Sunday, 31 August 2008

Pipes and Drums

I was interested to see that a wedding reception at the Lamb yesterday involved a number of men dressed in kilts and included a bagpiper and drummer. Its an interesting phenomena that weddings in England often now to involve men dressed in Kilts and often also involve pipers. When I lived in the Belmont district of Ayr, the large catholic chuch at the bottom of my road usually had pipers at the weddings that seemed to be a regular feature of saturday afternoons but you would not expect to find the \skirl of the bagpipes echoing out over fore street, Silverton.

My one moan about this would be that we seem to have to have the appallingly plastic sound of 'Highland Cathedral' blasted at us rather then morre traditional scottish material, but there again most english peoples knowledge of scottish culture comes from the shortbread and tarten school of scottish identity. The image of Scotland we get is as false as the image of Ireland created by the likes of 'Riverdance'.

The Bus Shelter

For as long as I can remember, the bus shelter in the square has been a focal point of village life. As our older readers will remember the current bus shelter is a cut down version of the earlier structure that occupied the same site for decades. The earlier version was larger and squarer with a flat roof and a small window in the Tiverton road end. The bus shelter was always in my lifetime the gathering place for the youth of the village and as a very young boy, below the age at which you would be part of the bus shelter crowd, seeing the older teenagers in their Teddy boy gear hanging out there. By the time I reached the age at which you joined the bus shelter crowd, this would be the mid sixties, the fashions had moved on and it would mainly be the kids in the leather jackets who hung out there. They usually had, if they were old enough, somewhat battered secondhand motorcycles which they would ride around the village before returning to base. I expect that the pollution created by thousands of likeminded souls in villages across the country has played no small part in creating global warming but that was something on no ones horizon back then. Mods never really took off here so the ubiquitous Lambretta was rarely seen.

In the summer the main hangout shifted to the wall beside the war memorial but in the winter it was back to the bus shelter to discuss whatever the young discussed back then and the obligatory cigarette. The phone box next door was also much in demand as the youth of the village phoned their peers in far flung locations such as Thorverton and Bradninch shooting the breeze and organising assignations. The phone box became even more popular when some bright spark discovered that by pressing the number buttons in a certain way you could make free phone calls. A better option then you would get these days with a mobile. One problem ypou did not get then was the consumption of alcohol by the underage, mainly because there were no off licence outlets in the local shops.

As reported in an earlier post the bus shelter was also the meeting place for many of the village worthies during the day and in general, the old and the young coexisted together without major problems. Sometimes it was even used by passing tramps as a night shelter and sometimes even by peoplev waiting for buses.

And so it is today, even in its much reduced state the bus shelter remains a meeting place for old and young. Sometimes neighbours complain about the noise made by its younger clientele, and sometimes its litter makes it an unattractive place to stand but it remains at the centre of village life. Perhaps some of those who complain about the activities of its younger users should reflect on whether its better to have the village youth gathering in full view of the community, with the obvious constraints that places on their activities, or lurking about in the darker parts of places like the car park, the bury or the big rec with the obvious temptations that such places provide for them to indulge in considerably less acceptable forms of behaviour.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Pensioner training.

We now live in a brief window of opportunity where it is quite possible for male workers to retire at sixty. This situation has come about largely as an unintended consequence of equal opportunities legislation and will soon be ended as part of the Governments drive to ensure that we all work until we drop in order to reduce the pensions burden on that section of the population who are those most inclined to vote. The problem for many men reaching the end of their working lives at sixty is that they have no clear idea of how a 'young' pensioner should behave.

When I was young the image of a male pensioner in the village was quite clear. They hung about the bus shelter in the afternoons before the teenagers took over in the evening watching people getting on and off the bus and idly flicking up the skirts of the young girls returning from School with their walking sticks, behaviour which now would get them an entry on the sex offenders register. They had flat caps and false teeth and usually had an allotment somewhere. In the evenings they trundled along to the pub for a game of crib or dominoes and a pint or two of cider. They always appeared about 75 even if they were ten years younger.

The generation now retiring are of course, a very different order of business. They are of the post war, baby boom generation who led the youth revolution of the 60s. Most would not be seen dead in flat caps and would have no interest in watching the world go by from the vantage point of the bus shelter even if it was clean enough to sit in. Some, I suspect see these early years of retirement as a transition period, a sort of teenage years in reverse, a period of last rebellion in the period between the end of work and the entry to the care home. Perhaps for some its the time when they ditch their partner for a younger model, thus ditching the one that they aquired when they had their mid life crisis in their 40s. Perhaps they go on the hippy trail to India that they failed to do when they were young, avoiding Afghanistan for obvious reasons, and end their days smoking dope in Goa. Perhaps they join a rock band and recycle the music they loved when young, or write that ten volume novel that they have been working onn in their heads since 1975 and which they know damn fine will never get published, have a revived interest in radical politics or perhaps they just work on their allotments.

Perhaps there needs to be a much expanded programme of education on how to be a sucessful male retiree, and perhaps the Television production companies could assist by making more positive series about this age group rather then endless series about the mid life crises of the 40+ bunch and if they do, and best of all, we can see the image of the male over 60s portrayed in 'Last Of The Summer Wine' finally consigned to the history books.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Chickens Take Off.

It would seem that Silverton is indeed, to have its new chicken co-op. After secret negotiations carried out in the Lamb Inn, Sheila Lewis and Louise Edwards are to launch their venture in the Prispen field onder the watchful eye of the great helmsman, Dr Bob. He is already working on a five year plan for Chicken and egg production... depending on which comes first. It is reported that as the news of this venture spread through the countryside, large numbers of foxes could be seen lurking in the undergrowth sharpening their teeth and claws and licking their lips in anticipation.

