has grown in popularity as famous events are celebrated across the nation on a local level. 1945 saw the VE (Victory in Europe) Day street parties as streets gathered together to celebrate the end of the war in Europe. Cries of “God save the Queen” rang through the street parties of 1953 as the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation on 2nd June brought thousands to the streets to welcome their new monarch and watch the first Coronation to be broadcast on TV. It was on this day that a British classic dish was born - Coronation Chicken which remains a popular nostalgic party dish to this day.

Other major events that have been celebrated with street parties include the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in1977, the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and, of course, last year’s Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. It has not only been Royal events that have joined residents together though as England’s World Cup Victory in 1966 had people across the country joining together to celebrate with street parties.

Originally, the traditional street party was at times of austerity so food would have been simple and consisted of whatever was available. In 1953 for the Queen’s coronation, food was still rationed after World War II but households were given an extra pound of sugar and 4 oz of margarine for the celebrations.

The parties of today may not have the same constraints but they will still be a celebration of traditional British food and tradition. I hope the tradition of holding street parties will go on long after my generation have vacated this earth, we all need an excuse to get to know our neighbours and this often leads to bonds being formed in the community that last long after the party has ended.

I will continue this look back at the 4 days of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in my next blog.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Sixty years of memories

Sixty years ago on Feb 6th it was announced on the radio that King George VI had died peacefully in his sleep during the night at Sandringham House and that Princess Elizabeth had now become Queen Elizabeth II. I was just four and a half years old at the time and so the news did not register much to me, but I do remember that all radio programm's were stopped and for the next few days all that could be heard was sombre music. It must have been a very sad and final occasion for many, they had lost a king who had stood by them during the dark days of the second world war, who had shared there grief and who gave them courage through their darkest days and had shared also in their triumphant celebrations when victory was assured. It was just seven years since the end of the war in Europe and much of England was still in ruins, there must have been uncertainty, how would the young princess cope, would she be up to the task.

Just over a year later 60 years ago tomorrow June 2nd . Things were very different I was just two months short from my sixth birthday and I have quite a few memories of that day. The day started very wet in fact according to the weather reports of the period we were in the middle of a period of atrocious weather that would go on till the middle of June http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/philip-eden/Coronation-Weather.htm.

There was some news circulating that morning about Edmond Hilary had reached the summit of Everest but I was too excited about the forthcoming party to care much about that. I was at one of my Aunts at the time and she was one of the few residents in the street with one of these new fangled contraptions called a television or as my Uncle referred called it, a goggle box. It seemed to me that nearly half the street had packed into my Aunts front room to watch the very small screen in the corner of the room and all the time us kids played together in the background. I recall seeing the gold coach coming down the Mall. I also recall seeing snippets of the arrival at the Abbey and of the crowning ceremony, but for us kids it went on far too long.

Finally it was over and I can recall going out into the street and watching a small parade with a made up band of people playing a variety of instruments including someone with a zinc bath strapped to his front and was hitting it with too much force for my liking. After the parade had passed the trestle tables came out and everyone on the street had worked together to provide a feast of proportions I had never seen before, how they had achieved this when you recall that many food items were still under rationing is anyone’s guess. We all had a great time and each of us kids went away with a coronation mug provided by the committee.

The one constant person through the lives of all who can recall that day in 1953 is our queen. Family and friends have come and gone, for some of us our surroundings have changed a few times along with our places of work but our Queen Elizabeth has ruled and shared with us our joys and our sorrows. We have learnt to enjoy the many celebrations, the weddings, the births, the Birthdays and the anniversary’s of her reign.

I remember very well the celebrations surrounding her silver Jubilee in 1977. We were living in Derby at the time and were keen walkers. I had spotted an article in our local newspaper about the Jubilee celebrations in Matlock. They were holding a competition to discover the person who could show the most unique way of reaching the town for the celebrations and we decide that we would walk the 25 miles from Derby to Matlock and at the same time raise money for The Princes Trust. We decorated our rucksacks with Union Jacks and wore red white and blue woollen hats. Just as in the morning of the Coronation the weather was atrocious, we got soaked to the skin even before we reached Belper. But with a few pints inside after a few stops at the local hostelries it didn’t seem too bad. Eventually it began to clear up and by the time we reached Matlock Bath the sun was sinning and our collection boxes were feeling full. We reached Matlock just in time to join the parade and we were later presented the trophy for the most unusual way of reaching Matlock. Much later after having our photo taken and an interview for the Derby Evening Post and many more pints we caught the train back to Derby having had a wonderful day out.

