Significant Songs (79)

Reblogging a post from 2015 about a very old song that I love so much. Apologies to those who have seen it previously.
I was thinking about this song today, and it is in my head.

beetleypete

Pennies From Heaven

This song originated as the feature track from the 1936 film of the same name. Originally sung by Bing Crosby in that film, it was later recorded by almost every famous singer since. The list of those who covered the song is too long to write here, but it includes Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan. For me, this is best heard sung by a ‘crooner’, and the sadness underlying the central message of hope comes over well if it is recorded in a somewhat plaintive tone.

In 1978, the BBC produced a landmark television series of the same title, written by Dennis Potter, and starring Bob Hoskins, Cheryl Campbell, and Gemma Craven. The song featured heavily of course, and the version used was by Arthur Tracy. This was also made into a -best forgotten- Hollywood film adapted by and starring Steve Martin. The TV series…

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Enjoying A ‘Wallow’

beetleypete
The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Maybe it’s the time of year, the dark afternoons, or just my age, I don’t know.

But for the last couple of days, I have been enjoying a nostalgic wallow in the early days of my blog. (Hence reposting one of my original ‘Significant Songs’.) Picking a header comment, photo, and theme. Never sure if you got the blog name right, or if anyone was ever going to read so much as one word that you wrote.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I got excited to receive as many as two comments on a post, and sometimes even six likes! I would return to my old computer and check on the progress of a post, just to see if anyone else had left a comment.

One of the sad things about revisiting those posts from the first eighteen months of blogging is seeing comments from former ‘regulars’ who just disappeared, or decided to stop blogging. I wish they were still around, and if any of them read this, I hope you are well.

Using the stats page to see which posts are being read is often a revelation. People have been reading posts that I had forgotten about, and in some cases don’t even remember writing. I love it when someone randomly reads very old stuff, as it reminds me of a time when I really didn’t have the first clue about blogging. (Before you tell me, I know I probably still haven’t)

FR (Fragglerocking) wisely counsels me to always look forward, and to never dwell in the past. But I can’t help myself, especially where my blog is concerned.

I am sure you all remember those tentative first steps. Checking your post over and over before hitting ‘Publish’, then wondering if anyone other than your best friend was ever going to bother to read it. The first time you were notified that you had a follower whose name you didn’t know, or received a comment from an experienced blogger who said something nice about your post.

Blogs needs to evolve to survive, and to remain interesting. But there is little to compare with that thrill of those early posts, and the feeling of dipping a toe into the vast ocean of communication and community known as Blogging.

So if you will forgive me, I am going back for another short wallow.

Christmas Past

I didn’t always dislike Christmas.

As a child, I would ask to go to bed early on the 24th, so I could wake up and get all my presents when it was still dark. I am an only child, and though not spoiled, I was never short of a pile of presents from my mum and dad, as well as my extended family of uncles and aunts.

By the time my parents were awake, I had already read my Christmas Annuals books, and all of my toys and other gifts would have been opened and examined. Like most kids then, I dreaded receiving ‘sensible presents’, like clothing. But I will never complain about my childhood Christmases, as I can still remember the thrill of them. And I appreciated every gift, however small.

Then it was off to my maternal grandmother’s house, for a massive family Christmas lunch at 2 pm. Everyone would be there, and trestles would have been set up for a huge table top to rest on. Then every chair in the house, mismatched or not, would be crowded around so that everyone had a seat at the table. Before that happened, all the men would set off for the lunchtime drinking session in the nearby pub, while the women and older girls took on the mammoth task of preparing all the vegetables, and laying the table.

And all of this cooked in a single small gas oven, with a three-ring hob above.

The men would return just in time to sit and eat, still merry from too much beer and whisky. Then in the afternoon, they slept off the booze, while the exhausted women washed up and cleared away, ready to serve up the ‘Christmas Tea’. Assorted shellfish, bread and butter, lots of cakes, and anything sweet.

The evening would see a huge Christmas party. Crates of beer lined up in my grandmother’s parlour, the ‘good rug’ rolled up and stored away, and my aunt Edie exercising her skill on the piano as my dad and my uncle sang popular songs of the day, as well as wartime melodies. Everyone over the age of sixteen smoked, so the blue haze in the room would sting my young eyes as I sat enjoying the seasonal show.

