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Thursday, 17 August 2017


19th  August 2017

First Picture: Dennis Spicer and James Green

  

Second Picture: Backstage at His Majesty’s theatre 1964
Third Picture: Arthur Worsley at the Royal Variety Performance
Fourth Picture: Another Vent act at the time Savene and Daisy May

Dennis Spicer

Now here is a name from the variety stage, an act that was around for many of our teenage years 

In the graveyard of St. Mary’s church in South Mimms is the Dennis Spicer Memorial Plaque carefully maintained by Robert Freeman its custodian a role which he carries out on behalf of The Magic Circle London. At the time of his death he was living nearby in Brookmans Park, in fact the family were in the process of moving to Hertford when he died.

For those who do not remember him Dennis George Spicer was a ventriloquist. He was born in 1935 Hillingdon County Hospital in Middlesex but he grew up mainly in Coventry. He had two sisters June and Rose.He started ventriloquism at the age of eight and got he got his first booking at the Railway Club in Coventry when he was just 10 years old. He worked the clubs and cabaret circuit with his dummies: mainly James Green and Maxwell Monkey, but also Sexy Rexy the Wolf, Puppy Doll the Poodle, Rikki Tikki the Tiger, the Ugly Duckling and Russian Bear. However there was a downside to the ability to throw his voice and he often got into trouble at school for being disruptive. In 1954 he was booked as a member of the Resident Revue Company at Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Filey.

He married June in October 1955 in Newcastle upon Tyne– his regular ventriloquists dummy, James Green, was best man and made a speech at the reception! In the same year he signed an exclusive contract with BBC Television and numerous television appearances followed over the next few years including a regular appearance on Vera Lynn’s fortnightly BBC show.

In America he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and twice he toured Australia. As well as television appearances he was also kept busy with live stage work where he met and became firm friends with Ken Dodd in fact in 1964 he was one of the acts in the November 1964 Royal Variety Performance. The reviews named him as one of the hits of the show and one of the Queen’s personal favourites. In that show he used a corgi as a dummy and Kenny Baker as a vent dummy which comes to life. In fact the Queen told Dennis that really liked the Corgi jokes!

Tragically, two weeks after the Royal Variety Performance, Dennis was killed in a road crash on the A1 near Stamford Lincolnshire while he was driving his TVR Sports Car leaving his wife June and son Robin. He was returning home after a charity performance. He was just 29 at the time of his death. His funeral was held at St Mary’s in 1964 and was a national news items. Many ‘show biz’ personalities attended including Tommy Cooper, Jimmy Tarbuck, Eddie Calvert and Ken Dodd. The Queen also sent a tribute.

Dennis’s grave was, for many years unmarked as June, his widow did not believe in headstones but in 2001, with the help of Revd Terry Ranson, the plot was identified and, in a simple ceremony, a plaque was unveiled. This was under the Magic Circle’s Memorial Initiative which seeks out, attends and honours graves of past magicians and those in allied arts like ventriloquism.



Yours

Peter


You Write:


News and Views:

On this day 19th August 1960-1965



On 19/08/1960 the number one single was Please Don't Tease - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was First UK motorway service station opens.

On 19/08/1961 the number one single was You Don't Know - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.


On 19/08/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 19/08/1963 the number one single was Sweets For My Sweet - Searchers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 19/08/1964 the number one single was Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.


On 19/08/1965 the number one single was Help - The Beatles and the number one album was Help - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Riviera Police (AR) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Beatles play Shea Stadium in New York.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Web Page  No 2396

12th August 2017

First Picture: The friendly Bobby

 Second Picture: A regular sight in Portsmouth ‘Britannia’



Third Picture: National Dried Milk
Fourth Picture: Trolley Bus leaving the Depot

English Grammar

Now folks how many of these phrases and sayings do you recognise from your childhood. They were all said by an adult to a child and they seem to be universal. I think my parents and family must have used at least 95% of them how about yours?

Firstly if you queried something or an instruction we were told ‘Because I said so’ with no other explanation and for an impatient child we were always told to Wait and see. When Mum did not know the answer or wanted to avoid giving an answer we were then told you would have to Ask your Dad and then there was always the ultimate threat Just you wait untill your Father gets home! Then if things had gone missing they were always Up in Annies room behind the clock, this always baffled me because we did not have anyone in our family called Annie!