Good luck to all concerned in the venture and may all your yolks be yellow.

Reading Matters.

A large percentage of the population of Silverton are retired and many of them are voracious readers. We have a travelling library that visits weekly but the turnover of books is low and the conditions on the van are cramped and sometimes claustrophobic. A number of people I have talked to lately bemoan the fact that there is no second hand book facility in the village.

From my own observations I suspect that a second hand, or read and return bookshop would prove very popular amongst those with time on their hands or who those in employment who like to spend part of their leisure time with a good book. Given the high price of new books I am sure that many would like the opportunity to purchase good second hand boks at a reasonable price. The late cabbages and kings ran a small scale secondhand book operation and I know that some thought that when the shop closed it could have been converted entirely for such a purpose.

One thing that perhaps should be avoided is the situation in some shops where part of the\ space is given over to the sale of porn. I really dont see the senior citizens of Silverton queuing up to get the latest edition of 'spanking times' or '1001 Things To Do With Rubberwear' but who knows. Perhaps if the opportunities existed for the promotion of such material the next thing we might need in the village would be a chemist to feed the demand for the likes of Viagra and Cialis.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Other Gold Medallists

Much has been made recently of the achievements of the British team in the Beijing olympics. People have rightly been thrilled by the performance of the team and by the haul of medals that they have amassed. Many are now looking forward to the 2012 olympics with increased anticipation in the hope that the medals total can be equalled or surpassed. There are calls also for the medallists to be feted and honoured.

While all this is laudable and a cause for celebration it should encourage us to consider others who contribute to society day in, day out and whose efforts often go unrecognised. Whilst giving credit to our sporting heroes and heroines perhaps we should give thought to many others who perform their duties up to, and beyond the call of duty. I have in mind, on this occasion an almost invisible army that shoulder responsibility for some of the most vunerable in society. I have in mind the army of carers.

Over the past three decades, increasing life expectancy and changes in social policy have meant that many who would have previously been cared for in hospital or in specialist units are now cared for in the community. Whether it be those with learning difficulties, the elderly and infirm or those with psychiatric problems, the trend has been to attempt, wherever possible, to care for such people in their home environment or, where this is not possible in care homes.. In order to achieve this we have seen the recruitment of an army of care workers mostly women. The recruitment of this army largely relies on exploiting the traditional role of women as caregivers.

Day in and day out, care workers deal with physical and emotional problems that most of us would rather avoid for wages that often amount to a pittance. In some cases they have to pay for their own training and often for the criminal records checks that are now necessary. Ironically, in an age of womens emancipation it is often the work of women carers that enables middle class women to advance their careers. Carers are often in the same position in regard to the conditions under which they work that would have been recognisable to those who worked 'in service' over one hundred years ago. They do nit often because they care deeply for their clients added to the often desperate need to keep a roof over the heads of themselves and their families. With the decline of other forms of work with the structures of pay and conditions that would have been recognisable to an earlier generation that is all they can do.

And who can tell what strains such work, often performed over grossly irregular hours puts on health both physical and emotional and on family and relationships. Those involved in such work often go about their work without complaint even when under the utmost stress and strain. Perhaps the full cost of such labour, in emotional, physical and economic terms can never be fully quantified.

In Silverton, as elsewhere these women usually go about their labours half unseen and rarely given much consideration in terms of the work they do. They routinely deal with the sick, the disturbed and the dying with few outsde those that they actually deal with taking much notice of what they achieve in terms of making the lot of their clients more bearable. So, perhaps while we celebrate the achievements of our medallists in terms of the medals that they won over that fortnight in Beijing, we should also celebrate the work of those who by their labour go for gold every day..


Rumours are abroad that the cabbages and kings shop may be reopening under new management. I have now heard this from several different sources. Watch this space for clarification.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Tiger Bread

And dont forget folks, if you buy some nice fresh Tiger bread for your partners sarnies remember to make the sarnies before tiredness sets in. One slip and there could be more meat in the Sandwich then there was in the packet. Hurried sandwich preparation is not recommended.

And while on the subject of food, the home made italian meatballs created by Shane at the Silverton Inn are to be highly recommended.

A Chicken in every pot.

Word reaches me that there could be an attempt to set up Silvertons first Chicken co-op, or possibly coop, It is said that this grouping could be known as SICC. Silverton Chiken Co-Op. A proposal to call it Silverbirds was apparently discounted on the grounds that it could be mistaken for an escort agency catering for those who prefer the charms of the more mature lady. It is believed that certain persons known to frequent the Lamb Inn early doors might be in a position to shed further light on the matter.

All joking aside though, with the rapidly increasing cost of living can it be long before we hear the sounds of cockerals echoing across the village in the early morning, or the less pleasant sound of birds having their necks wrung. Will we soon be back to women and indeed men, learning the ancient art of chicken plucking as my Granny used to do in a tin bath, or perhaps the plucking of pheasants for she was indeed also a noted Pheasant plucker. Perhaps eggs will become the new currency of the village with the large size eggs having to have an escort by securicor.

Maybe, we shall also see pigs being kept in the backyard as was the practice of my great granny in Parsonage lane in the nineteeth century. Times being hard many families fattened up a porker for consumption after christmas when the weather got hard. Back to the land could well become a popular cry as times get harder.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Pool, Darts, Skittles.

Congratulations to the team of Dave 'funky' Gibbons on last nights cup win in the Pool, Darts and Skittles competition.

Love Letters.

