Part Thirty-Six

I shall never forget the evening of February 6th, 1958. I was at work in the Shell Centre in London when the news came through that the plane carrying the Manchester United football team had crashed on a snow-covered runway at Munich Airport in Germany. The team was returning from playing a cup tie match in Belgrade which at that time was in Yugoslavia. After refueling at Munich, the plane bound for Britain crashed on takeoff Seven of the young ‘Busby Babes’ (named after their manager Matt Busby) were killed. Another one, Duncan Edwards, was so badly injured that he died 15 days later. Matt Busby was also badly injured and spent a long time in a Munich Hospital as did the wonderful player Bobby Charlton, one of the best ever players England ever produced.
 Despite this tragedy, the Manchester United club, under deputy manager Jimmy Murphy, was able to blend together a team good enough to reach the F.A. Cup Final four months later in May 1958.  The emotion felt by everyone as the team walked out that day at Wembley Stadium to face their opponents Bolton Wanders was heart rendering. Unfortunately, there was not to be a storybook ending as Bolton beat them comfortably by two goals to nil.
 A completely different event, and also a happier one, happened in the same year when the government announced that because Mayfair was deemed to be the most affluent area in the country that would be the first area to have parking meters installed.  

 Other new events which happened in 1958 included the opening of Britain’s first planetarium in London on March 21. Another first for the country was the opening, by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who was driven along a four-mile stretch of our first motorway, the 8 mile Preston bypass in Lancashire.  Further history occurred in the April when an Act was passed allowing women to sit in the House of Lords. Another big event made its introduction to the country when The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was formed and we witnessed its strength of feeling when over 3,000 protesters marched to the Nuclear Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire. This was the first of many similar marches which involved the police fighting to control disparate crowds of protesters, many of them women, venting their feelings...

Talking of unrest there were terrible race riots in the Notting Hill area of London in September of 1958... On a brighter note, British Overseas Airways (BOAC) launched the first transatlantic jet service. Millions throughout the country watched the first televised State Opening of Parliament. Her Majesty the Queen made history when she dialed the first trunk call on the new Do-it-yourself telephone system. The call was from Bristol to Edinburgh. After a brief talk with the city’s Lord Provost, she then threw a switch which linked 18,000 Bristol subscribers to the new service.  

 Back to the world of sport in 1958 showed that the Grand National was won by a horse called ‘Mr. What’ and the Derby by ‘Hard Ridden’ On the cricket front Surrey won the Championship for a record seven successive seasons. Britain’s Mike Hawthorn became the first Briton to be crowned Motor Racing Champion of the World. Unfortunately, his glory was short lived for sadly he was to die in a road accident on the A3 road near Guilford in Surrey a few months later. Still, on the fast cars scene, the British Motor Corporation unveiled the Austin Healey Sprite car for the first time.  Away from land speed, Donald Campbell achieved a new water speed record of 248.62 mpg.  Over at SW19 (Wimbledon) Australian Ashley Cooper beat his compatriot Neale Fraser 3-6 6-3 6-4 13-11 to win the Men’s Tennis Championship whilst American Althea Gibson beat our own British girl from Torquay, Angela Mortimer 8-6 6-2 to take the ladies title.
 Meanwhile, up at Royal Lytham St. Anne’s Aussie star, Peter Thomson won the Open golf tournament for the fourth time. It is interesting to note that the second/third and fourth players behind Thomson were all from the U.K., namely Dave Thomas (Wales), Christy O’Connor Senior (Northern Ireland) and Eric Brown from Scotland.
  In the entertainment world, Hollywood bestowed three Oscars on the wonderful David Lean film ‘The Bridge over the River Kwai’ Another equally successful film was ‘My Fair Lady’ a musical starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn which was based on a story by George Bernard Shaw called ‘Pygmalion’.  

The Royal Variety Show had a plethora of stars such as Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Norman Wisdom, Harry Secombe, Bruce Forsyth, Tony Hancock, Roy Castle, Max Bygraves, The Beverley Sisters, Frankie Vaughan, Harry Worth, Hattie Jacques, David Nixon and American singers Pat Boone and Eartha Kitt.

--End of Part Thirty-Six -- 

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Part Thirty-Five

 As a result of the bomb damage from the Second World War, there was an urgent need in Britain for houses so the Government bought out a plan to build what was called ‘New Towns’. Stevenage in Hertfordshire being the first one built in 1946. This was followed a year later when Crawley, West Sussex and East Kilbride in Scotland joined this new concept. The houses in these new developments were a revelation, sporting double-glazing windows, Central Heating and all the latest labor-saving gadgets in the kitchen which had the housewives drooling with pleasure.


   On the political front Anthony Eden never really recovered from the Suez Canal war of the previous year and the strain on his health forced him to resign as Prime Minister. Harold Macmillan took over but not until after the usual behind the scenes battles and skulduggery amongst the party whips which defeated his chief opponent Rab Butler. 


     Other events in 1957 included such diverse events as seeing the Vulcan bomber enter the R.A.F. service. Vauxhall Motors introduced three new models the Victor Saloon (which was claimed as giving 40 mpg) and the Cresta and Velox models.


   A terrible tragedy occurred in June when a BEA (British European Airways) Viscount plane crashed at Manchester’s Ringway Airport killing 22 people.

   In July at the Conservative Party Conference the P.M. Harold Macmillan, thinking of the abundance of goods and the choices people now had compared to the austerity of the war years and its aftermath, famously proclaimed that ‘Most of our people have never had it so good’


During this period of my life I felt that although I had enjoyed having a few dates during my RAF days and afterward, I grew a bit lonely and restless at home with just Dad. This became more apparent now that my friend Graeme had married and moved away. So, I decided that I should give the fair sex another chance to renew their acquaintances with me!  What better way to do that than to go dancing? The only problem with that was I couldn’t dance. How could I, someone who loved to, and still do, watch Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly not be able to dance?   My efforts were more like Gene Astaire and Fred Kelly.


