Today I want to speak about legends and ask you all to get involved in a new writing project, a book LEGENDS OF A GREAT CITY. I think it will be more fun if I gather round me a group of contributors instead of just writing it myself.
Going back to the year 1994 I published my book NOT THE CONCRETE COWS which had the subtitle A KALEIDOSCOPE THROUGH THE CITY OF MILTON KEYNES. The book had quite an impressive list of sponsors:
McDonald's Restaurants - The Citizen - Milton Keynes Hospital - Mailcom - Paddy O'leary's chip shop.
Before I set out my ideas for this new project let's have my YouTube theme to start the day. Secklow Radio presenter Catherine Rose played that at last Saturday's Secklow Radio Roadshow.
And now for Andy's weather report.......
My current writing project THE BRIDGE HOUSE is nearing completion. Yesterday I wrote another one thousand words and have brought the story of times through which mygrandmother lived to 1997. The pic I use as a logo for much of my writing was taken in that magical year.
I have a meeting on 30th January to discuss the publication which I hope will be on 19th May with a book signing and launch in Birmingham some time in June.
I most definitely will complete the text by 30th January so the boring bit, the editing and redrafting can begin. But NOW is the time to begin planning my next book and to invite friends to contribute their ideas.
So what about the legends ?
The image at the top of the page is The Tattenhoe Oak, the oldest living thing in Milton Keynes. It features in Not The Concrete Cows and will most certainly feature in this new work.
I came to Milton Keynes in 1971. It was a wet day: dark, cloudy and raining. (You picking this up Weatherman Andy ?) I remember getting off the train at Bletchley Station to have my nose assaulted by a pungent smell filling the atmosphere. How many of you can remember the Bletchley Odour ? It was always there handing in the air, fumes from the brickworks at Newton Longville.
I walked the short distance to Bletchley Park and my interview at Milton Keynes College of Education. It had, that term, changed its name from North Buckinghamshire College of Education to support the New City of Milton Keynes. In 1971 there was no city, nothing more than a plan which had been launched four years earlier.
I was offered a place at the teacher training college and lived for three years in Bletchley Park. Nobody knew anything about the wartime codebreakers in 1971, their work was still a secret.
At the time Bletchley Park Trust was being formed I set up a project at Leon School to search for the Leon Family who originated from Bletchley Park. We actually published a little book, Words from that book were nicked, without permission I have to say, by Bletchley park Trust to add to their displays.IN SEARCH OF THE LEONS. I still have my copy. What I do not have and must find it for the new book is a photograph of my students with Sir John Leon. Sir John is better known as John Standing, the actor.
Andy, our weatherman, arranged last year for me to fire one of The Fenny Poppers. What an honour that was. I will most certainly be including this ancient legend in the book.
Here is a video Andy made of the popper firing. I fire cannon number two.
This is my certificate to prove I fired the cannon. What an honour, what a memory that day was.
The next day, the day after the poppers, I went to support Andy and another former student, Nigel, at the Armistice Day wreath laying.
They told me of a legend I had never heard of in all the time I have lived in Milton Keynes, the metal gates at Fenny Stratford War Memorial.
My former student, Paul, owns a company which is a living legend in its own right - Turney's Bakery which predates Milton Keynes by almost one hundred years. Paul's bakery and shops are certainly going into the book.
Do you remember Scott of Bletchley - Makers of the world's finest cooked meats ? Unlike Paul's business Scott is defunct and forgotten but is a legend I will include in the book.
When The Milton Keynes Development Corporation published its Strategic Plan there were certain things which were set in tablets of stone. Two which have been thrown aside in scorn, two I fully intend to ridicule in my book are:
NO BUILDING SHALL BE TALLER THAN THE SURROUNDING TREES - look at the monstrosity which has become Central Milton Keynes. A child with a box of Lego could have made a better job.
THERE WILL BE NO CHARGES FOR PARKING IN MILTON KEYNES - now look at the rip off cost for shopping in Central Milton Keynes. As a matter of principal I refuse to go there.
When Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre was opened it was the largest covered shopping area in the country. Today it is nothing more than a shopping centre well past its sell by date.
A promo record was released - the words ran YOU'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT, CENTRAL MILTON KEYNES. It never made the charts but was a bit of fun. I have shivers running down my spine, I found a copy of this single on e-bay. I waved my Visa Debit card at it and now the single is mine !
I have been co-opted on to the organising committee for Bletchley Youth Centre's 50th anniversary celebrations in April. That in itself is a great honour.
Many now famous pop groups from the 1970's, themselves legends, played there in their early days. Mayor David Hopkins used to attend Bletchley Youth Centre as a teenager and remembers those groups. David is actually appearing on Secklow Radio on Monday 22nd January to present his favourite songs from the 1970's.
David was born in Milton Keynes and lives not far from where the Milton Keynes Development Corporation was located. David, I will be seeking your help with the book.
My brainstorm list of legends goes on and on. Have you read Sir Frank Markham's book ?
Sir Frank is a Milton Keynes legend. As a very young man I met him then later served as a governor of Milton Keynes College of Education alongside his wife, Lady Markham. She actually gave me permission to use material from Sir Frank's book in Not The Concrete Cows.
This new book is going to be such an exciting project. It is pushing me on to finish The Bridge House so I can begin work. What will make it far more exciting will be if I can gather round me people to share their memories and give me ideas for legends to include.
This is something I want my Leonites to join me in. NO The Gerriatric DJ is not a legend and NO he is not older than The Tattenhoe Oak.
I promise today I will write another couple of thousand words for The Bridge House then work on LEGENDS OF A GREAT CITY can begin.
Have a WIKID WEDNESDAY of a day. I intend to !