Should you keep your old love letters once the relationship ends ?. I was talking to someone recently about this and we came to no clear conclusion. On the one hand keeping records of a former relationship might not seem appropriate once you are in a new one, but on the other hand they are a record of an important part of your life and perhaps worthy of saving. My late wife always kept the letters I sent to her but I no longer seem to have hers, the legacy of another problem that can arise, namely the difficulty of storage. I you tend to write a lot of letters or the ones you write are voluminous in content there is the problem of storage. If you have had to downsize in terms of your accomodation, as I havefour times in the past decade, things have to be thrown away and sometimes that you have to be ruthless in terms of what you think is valuable enough to keep. From a professional historians viewpoint of course, such letters are invaluable in what they can say about the particular social organisation of a given period, but how much one would want ones most intimate thoughts and feelings trawled over by the history boys and girls might well be another matter.

Personally, I think that I would opt for keeping such items and wish now that I had. Now that we have the means to digitize letters and the like it makes saving them much easier. At least if you save them, when you get old you have something to remind you of who you once were when you still had a future before you.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Quiz Night At The Tuns.

I took part in a quiz at the Three Tuns last night with a scratch team made up of some who usually frequent the Lamb Inn performing with a little help from some friends. Sadly, we did not perform well and I dont think we shall be repeating the experience. I hope we can do better at the quiz at The Trout next sunday.

What we did on our holidays.

So how did we spend our holidays when we were children back in the 50's and 60's ?. In my case family holidays were often spent at a boarding house in Minehead, usually in poor weather, a factor which has led to Minehead becoming one of my least favorite seaside resorts. Back in the day you could get a Western National bus that ran from Exeter to Minehead via Silverton which usually considerably increased the risk of Coach sickness which did not tend to enhance your holiday experience. Other family holidays that I remember were to Kent and Lancashire in the early sixties both of which were notably wet.

Apart from that there were the organised outings and daytrips run by various village bodies. We had the school trips, Sunday School trips, and Choir outings. Usually these were by coach but some I can remember were by steam train from the old Silverton station at Ellerhayes. I can still remember the smell of the smoke to this day.

The coaches tended to be elderly and laboured up Haldon or Telegraph hills towards the usual destinations of Dawlish, Torquay, Tiegnmouth or Paignton although I never remember any breaking down. Coachloads of Children and their parents would then be deposited at the beach to enjoy the sand, sea and candyfloss. One of the highlights of any tripo that I made was the trip to the pier to risk your pocket money and the vast array of primitive fruit machines that faced you on arrival. You could also try your hand at target shooting and when we reached our teens the pier became the ideal venue for ogling members of the opposite sex. Thankfully, some of the piers still exist and still provide the same pleasures for the suceeding generations.

The only major School trip I took part in was to Lugano in Switzerland in 1962 when we also visited Milan. The enjoyment of this trip was wrecked by the sort of stomach bug for which foriegn travel is renowned. I also had my one experience of flying at that time which left me deaf for a week and may well go towards explaining why I have not been enthusistic about forien travel from that day to this.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

The Church Choir

Those who know me today might well find it difficult to believe that I was once a member of the church choir. Surprisingly, this is indeed the case. I joined as a boy soprano aged about eight and remained in the choir until my voice broke, although I participated with great reluctance as time went on. We performed twice on a sunday, Matins and Evensong, and also sang at baptisms, weddings and funerals. For our appearence at the latter events we were paid the princly sum of half a crown, not an insubstantial amount for a boy to earn in the late 50s. We turned out in our cassocks, surplices and ruffs, appearences which luckily as far as I know, were never photographed. Sometimes we had to process around the church carrying candles and risking the hot wax falling on our hands. A special treat was to lead the procession carrying the cross.

Many of the village characters were amongst the adult tenors and when matins finished you could see them getting ready to head straight off to the pub. The link between their religious observances and drink was a close one.

I also remember singing in a memorable performance of Stainers 'Crucifixion' which seemed to take months of practice to get to a level acceptable for public performance. Usually though, our thursday evenings would be taken up with the more mundane level of practice needed to sustain the normal sunday services.

Eventually, my voice broke and that coincided with a growing realisation that I had little belief in religion in any form. I suppose that like many people, once I realised that growing religious disbelief was not likely to be met with a lightening strike, it became easier to move away from church involvement. There was however, a sense of comfort to be drawn from attending a service in a place where so many generations had prayed and sung long before your birth that I suspect you never quite lose.

Thats he !......Gone.

And so we say farewell to our friend, John McGee from Murphys who has enlivened proceedings at the Silverton Inn for the past fourteen months. his tasks on railway and station maintenence in this area being completed John has now returned to his home base in the west midlands. I believe his next job takes himto Litchfield, another cathedral city.

So there will be no more 'memorable games of pool' or cries of 'thats he !' echoing through the pub and 'floaters' will be safe from a ribbing. So we say to big John McGee good luck in your new location and should you be down this way again I am sure that there are more then a few of your old mates in the village who will be glad to buy you a 'memorable pint' or two. The position of mayor still remains open should you ever move down permanantly.

And Perhaps Mr Frost might even be able to find you some more of his famed Indian cigarettes.

Its the dogs fault.

I have just been reading some research carried out by Swedish scientists which indicates that snoring in adults can in some cases be traced back to them being exposed to certain types of bacteria carried by pet dogs when they were babies. So, if you have a snoring bed partner perhaps you should investigate how close they slept to the pet pooch when young and perhaps people should interrogate potential bedmates about their family history of doggy ownership.

What antisocial habits might be aquired by early exposure to our feline friends we are not told unfortunately.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

street market photos from Miles. Possibly.

As requested by Miles I am posting on the front page a link to his street market collection of photos.

Thats the link I was given but it doesnt seem to work Miles.


If anyone has any links to other local blogs that they would like us to post here, please feel free to pass them along.

The sun has got his hat on.

Or so it seems now that the bank holiday is upon us. As its the last bank holiday weekend of the year before christmas I hope that everyone has a good time and that there are not too many unpleasent consequences arising from eating dodgy barbeqeue food. nI hope also that everyone has a relaxing time with friends and family and doesnt find at the end of the holiday that they feel as if they have had no time off.