When it got too late for me, I would sneak into my grandmother’s bedroom, and creep under the pile of coats laid on her bed. They included ancient furs that smelled of mothballs, and huge wool overcoats that had the aroma of tobacco.

I never really remembered my dad lifting me up to take me out to the car.

But I always woke up in my own bed on Boxing Day.

A Nostalgic Journey

One of my local friends in Beetley sent me a link to this (silent) cine-film clip from 1968. It shows a train journey from Dereham Station into the city of Norwich. At the time, the line had been threatened with closure, and was eventually closed. You can still take the shorter train journey from Dereham to Wymondham, but only on special heritage days run by a volunteer preservation society.

I still think of 1968 as being very modern and progressive. But looking at this film, it feels as if it could have been shot not that long after WW2.

This is the text that accompanies the film on Facebook, posted by Russell Walker.

Video clip ‘Threat of Closure’ which shows a train journey from Dereham to Norwich Thorpe via Wymondham in 1968. Duration 10m 7s, no audio.
Edward Thorp, known as ‘Chib’, an undertaker from Leigh on Sea, spent his weekends throughout the year documenting the rail routes in East Anglia with wife Edna and their dog Micky. Chib always took along his 8mm camera, a good supply of Kodachrome film, and a tape recorder, to document their trips. On this journey Thorp travels from Dereham Central, passing through Yaxham, Thuxton, Hardingham, Kimberley, Wymondham, and Hethersett, arriving at Norwich Thorpe Station. The title ‘Threat of Closure’ refers, presumably, to the cuts made to many rural rail routes and train services following the Beeching Report.’

What I Don’t Miss About The 1970s

I was 18 years old in 1970, and 25 when I got married in 1977.
By the end of that decade, I was already an EMT in London.
It is easy to look back with fondness at some things from that era.
But I am also reminded of what was not so good in Britain at the time..

The awful sliced white bread.

The Christmas Gifts.

State of the Art portable televisions.

What was on those televisions for most of the day, and after midnight.

Some of the sweets.
(Mostly good)

(Mostly not so good)

The ‘long-bonnet’ British Leyland Mini.

Police Officers getting off the beat, and into silly-looking patrol cars.

Limited options for ‘eating out’.

Fashionable clothing for men.

The 1960s were pretty cool, as well as ‘Swinging’ of course.
But something went badly wrong on the 1st of January, 1970.

Postcards From Blogging Friends: Part Nine

Despite the onset of wintry weather, I am pleased to report that blogger’s postcards are still arriving for my collection.

From the warmer climes of Mississippi in America, chuq sent me this peaceful view of that famous mighty river.

British blogger Jude, now residing in Cornwall, sent me this lovely retro Art Deco image from Penzance.

Photo blogger Sue Judd escaped to the warmth of Spain for a while.
She sent me this delightful Flamenco image from Seville.

Fraggle from north-east England had to attend a wedding in Oxfordshire.
She sent me this card of the Cotswold town of Burford.
(Sorry about the focus, probably my eyes)

I am so pleased to still be receiving these cards, and by the response to my original request.

If you haven’t sent me one yet, what are you waiting for?

Cars: My Life On The Road

Strictly speaking, this is a ‘Thinking Aloud On a Sunday’ post, as I woke up imagining (or dreaming) that I was driving the first car I ever owned.
That prompted a search of my memory for the cars that have marked the stages of my life, and also made me realise I have very few (almost no) photos of me with them.

These photos are not of my own vehicles, and have been sourced online.
But I had the same models.

Six months before I was old enough to drive, my Dad came home with a car he had bought for me. He got a deal on it, and didn’t want to chance leaving it until I got my licence.
It was a 1963 Vauxhall Viva HA, and he bought it in 1968.
I thought it was the best thing ever, and on the day I passed my test, I drove it around Central London all afternoon.

