Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Chronicler ties up some loose ends ...

Dr Phillpotts stirs again in his garret and shares the following wisdom:

"The Giant JP originated I believe in the mysterious CH78, with a character called Bill who only dug with us that year. I don't remember much about Bill, except his wet weather gear, which comprised a bin liner tunic, a bin liner skirt, and a sample bag wrapped over his head and clamped into his beard with a large bulldog clip, making him look like a punk battleaxe granny. He did bring us the Giant Parrot joke (What noise does a giant parrot make - SQUAWK!!!). He liked to gather a group of 6 or 8 people and tell this at high volume in the porch of the Air Balloon, in order to provoke the locals. This then developed into the Giant JP, which had a variable text decided by committee.

I was present when the great man, on rising one day, uttered the immortal words: "Sod this for a lark; I've just found a piece of limestone under me foreskin".
[I remember this bit. Ed] Not only was this incorporated into the Giant JP, but the piece of limestone afterwards became the trophy in the Personality of the Year contest. [I don't believe you - Ed.]

I was present for quite a lot of CH78, but had no camera. I only acquired my first puny point-and-poke in 1979, and it took very narrow film, hence the soft focus effect of my early shots. I only really learned to take proper photos in about 1984, way behind the Pentax-Brandisher [Mr Boden. Ed]. The person who never returned JB's slides was Sandra the Cook.

An American lady asked about CH78 (might she be Naomi Jackson?) [No, it was Amy Cay. Ed]. From my notes towards a social history of Crickley Hill I can report the following highlights:

JP and I prepared the kitchen at the start of the season by scraping it down with table knives and repainting ('You make very nice!' said Lofty's mother, looking through the window). Ken and Dave were the cooks.

There was a contingent of Phil's students from Nottingham Uni, and an even bigger group from Leicester Uni. There were also some Poles, who were contacts of John Howell. Wonderful section drawings resulted, but labelled in Polish and Russian.

We removed vast quantities of backfill, and took huge soil samples. Baling out the cuttings.
We made a raid on Cheltenham Ladies College summer fête (Penny may remember that one, as she was running a stall).
[I'm sure it is engraved on her heart. Janet Douglas will have imperishable memories of it too. Ed.]

Visits to the Golden Heart.

Late night visit from Fachtna McEvoy and P J Pikes, with their customary crate of booze.

Several of us dressed in drag for one of the dinner times, though I recall that Arwel looked more like a French curé in a long dress and straw hat.

Coach trip to Gloucester, Kingscote and Uleybury, with Lofty at the wheel.

John Howell gave a lecture about something.

An excellent dinner at Major Birchall's house.

Attempts to cram lots of people into small spaces (phone box, Mike the Whale's tent etc).

[A passage has been redacted here on the advice of C-H-M's lawyers - it was salacious, if not scurrilous and has no proper place on a family blog of this type. The usual fiver buys the details. Ed.]

Randal Motkin's first visit, I believe. I have missed out some of the lowlights, as it was in some respects a quarrelsome year. You may wish to edit some of the above. [Alas, I had to. Ed]

On Boden's shop steward speeches, I remember one from CH82, when he was exposed to some light drizzle whilst planning (I believe I have it verbatim): 'I don't think we should work in the rain. People don't work properly in the rain, they just piss about. (pause) I take myself as the prime example'.

I think we need Richard Savage to confess to the Great Bap Mountain and the Furry Turkey."

[This last paragraph, I think needs some illumination from the Chronicler: I will interview him on Saturday, if I remember. Ed.]

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