And if you are going out to play remember to play nicely.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Glitter factor..

Its not often that this blog comments on a national news story but the furore around the forced return to britain of the disgraced former pop star Gary Glitter (aka Paul Gadd known to some as the gadfly) deserves some comment.

Glitter is a totally repulsive creature who probably got less then his just deserts when he was sentenced to three years inprisonment in Vietnam. It may well say something about the growing westernisation of that country that Glitter was not put in front of a firing squad as he probably would have been when that country was going through its more revolutionary phase. One can only praise the efforts of poor countries determined to stop the sexual exploitation of children by those with economic clout by whatever means they deem necessary. Perhaps, however Glitter may well come to wish that he had met his end overseas as its almost certain that he is never going to be allowed to leave Britain again and will be subject to media harassment and public scorn everywhere he goes for as long as he lives.

That being said however, the plain fact is that the main danger to children in terms of child sexual abuse comes not from high profile abusers like Glitter, or murderous psychopaths like Robert Black or Ian Huntley, but from the often hidden, but often more damaging, in terms of its long term effects, abuse that still goes on hidden from public view in otherwise outwardly respectable families. At least we now live in a society better able to recognise the scourge of child sexual abuse and its possible effects, but I am sure that all of us who grew up in earlier and less enlightened times can think of people that we met in our youth whose behaviour could have been an indication that they were victims. Even in a place like Silverton there is little doubt that we have victims amongst us who remain silent about their suffering and whose abusers will never have to face the unrelenting future of public hostility and disgust that faces Gary Glitter.


It seems that we shall soon be able to purchase our lottery tickets within the village once more, this time at the SPAR. This will no doubt come as a relief to all those hoping that a sizeable win will enable them to escape the continuing downpours which seem set to be the only memories most will have of this summer. Like most, I have done the lottery on occasions, but my biggest win was £33.00 Hardly likely to get you a return fare to London on the train these days. My biggest win on the scratchcards was £17.00.

The best story about national lottery scratchcards I heard was when I lived elsewhere. There was only one £100,000 scratchcard left on sale in our local SPAR shop in Prestwick. It was purchased by a member of staff....who won £100,000.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Silverton Youth Club 1967-70. An example of youth self organisation.

The major complaint of young people in the period since world war two is that most communities lacked youth facilities. At the beginning of 1967 this was as true of Silverton as anywhere else. For those not interested in the uniformed organisations the main evenings entertainment, then as now, was gathering in the bus shelter. A group of people, mainly in their mid teens got together and decided that if the local authority or similar were not going to provide organisation and facilities they would do so themselves. They called a meeting of local youth, elected a committee from amongst themselves, approached a group of sympathetic adults to act in an oversight role and set about running their own weekly gathering in the New Hall.

From the beginning, SYC was entirely self financing with money coming from events organised by the members themselves such as discos and jumble sales. A couple of table tennis tables were aquired and regular meetings of the club took place in the New Hall. refreshments were sold and an antique sound \system was brought into play using a collection of records donated by members themselves. Discipline was maintained by the committee with suspensions and bans being handed out to the reletively few offenders. The club also organised trips including a famous mackeral fishing event at Teignmouth where one of the posters advertising the trip informed those wishing to attend that they would 'be dropped off at the pier'. The club also organised a yearly sponsored walk in aid of charities including Mencap and charities supporting Indian famine relief. Dances and discos were also a regular feature including the debut performance of a beat combo led by a certain Mr Graham Isaac. This performance took place during a violent thunderstorm which, from memory, led to the gig being cut short by a power cut.

Sadly, after three years, Silverton Youth Club in that form came to an end. Most of the core members moved on into employment, university or into developing more important relationships with members of the opposite sex. The club became steadily more managed by the adult advisors and was then faced with the need to increase its membership fees due to increased hall charges. It finally closed at the end of 1970.

In this age of increased regulation of youth activities it is difficult to imagine that such an organisation could ever be launched again. The SYC as it existed grew out of the increased confidence of the young people who grew up in the sixties that as part of the rapidly developing youth culture of the time they could sucessfully manage their social life within the community. That SYC suceeded as well as it did for three years and more showed that their optimism was largely correct.

Sexual confusion.

One of our older residents received a questionnaire from the council regarding satisfaction with council services. In tune with the spirit of the times the questionnaire contained a question regarding recipients sexual orientation. When a friend asked the elderly gent how he had answered the question regarding sexual orientation the elderly chap replied he had ticked the box marked christian. After being informed that this was in fact the religion category he was asked if he was gay, bisexual or heretosexual. Having ruled out the first two categories after they were explained to him the old chap decided that given his sexual history he was indeed, heretosexual the only problem being that he couldnt spell the word let alone really tell you what it meant.

We live in very confusing times for the elderly who never before had to think about describing their sexual proclivities for officialdom unless they engaged in activities that led them to fall foul of the law.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Grass disaster

I have had a complaint about the cutting of the grass verges in Wyndham road. It would seem that probably due to the wet weather, there was a very uneven cut with some of the grass being left long and in other places being cut right to ground level creating a scalping effect. Rubbish was also not collected.

Whilst understanding that grass cutting is a matter which is subject to contract, surely there must be regular inspections by MDDC to make sure the work is being done correctly. People who have complaints about this one should email MDDC accordingly.

And while on the subject, I am glad to see that the hedges on Kenson Hill have at last been cut. That was becoming a very definate traffic hazard.

Cathedral City

Yesterday, a friend of mine decided to take her daughter and grandchildren for a visit to Exeter cathedral. The visit was rapidly abandoned when she realised that they would be charged a £4.00 each entrance fee.

