Wolf-e-boy's Global Travel bites page-(29-09-'02 to 19-02-'04)
Travel bites from wolf-e-boy's 17 month trek around the globe, full edited version available in hardback from Amazon.com.
 
 
2019
What's going on in my life this year.
 
 
2017/18 Random Stuff
What's going on in my life during 2017
 
 
Blogging On 2016
Whatever moves me to scribe this year.
 
 
Blogging on- 2015
What ever moves me to hit the keyboard this year, here it is
 
 
Blog on 2013/14
What's going on in my life, Shoreham, and the outside world in 2013. My thoughts, my words.
 
 
Myanmar Times 2013
My trip to Myanmar with Tim Wall, an ancestral Royal, we think!
 
 
Blog on- 2011/ 2012
What's occurring in my life in or around Shoreham by sea, this year. For 2013, please check the page above, 'Blog on 2013'
 
 
A brief maritime history of Shoreham and its Fort
A history to explain the defensive importance of Shoreham, and its need for the Shoreham Redoubt, finished in 1857
 
 
Watercraft, my part in its downfall
Continuing from 'When I left school 1979'. I spent 6 great years learning my trade at Watercraft LTD, and this is the beginning of the story of my time there
 
 
When I left school, 1979
Leaving Cardinal Newman school, 1979, 16 years old, my first job, first proper wages, wide eyed and care free, look out world, here I come.
 
 
A bygone Shoreham Beach
Short stories from a childhood spent discovering Shoreham, plus links to some of our incredible local music talent
 
 
John Jabez Edwin Mayall
This page is a brief summary of one of the early leading lights of photography, J.J.E. Mayall
 
 
Wolf E Boy's Barn and Granary conversion blog
For 7 months, back in 2007, I worked on a barn conversion as site carpenter, at the same time as my book, Bangkok to BC', was being published, this blog tells the story of both
 
 
2009/10 blog n stuff
whatever moves me to scribble this year
 
 
Don't get me started- blogging
This is about just some of the things that daily piss so many of us off
 
 
Wolf rants- Wolf E. Boy's rhyming rhetoric
some of my 'Outspoken rhyming rants'
 
 
Silly, witty one liners page
Here are some of my fave collected one liners I've been posting on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to return any time, as I regularly update with new one liners. Enjoy the jokes folks!
 
 
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, Gone Fishing
Some things in life are meant to be, or not, Dan finds out the hard way when a simple trip gets complicated
 
 
The Scam page
This page is devoted to stories of scams, and how they happened
 
 
2008/9, bloggin' on
What's up this year ?
 
 
The Polish 'stag' experience
The Stag tradition goes to Krakow
 
 
Lamp Bassett, the evolution of 'weedspeak'
Evolution of 'weed speak'
 
 
Random Page
Random old scribes of mine
 
 
Steve's tree
 
 
My Ramus Family tree
This page is for the continued updating of my Sephardic family tree information.
 
 
The Ring Master & John William Godward
This is the story of the late Victorian, early Edwardian world of art dealing, and the link between William Walker Sampson, leader of the biggest art cartel of the time, and a painter whose style was being eclipsed by the emergence of the likes of Picasso
 
 
William Walker Sampson's Art Auction Ring
This is just a rough out for an art ring project already going on another page of this site, working, hopefully, to a final edit.
 
 
Victorian/Edwardian art dealers directory
One at a time, I will be writing up short bio's of art dealers from the late 19th, and early 20th century, a follow up to the Art Ring story also on this site.
 
 
A Brief History of Shoreham Aviation
This is a brief history of the aviators that helped establish Shoreham Aerodrome as a part of the evolution of flight.
 
 

Blog on 2013/14

Looking after the Parents
29-09-2015
.
Back in 2002 I decided I'd had enough of the rat race, wanted to bugger off abroad somewhere, but didn't have the resources, or at least not at hand anyway. I tried to get a loan against my mortgage, but apparently despite owning a house worth double what we'd paid, that counted for nothing in the credit ratings. If I had run up debts on a credit card, but kept up with the monthly payments, then hell yeah, they'd be all over me like a rash. Being in debt but keeping up with your payments was considered better than someone like me, who often paid late, and got stiffed with a £25 fine, plus interest each time, but always cleared the debt. So despite owing Barclaycard nothing, and having coughed up a tidy sum in late payment charges, I was considered bad for their, or anyone elses, business. This, plus many other irritations I had with the rat race in general, bills, direct debits, more bills, and an overwhelming desire to just fuck off out of it, finally culminated in putting the house up for sale. I hadn't wanted to sell, but I had to get away, for my sanity, maybe even to save my life.
.
Well I spivved the place to show house standard, sold it that year, then moved in with my parents while I waited for the money to get in my bank account, and decide what to do next. Life was pretty rosy by then I thought, no bills, other than housekeeping money to ma, no need to work for a while, and just a trip to organise, but no real idea where to go. As it turned out the decision made itself one afternoon, I was out trawling around Brighton with note pad and camera, and having stopped at a coffee shop in Duke Street, off Churchill Square, I spied Gav and Chris walking past. I called out and joined them, they were heading off to book their tickets to India, so I tagged along thinking nothing more than we might have a beer or two afterwards. It was S.T.A travel in North Street, and they seemed to be taking forever, so it was only a matter of time before the staff, thinking I was there to book something, called me over. I told them no a couple of times, explaining I was with these two lads, but eventually thought, why not have a look. The upshot of that was that I walked out with an around the world ticket, leaving in a couple of months, and before Gav and Chris would be going.
.
Well, a year away became 18 months, and after travelling extensively, climbing mountains, descending into caverns by zip wire, jumping out of planes, learning to snowboard, boogy boarding down steep faced sand dunes, trekking, riding elephants, traversing rivers at high speed on longtail boats, or super slow on bamboo rafts or tractor tyres, getting drunk once or twice, tree felling, log splitting, digging holes, and plenty else as I travelled through S.E.Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, U.S.A, and Canada; the time had come to return.I hadn't ditched the depression, it had reared its ugly head on a number of occasions, and I learned, if I didn't already know it anyway, that you can't escape your head. 
.
When I returned home, there was a big welcome at the local pub, and it didn't take long to settle back in to the rhythm of life, but I knew one thing for sure, I had no intention of rejoining the rat race, or the home owning aspect of it at least. One hugely depressing fact was that my house had already been sold by the woman that bought it, and she had made 16 grand more in the one year she owned it, without doing a single thing to it, than I had made after turning it from a 2 bed bungalow, in to a 4 bed chalet bungalow, and owning it over 13 years. That is one damn good reason to hate the rat race, there is not the slightest hint of fairness to it, and no it isn't the same for everyone, my case clearly proves that. Enough to convince me not to get involved with property again, and I'm a builder.
.
At first, living back with the parents was easy, I was working, earning well, and contributing to the household budget. Over time though, I could see ma struggling with, or at least definitely not enjoying, the household chores which she had always managed. Bit by bit I started helping out, and eventually taking over the tedious tasks of shopping, cooking, and washing up, which was still no problem. Fast forward to 2014, and dad went down with pneumonia, which in your late 80's is no joke, but thankfully he survived, after paramedic call outs, doctors, and finally an ambulance followed by a week in the acute medical unit at hospital. From that point on, looking after the parents shifted up a gear or two, because even if you recover from pneumonia at that age, the effects are lasting. I was already responsible for his pill pot, he had a collection to take throughout the day, everyday, all to do with his heart condition, pace maker, gastric issues, and glaucoma, now we had more pills. Pills to counteract other pills, then some of those gave him an internal bleed, so stop some, start others, monitor the situation, writing it all in a seperate pill diary.
.
In between all this, we have a year old pup with training issues, but a little ball of furry happiness that brings light into the darkness. He can though, on occasion, be the cause of more worry, as we worry about him too, then it's a head fuck, you think you're going crazy, when will it all end, or where. When he's ill, my life seems like a pill pot roundabout that never stops. The ma joined in, going down with deep vein thrombosis. It started with a slightly swollen foot, gradually working its way up her leg, so back came the paramedics, then house visit nurses to administer blood thinning injections. Later we had to attend a warfarin clinic, where after 5 hours of tests and scans, ma is told she'll be on warfarin for the rest of her natural, and needs to have regular blood tests to check and regulate her warfarin dosage. She also has to wear a surgical stocking on the affected leg every day, we have a special contraption for putting it on which is quite clever.
.
Did I mention that dad still wants to go to work every day?, We get up at 5a.m, he has his morning pills and puffer, and we have a cup of tea, then I've been driving him there and back at 5.30 each morning so that he can set up the company computers for the day ahead. I am his eyes in the dark too, and we bring Fred, so I can walk him around the block while the old boy is setting up, after I've emptied the bins mind. When we get back it's cup of tea time again, and soon ready for Fred's next walk, about 9-ish, which the parents occasionally join us for. We drive up to the local recreation ground, by the railway line, alongside the river, and on a nice day, this is one of the little highlights. Dad can't walk too far, so has to take a rest quite often, but he's determined to do it, but it drains him for a bit. Ma also has a bit of trouble with her DVT affected leg, but like dad, insists it needs to be exercised. When we get back, it's round 2 for the old mans pills, which he has to have with food, so a couple of rounds of cheese on toast, or a toasted sarnie, and another cup of tea. He's recently also been on eye drops following a cataract op, and eye baths, all of which I administer. The op went well though, despite two failed attempts, where we waited 5 hours at hospital only to be turned away at the last minute, once because some machinery failed, and the other time because an emergency patient came in. Since the op, his eyesight has improved massively, and we're just waiting for the other eye to be done now, fingers crossed it won't be too long.
.
Monday to Friday that's the drill, and in between, we have access to a swimming pool and hot tub, which I get them along to while one of my brothers looks after Fred. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, for one hour, dad can forget his many aches and pains, ma comes Weds' and Thurs', as she goes to her Sewing Sisters in Tuesday.
When we get back, it's off to bed for dad, and his afternoon siesta. He gets back up around 4, and has a restorative cup of tea, check the crossword, and have a snuggle with Fred. Ma will be set up with her latest sewing or knitting project, wherever has the most sun in the house, and this is how we bumble sweetly along. My last duties for the day, are Fred's evening walk, give dad his evening pills, and cook dinner, then wash up and tidy away ready for tomorrow. I shuffle off to bed by about 8.30, taking Fred, who sleeps on top of the duvet, and gets most upset with me if I'm late.  There are other things you find yourself doing, little things, like helping dad put his shoes, socks, slippers, boots, jackets, on, cutting his toenails, ma with her stocking, driving her about, cooking breakfast at weekends, keeping the garden neat, as much as possible. And while I have been told that they don't need all this help, well, I don't agree, but even if I did, I'm doing it to help them, make their late years a bit easier, and hopefully add a bit to their general quality of life.
.
I know others that have done far more, struggled through unimaginable trauma's, and without complaint. I'm not complaining, just letting off steam here, where I doubt anyone that even knows me, will find it. It's a full time job caring for someone properly, and puts the mockers on any chance of working to earn a crust, so that side of things is something I will seriously need help with eventually, but not quite yet.

I generally take my camera when dog walking, and got this shot, one of three, of a brightly coloured yellow butterfly, at Adur recreation ground. The best of the trio can be seen at PicFair.com, here is the link detail:- 
https://www.picfair.com/wolfeeboy999/pic/november-butterfly-on-adur-recreation-ground-shoreham-by-sea

I'll try and get up a proper link here.

PicFair.com allows people to upload their photo's and maintain ownership of right to licence, setting their own 'fee'.

November butterfly on Adur rec, Shoreham by sea, taken while dog walking








Squire and Freddie

Squire

17-08-2014

.
It's funny how the simple things in life can give you so much satisfaction, walking the dog on the beach, drinking a nice cup of tea, eating at the table with your family, or watching them peacefully sleep. Right now all these things seem like a precious gift, like you've just been dragged off a life-raft and into the safety of the Lifeboat.
.
The last time I blogged, we had just come back from France, having left wee Freddie at House of Hugo for the weekend, a knackered but happy little pup. In the week that followed, Squire's cough was becoming more noticeable, enough to put him off his cooked breakfast on Sunday, and he had stopped smoking, two sure signs that he was under the weather. He came back early from work on Monday, and felt too unwell to join us at the trough that evening for the weekly big family roast, his favourite meal of the week.
.
By Tuesday things had moved along, and after a quick google of his symptoms, pneumonia  the cyber verdict, I was worried. Answering a few questions over the phone to the health centre, telling them my google diagnosis, I was assured we would get a visit from our GP at some point. Dr Verma called round later, and after a thorough check, confirmed the pneumonia, prescribed anti-biotics, and paracetamol, then gave us the option of hospital or care at home. Between us all it was decided looking after him at home would be best, much to Squire's relief.
.
Later that day it became apparent we had another problem, he had hiccups, and it was recalled that paracetamol had had the same effect on him after his quadruple heart bypass operation back in 1998, the consequences of which were unbearable to watch at that time. Too late had we realised, and a chain reaction had been set off, so now on top of the pneumonia, he was debilitated further by hiccups, and rising temperatures were becoming a problem. Next day I spoke to Dr McIlroy, and it was decided to drop his blood thinner pill, and replace the paracetamol with cuprofen to get on top of his temperature. All of this on top of his multiple meds he is already on for his heart.
.
For four days from diagnosis, the pattern seemed to be, wake up feeling a little better, then gradually go downhill through the day. We tried to care for our precious Pater, while watching his condition deteriorate, calling the surgery to let them know of our concerns, the last call to them on Friday left us with the instructions to pick up a request for a chest x-ray for Monday. At this point I was almost shredded from worry, watching someone you love suffer so much is not fun. The hot weather was making matters worse, cooking poor old Squire, so we were backwards and forwards with cold flannels to cool his head, rigging up fans, and wishing for colder weather, anything to help him feel at least a bit less uncomfortable. All the time during this, making sure he was drinking water to keep hydrated, giving him refrigerated pineapple chunks and grapes to nibble at, and he developed a taste for orange juice.
.
On Saturday, after a better nights sleep, and managing to eat some scrambled eggs on bread, Squire appeared a little more comfortable. I was encouraged by Ma and Ant, to go to watch the Albion that afternoon, playing Sheffield Wednesday, I didn't feel much like it, but went anyway. An uninspiring game did little to take my mind off things, looks like the Albion could be in for a difficult season on that display. On return, it was clear Squire was in decline again, and now he was suffering from nausea on top of everything else, with feelings of sickness sweeping through him. So now he was coughing, hiccuping, sweating, and feeling on the verge of being sick, he looked dreadful, I needed advice.
.
I made a desperate call to my mate, North, a highly qualified male nurse, and he talked me through the situation. Yes I was right to be worried, phone the NHS out of hours line, make sure they send a doctor out, don't take no for an answer. I followed his advice, and the system worked perfectly, we had a visit within an hour, but the  doctor wasn't at all happy with Squire's condition, and seemed surprised he hadn't already been sent for an x-ray. After another thorough check up, including urine sample, he talked us through the possibilities. Midway through explaining, Freddie had crept up, and was about to slurp Squire's pee out of the glass, which had been set on the floor with the litmus paper in it, this brought a fleeting smile to our faces as I quickly removed the offending article. The doctor discussed with us whether we could carry on treating him at home or not, and then went outside to make a call. That call had taken the decision away from us, an ambulance was on its way. The doctor apologised as he left for Squires impending hospital admission to the Acute Medical Unit, Worthing, and Ma set about preparing a bag for Squire to take with him, while I got his various medications to go.
.
The paramedics were great, using humour to ease Squire's, and our, tensions, assuring us they would look after him. When they asked him, "you don't mind coming with us do you?", his answer was, "as long as I come back again". I felt quite ill at that point, sick with worry, I can only imagine what was going through Ma's mind. It was about 10 o'clock in the evening.
.
Sunday first thing we called the hospital A.M.U to find he hadn't slept well as it was an admissions unit, we could bring stuff in to him at 9, but visiting wasn't until 3 in the afternoon. He was having antibiotics intravenously, and had a drip putting fluids in too, on top of a new range of pills to add to the mix, while still feeling sick, and with hiccups. The staff were great, and the ward looked decent, he was in good hands, but still in a very poor condition, which at 87 years old, is not a good thing.
.
The next couple of days were like a trance, going through the motions, trying to find things to do to occupy the mind, while your stomach feels like a tumble drier, on the verge of bursting in to tears. You feel so bloody helpless, utterly drained, but know you have to keep all the normal things going on, and hope everything is going to turn out ok, with absolutely no guarantee of anything. Watching Squire suffer was bad enough, not having him around at the same time as not knowing was worse. Freddie has been a happy diversion, we even took in a framed picture of the wee pup to put by his hospital bedside, while David and Jack sorted out an I-pod loaded up with Squire's favourite classical music to give him something to soothe the soul and keep out the surrounding noises in the ward.
.
While this was all going on, I was in contact by text and e mail to our new found uncle, Ian, Squire's long lost brother. He is a retired surgeon, and explained all the procedures to me as I updated him on events, which at least helped us understand what was being done and why. It also gave us a little comfort during a pretty harrowing time.
.
On the Monday, which is our bin day, I was putting out the bins in the morning, when Derek and Rose came past with their dog, Diesel. In the confines of your own home, you can find places to hide when you need to let yourself go, but here I had no escape, I felt immediately exposed, confused, and soon the bins were falling over, Derek and Rose rushing in to help me as I just momentarily fell apart. Trying quickly to recover some composure, I hurriedly explained it wasn't what their worried faces expected, Squire was still with us, but seriously unwell. Eventually I apologised for losing it in front of them, but they're a lovely couple, and as good a pair to talk to in the situation as you could wish for.
.
On the third day Squire was moved on to Eastbrook ward, by the fourth day in hospital, he finally showed signs of improvement, and we were given hope that we might be able to take him home on the Wednesday, dependent on his blood test results. Feeling better in every department, Squire had all his stuff packed and ready to go when the day came, I was with him when the doctor gave him the bad news, the bloods were too abnormal, wildly different from just a couple of days earlier. He had had a liver scan, which showed no problems, but was going to have to stay for further blood tests. We had taken the Devil up river earlier in the day, taking advantage of the high spring tides to get her out of the water, and have below the waterline jet washed, and check the prop, rudder, and keel, after our mid channel drama on our way to France two weeks before. Me, Ant, and David, motoring up the Adur, looking forward to seeing the old man out of hospital later, and the chance to tell him something positive about his beloved boat. Didn't quite work out that way.
.
Thursday morning I phoned the hospital, only to be told they couldn't tell me anything regarding Squire's blood test results over the phone, and they told me he was sleeping, so I didn't want to disturb him. Having chatted to Ma, I said I'd put it to the doctors that we wanted to take him home if at all possible, and await any results in comfortable surroundings. As it turned out, when I got to the hospital, they hadn't had the results until just that moment, and the doctor was looking through them when I saw him, he would come and chat to us after conferring with his superior. I told him we'd like to get him home, and he agreed it made little sense keeping him in when he appears so much improved, but the decision was not his to make.
.
Suffice to say, the doctor came back and gave us the good news, on the proviso that we get his bloods checked at our local health centre, maintain the medication, and he could come back in to hospital should it be necessary. So right now, it's like a nightmare has ended, and we can enjoy the simple things again. His breathing is still weak, his chest feels tender, but he has the colour back in his cheeks, and is just happy to be back home, as we all are. There now lays ahead a good few weeks of recovery, but fingers crossed, we've survived the worst of it. 

