Saturday, 31 October 2020

Are you a blood donor ?

Are you a blood donor ?  If not, why not ?

May I introduce you to a sad, pathetic coward.

I have just submitted my latest e-book to Amazon. When it is active you can splash out 77p to download the e-book.

Never mind that, I want to share one of the chapters with you right now, I want to explain why I am a sad, pathetic, miserable coward.

Since February this is my 12th e-book, at 31,121 words it brings my 2020 writing todate to 519,518 words.

So let me explain whyb I am such a coward. I hope this post goes viral and millions get to read about my cowardice.


Miserable coward ?  Who ? ME !  It is difficult to turn my head a round so I cannot see the yellow line running down the length of my spine. Ashamed as I am, I want as many people as possible to see my yellow line of cowardice and then to broadcast it as far and wide as they can. Headline it across the tabloids and make it go viral on social media. I am a miserable coward.

1973, I was in my second year of teacher training at Milton Keynes College of Education when the college matron was about to donate her fiftieth pint of blood, she invited we students to sign up and become blood donors. No way ! No way was I going to have someone stick a needle in my arm and pull out one eight one my body’s blood. No way !

Ten years later my daughter was born with renal failure. She had operation after operation after operation all with blood transfusions, transfusions of blood from donors who were not cowards like I was. Yes, even though she was receiving life-saving transfusions her father was still a coward and was not donating.

The years went by, my wife Maureen hosted donor sessions at the community centre she runs but I was not one of the life-saving donors. I was a coward, nobody was going to stick a needle in my arm !

Are you a blood donor ?  You can donate blood once you have reached your seventeenth birthday.  Are you a blood donor ?  I am. Indeed I did overcome my pathetic cowardice and now donate three times a year. Two weeks after my writing these words I will be donating my 29th pint of blood. If I had not been such a sad pathetic coward back in the disco year of 1973 it would be by 141st pint not a sad twenty-nine.

I am determined to live long enough and to stay fit enough to match my college matron and reach fifty pints. That will take another seven years. Are you a blood donor ?  If not why not ?  Please do not be a miserable coward like me.

Monday, 26 October 2020

What was the number one record on the day you were born ?

What was the number one record on the day you were born ?  For me on 3rd November 1950 it was Frank Sinatra singing Goodnight Irene.

I do remember whehn I was a little bit older than Year Zero my Dad singing it to me at bedtime.

So what was your number one ?  CLICK HERE and the link will take you to a simple charts website where you can check your own birthday hit.

So what was it ?

You did CLICK HERE and check didn't you ?

Here's mine.

Hardly rock and roll !  But this is, seventy years later Bristol Rovers use the song as its club anthem. 

Some years ago I had a lot of fun checking out hits on the days of my birthdays. I ceretainly have some iconic music to play on my birthday. Here's one, a very special song.

Go on have a go for your own birthdays. You will find it a lot of fun.

From this music I have taken memories from three decades and written e-books using those memories and their music.

For the 1950's I have written YOU NEVER GROW OLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL

For the next decade I invite you to SWING THROUGH THE SIXTIES

I am right now working on the DISCO SEVENTIES which I think I will have finished in about ten days time. Honestly it has been a lot of fun.

Here's a picture of me taken in the 1970's

And here's a birthday hit from my 27th birthday.

Go on have a bitb of fun checking out your own birthday hits !

Saturday, 24 October 2020

My books hit half a million !

I have been occupying my mind during these crazy times by writing.  I have been writing since I was a teenager and am now working on my TWENTY-FIFTH book published on Amazon.

Primarily I write for my own enjoyment and not for money although most days people splash out cash to read my scribble.

With two more months until the end of the year my writing has achieved HALF A MILLION ! 

Not half a million pounds. What would I do with that kind of money ?

I write for pleaure, I have always said to anyone thinking of writing, to write for themselves. If anyone then reads what you write that is a bonus, if they like what they read then that is a double bonus. If you go on to make money that is incredible, enjoy it.

If these words can inspire just one person to write sonething that that would be worth half a million pounds. Why don't you write a diary or blog sating how you feel in these crazy times ? In yesrs to come that could be of infinate value

to sociologists and historians. 