Again I am looking forward to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Skegness; I will be putting the effort in and decorating the Mobility scooter just as I did for William & Kates wedding. Sunday June 3rd is the big day in Skegness, they are pedestrianising part of Lumley road where they will be having craft stalls, live music and a gathering of famous mascots throughout the day and later in the evening we will be attending a traditional street party. Let us hope that this time the weather will be fine, but come rain or shine I will be raising my glass and once more and will be singing God Save the Queen and hoping she will reign over us for many years to come.   

Please feel free to share any of your own memories

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The bloggers delema = life gets in the way a bit

I have been blogging now for over 17 months and I am enjoying the experience. I try to make my blogs enjoyable and interesting with a sprinkle of history thrown in. I try not to get political or touch any other controversial matter but sometimes it gets really hard. I just like to talk about what affects me living on the coast in a light hearted sort of way, plus I like to review the books I’m reading and the music in my life.  I never believed that anyone would read my blog when I first started and so was surprised by how many and amazed at where people were in the world who reach my blog. It’s hard to know how many of the people who hit my page actually read the blog, so it is very satisfying when someone leaves a comment.

I try to do at least 2-3 blogs a week but sometimes find it hard to make time stretch enough to allow me to do this. Just looking at my last blog its almost a month ago, time seems to go much to fast as you get older and life does get in the way. With the unseasonal weather we have been having in Skegness work on my community group has taken up more of my time and once you slip out of the blogging habit it becomes hard to get back into it again.

But I’m back now so I hope to get into the swing again, lots happening here in Skegness over the next few days with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and I hope to visit as many events as possible, the beach huts are opened for the summer now and so I hope to be stepping out of my virtual BH soon and into a shiny new one built during the winter in nearby Mablethorpe.

I hope I haven’t lost all of my readership and I hope you continue to enjoy my blogs and if possible leave a few comments now and then just to let me know you’re all still out there still in Hyperspace.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Spencer Perceval

People are always saying “ It was never has bad as this when I was young” to which I often reply “ no, it was probably worse”. I’m always dipping into history and the more I do this the more I understand that nothing has changed over the centurys, only the names and faces are different.

Take for instant the story of Spencer Perceval. The name is unlikely to ring a bell, perhaps the only time the name comes up these days is during a pub quiz when the question is ‘Who was the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated whilst in office? I came across this story recently and even though it took place 200 years ago it wouldn’t be out of place during these life and times.

It was May 1812. Parliament was involved in pushing through sanctions against France as a result of the Napoleonic wars that was damaging British trade with Europe. At the same time the luddite movement was causing riots because workers were unhappy that new machinery was putting skilled workers out of a job. The prime minister was in a hurry to get to a meeting when he was confronted in the lobby by a well built and well dressed man who raised a pistol to his chest and at point blank range shot him through the heart. Perceval was dead in minutes and this swiftly led to panic has it was thought that this murder could have been the start of a general onslaught on Parliament.

Such a response was hardly surprising. Not only was Britain at war, but the Conservative government had also been coming under pressure from two domestic movements. First, A revived radicalism had brought talk of corruption in high places centered around the wealthy and radical MP, Sir Francis Burdett and his calls for political reform and secondly by the Luddism movement, which had spread from Nottingham in 1811 to many other parts of the country. Less than two weeks before Perceval’s death, Luddites had murdered a mill owner in West Yorkshire and public unrest was spreading rapidly.

However Perceval’s Assassin gave himself up with out a struggle and it was soon discovered when questioned that the act of murder was due to a totally separate grievance with the government over an arrest in Russia and wrongful imprisonment and that the government had failed to compensate him properly.

During the trial he denied insanity and was found guilty of murder and executed just 6 days later. The public mistaking the murder as a political act actually gathered to boo the soldiers who took the Assassin away and the Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge later came across some men in a pub drinking a toast to the assassin. Evidence of celebrations after the news of Perceval’s death came from far and wide, at Nottingham the church bells were rung, at Leicester there was a super and song and at Sheffield there were sheep roasted whole.