Anyway, undeterred, off I went to a Dance studio in nearby Ealing to have a few lessons in the noble art of Terpsichore. In those days there was a man called Victor Silvester who had been a World Champion Dancer in his earlier days but went on to teach dancing and formed his own orchestra. He was well known for only playing strict tempo dance music. When teaching he would give timing guidance to the pupils, in relation to the steps of the dance, for instance, if the dance was a Quick Step, he would instruct the pupil by saying ‘slow slow quick quick slow’. This method of teaching was adopted by most dance teachers including mine. She would play 78 rpm (Revs per minute) shellac 10-inch gramophone records of the Victor Silvester Orchestra playing a strict tempo dance melody. I started by learning how to do the waltz followed by the Foxtrot and then the quickstep. Eventually, I became reasonably proficient and reasoned that I was ready to demonstrate my new-found skill to the public at large. Whether they were ready for me is another question1


   As luck would have it, one day whilst shopping in Greenford I bumped into an old school friend of mine, who not only went dancing every Saturday evening but also had a car and invited me to join him. So, come the next Saturday, Len and I, dressed up to the nines drove over to Chelsea Town Hall. The place was packed with men and women waltzing, quick stepping, foxtrotting, shuffling around, and trying not to trip over their own feet or kick their partners. It wasn’t long before Len found a partner and off, he went gliding around the dance floor whilst I just stood nonchalantly looking around seeking out someone attractive to approach.


My strategy was based on the fact that because the Waltz was the easiest dance to do I would wait until the band played one before approaching my unsuspecting chosen prey to utter the time honored phrase ‘May I have this dance please’?

Eventually, I was lucky and found someone who was willing to take a chance with this clean-cut Lothario of the dance floor. As we took up our positions to commence the dance, I thought it only right that I should give the poor girl some advance warning of what was to come by saying ‘I’m not very good at this’ This was accepted with a smile of encouragement and an assurance about not to worry. So, with some trepidation on both sides, off we went with the Waltz sequence of steps, One Two Three, One Two Three etc. After the usual introductions of exchanging names, it was considered mandatory to ask your partner ‘Do you come here often’? Goodness knows what would have happened if the girl had replied ‘Yes, but not anymore’


Fortunately, she didn’t and we both survived without any injuries or embarrassment.

Because all of this happened so many years ago, I cannot recall what happened for the rest of the evening. Suffice to say that at the end of the evening Len and I had a drink or two before climbing into Len’s car and headed back to Greenford. My first venture into “tripping the light fantastic” in public may not have been exactly fantastic but at least I didn’t trip. It was considered good enough to try again and, thanks to Len and his car, I continued showing off my dancing prowess, visiting other local dance venues on more Saturday Nights.


--End of Part Thirty-Five—

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Part Thirty-Four
 In 1957 politicians from France/West Germany/Italy/Belgium/Holland and Luxembourg met in Rome and signed The Treaty of Rome. This Treaty encompassed what was also called The Common Market/The European Economic Community (EEC) and was the forerunner of what eventually became the European Union (EU). 
This historic Document was followed by five more in later years each one containing many adaptations and new ideas all with one basic aim behind them. That was to bring all the European countries together working for the common good as a Union of Nations or The United States of Europe as many called them.
This common market of trading partners was designed to make it easier and cheaper by eliminating much of the current time wasted dealing with all the red tape involved in exporting and importing to each other. Naturally many of us thought that sounds a sensible idea so our Government of the time signed Britain up and we joined the club. 
   With the passing of the years and more treaties written into the constitution we ended up with a European Parliament hell-bent on creating a United States of Europe,
this meant that all member countries would cease to make their own rules of self-government and therefore would be subservient to new rules inflicted on them by a European Parliament, made up of unelected politicians from any of the eligible European member countries. This concept of thinking that one cap fits all was considered by many people as completely misguided and unrealistic.
 I remember wondering how on earth can unelected foreign politicians sitting in some European Parliament make decisions which might have a disastrous effect on a small village or community in Britain. Equally, why should we in Britain impose our views on other countries as to how they run their own affairs?  
Jumping ahead here I must tell you that this mad state of affairs sadly has gone on for many years afterwards until the whole European Union fiasco climaxed in 2016 when the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced there would be a referendum on June 23rd that year when the British people would have a free vote as to whether the UK remained a member of the European Union or left it. We were promised that whatever the result of this historic vote the decision of the people would be carried out. After a bitter struggle throughout the country, the final result was that 51.9% of the people voted to leave and 48.1% to remain. This decision surprised many people and thousands found it hard, or even impossible in many cases, to accept it. The people who voted for Britain to remain within the EU claimed the opposition didn’t understand what they were doing and demanded a second referendum whereas the Leavers retaliated by saying the Remainders should accept the decision of the majority of the people in what was after all a Democratic Vote. A new word, BREXIT, entered the vocabulary. This was an acronym for all those voting for Britain to exit the EU.    By this time David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister and Theresa May took over the role.  It’s interesting to note that Theresa May herself voted to Remain but, all credit to her, in a speech she made after the Referendum result, she famously assured the country that as far as she was concerned Brexit means Brexit. From that moment in time rightly or wrongly she has worked tirelessly towards achieving that goal. It has been an almighty struggle with arguments and disagreements from not only the European politicians in Brussels and the Labour party in Britain but also amongst her own Conservative party members in Parliament. As I write this it is July 2018 the bare fact is that Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019. Trying to find a deal acceptable to the 27 members of the EU and Britain for an orderly departure can only be achieved with major compromises on both sides which is still proving very difficult to obtain.
--End of Part Thirty-Four-- 

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                                        INSIGHTS ON IVOR

