Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Golden Years

This week a real treat for you with a sort of guest Blog

With just a little help from me, Mrs B put together and delivered the following speech for her parents 50th wedding anniversary, I was equaly impressed and immensly proud. 

Mrs B holds the audiance in the palm of her hand.

I think they were afraid what other details might come out 
of her little red book.... 
Thank you all very much for being here today.  I know it means a lot to Mum and Dad.  As we are here to celebrate your Golden Wedding Anniversary it seems fitting and a tribute to your 50 years together as a couple to say:
“Mike and Vera, Mum and Dad - This is your married life!” [Present red file]*
*  For those of you not familiar this is a homage to the famous "This is your life" TV program where generally famous people were ambushed by Eamonn Andrews /Michael Aspel in the UK and     
Ralph Edwards/Joseph Campanella a program from the golden age of TV i.e. wholesome family entertainment guaranteed to bore the life out of anyone under the age of 70..... 

Obviously we have undertaken a lot of arduous research, seeking out facts and memories from family and friends – well, we asked Uncle John, who said (and I quote) “Blimey Nicola, I’m 76 years old – I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast, let alone what happened 50 years ago!” So apologies in advance for the errors and omissions.       

Johnny Beeling suffering from long and short term memory
loss for the record he had toast and jam for breakfast and was
in black& white in the 1950's.....
Let me take you all back to a time when everything was in black and white (Don’t try and claim otherwise, I’ve seen the photo’s) and much simpler. There was no WiFi (mum I’ll leave you explain what that is to dad), broadband was what large people held their trousers up with and phones were as mobile as the telephone cable allowed.
You met (we think!) in 1959 at the St George’s Youth Club in Deal.  Was it love at first sight???

Lots of dates between the young couple followed.  I have it on very good authority that Dad’s Vespa scooter may have come under close scrutiny from an anxious father - Ray, Grandad Beerling.  I can certainly relate to that level of fatherly scrutiny over a boyfriend’s mode of transport………. when Niel arrived for our first date in a beaten up old mini, Dad walked round it kicking all four tyres before sucking in his breath, tutting a few times, while rubbing his chin (Who says men can’t multitask?) He then asked, rather imperiously, if it was safe for me to go in!.  It probably would have been before Dad ruined the tracking with all that unnecessary kicking.
Clearly though, Grandad Beerling didn’t put Dad off too much because he eventually decided to propose.  Dad – did you propose on bended knee?  Mum - were there tears?  Did you actually say “yes”?  I only ask because that’s more than I certainly ever did!
Very curiously and some would say somewhat suspiciously there is absolutely no information (public or private) about the respective stag and hen do’s.  I can only assume therefore that they were so debauched and drunken that all involved are sworn to life-long secrecy!
And so the big day came on Saturday 1 June 1963 and we are thrilled to have at least some of the wedding party here today.  In preparation, Mum had made her own wedding dress and the wedding cake – a strong indicator of two of the hobbies that have been a constant presence throughout her married life. 

If you make your own cake for your own
 event is it an auto-cake-ography?

Yet another spectatular
cake from Mrs B's Mum ....

Yes those are real sugar flowers....
Dad probably cleaned and polished his car – LuLu, an Austin 7 – the first of the, very many (perhaps near 50) cars to take them slowly though life. I Don’t know where Jacqueline gets her taste for speed from – it certainly wasn’t from dad.

