‘You Stupid Woman’

Throne room

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.

**THIS IMAGE HAS NOT YET BEEN INDEXED BY THE LIBRARY.  IF IN ANY

Officer Crabtree

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.

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Mick Twyman’s bathers

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.

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Gladstone’s donkey ride

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.

Rene

“You stupid woman”

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?

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

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Margate cricket pavilion – may have seen better days

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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

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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

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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.