(My one was light green)

Two years later, in 1971, I was working as a salesman for a record company. They replaced the vans we had been using with cars, hoping to improve their image.
I got a new Vauxhall Viva HB free of charge, as a company car. Of course, I didn’t own it, and had to give it back when I left.
But it always felt like ‘my car’.

I changed jobs, and was given another company car. This was what we call an ‘Estate Car’ here, known as a Station Wagon in America.
It was a Ford Cortina 1.6, and was really roomy.

(My one was a burgundy colour)

In December of 1973, I decided to add to my income by working part-time as a taxi driver. I couldn’t use the company car of course, so I bought a brand new car to use at weekends as a taxi. It was a Hillman Hunter 1725, and it took me over three years to pay it off. I enjoyed being a taxi driver, so I resigned from my job and did it full-time.

(Mine was dark green)

In 1976, I moved with my Mum to South-West London, where we bought a shop.
Although I didn’t make much money as a shopkeeper, I discovered that we could run a car through the business.
So in 1977, I traded in my old taxi for a 1974 Volvo.
It was a top-of the range model, the 164 TE, with a three-litre engine, an automatic gearbox, and a luxurious leather interior.
I loved that big white car.

As the Volvo got older, it started to cost a small fortune to run.
I had already joined the Ambulance Service by then, and didn’t have much disposable income.
I was using a motorcycle to commute to work, so in 1982, we bought one car to share between us.
It was a six-month old VW Golf. It was white, and dressed up to look like the GTi model in this photo.
Except our one was a cheaper ‘special edition’ that only had the 1300 cc engine.
In the autumn of 1984, the car was destroyed in a motorway accident that almost killed my first wife, and left me with broken fingers.
(She was driving at the time)

With the insurance money from the accident, I let my wife choose the replacement car, and I bought a better motorcycle.
She chose a two-tone Ford Capri 1.6, known as a ‘Cabaret Edition’. It was a pre-registered car that had never been owned, and we got a good deal as it was already one year old.
This was the exact colour of the one we had.

After a hard winter that year, I had decided that I had enough of motorcycles.
So I sold the one I had, and went out to buy a cheap used car for cash.
I came home with a Citroen GS Estate, in the same blue as this photo.
It was the most comfortable car I have ever owned.

When we split up in 1985, my wife kept the Ford. I was having numerous electrical problems with the Citroen by then and decided to change it.
I bought a recent Austin Metro, a very basic car that was cheap to run, with a small 1.0 litre engine. It was red, like the one in the photo.
But I hated that car with a vengeance. It had little power for motorway driving, and was very noisy too.

I still yearned for the ease of an automatic transmission, and a return to a quiet, comfortable car.
Then I found a good deal on a Fiat Regata 1.6 saloon. It was the top model, with an expensive radio/cassette player, a three-speed auto gearbox, and tinted windows.
I loved it.
But then I discovered why it was a good deal. It gave me nothing but trouble.
Electrical issues, bulbs blowing, and then a disastrous water leak. It had to go.

I swallowed my pride, and traded the Fiat in for another Citroen. The new Visa model. Low mileage, in red like the photo, and only the small 1,000cc engine.
But that turned out to be a good decision, as it was a great car.
I drove it across Belgium and France, and used it every day for work too.
I loved it, and it never once let me down.

But London traffic was driving me insane with so many gear changes, and I still hankered after an automatic.
I found a Ford Fiesta 1300 in black, with an early version of their CVT ‘Easydrive’ auto gearbox.
I had a lump in my throat as I waved goodbye to the Citroen.
I should have kept it.
The Fiesta gearbox was indeed smooth, and made life a lot easier for me.
Trouble was, the car still used the unreliable carburetor from the old model, and it constantly broke down.
I found myself taking the thing apart at the roadside on a rainy night in North London, and made the decision to get shot of it.

That went in part-exchange for a brand new Fiat Punto. That had a 1.4 engine, a 5-speed manual shift, and was very light and nippy in traffic.
Despite the issues with the earlier Fiat, this one proved to be really reliable, and I kept it for some time.

