Sunday, 31 May 2020

Vulnerable ?

MONDAY 1st JUNE 2020:
As we follow the government's guidelines towards a second peak in the pandemic can I share a few thoughts with you about vulnerability.

We have seen individuals, groups and charities preparing food and delivering them to "vulnerable" people.  All very praiseworthy BUT NOT ENOUGH.

To put food into someone's belly does not stop them being hungry. You have to feed the belly, feed the mind and feel the heart SIMULTANEOUSLY.  If you can not do this then a giant hamper from Fortnum and Mason is of less value than an out of date packet of crisps off the shelves of Aldi.

People have always been generous to Food Banks and I have worked tirelessly over the years to support efforts. Until lock down I visited EVERY Friday one small distribution point where love and information for practical support operated alongside the bags of food.  Against this I can name two distribution points which are so horrible in the way people are spoken to, in the pay people are treated it would be better to be starving than to go there.

On yesterday's Downing Street briefing there was talk about some of the most vulnerable people in society. I hate the words HOMELESS ROUGH-SLEEPERS, I feel the terminology looks down on individuals. When I was, before lock down, able to work  with these most vulnerable people I called them my Friends. That was not a patronising term but a true explanation of the bonds between u s.

Downing Street was speaking yesterday about what is happening right now with our friends. I honestly am not sure what is happening but if all we are doing is to bang people up in hotels and throw food at them this is a menu for disaster. I hope the answer to these questions is YES but are we treating their mental health issues ?  Are we dealing with their addiction issues ?  Feed the belly - feed the mind - feed the heart.

Tomorrow I want to talk about another group of vulnerable people, people who right now are more vulnerable than any others and have been made vulnerable by different governments across decades and decades.

Speak again then.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Death Sentence

SUNDAY 31st MAY 2020
How many perfectly healthy people right now are under a sentence of death because of the failure of Boris Johnson and his government to manage the pandemic ?

Over 38,000 people have so far died, 381 died yesterday. We have the second highest death rate in Europe and yet the government thinks it can significantly relax the lock down.

When will the next spike come ?  It will come, that is certain. End of June perhaps. 

How many more people are going to die ?

How many of your friends and family, how many of my friends and family going to die ?

You have only got to listen to the way different members of the government daily read their scripts and quote statistics to understand their failure to realise people are making up their statistics.  When a speaker says his heart goes to to families who have lost someone the lack of emotion makes you question their sincerity/

An where is Boris again ?  Having emerged to defend his little chum, having emerged to  dictate the thinking of all in government to support his little chum he has disappeared again. Lord Lucan aren't you getting tired of Boris Johnson's company ?

Scientists and doctors are in some cases starting to break ranks. Doctors and scientists who are warning against following government policy.

See that nuclear bomb over there ?  It's perfectly safe if you social distance from it.  We have now relaxed the rules, you can go and touch it if you wish. Let's relax the rules a bit more, go and flick the switch - chances are it won't go off.

Milton Dreams -The City That Never Was - Chapter Nine

Drive into Milton Keynes along most roads entering the town and you will be met with a sign: Milton Keynes Better By Design. Who, I ask, is kidding who ?  Does Milton Keynes Council perhaps have a different understanding of the word design ?  Or could it be it does not know what the word better means ?

I am racking my brains to work out how many years ago - a long time I can assure you, since I worked with Mayor Gerry Neil. More than forty I think, I have just checked and found it was 1977. Heck, it feels like yesterday. Across the years I have been pleased to host many different mayors of Milton Keynes at many different events.

When Brain Baldry became Mayor he decided he wanted to come to Leon School where his son and daughter were students, he wanted to address the entire school and explain the Milton Keynes motto.....


I was given the job of organising the visit. I packed 1,200 students and staff into the sports hall. Mayor Brian gave a brilliant talk inspiring the students. That was in 1980.

After the assembly Mayor Brian chatted with me about our infant city. We called Milton Keynes a city as it was being developed and everyone just assumed on completion it would be awarded a city charter. A few weeks after that assembly Mayor Brian was to host HM Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Milton Keynes. Brian would meet her at Bletchley Station, He hoped that would lead to Milton Keynes being awarded city status and shared his passion with me as we chatted. He so much wanted to be Lord Mayor of Milton Keynes.

By Knowledge, Design and Understanding. Mayor Brian stood before the assembly, took his mayoral chain in his hands and explained in detail the motto of our new city.  He wanted every student and every member of staff at Leon School to be very clear that this was the at the heart of our new city and what the words meant.

