Monthly Archives: September 2009

Another Blog From Beyond The Grave

oooOOOooo! Hah, were you scared? It’s your favourite ghost again – Wombat’s dead Dad, blogging to you from beyond the grave. As I told you last time, I wrote most of this down shortly before I died in 2003, so that my grand-daughters (and perhaps even their children) would know what sort of life we led in the dim and distant past. Today I’ll tell you something about my RAF career. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Starting out
In 1942 I was 16 and allowed to leave school. I had to decide whether to get a job, or stay on for what are now ‘A’ levels. I’d had enough of school, and decided to join the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice. I passed the entrance examination, had a reasonable interview (during which it was decided which particular job I was most suited to), and was accepted into the service. I was told to report to Marylebone Station in London, and my Dad was sent a warrant so that he could obtain a ticket for us both to go to London, and a return ticket just for him.
In London, I took my leave of Dad, and a very polite Flight Sergeant got us all on board a train. He also made sure that we all got off again when we reached Aylesbury station. From the station it was a short ride on a rickety bus to our training station, Halton, near the small town of Wendover in Buckinghamshire.
We were to stay here for two years, after
induction, learning the various trades that we had been assigned to as a result of our original interview. Trades included Fitters Class 2, either Airframe, Engine, Armourer, Wireless & Electronic equipment.
We did a LOT of square-bashing, in addition to guard duties undertaken on a rota basis. I actually quite enjoyed this part of the training, as it was not unlike being back at school (except for the square-bashing practices), and therefore not too dramatic a change. At weekends we used to go to Aylesbury or Wendover, either to the pictures or to take part in various sports and pastimes.
The best part of our training was the trips we used to get in an old Tiger Moth biplane that was kept on the airfield for training purposes. I love the feeling of flying high above the ground. Towards the end of our 2 years training we had to rehearse for our passing-out parade. This was endured by all apprentices who had passed their exams, after which we were given three weeks leave to await our first real posting.
At some point during the second year of training, some of our entry, including me, had volunteered (subject to our being fit enough and passing o
ur exams) to train as aircrew (those who actually flew in the aircraft). We volunteers had to go to Birmingham for a medical exam and aptitude tests. I was chosen to train to be a navigator, but we would have to wait several months until the next course became available. I was pleased, but didn’t realise at that time (and the powers-that-be didn’t tell us) that the life expectancy of a navigator was just six weeks, dependant on what sort of a unit you were sent to. (Luckily, as it turned out, the war ended before I could be appointed to the navigator’s course, so I wasn’t needed).
Anyway, towards the end of my after-training leave, I received a letter posting me to Driffield airfield, which was a Base Maintenance Unit. We travelled to Driffield by train via Hull.

On arrival I discovered that it was a base for seven Halifax Bomber squadrons. Three were actually at Driffield (two Australian and one Polish), and two each at Lisset and at Leconfield, with a further airfield at Carnaby. There were no squadrons based at Carnaby – it had an extra-long runway so that any aircraft in trouble could try to land safely. It was also one of only three or four airfields in the country to have FIDO installed. This is a method of burning petrol through pipes with holes along a runway, thus dispersing any fog, and allowing pilots a better view of the runway as they were landing.