You honeymooned in Seefeld in Austria before returning home to start your married life together in your first house in Wingham, which you bought for the princely sum of £1,750!  Oh, yes – that was the all-in price…….how times have changed.  You moved in with Kim, your black Labrador – the first of your family pets.  By now, Dad was working in the Canterbury branch of the Westminster Bank, at the beginning of his long and distinguished career in banking.
And it was while living in Wingham that I was born in  1966 and the two Clarkes became three.
In 1967, we went on our first static caravan holiday.  Caravanning, another thread that has run quite constantly through much of your married life. Oh Yes, many family holidays have been spent in caravans in wet and cold England – and no, Jacqueline and I have not been traumatised by that in any way……honestly!
In 1968, following Dad’s transfer to Sevenoaks branch, you moved to your second home, in Borough Green.  I am reliably informed that this house was bitterly cold.  And so it should be no surprise to learn that, nine months after a particularly long cuddle (to keep warm, obviously!) Jacqueline was born in 1969 and the three Clarkes became four.
Borough Green, we moved to a brand new house in Iwade in 1970, when Dad transferred to Sittingbourne branch.  We said goodbye to Kim and hello to a tragically short-lived spaniel, Megan, and then to the infamous Bess, a beautiful Dalmatian.

Did you know that Iwade was the centre of the “swinging” scene of North Kent?  No?  Neither did Mum and Dad, apparently, and as soon as they found out, Dad had just enough time to change cars before they scarpered!  All the way to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex in 1973.  It was just as well Dad had transferred to the Clacton branch, otherwise it would have been a long old commute ……………
In 1974 the family grew again when we acquired our first cat – Porgy.  Now, Dad is not a cat lover but even he seemed taken with that big bundle of ginger and white fluff in the pet shop.  Porgy soon ruled the house and Bess carried many scars on her snout to prove it.  Porgy's favourite mode of transport being to attach himself to Bess's snout and hanging on with all four claws....  
It was from Clacton in 1975 that Dad first decided that towing a caravan was the way forward for our family holidays.  He hired a caravan using that as an excuse to purchase the trusty Vauxhall Viva that was tasked with towing us slowly to Yorkshire?  In motoring circles this became known as Black Friday, with long traffic delays reported up the entire East coast….
Clacton was a great place to grow up as kids – we had Butlins and the seaside on our doorstep and much use was made of both. 
1976 and Dad’s career moved on again, which meant the inevitable new car and a new home.  Dad’s job was now in the Brighton Area Office of the Natwest Bank.  Our house move was eventful though because apparently in the Natwest staff manual, at that time, there was a rule that stated that an employee could not buy a house that was bigger (or was perhaps more expensive) than their manager’s and so Dad was not allowed to buy his original choice of house in Brighton.
 Just as well Dads boss wasn’t a Yorkshire man, living in a shoebox, otherwise we might have found ourselves living in a paper bag inside a septic tank  ………..
As it was we ended up moving to Lindfield in West Sussex.  But family life here was great – we lived in a cul-de-sac with a wood at the end of it and Jacqueline and I have lots of very happy memories from this time. 

We reach 1979 and Yes, you’ve guessed it – Dad’s career progressed again!  This time, to the Natwest branch in Dorking and so we moved to Tadworth in Surrey.  It was here that Mum and Dad had enough space to accommodate the first touring caravan that they owned.
 It was during this time that Mum first became involved with the Girl Guides, volunteering to help when my sister and I joined the Tadworth troop (I’m guessing Dad was turned down because they could not find a uniform big enough to fit him).
 It is testament to mums generosity of spirit that she continued to support the movement long after Jacqueline and I had left. There being no volunteers, willing to take up the baton and without her continued backing the group would have folded.

Vera and her amazing clever hands
This was also the home of the terrible twins, Bunter and Misty, two highly strung and very energetic Springer Spaniels, after Bess departed this world, having broken her last, highly charged and very fragrant round of wind!  Jacqueline and I have very special memories of this home as it was our last before we flew the nest in 1990 and 1993 respectively. 
I remember Tadworth particularly as a home that Mum and Dad entertained from.  They are consummate hosts and for me, the best example of that, was when they hosted our wedding reception there in 1994 (oh yes, 19 years ago!)  True to form Mum made and decorated our wedding cake while dad went out and changed their car. Most people would have been content with just washing the old one…

