Mac apologised for the brief hiatus, but had had problems getting out and about. To be more accurate, he had been trapped in the smallest room in the house for two days, under siege. He had been watching re-runs of ‘Allo Allo’, admiring René’s domestic arrangements and then read in the nationals that some of our world leaders in long flowing robes have such a thing as junior wives. He unfortunately wondered aloud whether Mrs C might like to consider a similar position in the Carty household, but then was forced to beat a retreat to the only room with a lock on the door. More alarmingly he found himself without food or drink, but managed to sustain himself by resorting to the stack of surplus veterinary products he has been stockpiling in the medicine cabinet. He has been worried for some time about the quality of his social drinking (and his prostate), as he struggles now to keep pace with his fitter school and college friends when imbibing up in town or in the Albion. He just can’t take the volume any more and very quickly resorts to half-pints. He then noticed this Arabic website in Newmarket offering performance enhancing drugs cheap and he thought that it might at least strengthen his pastern and fetlocks and tighten up his withers. His wife has now relented, but has taken the precaution of entering him for the Grand National.
Mac says he had noticed a recent comment about blog fatigue by one of the regular high-flying contributors. As he does quite a lot of work on disability as a volunteer, he sympathised. Then it turned out that the guy had apparently just spent a few days in the Ukraine over Kev. No wonder he’s tired. (Editor’s note – this is either a mis-spelling or Mac is getting his Thanet blogs mixed up). The unexploded Second World War bomb at the Ramsgate station also attracted his attention. He guesses Officer Crabtree would have called it an unexploded ‘bum’, if you ever watched ‘Allo ‘Allo, Britain’s 13th best sitcom. David Croft, who had also co-written Dad’s Army of course, went on to co-write epics like ‘Are You Being Served’ and ‘Hi de Hi’. Croft apparently had once been a Redcoat somewhere in the region of Gladys Pugh, but never came anywhere near the Butlins’ sites in Margate. Thank goodness it wasn’t the bomb in the Gateau from the Chateau, from the plot to kill General Klinkerhoffen.
Listen very carefully, we shall say zis only once. The Thanet Coastlife website is also one put together with a great amount of passion – and we’re not talking about fallen madonnas here. Mac ploughed through the Mick Twyman shots of the seaside bathers and revellers, with the men in their suits and the women vastly over-dressed. Wonderful stuff. Reminded him of his grandparents, but probably just too early for them as they both came separately to town in 1913. One opened a grocer’s shop, but Mac is fairly sure that Officer Crabtree never made it to Coffin House Corner. P C Dixon did call in on the shop regularly, on his way back from the film studios in the 1950’s and 60’s, Jack Warner living in Broadstairs. Evening all. The shop’s gone now, with its coffin style design, apparently built by a grieving father, yet it was always a bit of a landmark. There were always the odd car accidents at the crossways, but fortunately never far to drag the bodies. There’s an interesting photo in the Margate archives of the old shop, surrounded by the mourners who attended Lord Sanger’s funeral. Must have been hundreds of them on the day.
Mac says he does have shots of 1930’s Margate and Westbrook bathers in the family albums, but all appropriately dressed. If you think that in the very early days when sea-bathing became a fashion, some of the bathers might have very few clothes on, you get a feeling of how the Victorians influenced the whole moral climate and drove the agenda. The religions were only too keen to put a veil over all sorts of things and would have had no truck with fallen madonnas or any sorts of boobies. Isn’t it always the same? It is I, LeCleric. By the 1860’s Margate certainly had by-laws against nude bathing, yet there is still a comment in the 1876 Keble’s Gazette of women and single girls standing on the Margate cliffs looking at the naked men. Some even had opera glasses. It must have been ‘ze flashing knobs’ that attracted them.
Mac bets that when both Gladstone and Disraeli separately visited Margate that there was none of that. They would have worn their best clothes for a donkey ride or a stroll across the sands. Gladstone was known to regularly walk home from his local stations after a session at the House of Commons, so it would have been an easier task for him. Depending on his residence at the time, it could be between six to twelve miles from the railway station to his house. Perhaps a few of our local MP’s might like to emulate him. Would certainly keep the generous expenses in check and might even help with the tendency to obesity, which inevitably comes from sitting for long periods and the good lunches. None of the old René Artois cafe nonsense for them. Gladstone did, by the way, spend one extended family holiday in Thanet in 1854 but never returned again except for fleeting visits. I suppose he might have been tempted whilst bathing to have given his famous ‘Gladstone’ bag an airing. One of his early girl friends is said to have exclaimed, “Mama, I cannot marry a man who carries his bag like that”. Enough said. But she apparently was a Farquhar, silly one by all accounts.
The English airmen in ‘Allo Allo’, Fairfax and Carstairs, were also always shown as brave but clueless. Is it an upper class tradition? Well Jeremy Lloyd, the other writer on ‘Allo Allo’, was famous for portraying public school idiots. He would have had it off to a tee and probably did, judging by his playboy image. Then again, it is party conference time and our screens are full of possible comparisons. And what about poor old René? Whenever he was caught red-handed holding the knockwurst, he would invariably turn to Edith and shrug, “You stupid woman”. At least he never called her a slut. Not sure Mrs C would countenance any of that anyway, she’s only just got over the bit about becoming a junior wife. Perhaps the size of René’s sausage might give her some encouragement. Probably related to anabolic steroids in the horsemeat anyway, supplied illegally by Herr Flick, but you just hope these racehorse trainers aren’t all at it. Is the system long overdue for a sheikh-up, or realistically is it no “good moaning”? Where’s John McCririck when you need him?