Sunday, 23 February 2020

Mellish Christmas Letter 2019

Well, we have made it through 11 months of the year at least! A few more aches and pains, extra pounds around the waist, well Barry’s, and fortunately no great family dramas. Julia, at long last, had her leg operation in March. It was successful although she still has to be careful not to knock them. 
Andrew & Gaew were in Japan for some of the Rugby World Cup, although the England v France game was cancelled due to the typhoon. They said that it was rather scary and that they were glad that they were safe in their hotel.
Lawrie had the great “pleasure” of guarding Donald Trump and helping police the Extinction Rebellion protests!
Hélèna and Sam’s business is doing well. They were second in the northern finals of the National Street Food competition and they were joint National winners in the Food Sustainability awards, a great accolade. The grandchildren Henry and Georgia continue to thrive. Henry is doing well at school, football and most importantly rugby! 
This is being written before the General Election in which Hélèna is standing as a Green Party candidate in her constituency in Stockport, so by Christmas there might be a Mellish once more in the House!
The great sadness has been the recent death of our college friend Martin whom Barry has known since 1966. We have met up three or more times a year ever since college. He was a great man, it is a great loss.
We had no foreign travels this year, but several trips to our lodge in Devon and a trip to see family in the north of England. This included a visit to Tommy Banks restaurant in Oldstead, Yorkshire. Fabulous food at a fabulous cost!
We trust that you and your loved ones are all thriving.
Wishing you peace, prosperity and Good health in 2020.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Election Dilema

I was taking Holy Communion to an elderly parishioner (aged 99) on Monday. We were talking about today's vote and he said that he had voted in many elections and he could not recall when we had such a poor lot of potential prime ministers. He said that there was not a statesman (or woman) amongst the lot of them. I must admit that I agree with him I cannot say that I want any of them as the head of government. 
As for the would be members of cabinet, they are mostly a pretty poor lot. I know that in the UK we vote for a constituency MP and that the sovereign asks the person most likely to command a majority in the House to form a government. In reality it is becoming more like a presidential campaign - how many of us can name the would be Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary of the major parties (without the use of google)?
If I lived in Stockport I would vote for my daughter Hélèna, but here in Bromley I am really stuck. Neither Johnson or Corbyn are fit to be Prime Minister; this is a great pity as I think that Bob Neil is a good local MP but a vote for him will help enable Johnson to be PM. Jo Swinson strikes me as a pretty ineffectual leader but I guess a vote for the LibDems may help prevent either Labour or the Conservatives from gaining an overall majority. So with a heavy heart...........!

Friday, 18 October 2019

Memories of Canterbury Rugby Club in the Early Seventies

Playing for Canterbury in the Early Seventies

I moved to Canterbury in October 1971, newly married and fresh out of university, to start work in the NHS. Initially my wife Julia was not with me as she was still working in Manchester, but that is another story! Wanting to continue my rugby career, not sure that career is really the operative word, I made enquiries as to how to join Canterbury Rugby Club. Go see Eddy Hardy landlord at the Nag’s Head was the response and so this I duly did.  Over a few beers Eddy told me how to get to the ground and who to contact and that training, not sure if Eddy did that much, was on a Tuesday evening. 

Like Eddy I was a hooker and on the next Saturday I found myself hooking for the Pilgrims hanging between Peter Stevens and Geoff Brown(??). At that time Eddy hooked for the 1st XV. If I recall correctly the Pilgrims at that time were captained by David Hallwood who graced us at fly-half; although “fly” is not an adjective that I would use to describe him. I was 24 at the time and was the youngest regular member of the Pilgrims, most of the team being at least in their early thirties. My most enduring memory is of the great sense of camaraderie that ran throughout the club. It didn’t matter if you were in the first team or the “bottom” team you were a club member and that was it, you were part of the family.

