Great Uncle Bill

I’ve already given some details in an earlier post but as this is the 97th anniversary of his death it seemed a good subject for the day. It’s also a good day to remind people of one of my regular gripes: this year is only the centenary of the beginning of the war. Many of the events we consider to be important in the Great War are several years away from their centenary. We’ve already commemorated all the dead and most of them were still alive 100 years ago. Most of them probably weren’t even in the army.

Anyway, back to Uncle Bill, or Billy, as my great-grandmother called him. After writing the previous blog I had a chance to read the copies of the letters that great-grandma sent to my grandfather in India. He was wounded in the chest and shoulder late in the day and  died without regaining consciousness. Having read several letters like this in press reports from the war I’m suspicious that this is a standard letter to make the family feel better. However, I do hope it’s true.

If he’d lived his Christmas would have been brightened by a ten shilling note and a cake sent out by his mother just before he was killed. .

Sadly we don’t even have a photograph of him. There is one that my aunt says is a picture of him but the soldier in the picture is wearing the badge of a fusilier regiment, not the York & Lancs. There’s no picture of him in Craven’s Part in the Great War  so I suspect there never was one or they would have let the paper have it at the time of his death.

Frustratingly the picture we have, which I suspect is his brother Francis, isn’t marked and looks nothing like the 1921 family photo we have. However, as he was severely wounded in the 1918 Spring Offensive it’s hardly surprising he looks gaunt compared to the cheery young soldier in the earlier photo.

And no, so far I haven’t been able to trace his regiment to match up the cap badge – with Wilson being the 7th most popular  name in the UK there were a lot of them in the army. I remember once seeing something in a family history magazine saying it is the third most popular name in the North West so it’s tough being a Wilson and doing family history in Lancashire.

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Selfies

I took a few selfies this week because I need photographs for profiles. Unfortunately though I take a picture of myself, many of them seem to feature a complete stranger.

The pictures feature strange-shaped heads, bulbous noses, shifty expressions and a middle-aged man who looks like he didn’t sleep well.

The nose and head shape is (I hope) a problem of perspective. The shifty look is caused by squinting at the camera whilst attempting a three-quarter view. That just leaves the worn out middle-aged man. Sadly there is only one explanation for this…

No wonder so many people opt to be anonymous or use photos of film stars, and that’s before you take the unsuitable background into consideration.

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An article I was reading earlier in the week suggested that putting a face to the blog would get a better response. however, having frequently been told I have a great face for radio, I have to question the wisdom of this. Time will tell.

This one is seasonally adjusted, though probably not very useful come January.

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Celebrity? Modestly? How words change.

I’ve just been reading “Celebrity Couples who live surprisingly modest lives” and been left spluttering with so many things that need saying and not enough mouths.

Disclaimer: If you click the above link and find yourself lost for words, infuriated or wasting your life on trivia, don’t blame me, blame the internet and the tempting array of links it offers as you log in to your email.

For one thing, how can a couple be a “celebrity couple” if I haven’t heard of them? I admit that I’m not the man most likely to be up to date on all this celebrity stuff and I’ll concede that some of the couples may be well known though unknown to me. However, I’ll ask people to concede that simply being known isn’t the same as being a “celebrity”, which needs a sprinkle of glamour to make it true.

I’ll make a quick sidestep here to show my thinking.. “I’m a Celebrity…Get me out of here!” consistently features people who aren’t celebrities and in any right-thinking society would be prosecuted for fraud if not for being terribly irritating TV. They have just announced a winner – Carl Fogarty. He’s a good bloke and deserves to be called a celebrity after all he’s done. Second place went to someone who came second in the X-Factor. Not really the same is it?

Same goes for Fogarty’s MBE. He wins four World Superbike Championships, Isle of Man TTs and loads of other stuff, risking death on the way round. He gets an MBE. If he’d won a couple of Olympic Golds, risking a pulled hamstring, he’d have been given a knighthood.

Such is the strange and arcane way of the British Honours System.

Anyway, back to the “celebrity” couples. Their modest lifestyles include saving money in the bank (sensible, but then they do have  alot of it), using money-off vouchers (just plain miserly) and living in homes worth only $1,000,000 (or $2,000,000 in one case – how modest!). Best of all is Kate and Wills, our favourite Royals. It seems their modest lifestyle includes doing their own shopping instead of getting a royal retainer to do it for them. What sort of world do we live in where doing your own shopping is considered out of the ordinary?

And yes, I’m not famous, don’t have an MBE and live less than modestly due to having no money. It may well make me jealous. But does it make me wrong?

 

One extreme to another

Fresh on the heels of my journey into Rugby League, and Outlaws’ fund-raising surge, I managed a trip to the other extreme. No, not Rugby Union, far more extreme than that. Flower arranging.

It was an accident, honestly. I’ve been asked to buy some baskets for making up Christmas presents and the best place to get them in Nottingham turns out to be the biggest floristry supplier I’ve ever seen. OK, it’s also the only one I’ve ever seen.

Even if it wasn’t I’m not going to admit it.

You can get something called a thorn stripper for…(allow tension to build)…stripping thorns. I love tools. I’m generally not good at using them, apart from the Birmingham Screwdriver, but I love looking at them, though I’m no longer allowed to buy them.

It’s a whole new world for me, including competitive flower arranging, which got me thinking.

If I’d persuaded my sons to take on floristry instead of rugby would we have bypassed.the multiply broken noses and various other injuries, or would they still have got them in defending their choice of hobby?

 

The next step

By the time I caught up with the Nottingham Outlaws walk they had visited Harvey Hadden stadium and managed to reach Highfields. Some had already done their bit and dropped out and others had joined. Several of the lady members are missing from the picture as they opted to avail themselves of the facilities on offer. Others were to join later.

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Building work at Harvey Hadden.

Of course, in years to come it’s going to be like the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall – only 40 people were there but thousands claim to have been. Once we open the new clubhouse you just watch how many people claim to have been on this walk.

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Arrival at Highfields. Page leads the way through the tram works. I really must recruit him for the British Beard Club. See previous posts for more details.

Here’s a picture of the remains of the Toll Bridge Inn, scene of Richard Johnson’s mis-spent youth with Nottingham Crusaders. Looking at the selection of photos it seems like everywhere that Outlaws go the bulldozers follow.

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After that it was time to attend my Mum’s 85th birthday party but I do know that the walk came to a successful end and a couple of new people signed up as benefactors. There’s no need to be shy – we are are happy to accept money off anyone!

It’s started

On a slightly damp, grey morning the walk started. Silly to have expected anything else in November. All the usual suspects were there, as were a number of fashion faux pas. Is it OK to say faux pas in a Rugby League post? Come to think of it, is it OK to say faux pas anywhere apart from The Tatler?

George Orwell is my guide on this – Rule 5 says no, but Rule 6 probably allows it when you think of the alternative phrase in my mind.

 

Nottingham Outlaws Rugby League

I haven’t had much time for Rugby League recently as work has been getting in the way.  The summer passed and for the first time in nearly ten years I didn’t make an Outlaws match. They don’t seem to have suffered too much from the lack of support.  Let’s be honest, my support consists mainly of shouting biased nonsense from the sidelines so I”m easily replaced.

Tomorrow will be my first outing of the year and it isn’t even for a match, it’s for a sponsored walk. Don’t worry, those of you who know me, I haven’t taken leave of my senses, I’m taking the car option. We will be touring the historic spots for Rugby League in Nottingham as part of the Project 30 fund-raising activities. Some, obviously, will be putting more effort than others.

I will report in tomorrow with details.