In this blogposting...
*Alan Turing
*rhymes without reason
*Armistice Day
Now, read on, Macduff...

Hildie recently spent a few days in Manchester and made it her business to seek out the sculpture of Alan Turing (about whom, see blogpostings passim). And, in Sackville Gardens, she found him. The proof is above, for all to see.

I’ve had an email from Matt ‘King’ Coal (yes, him again). He said he sent it because he was - frankly - bored and couldn’t think of anything else to do. How very dare he?

As a matter of fact, Matt’s email sparked an orgy of nostalgia (if that’s possible) in what’s left of my mind. He quoted a nonsense rhyme which he said he remembered from his schooldays in Sunderland.

One fine day in the middle of the night
Two dead men got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other.
Then drew their swords and shot each other.
A deaf policeman heard the noise.
Came out and killed the two dead boys.
If you don't believe this lie it's true.
Ask the blindman - he saw it too.

I don’t remember that rhyme at all, but it brought to mind some of the many ‘counting-out’ rhymes and skipping songs from my early days in East Durham.

Inkey pinkey ponkey
Daddy bought a donkey
Donkey died, daddy cried
Inkey pinkey ponkey.

I’m sure there’s a lesson there for all of us. And how about...

There was a man, he went mad
He jumped into a paper bag
The paper bag was too narrow
He jumped into a wheelbarrow
The wheelbarrow was too nasty
He jumped into an apple pasty
The apple pasty was too sweet
He jumped into Chester-le-Street
Chester-le-Street was full of stones
He fell down and broke his bones.

It’s still a bit risky jumping into Chester-le-Street.

Trimdon troughlegs stands on a hill
Poor silly Fishburn stands stock still
Butterwick walls are like to fall
But Sedgefield is the flower of them all.

And that mention of Butterwick brought to mind yet another of my Nana’s weird sayings - she was infamous in the family for her axioms and catch-phrases, many of which made no sense at all to her enraptured grandchildren. Many of them are still impenetrably obscure; what on earth does ‘you’d be a genius if you had a glass arse!’ mean? Unfortunately, she’s not around to ask.

Anyway...another of the wry remarks she was fond of dropping into conversations was ‘going to church at Butterwick’. She used it to imply that a task was fruitless and pointless. And it wasn’t until I mentioned the phrase in the early days of Paul’s Saturday programme that I found out why. A listener called with the explanation.

There is no church at Butterwick!

Keep your votes coming in for the date of AGM X. The venue is the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

I naturally have many memories of the Big Blue Bus programme Paul and I presented for four years - yes, it was that long - from all over the north-east. Each show seemed to develop its own ‘personality’ within moments of ten o’clock. Some of them were chaotically wayward from beginning to end; others were ‘learned’ and inspirational; some were positively educational; some were fanciful and flippant; yet others were contemplative and thought-provoking. Amongst this latter group were the programmes we broadcast on Armistice Day.

I have to be honest here. ‘Remembrance Sunday’ genuinely annoys me. The ceremony - with its accompanying two-minute silence - was originally decreed (by King George V) to be held, famously, at ‘the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’; that is, of course, at 11 o’clock on November 11. But during the 60s, this solemn act of remembrance was moved to the nearest Sunday to November 11 because otherwise it interfered too much with business, commerce and the daily round of ordinary life.

But surely, interfering with business, commerce and the daily round of ordinary life is the whole point. Whatever else we are doing, whatever other pressures and concerns are crowding in on us, we should stop, just once a year - and just for two minutes - to remember those who died - or sustained terrible injuries - on our behalf, and to bring to mind those who are still doing so today, whether they are fighting and dying or suffering here at home.

So it’s only right that, a few years ago - and thanks to a campaign by the British Legion - the two-minute silence was restored to its proper date and time.

And it’s the Blue Bus programmes we broadcast on Armistice Day that come most vividly to mind.