Stig's creased cranium


 
The Wild West of art dealing

28-07-2014
 
My current sabbatical, enforced to a degree by a situation beyond  my control, means I have more time to read up on art dealing history, a proper rogues gallery it is too. They seemed to spend so much time up at the Old Bailey that half of them should have had season tickets. It isn't hard to see why so many of these characters took up art dealing, it was a free for all without much, if anything, by way of regulation. I'm currently reading, 'The Rise of the House of Duveen', by James Henry Duveen, and a lot of it comes across like some Roman intrigue, with metaphorical knives in the back all over the place, while at the same time, J.H gives a great account of fine art dealing from many different angles. His cousin, Joe, who went on to be, Lord Duveen of Millbank, does not come out of it too well. 
.
 
For those that may have been following my 'Sampson's Art Ring' story elsewhere on this site, my main reason to get this book was because of the links between Duveen and Rosenbach, via their rich as Croesus clients, and a hope that it might lead me back to the London art world which W.W. Sampson operated in. In the Rosenbach biography, it mentions how Joe Duveen and Abraham Rosenbach had been called in to see the railway magnate, Henry Huntington, at his bedside in hospital, both keenly aware that their shared Golden Goose of a customer might possibly peg it should something go wrong. 
.
 
Huntington knows only too well where the power really lays, and puts a conundrum to the two dealers, "who do I remind you of, laying here?", to which they are both caught twitching like naughty schoolboys up before the headmaster,  mumbling nervously, "I don't know", while wondering what game he is playing. Eventually, this industrial giant of the new world explains to them, that he reminds himself of the situation Christ found himself to be in, hanging on the the cross, between the two thieves. This brought a weak smile from each of them, but also let them know he was well aware of all their machinations, and their mark ups. In fairness though, I don't imagine he came to head one of the biggest railway operators in the world at the time without making an enemy or two himself by having opposition removed using less than scrupulous methods.
.
 
 
The basic principle of art dealing seems to simply be, get it as cheap as possible, and then try to squeeze the absolute maximum return, or more accurately, whatever they can convince their rich clients to cough up. A good knowledge of their subject is the weapon they use to make these magnates part with their readies, and a cunning ploy whereby they always tell the customer they will buy back the item at a later date at a higher rate. Knowing that your client is actually trying to build a legacy gives these dealers the advantage, they want the best, and they have the money to buy it, whatever the cost. It's all going to end up in a museum or library with their names attached, so their names live on as historical benefactors of great institutions.
.
 
Channel crossing, God bothering, and Dog hotels
.
 
With an upcoming trip, sailing to France, and Ma heading off to Lourdes to pray her little heart out on behalf of us godless heathen children, we had to send Freddie off to doggie day care. House of Hugo in Shoreham, are fast becoming famous for their dog hotel in Dolphin road, and we've been using them to give Freddie play days with other dogs, when there's no one at home to look after him.
.
 
I dropped Ma off at Worthing on Thursday morning, where she joined the bus for the trip over on her annual pilgrimage, later that day I dropped Freddie off for his first stay away from us, and it was, as Squire said, like sending your boy off to boarding school for the first time, it felt bad, but he seemed pretty keen thankfully. That evening, we were on board the Devil by nine, and were going through the locks at ten, with five other yachts for the Pactolus cup race to Fecamp. Laurence from Ocean Dream gave a briefing in the locks, despite our childish ribbing, and we all assembled after, a way outside the harbour entrance, ready for the off.
.
 
Night sailing across the English channel, I have to say, does not fill me with joy, it is after all one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. That aside though, night sailing, weather permitting, can be a very pleasant experience, and mostly it was. There was a nice wind, clear skies showing off a glorious star filled view aloft, conditions were good for a cracking sail over. About 01.30 in the morning, I became aware of concerned voices, and raised myself from my slumber to investigate. Jules was at the helm, and explained that we had a problem. The Devil had come to a halt while under full sail and no break in the wind speed, not just a halt either, we actually started going backwards, with waves by then slapping up against the transom, sending shudders through the boat.
.
 
David was woken from his pit and took over the helm, with no more luck, something substantial had a hold of us and was dragging us back, acting like a sea anchor in the middle of the channel, one of the busiest shipping channels in the world in case I forgot to mention. With a torch playing over the stern, we saw a fairly hefty looking line coming away from under the transom. Where the hell that came from we'll never know, but it had to be attached to something pretty bleeding substantial, the Devil is a 45 foot, ten tonne or so, yacht. Now, if I see something to seriously worry about, I worry, this situation seemed to fit the bill, getting dragged astern by foreign objects, (quite probably a loose fishing net), in deep waters, pitch black, yep, worry boxes ticked. 
.
 
David tried turning the Devil in all directions, but nothing was working, so the decision was taken, shortly after a radio chat to Maverick to make them aware of our situation, to try the engine and hope the prop, or line cutter, might free us. Thankfully it worked, and I for one was mighty grateful it did. After that, other than coming up to Fecamp wide of the mark, we sailed in trouble free, and I celebrated by knocking up a full English breakfast. Bollocks to the race position, thank crunchy my over active imagination could rest easy.
.
 
 
While in Fecamp, the usual boat parties went on, and apparently Stig was one of the star attractions, but he can't remember, so we'll make that up later. The Devil held court at least once, and there was a bit of night time drama when a couple of boats moored up alongside us took off in the early hours, setting adrift all the yachts outside of them. On the Saturday we had the obligatory beer at the square, outside Le Big Ben, joined by some Brighton Marina crew, John Severs, Roly Rigg, and co, who had changed plans for Cherbourg owing to poor winds. The Severs and Riggs have been firm Ramus family friends for most of our lives, so that was a pleasantly unexpected surprise, and may have been the cause of a few more beers.
.
 
When the time came for the night crossing back, I think there may have appeared to be a few more stars than were actually present, who could possibly say why. I was already kipping below, having retired early before we left, but was awoken later by Stig to take my shift in the cockpit. The view that I got was of a blood spattered, grinning face, he had taken a tumble and smashed his noggin on something less forgiving, thankfully the alcohol in his system had anaesthetised him.  Other than that we had a fairly uneventful crossing, another clear night sky, and well lit ships crossing in front of us without drama. When Stig came to later as we arrived back, I took a photo of his blood caked boat race for posterity before he could wash it off.

Freddie, our Bichon Frise pup


Blog for blogs sake
18-07-2014

This is a blog written to keep me occupied while I await nervously to hear from the art historian, Vern Grosvenor Swanson, regarding a story I've been working on for a while. The story has stemmed from my family history research, and taken me back to the late 1800's and early 1900's world of art dealing. I didn't have the first idea of what I would find when I first set out to trace my family tree, but I've ended up with a knowledge of a subject I previously had not even the slightest interest in, I still despair when I hear the ludicrous prices that are spent on pieces of stretched canvas with coloured depictions on them. Art as history I fully understand, but when some half baked idea gets sold for millions purely based on the bullshit which goes with it, i.e- Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, blaaaahhggg! Brit art=shit art.
.
But I digress, it turned out my Great Grand father, Henry Ramus, had been in partnership with the, 'Champion of British art', William Walker Sampson, and they were well on their way to great things before Henry's untimely death aged 39 in 1911. In an effort to find out more about Henry, I began researching Sampson, and what an Alladins Cave of info I uncovered. It involves people that were, in their day, at the zenith of a society which took in the world of art, literature, entertainment, sport, and even royalty.  The characters unveiled to me through researching Sampson, have all got stories of their own, told through books, newspaper articles, and court room documents, they were national, and international celebrities of their day.
.
The main character, W.W.Sampson, born illegitimately, in Tynemouth, 1865, in a mining and seafaring community, to a poor family, goes from selling newspapers on the street outside Newcastle station, to becoming a stationer, then a solicitor, and finally an art dealer in Harrogate, somewhere between 1891 and 1894. He is left money by Major John Potts in 1896 after Potts death, which allows Sampson to set up in London, where he meets my Great Grand father, Henry. Between them, they seem to have found a market which with their married talents, propels them to the heart of the art dealing capital of the world at the time, under the name of, 'The British Galleries' in 13 Air street, Regent street, London.
.

Sampson had a love of Brighton, and one of his closest friends was Harry Preston, himself a long established national icon by the time of his death in 1936. Through Harry, I found ever more links tying together the world of the auction room to the sporting arena, and the early evolution of the motor car and aviation, involved as he was in the Madeira Drive speed trials of 1905 at Brighton, and air races from Brookland to  Brighton, stopping at Shoreham airport.
.

Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach, otherwise known as, Abe, Rosy, or Doctor Rosenbach, the Bibliophile, book collector, book seller, raconteur. This probably brings a yawn or two from some readers, but his life was anything but a yawn. Rosy lived a life few could even dream of, courtesy of a thorough knowledge of his subject, which he used to great financial advantage throughout his tenure. He enjoyed a decadent lifestyle, travelled the world first class, hosted soirées which would have scandalised society at the time, and enjoyed the patronage of the richest people in society and industry. Rosy and his brother, Philip, ran the Rosenbach company, Philadelphia, and they were trading with William and Henry from at least 1909, probably sooner. When Sampson gets married for the second time in 1924, Philip Rosenbach, and Harry Preston are two of the witnesses. 
.

The article which Vern Swanson has asked me to write, centres on an art cartel, or 'ring', which it is believed Sampson was at the head of, from Christie's, of King street, London. The bigger story, which I am still working on, spreads wider, and as yet, I'm not sure where it will finish, there is still quite a bit more to find. I've also had other art historians following my progress as Sampson's name is on the provenance of such a vast amount of paintings from the Victorian/Edwardian era.
.
Ma's 80th
.
A couple of weeks back, we had a birthday party for Ma at the Sussex Yacht Club, with family and friends making it a wonderful day for Ma, and a marvellous collection for the RNLI on the day. It was great to see so many relatives make the effort to come down, and what a perfect venue, as well as weather, for the day. 
.
So much effort was put in by friends to make the day a success, with Ann Macy organising decorations, and icing the cake, Mandy Whitehead baking the cake, my brother David organising the caterers for the day, (the roast hog was appreciated by all), and Squire for footing the bill for the whole affair. There will have been many more hands involved who I haven't mentioned, whose forgiveness I beg, but our gratitude is none the less. Everyone talked after about what a success it had been, and what a great venue it was to have a party at. Ma's smiling face was all we needed to know it went well, and Squire wobbling about towards the end, a Devil's rum in each hand. Lizbet's 50th is the next family party, at the Waterside, Shoreham, so I look forward to seeing a lot of the same faces again, and hope for an equally enjoyable affair.
.
Fred
.
I'm sure you all know about young Freddie by now, he was one of the hits of Ma's party too. He's coming up to 11 months now, hard to believe though that is, and no less cheeky as the pup he is. We've kept a pup diary for health purposes from very early on, and I thought a few of the more amusing entries might go down well here. 
.
At the beginning, we were filling the pages up with his every trip outside to toilet, and his 'non events', his barking bouts, and occasional biting with his sharp little puppy teeth. There are a few entries where he asks to go out, does nothing, then has a pee the moment he gets back inside, or the episodes of walking around with a little furry ball and chain attached to your trouser leg, which still goes on admittedly, and still makes me smile.  Not to mention his 'Bichon Blitz's', where he goes berserk around the house, speeding like a boss eyed bullet from room to room, jumping, spinning, digging furiously through his beds, then off again, it's hilarious.
.
The first big moment though, had to be Friday, January 24th, 'The day Freddie started cocking his leg'. I was walking him to the beach, and up to then, he had been keeping both feet firmly planted while peeing, then without warning, the little fella hoists his back left leg up, and pees up the garden wall of the corner house at the top of Mardyke. I felt a surge of pride, and an uncontrollable grin crossed my face, 'that's ma boy'. And as I told and retold the story to the rest of the family, they all had that same smile. Of course after that, especially when Ma and Pa came out for his walks, they were dying to see their little boy 'in action', it became a proud grinfest with every cock of his diminutive legs. He also seemed to be trying ever harder to raise the leg a bit further each time. Later on in that momentous day, Freddie shamed me by peeing on my friends baby blanket, which was hilarious. There I was chatting away, when out of the corner of my eye, Freddie is trying out his new trick, bless him!
.
One month later, Tuesday Feb 25th, and we have the first baby tooth. Again, there was this whole feeling of pride, our lad growing up, I can't help but smile just thinking back to it. And of course, from then on we were on the lookout for any more jewels from Freddie's jaws, we have them in a little rosewood box which I brought back from Burma. It's fair to say that bringing up a pup can be a trying affair, and I probably have a few more grey hairs than I did before he arrived on the scene, but when you see the effect he has on everyone, me included, you just wouldn't change a thing.
.
We still keep his diary going, it does help to know his habits, and to see when something is wrong by whatever changes occur. Doubtless if you read my stuff, you'll be hearing of his exploits in the future.
.
I'd like to keep bringing my family/art history updated here as it goes along, so I hope you'll enjoy reading, and I value any comments regarding the story. It's on the side bar here, 'The Ring Master & John William Godward'
.

Two men playing golf one sunny day, when a funeral service came passing by. The first man stopped playing, took off his hat and placed it next to his chest.
Well, said the other man, "That's got to be the most respectful thing I've ever seen you do".
The first gent looked over to his friend and said,
"We've been together for 30 years, I owed her that much".


Cowboys

17-06-2014



Some time back, I wrote about a friend who engaged '
Gibbs and Son', of Shoreham, to build an extension for him, and other internal building work. Before taking them on, he explained to me how they had decided they'd rather go through a building company than get me to organise it for them. I had no issues at all with that, and wished them good luck with their project.

.
Two years down the line, and we've just demolished the  catastrophic disaster that 'Gibbs and Son' had butchered together, and rebuilt it properly from the footings up. It's difficult to do justice to just how appalling their work was, but I'll give it a go. To the naked eye it was a mess, rough finishes, block work looking like it had been built by day care nursery children, roof tiles stuck down with silicone, under size cavities, under size lintols, timber joins you could fit your hand behind, in fact, every single aspect of their work looked like Frank Spencer from 'Some Mothers Do Ave Em' had done it. They clearly don't have a tradesman of any description on their firm, yet they think it ok to take customers money by bullshitting them into thinking they are qualified builders, which they are absolutely not.
.
So bad was their work, that their labourer, Dave, quit on this job, because he was so embarrassed at what was being perpetrated, and had been on their other jobs. Even though it was not his responsibility, he felt so sorry for Andy and his wife, that he offered to come back and help put things right when the time came.
.
The Building Control Officers had condemned Gibbs work, all bar the footings, so Andy's only option was to have it pulled down and rebuilt if he wanted it passed, which we have now done. The next step is to dig up the screeding they threw down in the kitchen, three inches out of level, and without the required ventilation channel which was needed to vent the existing wooden flooring. Dave explained to me how he had told Alan Gibbs the floor was going down out of level, but Gibbs just told him, "I know it is, I don't care, just get it done". He knew that if they screeded the floor level, it would show up the fact they they had built the extension three inches too high, so rather than put that right, just blunder on with the mistakes and try to get away with it before the customer notices. They had already got the first few courses of the extension wrong, and knocked it down, rebuilding it wrong again.
.
Dave then went on to list other jobs he'd been on for them, and the cock ups, short cuts, and general shabbiness of, not just their work, but their attitude to the customers, "why should I care, it's not my house", Alan Gibbs told him on one occasion at a job in Mardyke, having omitted to put in a steel. During the job, Dave got friendly with Andy, which was a factor in him leaving at the end, but Gibbs got quite angry with him about the friendship, "why are you talking to him?, what are you telling him?", obviously concerned that Dave might be informing Andy of their short comings.
.
After Andy had thrown Gibbs off the job, fed up with the excuses for why everything was wrong, (but not according to Alan Gibbs, who refused to accept that he doesn't know what he's doing), he called me in to organise the building of a loft conversion, a job they had originally expected Gibbs and son to do. And once the conversion was complete, would I organise the putting right of Gibbs disgrace of an effort, which we are in the process of. 
.
One of 'Gibbs and Sons' ploys apparently, is to keep the Building Inspectors away from the job, that's according to the inspectors we have talked to, so they are well aware of this outfits shortcomings. How is it, I asked them, that these cowboys are allowed to operate with impunity?, the B.I's answer was shocking, there is nothing they can do, other than not pass it. They are not even allowed to tell the customer that these builders don't know what they're doing. They know full well that Gibbs and Son deliberately keep them at bay to hide the things they don't want seeing. It beggars belief really, I have always presumed that the B.I checks were validation for the customer that they were getting the job done properly, but if they can't tell a customer they're getting a crap job, what's the point of calling them in at all??
.
 According to our bricklayer, one of their jobs, the people went to sell the house some time later, only to be told their work hadn't been signed off by Building Control, when they called them in, a main steel beam was found to be missing, and they had to have it done at their own expense in order to sell the house. Our bricklayer knew the customer, so I'll find out more on that soon.
.
The whole situation is unbelievable, these con men parade themselves as builders, with their nice new sign written vans, when they are nothing more than chancers, looking to rip off unwitting customers, who wrongly believe that proper trades will be doing the work. I have heard other builders, and staff at the builders merchants, expressing surprise when I tell them, saying they thought Gibbs and Son had a good reputation. When I asked them why they thought that, they had no answer, they just presumed it as they had seen these smart vans, and that they seemed to do be doing a lot of business. They're doing a lot of business because they're undercutting proper trades, the work is being done by labourers, and they don't care, even when their mistakes are pointed out to them.
.
When Andy asked about suing them, he was advised that there would be no winner, as Gibbs would likely fold the company, and he would get nothing other than a legal bill. £12,000 he paid to Gibbs and Son, for a job he had to have knocked down and rebuilt properly, and still Alan Gibbs had the nerve to ask for his final payment of £6,000, despite not even finishing the disaster he had built. Dave was with him when he went to post the invoice through Andy's door, he said Gibbs crept up the path, and slipped the envelope through the letter box while standing to the side so as not to be seen, then ran back to the van and left in a hurry.
.
Andy saw Alan Gibbs at Travis Perkins last week, and proudly informed me of how he had taken a weight off his shoulders by taking Gibbs to task at the counter there. I asked eagerly whether he had made clear for all to hear just what a shower of idiots they were, but to my disappointment, he had only said, "we have to sort this out", missing the chance to advertise the fact they shouldn't be in business at all.
.
Gibbs and Son vans have NHBC stickers on the side, so I'll be contacting them to ask what kind of checks, if any, that they do for their members.

