In this blogposting…
Now, cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war…

Our latest AGM took place as planned at Birkheads Nursery (and Secret Garden), near Sunniside. The hardy stalwarts in attendance were Linda, Vivienne, Hildie, Neville and yours truly.

In honour of the sunny - not to say laughter-laden - occasion, I think I can do no better than present to you the portraits you see above of each of the truckshunters who were there. What an impressive line-up of ageing reprobates!

It was a splendid occasion - and not just because of the awesome company we all kept. The day was perfection itself, and the venue was perhaps the biggest contributor to the success of the AGM. It wasn’t just the cafe’s outdoor terrace, either - lovely though it is. The view across the Secret Garden to the rolling West Durham countryside, with its fields and woodlands where once languished the regrettable eyesores resulting from the mining of coal, was simply lovely. There’s no other word for it.

In a way, it’s a shame that this corner of the north-east is so little known to outsiders. On the other hand, that means we have it all to ourselves. So, if you haven’t been down that way recently, take a look.

I know what you’re thinking. ZSOFI is an acronym: the Zoological Society of the Faroe Islands, perhaps, or the Zero Sustainability of Farming Initiative. (Many years ago, when I was in the Civil Service, I worked with the Further Adult Training Programme Implementation Group - FATPIG - whose chairman was Jenny Bacon.)

Zsofi, though, is thankfully not as esoteric as that. It is the Hungarian version of ‘Sophie’ and anyone who has attended one of the many AGMs we’ve held at Pret a Manger in the Town will know that Zsofi is the splendid young lass who sees to our every need. Always in high spirits, always cheerful and always attentive and happy to help.

Well, at least for the moment, we’ve seen the last of Zsofi. Today, she worked her last day at Pret a Manger before embarking on a new and very challenging life in Ghana, where she’s going to do her bit to make the world - or at least one corner of it - a happier and friendlier place.

It isn’t going to be easy, either. I don’t think we can even begin to imagine the difficulties and trials that lie ahead of her. Zsofi, though, appears to know exactly what she’s letting herself in for - and is relishing the prospect. After all, she has already uprooted herself from her native Hungary and settled successfully in England, where she found herself a job and has made many, many friends, us amongst them.

It’s always seemed to me that we are far too keen to demonise young people nowadays - to constrain them and stifle them so that they behave like dreary 40-year-olds, and to criticise them harshly and unfairly when they don’t.

Isn’t it wonderful that the spirit of adventure and excitement still thrives in the hearts of young lads and lasses like Zsofi, who still believe, despite all the odds, that they can make a difference to the lives of those much less fortunate than themselves; and that it’s not too late to make changes for the better in our unhappy world.

It was sad to say goodbye to her today. On a personal level, I will miss her very, very much. On the other hand, it was extraordinarily uplifting to see the obvious sparkle of excitement in her eyes and her wide smile of impatient enthusiasm. I wished her the very best of good fortune and happiness on all our behalves.

In your thoughts, please remember her as she embarks on the greatest challenge of her young life so far.

Ghana doesn’t know what’s about to hit it!

It’s gratifying to be asked so often how my friend Sue is. She made occasional, usually thought-provoking, contributions to The Nightshift which always generated an appreciative response.

I’m glad to say she’s alive and kicking in deepest, ruralest Herefordshire. To prove it, here are some jokes she sent me recently….

I said to the gym instructor ‘Can you teach me to do the splits?’
He said ‘How flexible are you’
I said ‘I can’t make Tuesdays’

I picked up a hitch-hiker. Well, I think you ought to when you hit one.

My grandfather was shrewd. People threw small, furry animals at him until he suffocated.

How many Spaniards does it take to change a light-bulb? Juan.

My mother is always taking photographs of me. She said ‘If you disappear, I want you to look good on the news’

If God hadn’t been in such a hurry to create the world in six days, he could have done something about nettles. And the French.

As a kid, I was made to walk the plank. We couldn’t afford a dog.

I like to annoy my Israeli flat-mate by giving him any post that’s just addressed to ‘The Occupier’

My brother recently asked me about the derivation and modern usage of the local dialect word kiff. We know it means ‘very good’ - my mother and grandmother used it frequently. My brother, though, seems to recollect it’s only being used negatively: ‘I’m not feeling kiff today’.

Is he right? And can you throw some light on the origins and usage of the word nowadays?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give us.

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

1 comment:

Sid said...

I'm still grinning at the Israeli flat mate and The Occupier.