Six years later it was only luck and his habit of bounding up stairs that saved Palmerston from an attempted assassination by another disappointed petitioner. There are so many recognisable similarities to our present time which is why I have used it. Unpopular government and rumours of corruption in high places and  mass unemplyment and that this is why I chose it as an example

History teaches us that the same problems and conflicts keep repeating themselves and only the names and faces change. Because it is built into our nature to be competitive there will always be conflicts and battles, whether those battles are light hearted such as the ones held last weekend on the the TV programme ‘The Voice' or whether they are fought between rival groups of supporters on the football terraces or  religions, policies or Countries who just don’t see eye to eye, they will always be there. 

No one age is better than another, just the winning sides change. Today is St Georges day and I rejoice in the Knowledge that so far during my life time I have not known conflict on the scale of my fathers and his fathers, my personal feeling about this is that this is due to the courage of the men and women of the first half of last century, I can also rejoice that during my life we have had a settled Monachy in this country and although we often take this for granted I believe the work undertaken by our Queen has made a considerable impact on our stability. I’m glad to be English and I’m glad to serve our Queen and I can but hope that we will come through this present upheaval to make Britain Great once again.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Mr Guitar

He was known simply as Mr Guitar and was the inspiration for a generation guitar legends like Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney.

Born in East Ham, East London in 1920 he was just 12 years old when he persuaded his dad to by him a guitar from a stall in Petticoat lane Market for the equivalent of 75p.

In a very varied career that took him from playing with some of the top dance bands of the day such as Ted Heath and Mantovani before going on to backing great stars like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Nat king Cole and Judy Garland before having chart success in the 1950s with Guitar Boogie Shuffle and Nashville Boogie.

He was nearing 40 years of age before he became the inspiration that brought us the sound that we have got to know and to love. It was in 1957 that his book ‘Play in a day’ was released which became the manual that introduced a generation of young musicians to Stardom. Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison all learned to play the guitar from his book, without Bert we may never have heard guitar Idols like Keith Richards, Pete Townsend and Brian May.

Every youngster who wanted to learn the guitar bought is book ‘Play in a day’ because they all were eager to learn as fast as they could. It was the Shadows who owed so much to him for there success that recorded a tune called Mr Guitar as a tribute to him.

I remember hearing Bert on his many appearances on the Sunday morning radio show ‘Easy Beat’ and have always regarded his hit Guitar Boogie Shuffle has one of the great instrumental tracks of it’s age.

The ‘Play in a day’ book went on to sell millions and was surely the reason for the growth of first the 60s beat sound that led to the first Rock Bands in the 1970s.

Rest in peace Bert we owe you so much for the wonderful music you inspired.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

And The Band Played On -By Christopher Ward

You would be mistaken if you thought that this book is another book just about the sinking of the Titanic. Yes it does play an important part of the book but only during the opening chapters. Christopher Ward started the project of researching the family tree of his Grandfather Jock Hume who was a member of the Orchestra playing on the Titanic the night it sunk. Christopher’s intention was to compile a family tree to pass on to his children but during his research he uncovered remarkable story that revealed how the sinking of the titanic and the loss of Jocks life affected his ancestors right down to the present day. It was only after completion of is research that friends convinced him that the story of love, hate, deception and courage should be made into a book. Jock was a remarkable violinist who quite possibly made a career for himself had he not died on the Titanic that fateful night. The story tells of how Jock turned to playing on cruise ships to escape is spiteful Father and how he met and fell in love with Mary Costin. The voyage on the Titanic would have probably have been is last because Jock found out that Mary was going to have his child just before he sailed and how he planned to Mary her on his return. The opening chapters describe the fateful full night and the recovery of the bodies after the sinking of the Titanic. It compares the life and death of the passengers and crew and shows how class still played a major part even after death. Like at home was not a happy childhood, his mother was ill and is father was both cruel and a compulsive liar who was against Jocks relationship with Mary because he felt she was only from a working background and has such he would be marrying below his status.