There was a whole series of phrases to do with food, such as No pudding until you have finished your greens or Eat your carrots they will make you see in the dark there was a grain of truth in that one, but the one that was strange was Eat your crusts they will give you curly hair. Plus the ever popular phrase If you don’t eat it there are thousands of starving people in the World who will also If you don’t eat it now you will get it for supper and finally in this food section the two instructions: - Take your elbows off the table and Don’t play with your food! 

Life style was another favourite topic, how about this one if you had done somethingfoolish, If someone asked you to jump off a cliff would you? or What did your last slave die of? or Were you born in a barn? or Were you born in a field? Of our appearance we were told that we looked as if We were dragged through a hedge backwards then as we became teenagers You are not going out dressed like that?  Then if you argued it was Do as I say not as I do and You will thank me one day for this!

Behaviour and grammar was also riddled with popular phrases, If I’ve told you once I have told you a thousand times or Say pardon not what. These were closely followed by It will all end in tears and I want never gets, plus There is no such word as can’t and Who is she? The cats mother. One more, Stop pulling faces, if the wind changes you will stuck like that, which was usually followed by I do have eyes in the back of my head so I can see what you are doing!

Health warnings were another category You will take someone’s eye out with that,  Don’t sit so close to the TV you will get square eyes plus This won’t hurt and for those with a runny nose or cold Use your handkerchief not your sleeve plus we were always told that the medicine Would do us good especially if it tasted terrible! Then there was the ultimate instruction Stop crying or I will really give you something to cry about.

Then there was always the harking back to our parents’ youth, When I was a little boy/girl we would never have done that! plus Modern children have no respect!

But for the ultimate put down the one phrase that was nearly always used and you knew that if it was you had no chance of getting your own way and that phrase was, I’ll think about it.


Yours

Peter


You Write:


Chris Writes again:-

Knowing I was keen on fishing my Dad arranged a couple of boat trips. The first a small group of us lads took to the sea off Eastney, but the sea was rather rough and we'd hardly got a few yards off shore when one of the boys was violently seasick so we had no option but to abandon our trip and return to shore. The second occasion was a competition involving several boats in the calmer water of Langstone Harbour just off Milton. I am delighted to say I won the competition with a decent catch of whiting!



Photo of me and my winning catch attached, this would have been when I was 11 or 12 in 1961 or 1962.

I do love what you are doing Peter, it brings back so many great memories of happier and less complicated times.

If you ever manage to arrange a re-union of some sort for Court Lane Juniors, I will do my best to attend, although due to other commitments I may not be able to. I would dearly love to track down some old friends from those days, and my first year at Manor Court - not been able to make contact with any. The loss of Friends Re-united has not made research any easier either.





News and Views:

On this day 12th August 1960-1965

On 12/08/1960 the number one single was Please Don't Tease - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was First communications satellite launched.

On 12/08/1961 the number one single was You Don't Know - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Top Secret (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 12/08/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 12/08/1963 the number one single was Sweets For My Sweet - Searchers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 12/08/1964 the number one single was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Novelist Ian Fleming dies.

On 12/08/1965 the number one single was Help - The Beatles and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Riviera Police (AR) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was First woman High Court Judge appointed.



Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Web Page  No 2394

5th August 2017

First Picture: News Reel Mast




Second Picture: News Reel Camera
Third Picture: Radio Licence
Fourth Picture: Children’s TV Logo

TV News


For many of our parents in the late 1940s and early 1950s Television Newsreel took over from the Pathe, Universal and Gaumont News they were used to seeing in the local cinema.

Television Newsreel was the first regular news programme to be made in the UK. It was produced by the BBC and screened on the BBC Television  Service (the only service available) from 1948 to 1954 at 7.30pm, it was made in  the traditional cinema newsreel form but directed at the television audience. It covered news and current affairs stories as well as quirkier 'human interest' items, sports and cultural events. The programme's opening title sequence, featuring a film of the transmission mast at Alexandra Palace with the title revolving around it and it became a well-known image of the time. The theme tune was "Girls in Grey" by Charles Williams and played by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra was also popular.. It was published by Chappell on one of its mood music records - it was not specifically written for the newsreel but composed during World War Two for the Women's Junior Air Corps.

Previously, the BBC had screened cinema newsreels from British Movietone News as well as sound-only news bulletins from BBC Radio. Following the resumption of the television service in 1946, after World War II  a BBC Film Unit was set up to produce items on film, as opposed to the vast majority of the BBC's output of the time which was transmitted live via the electronic cameras of the Alexandra Palace studios.