Whatever ones religious or political views surely it should be agreed that the cathedral is part of our common cultural and historical heritage and that it should be accessible easily and cheaply to all. The Anglican church, despite its current international problems, remains one of the wealthiest institutions in the country and surely should be able to pay for the upkeep of its buildings without relying on charges.

The outcome of such charges is that poor and working class people, and particularly young people, are going to be discouraged from taking an interest in their heritage. Given the continual mantra about 'social inclusion' and ' britishness' from those in authority easy access to our shared heritage should be something to be encouraged rather then deterred.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Its in the stars.

I was having a discussion about astrology last night and the question was raised about which sign of the zodiac contains the largest segment of the population. Its an interesting question when you consider how many people are covered by the prognostications of the astrologers in the papers every day.

I suspect reading your tealeaves is probably more accurate.

Unless you use teabags, of course.

And another continuing moan.

More problems with getting cash in this place. The cash machine in the SPAR seems to have been misfiring since at least last friday. I couldnt get cash out this morning and had to go into Tiverton to get it out this afternoon. Surely, if we have to fork out £1.75 to get our own money out the least we should expect is that the machine works properly.

Monday, 18 August 2008


Still no answer to the question of why the Devon flag, launched onto our flagpole with so much fanfare only weeks ago was suddenly removed and replaced with the St Georges Cross.

Someone must know.

Down where the drunkards roll..

It seems to have been a fairly disturbed situation in the village over the weekend with certain existing difficult situations coming to the boil, apparently fuelled by some heavy doses of alcohol. Its about time that some people realised that problems are not best solved when under the influence of large quantities of booze. Its also time that some younger members of the community realised that its possible to have a good time without getting legless and that certain older members of the community realised that time is not on their side when it comes to engaging in fisticuffs. Some people are not twenty anymore and this isnt 1988. Its a rougher old world out there and the person you get into a fight with might well be carrying something more lethal then just a mobile phone. They may also be a lot younger and have quicker responses.

Those who know what I am talking about, know. Others should think about the points raised.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Radio days.

Before the arrival of television, the most popular form of home entertainment was radio. Most homes had one of the old style valve radio sets that sat in the corner of the living room. The BBC news was listened to almost religiously in an era when BBC reporting standards were unchallenged. The two most listened to BBC channels of the era were the Light programme for entertainment and the Home Service for more serious fare. In the fifties there were an array of popular entertainment programmes such as 'Workers Playtime' and 'Housewives Choice and of course for us children there was 'Childrens Hour' and the request programme 'Childrens Choice' presented by 'Uncle mac'. There were also, of course the radio soaps, notably 'Mrs Dales Diary' and 'The Archers' the latter of which continues to this day. Another great favourite from that period was the science fiction serial 'Journey Into Space'.

Beyond the BBC the only other station of note was Radio Luxemburg which was a commercial station playing popular music of the day and some quiz shows. Luxemburg had a more open policy on popular music then did the BBC until the early sixties and it was there that many people got their first taste of emerging styles of music such as rythmn and blues and rock and roll.

As a child I can remember thinking that much of the BBC output was boring and tired and the existing Radio networks were swept away by first, the arrival of the pirate stations from the mid sixties and then the revamp of the existing BBC network in 1967. In Silverton reception of the pirate stations was very poor most of the time but I can remember listening to the closing programme of Radio London when the stations became illegal in 1967.

In an era of multi channel digital radio which can be received on TV as well as radio, its difficult to imagine a time when one or two networks had such dominence, or the later period when the competing pirate stations commanded such loyalties. Now, when youtube and the like mean that anyone can produce their own TV and radio output its increasingly difficult to remember the time when radio was king.

A welcome return

Welcome back online to the blogs longest standing supporter, Carolyn, after her long battle with AOL. Its good to have you back and I hope that we shall be getting some more of your random thoughts before long. Its been getting a bit too serious in here recently.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Culm Valley Gazette

I see that the blog has now attracted the attentions of one of our local papers, the Culm Valley Gazette. Its nice to get some recognition for our small efforts but whatever publicity we get we shall aim to remain a local blog for local people.

Lol Coxhill

Legendary soprano saxophonist, Lol Coxhill will be appearing at the Lamb Inn on Sept 5th with Dave George Hammond (Keyboards). Coxhil, who is known for his free improvisational style of playing has worked with artists as diverse as Shirley Collins and the Albion Band. Kevin Ayers and 1970s punk legends, The Damned.

Full details of the gig will be posted here later. Not to be missed for those who like their music to be challenging.

Friday, 15 August 2008

When TV viewing was a communal activity

Way back in the 1950s when TV was young and there was only one channel few houses in Lily Lake possessed a TV set. Being the sort of close knit neighbourhood that it was some of those lucky enough to possess a set were only too happy to let the local children in to watch 'Childrens Hour' that ran between five and six in the evening. Those of us with long memories will remember going to the homes of people like Alma Underhill or Muriel Wing in order to get our ration of 'Boots and Saddles', 'The Lone Ranger', William Tell' not forgetting, and who could, the original 'Robin Hood' starring the inimitable Richard Greene. Watching these programmes and similar provided the material for many childhood games in the 'big rec'.

As time went on however, and the availabilty of Television spread, this communal activity faded and died and TV viewing became much more family orientated and with a TV set present in nearly every bedroom it has often now become a very solitary activity. Those brought up with multi channel TV and access to the Internet will never know the joys of gathering to watch TV as a shared activity. For a brief period, for the children of the time, TV really was a shared gateway on the world.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Football and things..

Now that the football season is under way again and the mighty Silverton AFC will be back in action we will be only be too happy to post up their results if any one wants to email them to us. The same with the results of the current pool, darts and skittles contests running in the three pubs, or the winter skittles league which I believe recommences in a couple of weeks.