Here's a list of all I have written so far this year. Scroll through the titles as I continue to try to inspire you to write.

The Ramblings Of A Silly Old Man - published 22nd February 2020 - 99p e-book - 38,700 words

Fantasies Of A Geriatric DJ - published 22nd March 2020 - 99p e-book - 42,657 words

Lottery Of Evil - published 31st March 2020 - £1.99 e-book - 41,445 words

The Lonely Ghost - published 19th April 2020 - £1.99 e-book 11,091 words

The The Lonely Ghost was something I wrote for my two granddaughters. When I first started writing I wrote exclusively for children but over the years my style has changed. I made a special effort to revert to an ealier style. Write something for your children or for your grandchildren.

Our Rebekah A Love Story From Our NHS - published 13th May 2020 - £1.77 e-book - 64,130 words

Escape From Armageddon - published 14th July 2020 - 77p e-book - 71,145 words

Milton Dreams The City That Never Was - published 11th September 2020 - £1.99 e-book £3.99 paperback - 66,193 words

Not The Concrete Cows - published 11th September 2020 - £1.99 e-book £3.99 paperback  - 41,513 words

Pip Diamond The Prince Of Rock And Roll - published 11th September 2020 - 99p e-book - 53,235 words

I started recalling my teenage memories to swing through the sixties. I then went back to my kiddy-kid memories of childhood to write You Never Grow Old With Rock And Roll.

Swinging Through The Sixties - published 25th September 2020 - 77p e-book - 38,948 words

You Never Grow Old With Rock And Roll - published 10th October 2020 - 77p e-book - 19,340 words

Right now I am working on my young adult memories Life Is A Disco so Dance - Dance Through The Disco 70's. I am thinking about something about the 1980's but before I start on that I am going to write in my favourite genre - time travel.

I have the whole idea in my head for The Ka Of Timothy Ford-Newman.

If I finish the current project by mid-november, which I should, I can start work on this adventure.

That would mean I will publish twelve books in 2020 and nudge my word total towards 600,000 !

Can I inspire you to write ?

Fancy a challenge ?

Go fir it !

Trains And Boats And Little Children


The first book in this series is YOU NEVER GROW OLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL  I say as I invite my readers to rock and roll through the 1950’s and suggest that an acorn of music was planted in  the 1950's from which the giant oak tree of Rock and Roll has grown.

I have now planted my own oak tree of music. Let me preface this chapter by telling you all about it.

On my regular visits to Stowe Landscape Gardens near Buckingham each week I have been collecting acorns. Stowe was the first projects for Lancelot Capability Brown, it was under his direction the trees from which I harvested my acorns were planted.

Next I checked up on-line how to plant an acorn, picked out what appeared to me to be the acorn with the best  potential to  grow into a giant oak tree and followed the instructions. I decided to encourage my little acorn to grow by giving a name, what better  name to give to an oak tree than that of The King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley ?

Elvis Presley, of course, was American. I think I should plant a second acorn for a British rock and roll singer.  It is said that Billy Fury was Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley but I will be planting my second acorn for William Howard Ashton who was and still is Billy J Kramer. Yes, Billy is still very much with us but The White Hart Pub in Bletchley Milton Keynes is, sadly, long gone.

The White Hart Pub was my local in  the mid 1970’s, its manager Gordon became a bit of a friend of mine. He had ambitions to become a nightclub manager. To advance this he began putting on live acts in his pub, one of which was to be Billy J Kramer. Billy’s hits of Trains and Boats and Planes released in 1965 achieved position twelve in the UK charts in1965 with Little Children a year earlier reaching the number one spot. Billy’s backing group was The Dakotas, for a bit of a comeback at The White Hart it was Billy J Kramer and The New Dakotas.

A great song and a great performance by Billy J.

Gordon asked me to help at the performance, my job was to look out for Billy. It was a great evening in a packed White Hart Pub.

Billy is seven years older than I am and has put on some weight but he is a great guy, we are loosely connected through facebook. I'm gonna treat you to a movie – I guessed if Billy J re-released Little Children today that line would have to be something about playing on a tablet or a silly smart phone.