The first Television Newsreel was shown on Monday 5th  January 1948. Each edition was fifteen minutes long, and would consist of a number of different items and they tended to be fewer and longer in length than in cinema newsreels, most of which ran for only ten minutes. The items would have different presenters, and would be linked by a narrated voiceover. Editions would initially be broadcast on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings. From April 1950 a special Children's Newsreel edition would be shown on Saturday afternoons, for the benefit of the younger audience.

Items from the United States produced by the NBC network would often be used, as the BBC had a film exchange deal with the American broadcaster where they would swap film reports they had produced. From 1951, a weekly Newsreel Review of the Week was produced to open programming on Sunday evenings, compiling highlights from the previous week's newsreel features. These weekly editions would be presented by Edward Halliday, who sometimes appeared on-screen to link the various items.
Due to the pre-prepared nature of the Newsreel, topicality and coverage of breaking news stories was impossible, and it was not a true news programme as we would understand it today; it was regarded more as entertainment, with more serious news bulletins being produced by BBC Radio and sometimes broadcast on TV in sound only. The final edition was broadcast on Sunday 4th  July 1954. The following Monday 5 July 1954, the first BBC News programme was broadcast, presented live in the studio by a newsreader (who was, however, initially unseen and unnamed, because it was felt that identifying the news with one personality would detract from its seriousness), who linked the reports in the manner now familiar for news broadcasting. The new programme was initially titled News and Newsreel, but after a short while the Newsreel portion was dropped, severing the last link with the Television Newsreel strand.

Children's Newsreel, which unlike the later Newsround made no pretence at being a serious news report, had begun in April 1950 and would continue until September 1961, outliving its adult parent by seven years.

Given that the programmes were pre-shot on film as opposed to being shown live, unlike most of the BBC's output from the late 1940s, examples of Television Newsreel do survive in the archives, some of the oldest pieces of BBC-produced television programming. Complete editions with the original linking narration are rare, however, as the individual reports were designed to be re-used in shows such as Newsreel Review of the Week and the end-of-year review Scrapbook, so reports were archived separately rather than as complete editions of the programme.

Many of the reports survive due to the negatives having been donated to the National Film Archive at the British Film Institute in the early 1950s – the first ever television material to be acquired by the archive, which now has an extensive collection of broadcast programmes. The BBC donated these on condition that they could have access to them whenever they desired, and more subsequently made copies of the donated films for their own archives.
Stay in touch

Yours

Peter


You Write:

Chris Writes


Great story about your fishing experiences, brought back many memories, thanks for that.
I recall having very little luck off the Eastern Road bridge, I preferred the bridge near Hilsea  bus garage and the Lido - not off the bridge, but it had a sort of buttress which was relatively flat. The bridge was quite narrow and as the tide went out the flow of water was quite fast. So repeated casting with a large float was the method as it went with the flow. I caught many a very large eel that way. I even asked a policeman one day if he had a sharp knife as I couldn't get the hook out of an eels mouth! At high tide the method was to walk a hundred yards or so along the path of the inner creek, then use standard weight tackle, cast out into the middle. Flounders of a decent size were easy to catch that way.
Your tale of digging for the rag worm reminded me to, you had to watch out for the front end of those things as they had particularly strong and sharp pincers which would give you quite a nip if you weren't careful.


Happy days!

Jonathon Writes:-

Hi Peter I attach a photo of two I-spy books I recently obtained. Both I-spy on a train journey.
One issued in the late 1950's by the News Chronicle and one in 2016 from Collins 60 years on.
The theme is the same the new product more glossy and surprisingly less interactive. It was harder to get your feather/certificate back then requiring 1250 points out of a possible 1500. Today its only 1000 points needed out of 3000. I think that says a lot!!!!!!!
Now the cost. The old one is one of the black and white issues costing six old pennies. The new edition Three pounds. The old coloured I-spy books were a shilling. So the coloured version has inflated by a whopping 600% !!!!!!!!!!
Now I began to think what other every day items have inflated at the same or similar rate. 
Houses..... a semi detached house in Portsmouth in the 50's cost about a thousand pounds today that same house (40 Rectory Ave) might sell for 250 thousand so a 250 % increase and we know how out of line house prices are.
What else????? Fish and chips at Drayton was about a shilling for a good portion. Today that will cost you maybe one pound fifty. That's 300 %.
Not sure what the retail price index has done generally but it is certainly not 600% up in that period.
So those old I -spy books were a great buy back then. Fun, educational and got you walking around......something the kids of today need!!!!!





News and Views:


On this day 5th August 1960-1965.