Overseas
In January or early February of 1945 I was given seven days leave, and ordered to report to Blackpool for eventual despatch to overseas service! Ooer! I began to be both excited and scared.
Initially we were billeted in a guesthouse at Blackpool and after getting all our inoculations and vaccinations we were kitted out. We received tropical uniforms, a Sten sub-machine gun and ammunition (quite exciting in itself), and we were ready to go. We were marched to Blackpool South station at 8 o’clock in the morning, and arrived at the dockside in Liverpool at about 3 p.m. The train had taken seven hours to travel about forty or fifty miles! However, this wasn’t to be my last slow journey while in the RAF, as you’ll find out.
After we emerged from the train, we were then stuck on the dockside for an hour and a half with all our kit while the people in charge sorted things out. Finally, we were let on board a ship called the S.S.Britannic (see right). This had been a luxury liner before the war; the successor to the original Britannic which was one of Titanic’s sister ships. This luxury liner had now been conscripted as a troopship. We were directed to our various mess decks where the crew gave us a hammock each, and showed us where and how to sling them. After this, at about six o’clock, we were given something to eat, our first food since seven o’clock that morning.
I’ll tell you, that meal was the finest I think I have ever had! We were told it was a lamb stew, but all it consisted of was a billycan full of gorgeous thick gravy with loads of bones bobbing about in it, wi
th a big hunk of bread. Doesn’t sound much, but it was beautiful!!
Soon after eating, we heard the engines start up and we were off into the unknown. Only the Captain and senior officers knew where we were going. It could have been the Far East, the Middle East, North Africa or perhaps even Italy. After struggling with our hammocks for some time, most of us finally got to sleep. When we woke in the morning we had a little breakfast, and crowded up on deck. And oh, what a sight!
There
must have been at least thirty ships all around us. There were liners like ours all carrying troops; there were ammunition and war material ships; there were oil tankers, food ships and humble tramp ships, all gathered into one huge convoy, at the centre of which was the Britannic. The convoy was steaming along in “zigzags”, so as to provide a ‘moving’ target, and all the while the escorts – destroyers, corvettes and smaller gunships – were dashing up and down between the lines of ships, on the lookout for “U-boats” that might want to target us. Above us, aircraft buzzed to and fro, covering us until we were far enough out into the Atlantic Ocean to be safe.
After about three days we ran into a terrific storm (and remember that this was the Mid-Atlantic, in February/March). I think every single passenger on that ship was seasick for a couple of days. The smell was, how shall I put this, not nice. However, fortunately we soon ran into calmer water and nicer weather. Shortly we passed the Rock of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea. From here it was just a day and a half to our destination, which turned out to be Naples, where we disembarked to the transit camp to await posting to our various units. We stayed in this camp for about a week, and I remember marching up to the cookhouse, which was a hotel that had been requisitioned by the RAF.

Naples
When we marched up for our first breakfast after landing at Naples, we passed a corner where there was a huge pile of fallen pine cones, presumably swept from the road. As we got near, they suddenly started moving and about 6 boys poked their heads out and peered at us. They then rushed over asking for chocolate, or cigarettes. The Sergeant quickly chased them away, however, and carried on marching us to breakfast. When we emerged after breakfast, ready to go to our billets, we were amazed once more. A crowd of women, with raggedy children of all ages in tow, were waiting for us. They carried empty cans, and pleaded with us for any leftovers. We all scraped our leftovers in, and they devoured it. They didn’t care what it was, they were so hungry. For the rest of our time there, most of us kept something back from our rations to give them. Until then, I don’t think any of us had realised what conditions were really like for the native population.
A week or two later my mate and me were posted to a squadron which was stationed in the northern part of Italy. This was worryingly close to the front line, and all the fighting, so it was a worried couple of nineteen-year-olds that boarded the noisy Dakota transport plane (se right) that took us north. Immediately on landing we were supposed to report to the Adjutant’s office, but before we could get there we were forced to rush to the shelters, as German fighter planes were approaching the airstrip hoping to destroy some of our aeroplanes. After a few noisy passes over the airfield, the Germans either gave up or were driven away, but this start to our new posting didn‘t help our nerves.
Once the hubbub had died down, the Adjutant found us, and told us that they had just received a message to the effect that, because we were trained Fitters, we had to be sent to Malta where there was
a Maintenance Unit with facilities for major repairs of the type we were specifically trained for. He apologised for this sudden change of plan, but given our somewhat frightening welcome, we were quite pleased about it.

