There’s always the demon drink!

This is the third post concerning the book “The Vagaries of Swing”, treading gently where Lord Chancellor Edward Thurlow’s curling surges once faltered and were absorbed into the golden sands. Nine miles worth mush, as Tony Hancock would have said, better than sitting uncomfortably on those bloody awful Brighton pebbles. Stone me, call that a beach? One of Germoloid’s best sales areas, that part of the Sussex coast, and probably not the best site for a chocolate willie shop, despite appearances. Margate Sands rule! Mac was still reluctant to be drawn into comments on local politics as his own council leaves a lot to be desired, but coincidentally he has been reading about a certain McGonagall, often acclaimed as the ‘world’s worst poet’. William Topez McGonagall, to be correct, the author of “The Tay Bridge Disaster”, “The Demon Drink” and “The Collision in the English Channel”. He was wondering whether the collision might have caused the problem with those Transeuropa ferries and perhaps they might be able to recover the money the council have lost when the tide goes out. He and his friend Brian had unearthed a horde of lost pennies down by Walpole Bay when they were ship-spotting – it’s the bit in the book just before Mac meets King Ethelbert – so nil desperandum, you Thanet taxpayers. You can always trust an accountant, so get those buckets and spades out and head down to the beach.

Billy Butlin comes to Margate


Margate cricket pavilion – may have seen better days


Sir William Heygate Edmund Colborne Butlin

Moving on, one of the other interesting facts to emerge from the publication of the book was the observation from the Chairman of the present Margate Cricket Club, who now play down at Tivoli Meadow, that Sir Billy Butlin had once been President of the Club. Chris Carter told Mac that they had a scorecard from the early 1960’s which showed this to be a fact. Mac says he has spoken to a number of old cricketers who had played for the club or were in the area and none of them can remember him being involved. However, apart from buying the hotels in Cliftonville, Billy was based at Sandgate when serving with the Canadian Army in the First World War, so may well have come over to Margate and formed an attraction in his spare time. If you ever had leave, why on earth would you want to spend time in Folkestone? He must also have come to Cliftonville occasionally in the late 50’s and early 60’s to visit his hotels and maybe the fact that Margate played at Dane Park attracted his attention. Billy had coincidentally lived at Dane Court in Hampstead for a while before moving to Grosvenor Square in 1951 so maybe felt an affinity. Margate Cricket Club was a strong side in those days with the likes of John Anscomb. One of Tommy Thomas’ old school friends, John, reminisced after reading the book about the crowds gathered around the slopes of Dane Park, sitting in deckchairs watching the cricket. On a Sunday the elegant park was packed. He also remembered encouraging a young girl to explore the bushes with him on a Sunday afternoon so again I guess nothing changes, although apparently she did wear stays. Leslie Wheeler, the band leader, whose young son Robert played for them in the late 60’s, was the President that they all remembered but if anyone can shed light on Billy’s brief involvement then please feel free.

A case of Billy-do


Chatham House School

The Billy that Mac mentioned was of course the very honourable Rees Davies, who served Thanet as its MP for over twenty one years. The problem with having a colourful character as your MP was that no matter what they did or what the rumours were, you could never get rid of them and Thanet was always such a strong Conservative area. You were effectively untouchable. Rees Davies liked to make an impression in and out of the courtroom and apparently had some interesting friends socially. He did go to Chatham House school to participate in their ‘mock Election days’ and all of the three candidates made speeches, but none made much of an impression when Mac was there. Surprising that, because Billy clearly could perform when he had to and there is an apocryphal story of a high court judge who had become irritated by his continual grand-standing. In mid-flow during the closing defence statement, the client in the dock had passed him a hand-written note which Billy opened ostentatiously with his one arm. “May I read out this billet doux” he asked the judge, who is said to have replied, “Mr Rees Davies, treat it as a billy don’t”. There is a film coming out soon covering the Profumo affair which he obviously got wind of, but whether it will shed light on his involvement, other than as a whistle-blower, remains to be seen. Hopefully it will give Stephen Ward a better posthumous press as the establishment effectively dumped on him. Plus ça change. Ward, if you are interested, went to Caius College, Cambridge in his youth, well before Stephen Hawking discovered that dark holes emit radiation. Not as much radiation as Christine Keeler emitted. One of Tracey Emin’s works is called ‘There’s a lot of money in chairs’ and particularly if Christine’s naked torso had been sat on it.