Knowledge began with The Open University then spreading out to every single school in the new city.. Design was the planning of Milton Keynes Development Corporation. Understanding was the way we would all come together to build Milton Keynes into a great city. That is how Mayor Brian explained his chain of office. He inspired everyone at that assembly. How many people today have the faintest idea what the motto of  Milton Keynes is ? How many mayors since Brian have gone out into the community and spoken about those words on their chain of office. I have worked with many mayors since Brian and not a single one has said anything to me about it.

Design. Take a ride to Central Milton Keynes and look about you. If design is meant to be a positive word then how can it possibly be applied to the monstrosity  you will see  before  you ? The architects responsible for that lot have never been to design school. Many would call this abomination The City Centre, until it is demolished and Milton Keynes Better by Design becomes truth a city charter will always be a dream !


No, my tongue was not in my cheek as I wrote that paragraph. Let me put it back as I bring this chapter to an end. Mayor Brian Baldry was a businessman, well he liked to think that he was. He owned a taxi company, a small haulage firm and Bletchley Coaches. The wheels on the bus go round and round, well sometimes on some of Brian's buses they did but not always.

Following the success of Brian's school assembly he decided he would host a group of students at the new Milton Keynes Council offices. Brian sent one of his own coaches to the school to take us there.  I say us because again I drew the short straw and was put in charge.

Driving the short distance from Leon School in the south of Milton Keynes to the civic offices in the "city" centre the engine of the coach began to overheat. By knowledge and a lot of understanding the driver managed to get it to the "city" centre and park up outside the council offices. He blagged an empty milk bottle from reception and kept running in and out with water to top up the radiator. It was then my role to distract Mayor Baldry from what was happening. I smile now as I tell you the milk bottle which the driver was frantically using to fix the coach was from Taylor's Dairy, a dairy owned by a fellow council member and colleague of Mayor Brian, David Taylor who would later become mayor of Milton Keynes.


Mayor Brian what do you think ?   No I am not talking about your coach !  Perhaps if every Mayor during his year of office were to take an assembly in every school in Milton Keynes then as you did explain those words to the pupils it is possible their generation may be able to make our dream come true. However, I would not suggest the mayors try to explain Milton Keynes Better By Design, we should only tell the truth in our classrooms !

Friday, 29 May 2020



I suspect today's page will offend some people.  I DO SO MUCH  HOPE IT WILL !

Are you familiar with Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin ?

There's a lady who's sure
All that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to Heaven

For three years I have worked tirelessly within different projects seeking to love and make people smile. It is, for me, been a special and happy time. I so much hope that I am not guilty of buying a stairway to heaven.

Publishing my story Our Rebekah A Love Story From Our NHS some beautiful people got behind me. Since its publication on Amazon we have sold 40 copies and made £47.02 THANK YOU all you lovely people, you have touched my heart.


Why ?  Because they are buying a stairway to heaven and I am not a step to help them do so.

If all of the causes I have supported with my time, effort and money had supported me I think I would here today be reporting book sales of 4,000 not 40 and £470.00 That money I would have invested in further support for these good causes.

I am hurt. Deeply, deeply hurt.

I am now in a dilemma. If I walk away from these people who failed to show me love and support I will be walking away from the people their organisations support, people I love and care for.

The media, with the one exception of Milton Keynes Citizen, has failed to support me. Should I be surprised ? Buying a stairway to heaven.

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Chapter Eight

Is what I am about to share truth or is it simply a legend ?

8th August 1963, I was twelve years old and remember it well. As the news broke the nation was stunned. Stunned but there was a bit of excitement and even admiration for the bravado of those involved.

A train carrying used bank notes from bank to bank was robbed at Bridego Bridge, South of Milton Keynes.  Get it right, there was no Milton Keynes then - South of Bletchley. The robbers got away with £2.6 million - £53.5 million in today's money.

The bridge has not changed a lot in fifty-six years and is, rightfully, a legend. But what is not known is how Bletchley features in this legend.

In 1971, shortly after I moved to live in Milton Keynes, I was given a tour of Bletchley by the man who had been the editor of the Bletchley Gazette at the time of the robbery. He told me the train was towed into sidings at Bletchley Station for the police to investigate. I have since been told that it was not the original train in Bletchley Station but another placed there for the media.