Part Thirty-Three
The year 1956 was also notable as the year when Britain faced another explosion on the music scene when a young man from Tupelo Mississippi with a most unusual name burst upon us and changed the face of pop music. Yes, I’m talking about Elvis Presley who entered the hit parade with a song called ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and later that year ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ ‘Hound Dog’ ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and ‘Love me Tender’ followed.
   Teenagers in Britain were soon rushing out to buy his records. The gyrating somewhat sensual body movement’s this man gave whilst singing his songs onstage caused raised eyebrows, to say the least, amongst the older generations around the world. But as far as the young people were concerned he was fantastic and idolized. It wasn’t long before there were hundreds of young lads copying their hero. In an effort to attract the girls some of them changed their names to what they thought were more attractive ones. So Harry Webb became Cliff Richard (and later Sir Cliff Richard).  Ronald Wycherley changed his name to Billy Fury which sounded more exciting, Terry Nelhams (later Terry Nelhams-Wright) morphed into Adam Faith and later in life became an actor and successful businessman. London cockney Tommy Hicks preferred to be known as Tommy Steele, who could not only sing and play the guitar but also became an actor appearing with the great Fred Astaire in a Hollywood musical called ‘Finians Rainbow’. Finally, there was plain old Reginald Smith who decided that he would stand more chance with the girls by changing his name to Marty Wilde, a wise move because he had a very long successful career in the world of Pop.
   It is worth pointing out that whilst all of the above could sing and went on performing for many years afterward, there were many other Elvis worshippers who couldn’t sing a note, at least not in tune, or play the guitar but that was of no consequence. All they had to do was to follow Elvis’s dress code, which included blue suede shoes, and remember to carry a comb which they frequently used to comb their hair into a special style: known as having a ‘DA’. This was a code word for an abbreviation of a rude part of a Ducks anatomy! 
   Armed with this transformation the ‘poor man’s Elvis’ would gyrate around the stage like a whirling dervish causing the girls to swoon and scream their heads off.  
   Another performer who caused riots in Britain at this time was Bill Haley and His Comets who burst onto the scene with a record called ‘Rock around the Clock’ which topped the hit parade for many years afterward. Bill Haley was older than Elvis and with a ‘kiss curl’ haircut; he differed to Elvis’s thick black hair.  There were many occasions when the Police were called out to cinemas to stop the youngsters rocking and rolling in the aisles and then in the streets after being evicted from the cinemas.
   The hit parade records of this period could be heard from record players, ‘Dansette’ being one popular make, in many homes throughout the country. In complete contrast to rock and roll records we had crooner Pat Boone telling us in the song that ‘I’ll be Home’ and the peaches and cream girl, Doris Day,  proclaiming that ‘Que Sera Sera’: whatever will be, will be.
   In the cinemas, the music continued with the release of High Society, music by Cole Porter and staring Bing Crosby and the one and only, Louis Armstrong. But good as that was I have to say that my favorite choice as the best musical film from that time is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel starring Gordon McRae (a much-underrated singer in my opinion) and Shirley Jones. 
   Popular cars in Britain at this time included the Ford Anglia, Prefect, Consul and the Zephyr/Zodiac followed closely by the Hillman Minx, Standard 10, Morris Oxford and the much loved Morris Minor – which started production in 1948 and sold well over 1.3 million before production ceased in 1972. Another car which raised a few eyebrows was the arrival of the three wheels ‘Bubble’ cars. There were the Isetta and the Messerschmitt from BMW which, despite only having a 250 cc engine still, managed speeds of between 60-70 mph and the Heinkel. None of these cars were around for any length of time so I suppose you could say it didn’t take long before the ‘bubble’ burst.
   Britain during the 1950’s was a golden time for motor cycles with sidecars. It was quite a common sight to see a couple or a family taking to the roads for a trip to the coast or into the countryside for a day out. A family would have Dad driving, suitably equipped with a pair of goggles and leather gloves, with mother sitting behind him,  her arms wrapped around his waist whilst the face of excited child peered out from the window of the sidecar. 
   In November 1956 the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time, Harold Macmillan, introduced to the country Premium Bonds which were scheduled to go on sale on June 1st 1957. This was Government-backed investment scheme whereby for £1 you could buy a Premium Bond which bore a personal unique number and was entered into a monthly draw with a top prize of £1,000 and prizes of a smaller value down to £10 if your numbered bond was drawn. The maximum number of bonds anyone could have was £250. The scheme took off far exceeding the government’s expectations (on the first day of an issue there was £5m worth of bonds sold)  and, as I write this 60 years later in 2018, is still going strong.  
   The big differences now are that the maximum holding anyone can have has increased to £50,000. The lowest prize is now £25 and the jackpot is £1m. Every month there are two draws which give the chance for two lucky people to win the jackpot prize of £1 million each!
   The beauty of Premium Bonds is that although they don’t accrue any interest on your investment they are always redeemable at face value at any time so you always get your original stake money back albeit it won’t be worth as much due to inflation. I have won a few smaller prizes over the years but am still awaiting the ‘Big’ one!
   The year 1956 also produced some unforgettable sporting events. In the world of cricket Yorkshire’s brilliant batsmen Len Hutton was awarded a Knighthood and fellow Yorkshireman, spin bowler Jim Laker, made history when in a Test match against the Australians at Old Trafford he took a total of 19 wickets. He took 9 for 90  in their first innings and 10 for 53 in the second (becoming the first man to take all 10 wickets in a Test Match).  I remember the sheer excitement as, along with some friends, watching this outstanding performance on the old black and white television screen as the wickets tumbled. 
   Sadly not all sporting events end in triumph and this was very evident when in the same year, at the Grand National, the Queen Mother’s horse Devon Loch who had jumped all the fences without any sign of trouble suddenly collapsed as it neared the winning post allowing another horse, E.S.B, to emerge as the winner. The reason for the fall was never really discovered.
   -- End of Part Thirty-Three -- — 

