177In this posting...
*AGMs IX, X and XI
*One to ten
Now read on, Macduff...
So there we all were - seven of us. There was the sprightly Ada (who does not live in North Shields); there was Maureen, the Roker diva (unless I’ve got that wrong, too, and she doesn’t live in Roker); there was the divine Vivienne, doyen and habituee of Gibside; there was the incredible Sid, he of the caravan and the fecund allotment; there was the sultry Hildie, my hardy Silver Screen companion; there was Lawrence, who has been tuning pianos for as long as there have been pianos; and me. Quite a roll-call of the great and the good, I think you’ll agree. Except, perhaps, for me.
The venue - Old St Mary’s Church, next to The Sage in Gateshead - lived up to expectations in more ways than we imagined. It’s the town’s Heritage Centre now and, although the sensational Anthea Lang (see blogpostings, passim) wasn’t there at first, we were treated to a group of local schoolkids taking part in an extra-curricular activity: they were finding out what life was like for children their age during the Second World War.
And they certainly entered into the spirit of the occasion. Most of them were dressed in period style - all cloth caps, utility skirts, corduroy school shorts and mufflers - and they were all, without exception, rooted to the spot as they listened to the Centre’s Education Officer - a lad whose name I carelessly neglected to make a note of - tell them of the hardships and pleasures of life a mere 65 or so years ago.
He didn’t just talk, though. The kids watched a computer presentation of black-and-white photographs of Gateshead in wartime - many of them featuring kids dressed exactly like the audience who were watching.
And it didn’t even end there. He produced artifacts of the time, including one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen; a baby’s gas mask that enabled the baby to be ‘changed’ while it was still in there! It defies description, so I’ve found a picture of one - see below. (The ‘concertina’ arrangement at the side enabled Mam (or Dad) to pump fresh, filtered air inside - every 20 seconds or so.)
For some of us, the demonstration was reminding us of just how old we were. After a dozen exclamations like ‘We had one of those!’ and ‘I can remember that!’, we decided it was time to leave the kids to their fascination and decamp to The Sage for a cup of takeaway coffee and one of Hildie’s ‘ambient’ sausage rolls.
What on earth possesses the Co-op to call what are, for all intents and purposes, perfectly normal sausage rolls ‘ambient’ is still beyond me, despite several truckshunter efforts to find out. I’ve made a note to call the Co-op and investigate.
Having said that, I think the whole world should know how partial Lawrence was to them. Yours truly only managed to get my hands on one. One. 'Nuff said.
Sid had mentioned, almost as a throwaway comment, that his wife Jean had been baptised in St Mary’s. Truly, holy ground. So we decided to call back in to find out if they could locate the relevant documentation.
And they did! The same Education Officer who had enraptured the kids earlier used the micro-fiche reader to locate the register of Jean’s birth ( - she was one of triplets, and her brothers' baptisms were recorded there, too). It was one of those family-history moments that we’ll all treasure. The registry entry was printed off so that Sid (and Jean) have a very personal and historic memento of this amazing, and very rewarding, AGM.
I think Maureen’s Shildon idea (see her comment to blogposting 176) is splendid. What a smashing way to (belatedly) celebrate my birthday! I’d love it. The Milky Bars would certainly be on me that day! And it wouldn’t be as difficult to organise as it might appear. Four people per car and the job is done.
More input, please.
In the meantime - as we have all more or less agreed - AGM X will take place at The Biscuit Factory on Stoddart Street. It’s a couple of minutes’ walk from the New Bridge Street end of Byker Bridge. The date, though, needs to be fixed. I suggest a day during wcm 30 November. Or perhaps the week after. Any comments?
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
ONE TO TEN
I have to admit that I was beginning to wonder why no-one had queried the mysterious caption at the head of the blog. But I reckoned without your investigative powers.
Yes, these are the numbers from one to ten in Basque, spoken in north-east Spain and south-west France. Basque is a member of a very small group of languages called 'isolates'. Whereas most languages are related to at least one other (as French to Spanish to Portuguese to Italian to Romanian), Basque is utterly unlike any other language on earth, as you can see.
Like so much in life, it's a complete mystery.
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