The armistice hooter sounding across the decades in Swan Hunter’s shipyard and the eerie, wind-blown silence that followed before the hooter sounded again.

And, perhaps most moving of all, the Salvation Army band playing Deep Harmony as the eleventh hour approached on Bedford Street in North Shields. The shopping centre clock struck the hour and everyone - there were no exceptions - stood still. Everyone stopped. No-one moved. Many heads were bowed. There were many tears.

To me, there is very little in human experience to compare with a large crowd of people standing in total and utter silence, each one lost in thought and contemplation. It’s awesome to witness and even more awesome to be part of.

I don’t agree with those who say ‘it’s all in the past’ and we should move on. Countless lives were lost and countless hearts broken so that we can enjoy the life we have today. Two minutes out of that life - just once a year - is no sacrifice at all compared to the sacrifice they made.

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—

I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.

I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...

But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year
And I to my pledged word am true
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com


Hildie said...

I'm posting this for my grandad ... JOHN ROBERT NIXON
... he died aged 29 years of age, in World War 1... leaving a widow and two young children. He is buried in a war grave in Italy, and this poem by Rupert Brooke
has always made me think of him
and of all the other young men who have fallen for our country ....


If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Ian Robinson said...

Thanks for sharing, Hildie X

Alison said...

Loved the poems. Remembrance and local. I have some war poetry books signed by the poets given to me by my Gran. I also have a very battered poetry anthology carried by my Dad in the War with the places he went to written in the flyleaf.


Val said...

Yes, it's so important that we all remember. Hildie that moving poem brings to mind the war graves.
In the early 1980's we visited the war graves and the 'Flanders Field' museum at Ypres and found it so emotional. About 10 years ago we took our kids, in their early teens. The daughter pretended not to be 'bothered' but she recently read Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth so maybe our efforts weren't in vain.

I think this is my favourite WW1 poem.

In Flanders Fields by John MacRae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

I'm glad they brought back the 2 mins silence on the actual 11th. When I was abut 8 yrs old my friend and I were in Jesmond Library on a Saturday 11th November. As children we thought it was mad to have an imposed silence as libraries were really silent in those days!

Hildie said...

Hi Alison and Val, poetry seems to be featuring quite highly in my life just at the minute .... saw 'Bright Star' the other day, about the life of John Keats ... did you know he died when he was only 25 years old, not famous, not having gained any riches from his poetry ... and feeling a failure? It wasn't until after his death that his poetry gained recognition.
AND ... I had more poetry in my life when I was in Manchester a couple of weeks ago .... my daughter took me to 'Poetry and Mash' in a bar at the Green Rooms .....
a night organised by a young man named Dominic Berry .... he , and others, performed their poetry . Honestly, it was a very uplifting experience, I enjoyed it immensely. It was mostly funny and thought provoking stuff ... one of them (Kriss Foster) sang songs such as "She fell between the station and the Train", "The Vimto Song" and "I met a girl at Scrabble Club". Such fun! Oh, I'd go and watch it all again!
Alison and Val .... are you coming with us to the Biscuit Factory? And Ellie, and Gerry, and Margaret, and secret Truckshunters everywhere .... are you coming with us? I don't know if Ian would have the AGM on his birthday, but wouldn't that be luverly??

Mietek said...

Lovely to see you are still posting these. Miss your programme at night and miss even more the Blue bus days. I learned more about Greater Newcastle and area from your show than any tourist info site.

As promised, I have dropped in and will visit often now.

Mietek Padowicz

Hildie said...

Morning Mietek, it is great to hear from you! We all remember your contributions to the radio programmes and we have often wondered how you are! It was a lovely surprise to see you on here.
Am I right in thinking that you are in Canada? Yes, almost a year on and we, like you, are all still missing Ian on the airwaves, they were very good days indeed. But, you know, we have him here , still waxing lyrical, and are happy about that. Well, I must get ready and get off to school now .... do keep in touch with us Mietek!