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Part Thirty Two
   Getting through the months following my mother’s death were helped in no small measure by the support given, once again, by my father’s two sisters Lily and Kate. In addition to Auntie Lily being a member of the St.John Ambulance Brigade she also loving cooking so Dad and I had no worries on that score. I remember doing the shopping for Auntie Lily and when she wanted me to get some lamb at the butchers she always insisted I must ask for ‘Half a shoulder of lamb, blade end’. In her eyes the blade end was the best part and I always managed to get it.  What delicious meals she produced irrespective of which end of the unfortunate animal she cooked for us. She also made the most delicious Egg Custard Tart, one of favourites. She was a gentle lady who had two interests in life. One was being a member of St John Ambulance Brigade. This interest often meant her being sent to football matches or other public events ready to administer any medical help. She made us laugh once when she came home a little dissatisfied because her nursing skills were not required that particular night because no one was injured! Conversely another time she would exclaim the evening event was ‘Good tonight, lots of casualties’
  Her second love was cooking and she liked nothing better than being in the kitchen cooking. This she did whilst chatting away to herself, happy as Larry (Lily sic) as she conjured up meals fit for a man. She was a spinster and having worked in service for many years she always considered men to be the masters in the house. This attitude of subservience to men which was quite normal then but now, rightly changed due to the long campaigns for women’s rights had no effect on Auntie Lily. As far as she was concerned she had a duty to provide Dad and I with meals fit for any man, nothing less would do.
   Auntie Kate had a completely different persona. She had style, presence, very warm hearted with an easy going manner. Dad and I and the rest of the family all agreed that we couldn’t have had anyone better than these two wonderful ladies to help us all through the trauma of losing Mum.
   We were also extremely lucky to have my eldest brother Bert and his wife Ethel still living in Greenford and therefore always on hand. My sister Lily and husband Jack were also not a million miles away in nearby South Ruislip. Bernard and David and their wives were further away but they all gave their support by visiting us and keeping in touch via the telephone.
   Every Sunday my father, along with two neighbours, Lou and Harry would toddle off to the local Red Lion pub in Greenford for a well earned pint or three. When Dad returned, his inner self suitably replenished he would sit down with his two sisters to attack the lovely Sunday roast dinner, especially if it was the blade end of half a shoulder of lamb, lovingly prepared and cooked by Auntie Lily. As this weekly ritual usually didn’t start until about 2 o’clock Auntie Lily would serve my meal earlier which meant by the time Dad and his sisters sat down I would have finished eating mine and would be sitting relaxing and listening to their conversation at the table.
 These occasions I remember with great fondness. Many times Dad would be holding forth on some subject close to his heart, probably politics. Emboldened by the amber nectar this weekly tête-à-têtes would, at times, be quite hilarious as Auntie Kate, being staunchly of the Conservative persuasion would differ from Dad’s Labour viewpoint and a friendly ‘argument’ would develop. Meanwhile throughout these political discussions Auntie Lily would be chunterring away in the background usually getting the wrong end of the stick and the two combatants would stop their debate and try to explain their respective points to her, without much success. Meanwhile I was doubled up with laughter listening to this pantomime of patter but thankfully it always ended up amicably and the three of them would sleep it off for the next hour or two until next week at least. 
   Dad continued his life as a printer working for Walter Phillips at his works in Perivale, a daily cycle journey Dad made in all weathers. I remember some stormy nights he would arrive home windswept and soaked from the torrential rain he had battled through. Those occasions are reminiscent of the night I was born when Dad faced similar atrocious weather conditions. The big difference now was cycling along the cycle lane on the lighted dual carriageway Western Avenue from Perivale to Greenford accompanied by cars and Lorries was a world away from the dark lonely winding deserted lanes of Bettws to fetch the midwife.
---End of Part Thirty Two--

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                                          INSIGHTS ON IVOR
                                            Part Thirty-One


    Tragedy struck our family in January 1956 when my mother suffered a recurrence of her cancer: first diagnosed in 1947. Once again my father’s two sisters moved in with us to help nurse her but it was to no avail and Mum was again admitted to hospital. After more diagnosis, we were given the sad news that there was nothing more they could do and she was bought home where she died on January 19th aged sixty. Although by this time we were all prepared for the inevitable ending, it was still hard to come to terms with the reality of the loss.
My mother and father had known each other for 41 years and been married for 37. And even though Dad had survived all the horrors of Trench warfare during the First World War: seeing comrades blown to pieces and endured his own physical and mental scars, he described this loss as the most shattering experience he had ever had. To him, Mum was the finest wife and mother to their children that any man could have. My brothers and sister would agree with that heartfelt appraisal, in fact, we would extend it by saying Mum and Dad were the best parents any child could have.  
   I was twenty-five years old when Mum died and it’s true to say that as I got older I realized more and more what a debt we allowed her. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 she watched Dad join the thousands of like-minded patriotic young men, proudly join the Army and march off to serve their country. Of course, no one knew then the unbelievable hell which awaited them in the battlefields and trenches on the Western Front. Although this madness finished in 1918 Dad didn’t return home until the following year. Thankfully he was physically intact but mentally scarred by the utter carnage he had witnessed during those four years. Although the horrific memories he had witnessed lay mainly dormant within his subconscious mind for the rest of his life there were times when they would reappear and Dad would have nightmares and scream out in terror as the vivid images of going over the top and seeing men being blown apart, returned to invade his deserved sleep.
All of us children would also be awoken and, particularly the younger ones, would be somewhat frightened by these sudden night time outbursts of realistic unbridled horror but thankfully Mum was always there to calm Dad’s fears and soothe his troubled mind.
Throughout their marriage, Mum was always supportive of Dad. Whether it was throughout the duration of WWI or Dad’s meeting with T.E. Lawrence and printing Lawrence’s masterpiece Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Mum was always there sharing these historic events with him. Likewise, when Dad was doubtful about accepting the offer of pressman at the Gregynog Press in Mid Wales it was Mum who resolved the issue by suggesting she would stay in London with the children while Dad accepted the offer on a three-month trial basis. The trial period was successful. Dad accepted the offer and returned home to join Mum in making the necessary arrangements to move from noisy, dirty, but to them, familiar and much loved London. So, in 1927 with their three children, they moved to Bettws Cedewen in Wales and Dad took up his new post at the Gregynog Press.
   This whole area of Wales was for them a completely different environment: one which offered them green fields, beautiful countryside, tranquillity and clean air where birds sang freely instead of coughing as they did in smoky polluted London. But once again it was Mum who was the lynchpin providing Dad with love and support by not only looking after Bert, Lily and Bernard but adding another two boys when, in 1930 and 1931 respectively, David and Ivor arrived into this happy and loving family.
During the Second World War like many others, Dad and Mum did their share to help on the Home Front.  Dad became an A.R.P (Air Raid Precaution) Warden which entailed patrolling the local streets checking that every building had no lights shining from them which could help enemy planes flying overhead. Upon seeing any light showing the Warden would shout out the order ‘Put that light out’, a command which usually was quickly obeyed.
Like many other women, Mum also responded to the call to help the war effort by working in a factory which made radio parts. So, not only did she cope with feeding Dad and three of her children, despite the food rationing, she also found time to do the one hundred and one other things that all Mothers do for their families. On top of all of that, she had the inner worry of dealing with the absence of her two eldest children being drafted into the Armed Forces. Firstly her eldest son Bert was away serving with the Eighth Army in the Middle East. This was followed by her daughter Lily, who was in the ATS (The Auxiliary Territorial Service) assisting with the Ack Ack guns defending London during the Blitz. Even when the war finished and both Bert and Lily returned home safely she still had to face more worry when, in 1947, her second son Bernard, another Soldier, was sent to Palestine when the Palestinian war with Israel broke out.  It’s no wonder she also suffered a lot with Dermatitis and yet somehow still managed to rise above it, showing great courage, stoicism and fortitude.  Being the youngest and last of her children to leave home I, along with my father, witnessed her suffering and pain many times and it hurt to see it. There were occasions when Mum would be so bad that I would offer to stay in to keep Dad company and help him with Mum instead of going out with friends but both of them, whilst thanking me for offering, would always insist that I go out and ‘enjoy’ sic! myself. I think the truth was that Mum was too ill to worry too much and Dad didn’t want me to see Mum’s pain and suffering too much!
There was one little touch on the day of Mum’s funeral which I’ve always remembered. As the hearse and car procession made its way along the Greenford road to the cemetery we passed a man waiting at a bus stop. As we passed him he quickly removed his hat and bowed his head. I’ve often thought that this man, a complete stranger to us, will never know what his simple act of respect meant to us.
Finally, I have to say that one of the saddest aspects of Mum dying so young is that
she and my wife Kathy (who I met and married two years after Mum’s passing) never had the chance of meeting each other. Whilst our two sons Chris and Martin remember my Dad with affection, they and Mum also were denied the love, influence, and memories they could have shared by knowing each other.   
--End of Part Thirty-One—