A great night Billy way back in the disco 1970’s, I look forward to your rock and roll being celebrated in a second oak tree.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

What was you first car ?



WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR ? Yesterday I wrote this chapter for my book LIFE IS A DISCO.

In my teenage years I did not want to learn to drive, I planned in my naivety never to learn to drive. A car, as I saw it back then, was a deadly instrument and I did not want to be the cause of someone’s death. In those days I drank alcohol and while I did not get drunk mixing alcohol and a car did not equate.

When I finished college and began teaching I needed my own transport but that was not going to be a car. How about a motorbike ? It was possible to immediately drive a motorbike with L plates and no formal tuition. That sounded good but on my way to buy one I lost my bottle. Thank goodness I did as had I made such a purchase of folly I would most certainly have killed myself and probably at least one other with me. No, I did not acquire a motorbike but a push bike.

Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh, - Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,

Ridin' along on my pushbike, honey -When I nowhere near you - Round down town, in a hurry honey, - Now, I've got my sights on you - You look so pretty, she was ridin' along, - You look so pretty, She was singing this song, '.

Ahh, - Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh, - Sh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,

Puttin' on speed, as I tried catchin' up but you - Were pedaling harder, too - Riding along like a hurricane, honey - Speeding afta you,

You look so pretty, she was ridin' along, - You look so pretty, She was singing this song, '.

Brrr, Sing this song, - Round, round wheels go round and round - Down, up pedals, down, up, down - Well, gotta get across to the other side of town - B'fore the sun goes down, - Hey, hey

Shh, shh, ahh, Shh, shh, ahh, - Shh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,

Well, we're ridin' along - On a bicylce, honey - That's a bicycle built for two - Lookin' at my honey - In the rearview mirror - Now I got a better of view - You look so pretty, she was ridin' along, - You look so pretty, She was singing this song, '.

Sing this song, - Round, round wheels go round and round - Down, up pedals, down, up, down - Well, gotta get across to the other side of town - B'fore the sun goes down, - Hey, hey - Shh, shh, ahh, Shh, shh, ahh, Shh, sh, ahh, Sh, sh, ahh,

That was a hit for Mungo Jerry in 1970, there were some great pieces of music in the 1970’s,  but my pushbike purchase was a few years later. It served me well for a year and a bit but I had to learn to drive. Eventually I gave in and booked a course of lessons with a local driving school Drivewell. I was not difficult and I passed my test first time.

It was not a conscious decision, subconscious is the right word, but I stopped drinking and have not consumed alcohol since. I passed my test in 1977. In 1994 a musical group Kraftwerk released a 23 minute twelve inch single Autobahn. You really need to listen to this via a set of headphones, it is the greatest piece of stereophonic music ever released, you can hear the car drive from your left ear, through your head and into your right ear. It is amazing, another great piece of 1970’s audio.

But I was never going to be able to drive on an autobahn or any road without four wheels under me. Those four wheels were attached to a Triumph Herald registration LSS 482 D. A bit of rust bucket it cost me £125, today checking on e-bay a classic restored car is not as expensive as I thought it would be, I can own a Triumph Herald for a second time costing me between £1,000 and £3,500. Shall I ?

Officially my first car was a Triumph Herald but I always called it my Triumph TR8.  I dreamed aged twenty-seven of owning a Triumph Herald TR7 sports car, I still dream of owning one. Let me have a look on e-bay and see what is available. Just one and that is a bigger rust bucket than my Triumph Herald TR8.

Over the years I have owned many different cars and driven millions, I suspect literally, of miles. I never drive a car without music playing. When was the CD invented ? 1979, there you go the Disco Seventies again. I once had the UK director of an international giant company in my car. He was a clever man and did his research before we met. They are right, he said, you do like music. There are never less than fifty CD’s scattered around my car. My late daughter got into my car once and said: Dad I don’t mind if you play your music. Mind or not I was going to play it ! If I do ever own a classic car in the form of a Triumph Herald or a Triumph TR7 I will have to have it fitted with a CD player.