Bletchley played a major part in the investigation. Did it ? Or was it just a deception ?

In 1981 I was called to jury service at Aylesbury Crown Court where I sat in the very courtroom where The Great Train Robbers were sentenced.8th August 2019 I drove to Bridego Bridge and looked at the scene. The bridge has not changed but the railway has, Virgin Trains raced across it at speeds approaching 100mph. The train that was robbed was a TPO - Travelling Post Office. Postal Workers sorted the mail as the train moved along. Mail was picked up and dropped off along the way.

Do you know W H Auden's poem The Night Mail ?

This is the night mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order.......

It was a night mail that was robbed. A night mail that was also being used to transport old bank notes for destruction.

When you put a letter into a post box it becomes the property of The Queen until it is delivered. So, in effect, The Great Train Robbers were stealing from The Queen. Ronald Biggs, Charles Wilson, Douglas Goody, Thomas Wisbey, Robert Welch, James Hussey and Roy James - were jailed for 30 years each. Incredibly harsh sentences but set as an example to other would-be train robbers.

It's about ten miles from Bletchley to Bridego Bridge yet both are locked together in history and in legend. Either as the location for the police to examine the train or just for a replica to keep the media happy The Great Train Robbery has a legendary place in Bletchley.


City Of Trees
Maggie Came To Milton Keynes But The Queen Came To Bletchley
Transport Planning
and more.......

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Chapter Seven

In the opening chapter I explained how I came to live in Bletchley Park.

Bletchley park ? It had been something or other in the war but nobody knew that much to talk about so the imaginations of we young undergraduates formed their own opinions.

There are some areas of the park which are still semi-secret, Doctor K W S Garwood explained to the assembled freshers as we were welcomed to the teacher training college in Bletchley Park.

What was secret about Royal Mail telephone engineers attending short-term courses in "The Mansion" ?  No BT in those days, Royal Mail managed the telephone network along side its primary job of delivering letters.

The hideous mansion stood on one side of a lake while Milton Keynes College of Education was on the other. I lived in a small room in what was the college's Middle Hall of Residence.  I wonder what that room had been used for during World War Two, today it is part of a Bomber Command museum exhibition.

Somewhere in Bletchley Park there was a third training centre. We were training to be teachers, there were those training to be Royal Mail telephone engineers and somewhere in the depths of the estate there was a centre to train air traffic controllers. But theirs were not the radar scanners inside the park which could be viewed along Whalley Drive. That was Doctor Garwood's semi-secret Diplomatic Wireless Service.

College was for having fun, a bit of learning could be fitted in along the way at convenient times during the three years needed to qualify as a teacher.

Sleeping in my bomber command  room was constantly subjected to interruption. I do wonder what my room had been use for during the war.  Doves lived in Bletchley Park, doves and pigeons. Every dawn would be broken with their cooing. The night and the day was constantly punctuated by the chimes of Saint Mary's Church clock. There really was no need for a watch living in Bletchley Park during those early years of the 1970's !

I do keep wondering what my room in Bletchley Park had originally been used for. We students examined the windows to see if there were any signs of former iron bars. Was the room once a cell housing a captured German airman or even a spy ?  There was no evidence.  I wonder what kind of interrogation techniques had been used in my bedroom. Did the chiming clock and cooing birds help mask any screams ?

We students were all issued with a pass to allow entry into Bletchley Park. The gatehouse was manned by a guard but we were seldom, if ever, challenged. We were supposed to use these passes to access the college refectory but again nobody bothered to ask for our identification. Did wartime secret agents in Bletchley Park have passes ?  If a secret agent had to carry a pass then that surely meant he was not secret in his identification.

What happened to the bodies of those who died under interrogating torture ?

Were they weighed down and thrown into the lake ?

Now and then we would lark about and ceremoniously throw a fellow student into the lake.

Why was the lake there ?     Was it natural or was it man-made ?

He never said a word while I was there but my Dad had something to do with Bletchley Park. To again quote Doctor Garwood, it must have been semi-secret. Dad is now ninety-four years old and I doubt he will ever reveal the truth.

As soon as he was old enough Dad volunteered to join the Royal Air Force. With the war coming to an end he was told there was no longer an urgent need for pilots but there was a need for signalers.  He told me he was offered a posting at Bletchley Park but ended up as a signals officer in Palestine at the time the State of Israel was being set up. He also told me that he never went anywhere without a gun and I do know two of his friends were shot by Israeli terrorists.