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To add to the new phenomenon of Skiffle hitting Britain another craze was to follow with the advent of ‘Teddy Boys’. Originating from the 1940’s this was the name given to teenage boys who wore a mode of clothes as worn during the ‘Edwardian’ period. This sartorial style consisted of long drape jackets with a velvet collar, thin (drainpipe) trousers, varying colours of shirt which was topped off with a bootlace tie. Often their feet would have brightly coloured socks which were then encased in suede (usually coloured blue) shoes bearing very thick crepe soles. This type of footwear quickly became known as ‘Brothel Creepers’ (having never had any desire to visit such establishments of ill-repute I cannot vouch for the authenticity of that description!). To complete their ensemble these lads had haircuts with huge quiffs and sideburns. The obligatory chewing gum and cigarette completed the image.
The phrase ‘Teddy Boys’ passed into everyday language and is still used, often unjustly, today by older people when describing some present-day unusually attired teenager. The popular meeting places for the ‘Teddy Boys’ gers were the coffee bars, which were springing up all over the country, particularly in London. These establishments had coffee machines called ‘Gaggia’ churning out Espresso coffee by the gallon which competed with the musical sounds emanating from popular singers like Londoner Tommy Steele, who had been discovered performing at one of the most popular establishments called the Two I’s coffee bar. Other singers making the girls swoon were Marty Wilde, Terry Dene, Billy Fury and Adam Faith, who went on to become a very good actor. Finally, there was Harry Webb, the Peter Pan of pop music who changed his name to Cliff Richard and much later in life was to become Sir Cliff and is still singing as I write this in 2018.  This Pop culture coupled with the mixture of Skiffle and Trad Jazz gave the teenagers, not to mention some of us more mature people, plenty of variety to choose from.
   It was also around this time that many American singers started coming over to appear at the London Palladium. I must deviate time-wise slightly here to take you back to the year 1948 when the American actor, singer and comedian Danny Kaye came over to perform at the Palladium. He took London by storm, completely captivating the audience just by sitting on a chair near the orchestra pit with a cup of tea and chatting as if he was in your lounge at home, Every now and then he jumped up, chatted a little and sang a song or two but it was his so relaxed, informal laidback approach which won us over. Even Princess Margaret made two visits to see him perform.
   In 1951 whilst on leave from the Royal Air Force I visited the Palladium again where I saw another icon of the entertainment world,  the one and only Judy Garland who took everyone for a ride somewhere over the rainbow. This song from her 1939 film The Wizard of Oz became her signature tune. It also has a special significance for me which will be revealed later in my story.
   My love for the theatre, especially musical theatre continued and I visited the London Palladium many times during the middle of the 1950’s seeing singers and comedians such as Eddie Fisher, Frankie Laine, Billy Daniels, Kay Starr, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and the clap-happy, good to be alive singer, Guy Mitchell who sang about ‘Sparrow in the Treetop’ and ‘ wears red feathers’.  Other great artists I saw at this Mecca of stars were the wonderfully droll Jack Benny who could elicit a smile from his audience just by looking at them without a saying a word,  Britain’s Max Bygraves, George Formby and Frankie Howerd.  Every Sunday evening the very popular Ted Heath Band – not to be confused with Edward Heath who was Britain’s Prime Minister between 1970-1974)  - with his singers, Dickie Valentine, Lita Roza and Dennis Lotis would give a big band concert.
   There was much interest in September 1955 when ITV (Independent Television) was first seen on our television screens - This was a commercial television company who - in direct contrast to the BBC - received the money to make their programmes from the companies who were advertising their products on this new channel.
Gibbs SR toothpaste went into the history books as being the very first product to be advertised via ITV on British television. 
   Two of the adverts which I remember became very popular were those from the makers of Mars Bars who informed us that ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’ and, staying on the confectionary side,  did you know that ‘Murray Mints, Murray Mints, the too good to hurry Mints’?  
   There were doubts and some consternation from many people who worried that the coming of advertising on television would demean the quality of the programmes but as time passed we all got accustomed to them, in fact, many people often considered that there were times when the adverts were better than the programmes!
  The BBC in an attempt to woo audiences away from ITV’S big opening night let it be known that they were going to ‘kill off’ Grace Archer – a character from their long-running radio serial, ‘The Archers’ but it was to no avail, Independent television had arrived and nothing would ever be quite the same again.
   In the same year as we gained this new television company we, and the world lost a man to whom it can be said millions of people around the world owe a huge debt of gratitude.  I am referring to Sir Alexander Fleming a Scotsman from Ayrshire who died in July 1955. He is the man credited with discovering Penicillin, in 1928 and for which he - along with the work done on this wonder drug by Australian pathologist Howard Florey and German-born biochemist Ernst Chain - received the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1945
   In complete contrast to these three men whose pioneering work did so much to save lives, in the same month of Fleming’s death - July 1955 -  a lady called Ruth Ellis, also made history albeit for the wrong reasons, was hung for murdering her lover and is recorded as the last women in Britain to suffer this fate.
   Another pioneer who also entered the record books the same year was Sir Christopher Cockerell who invented the Hovercraft.
      Tragedy struck five schoolboys when after finding a WWII mine on the beach in Swanage, Dorset and boys being boys tried to prise off the top it exploded and killed all of them.
   On the sporting scene, Donald Campbell broke the water speed record when he did 216.2 mph in his boat Bluebird on Ullswater Lake.
   The year is also remembered as the one when Cardiff was chosen as the Capital city of Wales. Naturally, the valleys and beyond were filled with the sound of the many choirs celebrating the news. So, for all people (myself included) from the land of Dylan Thomas, Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Ivor Novello, Bryn Terfel, Tom Jones, Tommy Cooper, John Charles, Ivor Allchurch, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the one and only Harry Secombe it really was Yakki Da and Cmyru au Byth which roughly translated means Cheers and Wales for Ever.
   --End of Part Thirty—

