It’s nine months since the blog had a day off, so it’s time for a short break. First though, news of richly deserved awards for football folk and maybe a not-so-little surprise at the end.
Fifty-year service awards, some handsome gear, have been presented by the FA and Northumberland FA to Cyril Cox, Ken Redfearn, Ken Rodger, Keith Scoffham and Alex Smailes (and please note alphabetical order.)
Cyril Cox, Alnwick Town’s secretary and much else, has spent much of that time commuting – by bus – from his home in Newcastle. Ken Rodger, now 80 but still wonderfully energetic, is Heaton Stannington’s secretary and spent many years before that developing football on Tyneside.
Alex Smailes, known to Ted Ilderton as the Bloodhound, has had a long involvement with both West Allotment Celtic and Northumberland FA and was for 40 years Liverpool’s scout in the north. Now he spends his time, or so we’re led to believe, tailing Ted.
Ken Redfearn and Keith Scoffham are referees, Keith affectionately remembered by Northern League folk and Ken – still the oldest swinger on Tyneside – in the middle for the first season of the Premiership. Now 74, he’s still refereeing (and still dancing.)
At the same presentation there were 25-year awards for referees Geoff Lowes and Davy McCallum (otherwise Scotchy) and for Alan Matthews, North Shields’ magnificent chairman, who in truth seems to have been around much longer.
The game would be lost without guys like these. Very well done to them all.
These days I only have two titles. One’s president of Darlington Hole in the Wall FC – promoted to the first division of the Crook and District League; well done boys – and the other is president of Wensleydale Writers.
Among their watchwords is brevity – the soul of wit, as was observed in Hamlet – or if not brevity then succinctness. It’s reinforced by the local community magazine which has a 500-word limit on even the best prose and 40 lines on verse.
As faithful readers well will understand, such a discipline is wholly alien to Grass Routes. Ever perverse, I wrote for the Writers a poem in praise of prolixity – for prolixity read waffle. It’s reproduced below: make the most of it until the blog returns on June 23.
(Or a presidential paean in honour of garrulousness and prolixity.)
I truly delight in being your president –
Though some, with good cause, might suppose me non-resident;
The pleasure’s in watching you honing your craft
Though some might suppose I’ve been a bit Daph’t.
There’s much to admire, much to applaud,
At Wensleydale Writers no time to be bored;
To a man and a woman you seem on a mission,
If the group has a watchword, the watchword’s excision.
Never furnish two words when just one will do,
Nor write of the toilet when thinking in loo.
Never scatter the syllables, energies waste
Loquacious at leisure, repentant in haste.
To each member her quota, her ration, her limit
If the maximum’s bust, then speedily trim it.
It’s not worth the wrath, the froideur, the glare
From, uncomfortably titled, esteemed Madam Chair.
Yet while there are those who’ll suppose it monstrosity,
Allow me to make a plea for verbosity,
For circumlocution, though some it may baffle –
In terms of the layman, just old fashioned waffle.
I’ve been writing professionally 53 years,
Through good times and bad, through blood, sweat and tears;
Though Wensleydale Writers would see it rescinded
I got where I am by being long-winded.
I don’t use a short word when longer will do,
Nor monosyllabic, when there could be two.
In newspaper terms I could do with a sub
But whenever you want one, they’re all in the pub.
Succinctness, of course, does have its admirers
They waste not, they want not, they don’t want to tire us;
They hassle, they harry, seem almost to fear
Those of us who suffer with verbal diarrhoea.
In literature, happily, there’s room for all sorts –
For briefness, economy, restricted thoughts;
But why not expansive, prolix, discursive
Without by the Writers being considered subversive?
For me it all peaked at Buckingham Palace
(Where Christopher Robin went down with Alice);
The Queen was most gracious, almost non-fictionary –
“Mr Amos,” she said, “keep on swallowing the dictionary.”
So now I have shattered the last great taboo –
The most’s 40 lines, this one’s forty-two.