still surviving after 19 years - but since Mrs B just burst
into tears when I asked her to marry me and 
didn't actually say yes,  are we
actually legally  married? 
Mum and Dad lived in Tadworth for 25 years, having decided that the family needed to stay in one place to allow Jacqueline and me to finish our school exams.  While here, Dad moved to specialise in internal audit and fraud, (I wonder if anyone ever thought to investigate where the money came from for all those new cars?).
Mrs B's Dad fears the game is finally up and asks for
49 other cars to be taken into account....
1995 This was a career move, which, when combined with raising two teenage daughters was no doubt, a challenge.  He returned to Dorking branch as Senior Manager, from where he retired in 1995, replacing his passion for banking, with golf and no doubt a perfect excuse for yet another new car.

In 1997, Mum and Dad became Grandparents to James. There may even have been a cake in celebration!  Mum and Dad were a massive source of support to Jacqueline during this time in her life.  I know I am biased, but I have to say that they are the proudest Grandparents (and rightly so) who do a wonderful job. 

Yet another house move in 2004 to Bucks Green.  This was very much Dad’s venture, post retirement, and he had to work pretty hard to convince Mum that Queen’s Cottage could be a real home for them both and Max, their hugely loveable but boisterous springer spaniel. 
How right he was though and since then they have really improved the house and nurtured the garden with many hours of labour and love.  They have made time to fully immerse themselves in local life – they help organise and contribute to fetes and garden shows. They entertain a lot at Queen’s Cottage too and together are a real testament to the adage that a busy life is a fulfilled life.

 Mum and Dad’s family continued to evolve in 2010 when Jacqueline and Matt married and they are now the proud step-grandparents to Lucy.  I know they both get a huge amount of pleasure from seeing how happy and settled Jacqueline and James are and watching the next generation grow and mature.
And so, to today.
 Mum and Dad – you are the incredibly strong backbone of our family – and Jacqueline and I are very happy and proud to be here today to celebrate your Golden Wedding Anniversary with your family and friends.  Congratulations!  Let’s enjoy the cakes that I wish I could say I had made and decorated but, of course, no-one does it better than Mum and it would simply not be “an event” if we didn’t have one of her creations at it! [Raise glasses] Mum and Dad.

Mrs B's Speech went down rather well....
That's a cut....
A link to more of the party pictures will appear hear shortly
Next time I take you overseas to Washington D.C.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Chick flicks and chocolate

Another day another concert Photo pass, although a little bit more contemporary this time – Yes folks I’ve broken out of my 80’s artist rut but I’m probably not heading for the big time….. A big thanks to my friend Al who sorted out the pass for a recent gig at the Garage in Highbury -

While Ian Siegal and his support David Migden (Vocals) with Joe Gibson (on Guitar) are not the biggest names in the music industry they play decent blues music and provided an enjoyable evening out. I had not come across David Migden (An American singer who hails from deep down south. At times I felt like I had drifted into an episode of True Blood – only without the bloodsuckers, shape changers and fairies… ) I was blown away by his voice – why not check it out Chocolate Jesus with David Migden

Cactus (Cheap As Chips TUeSday)
I’ve probably mentioned it before but Tuesday nights is CACTUS  in Bishop’s Stortford. You can see any 2D Film for £3.25 and 3D film for £4.50 (boo hiss) which is a really good deal but it does sometimes end up with either seeing rubbish films you would never pay full price to see or watching films in extreme discomfort …. The last two films have fallen into the latter category (poor old Mrs B with her enforced working from home has got dragged along to both of these).

First up was “The Great Gatsby”. Fortunately we managed to avoid the 3D version but due to a cock up on the booking front, i.e. I didn’t realise how popular it was going to be, saw us stuck in the second row. I’m very much a ‘back of the cinema’ person, where you can watch the whole screen unfold before you. It was bad enough having Leonardo de Caprio looming menacingly above us – I’ve only just stopped having nightmares of looking straight up his nostrils (someone should really tell his agent that he got to that age where nostril hair removal has become a daily necessity not just an occasional hobby) and that was only in 2D. I swear if we had been in the same seats for the 3D version I would have been scrapping mucus off of me for the rest of the week….. along with my nostril nightmare I found myself with a ricked neck from not just looking constantly up but having to swing my head from side to side to try and capture what was going on. It felt like I was watching a tennis game played at Hogwarts…. Such a shame as it took the gloss of an enjoyable film.