Shoreham Beach Dreams Festival 2014 flyer

15-04-2014
(written last week, follow up coming soon)
The Slack One Returneth
.
Well, once again slackness has kept me from scribing, so a fair wealth of stuff has blown by in the meantime. I have since shaved and regrown that shocking facial growth, while the old barnet becomes more like Crusty the Clown as each day passes. Work was going well, ish, but the misfortunes that plague my latest customer seem to have spread to me now. The house he bought has come with a multitude of disasters, all before my arrival I hasten to add, but the luck he clearly doesn't have would appear to haunt us, with a succession of trades retreating from the job for an ever growing amount of reasons, and it wears you down. As it stands, we have a loft conversion waiting to be plastered, as it has been for two weeks now, and I'm sweating on the latest spread getting it done before the customers return from holiday. I had hoped to have been in myself by now and second fixed the job, but I don't have a snowballs of that happening.
.
Devils Own Luck
Sailing wise, we've had a few run outs in the Devil, and some lively weather, getting caught in a squall which blew up to 43 knots of wind while we were out there. I was galley bitch, so managed to grab a few pics and some footage from the relative comfort of the saloon hatch, catching a few blown out sails, and a shot blasted crew as they got hailed on by ice bullets. I'll stick a couple of links at the end to give you an idea of what it was like. This week was considerably more amenable, with sunshine and a decent breeze, although this newly acquired bad luck of mine seemed to manifest itself aboard the Devil, resulting in a flat battery before we'd left the mooring, so we couldn't start the engine. Thankfully Lawrence on Ocean Dream came to our rescue with a starter pack to bump start the old girl, Dave Lamb acting as Chief Electrical Officer for that duty. Dave and his better half, Ann, have become full time crew on the Devil now, and fine additions they make too, game for a laugh and don't take it too seriously, just as well with us lot really. We also have Al, a very handy sailor, for the Spring Series at least, hopefully we can convince him to hang around longer, also a good laugh to have around. I sometimes wonder if it's the legendary abuse we as a family dish out to each other, which draws them in, curious to witness it in person. Of course we don't restrict the abuse to just each other, so  newcomers soon get in on the act too.
.
The Devil had been weighed the week previous, so everything had been taken off, much of which was not back on board, as we would discover on a bit by bit basis, like the pre feeder for the genoa, a handy little gadget which feeds the sail into the runners as we hoist it, not enough water in the tanks as they had been emptied for the weighing, so just the two cups of tea before going out, and later, no trays for the oven. All little things, and not enough to stop us, but then on the final run of what had been a fine display by the Devil and crew, the Gary, (Lineker =spinnaker), runs up with a right angle tear in it, fortunately it held out for a while, but eventually it ripped across and that was that. We still managed a creditable second over the line, but had been leading for a while, handicaps would ensure we slid further down the scale in the final reckoning, but gonads to the handicap, line honours will do for us. My duties aboard are confined to Galley Bitch, Assistant Writer Up of the course, occasional Winch Monkey, and Stower of the Gary, with a bit of photo taking thrown in for good measure. I can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.
.
Beach Dreams festival 2014
 
This year, Beach Dreams has been taken over by Beach residents, Brent and Sarah Parker, and I imagine they have a team behind them, which when I have the info, will share with you here, but can you follow them on Facebook, just tap in the name and you'll find it. They will need a lot of help, as it's a mammoth undertaking, but knowing them as I do, they'll make it a bang up affair, a real community festival. For now, please just help by spreading the word, 'Like' the page, and 'Share' it with others to make sure as many people know as possible. I'll keep plugging from here, and do what I can.
.
Freddie
 
Our little pup continues to entertain, and is now familiar with the garden, having been released into it for the last couple of weeks, and boy does he love that. We've had him 6 months now, and the home is very much his now, hard to believe that wee ball of fluff has expanded into a slightly bigger one, but everyone loves him, well almost anyway. Not everyone is so keen to have the excited little fella pee on them as he struggles to contain his delight at meeting them.  He's becoming quite the star up at the bar after racing on Sunday, with plenty of girls threatening to whisk him off in their bags. His dancing bear act is an absolute winner.
.
Newquay Stag weekend


I can hardly believe I'm going on a Stag weekend at this time of my life, but I am. As long as it doesn't finish me off, I'll tell what the censors allow on return.
That is all.

Devils Advocate sailing outside Shoreham Harbour, caught in howling winds. March 2014

Devils Advocate crew getting hailed on, sailing around the cans outside Shoreham Harbour, March 2014

Freddie harnessed up and ready for his walk, after having been pampered.

Weds Feb 19th

The Old Shoreham road, between Shoreham and Steyning is closed for the next two or three days owing to a burst water main, which could cause the road to collapse. A blog will follow, as soon as our pup, Fred, has had enough of sleeping on my arm, which has already gone dead! Currently typing this with the left hand as he snoozes, pictures to follow also!! :))

The Argus story and pic

New Year Blog (Belated)
10-02-2014


Right, it's been a while since I scribed a blog, and a fair bit has happened in between, mainly to do with our Bouncing Boss Eyed Bullet called Freddie, the delightful cloudlike fiery furball of a Bichon Frise, he's a good boy.  I've been working on and off, and had a side story going on which has been hitting the papers recently, including photo shoots, believe it or not, and I hope to keep pushing this story to its limit, so if there's anyone reading this with media connections, all and any assistance will be gratefully accepted.
.
Freddie
.
Coming up to Christmas we were struggling with the little fella, he was running us, rather than the other way round, so we called in professional help, a dog trainer, and signed ourselves up to a dog training school. Straight off you realise that it's you that's getting trained, there's no magic wand to make it all right, you need to learn how to bring this little house wrecker up, without killing each other, or him, preferably. It all seems so far away now, we took him up to Buckingham Park yesterday for his penultimate lesson, having missed the last 'must not miss', lesson, and he sailed through it. I have to say, mind you, that the whole thing was centred on getting him to come to you while off the lead, and when the time comes, you stick a handful of chopped up sausage under his nose, then walk while he is held back until the call goes out. I could have shouted, "bollocks to the Queen", and he was going to come running, or nothing at all, his eyes never left me once his snout had had a good sniff of the reward. Nonetheless, our little cloud did his bit, and passed all the other tests. It's graduation next lesson, so I'm thinking of getting him a little mortar board and cloak to wear for a laugh.
.
Photo Shoot
.
The Herald and the Argus both wanted me for a photo shoot for this 'Treasure in the Attic' story of the 138 year old pamphlet we found while doing a loft conversion in Southwick, actually, Ben found it, and I took it home for closer analysis. Since then, I've researched until my eyes bled, and turned up one hell of a life, the life of John Jabez Edwin Mayall, which you can both check out elsewhere on this web site (after you've read this of course). It's been in the Herald three weeks on the trot already, and hit the pages of the Argus today, albeit with a couple of inaccuracies, but I'm happy they put it in at all really. 
.
For the Argus photo shoot, we went to Kate's house, the customer whose place we found the pamphlet in, and she had dolled up for the photo op, wearing six inch heels. Fortunately she saw the comical side of this, and took them off for the picture, while I for my part, wore Stigs hat, a kind of Blues Brothers effort which he got in St Valery on one of our sailing trips, having been liberated of about 30 Euros for the privilege by a street vendor of North African origin in a very colourful smock, and black Fez. If I could have got away with sun glasses for the shot, with the current facial growth, my camouflage would have been complete. 
.
The Herald shoot was at the Marlipins Museum, for the handover of the document, but as no one else was at home, I had to take wee Freddie with me, loading him into the van, and praying he'd be ok with it. Other than a whimper or two, he was fine, and at the museum I let them know he might let out a bit of excitement pee, which he duly did, but they said that would be fine as long as I didn't mind cleaning it up, no problem. He really can spray it about when he gets excited, and having liberally covered their floor, the photographer lady lets me know she doesn't mind, and loves dogs, just as well really, because he then peed all over her leg while she petted him, good boy Freddie.
.
Cowboy Builders
.
I started a new loft conversion for a mate, Bunny, he got me in having been royally shafted by Gibbs and Son, a local shower of so called builders. He had them in to do an extension, telling me at the time, "No offence Andy, but we wanted to go through a proper firm". I wasn't in the least offended, work comes my way whether I want it or not, (usually not!), unfortunately, Bunny found out the hard way that this mob shouldn't be allowed anywhere near tools, even having their work condemned by the local council Building Inspector. So now, quite a few thousand pounds out of pocket, and with a job which needs taking apart and doing properly, they have decided to get on with the loft conversion, and we will look at sorting out the abortion of a job Gibbs have done afterwards.  It's depressing that people like this can stay in business, and do well out of it.
.
My Stuff
.
The Mayall story reminded me where my real interests lie, writing and research, so I have stepped up my game on the family history front, but I need to find a way to convince others that it's a good story. I'm not going to attempt right now, as it's Trough day, and I have a roast dinner to get ready for the mob this evening, but I would appreciate all and any efforts to read the rough out story so far, it's here:- http://wolf-e-boy.com/The-Ring-Master-John-William-Godward
It started with my Great Grand father, Henry Ramus, and has led me to a world which bears striking similarities to todays world, in as much as advancement of technologies. Then it was the motor car, early aviation, radio, telegraph, steam ships, and a world racing ahead, with pioneers leading the way, making fortunes, and then wondering what to spend those fortunes on, enter the art world, sound familiar?. I'm still researching heavily, and getting closer to a finish, but I hope the Godward story is worth a read already, so check it out, and please let me know what you think.

Charles Dickens, from a photo taken by John J.E.Mayall, engraved by D.J.Pound

24-12-2013

 
2013 The Year of Coincidences
.
Looking back through my 2013 blogs, I see I started the year working at Gads Hill, the home of Charles Dickens. A new school, Gads Hill Independent School, was being built in the grounds of Dickens house, and I was fitting the wooden handrails for the staircases and hallway guard rails. Dickens old house has since been opened up to the public, and the pupils now all moved across to the new buildings. Funny that I should finish off the year discovering that the great writer should have had his photo portrait taken by the very man that once lived in my last loft conversion of the year, John Jabez Edwin Mayall. 
.
I also see we had a little victory against an over development proposal on Shoreham Beach, stopping a block of flats being built on the plot where one bungalow currently stands. Later in the year, I worked on a plot of four houses going up where two bungalows had been previously, only to be caught up in the middle of a planning fight between residents behind the build location, in Meadway, stirred up by a hypocrite from opposite the site, on the foreshore of Old Fort road. This man, who lived in a house which he had built over a plot where a bungalow had been previously, standing a good metre and a half higher than the house next door, this very man decided to whip up the residents behind the development, to get them to do his dirty work.

The development issue will run and run, but the basic problem was the incredible over build of Shoreham Beach where it used to be entirely industrial along Harbour Way, doubling the population of Shoreham Beach, without putting in the necessary infrastructure to cope. There should be a veto on any new estates on the Beach, what the beach needs is it's own medical centre, a new school, and a recreation area for the east end, it most certainly doesn't need any more blocks of flats. This doesn't mean a veto on any building, as a lot of the old bungalows will simply be deemed unfit for purpose by todays standards of thermal qualities and environmental impact, so newer, better designed properties will inevitably take their place over time, and as these old places are often situated on plots big enough to put two houses, it makes sense to do that. 
.
Throughout the year, a new footbridge has been under construction, completed a little late, and  more than three times over the original budget, coming in at ten million. There was a bit of a hoo ha over the naming of the footbridge, with a few members of the populace demanding their voices be heard on Facebook. It turned out that although the public had been informed they would choose the name by vote, what actually happened was that an unelected group chose a selection of five names for the general public to chose from, three of which had Royal connections. The public being what it is, chose not to be directed to a Royal name, and went for the least unpalatable choice, the Adur Ferry Bridge, which it will never be called anyway, as everyone will continue to call it the Footbridge.

Thakeham Barn interior, 2007

Back in the world of coincidence, a loft conversion I worked on in September brought back memories of my apprentice days at Watercraft LTD on Shoreham Beach, as it was for one of the boat builders that I worked with during my time there, Keith Savile, now retired. Not only did he introduce us as apprentices to the term, 'a coat of looking at', which has become a trademark catchphrase among me and my workmates, well actually, Keith taught the term to Adrian Thompson, another apprentice during my time, and Adrian passed it on to us a few years back at the Thakeham Barn conversion job which I was on with Ben Peake and Ade in 2007, (staircase above), the last job Ben did before emigrating to Oz. Funny how he should return to these shores six years later, and work with me at a Southwick loft conversion, with Adrians son, Dylan, as the 'lad'. It was Ben and Dylan that pulled from under the floorboards, the pamphlet, dated 20 July 1875, which would go on to bring this whole story together, is that an example of the 'Circle of Life' ?, or what.
.
Keith also worked for a time at Shoreham Port, and I found out last Saturday at the football, one of my 'Saga Lout' North Stand seat neighbours, Kevin, worked under Keith at the port. Before the game against Huddersfield, I had been telling Kev about the story of John Jabez Edwin Mayall, a character I had discovered through my latest loft conversion job, and the pamphlet just mentioned, his links to the port from back in the late 1800's, his remarkable life, and how the Shoreham Herald, and Shoreham Port were running the story of my discovery, when he told me he worked at the port, and knew it would be Katie Orchin that would be dealing with it, which she is. 


2013 also will be remembered by our family as the year we met our 'lost Uncle', Ian Ramus, the old mans half brother, who prior to our communications had believed himself to be an only child. Having established contact with Ian, and proving to him he was in fact related to us, we maintained correspondence for three years, culminating in he and his lovely wife, Jill, making the trip down to see us in September. What a day it was, with a lot of our cousins coming down to meet their Uncle, and show him pictures of the family he knew nothing about. That had to be the highlight of the year, hard to imagine what could top that really.
.
Not long after that, I had my trip to Burma coming up, and a fateful haircut, the most heartbreaking, and expensive haircut in history, or mine at least. I rarely bother getting my hair cut, preferring to use my own clippers for the job, but as I had this big trip to Burma coming up, I decided to treat myself, and went along the beach to Beachcombers. The full story is told in my earlier blogs, I don't want to relive it here. The Burma trip, also told on a page here, 'Myanmar Times', was great, but since the return, or four days after to be precise, life has changed dramatically, we now have a puppy Bichon Frise, a boisterous, wilful, delightful, and infuriating, giant cotton bud. I had not the slightest idea just exactly how much work the little fella would be, I do now.  My last blog, below this one, should give you a small flavour of what young Freddie has brought to our house. I shall never go to a haircutting establishment again.

I don't do Christmas, long since stopped buying presents, or sending cards, and this year, owing to a certain furry element, will have no Christmas tree, or lighting dec's, as he would treat them as one more toy to sniff, nudge, and ultimately, rip to pieces. He is currently working his way through the household footwear, carpets, floor mats, chairs, and more yet to come no doubt. 
.
On that note, I should like to wish the both of you that have taken the time to wade through my literary diarrhoea this year, a wonderful Shitmas, and a better 2014 than the last year gave up. I hope to rejoin the human race some time in the Summer, providing we can train the pup before then, either that or I'll see you at my funeral!!

Banksy Chrstmas card

Freddie discovers he likes tea!

It's been a couple of months now since our sad loss of Freddie the Bichon dog we inherited, and such was his impact on us, that we determined it had to be another Bichon to take his place. We tried to get a rescue dog, but there were no Bichons available, so eventually we bit the bullet and went for a pup, driving up to Eltham, near Dartford, to pick him up.  There were two boy pups for us to choose from, one was 'spirited', and one 'docile', according to the lady, we wanted the spirited pup, but the docile pup had other ideas, and was talking to Ma, capturing her heart during our short stay. When asked which one we were going to take, Fred junior, the so called docile pup, had chosen Ma, so that, we decided, was that, and we drove back with the wee ball of fur between Ma and Squire on the back seat.
.

That first week I said to Ma, how time seemed to have stopped still since Fred Juniors arrival, as opposed to the late in life scenario when time seems to fly by, like you've made it to the top of the hill on the tea tray of life, and now time speeds  past ever faster as you go down the other side. It honestly seems a lifetime away since we picked him up now.

.