When I passed my driving test and had my very first licence it was set to expire on 3rd November 2020. I remember so clearly looking at it and failing to comprehend the day which was forty-three years later. I would never be so old as seventy would I ? I am typing this page on Thursday 22nd October 2020, in twelve days time I will be seventy years old. Over the years driving has been fun, I have driven thousands of miles in America and thousands of miles in Europe but not anymore. At the age of seventy, I will be seventy by the time this is published, driving is not fun anymore. Today it is a chore. Perhaps if I can sell enough copies of this book I will be able to afford to buy for myself a fully restored and maintained Triumph Herald. I wonder if it would be possible to buy the original LSS 482 D as a personalised number plate. It would have to have a CD fitted so I could drive round playing Kraftwerk’s Autobahn with the volume turned up full.

Meet the new Elvis

In my e-book YOU NEVER GROW OLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL I say that an acorn of music was planted in  the 1950's from which the giant oak tree of Rock and Roll has grown.

I have now planted my own oak tree of music. Can I tell you all about it ?

On my regular visits to Stowe Landsacape Gardens near Buckingham each week I have been colelcting acorrns. Stowe was the first projects for Lancelot Capeability Brown, it was under his direction the trees from which I harvested my acorns were planted.

Next I checked up on-line how to plant an acorn.

Following carefully those instructions here is my musical acorn from which my own oak tree of rock and roll will grow.

I am sure you can pick out the acorn I selected to nurture. In
my writing Elvis Presley features several times so I am calling my little acorn Elvis after The King of Rock and Roll.

Here is Elvis at home in his new growing pot. That flowerpot is sitting on myb kitchen windowshelf where I will lovingly care for it until it starts to grow.

It takes three hundred years for an oak tree to grow to full height so I doubt I will live long enough to see this happen.

Shall we play something for Acorn Elvis from his mentor The King of Rock and Roll. How about this ?

When Elvis grows too big to live in his present home I plan to ask The Milton Keynes Parks Trust to adopt him and plant our little oak tree of music into a forever home.

Let me turn to another Oak Tree - The Tattenhoe Oak. In my book MILTON DREAMS THE CITY THAT NEVER WAS I talk about The Tattenhoe Oak.

This is the oldest living thing in Milton Keynes. If only it could talk what could it tell us ? When was it planted ? Who plantwed it ?  W hat has it seen over the centuries ? What will our Elvis be able to say when it is as old as The Tattenhoe Oak ?

Friday, 16 October 2020

Leonites see what you think of this !

Have you read my kiddy-kid memories ?  YOU NEVER GROW OLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL ?  It will cost you 77p for an Amazon e-book download. 

This is the first part of what will be a trilogy. The second part SWINGING THROUGH THE SIXTIES, my teenage memories, will also cost you to vast sum of 77p.

I am now working on the third part of the trilogy LIFE IS A DISCO SO DANCE where I disco dance my way through my early adult life. I have just finished writing this DRAFT chapter - typo's and all - which Leonites may find of interest.


Had I made a mistake, a terrible mistake ?  Working as a management trainee in Birmingham’s giant Lewis’s department store I was successful and heading for mega success. What a foolish thing to have done, I was never going to match success as a schoolteacher. I was going to have to crawl back to the store’s staff manager and beg for my job left.

I was theoretically employed as an unqualified assistant teacher at Chetwynd House Preparatory School for Boys in The Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield. These days we would call what I was doing a gap year. I had a one year contract but I would never last for the year. If I did not resign and beg my way back into Lewis’s Department Store I would most definitely be sacked by the headmaster for incompetence. There was one particular day, some time on October 1969 when I though dismissal had come. I am, of course, inviting you to disco dance through the 1970’s but I do need to explain Chetwynd House Preparatory School For Boys Autumn Term 1969 so come back with me to that day in October 1969.

I was nineteen years of age, the school had boys aged eight  to thirteen plus on its roll. Many of the boys had their fees paid by paid by parents to coach them through the 11+ examination in order to attend the local grammar school. Some were being prepared to sit the Common Entrance Examination at thirteen to attend public school. I was, therefore, trying to teach boys who were just a few years younger than I was. I had no training and did not have a clue what I was doing.