This part of the story of Andrew Hume disowning Jock and Mary and his own grandchild kind of mirrored my own story and so had a personal feel about it. My Great Great Grandfather had disowned my great grandmother for a similar reason. He was a wealthy industrialist who had done well during the Nottingham lace making of the 19th Century and his wife was from a working canal family. My grt grandmother met a railwayman who was lodging across the street. To understand why Enoch was against my grt grandfather Samuel you need to understand that the railways had put the Canal families out of business and Enoch was also a high church man and Samuel was a chapel person and a non conformist of the day. So when Samuel and Harriet married Enoch disowned them both and has my research shows made a considerable difference to the social life of my ancestors.

The story recounts how the brave bandsman’s death was commemorated in his home town of Dumfries  and how the deceitful action Jocks father denied his granddaughter even the a chance to get money from a trust fund set up to care for unfortunate families. It shows how his deceitfulness later ruined Andrews’s life and how he rebuilt it with even more deceit. Andrew was a wicked and some feel a somewhat mad person who was cruel to both is wife and children and how as soon as his wife died he married an equally cruel woman. The story shows how this cruelty to one of his children led to another scandal that rocked the Hume household and had a lasting effect on individuals.

I really enjoyed this book because it not only gave an insight into the final hours of the Titanic and what happened afterwards but gave many clues to how different society lived in those days when news travelled a lot slower and what class you belonged to mattered more than what kind of a person you were. I recommend this book to all who have undertaken family research or who enjoy reading about the past, it is well written and moves at a steady pace.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunday School

I was reminded whilst watching a television programme the other day of the time as a child when I attended Sunday school. Like many children of my age I was packed off every Sunday afternoon to attend classes at a nearby chapel. My parents weren’t particularly religious I think it was more about getting a little peace and quiet from us after Sunday lunch more than anything else. I can’t say I benefitted much from the experience but there was one annual treat that I am thankful for and the effect of it has stayed with me through out my life.

Every year on prize giving day each pupil was reward for their attendance to Sunday school with the gift of a book. We were very poor and books were a luxury and apart from Christmas when if you were lucky you might receive an annual from a relative books were not something we came to expect and so an adventure book as a prize was something very special. I believe that one of the books I received was ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson which remains to this day on of my favourite stories. 

Another treasured memory I have of my Sunday school experience was the annual Sunday school outing and one outing has remained in my memory. On the day in question we all piled into a double decker bus and I recall most of us boys made our way onto the top deck. The Journey must have been less than 18 miles to our destination which was Markeaton Park on the outskirts of Derby but to us kids it was as good as a trip to the coast. I recall having a Mary Poppins like experience on arrival at the park. We were led up the path which was on a small rise and has we crested the rise there in front of us was a bridge across a lake and on the other side was a small fair with all the usual fairground attractions and I remember thinking that somehow we were about to enter a magical Kingdom.

So all in all Sunday school was not a bad experience,

The Sunday school we attended though was a far cry from the early days of the movement. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century children as young as eight years old were working in factories 6 days a week. I was shocked when researching my own family tree to discover in a census of a great grandfather of mine whose trade was lace making to find a granddaughter of his residing with him having her listed occupation being a lace drawer at only 8 years of age. Unless you were a household of means it was very unlikely that your children would have had the opportunity of schooling. Robert Raikes one of the pioneers of the Sunday school movement had witnessed that many of the children brought up in slum conditions who were illiterate went on to a life of crime and imprisonment. He saw schooling as the best prevention, but Sunday was the only day when they were not working. The first Sunday school was set up in a private house in 1780 and was only for boys. Reading and writing was taught and the text used for this purpose was from the Bible. Later girls were allowed to attend and within two years several schools opened in and around the Gloucester area. Similar stories were going on in other parts of the country and soon these new free forms of education became established in the community.

  Within seven years it was estimated that nearly a quarter of a million children were being taught in Sunday Schools. This was almost three percent of the population. The children aimed at in the scheme were those whose parents could not afford day schooling or children already in employment and so at work during the week.