That being said, I doubt that we shall be covering the internecine feuds between the supporters of various premeirship and championship sides who live in the village. If of course, such feuds or banter produce anything worth posting here it may be a different matter.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The travelling cinema.

Back in the 1950s, the travelling cinema came to the New Hall on a friday night. I would think that many of the generation who grew up in the village post war, got their first experience of the world of film that way. A couple of days before the event, cinema posters would appear outside the hall and on friday evening you would see the projection equipment being taken in. Adults paid one shilling to get in and children sixpence and for those princely sums we got to see all the classic films of the era from 'The Dam Busters' to 'High Noon'. Being the village hall things could get a bit rowdy and the proprietor often came around with a large torch to dissuade the perpetrators, and presumably any other forms of naughtiness that might have gone on in the back row. Children mainly sat at the front, if unaccompanied and naturally a special watch was kept on unruly behaviour there. The occasion I remember best was the showing of the notorious 'Rock Around The Clock' featuring Bill Hayley and the Comets. The showing of this film had provoked riots in some parts of the country with Teddy Boys wrecking cinemas but at the New Hall the only sign of disorder were a few cusions being thrown.

Television killed off the travelling cinemas as it did other forms of communal entertainment and Cinema was dead in the village before 1960. There was a Silverton Film Society that existed for a time in the late 60s and operated at The Three Tuns but this catered to an audience with somewhat higher intellectual pretensions then existed amongst those who attended the showings held by the travelling cinema.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Homer update

Word reaches us that the net is closing rapidly on the dastardly gang responsible for the kidnap of Homer, the Lamb's best known christmas exhibit. Apparently, intelligence work has narrowed down the suspects to a handful.

We would urge those responsible to return Homer to his rightful owners before its too late and they are seized by a crack unit of the Homer Liberation Front. These boys and girls mean business and you wouldnt want to mess with them. The word is that any captured miscreants might find themselves scrubbing out the toilets at the Lamb on their hands and knees after next years street market.

And you wouldnt want that fate to befall you.

What would happen here ?.

As has been previously stated, this is not a political blog but a story in last nights soaraway Express and Echo raised an interesting question. Recently the far right British National Party hired the Victory Hall in our neighbouring village of Broadclyst for what seems to have been a fair sized regional meeting addressed by its national chairman, Nick Griffin. The BNP is not only controversial for its views on issues such as immigration and crime but also because of the pasts of some of its leaders such as Griffin himself who have criminal convictions and in Griffins case has also included holocaust denial and at one time in the late eighties support for the Ghaddaffi regime in Libya. BNP meetings in the past have also led in the past to violent confrontations between BNP members and opponents although, admittedly this has happened less often in recent years.

What then would be the position of the Community hall management if in the future they were approached by the BNP about holding a meeting here ?. Would they take the position that.

1). The BNP is a legitimate political organisation with a considerable number of local councillors nationally, so therefore in the interests of upholding free speech we would hire the hall to them.


2) We dont consider the BNP as an organisation we would wish to be associated with either because of their policies or the backgrounds of a number of their leading and past members, therefore we would decline the booking.

Definately something to think about.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Lily Lake.

The roads which are now Coach Road, Park Close, Livingshayes Road, Oak Close and Hillcrest were all known as Lily Lake until the 1960s. The name Lily Lake is usually believed to be a corruption of the name Heal Eye stream which is the waterway that runs alongside the bottom of Park close. This is shown as Heal Eye strem on old maps of the village. In the days before Wyndham road was built Lily Lake was a distinct area seperate from 'the town', as the main village was known and there were gang fights between children from Lily Lake and 'the town'. Most of the inhabitants of Lily Lake were employed in the paper mills at Ellerhayes or Hele which also added to the distinct nature of the area. The other defining feature of the area was that the housing there was overwhelmingly local authority owned..

The individual character of the area was eventually broken up, first by the naming of the individual roads and later by the construction of Wyndham road which helped to integrate the Lily Lake area into the village but up to this day you can still hear older vilagers referring to the area as Lily Lake. The large scale sell off of council housing in the 1990s and later,came after Lily Lake as a distinct entity had ceased to exist.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Steak Night

Alan Isaac is holding another of his ever popular steak nights at the Lamb on saturday 16th August. For those who enjoy the taste of T bone and sirloin the event begins at 8.00pm and all steak meals will cost £8.95.

Dont forget though, advance booking is essential.

Tunnels under Silverton.

One of the enduring myths about the village is that there \are a number of secret passages under the village that lead to the church. One such was supposed to run from the former Prispen House site and the other was supposed to run from the Gallery building off the square, I remember hearing these stories when young and I have heard them told on occasions since.

The Prispen tunnel story is probably the most bizarre given that any tunnel that ran from the site of the former rectory to the church would have had to pass through a bog. I suspect that the origins of this story lie in the fact that there were, and possibly still are, large cellars under the Prispen house site from the time when the now destroyed house was a rectory and the existence of the cellars were certainly known to those who worked there.

The Gallery tunnel is certainly more plausible but as far as I know, there is no evidence that one ever existed, or indeed why it should have existed. I suspect that this story may have emerged because of the existence of wells in the building.

All in all, such stories add character to the village and most old communities can boast stories of this type. Sadly, as with many things reality is somewhat more mundane.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

When was summer ?.

We are now heading on towards mid august and there still seems to be no sign of anything like a prolonged spell of what might be identified as real summer weather. The nights are drawing in again and I am beginning to notice the first hints of autumn when I take the dog to the top of Roach lane early in the morning. With the credit crunch and international crises of one sort or another looming large we might have least have expected that the gloom might have been lifted by a bit of prolonged sunshine. It appears however, that we shall be back into autumn before we know it, that colds and flu will start doing the rounds and we will be seeing the first appearence of christmas goods in the shops. And not long after that the photos on this blog will be of people celebrating new year in the square rather than street market.