On that day in October 1969 my classroom was a riot, it always was. The headmaster walked in and demanded to know what was happening. “They just won’t listen to me,” I stuttered.

“If Mr Ashford,” the headmaster roared at my class, “gives me the name of any boy I will cane that boy without asking any questions.”

You could have cut the silence with a knife. Never again did I have any form of misbehaviour in my class. I never did give any name to the headmaster, nobody ever got caned and I immediately became successful and respected.

I was in charge of PE and games, I taught music and when the music teacher left at the end of that first term I was put in charge of music in the school. Spring Term 1970 and there was no was I would be returning to a career in retail management, I was going to be a schoolteacher.  I was a schoolteacher.

1st January 1970 the number one hit was Two Little Boys by Rolf Harris.

Two little boys had two little toys - Each had a wooden horse - Gaily they played each summer's day - Warriors both of course - One little chap then had a mishap
Broke off his horse's head - Wept for his toy then cried with joy - As his young playmate said

Did you think I would leave you crying - When there's room on my horse for two -
Climb up here Jack and don't be crying - I can go just as fast with two - When we grow up we'll both be soldiers - And our horses will not be toys - And I wonder if we'll remember - When we were two little boys

Long years had passed, war came so fast - Bravely they marched away Cannon roared loud, and in the mad crowd - Wounded and dying lay - Up goes a shout, a horse dashes out - Out from the ranks so blue - Gallops away to where Joe lay
Then came a voice he knew

Did you think I would leave you dying - When there's room on my horse for two
Climb up here Joe, we'll soon be flying - I can go just as fast with two - Did you say Joe I'm all a-tremble - Perhaps it's the battle's noise - But I think it's that I remember
When we were two little boys

Do you think I would leave you dying - There's room on my horse for two - Climb up here Joe, we'll soon by flying - Back to the ranks so blue - Can you feel Joe I'm all a tremble - Perhaps it's the battle's noise - But I think it's that I remember - When we were two little boys


That was a beautiful song and Rolf Harris popular with people of all ages. Rolf Harris was an Australian entertainer whose career encompassed work as a musician, singer-songwriter, composer, comedian, actor, painter and television personality. However, he was convicted in 2014 of the sexual assault of four underage girls, which effectively ended his career. He spent time in prison and now it is not politically correct to talk about him or play his music.

I am sure the boys at Chetwynd House enjoyed the music of Rolf Harris but I did not put it into the curriculum. Yes, aged only nineteen I decided the music and the songs to be taught.

This was a time of protest songs, I used a semi-religious music book Faith Folk And Clarity. Boys played the music on descant recorders and sung them in assemblies. Running assembly was also part of my duty. I do not believe in god and have no time for religion but the headmaster of Chetwynd House School was anti-religion. In assembly he even had to read the words of the Lords Prayer from a piece of paper. He liked the songs from Faith, Folk and Clarity and asked me to buy the LP record that went with the book.

In Swinging Through The Sixties I speak in volume two of this trilogy about how I came to love the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.  It was within my music classes at Chetwynd House School that I christened it giggle opera. As well as introducing the boys to the music I taught my pupils the life stories of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. I took boys to watch a performance of The Mikado performed by boys and staff at the local grammar school. Those boys would be sixty today, I wonder if they still listen to Gilbert and Sullivan, I wonder if they still call it giggle opera.

Let’s step aside from me for a moment and talk about you. When you left school and joined the world of work did you change direction and take a new career path ?  Was it as significant as my career change ?  Are you still at school ? Have you decided your career path and do you think that is the path you will follow all of y our working life ?

I had made the right decision, I was going to be a teacher, Just one thing, I needed to qualify with the teacher certificate: Certificate In Education. I applied to West Midlands College of Education and was rejected. Numerically I had the required subject qualifications and I had the retailing qualifications achieved when I was working in the department store: City and Guilds of London Institute. The problem was some of my qualifications, according to the college, overlapped. General History and Social & Economic History counted as one subject not two. City and Guilds Accounts was the same subject as GCE O Level Mathematics. I needed a plan, I was still going to be a teacher.

