You couldn’t make it up. Wound-up and needing a walk late on this beautiful August day, I donned my contact lenses, casting aside the framed specs that would mar the gorgeous view from the top of Heartbreak Hill, or Cardiac Crest, whatever they call the last mountainous hole at the north-western edge of Marsden Park Golf Club. Got in even more of a tizzy when one lens went missing, so I found a spare one for my right eye.
Zoom, zoom up Walton Lane, turn off at the side of the nursery school, and park at the side of the track, disembowelling the two terriers from the back of our Jazz, and setting off with my heart singing, “The hiiils arr alive wiiiith the souuund of,” ……. cursing! I’d not gone half a dozen steps before my right eye was seeing double. Spit, spit, spit, but press on up three hills instead of two, concluding afore long that I’d found the missing lens, having somehow inserted two of them into one eye, my right.
At the top of the North-West Face shepherding six dogs, it seemed, instead of two, I shared my woe with a charming young girl (or three) walking her (their) months-old German Shepherd, sorry, her three months-old German Shepherd. She they) walked off laughing while appearing to undo a loose screw in her (their) right temple(s). At least that’s what it looked like.
Any-road-up, back home my theory proved correct, and now sporting two lenses rather than three I have 20-20 vision restored so that I may vent my frustration by writing about it. That really is the best therapy when you’re wound-up as Jose Mourinho when Man U have come unstuck. Spelling out your feelings gives vent to your emotions, though I recall dearly departed my mum, Frances Annette, warning me at the start of my teenage years, “Never put anything in writing”.
Lord knows what she had in mind. Breach-of-promise surely went out when Adam were a lad, and mum’s nugget was hardly appropriate handed out to one who was the make his career committing words to print though I’ve always had a sneaking wish to try my hand at broadcasting. I did once know a couple of lads with Radio Sheffield, and did indeed subject myself to interview on that august organ on a couple of occasions, but I never attempted to manoeuvre myself into the interviewer’s seat, rather than that of interviewee.
Broadcasting can be a powerful weapon in this media crazed age, so that even the barmiest of notions can assume the guise of sanity when committed to the airwaves, as happened when, just last week, I tuned in, briefly, to a Radio 4 rant on ‘Question Time’, a well-respected programme. For sure. But one I normally steer clear of for the very reason I am about to outline. There was this guy, someone from the left of the political luni-class mouthing on about big business, the ‘ruling classes’, being hell bent on subjugating the working people of this country, honest, lowly souls who it appears could threaten the ability of the high and the mighty to dominate society, preventing the workers from developing ideas above their station.
What gets me about QT is the smug BBCness, Dimblebyness about it which assumes we all know some of these bods are plonkers, so there’s no reason to explore further, to question what ‘facts’ they put forward. “Where’s your proof?” I mean, what is the ‘point’ of subjugation, what’s be gained, why are these heavy-handed tyrants so bent on squashing us bugs?
A simplistic answer, curiously was being provided over on BBC 4Extra where there was a reprise of the legendary 1920 stories of ‘Bulldog Drummond’, a post-apocalyptic (WW1) tale of a valiant British ex-serviceman (not a lofty commissioned Captain, or above, but a must admired heroic Sergeant Major) battling a Soviet plot to liberate British workers in the name of freeing them from the shackles of capitalism, only for them to don the yoke of bolshevism.
“His jaw set grimly, his eyes were steely in their purpose as his powerful hands encircled the throat of the Hun. Within second it was over…”. Not a direct quote, but you get the gist. Hugh, the Bulldog, posts the following Advertisement placed in The Times, “Demobilised officer … finding peace incredibly tedious, would welcome diversion. Legitimate, if possible; but crime, if of a comparatively humorous description, no objection. Excitement essential.”
The first Drummond book written by H. C. McNeile under the pseudonym of Sapper published in 1920 was just the sort of spirit lifting, adventure material lapped up in a country reeling from ‘the war to end all wars’. Other characters in this genre shook us out of a melancholy torpor after World War II in the shape of Dick Barton, Special Agent, with its thrilling theme tune ‘The Devil’s Gallop’, and my personal favourite as a young boy at the time, ace detective Paul Temple, whose musical theme was the even more evocative ‘Coronation Scot’. I recommend a You Tube visit to sample that.
Curious twist of fate for me, Paul Temple was played for many years by actor Kim Peacock, whose family owned the ‘Watford Observer’, a newspaper for which I did time in the early 1980s when rediscovering myself!
I have no doubt some might find these memories a load of old hat. Not so. Authors like Sapper captured the mood of a nation facing adversity, and his character’s reactions to that are just as relevant today as we’ve faced with the uncertainty of Brexit. My view, for what you might think it worth (well, it’s my Blog!) is that Britain is still a great country, the greatest on earth in my book in so many respects, indefatigable, resourceful, tolerant. There are more reasons for the Middle Eastern dash to reach these shores than simply to hook up to the benefits system.
People who know what real poverty and oppression are like gaze in wonder at what Great Britain has achieved. We should never let Doubting Thomases run this country down, and blame everything on somebody else. In that context, you may find this a bit rich for your taste. It’s another quote from the Sapper book: “They were representative of the poorer type of clerk—the type which Woodbines its fingers to a brilliant orange; the type that screams insults at a football referee on Saturday afternoon. And yet to the close observer something more might be read on their faces: a greedy, hungry look, a shifty untrustworthy look—the look of those who are jealous of everyone better placed than themselves, but who are incapable of trying to better their own position except by the relative method of dragging back their more fortunate acquaintances; the look of little men dissatisfied not so much with their own littleness as with the bigness of other people.” ― Sapper, Bulldog Drummond Collection, Volume 1