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Part Twenty Nine
    It probably comes as no surprise to you that because of my varied musical tastes when Skiffle arrived I was also caught up in it and joined the craze by buying my first guitar. This came about through another friend of Brother Bernard’s, Dickie Bishop, who played banjo occasionally with the Barber band, and guitar with Lonnie Donegan.  Dickie had decided to change his guitar for another model and asked me if I’d like to buy his old model. As it was a Gibson, a make highly regarded as one of the best in the business I jumped at the chance. 
    I was also lucky that my brother Bert, who played saxophone and clarinet and had formed his own dance band, put me in touch with a brilliant guitar player by the name of Bert Kirby. I undertook lessons from this virtuoso of the guitar for the princely sum of ten shillings per lesson. This resulted in me mastering about six chords and suffering very red indented fingers as a result of the long hours of practicing. But the suffering was worthwhile because it meant that not only was I able to accompany myself when singing some of the skiffle and country and western songs I was also able to play my guitar along with my father on his mandolin banjo thus swelling the rhythm section whilst Bert on sax and Bernard on trumpet provided the melodies for the rest of the family to sing along to at the Hodgson annual Christmas Festivities.   What wonderful happy memories I have of those joyful occasions.
   At that same period in my life when learning to play the Guitar I was also having driving lessons. I would have a guitar lesson in the evenings and a driving lesson during the day. There was one classic moment when I was having a driving lesson the morning after a guitar lesson the evening before. I was driving along quite comfortably when the instructor gave me some particular instruction which I never heard quite clearly so he repeated it whereupon I said ‘Sorry, I forgot what key I was in’ instead of what ‘gear’ I was in. The incredulous look on the instructors face was a sight to behold. I imagined him telling all his fellow instructors back at the Driving Centre about the idiot he had today who forgot what key he was in and the laughter that resulted. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that somewhere my name is in included in a Driving Instructors Manual entitled ‘Idiots I’ve taught’
    When Lonnie Donegan was with the Chris Barber Jazz Band there would be a half way break when the band was doing a concert. It was at this point when the Skiffle group would take over. This group comprised Lonnie playing his guitar and singing accompanied by Chris Barber on double bass, and I do mean a real double bass not a tea chest, plus Beryl Bryden on washboard.  This Skiffle spot always received great acclaim and its popularity eventually led to Lonnie leaving the Barber Band and forming his own Skiffle Group. They went from strength to strength touring all over the UK , Europe and America where he appeared on the famous Ed Sullivan television show. It was amazing that here was a young British musician taking American Folk music to the land of its origin and introducing it to many of its citizens for the first time and receiving great acclaim for doing it.
   I was lucky enough to meet Lonnie once. This came about through Dickie Bishop. Lonnie had just returned from another successful tour throughout America which included performing in Las Vegas and was appearing at London ’s Prince of Wales theatre. As all tickets for the show were sold Dickie and I were allowed to wait in Lonnie’s dressing room until he had finished his show. At the end Lonnie came off stage and after a brief rest to come down to earth from his highly adrenalin charged performance he proceeded to regale us with hilarious tales and anecdotes from his wonderful tour of the USA .
   Whilst I enjoyed many of Lonnie’s Skiffle songs particularly the religious ones such as ‘Just a closer walk with Thee’ and ‘Precious Lord, Lead me on’ there is one number which for me is his best. Unlike the above mentioned type of song this one comes from a Broadway show, and subsequent film, called Bells are Ringing. The song is called ‘The Party’s Over’ which went on to say ‘it’s time to call it a day’. Lonnie sang this lovely song very slowly and with great feeling and emotion. It was a world away from many of his usual skiffle numbers. Unfortunately, the party was finally over and the time to call it a day came on November 3rd 2012 when Lonnie who was half way through a UK tour, and had a history of heart problems, collapsed and died aged 71 at Market Deeping in Lincolnshire .
   My love for Trad Jazz continued and when my brother Bernard and his Band were engaged to perform every Sunday afternoon at the Hamborough Tavern in Hayes, Middlesex  I would go along and help out by taking the money at the door whilst enjoying the music for free.
   After the Second World War, there was an urgent need for the Government to build more houses to replace the loss of so many due to the Blitz leaving thousands of people homeless, particularly in the London area. It was decided that certain areas of the country would be developed as designated ‘New Towns’. Stevenage and Harlow in Essex were two such New Towns. Another one was Crawley in Sussex . At this time my brother Bernard and his wife Joan were living in a Flat in Greenford and they decided to upgrade and move to Crawley where they bought one of these new houses.  They quickly settled in and it wasn’t long before Bernard, much to his delight; saw an advert for a trumpet player needed to join a Trad Band based in Crawley .
   Although Crawley was, and still is, a town, it was decided that the band would use some poetic licence and so it was that The New City Jazzmen came into being. They were the first band to play at the Crawley Bandstand. This was a big success with the Saturday shoppers and was repeated many times thereafter. The band’s popularity grew quickly and they were in great demand, performing at Weddings, Anniversary and Birthday parties as well as corporate functions all over the Sussex and Surrey areas. L.P records and CD’S were made, copies of which I still have. They were featured and played on the BBC’S Jazz Club. Their success and popularity was to last for the next 54 years ending on the 31st December 2011 when they played, appropriately, their last gig at the Crawley Bandstand. Although it was a dark cold December night the people still turned out to hear them. It was also fitting that one of the numbers they played on that final concert was Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a wonderful World’.   It certainly was on that memorable night in 2011. For anyone interested in learning more about this never to be forgotten group of individuals who bought so much pleasure to all devotees of Traditional Jazz I suggest you go onto Google and insert The New City Jazzmen – Crawley England and sit back and enjoy.
--End of Part Twenty Nine --