In our fifth week with young Freddie, his thirteenth week, life hasn't been dull for a minute. One of my cousins, Hannah Taylor, asked if he was real after seeing a picture of him on Facebook, "he's real alright, a real handful", I replied. It's funny how we start to notice things, like when you get a new car, and hadn't really noticed that type of car before, but suddenly you're seeing them everywhere. So it is with Freddie's breed, Bichon Frise, these little white balls of cotton are all over the place, and not just out being walked, George Osborne has introduced one to number 11 Downing Street, Lola is her name, then, inspired by this little story, Sarah Vine of the Daily Mail gives an enlightening article on what to expect from a Bichon, based on her own family experience of their beloved Snowy.  A family friend saw this news article and having heard all about Freddie from Ma, knew we would want to read it too, it gave us all a good laugh. Apparently Bichons share a lot of hilarious traits, but not all it would appear, she said she had never heard Snowy growl, Freddie is currently growling from inside my trainer as he fights it on the kitchen floor, he growls quite a lot, always when fighting a toy, sock, shoe, or trouser leg. It's not a growl to instil fear, more to make you smile, especially when you see a growling shoe moving along the floor, with a little white body attached to it.
.
After an evening of coming a comfortable second to Freddie's boisterous behaviour, walking around with him hanging off our trouser legs like a ball and chain were attached, scuttling under the sofa to escape any possible censure, how do you not laugh as you watch his back legs wriggling to squeeze his little frame beneath the wooden frame, only to have his snout pop out and look up at you, ready to attack your feet again, it's all a great game to him after all. When he's in a lively frame of mind, he bounces around the house like a pocket rocket, our little boss eyed bullet, charging from one end of a room to the other, leaping into his bed, then springing up in the air and setting off again, with little growls or gruff barks, it's impossible not to laugh at, Sarah Vine describes this behaviour as a 'Bichon Blitz', which sums it up nicely.
.
I've been trawling the net in search of wise advice, and we've since begun trying various methods to calm our bitey, barky, ball of fluff, such as holding his muzzle clamped shut after he bites, and saying, "no!", firmly, but not shouting, also putting his harness and lead on when he starts barking, so he knows he can't leg it when you go to pick him up and transport him out of the room in his bed, and into the hallway, our version of the naughty step for him. This soon turned out to be not so much of a hardship for Freddie, given that the shoe cupboard is in the hall, he just started dragging shoes, boots, insoles, into his bed, and happily set about trying to rip them apart. 
.
Yesterday it all went hilariously wrong for me, I had put Freddie's harness and lead on after he had been once again been pushing the limits, but as it was the family Trough night, I had cooking issues to attend to, setting the table and getting the shepherds pie ready. There was a bit of dog related commotion coming from the lounge, so I went in to see what was up, and Freddie was in hypo mood, and set off for the security of underneath the sofa, forgetting he had his lead on. I grabbed the trailing tether and soon reeled our firey furball back out from under, only to realise quite quickly that something smelt wrong. Lifting my hands to my nose, the unmistakeable pong of poo became stronger, and on inspection the lead had traces of it, Squire then informs me that Fred had indeed just come back in from the conservatory, his favoured dumping ground. Grabbing the torch, I walked out to scan the area, only to see that he had left four separate deposits, obviously in quick succession, what I hadn't spotted was the trap, the one he left right in the doorway, a fifth effort, now nicely plastered on the sole of my shoe. There I was, holding his fresh deposits in kitchen roll, a shit smeared lead and hands, and hopping to keep my soiled shoe off the deck too, this round definitely went to our pup.
.
Ma mentioned the other day how we hadn't laughed so much for a long time, and it's all down to Freddie, his newest amusing trait is his silent bark, he looks at you, having either been chastised for some infraction, or challenging our authority. He looks at you all seriously, then makes all the received motions that go with a bark, without any noise coming out, not just once, but two or three times, generally followed by a tilt of his head. I often have to carry him down to the beach for his walk, letting out little whimpers of discontent which continue on and off until he knows we're going back, then he's straining at the leash for the rest of the way home, and the next game, drying him off.
.
I wonder whether George Osborne has any idea of what he's in for, certainly a lot of laughs, and doubtless some furrowed brows along the way, but the kids are going to love it.

Freddie after his first grooming
Freddie Ramus R.I.P our much loved and badly missed pup

Freddie
20-10-2013
A little over three weeks ago, I went down to get my hair cut by Callum at Beachcombers, ready for my upcoming trip to Myanmar. It was a spur of the moment decision, but I just thought it might be nice to have my hair cropped for the journey ahead. While I was sat down, a rather friendly little hound called Freddie introduced himself to me, he was a Bichon Frise, with soft curly white fur, and big brown eyes. As I'm stroking and chatting to this lovely pooch, Helen informs me that he's looking for a new home, because his owners have two other dogs, which bully him. I said we might be interested, but I would have to ask Ma and Pa, and see what they thought. Later back at home, I told them about this lovely dog that needs a home, and it took them very little time to say yes, they would be happy to take Freddie on. My only reservation was that I was about to go away for two and a half weeks, so wouldn't be there to help in the early stages. What I didn't know then either, was that Freddie had been nervously chewing at his tail and legs, possibly because of the other two dogs mistreating him, who knows, but he had to wear a collar to stop him getting at these sores, and the vet prescribed some pills to try and treat the problem.
.
As it turned out, Ma and Pa coped perfectly well, despite a couple of incidents, notably the first time they brought him home, he legged it out of the car and up the road, so Squire hopped back in and drove around after Freddie, catching him at the bottom of the road. They got him back again, and he did the same thing, and so off went Squire again, but this time Freddie had gone full circle, and when Squire returned, there was the little fella sitting on the back door step, wagging his tail. From that point they didn't let him off his lead while walking him, and made sure he was harnessed up before the door was open.
.
The next issue was his barking, he didn't like being left downstairs when Ma n Pa went to bed, so let everyone know of his displeasure by barking all night long for the first two nights. Sarah next door mentioned to Ma that they hadn't slept for those two nights because of it, so Squire said "that's it, we'll have to have him upstairs with us", and that day they went out and bought a new bed for Freddie, which fitted perfectly under the eaves alcove next to their bed, no more barking after that, well almost.
.
During the time I was away, Freddie had transformed our house, the joy obvious in Ma and Pa's faces when I got back, now it was my job to win his heart and acceptance, one of the easiest, and most pleasant tasks of my life, whatever you gave in attention and love to Freddie, he gave you back with interest. He had real character too, often dictating where, or even, if, he was going to walk. My first effort at taking him out he promptly sat down and refused to budge, so I picked the little fella up and carried him outside to the corner of Havenside, put him down and went to walk, again he just parked his rear legs and looked up at me with defiance, I couldn't help but laugh, so again picked him up, and walked towards the beach. On the way I saw my mate, Barnes, he was smiling already as he saw me coming, dog in arms, "it's not meant to work this way" I told him, and Barnes proceeded to tell me of his mums dog, and how it gets used to the route she takes when walking, so won't go a different way with someone else. He goes on to tell me he'd seen Ma walking Freddie in the opposite direction, and maybe that was the problem, but from what I've learned from Freddie, it's just his way of letting me know who's really in charge in this game.
.
I ended up carrying the wee mutt all the way to the beach, where I put him down, and other than sniffing a clump of grass for a while, he refused to budge, until I motioned towards home, and he led me off at a healthy pace, trotting me all the way back home. Ma n Pa laughed as I walked back in defeated, and Ma then put his harness back on and took him out, without a murmur from Freddie, I had to laugh, thinking 'this boy has spirit'. Ma has been walking and feeding Freddie everyday, and had the reward of him sitting at her feet wherever she'd be in the house, and following her around, Squire had been taking him out too, and as Freddie had already sussed, was an easy touch for a treat, as was I. The next day Freddie allowed me to take him out, but still dictated where we were going, walking me down towards the Beach Green park, having a dump on the verge, which I scooped up in the poo bag, then he turns back. I thought, 'ok, we'll see where this leads', and I let him take me along, but he missed the Havenside turn, and I managed to steer him to the Adur Rec, or he may have planned it. Either way, once on the Rec, he spotted another dog, a Jack Russell, and bounced over to it, wanting to play,  this other dog wasn't up for it, but Freddie was not to be deterred, until his attentions were met with a short snap, and they drifted away while I chatted with the owner and her family, they all liked Freddie, and he revelled in their attention. As we came to split up, Freddie was just sitting down waiting for me, I felt like I'd passed a test, gaining his acceptance, feeling a warm glow inside as we walked home.
.
Simon had also been given the treatment by Freddie, first time bringing him back because the little so and so wouldn't be taken, but a few days later and he's given the all clear, and takes him up to the Rec, where Freddie met another Bichon, and the two of them frolicked together while Simon rattled off a load of priceless shots on his camera. In the house we've become used to this warm affectionate animal, our new and lovely little friend that just wants to be near you, at your feet, on your lap, or following you around and hopping up to let you know a treat wouldn't go amiss, talking to you in little gruff, muffled barks, and a whole range of different noises. He had won us over so completely in such a short space of time it was hard to believe, but in a most wonderful way. Squire and Ma just took him to the vets yesterday to get him chipped, checked up for his biting issues, and fully registered as our family member. Squire was cock a hoop, "he's properly ours now, part of our family".
.
The day drifted along, I was thinking of when to walk Freddie, where he might let me take him, I'd had to drive him down to Beach Green the day before as he'd decided he was in an 'I'm not moving' mood, but he'd been fine once down there, even meeting another Jack Russell and making friends, it was a mate of mines dog, so we joked we'd be dog walking buds in future then, I was looking forward to that. Ma had made many friends already through taking Freddie out, and the walking seems to have been doing her some good too.  When Simon came around, I asked him if he was hoping to walk Freddie, it was about 3.30, he was indeed, and happily got Freddie ready, only for the wilful little fella to do his sit down trick. Undeterred, Simon picked him up and carried him down the driveway, and off towards the Adur Rec.
.
This is the bit where you run back through your mind in a million different ways, if only this had happened, if only I'd done this instead of that. I was moving Simon's car, so I could get Ma's car out, gently but slowly manouevring it in front of Squires, then stopped to chat with Brent and Sarah from next door, their children and friend playing out front. Next thing I see Simon carrying Freddie back home, his face ashen, without words I knew something was very wrong. He quickly explains Freddie had done a runner from the Rec, made it across the busy Brighton road, but wasn't so lucky on the Beach Green road, getting hit by a VW van before he could make it into Mardyke on his way, in his mind, back to Havenside, and his home. I asked if it was bad, "bad" was all Simon needed to say, then "get a towel or something to wrap him in", I shot inside and grabbed Freddie's blanket, Ma and Pa looking on as I darted in and out, without I'm sorry to say, telling them anything. I put the blanket on the front passenger seat, and Simon laid Freddie down on it, then I got into the footwell so that I could cradle and comfort him while we drove to the vets. We took him to the vets that he'd been to just that morning, but they were closed, so we then went round to the West street vet, closed too. Driving back to the original vet to get an emergency number, I was talking to Freddie all the time, feeling his breathing through my fingers as I cradled his head in my palm, with my other arm gently holding the rest of his body. Simon phoned the emergency number, we had to get to Grove Lodge, Worthing, and quickly. Simon was distraught, but having to hold it together to get our poor Freddie to help.
.
Pleading, begging Freddie to hold on, stroking him, nuzzling, we were only a short distance from the vets by now, but I hadn't felt any movement for a bit, I raised his little head, saw no sign of his eyes moving, in fact they looked blue now. Then, as I lowered his head, it just flopped, and all I could say was, "please no Freddie, don't be gone", crying my eyes out, poor Simon had to hold on and get us there, in the hope it's not too late, but it was. At the vets, they came rushing out, and took Freddie from me, I told them I thought he was gone already, then collapsed against the wall, unable to bear going in, Simon followed them.  Not much time passed before the woman that had taken Freddie from  me came out, she didn't need to speak, and I let out a groan/ wail, I don't know, and just let go, she wrapped her arms around me, but nothing helps, and I knew Simon would be suffering badly, not to mention how Ma n Pa are going to feel when we get back. It's impossible to express just how much Freddie touched our hearts in the short time we had him, every single one of us. Last night was so difficult, Squire quietly gathering up Freddies stuff to put upstairs. Simon begged forgiveness, even though he couldn't possibly have been to blame. Ma, with tears in her eyes, saying how much he had won our hearts and so quickly, we should have had years more with that gorgeous, loving, friendly, wilful, wonderful, little hound. Life is very cruel sometimes, one minute Squire and Ma are celebrating the fact that Freddie is now officially ours, and then a few desperately short hours later, he suffers fatal injuries under the wheels of a van. But the short time we were lucky enough to be graced by Freddies presence, has given us some of our happiest memories, just wish he was still here, he had so nearly finished training us.

Brothers reunited

Give This a Coat
07-09-2013
Where to begin? This last week has seen the culmination of a number of different things, coming together with the icing on the cake when Squire met his last surviving sibling for the first time on Wednesday and Thursday. Much like I still have to pinch myself that Murray has won Wimbledon, I can hardly believe that a schoolboy wish to find this fabled lost brother has actually happened, but it has, Christmas came early in 2013.
.
Before I could allow myself to worry about the impending visit of Ian and Jill Ramus, I had the small matter of three different loft conversions to bring to completion, one to start almost as soon as the visit is over, and squeeze in the Old Fort road roof construction now that they have had their revised plans passed, despite venomous opposition from some of the locals, whipped up by a monumental hypocrite, and ultimately, spineless neighbour on the foreshore. 
.
If anything, I think having such a pressing workload helped, it meant I simply didn't have time to dwell on any possible negativity, and now that it's all done, I still have another dormer to occupy my mind, and an expectant mum to be as the driving force to keep our eye on the ball. Oh yeah, and I'm off to Burma on the 28th of this month, so no pressure there then.
.
Last year I had a shocker of a year for work, going months at a time with nothing, although for those of you that know me, this sort of thing is not a source of worry for me, I like having the time to pursue my other interests, such as family, and local, historical research. 
.
In between all of this activity, our 91 old Footbridge has quietly been dismantled, and the new structure moves ever slower towards completion, and doubtless we will be informed that the delays herald a few extra digits to the final cost, initial estimate was for 3 million, latest was 9.8, I'll be extremely surprised if it stays below the 10 million. If only I could get some of that action, price for a loft coversion to be around, say thirty grand to get your foot in the door, then hit them with a raft of excuses, unforeseen extras, then a few pages of waffle and nonsense later, put in the final bill for a hundred grand, thank you very much. Nice thought, but I'd be at home all the time as I'd never have any work behaving like that, how do these operators get away with it?, but let's not get that particular soap box out right now.
.
Grenade in the Souffle
.
Back in 2007 I worked on a barn conversion up at Thakeham, possibly the most enjoyable job I've ever had the pleasure to work on, and while on that project, I had Ben working with me for most of it, until he emigrated to Oz, and Adrian, another ex Watercraft boat building apprentice like myself. That story is told elsewhere on this site, on the 'Barn and Granary Coversion' page, but of the many things I recall from that wonderful time, one that has stuck with all of us that were there, was Adrians use of the line, "give that a coat of looking at", which we eventually abridged to, "giving it a coat", and if it's not immediately clear, "that'll need a few coats". This basically is a case of pursing your bottom lip while studiously cupping your chin between your thumb and fore finger, then moving your hand to the back of your scalp, having tipped an imaginary hat on the way, and scratching the back of your head while squinting your right eye and looking pensive, otherwise known as 'assessing the situation'.
.
Now I love it when I see connections in life, so when we came to do Keith and Sue's conversion in Findon Valley, we were on the fast train to Coincidence City Central. Firstly, Keith was a senior boat builder when me and Ade were doing our apprenticeships, and it was in fact he who passed on the 'coat of looking at' term to Ade, and I also happened to have only quite recently been bringing Ade's son, Dylan, to work for work experience, he would soon be immersed into our world of daft sayings, with Keith working alongside us throughout his job. Everyday had moments of inevitable nostalgia, mainly because Watercraft played such a big part in our lives, full of many happy memories, you can find more about that time over on my 'Watercraft, My Part in it's Downfall' page. Keith and Sue's job was more like a working holiday, with Sue treating us to tea and toast every morning, where I would nick Keiths favoured crust before he could get to it, "horrible boy, I never liked you" he'd say to me, as I grinned back with me chops full.
.
It was around this time that the workload was beginning to pile up, there were no drawings for this job, so I was designing it myself, and drawing up other jobs in the evenings too, and then on the 16th June I received the e mail I'd long since hoped for, the brother that Squire had never met, Ian, was coming to see us with his wife Jill, and they'd be here for the 4th and 5th September. I had this job to finish, another to start, and, owing to a few technicalities, the work I had done along the Old Fort road had been ordered to be taken down, and new plans submitted, so that job would resurface later on, like a grenade waiting to be lobbed in to the souffle at any time.
.
Agent Provocateur
.
When I was given the shout to build these pitched roof plant rooms atop two blocks of two houses in Old Fort road, it was a no brainer, working with mates I'd worked with before, just along the road, plenty of hands to assist with any heavy lifting, and super keen lads wanting to learn as much as they could about cut and pitch roofing. The weather was peachy too, so we had perfect conditions and the job motored along smoothly, until tea break on the third day, and as I was heading home for grub, I saw some bod looking official with a clipboard, and he was joined by a rotund looking woman, sporting her own clipboard, both looking towards the construction site, this was not a good sign.
.
On return from my tea break, all the sites workers were up on the roof terrace, something was definitely up. It turned out that someone had complained, the height of the highest point should apparently not have exceeded the ridge height of the immediate neighbours, and a neighbour opposite had brought this to the attention of the neighbours behind, in East Meadway. Bear in mind, this person that raised the issue, had in fact knocked his original bungalow down, and had a two storey house built in it's place, with a high pitched roof some two meteres higher than his neighbours ridge height. Then I find out that this is the same person that refused permission for the beach boardwalk in front of his place, thus denying access to any wheelchair  bound residents from enjoying a seafront promenade, he also apparently stopped a disabled neighbour a few doors along from burning his leaves in that persons own garden. I know there are often extenuating circumstances, but from everything I've heard about this 'Agent Provocateur', he's just a deeply unpleasant individual, and an unbelievable hypocrite, but spineless to the core, because rather than complain himself about the height issue, he went around to the East Meadway residents and stirred them up instead to do his dirty work for him, how very convenient.
.
Regarding the work we had done, it was built exactly to the architects drawings, millimetre perfect, so when the architect calmly suggests that, "all 'we' have to do is take 250mm off the top of the roof", I was quick to point out how much easier it was for him to say it than for us to do it, "nice and easy for you to draw a line through, there's a bit more involved in the actual construction". It's safe to say I didn't have a high opinion of this guy, especially after I heard he added extra height to each storey without telling anyone, and not been asked for either. I opted to get my tools off site before I said something to him we'd all regret, although his sheepish manner indicated he understood my views. Construction was stopped from then as far as the roof terrace was concerned, and I was free to start my next job, coming back at such a time as these issues had been resolved.
.
The Red Mist
.
Benjamin Peake, the strawberry blonde smiling assassin, or Mr Schadenfreud, e mailed me to let me know he was paying Blighty a visit for a month from down under, hand brake free, so was there any chance of a bit of work while up here. We both agreed working together would be the best way to catch up, and have a laugh at the same time, as well as helping fund his trip while simultaneously pushing the job along, everyone's a winner. I hadn't seen the Boy for six years, but we've remained in contact by e mail and phone throughout that time, as he talked me through his varied and extreme employment, with his trademark brutal humour. 
.
Again, coincidence worked in our favour, as the job we were on is just around the corner from his mums place, where he'd be staying, and not only that, but this job was by recommendation from the customers brother, whose loft conversion me and Ben had built some seven years previous, and I still had Dylan working with us, so we were in Coincidenceville, or Deja somewhere before, a 'coat of looking at' was gonna do the rounds aplenty, among other things. For four weeks, Ben fitted in a couple of days a week of work in between, or as he put it:- "I ended up playing 10 rounds of golf at 9 different course's over me 4.5 week holiday, worked 7 days, ate approximately 18 fry ups (not all at cafe's), an drunk piss for about 23 of the 31 days I was there, not fuckin bad ay boy, what a fuckin athlete."
.
I gave Ben the appellation, 'Red Mist', in recognition of his ability to colour up and spew venom when something makes his blood rise, such as, well almost anything in fairness, and although he won't mind me saying it, he'll doubtless swear at the monitor when he reads this bit, go on Boy, stoke them fires of ginger passion. He has many sayings, most of them unprintable, but a favourite of his was always the old Jack Sparrow routine, I'd say I wanted to run something through with him at work, and he'd instantly mime a swashbuckling sword play move, with the left arm raised behind, and the right hand lunging with the imaginary rapier, followed by, "Jack Sparra boy". So when early on he mentioned wanting to "run it through", I was all over it with me lunge n parry, giving it the che chsssshhh as I wielded my invisible cutlass. "I can't believe ya done me boy, you've been waitin' six years to do that aintcha boy", "worth the wait Boy" I told him, both of us laughing like a couple of school kids, little things eh.
.
Who Do You Think You Are
.
With the boys along at the Old Fort road job having successfully run the gauntlet of retrospective planning, I was booked in to rebuild the plant rooms with their newly revised design, having had approximately two feet lopped off the height, and this in the week that the long lost brother was to come and visit, so all I could do for them was get the first built so that they could then use it as a template for the others.
.