Meanwhile Raikes’s work in Gloucester continued to attract attention. Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, granted him an audience and encouraged others to follow his example. He was continually widening his interests and was involved in the establishment of the Gloucester Infirmary and a new and improved prison. He is an example of the zeal for social reform that was making great strides at that time. The establishment of Sunday Schools was one small part of the great social changes that were to change the face of society over the next quarter of a century

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Living Statues

Over the last year or so we have got used to seeing living statues in Skegness. They come in different costumes; a man dressed as a cavalier, a Victorian lady with parasol and my favourite the angel. Human statues have a long history in European street theatre; especially in city’s like Rome and Barcelona and more recently they have been seen in our university cities and places like Covent Garden.

They can be classed as buskers; street actors who dress up use make up and pose in a still life position. The clever ones will know how to work a crowd and by using simple movements will draw people to them to deposit a coin for an action. I like the Angel who gives out small glass pebbles to young children who deposit a coin.

The latest living sculpture to appear on our street has puzzled me. Not quite sure what or who it is supposed to be, it wears a dark costume with a very fuzzy wig that almost covers its face. Its fingers squeak when they move and when someone deposits a coin will trigger sound affects, sometimes the Adams Family Theme or the chimes of large big Ben style clock. I like the use of sound I think that aspect of the performance will grow.

There are all kinds of characters used by living statues, below are just a few.

I enjoy watching these street performers and the reaction of young children and think it’s an important ingredient in a modern day high street setting. I believe that if we are to encourage people back to our high streets we need to use street theatre and performers to add a little entertainment.

Another idea could be to use interactive projected scenes on both floor and side screens as shown in this example.  http://youtu.be/4pOJzMr2Jg0

The use of buskers and street performers will I believe become a more common site on our high streets in the future and there are many agencies springing up who specialise in providing these performers. Below are a few examples

Take a look at these funny vids of human statues on you tube

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Mods and Rockers

It seems a long time ago, and when I come to think of it that’s exactly what it was. Forty six years ago I came to Skegness as a mod. That’s me sitting on the right of the photo (top right) with my mate Geoff. I suppose I joined the mod culture because of the music, Tamla Motown, The Who, Small Faces, Troggs and The Kinks. A mate of mine I used to hang around with had a Lambretta Scooter which was I suppose another good reason why I became a mod. It was soon after this that I acquired a parka jacket which at the time was one of the distinctive pieces of clothing that all mods wore, however my job didn’t pay enough for me to splash out on the trendy suits that mods wore when they were out on a Saturday Night. The smarter you looked the more you stood out, especially with the girls and the top guy symbolised by ‘Sting’ in the Film ‘Quadrophenia’ was know as the ‘Ace Face’. Your 60s Parka Jacket were cheap, warm, relatively water proof and great for riding scooters in a pre-helmet era as one could tie the fur hood right up around your face. Plus, no one else was wearing them on the street and that was important to the mods. I think I got mine from the Army and Navy store, as soon as I got home I stuck some fur around the hood and painted a red white and blue bulls eye motive with the words The who written through it onto the back of the jacket. Now I could be recognise when out with my mates has a mod.

Greases like Rock and Roll music, wore leather jackets (some with studs in the backs of them in the design of a skull. They rubbed lots of brylcream in their hair, which has well as there scruffy appearance because they were always taking there bikes to bits gave them the name of greasers. Rockers rode Motor Cycles which on the whole were fairly plain to look at compared with the Mods form of transport

 The Mods preferred scooters which were more cleaner, often painted with Union Jacks to their engine casings, had mirrors attached to the front bodywork and usually spoted a long aerial attached to the metal back rest with a piece of fur attached to the top of it. My mates scooter was a Lambretta, another popular make was a Vespa which as often been described as having a hair drier attached to one side, which was really the engine.

The particular Easter we came to Skegness was some time in the mid 60s, I rode as pillion passenger on the back of Geoff’s scooter and I remember as we rode along we would often sing the Troggs classic hit ‘Wild Thing’

We arrived in Skegness around lunch time and spent most of the afternoon just riding around. We saw the occasional groups of Rockers but we kept to ourselves and never saw any trouble. We spent most of the evening in the Beachcomber Bar which was situated then in the Grand parade Complex that burnt down a few years back. The bar was full of mods but there was no trouble throughout the night. After the bar closed we followed the crowd onto the beach somewhere in the south of town. Someone had started a small fire and we dug holes in the sand and tried to bed ourselves down for the night. As usual it was a very cold Easter and not many of us got any sleep and about 4 am we were all sitting outside of a sea front cafĂ© waiting for it to open so that we could get a warming mug of tea.  I never saw any trouble the whole of the weekend, we came for a laugh but most of us left cold and just wanting some sleep and a warm bed.