On 05/08/1960 the number one single was Shakin' All Over - Johnny Kidd & the Pirates and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 05/08/1961 the number one single was Well I Ask You - Eden Kane and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Top Secret (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 05/08/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 05/08/1963 the number one single was Sweets For My Sweet - Searchers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story was Derby doping riddle.

On 08/08/1964 the number one single was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.


On 08/08/1965 the number one single was Help - The Beatles and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Riviera Police (AR) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

Thursday, 27 July 2017


29th July 2017

First Picture: Mud Flats

 Second Picture: Eastern Road Bridge


 Third Picture: Slimy supports



Fourth Picture: Road inspection by the Council before the opening of the Eastern Road.


Fishing
Unless we missed it when we were growing up in the 1950s and 60s, apart from a small stream that ran along the back of the houses on the south side of Old Manor Way there were no fresh water streams in the area. This meant that for the average lad who wanted to go fishing it was a trip to Portscreek for sea fishing; not like the Shirley Abicair song of 1956 ‘Little Boy Fishin’ off a Wooden Pier’!

Here we had three choices, fish from the creek bank, fish from the Eastern Road road bridge or at low tide clamber out and fish from under the bridge arch itself. But this was just the end of the story because a fishing trip started a couple of days earlier with the studying of the Tide Table Chart which we purchased from Martins the Fishing Tackle and electrical shop in Cosham High Street right next door to the railway station.

Having decide that we would go fishing it was essential to read the Tide Table to find out when it was low tide, because this is when we would go out bait digging.

On the day in question, having dressed in old clothes, thick socks and Wellington Boots we would tie an old garden fork to the cross bar of our bikes and with a small bucket hanging from the handlebars. It is very tricky riding a bike with oversized Wellies! We would cycle off down the Eastern Road. Over the railway bridge and then off along a track on the western side, past the old Council tip until we reached the water’s edge between the road and the railway bridge. The vista would be acres of grey mud covered with sea weed and other detritus.

First find your spot for digging which would be marked by worm casts on the surface which were always well away from the edge. Having found the casts, it was plunge the fork into the mud. Instantly the fork moved the mud it turned black and a foul smell started to fill the air, it was at this stage that many colleagues found themselves sinking into the mud and had visions of a muddy death until their mates pulled them out. However not being deterred we would dig away for Ragworm and place them with a portion of mud into our buckets ready for our fishing trip. It was time now to try and wash off the worst of the mud, clean the Wellies and go home and get cleaned up and risk the wrath of Mum.

The next high tide we would be off but this time with rod and line, the bucket of Ragworms and various floats and weights. The favourite place for fishing was off the Eastern Road bridge and this is where you found little groups of hopeful fishermen. It was rumoured that it was possible to catch Bass and Flounders here but I have to tell you, dear reader, that I personally cannot remember, ever caught a fish, several crabs, yes, but never a fish. However  Peter remembers me catching a small Whiting and that we used it as bait when the worms ran out!      
                                                                             
Between tides it was possible to get down below the bridge and sit underneath the arch. This could be fraught with danger as the slopping concrete supports were covered in green slime and very slippery.

My biggest haul here came one day in the early 1960s when I was bait digging in the mud close to the bridge on my own for once; and I came home with a very strange collection of weapons. The previous night the police had been called to and broken up a vicious fight between two rival gangs who had decided to settle their differences on the bridge. Once the police arrived and not wanting to be caught with offensive weapons in their possession most of the fighters threw their fighting instruments over the bridge. The following day I was unaware of this as I ferreted in the mud for Ragworms. Instead I came away with a quantity of knuckledusters, coshes, bicycle chains and flick knives. I only found out later where they all came from and I forget what I did with them  all when I got home and how I eventually disposed of them but I do know that I still have one of the flick knives somewhere in the back of my garden shed. 

There were also times when we went out into Langston or Portsmouth Harbours in leaky boats for a days fishing, or another boat based adventure was sailing or rowing from Portscreek to Portchester where we would spend our time clambering all over the derelict submarine beached outside Harry Pounds scrap yard and trying to explore the furthermost reaches of the vessel. But these are stories 

Keep in touch
Peter


On this day 29th July 1960-1965


On 29/07/1960 the number one single was Please Don't Tease - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Elvis Is Back - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 29/07/1961 the number one single was Temptation - Everly Brothers and the number one album was Tottenham Hotspur. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £not very interesting and 13.25 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was No Hiding Place (AR).

On 29/07/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Pot Luck - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 29/07/1963 the number one single was Confessin' - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 29/07/1964 the number one single was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 29/07/1965 the number one single was Mr Tambourine Man - Byrds and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.