Andrew Nelson and Thierry D'Anjou
In this blogposting...
*Andrew and Thierry
*A Warning To Us All
*Leaving Comments on the Blog

Now go forth and multiply...

Hildie and I travelled over to Sunderland from Newcastle on the metro and were greeted at the station by the redoubtable Nev. Using the logic and deduction skills for which ex-railwaymen are rightly renowned, Nev had figured out that we’d be arriving by train and had walked to the station to tell us that the Winter Gardens, the AGM’s venue this time, was, in fact, closed.

As you may have noticed in previous blogpostings, we were aware that Thursday was Armistice Day but had reckoned without Sunderland’s Great And Good deciding to close the Winter Gardens so they could hold some dreary reception for the Duke of Kent. (It must have been dreary because Tyne Tees tv were there to cover it.)

Truckshunters, however, are never deterred by mere impossibility. The three of us walked up toward the small congregation that had gathered round the War Memorial, where we were met by Linda.

Together, we observed The Silence for Armistice Day. I’ve always found this ceremony profoundly moving. I can recall, when I was a London busman in the early 70s, that bus crews would stop their vehicles and stand together on the pavement in silence.

And I can remember, in Blue Bus days, notable Silences in Swan Hunter’s shipyard and on Bedford Street in North Shields. The seriousness - the solemnity - with which large numbers of people, busily going about their daily weekday lives, can suddenly stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are doing it, and stand together in total silence moves me very deeply.

When George V proclaimed that there should be a two-minute silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, part of the general idea must surely have been that everybody pauses for a while, whatever day it happens to be. It’s typical of British lip-service that, after the Second World War, the ‘act of remembrance’ was moved to the nearest Sunday - so as not to disrupt our busy lives too much. I was so glad when the British Legion launched its successful campaign a few years ago to have it moved back to November 11.

The Silence in Sunderland was almost perfect. It began and ended with cannon-fire from Bildon Hill and was only marred by the fact that the Council’s own employees continued to work close by.

Viv arrived at the AGM too - eventually - and, as usual, the conversation flowed as smoothly as the coffee. I reckon we all had a great time.

It ended rather sadly, though. A woman in the cafe passed out and it looked rather serious. Our very own Linda - a qualified first-aider - looked after her until the ambulance arrived.

Thanks Linda - and well done.

Hildie and I struck up a conversation with the two ex-servicemen you see above: Andrew Nelson (naturally known to his shipmates as The Admiral) and Thierry D’Anjou.

As you can see from his medals and his kepi blanc, Thierry not only served in the British Army but also in the French Foreign Legion - the medals on his right breast are French.

It seems, from the chat we had, that everything you’ve heard about the Foreign Legion is true. No questions are asked at recruitment - except that nowadays, they don’t accept all murderers; just some murderers.

Thierry told us that the training was unbelievably harsh - and that he thoroughly enjoyed it, and the next 20 years he spent with the Legion. Considering that, during that time, he fought in Algeria and the Congo, amongst many other highly dangerous and warlike places, I’m amazed that he survived at all, and said so.

(Apparently, 60% of Legionnaires do not, in fact, survive….)

Both Andrew and Thierry were immensely proud of their service records and of their medals, as well they might be. They both showed that enviable Forces’ bearing so common amongst ex-servicemen: polite, proud, assertive and somehow unselfconsciously authoritative, all at the same time.

Both men had exciting and fascinating stories to tell, all of which would have made riveting radio.

Thierry retired at the age of 60 - that is, 17 years ago - and chose to keep the name given to him when he joined the Foreign Legion.

Thierry D’Anjou was, in fact, born and bred in Sunderland. And a fine fellow he is, too.

My thanks to Andrew and Thierry for stopping to talk to us.

All-in-all, not yer average, run-of-the-mill AGM. Are they ever, though?

This is what happens when you attend a local Real Ale Festival and drink too much Cwrw Madog. I texted Lawrence to ask him what it tasted like. This was his reply….

‘A full-bodied session bitter with a malty nose and an initial nutty flavour with dominant bitterness. Well-balanced and refreshing with a dry roastiness on the taste and a good dry finish…’

You have been warned.

Several people have complained that they find it unnecessarily complicated - and sometimes even impossible - to leave a Comment in the Comments Box of the blog.

Hildie has taken the trouble to contact Sid, who knows a thing or two about such stuff. His reply to her was....
'URL stands for Uniform Resourse Locator, but it's nothing to get worried about.
I'd suggest opening up a Google account. It can be done from the Truckshunter web page ....
i.e. 'sign up here'.
Then, when that's done, you sign in by putting your email address in the username box,

and your password in the password box, and hey presto!
Sometimes the word verification doesn't show.

Just go through the stages outlined, and it'll be there on the second attempt
(have to add the password again though).'

I agree with Sid. The easiest way to be able to leave a Comment is to have a Google account. They're quick, easy - and free - to set up and are well worth having. I've used Googlemail for ages. Honestly, it's dead simple. It would need to be, as far as I'm concerned.

I’m in a bit of a quandary about this. Our first thoughts were that AGM XXII would be held during the week before Christmas, perhaps on Wednesday 22. I’m wondering, though, if it wouldn’t be better held during the week after - maybe on Wednesday 29.

What do you think?

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