This was followed by the new Star Trek movie – This had been out for a while so no need to book in advance but the gods of the Silver Screen had conspired against me once again – the latest showing of the 2D version was about 5pm so the only choice left was the 3D version. Deep joy, a few drop outs because of the film being 3D but Mrs B decided to brave it, along with our ex Fireman friend Mark - who turned out to be a complete Trekie nerd. He pulled out details such as who the mother of JT Kirk’s offspring was and pointing out where Jim’s middle name Tiberius came from…. I would tell you but you would only go and claim I was a Trekie Nerd. I really liked the film, but struggled to see what 3D brought to the party. Yeah, there is a depth of field to the picture but the foreground ends up looking like some cheap cardboard. Things get a little better if the 3D film happens to be a medical drama, with half the people in the audience turning green and barfing it actually starts to look and smell like a hospital waiting room in the throes of an epidemic….

Late breaking news - as I have managed to take so long completing this blog we have seen another C.A.C.T.U.S film.  This one was particularly painful for me - The Big Wedding - which is a RomCom just not a very good one.  I had hoped I might get away with not seeing it and have a week off the choice being Hangover III (sensibly no voted for this one) or this... Sadly the Chick Flick girls Al* (I can't be cross with her as she secured me the photo pass) and my Italian friend Elena (being foreign she doesn't know any better) voted for this one.  All the males on the C.A.C.T.U.S kept their heads down and even Mrs B decided to give it a miss....It started off OK, a little smutty even for my taste but not too bad.  Sadly it got progressively worse until  I managed to save my sanity by falling asleep.

* Al is the inspiration behind this weeks Blog title, happy to turn up to any film as long as it is action, horror and adventure free**. and is accompanied by lashings of chocolate... I of course never indulge unless Mrs B :- 

A) is not around...

B) is not likely to find out that  I have over indulged again 

C) Has already read this blog before the late breaking news secion was added

D) is unlikely to re-read the blog....

**  I was going to be cruel and say comedy free but Al insisted on us seeing  "I give it A year"  a few months back which turned out to be a complete winner....

Flat lining, speeding to an early exit
Some sad news this week. My favourite ever skis, my “Head 1400i XRCs”, have bitten the dust – these sweet little rides propelled me to 75.9 mph a couple of years back, in Chompoluc (Italy) – my fastest ever recorded time. In truth I had been eeking them out for the last couple of seasons but felt I could have got a little longer out of them.... if only I had not been drawn in by the guy in the repair shop who claimed he could get the ski base almost as good as new (I had visions of 80+ mph)…. Like a fool I believed him (a real recipe for being duped, really, really wanting the impossible to be possible) so I guess I should not have been surprised when I received a call saying the last rights had been administered and the 1400i’s had flat lined during the final grinding process (I had asked him not to put them through a machine but to do it by hand) – …. At least he had the good grace not to charge me for taking my skis off Piste and onto Ski heaven….sniff, sniff…

A real treat for you next week - Mrs B will be contributing the speech she gave at her parents’ Golden wedding anniversary party.

Photo Finish

Al - if you want to see this shy retiring creature
use Chick Flicks and chocolate to entice her out... 
Richard - Al's Husband and Ian Siegals manager

Joe Gibson providing guitar backing for
David Midgen....
David Midgen

Like you have drifted into an episode of True Blood –
only without the bloodsuckers, shape changers and fairies…

Looking like Brian Jones a
member of
The Mississippi Mudbloods

Ian's Current band
Ian Siegal

Ian Siegal
up close and personal

For those of you who have never had the
oppertunity to work in the pit...

My skis  stripped of their dignity
Until next time