Maureen said...

What a lovely surprise this blog was when I read it this morning! Full of little personal stories and reminiscences, and an 'old' Truckshunter returned to the fold! Absolutely perfect. Welcome Mietek, is it Montreal you hail from? I have family there and seem to remember ... I wonder how many more of you are 'lurking' out there? We'd love to hear from you.
Ian that 'Two dead men' thing, I remember that being in my Mam's old autograph book. Can you remember? everyone seemed to have them and kept them for years, with little comments and drawings from schoolfriends, work colleagues etc, not just famous people. (I don't suppose there were a lot of them about!)

Maureen said...

I was annoyed to hear Simon Hoban say on his programme with 'Simma' Antony Simpson that his last programme will be in a fortnights time. What is going on at Radio Newcastle? Is it company policy to get rid of all of their best presenters? Slowly but surely they have reduced the number of programmes that I listen to, and I'm sure that I am not alone. I wonder who they will put in his place? Hmmm...no prizes given!
Sorry if you aren't happy with my comments Ian, please feel free to remove them, at least I've had my say!

Sid said...

I'm sure your comments will be fine Maureen, it's good to let off steam now and again.
I don't know who is taking Simons place..but a large blonde woman was seen buying a camp bed, sleeping bag, and a small gas cooker the other day. I wonder if she mumbles that darn txt number in her sleep.

Maureen said...

Nice One Sid!

Hildie said...

Hi Maureen, I heard that said this morning too, he just mentioned it very casually didn't he? Next week Gilly is standing in for him, and the following week is his last show, that's all he said. There ain't much left of interest now, is there?
Hi Sid, I've been wondering about the triplets .... you know, Truckshunter curiosity it might be, or being nosey maybe .... but did they have incubators in those days? They must have been very small when they were born, there must have been worries about their survival. Did they have to be in special care for a long while? Hospitals certainly wouldn't have had the facilities they have today, so somebody must have worked hard in order for them to have survived. I'm wondering what Jean knows about it all. They were proper little miracles, weren't they?

Mietek said...

I would like to thank those who posted such kind regards towards me. We tend to forget that our ideas reach so many people when we share on the air I'm just pleased to have had some kind of positive impact on even one person's life.

I would like also to take this moment to say that I am somewhat saddened by the changes occurring at Radio Toon. When I first started listening a few year ago, there was the album of the week shared across all shifts, and several brilliant programmes including the Bhamra show and the Local Celtic programme that afforded us the opportunity to listen to music otherwise rarely played on radio any more. Not all change is bad, the sport programming is improved and caters to us rabid Mags Mackems and otherwise footie addicted persons.

But I must say strongly that the top 40 music on some parts of the station are definitively bumping some quality local fare from the air.

Sid said...

Jeans mum thought she was having twins. At 24 weeks two heartbeats could be heard, and they x-rayed Mrs Gowland, (gulp). No ultrasound in those days. Strangely the x-ray showed two baby's, Jean must have been shy.
So on the day of the birth a nurse said "hang on there's another one" and out came Jean.
Stan at 5lb 10ozs, John 5lb 7ozs and Jean 4lb 10ozs. They spent a couple of days in an incubator, but were never any cause for worry.
After the christening, someone decided Mrs Gowland could do with a break and some help. Now I don't know who was responsable for the idea, but Mrs G and the triplets went to stay with Lord Ridley and his wife on their estate. Lots of help on hand, and they were there for six weeks. A wonderful gesture to a total stranger and her 3 babies. Well done the Ridley family I say.

Hildie said...

Hi again Mietek,
lovely to hear from you .... we find it quite exciting to have new people posting on the blog! Don't disappear!
Hi Sid,
I was honestly surprised to hear what good weights the triplets were at birth. And, as for Lord Ridley and his wife, I was well impressed! It must have been big news at the time, for the Ridleys to have heard about it. In all honesty Mrs. Gowland didn't half have her hands full .... no disposable nappies, no automatic washing machines, no tumble driers
.... it doesn't bear thinking about!! I wouldn't think she got a lot of sleep, poor lady.