Back in 2008 I took up a free 14 day trial on Ancestry.com, and within two weeks was hooked. Since that time I've discovered so much that none of us even had a clue about, but the big one for me was always about who could be this other brother that Squire and Ma had told us about from an early age. Squires dad had run off with the woman next door when Squire was only seven, leaving him, his sister, Sheila, and younger brother Mike, with their mum, Boof, as she was known to us. His dad, Roy, as he was known, despite the fact his name was Reg, married this woman next door, then nine years later, married again, a woman twenty years younger than him, and they had a son together, Neville Ian Ramus in 1946.
.
They raised Ian, as he is known, as an only child, and once Reg died in 1967, he took the knowledge of Ians extended family with him. Squire had taken Ma to meet his dad after they had just got married, but Roy was agitated when he met them, made his excuses and left them in the Crewkerne High street, never to see each other again, although he had already distanced himself from his first three children some years earlier. So when I eventually found Ian through Ancestry, then with the help of the internet, and NHS information, I knew I had to make contact.
.

It's hard to imagine how this would have felt for Ian, to suddenly find you have a family, from believing you were an only child, and at first I think he may have been sceptical, perfectly understandably, but after I sent the certificates I had to prove it all, despite any reservations he may have had, I'm happy to say he has continued to keep in touch, and we've been talking of a meet up for the last couple of years.
.
When the big day came, I was a proper nervous Nerris, champing at the bit, while trying to see if there was anything left to do in preparation for the visit, there wasn't. When Ian and Jill arrived, it couldn't have been planned better, Squire had spotted their Range Rover pull up, and was out like a shot, belying his 86 years, and I followed behind to witness the meeting, they shook hands, smiled, and after introducing Jill, Ian put his arm around Squires back and they made their way in to the house, it all seemed very natural. It's impossible to know what must have been going through their minds prior to that moment, but happily it all went so well.
.
We had a meal booked at the Galleria that evening, to introduce Ian and Jill to our immediate family, all seven of us, and thankfully they weren't daunted by us. Squire made sure he was sitting across from Ian, which was perfect, while Jill sat alongside, I don't think there was a silent moment the whole evening, Squire and Ian chatting together, and Jill not in the least bit fazed by the rest of us as the conversation bounced around the table. She even let me in to a shock piece of info, all those years back when I first found out about Ian and traced him to Nuffield hospital in Taunton, I phoned his surgery number to let him know who I was, and spoke to who I presumed was his secretary, so imagine my surprise when Jill tells me it was her that I had been talking to that day.
.
The following day we had a barbecue at Havenside to allow Ian and Jill to meet more of the extended family, grand children, and cousins, it went brilliantly, including the weather, with Jack organising the food, and what a spread he put on. Ian may have missed out on meeting his brother Mike, but he has met most of Mike and Manuelas children now, Anna, Linda, Michelle, Karen, and Sam, as well as Manuela herself, having made the journey down for the occasion, and showing the rest of us up with their carefully anotated family albums, dates, places, and names all written in, which Ian gently ribbed us about, alluding to our mountain of pictures singularly lacking in any written detail to assist the viewer. I couldn't help but ask where his carefully detailed albums might be, heftily tongue in cheek of course. It was an absolutely cracking day, and hopefully the first of many more such occasions as the families get to know each other after all this time.

Beach Dreamers Raving

Beach Dreams 2013 
Top Weekend
Building up to Beach Dreams this year I've been a bit detached from it all, owing to work commitments, which as a result meant I didn't get around to helping promote the day to my friends through the grapevine that is facebook. As it turned out, the event was a huge success without my meagre contribution anyway, once again the Beach Dreams team have produced a fantastic free event, showcasting home grown talent as well as bands from a little further afield, culminating in a rousing reception for Toploader on the Saturday evening. Driving on to the beach gave a hint of what was to come, the traffic was tailing all the way back into town as everyone made their way to Beach Dreams in the sunshine, and cars were parked up on every available space, including verges and pavements, as far along as the Church of the Good Shepherd, things were looking good for a successful day.
.
I was disappointed to miss out on Demelzas Tea Party, they opened the gig up at 12.30 Saturday, while I was busy swinging doors. I eventually made it down to Beach Green by 3 o' clock, and hit the beer tent for the first pint of  the day, a Dark Star brewery 'Conqueror', which I've recently developed a taste for, and from there on things looked rosy. I wandered across through the massed crowd, sprawled out with their picnics, Pimms, beer, and blankets, etc, to the 'Wax Cornetto' tent in time to catch Wookie Weekend playing, always entertaining, with Millie Bunker lead singing while losing any battle to keep a straight face, possibly because her dad, Andy, was on his usual fine form moshing extravagantly, waving his arms about like a mixture of Usain Bolt and a windmill. The combination of that, the Wookies playing, and Demelzas Tea Party dancing with faces painted as cats, was brilliant.
.
For those of you that don't know, these youngsters are mainly the product of a fantastic operation called, ‘Shoreham Allstars’, (check them out here:- http://www.shorehamallstars.com/ ), and if you weren’t lucky enough to catch them playing, you'll have to trust me when I tell you they're excellent, it’s hard to believe kids so young could be so good. The Allstars are the result of David O’ Connells efforts, a guitar teacher who has provided an outlet for kids that want to learn and play music, and this is the third year of showing off their skills at this event, they also tour throughout the year, playing at various festivals around the country. Along with the skate park at Ham road, it’s one of the best things out there for the children in our community. They even have a tour bus now, (thanks to gracious donations and a grant from the council), which doubles up as their stage, Dave gave me a guided tour of it, it's bloody awesome, so they can rock up anywhere, pull the sides back, and bingo, one stage ready to go.
.

One of the many great things about Beach Dreams, is meeting up with old friends, people you often haven't seen since last years Beachfest, and 2013 was no different, wandering with my pint, catching up, and listening to quality music, and all within five minutes of home, I'll never get tired of it. The sound system was once again provided by Flare Audio, the firm that I built a few speakers for as part of their research and development project, a project it seems, that has gone on in leaps and bounds since the last speaker I made for them. Their latest technology is made out of aluminium, and Dave, who is the brain and driving force responsible for this new direction in speaker technology, explained it to me as best he could, but I won't even attempt to say here, I'd doubtless get it all wrong. Suffice to say, looks good, sounds good.
During all of this merriment, there was one feel good story that just can't be ignored, to do with Josh Parsons. I won't go into details, as this is his story, but suffice to say, young Josh has recently been given the all clear from cancer, and he broke the news to his friends via Facebook, not long ago, so it was fantastic to see him, and his mum and dad, Brian and Jo, to tell them how happy I was for them all, best news I've heard all year. Happily, although I missed his session in the Wax Cornetto marquis, he and Caitlyn King had been recorded and uploaded on to Youtube. I've known Brian most of my life, and with Josh being their only son, I couldn't even imagine what he and Jo must have been going through, let alone Josh. Something like that puts a proper perspective on life, especially when you think about what you see and hear being argued over sometimes, especially on Facebook.
.

I seem to have painted myself into a corner timewise, so I'll have to race through the rest of this. Basically, Verses were great, as were Marlipins (formerly Absent Elk), and Toploader finished the Saturday off, getting the crowd whipped up for the finale as the sun went down, completing a top day. The Sunday was a bit overcast, but the music was still great, with Richard Durrant and his fellow players giving the crowd a treat with his incredible guitar play on the main stage, while on the Wax Cornetto bus, Tom Botten, and later, Caitlyn King with Louis Parker were impossibly awesome, names to look out for in the future. I've watched them grow up as neighbours, and love the fact that these local kids are so talented, yet still down to earth ordinary children, with very proud parents of course.
.

There should be a mention for Black Bonds, one of the bands of the weekend last year, but their lead singer was away on holiday for this years event, leaving Callum Bunker to put  a bit of  time into cutting hair, his barber stall proving mighty popular over the weekend. I hope they'll make sure no holidays clash with next years Beach Dreams, if only to see Andy Bunker and Si Knight in the mosh pit again, an unforgettable experience to witness, much to Callums horror. Sorry it got a bit rushed at the end, but I hope you got a bit of the flavour of Beach Dreams from this, it's an amazing community festival, which really needs to be experienced first hand. And as Toploader sing, 
"everybodys feeling warm and bright,
 its such a fine and natural sight, 
everybodys dancing in the moonlight".


Wookie Weekend

Harry Elmer and the Shoreham Ferrymen

Steering Clear of Harry Elmer


02-06-2013

On what has been a great weekend, with the Military History weekend along at the Old Fort, it's a shame to see Facebook alive with discontent as the debate over the naming of the Unnecessary Bridge Over Troubled Waters rages unchecked. Paul Collins suggested naming the new bridge after an old Shoreham ferryman, Harry Elmer, who died on the 7th May 1940, having fallen into the river Adur. It proved to be a popular choice with a great many people, but unfortunately, it only served to bring to light the fact that, although we were told the people would get a vote on what the bridge is named, what they didn't mention, was that an unelected coterie of mysterious members, plus developers friend, councillor Mike Mendoza, would choose between them a shortlist of five names for the bridge, and then the public could vote which of these they preferred. In short, not in any way a peoples choice. This mysterious group are apparently called the 'Bridge Steering Group', quite where that name was conjured up from I have no idea, but it would appear in this instance, to be so that they could steer the public towards the choice of the bridge name they wanted.
.
Tim Loughton has since come out in defence of these invisible arbiters of the bridge title, stating:-
.
"The Steering Committee consists of officers from the County Council who are responsible for funding the main part of the work, SUSTRANS the co-funders, residents' groups from Shoreham and Shoreham Beach, local councillors, representatives from Shoreham Harbour, the project managers etc. The Group had run an exercise requesting local people to come forward with suggested names. There were some 103 different names submitted and from that list the Steering Group shortlisted 5 names which will now be put forward to a public vote for the duration of the Adur festival period until June 16th. This will be advertised through the County Council website, local press etc and will also feature at next week's farmers' market.
.
It was notable that a large number of the suggestions on the long list involved names of people with varying degrees of connection with Shoreham which included Harry Elmer, who I was not aware of but who was the subject of an interesting write-up in the Shoreham Herald this week. There were also a great many suggestions for people like the internationally renowned composer and Shoreham Beach resident William Havergal Brian; founder of the A-Z and Shoreham Beach resident Phyllis Pearsall; Henry Roberts, Captain Cook's compatriot who has a blue plaque in the town and Henry Cheal who wrote the famous history of Shoreham."
.
I honestly couldn't care less personally, it will always be the footbridge, no matter what this Steering Group have decided, but surely there is a principle at stake here, the public were informed they could have a say in the naming of what would after all be their bridge for the rest of their lifetimes, only to have the choices swept aside by this group, and a choice of their favoured five names offered to vote on. And as for, "the County Council who are responsible for funding the main part of the work", the County Council are not some generous benefactors doling out their personal wealth, they are an elected body who should be relied upon to spend the TAX PAYERS money wisely.
Mr Loughton goes on to say:-
"You will appreciate therefore that if a local name was chosen then there would be a likely outcry from a great many other supporters of alternative candidates."
.
That, I have to say, is utter nonsense, if a fair vote takes place then there would be no cause for complaint should the most popular name be chosen, even if that name were, as some bright spark suggested, Elmer Fudd. Think back to the census uproar when a huge amount of people decided they wanted to have their religion  on record as 'Jedi', and the Government tried to impose a block on any such occurrence, they failed. This is a similar situation, people don't like being dictated to, by anyone, and now they are beginning to respond. It may be a storm in a teacup, but it's a storm in a teacup with a principle attached, as we daily read about one politician after another feathering their own nests, while simultaneously trying to con us into thinking they know best what's good for us, the plebs are getting agitated, and we want to know our voices count for something, however trivial this may seem.
.
In this day and age, the technology exists to make it easy for the people to have a vote using the internet, then see what the top peoples choice would be, that would be democratic. There is absolutely no reason whatever to suppose councillors, or this Steering Group, know what is best for everyone else, but I doubt whether the outcry over this situation will make any difference, and once again the public will be paid lip service, and nothing more.
.
Shoreham Fort Military Weekend

.
On a brighter note, the Friends of Shoreham Fort have outdone themselves and put on another cracker of a show, with even more things going on than last year, and thankfully the event was well attended. I went along with the Aged P's and we pitched up for the ensuing entertainment, a combination of military hardware through the ages being fired off, as well as all the period uniforms and civilian costumes, food stalls, military vehicles, and even a hovercraft that was apparently used in a James Bond film. Funnily enough, Tim Loughton and Mike Mendoza were there too, as well as the new police commissioner, whatever her name is.
.
The work going on down there is a credit to the volunteers, but they need more, as there is still a long way to go, so if any of you reading this are interested, how about getting along and seeing if you might be able to help in any way, or just help by spreading the word about this great community cause.
.
The Dials
Last night I went down to the Duke of Wellington to see the Dials band play, and was most pleasantly surprised. I had been expecting some R and B, in line with what I believed were Joes preferred musical tastes, but on arrival he informs me that it would be a different band from that style, and they would be playing a kind of Pink Floyd influenced stuff, but all original, and their own compositions. There's nothing quite like hearing a tune for the first time, especially when you get to hear it live, and when you add loads of old friends into the mix, as well as the impressive selection of beers that the Dark Star brewery has to offer, it made for a top night.
.

I tried out the 'Conqueror' beer, a stout with similarities to Guinness, and dangerously pleasant, sliding down all too well as I enjoyed the musical fair being served up, very much a sixties sound, yet original. The audience may well have been a good gauge as to what was coming up, very much a 'Silver Surfer' crowd, a club I seem to be rapidly catching up with these days. If you like sixties style Floyd, I think you'll enjoy the Dials, I know I'll be going along the next time they play.


Let's Rock The House
.
13-05-2013
.
I make no apologies for this blog being about football, for as any of you fellow followers of the Super Seagulls will know, today is about as big as it gets for an Albion fan, partly because it's the play offs, but mainly because of who we're up against. Who needs script writers when reality serves you up with a play off semi sinal against arch rivals Crystal Palace, having only last season been humiliated 3-1 by them in our first ever clash at the Amex, a result we more than made up for this season when Leonardo and Spanish Dave put them to the sword in a 3-0 demolition in front of a rocking full house of delirious Brighton fans, plus a few desperately unhappy Palace fans. 
.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding where the rivalry began, and I'm fairly sure I can at the very least dismiss the idea that it began as a result of that second replay in the FA Cup, played at Stamford Bridge on December 6th 1976, mainly because the rivalry was definitely already there before we even drew them in the cup. When Palace came to the Goldstone on October 2nd, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in front of 27,307 fans, sandwiched in between the famous home games against York city (7-2), and Walsall (7-0), which only drew in 15,605 (York), and 14,204 for Walsall. So when we drew Palace at home in the first round of the FA Cup, it was played in front of 29,580 at the Goldstone, and we drew two all, with Ward and Mellor getting our goals. Up at Selhurst it was another bumper crowd of 29,174, and another draw, one all this time, with Spider Mellor getting our goal, then on to the by now infamous second replay 'Battle of Stamford Bridge', where Nobby Horton was robbed of his goal by the idiot ref, Ron Palace Challis, who disallowed Hortons penalty goal because a Palace player encroached in to the box. Challis needed a police escort out of the ground, and was never allowed to ref a Brighton game again, for his own safety.
.
The biggest reason I am so sure the rivalry was already there, is down to the first ever game I saw at the Goldstone, 17th August 1974, against Crystal Palace, it's seared into my memory for many reasons. Firstly, because Pat Saward, the manager at the time, happened to live around the corner from us, and his step son, Nick Phillips, was a mate of mine and Dave Hudsons, so we got complimentary tickets for the North Stand. As we were so young, Daves elder brother, Paul, came along to look after us, picking up the comp tickets from the ticket office on the day, and then off into the North Stand for my first ever football match. Fighting broke out in the North Stand before the game had even started, a heavy Palace contingent had got in Albions home end, and me, Dave, Nick, and Paul, were shepherded to safety by police officers, and spent the rest of the afternoon in the West Stand, where I watched, mesmerised, by the sea of scrapping that went on for virtually the whole game. I was only eleven years old, I'd never seen anything remotely like it before, and just couldn't take my eyes off it, fuck the football. Afterwards the others were taking the mickey out of me for not having watched any of the football, or not very much of it at least, all I could say was, "didn't you see what was going off in the North Stand?", I couldn't understand why they weren't as transfixed as I was at this war happening so close to us. Although I played football at the park and in the school playing fields almost every waking second that I could, all I knew about professional football up to then, was what I saw in the paper, or on the TV, either Brian Moores 'The Big Match' on Sunday, or Jimmy Hills 'Match of the Day' Saturday night, so coming along to the Goldstone was an awakening for me, and what an awakening! Palace had one famous player that I knew the name of, Don Rogers, and that was the limit of my knowledge of these two teams at that point. Before that season, the last time that Brighton and Palace played each other, was back in 1963, the year I was born, so I have no idea whether the supporters scrapped each other then or not, but I can say for absolute certain, 1976 was not the year that the rivalry began.
.
And today is without doubt the biggest game between the two teams there has been, and likely ever will be, so I tap away at this keyboard, nervously mistyping and having to redo, but looking forward to tonights game more than possibly any other game, and I've been to nearly all their biggest during my lifetime, Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup semis probably the best so far. The prize this time is mouth watering, 30 years after the FA Cup final appearance, so let's make the Amex rock with volume tonight, and create a story to tell your Grandkids. Bring it on!!