Malta
The following day we were flown to Malta, met at the airfield, and taken to our new barracks. These were at a place called Kalafrana, which is on the edge of the sea. Kalafrana was used as a base for Sunderland flying boats. During our time there, whenever we were off duty we used to walk the fifty yards from our huts and swim in the perfect blue sea. When we were ON duty, every morning we were taken by lorry to our work place, which was known as Safi Strip.
It was just a small airstrip with one runway, but was connected to the main airfield, Luqa, by a network of small cart tracks that had been widened and equipped with blast pens to accommodate all types and sizes of aeroplanes. After about 3 months came the end of the war, and about 6 months after that we were moved from our seaside barracks to huts at Safi. This irritated us all, since now we had to wangle ourselves lifts on lorries in order to have our daily dip in the briny.
A few months or so after the war had ended, all regular members of the forces were given a long leave to Britain. Regulars were those who had volunteered to join – the rest, who had been conscripted, were not allowed this break, as they were soon all to be demobbed. Going on this le
ave turned out to be quite a journey in itself.
First, we caught an old, slow tramp steamer which went across to Sicily, then over to Italy, and up to Southern France, following the coastline all the way. During our voyage we passed close by the island and volcano named Stromboli, which was erupting at the time. It was dusk and we could see the molten lava oozing out of the crater and running down the sides of the mountain. I got quite homesick, because it reminded me so much of the slagheaps I used to see as a kid at Parkgate. Remember, I told you about it in my last blog? No? OK, here’s a picture to help you remember.
After we disembarked in France, we went to the usual transit camp – I think almost my entire military life was spent in transit camps. From there we were taken to the local railway station, where all of us were given piles of books, cards and games, and ordered onto a passenger train. The reason for these unexpected gifts slowly became clear, because we were on that blinking train for thirty-six hours. A day and a half in a compartment for 6 people – our sleeping arrangements were: one man (the more athletic of us) on each of the luggage racks, one on each seat, and one under each seat. Luckily, this was only for one night. The train stopped every five hours or so at special feeding stations for us to have a meal and a wash, and to visit the toilets. We were freed at about midday on the second day, when the train reached Calais.
We transferred to a ship, and crossed the English Channel to arrive in Dover at about teatime. We were then put up for the night in – yes, you’ve guessed it – a transit camp, and sent on our own way the next morning w
ith our precious leave pass. At the end of our leave we made the same journey in reverse, as this tedious journey was run as a routine service, until all regular members of the forces had taken their end-of-war leave. In the winter, Malta was much cooler, and sometimes pretty cold. At these times, we spent our off-duty hours visiting Valetta, the Maltese capital. Although the war was over, bomb damage was all too evident. The streets had been cleared of rubble, but there were still many ruined houses and burned out buildings, especially in the townships around the dockyard. Our other activities were mainly sporting, my favourites being football, hockey, or table tennis. Football could be somewhat of a hazard as the pitches were made of rolled sandstone and padded shorts and shirts only provided small protection.
Although in Malta there was virtually no chance of any attacks by the enemy forces even before the war ended, we still had to do sentry
duty. This was on a promontory on cliffs at the other side of Kalafrana Bay where we were stationed. We were given a day’s rations and taken up to the sentry post to do our guard duty. The rations were mainly tinned food, and included two tins of sausages. We often swapped one of these for a small sack of potatoes from the local farmer. We’d empty the sausages from the tin, then use the congealed fat left in the bottom to fry chips, cut roughly from the potatoes. To make a fire on which to cook our feast, we would use an old petrol tin about 30cms diameter and 60cms high. We filled it about three quarters full with sand and then poured petrol in so that it soaked the sand, which then burned nicely when lit with a match. It always made a lovely meal, too. We were in Malta for two and a half years altogether, and of course we were entitled to take leaves of absence, so long as we got permission from our Squadron Leader. During our first year, we went on a cruise! We managed to wangle three weeks leave on board a Royal Navy corvette. This ship toured the Mediterranean Sea, patrolling for ships which might be trying to get to Israel carrying illegal immigrants. If any were intercepted they were escorted back to where they came from. We found it an excellent way of touring the Med.
Our second lot of leave while in Malta came the following year. We were offered the opportunity to go for two weeks to Sicily, and stay in a hotel on the slopes of Mount Etna, a volcano which was still capable of erupting. We flew there in an old Anson aeroplane that was being used to transfer, well, anything that needed transferring really, between Malta, Sicily and Italy. When we got aboard the Anson, the weather was foggy (dangerously so, it seemed to me), and when the engines roared into life I saw that the wings started flapping up and down! A few of us expressed our worry, but the pilot just grinned and said that this was normal for this type of aircraft, and we should just relax. So off we went, but we were not relaxed. After about half an hour we landed at Catania, on the south coast of Sicily. We transferred to a lorry which had benches for seats, and rumbled off up the mountain road. It wasn’t long before we reached the snow line, after which it took about an hour to reach the hotel. We had a lovely time! We went skiing and explored the nearby woods, and made new ski runs every day. It snowed almost every night, but when it didn’t the sky was clear with more stars than I’d ever seen in my life. During the day, the sun shone without interruption so that we all became really sunburnt. However, so much snow fell overnight that the snowploughs were working every morning to clear the roads.
Anyway, after this I didn’t do much repairing of broken aeroplanes, as there were so many fitters there for the work to be done that I was detached to run the Station library. That job I enjoyed immensely, given how much I like books. However, all good things must come to an end, so after about a year of being a librarian, in 1948, six years after joining the RAF, I was posted back t
o the UK.
On the due day we were taken to the Grand Harbour in Valetta where we boarded the ex-liner Circassia. We landed back in Liverpool after an uneventful journey, which took a lot less time than the original trip outwards!