Hildie said...

FORGOT TO TELL YOU ..... I heard about this while I was in Manchester the other week ....
2012 is going to be
It is the centenary of his birth
and there is going to be a year-long celebration of his life and scientific impact. A number of events are taking place throughout the year. Most of them will be linked to places with special significance in Alan Turing's life ... such as Cambridge, Manchester and Bletchley Park.

Maureen said...

Isn't that nice Hildie, some recognition for him at last. I love happy endings.
I've just put the radio on and 'that woman' is on again! isn't there a limit to how many hours one person can broadcast? She was on this morning, I quickly turn it off then as well...
Jamie voted off X Factor, oh dear, how much longer will we have to put up with those twins?

Hildie said...

Those twins, Maureen, they'd be fantastic on a pogo stick, I think!! But that's all they're good for! I'm having a listen to Guy Garvey's Finest Hour on 6 Music, much easier on the ear than Radio Ga Ga!! She really must have a camp bed there!
Alan Turing doesn't sit alone on his bench in Sackville Park, you know .... I saw people at regular intervals sit down beside him - maybe a person would sit on his bench and read a newspaper, or have a cigarette, or just sit alongside him and contemplate for a few minutes. There are lots of benches in the park .... but people tend to choose to sit on Alan Turing's bench! It did my heart good to see it.

Hildie said...

It's such a pity Guy Garvey's radio programme, on 6 Music, is a pre-record.
Why they should need to do that at 10 p.m. beats me!
Morning everyone, by the way!
That's my little grumble out of the way!
I'm wondering how Kev is .... Ian mentioned, at the AGM, that he wasn't very well. I hope he's on the mend now. Best wishes from us all, Kev.

Hildie said...

Sales of FISHERMAN'S FRIEND lozenges are soaring because people believe they might cure swine flu. x

Hildie said...

Gordon Blacklock, from the village of Egremont, has been crowned the winner of the World Gurning Championships ...... after taking part in the event for the last thirteen years ......
so, you see,
... practice makes perfect!!

Sid said...

Fisherman's Friend lozenges...cor dear me, have you tried them.
I can only speak of the original variety, my word they were strong. I see they now have several different flavours. I'm not surprised folks think they might help with swine flu....

Sid said...

Claims are made Hildie that the Gurning competition in that village dates back to 1267.

Maureen said...

Fisherman's friends are always on the list of 'must haves' when we go to Cyprus and when I used to work for a firm near Cammbrige I used to take them. They hadn't heard of them down there. Can't see the attraction myself. Apparently it's the aniseed that's the magic ingredient.
Hope that the wind doesn't change ar Egremont... Get well soon Kev.

Hildie said...

I'm wondering how Peter is getting on .... our new Truckshunter who has been emailing Ian. Do you remember Ian saying Peter has just recently found us ... and that he is reading the blogs from scatch / hope you are catching up. Peter!

Hope you don't mind me mentioning this, it's about the next AGM .... at the Biscuit Factory .... I'm wondering if we would be able to have it on Wednesday 2nd December or Thursday 3rd December ... just before Ian's birthday on the fourth in fact ....
the thing is I am going to be seriously tied up for two weeks from 7th December. Would anyone else like to suggest a date, if these suggestions are of no use?

Sid said...

You good folks just decide on a date and I'll do my best to be there. I'm looking forward to the Biscuit Factory, someone mentioned the food was good. Mmm ambient cheese scones...

Sid said...

On the Biscuit Factory website they say groups and school visits are welcome, but please call in advance. When we settle on a date, and have a rough idea of numbers do we need to give them a call...

Vivienne said...

Hi Everyone,

Either Wednesday or Thursday would be fine by me. I had a delicious freshly baked cheese scone at Gibside today. I couldn't resist the sight of the tray of scones cooling on top of the oven!