I was honest and explained my position to Chetwynd House’s headmaster asking if  my contract could be extended for another year. He immediately agreed and gave me a pay rise. Next I researched all colleges training teachers, I looked for a small college where I could become a real person and not just a name on the roll. Milton Keynes College of Education looked to be ideal. Where was Milton Keynes ? I was told that if I could obtain another GCE O Level I could make an application to join the three year course starting in September 1971.

This brings me to share something I constantly say to teenagers in school. If you are a teenager reading these words take them on board. If you are older, even as ancient as I am, did you  make the same mistake as I did ?

As a teenager I had natural ability and was clever, clever enough to get good results without needing to work or stretch myself. I knew what qualifications I needed to be accepted onto the management trainee group and worked just hard enough to achieve them, just hard enough and no more. How stupid ! Today I say to teenagers: Imagine your classroom as a market stall, the teacher is a market trader saying: Roll up, roll up everything is free. Do not do as I did and take just what you think you need, grab everything you can possibly hold and then take some more. It ‘s free and you never know when you will need it.

That extra GCE O Level I selected was Sociology. I went to evening classes and passed at the highest grade.

Back to Chetwynd House Preparatory School for Boys, I found myself as a senior member of staff. Senior as I approached my twentieth birthday. Something very special was at number one in the charts: Woodstock by Matthew’s Southern Comfort:

I came upon a child of God - He was walking along the road - When I asked him where are you going - This he told me.

I'm going down to Yasgurs farm - Think I’ll join a rock and roll band - I'll camp out on the land - I'll try and set my soul free.

We are stardust, we are golden - And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden. - Then can I walk beside you - I have come here to lose the smog

And I feel just like a cog in something turning. - Well maybe it’s the time of year - Or maybe it’s the time of man - And I don't know who I am

But life’s for learning.- We are stardust, we are golden - And we've got to get - ourselves back to the garden. - By the time I got to Woodstock - They were half a million strong - Everywhere there were songs and celebration -
And I dreamed I saw the bombers - Riding shotgun in the sky

Turning into butterflies - Above our nation. - We are stardust, we are golden
And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.

We are stardust, we are golden - And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
We are stardust, we are golden - And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.


I am going to write a special chapter on Woodstock at the end of my book but here I have to share how Woodstock came to Chetwynd House Preparatory School for Boys or should that be how Chetwynd House Preparatory School for Boys went to Woodstock.

A school trip was organised to Blenheim Palace near Oxford. Travelling along in the coach we passed a signpost pointing to Woodstock. Excitement exploded as the boys demanded we go there and not to Blenheim. I had to explain this was a different Woodstock, today it is a small parish of three thousand people. Woodstock in New York State attracted half a million people to its iconic concert.

At twenty years of age I had more authority in the school than staff three times my age. There was one member of staff, newly appointed, who clearly was not up to the job. The Headmaster called me into his office. I want you to go into Mr Hooper’s class, watch what he is doing then report back to me. I made some excuse saying I needed to gain experience of how other teachers worked. Did that Mr Hooper really believe me ? Surely not.

Reporting back to the headmaster I explained how Mr Hooper taught nothing in his class and even if the boys took it into their heads to listen Hooper had nothing to teach them. As I left the office Hooper was called in and sacked. He was given a cheque paying him for the short time he had been at the school.  Later the headmaster called the bank and stopped the cheque. Mr Hooper was never heard of again.

Christmas 1970 I Hear You Knocking  by Dave Edmunds was at number one. There was a boy at Chetwynd House by the name of Steven Clare, his family owned a small chain of newsagents in Birmingham. Young Steven organised a special Christmas present for me from his class. I was given a giant kipper decorated all over in hippie tie dye. It was fabulous. I wonder what happened to it, I don’t often wear ties these days but if I had that kipper tie I would wear it every day. What is a kipper tie ?  Wikipedia will explain but do not try to buy one, Amazon does not have a clue.