(Mine was green)

Then I moved away to the edge of North London, and had to start driving a longer distance into work.
I wanted a more powerful car, and one with an automatic gearbox too.
I discovered an American car that was being imported into the UK, the Chrysler Neon.
This had a powerful two-litre engine, a smooth auto gearbox, and very light power steering.
I found a dark green one for sale in a London dealership. It was out of my price range though.
So I arranged a deal where the Fiat went as the deposit, and I made low payments for 36 months.
At the end of the payment period, I had to pay a lump sum to own the car.
It was a very nice car indeed, though it used a frightening amount of petrol, with around 20 mpg at best.
I still had it when I moved back to Camden, and kept it until Julie moved in. With no need for two cars, and plans to move to Norfolk, it was sold to a friend for cash.

For three years, I used public transport to get to work, or walked. We had Julie’s car if we had to go further afield.
In March 2012, I moved up here, and we got Ollie. I wanted a car with plenty of room for the dog, and was determined to get one with an automatic gearbox too.
So I bought a low-mileage Vauxhall Zafira 1.9 turbo-diesel in silver, with a six-speed auto box. It was already five years old though.
It was the SRi Sport model, well-equipped, and with a huge area at the back for Ollie. It also had an option to use as a 7-seater.

I still have that car. It is now 12 years old, and starting to cost serious money to keep running.
But I do love it still, and have no plans to change it.

Let me know about some of your car memories, in the comments.

Postcards From Blogging Friends: Part Eight

This is the last post in this series for now. Thanks again to everyone who sent them. If you want to see more, keep sending the cards! I promise they will feature on my blog.

Fraggle sent me this one, her third card. An English fortified tower.
Great history, from the north of England.

Two from Maggie in America.
She sent views of her home state, North Carolina.
The trees looking wonderful in Autumn.

A rock in a river, much loved as a slide by tourists.
It is called (what else?) Sliding Rock.
(Sorry I chopped off the top of this card. It looked OK in the viewfinder!)

The next selection is that something extra I told you about.
German blogger Michael could not find a card of his home town, so instead he sent me a parcel of local souvenirs.

This is a sticker, promoting his town of Eslarn.

And next a small metal badge, designed to be nailed onto a walking stick.

Last but not least, an impressive cloth pennant.
Front view.

Back view.

You all know how happy I am to have this collection, and to see something of where you live, or your trips and travels.

Keep them coming!

Postcards from Blogging Friends: Part Seven

I am very happy to feature Part Seven in this series, and to let you know that I have enough for a Part Eight too! I want to thank everyone who has taken the trouble to post these to me, and let everyone else know that it’s never too late to send me one. 🙂

American blogger John Rieber sent me this classic tourist postcard from where he lives. Hollywood!

Pit from Texas sent me one of an angry rattlesnake. The card gives instructions on how to cook and eat the snake. Sadly, the US Postal Service obliterated this, with one of their ubiquitous stickers!

British blogger Janet went on holiday to the historic coastal town of Whitby. She sent me this classic tourist image of one of the town’s features.

Wilma had previously sent me a card from her home town of Chicago. When she went on a trip to Barcelona, she very kindly sent me another one.

It was nice of my good friend George Clooney to send me a card from Hollywood too. He is an actor of course, not a blogger. But it was still appreciated.


(Not a fake, honest!)

Next part coming soon, including something ‘Extra’!

Postcards From Blogging Friends: Part Six

Cindy.

Cindy Bruchman is one of my dearest blogging friends. When I started this series about postcards, I teased her that she hadn’t sent me any, and sort-of ‘demanded’ she send me one showing a cactus. (She lives in Arizona)
Of course, I wasn’t serious, but she decided to deal with me by sending me no less than five postcards.
So here they are. (No cactus though!)

They were all posted in Cottonwood, Arizona, though three of them feature other parts of America, and the last two are views of Greek islands.

The Grand Canyon, during a lightning storm.

An historic building in Virginia, with a personal connection to Cindy.

The East Coast of America, North Carolina.

The Greek island of Mykonos, famous for its ancient windmills.

An old castle on the island of Patmos, in Greece.

My thanks to Cindy for taking so much trouble to send me a selection of cards. Also my continuing thanks to everyone who is still sending cards.
I got another one just now!