Next time, if I can summon up enough astral energy, I’ll tell you a little bit about post-war life back in Britain.

Cat on Tour visits Carlisle

Mary drove Cat two hours North to the Brampton Road campus of the University of Cumbria; this is collated from her notes. The campus is small, on the north side of Carlisle. Apparently, non-sequiturily, there are a lot of Swedish students. There is one other campus in Carlisle, and others in Lancaster, Ambleside and Penrith. The campus tour was with a large group, which included a noisy toddler, with the result that some things the guide said couldn’t be heard. The area being created for computers was interesting, being a balcony in the library building (see right).
The presenter for the talks, in a very small lecture theatre, was engaging and interesting. The University does not guarantee campus accommodation for all first-year students, but they will find accommodation for them . All students (we think) get a bursary of about £1000 per year, although we do need to check this if Cat decides the place is for her. IT facilities are available round the clock at Fusehill Campus and in the library. Students can do evening classes in Media, Textiles, Ceramics, Woodwork, and Jewellery and in any case can use the equipment in any area (band saws, sewing machines etc.) once they have completed an induction session.
Illustration, which is Cat’s particular interest, is a BA degree. Students who the tutors feel are not quite ready for the course but show promise may be offered a place in year 0 which is a foundation entry course and is actually another year in Further education (no fees but no grants/loans). NOT to be confused with a foundation degree. In the first year, Graphics and Illustration do the same course. Workshops are communal 1st year students work in the same area as third years. Most work is marked on screen and need not be printed. Colour copies are 75p each. Students will typically fill three or four sketchbooks per term.
The second year sees Graphic Design and Illustration beginning to separate, although there is still some common ground. In Year 3, students are expected to concentrate on their strengths, and are expected to work on at least four projects.
In year 1, three weeks are given over to a language project, while one week is spent on Creative Writing. In Year 2, students produce a website. Work Placement is undertaken in Year 3. The University has connections with the design company, Pentagram.
Overall, Cat was pretty impressed to the tune of 8/10, but says that Loughborough leads the way still. Here’s her thoughts at the moment –

  1. Loughborough
  2. Cumbria (Carlisle)
  3. Derby
  4. Glyndwr (Wrexham)

Cat visits Derby University

We got up hellishly early (6.30 on a Saturday! Can you believe it?) so that we could get to Derby early enough to make the talk about the course Cat’s interested in at 11am. As it turned out, it was a wise decision as the roads were clear, and a cloudless sky promised that the day would quickly become uncomfortably hot for driving.
For now though, it remained pleasantly cool. An hour and fifty minutes of amusing chat, and we arrived at the University, easily found near the A38. A young gentleman directed us into the car park with a wildly camp gesture, and we wandered across to the modern buildings, half-covered with scaffolding.
Inside, the “atrium” was beginning to fill up, but we registered quickly thanks to (a) bringing the confirmation letter with us and (b) Cat’s skillful queue jumping.Just inside was a desk full of goodies – yay! We grabbed bags and badges and car stickers and lollies and pens… no wait! The pens, somewhat weirdly, are mostly a plastic tank for a bubble-blowing solution. Also, they are leaky. Whoops! Very leaky. Put them back.
The introductory talk was interesting, and explained the scaffolding – there is currently £75m worth of new facilities being built for next year. Derby University is a Teaching University, rather than a Research institution, and provides vocational training. That is, the teaching is always geared towards finding a job. Other points included –

  • Students work in small study groups.
  • There is a Family Programme for parents.
  • A Student Employment Agency provides vetted part-time work.
  • There is a bursary of £520 pa for our income bracket.
  • The Art & Design Faculty is based in a separate building on Markeaton Street.
  • There’s a free shuttle bus between all sites.