Big bang experiments


Professor Stephen Hawking

You will be pleased to know that the Big Bang experiments in the back garden have gone to plan, but may well have read recently of the detection by the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) of dark matter, more specifically the particle neutralino which barely ever interacts with ordinary matter. Mac says he has friends like that, one or two in Thanet. He is not really sure whether his readers (or reader) understand theoretical physics – he just never bothered to take the examinations – but he believes that Stephen Hawking may have been inspired by Mac’s metallurgist college friend, who once starred for Margate Cricket Club. He had learnt to save electricity by lighting his own methane and would retire to his college bedroom backwards using the blue flame for illumination. Brilliant really, until he set light to the duvet and then it took all sorts of quantum mechanics to douse the flames. Black holes everywhere, which may have started young Hawking off. Mac is quite adamant that the new AMS system will actually show part of the dark matter to be fragments of Kookaburra (the cricket ball, not the kingfisher). The Big Bang may well have been created by the ball hitting the Great Creator’s coal bunker in his own back garden with such force as to cause an enormous explosion. GC, as we humans know him, had a pretty lethal forward drive when practising. The conclusive proof that Mac was seeking though has had to be delayed for a further two weeks with the news that the Hadron Collider will shortly be replaced with the International Linear Collider. The Klingon, Worf, who he revealed had piloted the first prototype Hadron Collider, will doubtless be very disappointed. We will investigate.


6 thoughts on “There’s always the demon drink!

  1. I see there are 53 ‘other amazing’ people following this blog. The implication is that I am amazing. This is the first time I’ve been so described. Hard to believe, I know. And 53 people follow this blog? Who are they? Don’t they have anything better to do? Why are they amazing?

    Folkestone Hockey Festival. Played in that a few times, most recently when Cartymac or Mac Carty, not sure which, and I were persuaded by a mutual friend, now a Mayor in East Sussex, to join a men’s veterans team that gloried in the name The Pink Handbags. Very expensive weekend that. The costs arrived unannounced – buy the kit (Can’t we borrow it? – No!), join the club (What! Just for the weekend? Yes!), £1000 for the beer kitty, that sort of thing. (A bit like the Pete & Dud psychiatrist sketch – Come in, Mr Wetherskill, 5 guineas. Sit down, 10 guineas. How are you? 15 guineas.) And the future Lord Mayor played for a different team.

    To add insult to injury, Mac Carty injured his leg. I suppose that’s adding injury to insult, but never mind. Anyway, he’s never walked the same since.

    I thought the pavilion in Dane Park had always been on the Dane Road side (where it is now) – different buildings, yes.

    One memory of a mock election at Chatham House. There was a chap who was a rampant communist, can’t remember his name, probably a banker in the City now, and he claimed the Berlin Wall was built to stop the West Germans escaping into East Germany. Actually that is my only memory of any mock elections at Chatham House.

    Time to go and listen to the birds in the garden.

    • Mac says he thinks he remembers Marcus the Red, who arrived on one of those strange pointed craft with Hengist and Horsa somewhere near The Dane in the 5th Century. That would make him about 1593 years of age at the Folkestone festival, which would account for the time it took him to buy a round. Before he took a heavy blow on the achilles from some very fat German, Mac had already begun to walk in what could perhaps be called a “mincing” style. Anyone who had to play hockey dressed entirely in pink and walk to the playing fields to join the other ‘Handbags’ through hordes of jeering footballers might behave similarly. He does recall being mugged by the organiser’s girlfriend for the cost of the kit and the beer kitty, a sum equivalent to the entire Overseas Aid fund. He hopes the organiser’s wife received the photos he sent.
      The election of the Mayor in East Sussex may well be part of the Arab Spring movement, as he is sure this man once played lead Qatar for a group called ‘The Decoys’ He also noticed a recent Facebook photo of the same man on some train toasting himself with champagne, presumably from the council coffers, perhaps the revenue from the parking meters.Unless he’s sold the chain already. Long live the Strawbs.

  2. Mac can be absolutely certain that all his readers are up to the mark in theoretical physics, and look forward to further informative posts about the Big Bang.

    I am disappointed, by the way, in the rather condescending tone as regards Folkstone. Clearly there must be more rivalry between the two towns than we in the west are aware of. When I was in Folkstone (in 1973), I, a stranger,was met with unfettered kindness, and this memory I have cherished.

    But this aside, do keep blogging. I am learning so much.

    • It is most encouraging that there are one or two Bohemian peasants like Karlovy who are able to follow the blog. Obviously the educational classes in the gulags when the area was a Soviet satellite were better than we thought.
      You will I am sure all know that the Bohemian tribe was originally the Boii and we can only imagine that Karlovy may indeed be “one of the boii’s”. It is intriguing that the only time she mentions Folkestone is when she was ‘unfettered’, so perhaps she was being held at Maidstone prison and had the leg-irons removed to board the cross channel ferry during the deportation process. I too have been hammered in Folkestone, although largely at the Folkestone Hockey Festival.

  3. I must say the pic of Margate Cricket Pavilion is not the Pavilion I knew & used. It was on the opposite side of the square, very small & made of a very dark wood & if memory serves no windows. One had to be hardy in those days, not soft like todays cricketers.

    • Mac thought that the wooden pavilion had been pulled down to repair the Victory after the battle of Trafalgar but his memory might be slightly amiss. He is not quite sure how old that Mr Thomas is. He hopes the knee operation goes well, though and that Tommy is back soon opening the bowling from the Hastings Road end. Derek Underwood never saw the ball that got him, apparently..

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