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Part Twenty Eight
   British Cornet player Ken Colyer was once a Merchant Seaman and was fortunate enough on one trip to visit New Orleans. When he subsequently formed his own band, the Ken Colyer Jazzmen in and around 1953/1954 he just had to pay due homage to the home of Trad Jazz by recording an LP (Long Playing) record called ‘New Orleans to London’ The cover was designed by his clarinettist, Monty Sunshine. Other members of the band included Chris Barber on Trombone and a young banjo player named Anthony Donegan. The opening track on this record was appropriately called ‘Going Home’ on which Ken Colyer showed his love for the origins of jazz when he sang the lyrics ‘if home is where the heart is then my home’s in New Orleans’ This record is considered by many as the best ever, British Jazz record.  Although I can’t remember what price it was to buy when it came out, probably around the £2 mark, I bought a copy and played and treasured it for many years. Eventually I transferred it onto an audio cassette tape which I still have.  With the passing of time and the phasing out of record players I decided to sell my original record of this masterpiece. I advertised it on Ebay and got £25 for it. As Arthur Daley would say ‘that was a nice little earner my son’
   On the sporting front 1954 is best remembered as the year when Britain’s Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. At an Oxford race meeting and helped by colleagues Chris Chataway and Chris Basher, he finished the race in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. The FA cup that year was won by West Bromwich Albion beating Preston North End 3-2.  Czech tennis player Jaroslav Drobny won the Wimbledon men’s title and American Little Mo Connelly the Ladies for the second year running. Australian golfer Peter Thomson easily won the Open and Champion jockey Gordon Richards became Sir Gordon when he was knighted by the Queen, the first jockey to receive such an honour. Talking of jockeys, an 18-year old lad by the name of Lester Piggott became the youngest jockey ever to win the Derby when he steered Never Say Die first past the post.  Lester Piggott eventually went on to win another eight Derby races and became one of the best ever jockey’s of all time.
   In April 1955 Winston Churchill, the man who inspired not only the people of Britain but millions of others around the world throughout the dark and frightening days of the Second World War, Winston Churchill decided at Eighty years of age he had done enough and resigned as Britain’s Prime Minister. His deputy Anthony Eden took over the reigns.
   In 1955 a jockey of a different kind made news when Disc jockey Jack Jackson started giving a lot of air time to a record called ‘The Rock Island Line’ sung by the aforementioned Anthony Donegan, who by now had changed his first name to Lonnie in honour of African American musician Lonnie Johnson, a prolific and influential figure in the world of Jazz, Blues and folk music. At the time of Lonnie Donegan’s hit record he was a member of the Chris Barber Jazz Band, which it became when Ken Colyer left to follow a different course. To replace Ken as the trumpet/cornet player Pat Halcox was bought in and formed a partnership with the Chris Barber Band which lasted for 54 years, only ending with Pat’s death in February 2013 aged 82.  I was very lucky that through my Brother Bernard’s involvement with Jazz I met Pat Halcox on a few occasions. Not only was he a wonderful trumpet player with great feeling and imagination he was also one of the nicest people you could ever meet.
   Lonnie Donegan’s recording of ‘The Rock Island Line’ introduced a new sound to Britain, this sound was called Skiffle and it swept the country. Skiffle is blend of folk and country music, with influences from traditional jazz and blues.
   To play Skiffle was relatively easy. Obviously you had to have some ability to sing, hopefully in tune to a certain degree although it must be said that in many cases, that basic requirement was not always present! As for the instrumentation that was provided by a guitar or two, a double bass and a washboard. Thousands of young lads dashed out to purchase a guitar and started to learn three basic chords, C, F and B7  (known as the three chord trick). Once this was mastered you could use these chords to accompany many simple folk and country songs. The next instrument required was a Double Bass. The cost of buying one of these monsters was out of the question so a cheap alternative was to buy or ‘acquire’ a wooden tea chest, a broom handle and a length of string. You fixed the broom handle to one corner of the chest, tied a length of string to the top of the handle and fixed the remainder of the string to the opposite corner. Once you were satisfied the string was taut enough all that remained was for you to pluck the string and hey presto you had a double bass.
   So now you had a guitar or two and a double bass leaving just a washboard to complete the musical ensemble. Pleading looks to mothers or in many cases, grandmothers throughout the country was the most used approach. Once your washboard was obtained you fixed thimbles to your fingers and by running them up and down the grooved metal edges of the washboard you had a great rhythm section going and spotty faced callow youths were forming their own Skiffle groups all over the country.  I recall singers Chas McDevitt and Nancy Whisky having a big hit with a song called Freight Train. It’s also worth mentioning that many subsequent famous pop singers and groups such as The Beatles and Joe Brown all paid tribute to Lonnie Donegan, the one man who ignited their initial interest through Skiffle. 
   All over the country shops were selling guitars, wooden chests, washboards and thimbles as fast as they could get them in. Songs such as the Rock Island Line, Wabash Cannonball, Worried Man Blues, Tom Dooley, Bring a little water Sylvie,
Midnight Special, The Battle of New Orleans, Nobody’s Child, John Henry, Jesse James and Putting on the Style were attacked with great gusto and enthusiasm if little musicianship!
   I consider myself very lucky that I can enjoy a wide variety of music ranging from Trad Jazz, Classical music and through my father’s and eldest brother’s musical background I grew up hearing and appreciating the wonderful melodies written by popular composers such as Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart (later Oscar Hammerstein II ), Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and many others.
   I also have been lucky to hear and enjoy singers from all sides of the musical divide. Whether it’s Pavarotti or Maria Callas from the world of opera, Hank Williams Senior and John Denver from the Country and Western scene, or Ella Fitzgerald, (especially when joining with Louis Armstrong) Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Britain’s own Matt Monro from the world of popular music, their voices and artistry brought pleasure to millions around the world. Thank goodness they left us many recordings enabling us to still enjoy hearing their voices.
--End of Part Twenty Eight —