Strange isn’t it but kids look at us today as if we don’t know what fun is about and as though there the ones that discovered how to rebel. Little do they know lol and I can remember that Easter Holiday as if it was yesterday.

Whether you were around at that period in history or not re-live the news of the day on these YouTube clips

How I remember those far off days, on the dance floor and not on the beaches scrapping.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Peter Pan Railway

Just received a post card I purchased on eBay. The picture on the card conjures up very special memories for me from my childhood. Like most young boys at that time I was mad on steam engines. My Grandfather was an engine driver bases at Toton goods yard near Nottingham and whenever possible I would persuade him to take me to where he worked and to see all the engines lined up in the sheds or shunting in the yard.

Whenever we went to the seaside the first thing I wanted to ride on was the Peter Pan railway and to be honest I think if they had let me I would have rode on them all day. Each miniature steam engine was brightly paint red, blue, pink or green and each engine took a maximum of four passengers. What was really great about the Peter Pan Railway was you could go on it and sit in the driver’s seat without an adult present. In our young innocent minds we believed that we were driving them all by ourselves, whilst in reality they were being controlled by the man in the hut who also took the money. There was a bright silver bell to ring and we weaved around flower beds through a tunnel whilst we steered the little engine with a steering wheel, or so we imagined.

I was always taken on holiday either by aunts and uncles or my grandparents as a child. They all worked on the railways so could afford to travel around our coast, north, south east and west and luckily there seemed to be a PPR in every resort around the country when I was growing up. I recall I wondered off one day and a frantic search was started but they needn’t have worried because they guessed where I might have been, I was found standing watching my favourite red engine weaving its way around the tracks

The Peter Pan Railway in the post card was at Butlins Skegness. The PPR in Skegness was next door to the model yacht pond (more or less where the River Rapid ride is today, just before you enter Bottons Pleasure Beach). Later I recall they replaced the Peter Pan engines with sport cars but they never had the same appeal for me.

You could keep your Dodgem cars and your big wheel I was happiest riding the Peter Pan Railway.

Heres a recent youtube clip of the familiar Peter Pan Railway in action

I do hope other readers have happy memories of the PPR wherever you found it, if so please share them.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Reading Matters - Kate Morton

Kate Morton is relatively new to the scene. I picked her second novel ‘The Forgotten Garden’ just over a year ago and enjoyed it very much. Then recently Skegness Library Book Club chose it for there book of the month.

Having read it before much of the story I soon recalled but being as we were to review it after reading I studied it much more closely and became really enthralled in its content so much so that I decided that I must read her first novel next, something I tend not to do.

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of southeast Queensland, Australia. She has degrees in Dramatic Art and English Literature and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Queensland. Kate lives with her husband and two young sons in Brisbane.
Kate Morton's books have been published in 31 countries. The House at Riverton was a Sunday Times #1 bestseller in the UK in 2007 and a New York Times bestseller in 2008. The Shifting Fog (know The House of Riverton) won General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards. Was nominated for Most Popular Book at the British Book Awards in 2008. Her second book, The Forgotten Garden, was a No1 bestseller in Australia and a Sunday Times No1 bestseller in the UK in 2008.

‘Forgotten Garden’ has been likened to a fairy tale and certainly for me it was very magical. One of the characters in the book is referred to as the Authoress who was famous for her Fairy tales, some of which are included in the narrative. The story begins in the early part of the 20th Century with a small girl left on a liner bound from England to Australia, all she has with her when she arrives is a small suitcase containing some clothes and a small book of fairy tales. The harbour master takes her in as one of his own whilst he waits for someone to claim her, but no one does. The small girl has no knowledge of this until her 21st birthday when her adopted father reveals the secret. The girl spends the next 60 years trying to discover her past, and this in turn lead’s her granddaughter to follow in her footsteps that will eventually change both there lives. It is clear that Kate has read very extensively, there are traces of Dickens in the tale of s young child growing up in Victorian London and you feel that you are in the familiar tale of Frances Hodgson’s ‘The Secret Garden’ much later in the tale. This book will appeal to anyone who has delved back into their own family history. Where and who the Childs family are is a real mystery which will lead you to and both the grandmother and granddaughter across the seas to Cornwall and a  small cliff top cottage overlooking a forgotten garden that can only be reached through a maze near a small Cornish fishing village. Who was the authoress? Who was the little girl’s parents? The mystery as many turns and will keep you guessing right to the end.

