Sunday, 5 July 2020

Newporto Pagnellio

Another chapter for my book MILTON DREAMS THE CITY THAT NEVER WAS.  That brings me to 43,098 words. Five more chapters to go.


As a very young kid my Dad as an old black Standard 8 car, I remember the registration number – FKO 866. He then has an Austin Somerset – OOL 129. There was a rivalry among we lads as to whose Dad drove the best car.

The M1 was Britain’s first motorway and opened in 1959, round about the time I am speaking of and our kiddy-car rivalry. There was a place on this new mororway we all called Newporto Pagellio. A far distant foreign place for we lads living in The Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield in The West Midlands.  Some of us had even been there. Well at least to the bit of it on the Motorway M1.

Today I do not like driving on our extensive motorway system, I would much rather drive on A and B Roads. When I do use a motorway and stop at a service station it is never Newporto Pagnellio as this is my local service station so hardly a place where I am going to take a break from driving.

In the West Country there is a service station which I often frequent for the things you have to do when you frequent any motorway service station. A couple of years ago I found that the station had twinned its toilet block with a village in Africa so providing families with the basic sanitation they lacked. I checked out how this had been achieved then brought it back to Newporto Pagnellio.  No, not to the service station close to M1 Junction 14 but to the studio of Radio CRMK where I am a presenter. I shared the idea with the bosses and twinned the radio station toilet with a family in Uganda. So in Tickford Street Newporto Pagnellio you can find the most legendary toilet in all of Milton Keynes.

Back to when I was a kid, shortly after being a kid and just before I achieved the status of teenager I had moved into secondary school. We had a teacher by the name of Mr Holborn. Teacher is best applied as a job title rather than a description of what he did during the day. He took our class for Art where he was passable as a teacher, I can remember some of his lessons which is more than I can say for most members of staff. He also took us for a session called Library. Library ?  Supposedly Holborn was charged with encouraging us to read. I actually wonder if he could read himself !

What the heck a book by criminologist George Sava was doing on the library shelf frequented by twelve years olds I can not comprehend but at that age I took down Surgery And Crime by George Sava, read and enjoyed it.

Never mind about that, let me tell you about another of Holborn’s Library lessons and how he connected The Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield with Newporto Pagnellio.

“Ian Flemming,” Holborn said, “James Bond, nobody will read this stuff in five or ten years time. It is not written to last.”

Doh !  We are talking here of 1963 and I am writing these words in 2020. Maths ?  Fifty-seven years ago,

Go anywhere in the world and ask someone where Newporto Pagnellio or Milton Keynes is and from most people you will get a blank look. Mention James Bond and everyone will have head of him. You got that bit wrong didn’t you Mr Holborn !

Ask the same person what type of car James Bond drives and they will certainly tell you it is an Aston Martin. In the times when Holborn was pontificating his theory that James Bond was a flash in the pan 007 drove an Aston Martin DB5. If you want to buy that classic car today it will cost you well in excess of half a million pounds !

So what has this got to do with Newporto Pagnellio ? Everyone in Milton Keynes knows that Newporto Pagnellio is the home of Aston Martin. These cars and their driver James Bond are icons of the city that never was. Bond – James Bond, we all know you have access to Her Majesty, we saw you help her parachute into the opening of London 2019 so could you have a word in her ear and ask her to grant Milton Dreams city status ?

What was the first James Bond film you ever saw ?  For me it was Thunderball released on 29th December 1965. I may have been fifteen at the time but it was brave of my parents to take their teenage son to a film with violence and sex at its centre.

I am a Bletchley man, a West Bletchley man where the biggest secret service operation of all time took place at Bletchley Park. I don’t think that Alan Turin and all the other ultra secret codebreakers drove Aston Martins. For a brief time I was a Newporto Pagnellio guy. Just for six moths after we were married Maureen and I lived in James Bond country before moving to our present home in West Bletchley. At that time in Newporto Pagnellio there was The Elecra Cinema run by two sisters. A tiny but ultra friendly place, not a multiplex. No, we did not go there to watch James Bond but we did enjoy Star Wars.  Sadly The Electra is long gone along with The Studio Cinema in Bletchley to be replaced by The Milton Keynes Slug aka the Xscape. I fear The Electra is a forgotten landmark.

So Newporto Pagnellio you have a legendary place in my childhood and teenage years and most certainly a legendary place in Milton Dreams.

Let me end this chapter with a quote from Newporto Pagnellio’s famous son:

My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done. Such as, drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to The Beatles without earmuffs.

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