July 8 2018: an Englishman’s home



Home briefly from Oz, where he’s something very senior in the prison service – is this what they mean by penal servitude? – former Crook Town secretary Dave Thimpson sends the wonderful image above.

It’s football in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, on the Northumberland coast. We’d been talking about scenic grounds: could anything, wonders Dave – not unreasonably – overshadow this one.

Our family once spent a weekend at Bamburgh Castle, getting on 25 years ago, when former Hartlepool United chairman Garry Gibson leased a five-bedroom apartment high up in one of the towers.

Other visitors had included the chief VAT man, and not what you’d suppose a courtesy call. though he in turn marvelled at the glories of it all. “It was like the executioner saying you had a nice haircut before chopping your head off” said Garry.

We were mates, still are, though he’d had a hard time from other members of the fourth estate. “Never mind the French and the Scots,” said Garry, “this castle was built to keep out the press.”

Pools had soared on his watch, briefly second in the third tier, only to fade again. He’d been pulling rabbits out of the hat for years, he said. “Now I don’t even have a hat.”

*Though our ruby wedding isn’t until November, we enjoyed the first present – and certainly don’t solicit others – this afternoon.

Characteristically generous and greatly thoughtful – especially for a Spurs fan – London-based ground hopper Gary Brand bought tickets for two on the afternoon tea train on the Tanfield Railway, which crosses the border from Co Durham into Gateshead, north of Stanley.

“Well, it doesn’t run in November,” he argued, not unreasonably.

It’s a lovely trip, and a very nice tea. The evening previously the railway had had one of those murder mystery evenings, fuelled amid World Cup euphoria – said the guard chap – by wheelie cases full of wine.

It was the vicar what done it. It almost always is.

*Yesterday’s blog sought a song to mark the NHS 70th anniversary, thought that “I’ll be There” by The Four Tops might have a particularly appropriate first few lines but urged other ideas.

Steve Wolstencroft sent ten, to which we shall return. None other responded: there’s usually a bit of a waiting list, isn’t there? More ideas, please. There were three in the bed and the little one said ‘Roll over’ will probably be disqualified.