So was my Dad a spy ? Perhaps he was. Perhaps he slept in the same room as I did in Bletchley Park.

One of my books, The of Autobiography pf Billy Hardcastle, is set in Bletchley Park. Billy Hardcastle was indeed a spy and there is more to my fictional account than has so far been revealed in the factual history of Bletchley Park.

Why was Bletchley Park chosen as the secret location to break wartime German codes ?

Bletchley is mid-way between Oxford and Cambridge, there was a railway line connecting the two centres of learning back in wartime Britain.  It was also on the main railway line from London to Birmingham.  Sherwood Drive did not exist, nor did the buildings which were once Bletchley Grammar School and later a college. The railway marked the border of Bletchley Park with the railway station serving the four cities of Oxford, Cambrigle, London and Birmingham strategically located for Bletchley Park.

Bletchley Park can be traced back top The Doomsday Book when it was part of Etone Manor - Water Eaton - Manor Road.  It was given by William The Conqueror to Bishop Geoffrey of Conatance.

In 1092 William II made Walter Gifford Lord of the Manor. It then progressed through the family to The Duke of Buckingham whose country estate was Stowe, the first landscape project of Lancelot Capability Brown. The Duke's London home was Buckingham House, now Buckingham Palace.

The estate was in the family of Doctor Brown Willis until 1780. At a cost of £5,000 Browne Willis build a mansion, Water Hall.

In 1882 Herbert Samuel, Sammy to his friends, Leon purchased the estate. Sammy was a benefactor who has left the area with many legacies including Leon Bridge and Leon Recreation Ground.  However, it was his wife, Lady fanny Leon who involved herself on a more practical side. It was she and not Sir Herbert who took an interest in the local school.

On the death of Sir Herbert Bletchley Park passed to Sir George Leon, second baronet. He allowed his mother to continue living in the park but on her death he sold the estate which eventually passed into the hands of the government to become the World War two decoding centre.

The school in which Lady Leon showed interest is now Knowles School, it had been Fenny Stratford Board School and Bletchley Road School.  Under headmaster D B Bradshaw it was Bletchley County Secondary School.

Not part of Milton Keynes Development Corporation's work but a joint Bletchley Urban District Council and Greater London Council development, the Lakes Estate was built to accommodate families over spilling from London. This vast new housing estate was going to needs its own school so Bletchley County Secondary School was moved to a new site and became Leon School.

Leon School, only acutely related to the Leon Family and most certainly not to Sir Herbert, was named after Leon Recreation Ground which stood behind the old school.  It was only after the naming of the school, particularly under the headmastership of Bruce Abbott, that a bridge was built to Sir Herbert.

I joined the staff of Leon School in January 1975. A year later I was promoted to become head of year.

Legends of the Leon Family's association with Bletchley Park were emerging as were the activities of the wartime code breakers.

H R Winterbotham's book The Ultra Secret was published but banned in Britain, banned by the government which still regarded wartime Bletchley Park as a secret not yet ready to be revealed. On a trip to California I purchased a copy then smuggled it through Heathrow Airport.

Leon Teacher Olive Whitford claimed to have known F W Wintherbotham. Her husband, Johnny, was a spy.  He worked at GCHQ Hanslope Park yet was always traveling abroad.  Actually he was an accountant who would visit the intelligence departments within embassies to audit their accounts !

Always on the look out for extra projects for my students I decided to trace the Leon Family Line and find out if any descendants of Sir Herbert and Lady Leon were still about.

Taking a group of students to Bletchley Park in order to tour the mansion and home of the Leon's a member of the then BT staff took me to one side. She asked my permission to tell the students about the ghost of Lady Leon which she was convinced haunted the mansion. She clearly believed beyond any doubt there was a ghost.

Helping with our research was the founding editor of The Bletchley Gazette who in his youth knew Lady Leon.  I asked him what his thinking about a ghost was.  If there is any way she could return to make sure we are all behaving ourselves she would, he said.

So is Bletchley Park haunted by Lady Fanny Leon ?  I can not say I met her during the time I lived there but my bedroom was not in the family mansion.  I wonder if any wartime residents knew her ?  I wonder if she had a hand helping the decoders.

There was great rivalry between the three Bletchley Schools. In the eyes of the other two Leon was regarded as the poor relation. However, Denbigh School was named after a railway bridge and Lord Grey after a claimed traitor to the crown, he wasn't really a traitor I hasten to say but in the wrong place at the wrong time and related to the wrong person. We had much to be proud of.