Proper Rant Time


09-05-2013
.
A little while back, a friend, Bunny, mentioned to me that he wouldn't be asking me to quote for work he was having done at his place, because, in his words, "no disrespect, but I want a proper firm in to do it". Work comes my way whether I want it or not, mainly I'm grateful if it doesn't, as I enjoy my pastimes, and having the time to spend on them, so I took no offence, and told him so. I understood, he wanted what he thought would be the security of an established company, whereas I run my jobs, using trusted trades that I know personally, and without taking any profit from them, and this is where punters miss the point, 'trades', time served men that are good at what they do.
.
Well, Bunny has since caught a massive cold from this so called established company, leaving him and his wife and newborn with an unnatural disaster in their new home, even the council building inspector called the work, "fucking shit", and it isn't in their remit to pass judgement on the work they check. So Bunny asked if I'd come and take a look at what this firm had done so far, with a view to giving him a price to put it right, stop laughing at the back there!
.
I've seen some crap work standards before, and this was up there with some of the worst shyte I've had the misfortune to look at. Bunny already had a surveyor in to check it over, leaving him with a fat dossier which basically took the whole job apart, finally condemning the lot, and recommending everything that this firm, oh fuck it, GIBBS AND SON, had done at his place, be taken apart and redone, but properly, the building inspector has apparently said the same. Part of you wants to say, "I told you so", but what's the point, Bunny is my friend, and he's been well and truly screwed, so obviously I'm not happy about that, not at all. But mainly, how do scumbags like this get work in the first place, which apparently, Bunny said, was exactly what the building inspector said too, and I have since heard from a branch manager of Howdens, and a local structural engineer, both of whom have had dealings with these cowboys, and both with horror stories of this mob to readily recall.
.
The problem is, that these unscrupulous gits play on the greed of the customer, I know because I've lost jobs in just the same way, undercut by a firm that don't use trades, but get labourers to do the trades jobs, take the money at the earliest possible moment, then do a runner, never answering the phone to hear the complaints. They turn up in their pristine sign written vans, with company logos on their shirts, and even the Japanese style flags hanging from the scaffold in some cases, eagerly showing some spurious accreditation on headed note paper, which tells you nothing of their quality, just the fact that they may have paid whichever bullshit mob it is, Checkatrade, Trustatrader, Toilettrader.com etc, to con the customers into thinking they know what they're doing, all of these accreditations are worthless. Bunny was telling me how the old boy, the father in the Gibbs and Son, was only there for a bit at the beginning, leaving his labourer to do most of the work.  He went on to tell me how the labourer told him at one point, as he was doing some roof carpentry work, "I really shouldn't be doing this", to which I asked Bunny, "didn't that set the alarm bells ringing then?". Also, how smarmy this Gibbs was when having mistakes pointed out to him, dismissing the genuine grievances, before going on to demand money for the disastrous work done so far, of which they had unwisely coughed up 12 of the 18 grand price already, he's even been pestering them for the other six thousand pounds since then too.
.
Basically, Bunny now needs to take them to court, and it will take a good deal more than the original price to put things right, not least of which because the original price was an unrealistic one to do the job properly anyway, but now that the cowboy work has to be taken apart too, it'll be that much more, and nobody knows just what a nightmare is to be found underneath their cock up of a job, so you couldn't really price it without heavy contingencies. If Bunny wasn't a friend, I would say no out of hand, but as he's likely to be quoted a hefty amount by some other, 'reputable' firm to put things right, I'll probably get involved and try to keep costs down for him.
.
I know times are hard, and everyone is looking for a bargain, but as a life rule, if something seems too good to be true, it's because it isn't true, and their are a lot of unscrupulous thieves out there, just waiting to prey on peoples greed. If you want a major job done, get three or four quotes, check other work of these companies, speak with their previous customers if you can, but if you see a price way below the others, think very carefully before you jump in. I know how it is, you get a price thousands of pounds cheaper, and already you're spending that money saved in your head, well here's another worthy life rule, 'you get what you pay for'. 

Squire

Standing Up and Fitting Out
.
Fitting Out Supper
Throughout the vast majority of my life, our Pa has maintained a love for all things boatwise, from the sailing dinghy that used to sit out on the front garden, which he would take us out on occasionally off of Shoreham Beach. On to his first yacht, Tina, a bilged keel Hurley 22, a tiny little thing for a family of seven, none of whom will forget our trip down to the Isle of Wight in her, and the classic, 'wrong side of the mark, spaghetti incident' in about 1975 ish. Next up was the Sombrero 32, Siesta of Lee, a beautifully lined yacht, built for racing, but not necessarily for family sailing, we soon set about making her fit for that purpose, I was in my early days of my boat building apprenticeship then, and got to put my new skills to use on various bits aboard, strengthening the cab top from underneath as it used to bow quite severely when anyone of substantial build walked across it, putting non slip treadmaster on the all the decking, supplied unwittingly by my employers, they regularly used to throw away shameful amounts, and a host of other little jobs on board which gave me the chance to practice all I'd learnt. 
.
After Siesta of Lee, Squire got his first Beneteau, a First 35, which he bought from new, and called Siesta, there beginning a love affair with Beneteaus which lasts to this day. But things nearly got stuffed up before the Beneteau love affair could get off the ground. Squire and Ma used to spend their weekends down at Pontoon 36 at Brighton, aboard the boat, and in the company of all their yachty friends of Pontoon 36, it was like its own club really, and gave the P's some of their most memorable and fun years of sailing life. Awaiting the sale of the Sombrero Siesta, and to take ownership of the new First 35, they heard that the broker company dealing with the sale were in financial difficulties, and that there might be a possibility of their new acquisition being impounded by official receivers. So a night sortie was arranged, and Squire, Ma, and their friend, Shep, took Siesta of Lee along to where the First 35 was moored up in the Brighton Marina, swapped them over, and I have little doubt, celebrated the success of the operation with a night cap or three.
.
Squires current squeeze, The Devils Advocate, is a First 45, designed by Bruce Farr, a New Zealand designer, who designed the hull and cab top, and Pininfarini, an Italian who designed the interior. She is without doubt, a gorgeous looking piece of kit, despite her age and infirmity. Over the years, we have had some wonderful sailing memories, many of them documented here in earlier blogs, and while it is with sadness that Squire reflects on the reasons he could never become a Commodore of the Sussex Yacht Club, (an ex business partner who was determined to ruin the old man at any cost, but thankfully failed, but only just), it is with immense pride that he has come to see his eldest, David, recently installed as the newest 'Commode' at SYC. He and Ma went along to witness Davids inauguration, and just last weekend we were all at the first dinner function at which our big bruv presided as Admiral of the...., oops, sorry, Commode, nope, Commodore. And what a great evening that turned out to be, despite a certain lack of thinking regarding our new Commodores invited guest, Councillor Mendoza, of Adur District Council, the very same councillor that was the one and only voice of support in the council planning committee for the block of flats, a three storey monstrosity proposed to be built just over the road from Davids house. 
.
It was not a quiet event surrounding local opposition to this ridiculous proposal, it made the papers, and most people that know David, would have had knowledge of the situation. In fact, given my vocal support of this opposition, I was even approached about sitting next to Mendoza, for what some termed, a bit of 'Bloodsports', at Mendozas expense. Clearly I wasn't about to embarrass my brother by acting on such thoughts, however tempting, but it did amuse me to witness this slothful looking individual, and more importantly, hear him. His memory obviously not his strong point, he wasn't aware of Davids involvement in the planning saga of 25 Beach Green. Having told David that pretty much anything could be built on Shoreham Beach these days, so what did it matter about these flats, David had the opportunity to let him know that it mattered to him as he lived directly opposite this proposed blighted development, as do a good few other residents. But unfazed by this, this thick skinned councillor goes on to mention the very word I have heard him use on so many other occasions, and all in completely the wrong context, he repeated, "I think it would make a great Gateway to Shoreham Beach".
.
I had said before the evening began, that I was tempted to scan in an image of the meaning of the term 'Gateway', from the dictionary, and have it enlarged, with the view to showing it to this man, so that he might understand properly what the word meant, as he clearly doesn't have a clue at the moment. So you can imagine my amusement at him using the word that evening, I nearly spat my teeth out laughing, and they're not false! He used the same term to describe a proposed seven storey development where the old Parcel Force building now stands, pretty much halfway between the borders of Lancing and Southwick. He got this word from the Architects spiel for the proposed flats on Shoreham Beach, and it would appear to have got lodged in his throat ever since, without at any point being able to reconcile the fact that neither 25 Beach Green, or Parcel Force, could be construed as a gateway to anywhere, as they are both at halfway points in the areas he talks of. When next election comes up, I will make it my mission to see this man gets vocal opposition should he apply for re election.
.
We all had a great night regardless, and I would hope that in future, the Commodore would be given a say in which guests are to be foisted upon him, so that he might at least be given the opportunity to express his opinion. Although, had the councillor not been there, we would have been deprived of the experience of witnessing him confirm all our beliefs of what kind of a man he is.
.
Standing Up
.
Brighton and Hove Albion versus Crystal Palace, need I say more. Despite the fact that many do not understand this rivalry, Brighton and Palace fans will not care a jot, we understand it only too well, it's there, it's real, and it gives us a game to look forward to above all others, it's our (not very) local derby. Not very local, but very, very, real. Since arriving at our lovely new stadium, it has been a source of much disappointment that Palace have bested the Albion in two of the three meetings, beating us 3-1 at the Amex last season, the lowest point of the Albions tenure at this beautiful ground, beating us 3-0 after Dunks moment of madness at Selhurst Park, and of course the honourable draw at their place last season. This Sunday gone was a nervous affair for us supporters, confidence not high, but just the firm knowledge that the Championship is anything but predictable, no one ever knows what's gonna happen on the day.
.
In the programme notes beforehand, I read with interest, the thoughts, or considered rant, I should say, of the Albions Chief Executive, Paul Barber. He dedicated three pages to telling us fans how wrong we are to want to stand during the games, and he goes on to tell us that the overwhelming majority, are in fact a tiny minority. At the last home game, against Huddersfield, two fans were singled out in the North Stand, and thrown out at half time, for doing what everyone else in that stand was doing at the same time, standing. It was very close to where I stand, sorry, sit, and I witnessed the whole event, the majority of the fans in the immediate area had turned their backs to the game to watch events unfold, and backed the victims with vocal support, not visceral abuse as Mr Barber would like to con others into thinking. We knew these guys were being made into scapegoats, otherwise most of the North Stand would have to be ejected. The Albion security obviously knew how unpopular this would be, as they had a small army of police waiting under the stands, in the concourse, in case things got ugly, the premeditation was entirely of the Amex security making. Those two poor lads then had to miss the joy of watching absolutely everyone standing, jumping around, and generally enjoying the thrill of a hatful of goals going in, and especially the Ullou hat trick, and not a sole was sitting for pretty much the rest of the second half, stewards nowhere to be seen, they had their scapegoats.
.
At the Palace game Sunday just gone, many of us discussed our irritation at this new turn of events, and the injustice of it, but the word was that stewarding would be very low key for the days game, and so it proved, thus making a complete hypocrite of our Chief Executive, Paul Barber. We aren't morons, but we are football fans, and if it is your wish to create a graveyard atmosphere in a football ground, then by all means, chain everyone to their seats for the duration of the game, suck the life out of the occasion, and wait for the fans to drift away. Football is all about passion, the game itself owes its very existence to the fans, and the passion they have for it, without them there would be no game at all, and not just at the ground, no one will want to watch on TV either without the atmosphere which makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, anyone who has had the misfortune to witness a televised game played behind closed doors to the fans will tell you how dire that experience is. And what about the players?, Inigo Calderon talked in the Argus of hoping that he could bring his daughter to this game, but felt the rivalry and aggression make him wary of doing such a thing, yet there he was at the end of the game, coming up to us in the North Stand, pumping his fists, massive smile on his face, he loved it, so did we, it goes both ways. I'm a big fan of Caldy, all of them really. They should all know though, it's the football we're passionate about, of course it's safe to bring their children. The way things are now could never have been envisioned in the great days of the Goldstone, you didn't worry about Palace, but Man U, Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham, Millwall, christ on a bike, it was a war zone for those fixtures, fighting from before the games, during the games, after the games, from Hove station to Hove Park and everywhere in between. But the noise levels inside a terraced stand created nothing you will ever hear in a seated stadium, however hard you try to create the right acoustics through design.
.
I'm certainly not saying we should go back to those days, though god knows we loved them, the Goldstone was an intimidating place for opposition clubs to visit, because of the noise levels it created, (as well as the great team we had), you ask any former players of the era from 1976 to 1984 in particular, the fans were every bit the extra man, and more. Now Brighton are coming into a new golden era, and the players will want to experience as close to those days atmosphere as it's possible to get, well one thing is for damn sure, you won't get it from a sterilised, all seated crowd. If Brighton fans, or fans anywhere really, were to decide to sit down en masse for an entire game, I guarantee the players would hate it, and if it were enforced, half the crowd, if not more, would simply stop coming, having had the joy finally drained out of the game.
.
Happily we got the best result on Sunday, and can revel in our moment, at least until we next meet our derby foes. And the look on the players faces at the end, you knew they were loving it too, Poyet even went on record as saying how much it meant to him, coming out on to the field an hour after the final whistle to soak up what was left of the atmosphere, and see the goals again on the big screen, still with fans inside the stadium. That's what football is about Mr Barber, go away and have a rethink about your strategy, your current one won't work, nor should it, there is no valid reason why fans shouldn't stand, indeed I would suggest it is impossible to stop them, so how many of the fans, (fans that have supported Brighton a damn sight longer that you even knew about the club), are you prepared to sacrifice at the alter of the Insurance Company? There will come a time that they will just walk away rather than watch people like you turn them away.

Sir Harry Preston flying off Brighton with Andre Beaumont in 1910

Ambling and a Rambling

14-03-2013
.
Today is all about ambling and rambling, ambling around Shoreham Beach, and rambling on about it, and other things, afterwards. Shoreham Beach is a nice enough looking place anyway, but always enhanced by a bit of the white powdery substance falling from the nimbus cumulus. Despite the fact that the sun was beaming, the snow is still hanging around, and a few snowmen are just about clinging on. It may be cold, but it's a beautiful day, especially if you aint working, which it would appear, may be my state of affairs for a little while yet. I followed up a customers quote with the obligatory phone call, only to hear the not unfamiliar cry of, "we didn't realise it would be that much", it makes me weep that I know of people that get thoroughly shafted by firms and believe they got a good deal, or even if they realise they got shafted, it's only when they've paid up and it's too late. I told this customer I'd be happy to have them control the purse strings, just so they could see for themselves just how much everything costs, so we'll see, but I'm not holding my breath.
.
On the up side, this means I have no work, so can do other stuff, stuff for myself, like sitting here, tapping away at the keyboard, I hope you two appreciate the sacrifices my non clients are forcing me to make. I found out last night that a certain council member that I disagree with about, well pretty much everything he spouts actually, will be at a dinner I'm going to on Saturday, this man is intent on concreting over every available space in Shoreham, calling it a 'Gateway' development, assisting developers in making themselves undeservedly richer, and very much to the detriment of the area I have grown up in and love to bits.  Only today I was chatting to a friend and neighbour from down the road, Derek, he's currently putting up gates and fencing to stop his dog running into the road, then he asked me if I'd noticed the increase in cars screaming up our road in the mornings, the very reason he is having to erect his gates and fence. I had indeed, as I recalled my story of giving some silly mare a gobful after she nearly ran into me, then hooted me for stopping so suddenly outside my house, I shouted at her, "this is where I live, not a rat f*****g run". And there is the issue, since this mind numbing stupidity of over develpoment on Shoreham Beach, drivers now use Havenside and Kings Walk as rat runs to try and escape the long queues to get off the beach in the mornings, queues that stretch back past the Beach Green sometimes. Only an absolute halfwit could possibly believe that building anymore than there already is on Shoreham Beach is a good idea, and as for the staggeringly dumb idea to foist even more blocks of flats along the Brighton road where the old Parcel Force building now stands, don't even get me started
.
Somewhere, there must be a very large back pocket that this council member resides in. I'm thinking of taking a photocopy of the dictionary meaning of the word, 'Gateway', to show him, as he is obviously frighteningly unclear as to its real meaning, unless of course, shocking sceptic that I am, I really believed that he is merely using the language of the very people that own the back pocket that he sits so comfortably inside, surely not, ahem, cough, splutter, pardon me your honour. As you can imagine, with alcohol involved, I may struggle to hold my tongue. Although in fairness, he can't be the only one responsible for the calamity that has been allowed to already befall our once idyllic Shoreham Beach.
.
The Devil is approaching the time when she gets dropped back in the water, so hopefully, as long as the various bits and pieces get done in time, we may be sailing again sometime soon, which will make Squire a happy bunny, and the rest of us too. I look forward to racing again, and the day out as a whole, the banter, the mishaps, occasional glory, at least until the handicaps are in, and the beers at the bar after. While we wait for that moment, I can carry on with the family research, or more accurately at this present time, my research into the murky world of, authors, artists, art dealers, auction rooms, and the entertainment world of Edwardian times. It's a surprisingly good subject, these people were the rock stars of their day, and the man central to it so far, William Walker Sampson, (my Great Grand Fathers business partner), was the 'Ring' master in the auction rooms of Sothebys and Christies for nigh on 30 years. According to art historian, Vernon Grosvenor Swanson:-  "In fact nearly half of all late 19th century paintings auctioned in London during this period were acquired by Sampson! Such an amazing feat was made possible by virtue of his controlling "The Ring." Most of the paintings were then dispersed, in wholesale fashion, to other dealers at discount prices.". 
.
There is plenty more to come on that, but as a result, I've been finding through researching Sampson and his friends, a world just alive with invention, and new boundaries being formed by the day. They were seeing the first bycycle, car, telegraph message, telephone, aeroplane, and heaps more, but more importantly for me, the people I'm researching wrote about it, so I'm reading it as fresh as if it were just happening, and next I'll get to share it here, much like I did in my last blog, where Harry Preston took W.G.Grace out for his first drive in a motor car in 1901. 
.
So here now, is another snippet of Sir Harry Prestons recollections from his book, written in 1936, 'Leaves From My Unwritten Diary', page 79 and 80:-
.

