One Year On

My Dad, Sunray, passed away died exactly one year ago today, suddenly at 14:00 GMT, while walking back from his local shop.

How time flies.

How was my grieving process?  Actually, IMHO, there wasn’t really one.  I was very matter-of-fact the moment I found out via a Facebook Messenger message from my younger brother.  I was in the office, collating an Excel spreadsheet.  I told my colleague, “My Dad has just died,” in the same way and tone that we would tell a colleague, “Our boss popped in, looking for you.”  I then carried on with my spreadsheet to meet a deadline for our rather unfriendly product owner.

I did pause to send out a Whatsapp round-robin message to Schatz and to church friends to ask for their prayers for Sunray’s soul.  Replies came in from single “prayer” emojis to long, warm messages from members of my house group.  I wasn’t in shock, but I think I was stunned.

I did not cry until I got home.  By then the posts and kinds words and funny stories about him flooded in on his regimental old comrades Facebook page.  Tears of grief ran out of my left eye, and of laughter from the right eye.  It’s what Sunray would have wanted.

That was then.  This is now.

I still feel relieved.  I still do not regret deciding to stay away from his funeral.  In any case I was still not well enough to travel at that time.  Even walking to my local shops and back was a major physical exertion.  I am glad that I visited his grave two months later, said a prayer or two over his grave and placed three daffodils on the broken earth, marking his relatively fresh grave.

I have prayed daily that his is indeed resting in peace and that God will let his infinite mercy shine on Sunray’s face.  Since he died one year ago, several more of his regimental brothers have died.  I pray that they will join him in the Senior Squadron bar to exchange “Do you remember when…?” stories.

HHQvdg.jpg

Sunray in November 1998

Have a poignant day, won’t you!

 

Advertisements

I love Masham

I love the Yorkshire Dales.  One of my favourite places is Masham.  (Note: pronounced “Mass ‘em,” not “Mash ‘em.”)  Here’s where it is in North Yorkshire.

So what’s there to see at Masham?

  • September sheep fair, where you can actually stroke a sheep on its head, when it’s in a sheep pen and wants to be stroked like a dog.
  • Bi-weekly market, to be found on the Market Square (funny, that). That’s Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Bargains and banter always guaranteed.  Masham market was where I first ate a delicious, crunchy Pink Lady apple.
  • Bordar House Café on the market square. I can heartily recommend their all-day breakfasts and omelettes.  Food p0rn par excellence!
  • St Mary’s church, a most impressive and fascinating building which has been there for years.
  • Two breweries (yes – two), namely Theakstons and Black Sheep breweries. Depending on wind direction, you can smell the malt up to seven (7) miles away, a treat for the olfactory nerves.

(For more information, click on www.visitmasham.com .)

Masham was regarded as The Bustling Metropolis in the mid-70’s, when our family used to fly over from our German garrison town and spend the summer in our Grandma’s Yorkshire Dales hamlet.  Wednesday mornings saw the once-weekly bus arrive at the village to take you to Masham market, the premier shopping experience.  Life was very quiet in the mid-70’s compared to nowadays.  In fact, the highlight of the day for us three pads brats was to sit by the village postbox and watch the postman open said object and throw the contents thereof into his sack.  This was pre-smartphone days.

burrillbox.jpg

As for the postboxes in Masham, there are, I regret to say, no exciting ones there – just normal E II R ones.  Finally, Masham post office is where I bought my first scrapbook (hardback A4 writing book, back in November 2013.) How time flies, eh?

Have a “massive” day, won’t you!

Scrapbook: Non-News Story

It’s been a quiet autumn night, so besides:

  • Alphabetising my book collection
  • Clipping my toenails
  • Reorganising my stationery box
  • Reading umpteen Wkipedia articles on the chemical content of planet Pluto

I decided to have a look through my scrapbooks.  Among the postcards, village church service sheets, train tickets and various till receipts, I found this excellent local newspaper non-news story from the Darlington and Stockton Times.  “Not our department” seems to be the name of the game.  Enjoy!

Non-News.jpg

Have a newsworthy day, won’t you!

Your Occasional Bad Joke

Two Yorkshiremen are chatting down the allotment. One says to t’other:

Seth, how’s thee rhubarb coming along this year?

The second Yorkshireman replies:

Aye, reet grand. I’ve been pourin’ hoss manure on to improve the flavour.

Oh aye?

replies the first Yorkshireman,

I find custard does the job for me.

Have a flavoursome day, won’t you!

crumble.jpg

I’m not eating here!

On a lighter note…

November 1998.  Northallerton, North Yorkshire.  I’m on a visit to Sunray.   It’s Wednesday, market day in Northallerton.  Sunray and I have walked the whole length of Northallerton High Street and have bought at the market:

  1. Ten cheap’n’cheerful thank you cards
  2. Four packs of AA batteries on special offer
  3. Ten pairs of socks

Bargains, all of them.

By now it’s gone 13:00.  I’m “Hank Marvin,” starving, wasting away…

Dad, shall we stop and eat somewhere?

Oh aye, yeah.  Let’s do that.

A few metres along from the greetings cards and watch batteries stall I spot a burger van, the fine aroma of friend onions wafting over to us.

As we walk past, I suggest:

Shall we eat here then?

It looks clean enough, not a salmonellaburger van.

Sunray, at about 100 decibels, takes one look and exclaims:

I’m not eating here!

Within a nanosecond, the owner leans out of the hatch in horror, swivels her head 180 degrees, left to right, looking very upset.

Sorryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Spotting me crying with laughter, bent double as if punched in the stomach, and then recognising Sunray, she adds furiously:

Aye, I might have known it would be you, having a dig at my place!

Sunray and I continue walking on to the nearest fish and chip cafe.  Sunray has a spring in his step.  Who wanted a cheeseburger with fried onions, anyway?  For me, only a Big Kahuna Burger will do.

Have a fussy day, won’t you!

kahuna

Scrapbook

I’m not high up enough in the food chain to have my memoirs published or to have my diaries forged.  I do, however, have many a quiet evening on my own.  Occasionally I’ll get the glue out and stick a few items in my scrapbook.

Where did I get this habit?  Sunray started it all back in 1978, when he was posted to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS).  He was constantly cutting and pasting gluing into his Ministry of Defence A4 hard-backed book:

  • Article after article from the Camberley News
  • The occasional Northern Echo clipping about his elder brother, who was in the habit of arguing with North Yorkshire Police and ending up the loser in court
  • Ah yes… every now and again, local non-news articles that mother would post to him from the Darlington and Stockton Times, eg “TRUCK BREAKS DOWN ON A1 BY LEEMING BAR.  NO-ONE INJURED.”

Fast-forward to 1998, and I am visiting Sunray, having been estranged from him for nearly a decade.  There among his photo albums is his RMAS scrapbook.

Dad, can I have a look at your scrapbook, please?

Aye, feel free, son.  I’ve not had a look at it myself for years.

Flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick…

  • Sovereign’s Parade 1979
  • Sovereign’s Parade 1980
  • Sovereign’s Parade, guess what, 1981
  • Bellerby Sub-Post Office without 2nd Class Stamps for over Two Weeks in summer of 1981 – local butcher fuming
  • Elder brother up before Thirsk Magistrates 1978: £75 fine
  • Brother up before Thirsk Magistrates 1979: £60 fine
  • Brother up before Northallerton Magistrates 1981: £80 fine
    • He must have moved house in 1980, I guess..
  • Most recent clipping – brother up before Richmond Magistrates 1991: £800 fine
    • Goodness – I’ll put that £800 down to inflation…

I resolve to go start myself a scrapbook the very next day…  Ahem…  Well, at least, the intent was there.

1 November 2003: I finally get round to buying a suitable scrapbook.   Masham post office (which also did have 2nd class stamps).  I also buy a small bottle of PVA glue, so beloved in British primary schools (where it normally comes poured out of huge gallon bottles).

pvaglue

Come on, you must have used gallons of this in your school days!

Within two years I had filled my scrapbook with, well, er scrap.  I took a leaf out of Sunray’s book.  I just had to collect local non-news articles from the local paper, such as the following two horror stories:

carcass

Oh, the sleepless nights…

rubbish

A very unhappy pub landlord, scowling for the camera…

Not only the local news items, but also the souvenirs of travels (address redacted).

postcard

Sunray was enjoying himself in Berlin.  His return air fare just £40 – bargain!

 

But if you can’t take the plane, let the train take the strain.  £6 there and back: another bargain.

ticket

 

And finally… no newspaper clippings of Sovereign’s Parade, but this headline mocking a Sandhurst graduate, Mr Ian Duncan Smith MP (ex-Guards), one-time “leader” of the Conservative Party, who was about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.

IDS

Who remembers Comical Ali from Gulf War II?

The people come and go, but thanks to the scrapbook, the memories remain.  Oh, the winter (and summer) evenings are going to just absolutely fly by, I’m sure.

Have a scrappy day, won’t you!

Don’t Do Your Business in…

Sunray served 22 years in the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps.  But he was also a PARA.  Not Parachute Regiment.  PARA-noid.

His motto (which he repeated to me on a regular basis):

Don’t do your business in the place where you live.  (That’s what Captain Benn told me back in 1973.)

A pearl of wisdom no doubt.

I actually suspect it was my Grandmother who got Sunray into the habit, not Captain Benn.  Grandma lived in a tiny hamlet, Burrill, a good five kilometres from the nearest town.  Her nearest (sub-)Post Office?  Three ( yes – 3, drei) doors down from her, at Number 8.  Did she ever go there, even to buy a stamp?

Nope.

I’m not having Margaret H knowing I’ve just bought a 2nd-class stamp and gossiping that I’m too bl00dy poor or tight-fisted to buy a 1st-class stamp.

I’m not taking my letters to my son to her sub-post office .  She’ll know where he’s stationed and she’ll end up gossiping about it.

I’m not cashing my pension at Burrill post office.  She’ll then know how much old age pension I get each week.  I’m not bl00dy having that!

So every week, in all weathers, Grandma would waddle to the end of the hamlet, board the bus to Bedale, and do her post office business there, buying stamps, paying her bills and swapping gossip with all the other OAP’s.  As for actually posting letters, she’d send them from the hamlet post box, conveniently located in the bustling heart of the hamlet, next to the phone box, which Sunray would occasionally daily ring while guarding enemies of the British state twiddling his thumbs at the Maze Prison.  (You can see a picture of the bustling heart of the hamlet at the end of this article.)

As for Sunray himself, most of his post-Army life he spent living in villages in the Yorkshire Dales.  He would drive for miles and miles around to obscure village post offices – in rotation – to prevent over-familiarity and postmasters knowing his business.  He even had a laminated A4 sheet to tell him the opening times and locations of about twenty village post offices.

You can’t be too careful, son!

Have a paranoid day, won’t you!

burrillPBox

The bustling centre of Burrill