Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and there will be many recollections published I’m sure.  I wasn’t born then, so I can only defer to my parents’ recollections, which were few – their generation did a good job of shielding us from the horrors they experienced.  However, the odd ‘time capsule’ still emerges.

A few months ago while sorting through some old papers left behind by my father-in-law, we found an envelope with some letters in that were not his.  The note on the outside read: letters found down the backs of chairs.  He was an upholsterer, and obviously used to find all manner of stuff that way which he gave back to the owners. But these must have come from jobs for antique dealers who had no use for them.  One was a small envelope stamped Bath, May 1945.  Inside was a four page letter sent to Harold and signed ‘Madam’.  It reads as follows: Continue Reading

Aquae Sulis defend an Anguli on their way to quibus cum homo mundus sheet observatio in Octobris

A large crowd is expected at the Twerton Colosseum for today’s top Harpastum match in the Plaustrumarama Foedus Meridianam between Aquae Sulis and Verulamium as they both battle for a place in the Fabula-Offs.

The home side will be hoping that the Urinaria Porcos runs their way as they look to complete the double over the Sanctorum.  The visitors are still smarting from that home defeat back in Octobris, and the Romani will need to be especially careful of the visitors’ top scorer Maximus Decimus Meridius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, who has pledged that he will have his vengeance.

When an 89-year-old is told by his care home that he would not be able to go on a trip to France, you might expect him to just accept it and settle down in his armchair for an afternoon snooze. But Bernard Jordan is made of sterner stuff. In fact, one might have thought that the over-officious staff at his home in Sussex might have recognised this, as he had already demonstrated such qualities seventy years earlier, on 6th June 1944.

Read more about the 70th Anniversary events in the Daily Telegraph

Which is why Bernard hatched an escape plan that may not have been as complex as some of those in the annals of Colditz or Stalag Luft III, but was nevertheless just as daring. He simply pinned his medals under his coat and told the staff that he was going out for an early morning stroll. Then, having enlisted a lift to the station from a friend, he made his way to Portsmouth to board a ferry for Normandy, where another veteran bound for the D-Day 70th Anniversary celebrations took Bernard under his wing. Continue Reading

We all remember those adverts in Exchange & Mart for a vintage car that we dreamed of owning: 1928 Rolls Royce Convertible, low mileage, excellent condition for its age, one careful owner from new, used for church on Sundays, low price to a good home.   In most cases, when we rolled-up to inspect our potential prize, the truth would be somewhat disappointing, in either having to chase the chickens out of their improvised coop or contemplate the tree that had grown up through the cab over many years, which would need to be cut down before the surviving hulk could be moved.

one careful owner

The 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 Piccadilly Roadster in the picture above, however, did fit that description when it’s owner disposed of it back in 2005.   I became aware of it when one of those much-forwarded e-mails arrived in my inbox the other day from a good friend who knows of my interest in this type of vehicle.  I often send these on, as he had, to other friends, but having been caught-out several times in past years, I now check their voracity on sites such as Snopes before I do so.  Much to my delight, although it had been in circulation for some seven years, I found the contents of this one to be mainly accurate, apart from the car’s claimed mileage which had acquired an extra zero at some time in its many iterations.   What the e-mail didn’t tell, however, was the interesting heritage of the car, and the story of the remarkable man who owned it. Continue Reading

So here I am, in the front room of my house watching TV. It’s 7.30pm on Friday 22nd November 2013. Fifty years ago to the minute and the day, I was also sitting in a front room watching TV, but that was in my parents’ house. My mother was crying, my father was sitting dumbstruck as the news came from the small black and white screen. John F Kennedy was dead.

moments in time

When the news of the shooting first emerged just after 6pm that Friday evening, TV programmes were immediately postponed and for the next hour we had a simple message on the screen, accompanied by dirge music, interspersed occasionally by an update from the voice of a newsreader that was only preparing the audience for the inevitable. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we all remember what we were doing, because we had an hour to contemplate what it could mean for the world. For not only was this man a symbol of hope, he was also the first politician in my lifetime who wasn’t old enough to be my grandfather. Continue Reading