‘The House At Riverton’ is very different to the story I have just reviewed, though there are some similarities. The story also commences in the early part of the 20th Century. The narrator now in her 90s takes us back to when she was just 14 and starting out in service at Riverton. We follow her has she moves from being a house maid and her first involvements with those upstairs to her eventual becoming ladies Maid to one of  the daughters of the master of the house and estate.

This is a story of changing times and to a class structure that is drawing to its end. If you enjoy TV series like Upstairs & Downstairs and Downton Abbey then you will very much enjoy this novel, we see how the First World War affected both those upstairs and downstairs and how the balance of life changed because of it. There is a mystery concerning a death on the estate that will keep you guessing to the end. There is a love story and a story of youngsters growing up in the 20s and 30s with wild parties in London and the difficulties of maintaining the life style of the gentry. Has someone who as read much about the time and of families like the Mitford’s I found the narrative both believing and absorbing. Nearing the end I found it very hard to put this book down.

I will definitely read more from this author.

Monday, 26 March 2012

A New Lick of Paint and A Good Spring Clean

The great thing about living in a seaside town like Skegness is watching all the preparations in readiness for the new season. The town gradually changes from small sleepy back water with a population of a few thousand into a mass of people of well over 100,000 in just a few short weeks. It all start’s very slowly, you begin to see a few workmen about applying a new coat of paint to the shelters and railings along the front and before you know it the hot dog stalls and Fish and chips shops proprietors and the hoteliers are all out making small repairs and applying another coat of paint. Nearer Easter the gardeners will be out refilling the flower beds with fresh new plants and new light bulbs will replace those damaged during winter storms along the arcade fronts and on the rides in the pleasure beach. Everything will look bright and clean but is that all that is needed to keep the punters happy.

Our seaside tourism industry is relatively new. Less than 140 years ago Skegness was just a small fishing community with just the odd hotel that catered for the few visitors that could afford to travel and enjoy the sea air. Then with the growth of the railways the then Earl of Scarborough saw the potential of cheap travel to bring the masses to the coast and the profit that could be made from it. Before very long a new town had sprung up, a pleasure Pier had been built to cater for the needs of the visitors. The pleasure gardens with its new pavilion were soon to follow and the people flocked to Skegness in there thousands. New bathing machines were installed along the beach. A small fair and a ship turned into a museum appeared on the beach and theatre's began to open to cater for the needs of the visitors. In the 1920-30s paid holidays were introduced and coach loads of visitors came to Skegness from the many factories in the midlands and Yorkshire towns, many of these brought there local town bands along with them and they would play daily in the band stand of the pleasure gardens soon to be known as the Tower gardens whilst the children enjoyed the daily Punch and Judy shows. It was about this town that Billy Butlin turned up in the town and opened up the first proper fun Fair. He was perhaps to become the most influential person in Skegness's  short history. He brought the first Dodgem cars to be seen out of Europe to Skegness and it was during the 1930s that he opened the first of is Holiday Camps here in Skegness.

Then the war came and everything halted for a while. After the war Billy re-opened is camp and spent big money improving and expanding. Big changes were made in Skegness too in  the 1960s. The Natureland Seal Sanctuary was opened and Bottons took over the Pleasure Beach and brought new and exciting rides for our enjoyment and once again the crowds poured back to our town.

Then in the 1980s came the slump in the British seaside tourism. Thousands took advantage of cheap package holidays to Europe and mostly to Spain where the hot weather could be guaranteed all week long and the booze was very cheep.

Now due to the collapse of the Euro and the cost of fuel the days of affordable package holidays are receding and the people are starting to return to holidays at home, times have changed though, many now stay in caravans instead of the traditional bed and breakfast and more come for short breaks rather than for the customary week stay. But they are returning, many of them have not visited for many years and notice that during there absence nothing much has changed and that’s what worries me.