The findings of our project was published in 1991 in a little book titled In Search Of The Leons. The Leon Line was indeed alive and well. The Fourth Baronet is Sir John Leon.

My artistic father-in-law made a framed glass portrait of the Leon Coat of Arms. This was presented to Sir John by a group of Leon School students.

Until our project Sir John knew little of his family association with Bletchley Park. Sir John is perhaps better known as the actor John Standing who has appeared in films: The Elephant Man, The Eagle Has Landed and recently Churchill The Darkest Hour. It is thought that Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit for Sir John's mother.

John and I are friends on Facebook. I wonder what the wartime computer pioneers working in his family home of Bletchley Park would have made of the algorithms behind the world's largest computer phenomena. 

The concluding page in the book In Search Of The Leons has these words:

Bletchley Park, which is owned by the government, will shortly be up for sale again. Save for the area immediately adjacent to the house and the lake much has been spoilt by the erection of wartime buildings for use by the secret service.

The house is in use by British Telecom who have done a first class job preserving it. It is to be hoped that when they move out in 1992 who ever takes over and moves in will take similar respect for the property which represents so much of Bletchley's history in the institution of The Leon Family.

It did, of course, become The Bletchley Park Trust which has now striped away the enigma and made Bletchley world famous. If you walk around the mansion today you will see words from In Search Of The Leons used to tell the story of the park.

Finally, taking off my hat of Max Robinson the writer and putting on that of The Geriatric DJ from Radio CRMK I recently went to a disco at Flowers Shared Housing located in part of what was Bletchley Park.  I wonder if one of the dear lady residents who danced with me was none other than Lady Leon ?

Perhaps that is an enigma too far !


City Of Trees
Maggie Came To Milton Keynes But The Queen Came To Bletchley
Transport Planning
and more.......

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Chapter Six

Ley lines are apparent alignments of landmarks, religious sites, and man-made structures. The pseudoscientific belief that these apparent lines are not accidental speculates that they are straight navigable paths and have spiritual significance. So says Wikipedia the fount of all knowledge.

It can be considered a little sad that those living in Milton Keynes are not always aware of why certain places are located quite where they are !  Why is Central Milton Keynes located where it is ?  What is the significance of Saxon ? 

Avebury Boulevard ?  Avebury Stones near Marlborough.  Marlborough Street was the first new road to be built connecting North and South Milton Keynes. 

Silbury Boulevard ?  As in Silbury Hill not far from the Avebury Stones ?

Midsummer Boulevard ?  Better today to be referred to as DEAD END STREET !

Three major roads set down on the Milton Keynes Development Corporation's Strategic Plan as ley lines within the new city. Three parallel lines of roads crossing Central Milton Keynes, the location of the original Saxons.

Midsummer Boulevard aka Dead End Street is now in twenty-four hour darkness since the short-sighted planners in Milton Keynes Council gave permission for a totally unnecessary shopping building - The Intu. What does Intu mean ? Intruder ? It has intruded and destroyed the Midsummer Boulevard ley line !

Located on Dead End Street is The Point, a decaying example of Milton Keynes Council's planning policy. Opening in 1985 it was the first multiplex cinema in the country. In 1991 it hosted a royal première of Harrison Ford's Presumed Innocent and was attended by Sarah, Duchess of York.

When Milton Keynes Council first decided that the policy of Milton Keynes Development Corporation that no building shall be taller than the surrounding trees was of no consequence and gave planning permission for the Xscape it dealt a death blow to the iconic Point. Even English Heritage refused to recognise it.

Today the Point is derelict and awaiting demolition while the Xscape, some know it as The Milton Keynes Slug,  works tirelessly blazing it lights throughout every night to help destroy our planet.

There is another ley line in Milton Keynes, a ley line of love. I am not sure where it originates but it runs directly through Willow and Oak Chapels in Milton Keynes Crematorium on Danstead Way. Working in  crematorium must be one of the hardest jobs anyone can do but those who staff at what is a beautiful location both physically and spiritually have given Milton Keynes such a special place. Ask any staff member and they will tell you that Milton Keynes Crematorium is built on a ley line of love. It is they who created the ley line.

If only we could create a ley line of love radiating in every direction across Milton Dreams then perhaps we would indeed be awarded the status to become The City Of Milton Keynes.