Out we go, and straight onto a bus down to Markeaton Street – another modern building not ten minutes walk away. The inside was clean and white with no decoration – perhaps surprising for an artistic institution. We sat down in a lecture theatre for the Art & Design talk by a woman whose name I missed, but whom we later dubbed (sarcastically) Mrs. Interesting.
Her Powerpoint slides were (again surprisingly, for someone saying they were an artist) abysmally boring, being plain text lists in dry language. Her voice and tone, and the content of her speech (as much as we could make out above the sound of yawning) were also tedious in the extreme. See how fascinated Cat looks in the photo on the right. (And no, its not a fag, its a lolly stick). However, I caught these bullet points-

  • They have a Year Zero Foundation, which is NOT a “foundation course”, and which we would have to pay for.
  • There is a lot of cross-course interaction.
  • They also run an MDes, a four year course leading directly to a Masters degree.
  • Students share common spaces, and exchange ideas.
  • They want passionate & committed students, who “Dare to be Different”
  • Acceptance is (as usual) by interview with portfolio, which can be in many forms (including electronic)
  • Prospective students should show commitment and passion.
  • Students make a wide circle of friends and contacts for the future.

Here we separated off into subject-specific talks, and ours (Visual Communications – Illustration) was given by – oh no. Mrs. Interesting again. Ah well. This time she was more animated, and I managed to glean some information –

  • Students are entered for national competitions
  • Students are given work to do on live briefs for real clients.
  • The first year is common with Graphic Design and Animation students.
  • Second and Third year more specialised, plus visits to London and Europe.
  • Drawing and Storytelling are important.
  • Students have desk space in a studio and work in company with others.

Cat brightened up considerably when she saw the boy who was to give us a tour of the building. She deemed that he was “hot” (see picture above, where Cat has absolutely no idea what Hot Guy is telling us). He showed us computer rooms full of iMacs (photo below – note the music keyboards attached to each machine), photography studios, and a room where students could go to borrow Apple laptops, cameras etc. free of charge. And yet it still nagged me that there was no artwork on display anywhere in the building. Just those ubiquitous bare white walls. Perhaps that was the influence of the Head of Art, Mrs. Interesting, which would fit in with her minimalist design for Powerpoint.We decided to walk back to the Kedleston Road site, which took about ten minutes during which we passed the most delightful park, or as Cat put it “a big-ass park with a little-ass railway”, for a miniature railway, complete with miniature diesel engine and rideable carriages, ran all around the perimeter. There was also a boating lake which looked very tempting.We ate in the café (good food), then took another bus to one of the Halls of Residence – Peak House (see right). The rooms were fine and adequate; there were five to a flat, and a common room for each building. The laundry room featured a vending machine dispensing four products – Persil washing powder, Durex condoms, Caffeine Pills, and some tablets called Golden Root (“You’ll love it and so will she”). Each room had free broadband. There was a boys school across the street that “sometimes might get a little noisy”. Cat found a phone with huge keys in one of the drawers.
And that was that. Cat decided that, all things being considered, and adding a point for the groovy park, that she was quite impressed. So, 8/10 for Derby University. The day was pretty hot by now, so Cat adjusted her dress accordingly for the drive home, which we brightened considerably by motoring through the Peaks instead of the motorway – and she looked so cool that I had to follow her example –

When Wombat met Jamie

What did we do before the internet? One thing we didn’t do is make friends with blokes from Michigan, and then meet them in Manchester for a day of their visit across the Atlantic. Here’s what happened when Jamie met Wombat.