Top Ten 1st January 1970:

1.    Two Little Boys  Rolf Harris

2.    Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town  Kenny Rogers

3.    Sugar Sugar  Archies

4.    Suspicious Minds  Elvis Presley

5.    Melting Pot  Blue Mink

6.    Yester-Me-Yester-You Yesterday  Stevie Wonder

7.    All I Have To Do Is Dream  Bobbie Gentry And Glan Campbell

8.    Winter World Of Love  Engelbert Humperdink

9.    Tracy  Cufflinks

10. Without Love  Tom Jones

On 17th May 1943 Royal Airforce 617 Squadron undertook Operation Chastise, more familiar today it is known as The Dambusters Raid. The father of one boy at Chetwynd House School for Boys was a Dambuster. When speaking today with teenagers in school, when they ask me if I have ever met anyone famous I proudly explain I knew a Dambuster.

Another boy said to me that when he left school he wanted to be an actor as was he his great-uncle. Thinking perhaps his relative had a part in Crossroads or even Coronation Street I asked who this great-uncle was. Laurence Olivier: he explained.

Yeh !  Yeh ! In the staffroom I shared this eleven year old’s fantasy and tried to make a joke of it. The joke was on me, Chetwynd House Preparatory School for Boys in The Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield did indeed have the great nephew of Sir Laurence Olivier on it roll.

The phone rang and was answered by the school secretary. On the other end was the secretary to the Chairman of Aston Villa FC. He boss had instructed her to call the school and ask if his two sons could attend. Chetwynd House was a small school, only 120 on roll, and there was no space for two new pupils. Why, the headmaster said to me, would I want the sons of a football chairman in my school ?  I am a rugby man.

Most boys at the school were Aston Villa supporters, they would have loved to have the club chairman’s sons as their friends.

There was another boy in the school who I remember so well. He was a fun, mischievous lad who everyone liked. He was a Jew. At school dinner time he often said to me: “Were those sausages made from pork ?”

“Of course they were,” I explained.

“Damn !” The lad would say. “I’ve messed up again !” He loved sausages.

Over Easter the family went away for a skiing holiday in Italy. In an accident the father lost his life. Sympathy was expressed right across the school but this little lad was strong. He continued to like pork sausages and continued to joke about his messing up.

Those two years at Chetwynd House School were happy but it was time to move on. I needed to formally qualify as a teacher, I needed to become a proper teacher.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Up close and personal


The projects I was, pre-covid, involved in were up close and perssonal. I have been saying that they are on-hold. I think I need to be realistic and say they are over.

Realistically I think it will take until Spring 2022 before any sense of normality can be anticipated. I am, therefore, looking at a different way of approaching things. Following yesterday's broadcast I am today putting this out for people to pick up. It is very simple, needs no co-ordination it just needs people to DO IT. Will YOU do it ?

It has to be the biggest clich̩ of all times to say that we are living in difficult times ! But when will these difficult times end ? History will describe 2020 as The Year That Never Was, I think that will be plural as we add in the year 20201. Personally I am thinking that Spring 2022 may be a possibility Рif we are lucky. But this pandemic pales into insignificance by the side of the sides of the coin destroying our planet: ELIMATE EMERGENCY & BIODIVERSITY.

So come on Milton Keynes what are you going to do about it ?  Wake up Milton Keynes, We can do this – YOU can do this – I can do this – WE MUST DO THIS.

What I am suggesting is very simple. Within the area where we live I am challenging

every supermarket, every shop, every business big or small, every sports and social group to appoint a GREEN CHAMPION.

No pussy-footing around with policy documents, no co-ordinating meetings, no involving officials and politicians – JUST DOING IT !

Within their area the GREEN CHAMPION will ensure the business they represent is recycling properly, not wasting energy and respecting our planet. They will set up simple things such as planting wild flowers to encourage the insect population, putting a bug box on a wall, planting trees either within the area of their operation or via The Woodland Trust sponsoring tree plantation. Planting a tree can cost as little as £1.50. A bug hotel needs an investment of about £10. Very expensive, it costs around £17 for seeds to plant an entire wild flower meadow. Few will have a meadow to plant so give seeds to members, to employees to take home and plant.

