philwhiteland's blog

Mortimer

I'm leaning against the playground wall with an air of studied indifference and boredom. A number of my friends are standing with me affecting the same pose. We are watching the antics of the younger pupils. In particular, we are watching the antics of Mortimer, who is not actually a younger pupil, he is a contemporary of ours. Mortimer is being a plane. It is 1970, it's my last year at Anglesey Secondary Modern and my friends and I are...

Wise About Morecambe

This is a story that begins with a touching faith in the power and scope of the internet and ends with some very old technology indeed. I've always had a lot of faith in the ability of the internet to answer just about any odd or bizarre question you can throw at it. No matter what peculiarity you happen to be interested in, you can pretty much guarantee that someone, somewhere has been interested in it too and has already done the necessary...

On Volunteers and Victorians

A couple of events over the Bank Holiday weekend set me thinking (which is a novelty). The first was on Sunday, when I attended my second day of training, as a volunteer, to learn how to man the Ticket Office at the Staffordshire Narrow Gauge Railway (SNGR) at Amerton Farm near Stowe-by-Chartley https://amertonrailway.co.uk/ , better known as Amerton Railway. Just before you start thinking 'Two days! Strewth he must be slow on the uptake!',...

And finally...Cyril!

Continued from Cyril and More Cyril We first encountered Cyril when we kept our pub, The New Talbot. Mum and dad rather collected ‘waifs and strays’ and seemed to have a weakness for odd characters. It was not unusual to have a living room full of people, after closing time on a Saturday night, enjoying an after-hours drink on the house. On these occasions, mum often put on a bit of supper because she was concerned that a number of her ‘...

More Cyril

Continued from the original article ‘ Cyril ’ My abiding memory of Cyril is inevitably wreathed in smoke. Not by the mists of time but usually via a Players No. 6 Tipped which he held constantly in his mouth. He was one of those people for whom a cigarette was something of a permanent appendage rather than an occasional enjoyment, even to the extent of breathing through his fag as he gave one of his detailed accounts about something you were...

Cyril

I’ve been thinking about Cyril quite a bit over the past few days. I should, at this point, make clear that I do not usually spend my days thinking about Cyril. In fact, it must be quite a while since he last crossed my mind. What brought him to the fore this time was that I have been mowing the lawn. This is the sum total of my efforts in the garden, apart from occasionally hacking some innocent tree to within an inch of its life. This is not...

Braving Benidorm

I’ve just come back from Benidorm. There, I’ve told the world and I don’t care who knows it! Benidorm has a particular place in the national psyche, it tends to be a useful shorthand for everything that it wrong about package holidays and, especially, the British holidaymaker. It occupies the same place that Torremolinos used to hold in the 1960s. I don’t suppose the T.V. series of the same name has done much to change its image, either,...

Brace Yourself!

Every year, since we've been able to do so, my wife and I have bought Senior Citizen Railcards with the intention of "seeing a bit more of this country, this year", and, every year, just like clockwork, we realise that we're coming to the end of the Railcard's natural life and that we haven't done anything with it. Panic sets in and we hunt about for possible locations for a day out, which will go some way toward justifying the expense of the...

The Thing With Bing!

If you've got children of a certain age around the house, then you'll know about Bing! If not, his work may have passed you by, particularly if you don't happen to be an avid fan of CBeebies. Bing! (and he always comes with his own exclamation mark) is a charming black rabbit dressed in a colourful set of dungarees (which people my age would have called a romper suit in the dark ages). He has a series of adventures with his friends Sula (an...

And things that go bump in the night!

As the nights draw in and we reach the end of October, we will once again be able to enjoy that newly-imported pastime of ‘trick or treat’ which, at any other time of the year, would be more accurately termed ‘demanding money with menaces’. I know this instantly brands me as an old curmudgeon, desperately out of touch with the times, but I think it’s a shame that we seem to have embraced the U.S. version of Hallowe’en, with its practical jokes,...

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