The game then was very different to the game that is played today. The scrum was strictly refed. The ball was thrown in straight down the middle and penalties were frequently given for “feeding” by the scrum-half. The hookers actually struck for the ball, but if you struck too early you were penalised. Usually there were hand signals between the scrum half and hooker to coordinate the actual put-in with the strike. The scrum-half was not allowed to dummy his put-in, which they sometimes tried to induce the opposition hooker to strike early and give away a penalty. It was in the seventies that hookers were started to be used to throw the ball into the lineout. Prior to that it was usually the winger. On a cold, wet, windy winters afternoon this might well be the only time that the winger actually got to handle the ball. The French international team used their scrum-half Pierre Berbizier
to throw the ball in, he would then run around to collect the pass from the lineout. The lineout was not the well drilled affair that it is today. Lifting/supporting was not legal and the team with the tallest player, anything over 6ft 2inches was very tall, usually would win the ball. I cannot remember exactly when direct kicking into touch was outlawed apart from within your own 25, 22 metres being a modern fad and as such should be ignored.
The try was worth four points, being increased from three in 1971. Substitutes were not allowed in club rugby and so injured players were generally moved to the wing unless bits were actually falling off their bodies. After the tackle you had to immediately release the ball and generally advised to get well clear, if not the opposition would often heel you out along with ball.  

Other memories:
David Hallwood shouting ‘yours’ in a loud stentorian voice as the ball bobbled towards him closely followed by the opposing back row. David would then move with great alacrity to the side leaving our hapless fullback to gather the ball and the opposition. David also had a fantastic boot. Many the time he hooved the ball from close to our in-goal line to deep in the opposition 25. 

Playing for the 1st XV away at Park House. Fifteen of us met at the Nags Head but only 11 of us arrived in Bromley. One of the cars broke down on the A2. This was before the days of mobile phones and so we took the field with 11 men and true confidently expecting the missing car to arrive. Fortunately, we had our complete front row so it was just the three of that packed down. Park House did not have the wit to just pack down with three, so we ended up winning practically all the scrums. Their pack had to hold back else they were penalised for pushing before the ball came in. In those days the ref was strict about such matters as well as crooked feeds and striking before the ball came in. We were actually winning the game and doing OK until Barry Jackson, our skipper and loose-head prop was sent off for punching his opposite number. We could manage with 11 but being down to ten was a step too far and we duly lost. After the game the missing car arrived just in time for them to buy the beer.

Local derby games were always hard-fought affairs. In the case of playing Snowdown CW (Colliery Workers) and Betteshanger CW fought is operative word. They were still working pits until the mid-eighties. The Pilgrims used to play their 1st XVs and after the match one’s body usually had bruises in strange places and stud marks on the back. There was one game when our winger was streaking down the touchline and he was tripped by a spectator. Thanet Wanderers was always a tough game particularly in the front row. Their hooker was Brian Bowler who played for the Kent County team. Brian gave no quarter but was always generous in the bar after the game.

I have a very vague recollection of drinking at the Sir Jeffery Amerhurst (near Sevenoaks) on the way back to Canterbury after an away game. As we were playing away at Dover I am totally unsure as to how we arrived at Sevenoaks. We were all very tired and emotional that night! 

I also seem to recall some stag evenings at the clubhouse where we were shown some instructional videos compered by a loud and raucous comedian. All very entertaining and no doubt greatly helped our performance the following night.

I have forgotten the names of most of the people I played with. Those that come to mind: Gus MacConnachie, Tony McIntagert, Mark Jopling, Paul Charlesworth, Neil Mckinnon, Paul Charlesworth, Steve Uglow, Bill Piper, Hugh Boswell, David Hallwood, Peter Stevens, Geoff Brown, Eddy Hardcastle, Tim O’Hare, Mike Nurton, Bernard Henry,– I need to look at the team photos hanging in the clubhouse to jog the old memory cells.

I seem to recollect that for one season I was the team secretary. This involved in sending cards (yes by post) to all the players telling them which team they were selected for they coming Saturday. Thursday and Friday evenings were then spent in listening to pathetic excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly play away in such far flung places such as Bromley but could manage to squeeze in a game at home. Since when has shopping with the wife ever been a valid reason for not playing rugby? As for those who decide to get married on a Saturday during the season; well that marriage is due to fail from the off! I like to think that we managed to field four/five full teams every week but I suspect that I am deluding myself in that respect.

Post-match teas were generally sandwiches and cups of tea usually prepared by some of the wives, it really was a family affair. It was always good to play the bank teams away, usually in Copers Cope Road Beckenham where several had their grounds. They not only provided a splendid cooked meal but the beer was subsidised too.

Even in the seventies the perennial question was “How old is Dickie Ovenden?” He was old then so today (2019) he must be ancient. Dickie typifies the Canterbury ethos. Once a member you never really leave. Even though I left the club at the end of the 76/77 season to move to Bromley (work related) I still consider myself a Canterbury man. It was a great club to play for, above all it was fun.