Currently there are approximately 10,000 living species of birds, with an estimated 1,200 considered to be under threat of extinction. Since The Everly Brothers sang ON THE WINGS OF A NIGHTINGALE We have lost over 90% of these iconic birds in the last 50 years – has led to the species being placed on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List.

Do you remember when driving along in your car you wouldneed to stop and clean the insects that had impaled themselves on your windscreen ? It does not happen now does  it ?  A study published recently in the journal Biological Conservation made headlines for suggesting that 40 percent of all insect
species are in decline and could die out in the coming decades. The bumble bee is in serious decline. Without these insects pollination can not happen and there will be serious harm done to agriculture.

Trees are the lungs of the world, they recycle harmful emissions into clean air. Milton Keynes was built as a city of trees, sadly we never became a city but we can be proud of our trees. BUT THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH ! By area Britain has the lowest tree population in Europe.

Speaking recently with some children on television Sir David Attenborough was asked what was the most important thing that could be done to slow global warming. He replied: DO NOT WAST ANYTHING then went on to say DO NOT WASTE ELECTRICITY. This photograph was taken at 3.30am on 14th October 2020. A similar photograph could be taken at any time overnight on any day of the week. Not only of this offender but, sadly, many others. IT HAS TO STOP.

It is not difficult is it ? Wake up Milton Keynes, We can do this – YOU can do this – I can do this – WE MUST DO THIS. How many supermarkets, how many shops, how many businesses big or small, how many sports and social groups will appoint a GREEN CHAMPION ? No pussy-footing around with policy documents, no co-ordinating meetings, no involving officials and politicians – JUST DOING IT !

Milton Keynes may have a lofty ambition to become the greenest authority in the world by 2025. If every area I have here mentioned appoints a green champion Milton Keynes could be leading the world within just a few years, certainly WAY BEFORE 2050. In these difficult times let’s grab hold of this idea, make it work and inject positivity into the lives of us all. No room for the pandemic to make us feel depressed, WE have an important job to do. WILL YOU DO IT ?  

Sunday, 11 October 2020

I Love People

MONDAY 12th October 2020

I love people, I always have. With the pandemic the projects close to my heart are on hold. I tried last week with my radio show THE DISCO OF LOVE to reach out and celebrate those who are going the extra mile to love and care for our community right now.

Will I ever be able to get back to spending two or three hours a week in school ?  Visiting a Food Bank distribution centre and having lots of fun with both customers and volunteers ?  What about my pavement buddies ?

The Milton Keynes Citizen has branded me The MK Environment Campaigner.  It is not that I have given up on caring for people, just that the projects I was involoved in can not operate as they did with me in direct contact. Prior to the pandemic I was campaigning and shouting my mouth off about the destruction of our planet - call it global warming - call it biodiversity - these are two side sof the same coin. I have always said WHAT IS THE POINT IN CARING FOR PEOPLE IF WE ARE DESTROYING THE PLANET THEY LIVE ON.

Yesterday while out and about on this long week-end break in Devon I purchased five bug hotels which I plan to give to different people forn their garden. I also purchased a bird table, this will be the third in my garden. I love the birds in my garden, I am looking forward tio making friends with those who will occupy my bug hotel.

On Wednesday my radio show will be playing music around the theme LOVE YOUR PLANET.

Did you know:

Currently there are approximately 10,000 living species of birds, with an estimated 1,200 considered to be under threat of extinction ?

A study published recently in the journal Biological Conservation suggested 40% of all insect species are in decline and could die out in the coming decades ?

We have lost over 90% of nightingales in the last 50 years. This led to the species being placed on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List.

Once  common throughout Africa and Asia, elephants have declined significantly during the 20th century, largely due to the illegal ivory trade. Though some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, human-elephant conflict, and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species.

Hedgehogs, Europe's only spiny mammals, are under threat due to a loss of habitat and food. The result has been declining reproduction, landing the creature on a range of endangered species lists. The main drivers of the decline appear to be linked to the agricultural industry.

What is the point of caring for people if we are destroying the planet they live on ?

I LOVE PEOPLE - I want a planet on which they can live and I can love them.