Grim thoughts indeed.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Open mic.

Back in the 90s, a welcome feature of a sunday afternoon in the Pub were the music sessions at the Silverton Inn. These usually featured local bands and were nearly always well attended. Although there were occasional outbreaks of fisticuffs usually down to marauding bands of ne'er do wells from places such as Cullompton most such events were much appreciated by those who like to spend their sunday afternoons doing something more sociable then being slumped in front of the telly.

Given that most of us would recognise that hiring live bands these days is a somewhat expensive business, perhaps the tradition of the musical sunday afternoon could be revived in another way. Given that at least two of the local pubs remain open on a sunday afternoon perhaps one or the other could provide a simple PA system where local talent could perform acoustically, not so much in order to make money but to show off their talent. Who knows, perhaps Silverton has the next Joss Stone or Chris Martin hidden away in our midst just waiting for the chance to burst forth.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

More street market photies.

As promised, some more street market photo's including some 'weel kenn't faces', as they say in Ayrshire. As requested by Dougie and Nikki, they are included.

Over 60's at Longleat.

I understand that the over 60's visit to Longleat yesterday was a great success. Many attended, the sun shone and as an added bonus no one was eaten by the lions.

The Over 60's Club continues to do sterling work in providing a social service for the older members of the community with its programme of outings, whist drives and other events. It is a village institution well worth supporting.

Stray pussy.

The good people of Silverton rarely wake up to find a stray pussy in their bed, well I dont anyway, but that is what happened to a resident of School Road on saturday night. Earlier in the evening two eleven week old kittens had made a break from a house in Parsonage Lane much to the consternation of their owner, and one later made the journey across the village and got into the aforementioned School Road house via the cat flap. Imagine the surprise of one of the occupants when she awoke to find an unknown feline curled up around her neck. Both kittens were subsequently safely returned to their owner.

So always remember, if you want to keep your pet pussy from straying into strange beds, besides keeping your doors and windows shut, remember to keep it warm, stroked, well fed and frequently played with. A contented pussy is a loyal pussy.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The 'big rec'.

The large recreation ground that lies off the left hand side of the lower coach road after you access it from School road was originally, like The Mead, Glebeland. When I moved into Coach Road (Then Liliy Lake) in the mid 1950s the current football pitch did not exist. At that time 'the rec' sloped down from a fence behind the broad oak to what is now coach road. Much of the slope was overgrown and provided excellent cover for children playing cowboys and indians. The undergrowth also provided opportunities for the trainee arsonists of the village to get some practice in and fires were not uncommon in the dryer weather. The tennis court was in existence by that time but the bungalows further up coach road had yet to be built. Where they now stand there was a sand pit, further upm the hill swings and above that, close to broad oak, stood a substantial shelter where many of the elderly women of the village would meet on a sunny afternoon to discuss the issues of the day. The shelter was also used in the run up to bonfire night to store materials for the village bonfire which was held nearby. Sadly, both the shelter and the nearby swings suffered repeated vandalism from the mid fifties and eventually the shelter was blown away in a major gale sometime in the 60s.

Eventually, 'the rec' assumed its current shape after the site where the bungalows now stand was sold \to developers in the mid sixties and the current football pitch was created. Its been long rumoured the the circumstances surrounding the sale of part of ' the rec' were dubious but no hard evidence has ever been found to support that. The football pitch was long famed for its rough, and often waterlogged condition but has been improved in recent years and the area has been made more accessible by the construction of a number of footpaths. 'The rec' also now contains a well used and maintained play area although from all reports, vandalism sometimes remains a problem.

Towering over it all, of course stands Broad Oak. The symbol of the village continuing its centuries long watch over us all. Generations have climbed its trunk and swung from its branches. Hopefully, Broad Oak, despite its asdvancing age will continue to be a central part of the identity of the village for centuries yet to come..

The charity card incident.

On monday evening I was approached by someone selling a card based on an early entry to this blog. The card contained not only the uncredited entry from this blog but also the identity of the person referred to indirectly in the original post as well as his photograph. I agreed to post the card here, and did so together with a humourous comment. I was assured by the person who approached me that the person named on the card had agreed to his name and photograph being used as the card was being sold to raise money for charity. I was informed by the person named last night that this was not the case and that he had not given permission for his name and photograph to be used in this manner.. The card and comment have now been removed from the blog. After investigating the matter further it would seem that there have been a series of misunderstandings amongst those involved.

Given that the charity concerned was a very worthy one and one which I know is important to some of those involved in this incident I would hope that some agreement can be reached amongst those concerned as to perhaps a more uncontentious method of raising funds for this cause.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Before Wyndham Road

Before there was the piece of Wyndham Road between Coach Road and the French and Davies close turns there was the field known as The Mead. A painting of this field can be seen in the community hall and was painted by Katy Ward the daughter of a former rector. Those who remember The Mead will remember that it contained the stream that runs from the Prispen pond and proceeds through the bottom of the 'big rec'. This stream created the conditions of a bog at the bottom of The Mead, an area that was known to the children who often played there as 'the stugs'. It also provided a shortcut from Parsonage Lane to the bottom of the rec for Children heading for the old primary school, then situated at the bottom of Coach Road. 'The stugs' were also a great place for those who wanted to collect frogs spawn but was the sort of place to be avoided by the more fastidious who might wish to avoid sinking into the swamp in wet weather.

'The stugs' are of course, long gone now but their legacy has lingered on in the form of the damp that has sometimes affected houses in the area and minor flooding that sometimes plagues parts of Wyndham Road. The legacy also lingered on for several decades in the form of the flooding that often accompanied heavy rain resulting from water being pushed down the stream and flooding the bottom of coach road necessitating the construction of a large storm drain . All in all another case of planning decisions displacing problems from one location to another.