From motoring to flying was not a long call. Just lately I was reviving some old flying memories with Harold Perrin, the brilliant and popular secretary of the Royal Aero Club- I was one of the earliest members- when Sir John Milbanke, that modern young Corinthian, and his younger brother, were down, and we all chatted together.
.
Harold Perrin recollected, as I introduced Sir John, that a lady named Milbanke had done some flying in the early days. Sir John said "No" at first; but after a moment he remembered. His mother had gone over to Paris in a balloon from London around 1909- he would have been a boy of 7 then; and a few months later she flew with Grahame-White in one of the first water-planes, which took off from the sea down at Monte Carlo. The machine had no proper seat. One had to hang on with ones hands to a couple of wires.
.
In my smoking room I have many mementoes, among them a broken propellor. Oscar Morrison gave it to me- he had smashed it on Brighton Beach, on an historic day in February, a quarter of a century ago, (1910), when he flew from Brooklands to Brighton, forty miles in 65 minutes. Lindbergh was only 9 years old then, and Alan Cobham had not begun to fly.
.
The intrepid aviator told me at the luncheon at the Royal York that followed, that he would have made better time, only he had got off his line of flight. He was circling to land, when he noticed that there was only one pier, and he knew Brighton had two. "Wrong town", said he, and flew along the shore line until he sighted a town with two piers. It was Worthing that he had mistaken for Brighton. Air navigation then was not quite what it is now. Soon afterwards my brother Dick and I arranged the first air race. It was from Brooklands to Brighton, for a gold cup. The airmen had to fly around the pier and land on the Shoreham aerodrome. Hamel, Snowdon-Smith, Gilmour, and Pixton started and finished. Hamel won. Time, 57 minutes, 10 sec.
.
Although, now, I do not care to move faster than 40 miles an hour, and I practically never leave ground, in the old days I moved faster and higher. That was because so many of the old pioneers of speed on land and sea and in the air were my friends. Andre Beaumont it was who first induced me to leave my beloved earth and venture up among the seagulls. He had come over from Dieppe, and brought his seaplane in pieces from Newhaven port to Black Rock, a mile out along the beach from the Royal Albion. He invited me to go up with him. I accepted. But when I saw him putting his machine together I regretted it. It looked much more home-made than any Flying Flea. Motoring and motor-yachting experiences had taught me much about the unreliability of the internal combustion engines of that day. 
.
However, I took my seat beside him, the engine started with a shrill banging, the box of tricks shook as if it were going to fall to pieces; and then we began to move over the water. Faster and faster we went, while I gripped the wires on either side and hoped that she would break up while she was still on the water- I was a good swimmer, but no hand at a high dive. This thought was still in my mind when the sea in front of me seemed to drop away as if a giant were sucking it up. We were rising, miraculously, into the air. I regained my nerve and looked down and around with great interest. Ye gods, we were flying! It was one of the great moments of my life.
.
By the time we began to descend (we had been up perhaps 40 minutes) I had got my air legs- or should one say "wings" ?- and would have been surprised and mortified if we had taken a ducking instead of landing safely, as we did, with a big splash on the water.

Harry Preston in his first car, with W.G. Grace as one of the passengers

 Rebellion In The Air
10-03-2013
.
It's no secret that I wasn't a fan of the new Shoreham footbridge, or the fact that the whole process was based on a pack of lies and hearsay, with no evidence of any description offered for viewing. So it is with great pleasure that I read of the many and various actions of rebellion regarding night time crossings of the old footbridge, they even have a facebook page dedicated to the brave anti establishment souls that take the law into their own hands, and deliver their own two fingered salute to  'the man' by ignoring all signs prohibiting their access to our lovely old bridge. Recently things have taken a new turn, and anti tamper paint has been applied to the area surrounding the access points, which has not only not had the desired effect, it has become almost a badge of honour to post images of their anti tamper paint smothered bodies on the facebook page dedicated to these determined local drinkers. 
.
There is a powerful spirit in most of us, that simply doesn't like being told what to do, by anyone, and it's little things like being confronted with "you can't do that" signs, that just make something inside twitch, tick, and whirr, and the rebel inside is simply straining at the leash to offer resistance. That resistance is now being advertised across facebook in the form of bodies smothered in black sticky paint, and quite the opposite of putting off these brave Beach Guerrillas, it has made them even more determined to cross that bridge, arming themselves with gloves, rags, newspaper, and anything else they think might help to avoid a smearing. If all that fails, then no matter, get caked in the stuff, take a heap of pictures, then defiantly and proudly show the anti tamper scars to your facebook public.
.
Work wise things have gone quiet again after a short burst, so I'm back on the family tree trail, although I'm getting side tracked a bit, following my Great Grand fathers business partner, William Walker Sampson, and his good friend, Harry Preston, both of whom I've mentioned before, but with good reason. Harry had some great stories to tell, and while he died in 1936, thankfully he wrote two autobiographical books, highlighting the extraordinary times he had lived in. So I thought I'd pick a few out from time to time, and share it here. This first one takes us back in time to around 1901, and the early years of the new fangled motor car.
.
Sir Harry Preston and his first car
Leaves from my Unwritten Diary
.
Chapter 3
Pages 37 and 38
.
Motoring we looked on more as a sport than as a commercial proposition in its early phases. It was adventurous. Often I received a telegram: "Party of seven coming by motor. Should arrive by 8.30. Please have dinner ready." The chef's face grew longer and longer as the clock ticked on until 10 or 11, and the party had not arrived to eat their dinner. His hair grew prematurely grey. He would remark sometimes that he knew those motors would be the death of him.
.
Amazing contraptions, some of those first mechanically propelled vehicles were. They had sometimes one huge, fat cylinder. It was do or die on that one cylinder. One of those early cars I had a ride in- a De Dion Bouton, I fancy- had some sort of belt- and- chain drive arrangement, so that when you changed gear- there were only two gears- the rear wheels slid back about a foot. There were two- cylinder little fellows that went along bang -bang- bang- pop- pop! and shook and rattled until you wondered they did not fall to pieces in the road.
.
Then they made a four cylinder car. I had one of the first turned out, and very well it served me for some years. This machine enabled me to work between Bournemouth and Brighton, keeping a foot in both towns (for some time Edith, my wife, held the fort in Brighton, while I fought a rearguard action in Bournemouth).
.
It would have been a physical impossibility for me to achieve this without that new fangled vehicle. A hundred miles divided me from my two spheres of activity, and I traversed this distance four or five days a week. We did the hundred miles in about four hours- not so bad, considering there were three level-crossings and the Southampton floating bridge to negotiate. We were a terrific spectacle as we bowled along. I gave W.G. Grace his first ride in this car. He was playing cricket in Bournemouth, and suggested I should get him to Brighton afterwards. I hesitated, as I had to get to Brighton by 4 o'clock, and I could not wait indefinitely while W.G made a century or so. I said something of this.
.
"When d'you want me to be ready?" he asked crisply.
"Not later than midday", said I with equal crispness.
"Right", said he. "Be at the ground at 11 sharp".
.
I was at the ground at 11 sharp, and saw him elect to go in first. He chopped the first ball away. The second glanced off his body and fell on to the bails. "Out", said the umpire, and before the crowd recovered from its amazement, the great man was walking off.

.
"Well, I said I'd be on time, didn't I?" was all the explanation he volunteered, as he climbed into the car for his first motor ride. We made the run in good time, and W.G thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We had a photograph taken of ourselves in the car to commemorate the occasion.

Harry Prestons silver salver, presented and inscribed by, 'a few friends'

Aint Life Funny Sometimes  
.
01-03-2013
.
When I began researching our family tree, I knew nothing other than what the old man had told me regarding his side of the family, and as his dad had buggered off with the wife next door when he was just seven, it wasn't an extensive family history that our dear old pater had to pass on. But he has passed on a wealth of his own stories, which I never get tired of hearing, and have most of them imprinted in my head now. For the basis of this blog, I'll share with you one of his stories, actually no, this will need a couple to round it up nicely, you can find a lot more by reading my Family Tree Write up at this web site.

.
Squire the Scrapper
 
After relocating to Brighton from London, Johnny, as his family called him, (Squire to us, and will be here from now on), was enrolled in what local boys referred to as a posh school, the Exevarian, and every day on his way back home, he had to run the gauntlet of the Park Road school boys, who would spot him and give chase all the way to Squires door, where he would bang furiously at the door until Auntie Dickie would let him in and he'd escape the wrath of his would be assailants. After a while, Auntie Dickie, the woman that had saved Squires Ma, Boof, from the wife beating scumbag that she ended up with, (read that in the Family Tree write up), had decided enough was enough, it was time for Squire to start fighting his own battles, so she stood on her side of the front door, listened to a ten year old Squire fervently trying to bang it off its hinges in his effort to escape a potential beating, and told him to effectively, stand up for yourself mate. So there you have it, nowhere to run, he slugged it out with one of them, gave a decent account of himself, and won new friends, never having to run that particular gauntlet again. One of the friends he made as a result of that little skirmish, was Johnny Phelps, who along with one of Squires school mates, Pat Dalton, went on to be three inseperable mates in the coming years of the then, 1930's and '40's.

.
Pat Dalton was the son of Tom Dalton, who owned all the gaming machines on the Palace Pier. While Pat and Squire were best mates, Pats dad was a 'bit of a brute', as Squire recollects, but he was a brute that used to put a prize of half a crown on whoever would win in a scrap between the two boys. Unfortunately for Pat, Squire was a bit too useful for him in this department, and would pocket the money, while poor young Pat had to suffer for his fathers amusement, and to put the amount up for grabs into context, it was more money than Squire got for a weeks work when he first left school, "I was going to have that half crown", he recalls. While Tom ran the franchise for the gaming machines on the pier, his brother, Oliver, was the proprietor of the pier itself, which no doubt provided them with quite a handy, and not too little, income.
.


Sir Harry Preston and William Walker Sampson

.
Nice stories I hearing you thinking, but what of it? Well fast forward a few decades, and Squire has us ugly mob of tearaways, and one of them decides he wants to know a bit more about his family names history, find out whether we were, as had been put forward as a possibility, ancestors of marooned Spaniards, freshly beaten by Drake and co in 1588. It turned out not to be the case at all, but that's all over on my Family Tree write up page too, what isn't there, yet anyway, is the link which ties together a certain Harry Preston, through William Walker Sampson, to my Great Grandfather, Henry Ramus. In my efforts to find out more about Henry Ramus, I decided to trace William Walker Sampsons family tree, and some thirteen years after Henry had died, Sampson married for the second time, and on the wedding certificate were the names of Luigi Narlie, Charles Stone, Harry Preston, and Philip Rosenbach. I began tracing their lives through their family trees, and then found them in books too, and then the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia sent me copies of business transactions between Sampson and the Rosenbachs, which yielded my first hard proof of the partnership between Henry and William, headed note paper, earliest date, 1909. The Rosenbachs and Sampson, it appears, were among the most serious players at the auction houses of Sothebys and Christies in London at the time, seeming to be buying up half of all the paintings and literary works that came up. 
.
I still couldn't be sure that the Harry Preston on Williams marriage certificate, was also the hotel proprietor of the Royal Albion, and Royal York Hotels in Brighton, friend to the Prince of Wales, (later to be King Edward the 8th, abdicating in 1936), organiser of the first speed trials held at Madeira Drive in Brighton in 1905, he even badgered the local council to put the new fangled Tarmac surface on it at the request of the Royal Automobile Club, so that these speed trials could take place at all. Harry also organised the first air race to involve Brighton and Shoreham, which started off at Brooklands racing circuit in 1911, so as you can imagine, being a Shoreham lad, I was pretty keen to make and prove this link to 'Our 'Arry'. A little jaunt up to the History Centre in the Royal Pavillion gardens helped seal the deal, they provided me with all they had, then went one better, and showed me two books written by Harry Preston, 'My Memories', and 'Leaves from an Unwritten Diary', inside which, was hidden the very proof I was searching for. In 1927, a group of some of the most eminent people in the country had decided to hold a dinner in honour of Harry, to be held at the Piccadilly Hotel in London, and they had arranged a silver salver to be made, and engraved with all their signatures, inscribed in the middle, 'Presented to Harry Preston by a few friends October 17 1927', (which also happens to be the year of Squires birth). Harry, in his books, had kindly listed all the names of the signatures, over one hundred of them, including H.R.H. Edward, Prince of Wales, and there also, was the name of William Walker Sampson, and when I saw the picture of the silver salver, there just below the date, was W.W.Sampsons signature, what better proof could I have possibly asked for.
.
I shall quote you here from his book, Leaves from an Unwritten Diary, at the top of page 339:-
.
'I have been honoured by the friendship and dear regard of so many sportsmen during the last half century that this part of my unwritten diary should contain some thousands of names and will be about a million words long. Two personal stories will explain something of my dilemma when I reflect upon my good fortune in having so many friends who meet on the common and glorious ground of sport. On March 6, 1927, a few of my friends came from town to Brighton especially to honour me with a dinner at the Royal York, where they, and I, had enjoyed happy and intimate hours, enriched by good talk and the sweet aura of one anothers good company. They presented me with a loving cup on which they had inscribed their names:', and he lists the names, again, W.W.Sampson is there.
.
I have since obtained copies of both his books, and Squire is currently working his way through Memories, and enjoying every minute of it. Chatting to him about it, he asked if there was any mention of the Daltons, the Palace Pier family, so I scanned the index of 'Leaves from my Unwritten Diary', and there sure enough, was the name, Oliver Dalton, Squire recognised it immediately, I love it when that happens, because it generally means I'm about to get a few more nuggets of his priceless memory. I opened to the page indicated, and read on, he was talking of the early days of greyhound racing, and how a small number of entrepeneurs were attempting to raise the capital to get the whole show going, he writes:-
.
'This lack of perception of change lost small, easy fortunes to a number of my friends, who had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of greyhound racing, but could not see how or why the British public could be interested in the spectacle of dogs chasing a mechanised hare', further on he elaborates, :- 'The promoters certainly had the devil of a job to collect the £5000 to get the sport going. The capital eventually was raised over a brace of bottles of sherry in the Royal Albion Hotel. I regret I did not participate as a partner at that little party! Sir William Gentle, the former Chief Constable of Brighton, and an old friend of mine, was one of the little group of daring (and, as most who knew about this affair thought, hare brained) spirits. Another was Mr Oliver Dalton, the chief proprietor of the Palace Pier. Mr Dalton, lunching with me years later, jokingly reproached me for the potency of my sherry. He had let himself in for a £1000, after the first bottle; Gentle, for two thousand. But when the sherry fumes had cleared, they both wondered if they hadn't been a bit hasty, and consoled themselves with the thought that, after all, they wouldn't be ruined if they lost the money. They could afford the gamble.  "I hope you did well", I said. Mr Dalton swallowed an oyster, and a broad smile creased his genial face. "Oh I did pretty well, Harry," said he. "I sold out my interest - made about £40,000!"
(Bear in mind this book was written in 1936)
.
I never would have imagined that researching my family tree would have led me all the way back to Brighton, and even Shoreham, so imagine my delight when Squire then is reminded, and tells me how he and Pat Dalton used to ride from Brighton to Bungalow Town in Shoreham, to visit Pats Aunt Wynne, who had a bungalow there. What I have written here are just a few of the nuggets I have discovered, it's a huge story, which I have to bring together somehow, my hope is that you two can read this and, hopefully, see why I consider it worth doing. If you read my family Tree page on this site, (wolf-e-boy.com if you're reading this somewhere else), then you'll have a better picture of events. Only today, a renowned historian, Vernon Grosvenor Swanson, the man responsible for me finding the link to W.W.Sampson, has been in contact with me, offering his assistance with records. I took the day off as a result, and to get this lot written down, I hope you both enjoyed reading it.
.