City Of Trees
Maggie Came To Milton Keynes But The Queen Came To Bletchley
Transport Planning
and more.......

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Chapter Five

In the early days of Milton Keynes, in the 1970's, lorry driver Brian Billings came from London to work on the building sites of the New City.

It was far, far more than houses Brian, better known as Bill, had a hand in building. In 1980 his work was recognised with an honory degree from The Open University, itself a Milton Keynes icon and landmark. In 2000 he was awarded an MBE by HM Queen Elizabeth II. Sadly Bill left us on Boxing Day 2007 but Bill's work is a legend and will remain so for decades to come. Milton Keynes would not be Milton Keynes without Bill Billings.

Bill was NOT THE CONCRETE COWS, not the originals anyway. These were three cows and three calves built by artist Liz Leyh in 1978.  It was The BBC's DJ and presenter Noel Edmunds who made the cows famous. He was for ever making jokes saying how Milton Keynes was closing farms to build houses and factories so throwing out the real cows but replacing them with concrete cows to match the concrete houses !

Too fragile now to be left in the open those original cows are in a museum, their replacement are the work of Bill Billings.

I went in search of these new concrete cows and found them in a beautiful setting next to the A422 (Monks Way) between V5 Great Monks Street. and V6 Grafton Street.) 

Yes, the setting is beautiful and well maintained but nowhere was there a plaque or a notice explaining who the cows are, who their artist is and their significance to Milton Keynes. There is a danger they could become a forgotten landmark of Milton Keynes.

In no way a forgotten landmark is The Peartree Bridge Dinosaur built by Bill way back in 1979.

Who remembers as a child climbing on to the back of Bill's dinosaur. Bon Jovi did a photoshoot at Peartree Dinosaur. Visiting Peartree Bridge to write this article I met two lovely teenagers who knew all about Bill Billings and the dinosaur. They also knew about Leonasaurus.

This work of Bill Billings was recorded in my original book Not The Concrete Cows.............

Steven Speilberg - Jurassic Park ? Forget it. Crowds flocking to cinema screens up and down the country, media hype, marketing bandwagons covering everything from tee shirts to birthday cakes. Anyone would think that Mr Speilberg and Universal Studios invented the species. Well the silver screen mogul is very much mistaken, Milton Keynes has had its own Jurassic Classic for years.

Every British Rail passenger travelling up and down the main line through Bletchley could be forgiven for thinking themselves victims of a time warp. Either that or perhaps they wonder if the eight thirty-two out of Euston has taken a wrong turning and ended up in Hollywood California. For there, snarling at all and towering thirty feet above its surroundings is a life size Tyrannosaurus !

But this specimen is, for the most part, friendly and being constructed out of reinforced concrete not likely to terrorise anyone. Living at the bottom of Leon School's playing field this particular dinosaur was built under the direction of local artist Bill Billings. During the spring and summer of 1991 the dug out foundations and erected a steel frame support before casting the beast in concrete.

Although Central Television showed an initial interest in the statue it has entered the landmark scene of Milton Keynes and been taken so much for granted it is anything but forgotten. But T Rex is not the only one of Bill Billings jurassic creations to roam the city. A few miles along Marlborough Street, at Peartree Bridge, is Triceratops again sculptured in concrete and this particular dinosaur came to live in Milton Keynes fifteen years ago.

Standing in the grounds of the Interaction project at The Old Rectory, Peartree Bridge, this dinosaur has been featured in a Bon Jovi video and was, for a time, the subject of the most popular selling post card of Milton Keynes. Unfortunately the trees along the V8 have matured now to the point where the sculpture can no longer be seen from the road. But next time you are in the area turn off towards Waterside and admire this particular landmark.

So Mr Speilberg you may have become a legend in your own time but so, in Milton Keynes, has Bill Billings. Then when your Jurassic Park is consigned to the discount shelves of the video stores then repeated every Boxing Day on our televisions Bill's creations will still be in their youth. And who knows Bill may have another Jurassic Classic in mind to graze on the planes of our city !

The original text from my 1994 book. Now, all these years later, what are your memories of Leonasaurus Rex ?

During my time as Head of Year at Leon School I was privileged to serve under two different headmasters: Mr D B Bradshaw and Bruce Abbott, two very different characters but both amazing headmasters. One day Bruce Abbott came into my office and said he wanted an iconic statue building on the school field, something which would raise the profile of the school. He then added: "Dave Ashford I want you to make it happen !"

