The Saltwell Towers AGM was proof of an old and trusted adage:  that Life is full of the kind of unexpected and pleasant surprises that most of us live in the hope of.

For a start, it was my privilege to be the official AGM chauffeur, which is a first.  Exactly on time, I picked up Hildie, her sister Mary, and Brenda outside the massage parlour they have shares in and whisked them off to Saltwell Park.

(Chauffeur means ‘heater’ in French; why does it mean something so different in English?)

And there waiting for us was Neville - and who could wish for a better reception?  Especially as Neville, as keen as ever to capture the spirit of the times, was resplendent in a Union Jack top hat and red, white and blue braces.  When we asked him why he was wearing red, white and blue braces, he told us it was to keep his trousers up.

His outfit perfectly matched the sentiments of the lasses, each of whom carried a Team GB flag.  It was quite a sight and I felt kind of left out.

An Olympic torch was improvised accidentally when I went too far with a fag.

Admiring looks from fellow-customers at the café increased tenfold when Peter - yes, Peter from South Shields - arrived on his bike.  He had cycled all the way, uphill and down, in his Olympically pink cycling lycra - padded, of course, in all the right places.  Not an easy journey for a man of his age.

As it turns out, Mary is a bike fan, too, and spent quite a long time looking over Peter’s impressive equipment.

It was, of course, the beginning of the school holidays and the café was full of screaming children and teeth-grinding grandparents already wishing it was September.  But everyone fell silent - in pure awe - when we all appeared at the counter to order our lattes (or, in Peter’s case, an invigorating Lucozade).

The Olympic theme was complete when Neville improvised a baton by whittling on a length of ginkgo and we passed it one to another on the way to and from the café counter and/or toilets amongst the gaping grandmothers.

It has to be said that the high-heels Mary was wearing cramped her style a little; she has promised that, next time, it’ll be the same sensible wedges she walked the Roman Wall in for charity.

Peter won the relay - as well he might, dressed like that - but, in true truckshunter spirit, Hildie presented all of us with an Olympic ‘Wenlock’ chocolate lollipop for our efforts.  It’s always good to have something to suck on after strenuous exercise.

We all agreed that we had made a worthwhile - if slightly unusual - contribution to Britain’s Olympic aspirations.  Watching Peter wobbling away on his penny-farthing was the icing on the cake.

So - a splendid time had been guaranteed, and was had, by all.


Parts of the above description are true; others are mild exaggerations; and others are total terminological inexactitudes.  You must decide which is which.


Unusually, the next AGM’s date and venue has already been arranged.

It will take place at 1030 on Wednesday 29 August at the Tanfield Railway.  The starting time is a trifle earlier than usual to account for the train timetable but don’t worry.  Our Tanfield AGMs always last longer than normal so you can turn up whenever you like.

Would you prefer to catch the 1100 train or the 1230? 

I can hardly wait!


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