Sitting in the clam at Andorra


Compare the Clam, Compare the Scumbags



Most people probably go for a holiday to rest, but for those that like to slide down mountains for fun, rest aint on the agenda until they get back, and don't I just know it! It was one of the best weeks you could want for as far as snow boarding goes, plenty of snow already on arrival at Andorra, then building through the week as it barely let up, puking clam all over the place. Depending on who you listened to, it was the most snow they'd had in ten, twenty, or thirty years, filling the slopes continually with clam chowder (powder), at one point even the piste had a metre of the fresh stuff on it.
.
At the end of each day I was convinced, however much fun I'd had that day, that I'd need a days rest before going out again, but each day I'd creak, groan, get kitted up and head out for more, quietly dreading the pain I was about to put myself through, until we're off, and it's all forgotten again. Even on the white out day, when our part of the mountain was closed owing to the blizzard conditions, we took a bus over to El Tartar where they had chair lifts running, but I was adamant I wasn't going up in that visibility, neither was Sweet VV, so the meercat and me sat it out in the cafe, he struggles to see in the best of vis. One run and the boys came to get us, "you have to come out, it's amazing", Tim told us, and then convinced VV that he'd be ok to see, so that was that, and up we went. What a time, as soon as you got down and went back up, it had dumped more of the fresh stuff and covered the trails, absolutely epic.
.
Falling over can be exhausting mind you, or at least the getting up bit is, pushing against fluffy clam, eventually having to pack the stuff down with your gloves to create a bit of resistance tp push yourself up. Riding in the stuff is like surfing in snow, gliding below the surface of the deep light snow, leaning your weight back to keep the front end up, grinning like a cheshire cat with a vat of cream strapped to its back, and reciprocating smiles as you pass other equally jubilant boarders and skiers on the way past. Yes, it was a great weeks worth of boarding, but boy did I ache as a result, two weeks later and I still ache. Powder is gold dust to boarders, but it's bloody hard work too.
.
When we arrived, I'd already been giving Sweet VV, (Ollie, Two Stone, Cyril Sneer, Meerkat, Sneercat), my usual, 'compare the meerkat.com', dodgy Russian accent mickey take, which he'd been hoping I'd forget this time. So imagine his disbelief when I spot that the name for Supermarkets in this part of Andorra, is, 'Supermercat', well that was it, "Supermercats.com, Supermarkets.com, Simples', for the rest of the week. Ollie, in my humble opinion, looks like the meerkat in the TV ads, which is why the dodgy accent mimicry, little things eh.
.
On return, it was straight into work, after Trough day on Monday of course, and pulling out a dormer on the Wednesday, I felt like death after that, nothing like easing yourself back into things. While at work I received a call from a woman claiming to have been recommended to me by a past customer, and offering me the possibility of more work, on a commission basis, "excuse me?", she went on to explain how they could line up work for me, and I would be expected to pay a commission on the jobs I got to price. By now something didn't sit right, I was smelling a rat, "you mean a back hander for finding me work", "no, it's all on a commission basis", "yeah, that's what I said, backhanders", just another set of parasites out there conning one set of people that they can provide decent trades, while actually using anyone they can get hold of, as long as they stump up the 'commission' for the privilege.
.
I phoned up the customer she told me she'd spoken to about my work, turns out this parasite found the info on the council website, as many people do, so much like that Checkatrade muppet that got hold of me after bumping into the roofer I use at a garage a couple of years back, ('Checkatrade guarantee the standard of work of whoever happens to be available at the nearest petrol station'), her mob will tell her customers that they can trust anyone that's willing to pay her for work, but obviously she wouldn't say it like that. These scumbags make me sick, they provide nothing, advertise a service they have nothing to do with, effectively leeching money out of the process as middle men, and then you can be sure, if anything goes wrong with the job, they'll say that's between the customer and the contractor, conveniently neglecting to take responsibility for bringing the two together. That's the issue with all these rinsers that say you can trust 'their' tradesmen, the only reason these trades are on their books, is because they paid to be, not because they're any good.
.
As we were cleaning the Devils bottom this weekend, one of our crew, Bunny, was telling me what a nightmare job his builders had done for him at their house, a so called reputable firm, no doubt listed with many of the aforementioned type of rinsing agencies. Apparently, even the Building Control Officer from the council remarked, not just how bad the work was, but how did this particular mob get any work, as "they're a load of shit", and it really isn't in the remit of the Building Inspector to pass such comments, so it had to be pretty bad. And Bunny said how his wife had commented on what a great job she had seen we had done by the pictures I posted on Facebook of an extension, dormer, and refurb at one property. Bunny had wanted a decent firm to take control of the whole job, I didn't take offence, I generally couldn't care less if work comes my way, as long as I have enough through the year to provide beer tokens for the Friday. But I did take the opportunity to remind Bunny, that should he wish a 'proper' trade to take a look at the work, I'd be happy to, but in fairness, who wants to come in after a bunch of cowboys with nice vans and T shirts with company logos have already fucked the job up.
.
The Devils bottom got cleaned and anti fouled over the weekend, with a nice bit of weather to give us a glimpse of better days to come, and hopefully not too soon before we're back out on the water, there's still the small issue of getting the boom replaced. We've all been finding bits of antifoul dust in our finger nails, nostrils, and ear holes since! Nothing that a pint of Guinness didn't put right at the end of the shift
.
Regarding my last blog, and other fairly recent scribes, concerning over development, and over population. I could hardly believe my eyes and ears when Cameron comes blurting out that all Indians will be welcome to live on our shores, with all obstacles being cleared to allow them pretty much unfettered access, 'ARE YOU FUCKING NUTS CAMERON?', India has a population of 1.5 BILLION, what kind of a half wit says such lunatic shyte, and how on earth did this half wit get into public office, let alone leader of the country. I expect dribbling shit from the likes of some of our local councillors, such as Mendoza, spewing his 'Gateway' bullshit as he seeks to concrete over every spare piece of ground in Adur. This has absolutely nothing to do with race, creed, colour, or what they dress like, it's about too many people in not enough space, and if they all drive cars, which they'll probably want to, then welcome to 24/7 smogville central, as well as all the other crap (sewers), flooding, crowded public transport, and where will the jobs come from? This kind of cretinous thinking is frankly bewildering.
.
Meanwhile, back in the world of my family histoire, new stuff comes up aplenty, but just makes the chase more urgent. I now have a rough picture of a Victorian world of art dealing, Gaiety Girls, Stage Door Johnnies, first class trips across the Atlantic, and early air flight pioneering involving Shoreham and Brighton. I currently have Sothebys checking to see if they may have records which could help my cause, Christies gave me the cold shoulder, and then my brother Simon mentions Bonhams to me at the Trough yesterday, as we consumed a mighty fine Horse pie, courtesy of Tescos mince, neigh worries. Without having tapped in anything to do with Bonhams, but researching one of the artists that my Great Grandfather, Henry Ramus, and his business partner, William Walker Sampson, had been dealing in a hundred years back, Alfont De Breanski, up came a picture by him, at Bonhams, and who should be named on the provenance for this picture?, a certain David S Ramus, of Atlanta, Georgia. I have long since traced and established a link between this American author, or more accurately, his sister, and daughter. He is actually my fifth cousin, once removed, but what are the odds?, I love a good coincidence. Unfortunately, as I began researching Bonhams, it turns out that they lost all pre war records as a result of bombing in WW2, but the provenance on the De Breanski picture will do for now, all adds to the story. Check out the latest on 'My Family Tree' page on this site.
.
As I have no work this week, of the manual type at least, I'm going to hoof it off to some libraries in search of more info for the family story, and let the old bod recover properly, I feel like I have the elbows, knees, and muscles of a ninety year old right now.
And to finish on a lighter note, another little wheeze from Macca:- (remember, it's only a joke)
Dear Mr. Cameron,
Please find below our suggestion for fixing the UK 's economy.
... 
Instead of giving billions of pounds to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:
There are about 10 million people over 50 in the work force.
Pay them £1 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:
1) They MUST retire.
Ten million job openings - unemployment fixed
2) They MUST buy a new British car.
Ten million cars ordered - Car Industry fixed
3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage -
Housing Crisis fixed
4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university -
Crime rate fixed
5) They MUST buy £100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week .....
And there's your money back in duty/tax etc
It can't get any easier than that!
P.S. If more money is needed, have all members of parliament pay back their falsely claimed expenses and second home allowances
If you think this would work, please forward to everyone you know.
Also.....
Let's put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home.
This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance.
Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.
A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell.
They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling, pool and education.
Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.
Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens.
Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls.
There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.
The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room and pay £600.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.
Think about this (more points of contention):
COWS
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Appleby almost three years ago, right to the stall where she slept in the county of Cumbria?
And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls. But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow.

Cleaning the Devils bottom, Feb 2013

Apathy the Enemy

.
Not for the first time, I've been finding out that no matter how well things may be looking in the sphere of your own lifes orbit, you can never be in control of what's going on outside of that orbit. When last I wrote, it mentioned the sad passing of Peter Weller, production manager at Watercraft when I joined as an apprentice, and the man that interviewed me, and gave me the job back in 1980, I also mentioned the battle that our long time family friend, Paul Powter, was waging against cancer. It is with the greatest sadness that I write now, that he finally lost his battle, and to be honest, I haven't felt like writing since, and I can't even imagine how it is for Mavis, Ian, and Dave, his wife and sons. There are never any words to ease such a loss, but there will always be the memories, and that is the only consolation left to be had when someone dies. Paul was certainly not the sort of person to let the grass grow under his feet, an inspirational character that met adversity with a smile and a steely resolve to overcome whatever life threw at him, as well as making the most of that life while he was living it, he and Mavis made the most wonderful couple.

.
It has been fortunate that I've had a great deal of varying things going on, to immerse myself in work and research to fill most of my waking hours, maybe it's a cowards way out of dealing with stuff you'd rather not face up to, I don't know. For whatever reason, I've kept busy, and a lot of it unpaid, but just for the experience, such as the architectural building design stuff, time consuming, but rewarding when it's all been passed. I await a decision on the first set of plans next week, while I'll be away snow boarding in Andorra, and I have another one in progress on Shoreham Beach, but thankfully that one has been delayed for a bit owing to a lack of resources for the moment. In between that, and general carpentry, which brings in the bacon, I've been researching family history events, which have led me into a most unexpected, but hugely interesting world of art and book dealing from a hundred years ago, involving first class trips back and forth across the Atlantic on White Star, and Cunard Liners, first edition literary masterpieces being auctioned off in London, bought by 'New American' money, and leading on to links with Sir Harry Preston, one time owner of the Royal Albion, and Royal York hotels in Brighton, as well the Duke of Windsor, all of which I will attempt to bring together over on my family tree page on this site.

.
At a local level, it would appear Shoreham is once again under attack from developers, this time with an unbelievably ridiculous proposal to clear away the remaining industry on the quayside between the Lifeboat station and I think as far as the old Parcel Force building, I'm not sure of its full extent yet, but either way, it's either the brainchild of a halfwit, or, more likely, another money spinner for major developers with no vested interest in the area whatsoever. They will talk of bringing employment to the town, but what they won't mention is that the vast majority of the labour force will come from outside the area. Regardless of that, at the moment, the quayside has industry, which in turn means jobs, so removing all that industry and replacing it with residential dwellings is about as far removed from benefitting the town as it's possible to get, leaving a larger population to chase fewer jobs available. And you can't possibly talk about this without mentioning the disastrous traffic situation in and around Shoreham already, with no sign of it abating, what kind of cretin thinks squeezing a few thousand more residents next to an already over capacity coast road will do anything other than make matters worse, it really does beggar belief.

.
More and more I hear people talk of how Shoreham is being changed, and they're not saying it's for the better, so my answer to them is, ENGAGE, have your say, write to the Argus, or the Herald. More importantly, find out which councillors are backing these schemes, and let them know you'll be voting against them unless they change their views, namely, one Mr Mendoza for a start, who has come out quite openly stating he believes it to be a good idea, creating a great 'Gateway' for the town. This isn't the first time I've heard him use the word 'Gateway', it was a term employed by the architect firm, Liam Russell, when applying to stick a block of flats where a bungalow currently stands on Shoreham Beach, another scheme that Mr Mendoza claimed was a good idea in his opinion, saying then that he believed these flats would make a great 'Gateway to Shoreham beach', conveniently ignoring the fact that it isn't even close to being the entrance to the beach. Ben Stride, a Shoreham Beach representative on the council, also expressed support for flats at that location in a scaled down design, so I would encourage any beach residents to let him know their thoughts on that matter too, because the re-application for those flats is in the post already. Apathy is the enemy, so rattle off an e mail and let them know what you think of their desire to further ruin this great town.
.

Overpopulation is the barely voiced dilemma which is the human disaster waiting in the wings, and unhindered over development is the fuel to help that disaster along its way. When that arsewipe BLiar was busy ruining all the institutions in this country, one of his nifty little ideas was to open the door to unchecked immigration, snorting with derision at any protesters, that only around forty thousand Eastern Europeans would take up the chance to come and work here, but that it would benefit the country, the only people it benefited, other than the cheap Eastern European labourers, were the employers that exploited the situation. Well last week it was announced that Polish is now the second most spoken language in the UK, with over half a million speaking it. Nice work BLiar, mind you, I could go on all day about the poisoned legacy that scumbag has left this country, before jetting off around the world getting paid fortunes on the lecture circuit, presumeably giving a masterclass on how to fuck up a country and make a tidy wedge in the process.

.

On a more light hearted note:-

It’s late Autumn and the Indians on a remote reservation in North Dakota asked their new Chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild.
 
Since he was a Chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the winter was going to be like.
 
Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.
 
But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, ‘Is the coming winter going to be cold?’
 
‘It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,’ the meteorologist at the weather service responded.
 
So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.
 
A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. ‘Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?’ 
 
‘Yes,’ the man at National Weather Service again replied, ‘it’s going to be a very cold winter.’ 
 
The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.
 
Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. ‘Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?’
 
‘Absolutely,’ the man replied. ‘It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.’
 
‘How can you be so sure?’ the chief asked. 
 
The weatherman replied, ‘The Indians are collecting a shitload of firewood.’

06-01-2013
.
'Battle won, but War not over'

.

Here we are in the new year of 2013, and I've been working already, shocking state of affairs, and all the way over in Gravesend to make things that much worse, rarely has a place been more aptly named, bleak and dour are two words that come to my mind when shuddering as I think about getting up at five in the morning for another day up there. A mate of mine asked me to help him out, "just a couple days work fitting ash handrails", I've done eight days so far, and he neglected to mention where the job was until the day before I started.
.
It isn't all that bad really, the job is at Gads Hill, a fee paying school for the well heeled, and formerly home to Charles Dickens apparently, with Charles Dickens Avenue, and Copperfield Crescent, just a couple of road names nearby. I go up with the welders, and they really are a breed apart, humour being of the brutal variety, quite funny, but mostly unrepeatable, and how they like to take the mickey out of poshness, I can't help but smile when hearing a couple of burly welders walking along singing, "Gads Hill, Gads Hill, ra ra ra", in mock posh accents. Needless to say none of the little darlings get to hear it, just the work force.
.
On the Shoreham Beach front, having seen off the first application to build a block of nine flats where a bungalow is now, I was pleasantly surprised to see a full page spread in our local paper, with the headline:- 'Battle on Beach won- but the war isn't over', with a headshot of myself, and my name in bold print under. I'm never keen on seeing photos of my ugly mug, but the cause is a worthwhile one. Basically the reporter, Elaine Hammond, found my blog and paraphrased a few bits of it for the story, all totally fine by me, and all of us opposed to the scheme I'm sure are grateful for Elaines assistance in publicising our objections. If you don't know the full story, just check back on my last blog of 2012. Unlike some people who consider it inevitable and not worth fighting, I don't believe build build build equals progress, not without the proper infrastructure to accomodate the extra burden the increased population brings all across society, from extra traffic, wear and tear on the roads, drainage problems, and sewage issues, to name just a few off the top of my head. Personally, I like Shoreham for its history and location, and mainly its natural elements, not for what some developer thinks they can turn it in to purely so they can make a fast buck. It was a sad day when Watercraft went bust back in 1986, the place where I, and many others, cut our teeth as apprentices learning our future trades, it was a much sadder time watching that eyesore called Emerald Quay get built where Watercraft once proudly stood, the last bastion of a long history of big boat building yards in Shoreham.
.
It is with a heavy heart that I recently found out that Peter Weller, former Production Manager of Watercraft, sadly passed away, unfortunately I found out only after his funeral had already been, and saddest of all is that I hear there were only about fifteen people at his funeral. Ade Thompson, another ex apprentice, phoned to let me know about it, I've spoken to a good few ex Watercraft employees since, all of whom, like me and Ade, said they would like to have gone and paid their respects had they known, as I'm sure many others would too. After recommendation letters from Paul Powter, (who I have to say with an equally heavy heart, is currently battling cancer, and I hope  more than anything that he can beat it), and Peter Kilner, fathers to Ian Powter, and Barry Kilner, both apprentices there at the time, I got an interview with Peter Weller for the position of Boat Building apprentice in 1980. Like many of the employees, he had worked his way up from the shop floor, and because of that, the place had a big family feel to it, seeming less like work as an apprentice, and more like a better kind of school than we'd been used to. I still have a great many friends from my time there, and it's always good to chew the fat with any of them when we cross paths. Peter was a well liked part of that big family, and I have no doubt a great deal of ex work mates will be sad to hear of his passing. If it's at all possible, I'd like to see if I can arrange a gathering of anyone that knew Peter, for some kind of memorial, so if any of you reading this would like to be involved, please feel free to e mail me to show your interest, and I'll see what can be done.
.
In the world of fitba, I'm happy to say, "I was there", for the cup game against Newcastle, because the Albion were awesome, they played so well against a Premiership side, albeit a weakened one, but I bet that weakened team still earn eye watering salaries which would dwarf what any Brighton player, bar Wayne Bridge, gets. It was a shame the crowd was so much smaller than recent crowds, seats that had been paid for left empty, but for those of us lucky enough to have witnessed that quality display, we know it was their loss to miss such a great performance. Now we have another home draw in the fourth round, either Swansea or Arsenal, I don't mind which, but hope the lads can play as well then as they did this Saturday, there were stars all over the pitch, Bridge and Bridcutt being outstanding, but Bridcutt was absolutely epic, so my man of the match on the day.
.
I am now officially an 'Agent', with regard to filing applications for building works, having received notification that my plans and regs have been passed by Worthing and Adur Building Control, so I hope this will be the start of an interesting change of course in my working life. Given what some of these Agents charge, and the fact that I have a wealth of experience from the construction side already, it might even be a lucrative move, although I couldn't bring myself to bill customers the fortunes that these other Agents have been quoting. Regardless of all that, it's a job I enjoy doing, and once I get used to the various regulations, it's a doddle.
.
Until the next blog, I'd like to wish you all a happy new year, and a further welcome to all you 'Stumbledupon' readers that have been flooding my site with hits and visits, setting a new record in December, with over seventy thousand hits in the month. Let's see if I can keep them coming and create new records in 2013.

Ash handrails at Gads Hill Gads Hill ra ra ra
Squire

Text-only version of this page  |  Edit this page  |  Manage website  |  Website design: 2-minute-website.com