Hildie said...

Hello lovely people,
while I was happily wending my way up the stairs to bed - ooh, at around eleven thirty last night -
I remember thinking 'I can't believe I used to stay up until
1 o' clock in the morning ... no,
until almost 3 o' clock in the morning ....
to listen to a radio programme!!'
But, I did.
We did, didn't we?
How many months did we do that, for heaven's sake???!!

I'll bet you can't say those words in reverse order without sounding like an Irishman swearing.

Mietek said...

Hiya All,

I'd like to ask you all a question, one that has been bothering me for the longest time.

How is it that I , a person raised to be respectful, polite, and to avoid trouble, can feel the way I do about a certain person. Until our lads were sent down to fizzy pop on the last day of the season, I thought I could never hate a man so much. Then he made it worse, he took a group of people voted friendliest folk in England , perhaps the UK even and turned us into an angry snarling mob with murderous intent. I have never seen so much cursing, ill will and naked hatred of a single individual and his companies since somebody yelled Margaret Thatcher in a crowded room. Please don't think I am distancing myself from those people, I agree with them, What he as done to our club is a crime. I am just asking, how much more will it take to make even me abandon what shred of civility remains towards that man? I honestly cannot be held responsible for what I might do if he crossed my path.

Surely he knows he has sinned for England at this point?

I want the nightmare to be over and to be happy when I think of Newcastle United. I don't even bother with the newsletters anymore, there is nothing I haven't read or heard before a thousand times. Lie upon lie upon half truth. When en will i get my football club back and start enjoying the actual football again? I'm happy with what he has turned me into, I hate feeling like this and I want it to stop.

Sadly I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Mietek said...

Meant to say I'm NOT happy with what he has turned me into.

Sid said...

Hello Mietek,
My father was a fanatic when it came to supporting 'The Magpies' in the late 1940's and beyond. They were the days when Jackie Milburn and other 'proper' football players reigned supreme.
I remember clearly being taken to St James Park and sitting on the low brickwork that surrounded the pitch. The wind and rain never bothered anybody.
On the day when the team was playing away we would sit around the radio at 6pm and listen to the football results. If Newcastle won, then we would all go to the pictures. If they got beat my father was in such a mood he wouldn't take us. He was that much of a fan.

Ian Robinson said...

Mietek...I am not qualified in any way to talk about the shortcomings or otherwise of any particular soccer club. After all, for several years I pretended to support Hartlepool just to shut people up. However - and perhaps leaving the quality of the playing aside - is it not true that Newcastle United has, collectively, been the laughing stock of professional football for years? Its fans have allowed themselves to be abused, derided, ignored, exploited. And to their discredit, those same fans just keep on coming back for more. As an outsider looking in, it's always seemed to me that, in the conduct of its affairs, the club is a pantomime. No - a full-blown farce. I often find myself wondering...'Whatever next?'

Mietek said...

I would not disagree with you Ian. Supporters have been take for granted for so long that we have resorted to buying tops on e-bay or charity shops, and in some cases boycotting Shearer's bar. And yet, we get the sense that had half the indignity poured on Toon suporters had been inflicted on the ether United, Manc reds would have stormed the barricades ages ago.

I would like to think that the new militancy of supporters will be taken into account by any new owners or the Trust should it succeed, and then any bad luck on the pitch will be laid squarely at the feet of those most responsible.

Sid, I loved your story, it reminds me of the same way good times and bad were measured at our house. Fortunately, the team played better back then.

Mietek said...

03 457 33 22 33

After the first hour or so I knew it by heart and even now it haunts me.

Lovely show with some great performances , but Madness let me down, a bit too sedate. Had a few moments bordering on classic Eurovision and that's a good thing. Will send my £10 via paypal later today.

Hope some of you did something memorable for the day. I'm sure we'dd all like to know.

laters all time to get some sleep.