Barry Mellish 15 October 2014

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Supreme Court's Decision

The government or was it Boris Johnson said that proroguing parliament was nothing to do with Brexit but to give him time to prepare the Queen's Speech. So how is the Supreme Court's Decision affecting the will of the people? It is nothing to do with Brexit and parliaments ability to scrutinise "the deal" we have Boris' word on this.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

What Does Boris Really Want?

 I think that BoJo is playing a long very deep game. Do not be deceived by that the comic persona he created on "Have I Hot News for You" and similar programmes fool you. Beneath the genial buffoon lurks a very shrewd ruthless operator. When he was twelve or thereabouts he said that he wanted to be Prime Minister. He has let nothing stand in his way, wife, mistresses unwanted babies all gone. Political views - changed! 
Read some of his earlier writings in 2012-13:- These writings are very perceptive and the trenchant criticisms he made of British industry still hold good today. So does he really want in or out or doesn't he really care? By proroguing Parliament he is forcing the opposition to coalesce around a single view, something it has singuarly failed to do over the past three years. Personally I do not think he really cares as long as he remains in Number 10.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Seeking Pauline Holmes nee Sollitt

I recently posted asking if anybody had contact with Pauline Holmes nee Sollitt who was a bridesmaid at our wedding in July 1971. Following this I have reason to believe that she has a son Stuart Michael Holmes born in Luton, January 1976, Mothers maiden name Sollitt. So if anybody knows Stuart Holmes would they please get in contact with me. Many thanks

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Avery Hill College Badge

My mum was at Avery Hill College from about 1923 to 1925. Came across this on eBay.

Hallmarked  on reverse Fattorini Brothers  hallmark  appears to be E maybe F  with clipped 
top corners and scroll base which would date it as 1904 or later  vgc   approx.3 0mm by 32mm, 
located in south west London. There are three entwined letters ie AHC. very  attractive item  
clip working  …..

Avery Hill College was established in 1906 by the London County Council as a residential 
female teacher training college. The mansion at Avery Hill, Eltham had been purchased by 
London County Council in 1902. It had previously been the home of Colonel John Thomas North 
and his family, who had spent up to £200,000 on renovating and adding to the property to 
create a large Italianate mansion. On his death in 1896 his widow sold the property, which 
was eventually bought by London County Council for £25,000. The College opened in 
1906 with 45 resident and 115 day students. Most of the students were between 18 and 21 
and came from London, and had already worked as pupil-teachers. 
The syllabus included nature study, drawing, music and the theory of education as well as 
the more usual academic subjects. Science was not taught until the 1930s as so few of the 
girls had been taught the subject at school. Games included tennis, hockey, cricket and netball, 
and student societies were established to organise social events and activities. 
By 1908 the College had purchased nearby Southwood House and a school building in 
Deansfield Road which were converted to hostels. Numbers of applicants to the College 
continued to rise, and four new halls of residence were built in the grounds of Southwood House,
the last opening in 1916. 
During the First World War Roper Hall became a convalescent home for soldiers, but the 
College remained open.

In 1928 Avery Hill was attached to the University of London to conduct examinations for 
Teacher's Certificates, along with all teacher training colleges. In 1935 a range of improvements 
were made to the College's facilities, when the halls of residence were updated and mains 
electricity introduced. The Principal, Freda Hawtrey, introduced training for nursery school 
work as an important feature of Avery Hill courses after 1935.

During the Second World War Avery Hill was evacuated to Huddersfield Technical College. 
The College returned to Eltham in 1946, although all the buildings had suffered war damage, I
ncluding most of the original mansion. Three large houses in Chislehurst were purchased in 
1947 and converted into hostels, easing the problem of student accommodation.

After the war the College continued to attract rising numbers of students, with up to a third 
coming from the north of England by the late 1940s. Students continued to take a two year 
course leading to a Teacher's Certificate validated by the University of London. In 1959 Avery 
Hill took on male students, but inadequate accommodation meant that they boarded at the 
former Methodist training college in Westminster. The College also established an annexe at 
Mile End for mature students in 1968. In 1960 a third year was added to the teacher training 
course, according to the Ministry of Education's requirements. From the 1960s the future of 
Avery Hill as an independent college was under close consideration by the Inner London 
Education Authority as well as the college itself. After several years of resisting plans for 
mergers and retaining its independence Avery Hill merged with Thames Polytechnic in 1985, 
when Avery Hill became the Polytechnic's Faculty of Education and Community Studies.