We need moor entrepreneurs of the likes of Billy Butlin to take an interest in the town, We need the hotel chains like Premier and Holiday Inns to run alongside the traditional seaside B&B’s to cater for the needs of those who come on short stays and are used to the kind of hospitality that these kind of hotels have to offer. But above all we need new attractions for the 21st century.

How much longer will we get away with just adding a new lick of paint and a good spring clean before the punters desert us for more modern looking resort? Butlins are spending vast amounts on the Leisure complexes as they call them now and Skegness needs to do the same if it wishes to remain one of the countries premier resorts.      

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Those 1960s Classic Instrumental Hits

Today’s teenage boys list of must have items mainly consist of the latest smart phones and games consoles but back in the 1960s  when I was growing up there was just one item that the majority young men wanted to buy and that item was an electric guitar. In the 1960s music shops were springing up in many high streets and taking centre stage of the window displays were the shiny new Gibson or Fender guitars.

Once you had your guitar it was essential that you find at least four pals with similar musical instruments to form a group. Your average group consisted of a lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, base guitarist and a drummer. If you couldn’t afford the equipment you could always form a Skiffle group, all you would need for that would be a washboard, a base made from a wooden box with a brush stale through the middle and a piece of string going from the top of the stale to the box and of course you with your guitar. This is how the Beatles started out with a skiffle group called ‘The Quarrymen.

 Most young up and coming guitarists drew there inspiration from American acts like Bill Haley and the Comets, The Coasters and Chuck Berry who’s guitar riff at the beginning of Johnny ‘B’ Goode was perhaps the most copied guitar opening of them all. We mustn’t forget Bert Weedon the man who was perhaps one of the biggest influences from Britain, who’s sheet music for Guitar Boogie shuffle perhaps out sold any of his rivals.

Most young singing sensations of the day always had there own backing group. Cliff Richard had is Drifters who soon changed there name to The Shadows, Billy Fury had the Tornados, Johnny Kidd had his Pirates, Freddie had is Dreamers and Billy J Kramer had the Dakotas, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and Brian Poole & the Tremeloes to name just a few. Whenever any of these acts had there gigs it was common for the backing groups to open with 2 or 3 instrumental numbers before the singer took to the stage. Many backing groups later broke away from the singer and had chart success of there own, these included The Shadows, Mindbenders and Tremeloes.

Some of these backing groups recorded some of these opening instrumental numbers and released them as singles. The most successful of all these groups were the Shadows who had a whole string of these singles making the top 20 and even some of them reaching the number one slot in the charts of the time.

The shadows hits include Apache, Wonderful land, FBI and Foot Tapper, but during the 1960s there were more instrumental tracks in the charts than in any decade before or after
Jet Harris & Tony Meehan (Ex members of Shadows) Diamonds & Scarlet O’Hara
Tornados                                 Telstar & Globetrotter
Dakotas                                   The Cruel Sea
Johnny & The Hurricane’s      Red River Rock 
 &Beatnik Fly
The Ventures                           Walk Don’t Run   
Then there were the solo artists
 Acker Bilk                               Stranger on the shore
Duane Eddie                           Shazam and Because They’re Young
Kenny Ball                              Midnight in Moscow And many many more

There were so many guitar groups around in the sixties that every conceivable venue was booked up every weekend. Every Pub, village,church and Dance hall had a group playing and the quality and competition was very fierce. Those really were great days if you liked popular music.

For myself I always looked forward to one particular part of the performance that would usually happen half way through the gig and that was the drum solo. Two good reasons these guitar groups used to always insert at least one drum solo into their act besides giving the drummer a chance to shine was that it gave the other members of the group a chance of a rest and a quick drink, an average drum solo could last between 5 and 8 minutes depending on the skill of the drummer. We also saw through this period a number singles featuring drummers in the hit parade, Sandy Nelson’s Let There Be Drums Jet Harris & Tony Meehan’s Diamonds and The Surfaries Wipeout being perhaps the best known ones.

Many of these instrumental hits of the sixties are still in regular use today in adverts and Films seen on TV. Perhaps the most used instrument hit of the sixties over the last 50 years must go to the John Barry Severn and their recording of the James Bond Theme…. Great memories and Happy Days