Of course, he just had to be the last one off the train. A gazillion peeps poured out of the carriages and disappeared into the waiting city before I spotted Jamie, at the far end of the platform. Even though I’d only seen photographs on Facebook and Sparkypeeps, it was obviously him. The hair gave it away, more than anything – sort of a startled Stan Laurel effect.
Jamie saw me at the same time, and saluted. I waved, extremely goofily, and then we had a big hug. A tough one, of the kind Real Men do. No girly overtones at all, honest. And then we were talking, extremely comfortably, as if we’d been meeting up all our lives.
We walked through the sun-drenched city centre to Shambles Square (see the piccie on the right), where we sat a while and sank a pint or two. It was pleasantly warm, and the beer was tasty and refreshing, and we almost decided just to stay where we were for the whole day.
After ascertaining that his GPS worked, and that we could locate nearby geocaches if we wanted, we exchanged gifts. Like a magician, Jamie flourished his rather large backpack and produced a rather groovy T-shirt, while I in turn presented him with a lump of black pudding. Sorry, Jamie, bad swap. Oh, and a bottle of the world’s best single- malt!
We started chatting to the couple sitting next to us, who had their cute three-year-old daughter with them. The husband tried to persuade Jamie that Liverpool was the greatest, most beautiful city in the UK, while I chatted to his wife about kids and beer. She took a photo of Jamie and I with his camera, and we decided we’d better get on with the day and bade our farewells.
Jamie had mentioned in one of his posts from Glasgow, that he was fascinated by anything that was older than the country he lived in, so I had decided that our first stop would be Manchester Cathedral, which luckily was sitting just behind the pub where we were sitting.
The roots of the Cathedral were begun in 1215, although there are decorative stones in the walls which have been dated to the year 700. Whatever the numbers, the place is a haven of peace and beauty. We admired the Regimental Colours in the Manchester Regimental Chapel, the ornate and delicate wooden carvings on the choir (picture right), and wondered at the streams of coloured light pouring through the bright stained glass windows. We were childishly amused by the presence of a Saint Chad in one of the windows.
Leaving the Cathedral, we headed away from Hanging Ditch and through St. Ann’s Square, where there were craft and food stalls, and Vivaldi, courtesy of a busking violinist.
Threading our way down onto Deansgate, Jamie thought he had annoyed a news vendor by posing for this photo on your left about his latest exploits. He was relieved when I explained the dry, sarcastic nature of the Manchester sense of humour.
Our next port of call was the magnificent John Rylands Library, which houses one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts. The architecture is extremely impressive, what you might call Victorian Gothic. The library was founded by the magnificently named Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands in memory of her late husband, John Rylands. The huge reading room, with its alcoves and balconies of glass-fronted bookcases, full of impressive-looking old tomes, and a fine statue of Mrs. Rylands (a very imposing woman with whom you wouldn’t want to mess) is well worth a visit the next time you get to Manchester. Go on, do it.
The café at the Rylands is one of the most pleasant cafés in the city, very light and airy. The menu makes a really pleasant change from the fries, pizzas, burgers and pies usually on offer. We decided on The Northern Plate – “A sharing plate for two show- casing the café’s regional foods: Lancashire & goats cheese, black pudding, Manchester sausage, Grizedale pork pie, locally cured meats, all served with Lizzie’s chutney and relish and crusty bread. Accompanied with 2 glasses of house wine”. It was perfect for a sunny day, and Lizzie’s Apple Chutney was to die for.
For our next stop, I had been torn between choosing the Museum of Science and Industry, or electing to marvel at the pre-Raphaelites on show at Manchester Art Gallery.
Unfortunately, I chose the wrong one, and we walked down to Castlefield and the Museum. Oh, the kids area, Xperiment, was sort of fun – see photo on the left – especially the orangey globe that you could whizz around to make groovy patterns. There was also a bit where you could stand on coloured squares to make bits of music. Unfortunately, there were four coloured squares and only two of us. When I hinted to the two young ladies also in the Gallery that they might care to make music with us, they looked at me weirdly and quickly walked away. But half the exhibits seemed to be missing, and everything was silent in the Power Hall – no thrusting pistons, clattering wheels, hissing steam. All was silent, and the worse for it. The Air and Space gallery had been denuded of much of its interest since last I visited, too, with the whole top gallery cleared out.
With no time now to reach the Art Gallery, we meandered past the Town Hall and took a photo by the fountain, before retiring to the Chop House (piccie), established in 1867 apparently. It being a warm day, we opted to sit out back, in the peaceful area behind St. Ann’s Church. Again, we got talking to some locals, and had a good old chat. After a couple of pints, we decided that a change of scene was in order, and returned to Sinclair’s, where the passers-by were much more varied, and far better fodder for our game of People Watching (“She’s called Monique, and she’s got one of those bald cats”). There were many hot laydeez around, unless that was an effect of the beer goggles. We were also entertained by a guy pretending to be a statue – as I type that I realise you’re all wondering how a dude standing still can be entertaining? Let me just remind you – beer goggles.
Eventually, the light faded, and we walked back to Piccadilly and Jamie’s train back to The Smoke. It had been a terrific day, in which we cemented a friendship that felt like it had been since childhood, and may well last until our second childhood. Bye Jamie; maybe I’ll come over to Michigan next.

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