Thank You Mr Abbott !

Abbott's idea was to have a series of Easter Island Head style constructions running the entire length of the school field, all could be seen from passengers on trains heading into Milton Keynes. I thought that was a little ambitious and wanted to build on the developing of the legend surrounding the Peartree Bridge Dinosaur.

If the dinosaur were built in the bottom corner of the school field it would be clearly visible from the railway and be the first thing passengers saw on their way into the new city.

I had to make a planning application which was easily granted. I was interviewed by Central Television on the site where the dinosaur would stand but sadly the station did not engage as construction began.

Construction was fun, big time and the teenagers were so excited and enthused by Bill. Bill did not so engage with many of my colleagues and certainly not the 
caretaking  team, I was constantly piggy in the middle and peace-maker. However, Headmaster Bruce's Abbott's dream came to fruition as did mine and Leonasaurus became a major Milton Keynes landmark.

Bill did not construct another dinosaur, he went on to many other exciting projects but when Bruce Abbott retired dinosaurs took over the management of Leon School.

When the school decided it wanted to dismantle the statue there was public outcry among residents on the Lakes Estate. Sadly that did not stop the mental dinosaurs from having their way as Leonasaurus was expelled from Leon School to a new home at The Warren Playground. There it proudly stands today, an icon but without its original location no longer a landmark !

The story does not stop there. Students who were involved in the building of the statue tell me a time capsule was buried at the site. I can not say I have any recollection of this but clearly something happened. I tried to engage the present dinosaur management of the school, what a wonderful thing it would be to find it and see what the capsule contained. Sadly none of my communications with the school received a response.

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Chapter Four

There are different towns and cities around the world which are immediately associated with music. San Francisco, New Orleans, Nashville, Liverpool. You will not find Bletchley on this list but Bletchley plays a vital part the modern day history of popular music. I will explain more but first allow me to tease you.

No, Vera Lynn did not sing at Bletchley Park, it was far to secret to allow The Forces Favourite anywhere near.

Bletchley, let me expand into Greater Bletchley aka Milton Keynes.

What do Michael Jackson. David Bowie and Freddie Mercury all have in common ? (Apart from the fact that they are all dead.) They all played at The National Bowl in Milton Keynes. Sad that this location has fallen to become nothing more than the venue for a weekly car boot sale.

Cliff Richard filmed the video for Wired For Sound in Central Milton Keynes. Were the video to be filmed today I doubt the production company would be able to afford the high parking charges in Central Milton Keynes and where Cliff previously skated through an underpass the route would be blocked by the tents of homeless rough-sleepers.

But - But - But - Cliff Richard performed at Bletchley Leisure Centre. I know, I was there listening to him.

In 1713 John Radcliffe was elected Member of Parliament for Buckingham. Radcliffe School in Wolverton, North Milton Keynes takes its name fromer former MP. In the 1980's the school's steel band The Radcliffe Rollers were a musical phenomena. How these amazing teenagers did not achieve world fame I do not know. I wonder what happened to the band members ?  I actually wrote The Radcliffe Rollers into my book The Fantasies Of A Geriatric DJ.

Satus Quo may have opened Live Aid at Wembley on 13th July 1983 with a 1.9 billion worldwide audience singing Rocking All Over The World but they also played at Bletchley Youth Centre.

Wilton Hall was during wartime Britain part of Bletchley Park. If Vera Lynn did sing there the performance is still covered by The Official Secrets Act !  Not so the all electric sound of Chickory Tip and their very early Moog Synthesiser who performed their hits Son Of My Father and Good Grief Christina at Wilton Hall.

Legend says that Elvis Presley never came to England. He did and I can prove it. There is a road named after him - Presley Way on Crownhill, Milton Keynes. OK, let me take my tongue out of my cheek and continue the story.

In more recent times Rod Stewart played at Stadium MK. Before Wimbledon FC defeced to Milton Keynes the site of Stadium MK and Asda Supermarket was in part home to Rollers Disco. What a place that was, teenagers dancing to disco music while wearing roller skates. 

Billy J Kramer, Britain's very own rock and roll star, came out of retirement to play at The White Hart pub on Whaddon Way. Billy J Kramer of Little Children and Listen Do You Want To Know A Secret fame entertained a packed pub. The White Hart, where a school now stands, at the junction of Whaddon Way and Shenley Road. The pub was managed by a friend of mine, Gordon. He roped me into helping, my job was to look after Billy J.

