Stephen and his dog Fergie (she's on the right)
In this blogposting...
* AGM XXXIII
* Yesterday, Today, Forever
* Alan Turing
Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war...
Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war...
Last Thursday’s entrails did not augur well.
As the morning wore on towards the appointed hour of 1100, the dark and menacing clouds, which had been thickening up to dropping consistency like diabolical celestial meringues, began to tip their unwelcome and drenching loads onto the green and innocent earth below.
Driving to Birkheads Nursery, Hildie and I exchanged despairing glances as my Ferrari’s windscreen-wipers completely failed to make any impression on the torrents being unceremoniously discharged all over the car. The mist didn’t help, either, shrouding everything, as it did, in its grey cloak of cloying mystery.
The Nursery lay quiet and sighing, as if audibly disappointed that the first day of Summer had not brought with it weather more amenable to the AGM it was hosting. But all was not lost, for - sitting dapper, sleek and swaddled in warmth - we found Neville already enjoying the glow that only a well-brewed latte can provide.
We joined him and, before too long, the usual variety of truckshunter topics was being aired, discussed and dispensed with.
There was even an impromptu agenda. For Hildie had brought along, secreted amongst the multitudinous folds of her handbag, a mystery bar of chocolate. The mystery was not, of course, that it was a bar of chocolate but rather the flavour that had been applied to it.
Hildie's amazing discovery
Amazingly, Hildie had unearthed what is probably the only bar of Marmite-flavoured chocolate on earth. We all sampled it, we all recognised the Marmite flavouring and we all thought it was interestingly awful.
Vivienne arrived soon afterwards to take our minds off the chocolate and, behind the counter, Mike and Christine regaled us with light-hearted quips and quiddities. It was all typically good, truckshunter fun - although naturally we maintained at all times the quiet, restrained dignity that always accompanies our AGMs.
Last to arrive - and no less welcome for that - was Stephen, accompanied by his new bride, Heidi. It’s always good to meet someone daft enough to attend one of our AGMs for the first time and I think and hope that Heidi now feels part of the wider fellowship that is our Honourable Order.
Unable to prevent our co-host Mike from making jokes and telling tales, we instead invited him to take photographs of this memorable solsticial event, which - as you can see - he did.
Christine, Hildie, Neville, Vivienne, Mike, Heidi and Stephen (l to r)
So although our AGM - unusually for such events - was meteorologically ill-starred, it transpired that the auspices were misplaced after all. It was a wonderful meeting and if all future AGMs are as much fun as this one, I will be a happy man.
Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to get to Birkheads in such atrocious weather and to Christine and Mike for being such good hosts. Except for the jokes.
YESTERDAY, TODAY, FOREVER
During the AGM, Vivienne had mentioned a new sculpture she’d noticed. It was unveiled only a week or so ago and stands near the site of Montagu View old pit in Scotswood.
It’s called Yesterday, Today, Forever and, according to the plaque next to it, commemorates the 38 men and boys who lost their lives when the pit accidentally flooded in 1925. The different elements of the sculpture represent the area’s heritage, its present generation and its future.
Hildie and I stopped to look at it. It’s lovely.
Today, June 23, is the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing who invented modern computing virtually single-handed during and just after the Second World War. Many websites on the internet tell of his achievements - just Google his name. (The Google homepage is devoted to him today.)
You can read about an interesting new sideline on his tragic death at
(If the link doesn't work, copy and paste it into your browser's Search box.)
Whenever I think of Alan Turing's terrible life story, I'm reminded of how much times have changed for gay people in England since he died. I was 4 at the time, so in my lifetime, homosexuality has become (broadly) accepted as a fact of life. For most of the people of western Europe, it has become a non-issue; gay people are no longer persecuted and virtually no-one questions their equal rights.
There are some sad exceptions, of course. France still has some way to go towards acceptance of gay people and Italy remains firmly rooted in about 1350 as far as gay rights are concerned. In eastern Europe - and, of course, in many other parts of the world - conditions are much worse.
I am very lucky indeed to live where I do and to enjoy rights that Alan Turing wouldn't even have dared to dream about.
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