AGM AT THE TANFIELD RAILWAY
Regular truckshunters (or, for that matter, irregular ones) will be well aware by now that the next AGM will be held this upcoming Sunday 24 May, starting at around 1030-ish - in time for the first scheduled train at 1100. Anyone with a modicum of good taste and common sense would look forward to it as impatiently as I have done over the past few weeks; what is it about steam trains?
What will make the event scarily more wonderful will be the presence of Neville Whaler. Not only is Neville a real-life, railway-working ‘truckshunter’; his enthusiasm is such that he’s also a volunteer on the Tanfield Railway. He’s emailed me to say that he will be working in the signal box on Sunday and that the day promises to be a busy one on the Railway, it being a Bank Holiday weekend. His email included the picture above of the Duchess of Hamilton who, I imagine, must be sitting in the car.
On the down side, Neville was almost solely responsible for the more lurid and obscene double-entendres of the Tipsy Duchess (of profane memory) when that hideous caricature of femininity used to keep the quiz scores on Paul’s Saturday show in days of yore. Please don’t hold that shameful fact against him when you meet him on Sunday morning.
Incidentally, please don’t ever feel bad about not being able to attend an AGM. Contrary to custom and usage, our AGMs happen a lot more often than once a year so there’ll be another one along soon and, in any case, the venues are carefully chosen so that, even if nobody at all turns up, yours truly will enjoy the surroundings and be quite content just reading the paper!
Having said that... be there if you can. You know I love to see you.
On a similar subject... I had a real canny breakfast the other morning with Lawrence, our official Keeper of the Rats. If getting up early is your thing (which wouldn’t surprise me as you’re a truckshunter) then why not join us one morning?
I was sad to read of the death of James Kirkup the other day. He was born in South Shields 91 years ago, the only son of a carpenter. This is part of what The Guardian said about him.
‘Educated at South Shields high school, he later took a degree in modern languages at Durham University. During the second world war, he was a conscientious objector and worked as an agricultural labourer. Openly homosexual and sometimes deliberately provocative in his behaviour, he found social encounters difficult. He described himself as having an "inborn sense of deep solitude and apartness"....
After the war he worked - unsuccessfully - as a schoolteacher. His poetry was published from the early 1940s onwards, many of these early poems being overwritten and given to opulent language. He was Gregory fellow in poetry at Leeds University from 1950 to 1952 and his first substantial collection, The Submerged Village and Other Poems, was published by Oxford University Press in 1951. At a time when OUP was one of the most prestigious publishers of contemporary poetry in the English-speaking world, five further volumes by Kirkup appeared from the press in 1952, 1954, 1957, 1959 and 1963....
In June 1976, Gay News published his poem The Love that Dares to Speak Its Name, in which a Roman centurion expresses the sexual fantasies the body of Christ provokes in him and imagines a history of Christ's homosexual encounters. Mary Whitehouse sued the newspaper for blasphemous libel. Gay News was defended by John Mortimer and both Bernard Levin and Margaret Drabble gave evidence on its behalf, but the jury decided in favour of Whitehouse. The newspaper and its editor, Denis Lemon (of whom Kirkup was later to write an obituary), were fined, and Lemon was given a nine-month suspended sentence....
It is unfortunate that this episode has acquired such a prominent place in the public perception of Kirkup, distracting attention from his considerable achievements as a writer. He was well described by Stevie Smith as "a poet in the English tradition, original without being freakish, contemporary without being fraudulent". The critic Philip Hobsbaum called him "one of the genuine masters of verse in the middle to later 20th century". ‘
Perhaps another forgotten north-east hero? I wonder if any of his local relatives are still around.
ALSO IN THE NEWS...
I just can’t get out of the Nightshift Newsreel habit...
- Amidst all the unbelievably mephitic sewage we’ve had to wade though recently about the brass-necked expenses claims of our utterly venal and worthless MPs, I thought you might like to know that those same selfish hypocritical and totally shameless bits of garbage have just increased the National Minimum Wage by 7p an hour - to £5.80;
- the UK’s nightingale and woodpecker populations have halved in the last 13 years;
- the original WI calendar girls have made a 2010 anniversary edition;
- a private school closes every week.
I may have mentioned this before but... why is there currently an advert on tv for ‘pear cider’? We’ve already got a perfectly good word for ‘pear cider’: perry. So why not use it?
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