Michael Crawford who gave such a stunning performance in Phantom Of The Opera for a time lived in Milton Keynes relatively close to where Milton Keynes Development Corporation had its headquarters in Wavendon.

Did Elvis Presley really make it to Milton Keynes ?  To Crown Hill ?  If he did he most certainly would have gone to the studio of an amazing station on Crown Hill, Horizon Radio, great station. They had a mobile unit called Black Thunder. Radio stations in Milton Keynes come and go but one came in 1978 and is still broadcasting today !  Radio CRMK - Cable Radio Milton Keynes. based on Fishermead it broadcast along a cable network into homes on the new city estates. It is still broadcasting today, broadcasting to the world on the internet. Guess what I am one of the stations's DJ's !

All of this is great and a lot of fun but we have three mega icons of music, two of which come from Bletchley, which I now want to share with you. The two Bletchley icons of music alone should rightly lift Milton Keynes to a similar status enjoyed by San Francisco, Nashville, New Orleans and Liverpool.

Someone once said to me the reason why good songs are no longer written today is because they have already been written. Makes sense. The good songs were recorded on vinyl, if it aint vinyl then it aint music. True ?  The decline in the standard of popular music came with other systems trying and failing to take over from vinyl. 

What does the word groovy mean ?  As in Groovy Kind Of Love, originally recorded by The Mindbenders then covered by Phil Collins. Groovy - cool, happy, uplifting. Groovy comes from the grooves on a vinyl record.

What does it mean to be square ?  Being square meant you did not like, did not understand the music and its surrounding culture. A vinyl record is round, the opposite of round is square. It is, isn't it ?

On Water Eaton Industrial Estate, in Bletchley of course, there was a company Stylus Supplies Mountings Limited which produced the needles or stylus to put into a record player in order to extract the groovy music from the vinyl. Just where would popular music have been without Stylus Supplies Mountings Limited ? Stuck in the groove I am afraid. But it didn't happen did it ? Music blasted from the production line of Stylus Supplies Mountins on Water Eaton Industrial Estate Bletchley, Milton Keynes.

Turn the volume up to eleven !  In Queensway, Bletchley there once was a shop owned and run by a Mr Jim Marshall. A music shop. Sadly it is long gone but Marshall Amplification, Marshall Amplification in Bletchley, continues to dominate world music. Let's see what Mr Google has to say about Jim Marshall. 

James Charles Marshall, OBE (29 July 1923 – 5 April 2012) known as The Father of Loud[ or The Lord of Loud, was an English businessman and pioneer of guitar amplification. His company, Marshall Amplification, has created equipment that is used by some of the biggest names in rock music, producing amplifiers with an iconic status. In 2003 Marshall was awarded an OBE at Buckingham Palace for "services to the music industry and to charity".In 2009 he was given the Freedom of the Borough of Milton Keynes for his work in the community. I met Jim Marshall several time, he was so generous towards schools, young people and music projects.

Without Jim Marshall and his Bletchley based Marshall Amplification where every single volume nob goes up to not ten but eleven, pop music the world over would not have been the same. Yes, it would have been played and it would have been listened to but it would not have been so good. It would not have been the same.

If you are ever in Los Angeles go to Hollywood and The Walk Of Fame, you will find there a star given to Jim Marshall and Bletchley's Marshall Amplification.

If it aint vinyl then it aint music !  The very first seven inch vinyl record I spent my pocket money on was African Waltz by Johnny Dankworth. One of my favourite TV programmes as a kid was Tomorrow's World, the theme tune from which was played by Johnny Dankworth. Johnny Dankworth and his wife Cleo Laine what an amazing singer she was, lived in Wavendon almost next door to the headquarters of Milton Keynes Development Corporation. In their back garden they set up WAP - Wavendon All Music Plan which is now The Stables Theatre an international icon of music.

So Bletchley, so Milton Keynes we have a special place in the music world. a place those of us who live here can rightly be proud of. Perhaps we should all follow Jim Marshall's example and turn the volume to number eleven. If we play the music loud enough and the right people get into the grove Milton Dreams may actually become The City Of Milton Keynes after all.


Jurassic Park
City Of Trees
Maggie Came To Milton Keynes But The Queen Came To Bletchley
Transport Planning
Ley Lines
and more.......