People and places of Middleton
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Those Times That Time Forgot

It may be too early in the day to read this little gem, perhaps it is really too early to attempt to write it, but I will if you draw up a comfy chair by the fire, grab a piece of toast and a pot of tea while I struggle on with the tale.

I know that you are lost already, especially if you have never had a bit fun on a hearth rug, so how can you possibly appreciate the superb delights of a pile of hot buttered toast, fresh off the toasting fork, without a television or any electrical gadgets whatsoever?

This was the time of the sparking clogs, when the kids played safely in the streets because the policeman was there, bang a dustbin with a stick during the silence of the night and he would appear, also because he was there.

There was no need to lock front doors, because there was nothing of value to steal really, and if you saw someone coming out of your house, they had just taken something in.

Later came the war and work was plentiful, and despite the hard times, lack of some foods from abroad, and the blackout, the sparking clogs were clearly demonstrated by contented happy kids with a smile on their faces most of the time, and there was usually, not a penny in their pockets.

If they did manage to appropriate two pennies that was enough for a seat at the local cinema, and another penny would purchase two ounces of sweets as well. This was the time when the country was occupied by foreign troops and soldiers of the British Empire from all over the world.

They had travelled to the United Kingdom to fight for their King and Queen, and when the National Anthem was played at the end of a performance, any lad who was not sharp enough to have got away before the lights came on and was still sitting down, was likely to receive a clip round the ear, from a more patriotic customer.

The Royal Princesses were a regular feature on the newsreels, and most lads really fancied Princess Margaret, she was pretty and grew up to be a real beauty, but in a class society like ours, there is no chance of meeting any of them at all. Times and circumstances can change, but surely not that much, or can they?

With the good old days flashing by, and by now the proud owner of my very first old motorbike and a decent pedigree dog, it was off to see a great city for the first time in my life. London 1950’s style, and finally Cruft’s Dog Show at Olympia and what a debut this turned out be.

The first incident of note was while I was standing on the balcony by the rail, and trying to look down at the main ring where my dog was being shown. There was a long table by the edge of the balcony and standing on it were a group of about eight men, they had a great view of the judging for Best In Show, but it was difficult for anyone else to see the main ring.

A little girl of about ten years of age said to her father, “Dad I can’t see the dogs.” Being a helpful Lancashire lad and not knowing the very strange ways of city dwellers at this time, a situation to be corrected in the very near future. I just leaned down, effortlessly picked her up, and placed her firmly on the table.

Well! “You would not believe it!” But perhaps you will, especially when I tell you. One of these b*****s looked me straight in the eye and then he deliberately trod on my fingers as hard as he could.

Well! being of a nice warm temperament myself I just reached up with my free hand, grabbed his immaculate old school tie, and pulled him down towards me, and as he was falling and still in mid air, clipped him hard on the chin, and he slumped silently to the floor.

Noticing the look of amazement and gratitude on the face of the girl’s father, which only made two of us in favour, and a healthy seven in opposition, I decided to leave the area as quickly as possible.

A little while later, having won best of breed with our Lahsa Apso dog, I was introduced to the great Sherpa Tenzing conqueror of Everest, and eventually invited to an evening meal at the home of the Albertson’s, who had previously owned a tea plantation in Sikkim.

They were fantastic people with two lovely daughters, both of them had hurriedly been sent to London to study medicine, but it was actually to get them out of the reach of the Maharajah, who had a roaming eye, hands to match, and divine rights.

At dinner I was seated between a pretty nineteen-year-old girl on my left and a more mature lady on my right, She had a gin and whatever in her right hand, but her left one kept sliding down to keep touching the top of my leg, while her foot for some reason kept drifting about under the table.

I decided to move nearer to the pretty one and she responded quite nicely by closing up the small gap between us even more, and I thought “ooh cracked it here.”

After dinner, which until now I had presumed to be about dinner time, not late evening, the drinks began to be consumed more than ever and everyone seemed to be getting a little bit merry, all except the pretty one, she had become a little bit bored, I could see that quite clearly.

On the opposite side of the room was a very beautiful woman of about twenty five years old, it does not happen very often, nor does it happen to everyone, but the static electricity flew right across that large room and it hit me right between the eyes, and of course I wandered across for a better look.

She very quickly made a space for me to sit by her side, and then it happened, two rather large body guards moved right behind her, and one of them indicated that it was time for me to go, and I had not said a b**dy word.

At the same time the pretty girl who had missed nothing at all, just leaned forward and looked me straight in the eye too, but she also crooked her forefinger in my direction, and beckoned me back across the room, of course not being one to ignore such an open invitation I went to her.

Actually she was not very pleased I could tell that by the way she said, “You can take me home now!” Of course we had only been married for six months at that time.

Ooh! I nearly forgot to tell you in case you were wondering, the beautiful stranger, she was one of The Maharajah’s daughters, yes a real "Princess," and as my wife will tell you “she really was very beautiful.

Sad to say all was not well in her own country, because some time in the future; a take over would ensure the deaths of all close members of the Nepalese Royal Family. But of the beautiful Princess of 1950’s vintage, I know no more, but time or not, she will never be forgotten.

Submitted by Mr Harold Philbin. January 2011.

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