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 Part Twenty-Seven

   The Wimbledon tournament in 1953 saw a new star burst upon the scene when a young American girl named Maureen -  who due to her diminutive height was lovingly dubbed Little Mo - Connelly won the ladies title beating fellow American Doris Hart in the final. The men’s title was won by another American, Vic Seixas who beat Denmark’s Kurt Nielsen.
The American dominance in sport continued into the world of golf when one of the best ever golfers, Ben Hogan,  crossed the Atlantic to not only make his one and only appearance in the Open Championship but walked away with the title by conquering Scotland’s windswept Carnoustie course and won the most coveted trophy in golf.
    But without a doubt the biggest shock came later in the year when the Hungarian football team came to Wembley and gave us a lesson in free-flowing football, the like of which we in Britain had never witnessed before. They beat us 6-3 and became the first team to defeat England on their own ground.  At the end of the game, the stunned crowd slowly filed out of the stadium in an utter state of bewilderment and as if in a trance they queued silently awaiting their bus home, shattered by this unexpected nightmare.
    I know of all this because I, along with my brother Bernard, was one of those poor unfortunate souls standing to wait for our bus to take us away from this disaster. One final thought on this match is that England’s right back that momentous day in 1953 was Alf Ramsay, the man who eventually became the Manager of the England team and guided them to winning the World Cup in 1966.
   Probably one of the most beneficial discoveries for mankind happened in 1953 when British Physicist Francis Crick and American James Watson uncovered the secrets of DNA. Their breakthrough aided by New Zealander Maurice Wilkins was justly rewarded in 1962 when the three men were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
   On a completely different topic, three of the most popular television programmes around this time was ‘What’s my line?’. This consisted of a panel of four celebrities who had to work out what the job was of an ordinary member of the public who came on and gave them a clue by demonstrating a brief piece of mime relating their job. The panel would endeavor to find out by a series of questions. If any of their guesses received a negative answer from the visitor the chairman of the panel would turn over a card displaying the word NO.  The panel was only allowed ten No’s and if they hadn’t worked out the visitor’s job by then the guest was deemed the winner.  Some of the panel members I remember included a well-loved and brilliant magician named David Nixon, a very smart attractive polished lady, Isobel Barnett, an ex-policeman, Gilbert Harding, who made a name for himself due to his rather brusque (rude?) manner when questioning the visitors. Fortunately, his impatience was somewhat tempered by the last member of the panel, Barbara Kelly, another smart, attractive lady, who had left Canada and came to live in Britain with her husband, Bernard Braden in 1949.
   The Braden’s, both born in Vancouver, quickly made a good impression with the British public. Bernard Braden was a very talented man, a writer, actor on stage and radio. It wasn’t long before their natural easy-going charm coupled with their Canadian accent was noticed by the by the BBC which resulted in a series entitled  Breakfast with Braden and later followed by Bedtime with Braden. Barbara Kelly also appeared in these very popular shows. The band accompanying these programmes was Nat Temple and his Orchestra.  I recall that at the end of each show Bernard Braden would sign off with a final wisecrack such as ‘Nat Temple is currently appearing in the Tales of Hoffman but on Saturday Hoffman is getting married and wants his tails back’ Another ending I remember Bernard Braden saying, which he uttered in a plaintive enquiring tone of voice was, ‘Girls, if you had to spend the rest of your life on a desert island with three handsome men, who would the other two be?’
    During these early days of the 1950’s in Britain, there was a continuation of a revival of Traditional Jazz music which had started in the late 1940’s when people like Humphrey Lyttelton and George Webb formed their own bands and became very successful. They were followed by other bands led by the likes of Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, Mick Mulligan, Bob Wallis, Terry Lightfoot, Kenny Ball and Bernard (Acker) Bilk to name just a few. By this time I was a dedicated devotee of this brand of music. This was due to my brother Bernard who fell in love with Trad Jazz from an early age so much so that he became a trumpet player himself and formed his own Trad band. From him, I learned about jazz artists such as Bunk Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, George Lewis and the one and only, Louis Armstrong. One of the highlights of my later life was seeing Louis or Satchmo as he was lovingly called; when he gave a concert with his All Stars Band at London’s Earls Court in 1955. I was in heaven seeing and hearing this supreme artist who injected so much feeling into his music. I only have to hear a few notes emanating from his trumpet to know its Louie. His artistry and influence on the world of music were acknowledged and appreciated by musicians from all genres.
   To me, it matters not one iota what style or choice of music a musician performs. Like the written or spoken word, if the overall sound stirs one of the many emotions lying dormant within all of us, be it happiness, sadness, excitement, longing, melancholy, inspiring, hope, encouragement, then the writer, composer or performer have done their intended job.
--End of Part Twenty-Seven —

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