Tomorrow... remembering 'The Big Rec'.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Cheering up the tourists.

Whilst in Tiverton the other day I came across a busker performing outside Somerfield in the Shopping precict and being watched by a group of tourists obviously dodging the showers. The elderly busker, when I arrived on the scene was performing 'The Band Played Waltzing Mathilda' which was written by the Scottish folk singer, Eric Bogle and details the destruction of the Anzac \forces by the Turkish army at the battle of Gallipoli. Undoubtedly, 'The Band...' is probably one of the most moving songs about the futility of war ever written but I doubt if tourists dodging the showers on a wet afternoon in Tiverton would be the ideal audience for its message. Perhaps something a little more cheery would have been a bit better received and might have made the busker a bit more cash. There are times and places, as they say.

Street Market report.

Once again the sun shone on the street market (eventually) and Silverton again went into party mode. As the mists and drizzle lifted around about the official opening time of 10.00am people once again thronged the Fore Street to sample the wares on disply at the host of stalls stretching from the Lamb Inn to the square. Although it seemed to this observer that attendence may have been hit by the unpredictable weather and the worsening financial situation it still appeared that several thousand turned out to enjoy themselves and support local charities. The Silvertones showed off their musical talents at the Methodist church twice during the day and the Silverton Drama group performed their pantomime in the 'little rec' twice also. The one complaing I have heard about that production was that the performers needed to project their voices better, but otherwise the production seems to have been well received. As ever, many from the village gave up their time to staff the gates and to do the other behind the scenes jobs that any sort of occasion of this type demands. Also worth noting, the performances by the Splott brothers providing their own unique brand of entertainment.

Despite the worsening financial situation the pubs seemed to be busy through the day selling considerable amounts of Sweeny Todd ale alongside their other liquid refreshments and their usual range of food including the now traditional filled baguettes at the Lamb. As ever it was good to meet old Silvertonians making a return to the village, especially Diane and Jenny who have now made street market a time for their annual pilgrimage back home. It was also good to see Martin Morris again paying us a visit from Glasgow. It has to be said though that, as far as I know anyway, there were not too many of the more gossip column type stories that events of this type sometimes generate. Still you cant have everything.

The day was, as ever, rounded off by the Tug O War in the late afternoon and the evening musical performances. This year we had the notable sight of the official Lamb Inn team being knocked out by the upstart 'Lamb Chops' in the ToW final. Rumours that this victory would lead to the shield going on display in Dave Haggets shop could not be confirmed. Despite making the Rolling Stones look like the Artic Monkeys agewise, The Cougars again did their rock and rolling to a packed house in The Lamb Inn shed and Shufflebones did their Stones based thing at the Silverton Inn although there were some complaints about the brevity of their performance.

So as far as we can tell, Silverton and the friends of Silverton, enjoyed themselves once more. the event seems to have passed off peacefully and it was good to see more stalls again selling craft products rather then secondhand goods. A large number of photographs were taken during the day, some of which are all ready on view here, one which will not be on view here though is one of our layout advisor propping up the bar of the Lamb Inn as it was deemed unsuitable for those of a nervous disposition. (It was also a bit of a cheat having been taken yesterday).

All in all the village once again rose to the occasion and showed that it still remains a real community despite all the changes that have taken place here in recent years. Well done to all those who made it happen and if there are questions about whether the street market formula perhaps needs a bit of revamping they can wait till another day.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

street market photos

I have added some photos from yesterdays street market. Others will be following and there will be a written report. probably tomorrow. Luckily the weather made a dramatic improvement and a good time seemed to be had by all.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Poor start

Poor weather has marked the start of this years street market. Stallholders had to contend with near continuous drizzle when erecting their stalls this morning and pre official start punters seemed very thin on the ground. There do however seem to be more craft stalls this year then has been the case in some recent years so one can only hope that the weather improves through the day. The forecast is somewhat better for the afternoon so we can only hope for the best.

We shall try to update the blog later in the day and hopefully, we should have a selection of photographs on the blog by tomorrow lunchtime.

Friday, 1 August 2008

The rising cost of fuel. how should the community respond ?.

Although yesterday was only the last day in July a cold shiver must have gone down many a back when people opened their daily paper and read that British Gas were raising their prices by 35% and they had made close to 1bn profit. Although the political implications of this lie outside the remit of this blog I would just point to the words of one of the BBC economic commentators who said on TV yesterday that the job of the privatised utilities are to make profits for their sareholders who include many of the pension funds that many people depend on. In that way they are no different to the banks or other businesses. People either accept that situation or organise politically to change it.

The main issue for us here is how do we respond as a community over the coming winter when the vunerable may well be put in a situation where they have to choose between buying food or spending money on heating. Obviously, as individuals when the colder weather arrives, we should all be looking out for our vunerable neighbours as best we can. We should all be on the look out for signs that they may be suffering from the cold or not eating enough and be prepared to intervene if necessary. As a community perhaps the churches or similar institutions should be considering whether it may be necessary to reopen the sort of day care facility that used to exist at the Methodist chapel. Perhaps also the parish council should also be considering how, in partnership with relevant bodies they can ensure that elderly and vunerable people can get the best advice possible on how to cut heating costs and to keep themselves fed and healthy. Maybe its time to look at the possibility that something along the lines of the food co-ops that exist elsewhere in Britain might be needed here.

If we are to continue to see rises in fuel and food prices significant challenges of a kind not seen in countries like Britain for nearly a century could well face communities even as seemingly comfortably off as Silverton. It may now seem an extreme scenario but it is one in current circumstances I fear we may have to be prepared for.