September 2003

DURING THE WAR

A Letter to the Editor

shapeimage_2-7In response to my plea last month, Mike Talamo has written the following “Ian Scales’s piece m your August edition about nicknames prompted me to remember that these sobriquets are not necessarily just bestowed by us on our fellow men, but also on inanimate objects such as the well-remembered ‘Wimpy’ Wellington bomber and the ‘Stringbag’ Fairey Swordfish. During and after the 1939-45 war, America, as we know supplied Britain with most generous quantities of food of various kinds, which found its way not only to the Civilian population but also to our troops serving overseas. One such item, along w,th Spam and the like which had provided a welcome variation to mundane rations, was a brand of sausage, the tin of which procla,med they were the product of Messes Hiram C Potts of Chreago, USA.

After the liberation of Hong Kong from the Japanese, a certain Capt. C Potts, a member of a Marine Commando unIt, had been ordered to supervise the restoration of a track connecting Clearwater Bay Road in the New Territories with the important fishing community of Sar Kung, so that ,t could be used by motor vehicles. This undertaking, obviously different from his usual type of work, he took on with enthusiasm and a splendid new single-track road was the result.

Capt. Potts had gained something of a unique reputation in the mess of being highly appreciative of the somewhat unusual taste of Hiram Potts’s product, with the inevitable result that he became known to his friends as ‘Hiram’.

This is not the end of the story. The road itself which had been constructed under his direction, became known as ‘Hiram’s Highway’ which, as far as I know, remains to this day the official name of this much grander multi-lane road. What the Chinese administrators make of the name in their new Special Administrative Region, I cannot guess; perhaps they have changed it after all”

Internet readers. ‘This is history being recorded’ If you live in or have connections with Chicago or Hong Kong, spread the news. Does Hiram C Potts still make sausages? Has the Hong Kong administration changed the name?- Tell us’ – Ed

Speakers

Anwell120709It was a pleasure to welcome Kate Holdsworthy as our speaker at the August luncheon. There are speakers who struggle to get their points across and there are natural communicators. Kate was of the latter group, easy to listen to, easy to hear and talking on a subject that has affected just about all of us at some time in our lives pets in the home.

Kate had been billed at a local vet, an error she immediately put right by telling us she was in fact a receptionist at the Anwell Veterinary Centre on the Brighton Road, near the Coulsdon Methodist church. From first appearances none of us would hesitate to put our darlings in careful hands. The Centre is located in what is, or was, a private house and as such is not really a pets hospital; more like, I suppose an A&E centre with a fully qualified Vet in charge of two qualified nurses It is listed as a training practice, an indication of their ability to care for small animals. Horses and cattle go elsewhere to be cured.

So what sort of problems to they cope with? A surprisingly wide list is the answer. There are the usual problems which make up the bulk of theIr patients’ troubles, such as fleas in the summer, worms to be removed and surgery to be preformed on broken limbs. Additionally they treat diabetes, usually in elderly pets, and also the after effects of cat poisoning. Animals suffer from a range of troubles usually associated with humans, heart disease, kidney failure and the like, some of which require blood transfusions which are often given dIrectly from dog to dog. It was interesting to learn that animals do not have the complicated blood groups we humans have to consider. And then there is the horror of fireworks and the trauma they induce in so many animals.

Kate was quite clear about the fact that they are not a NHS-type ‘free’ service. Fees are quite high, making the cynics amongst us wonder if the best thing to do would be the traditional end of putting them down. Just like us, the cost of dental treatment came as a shock, but there are Supa-style insurance schemes to ease the pain of payment.

Kate is no simple receptionist and I can well imagine the look in the eyes of a dog being sent crazy trying to scratch the itch hidden behind his high collar as she takes him by the paw and cossets the trouble away with sympathetic care.

Speakers

Today:

Norma Sweeting has a Cunning plan to seek out our innermost characteristics, using Graphology to find the personality hidden in our handwriting, as if we didn’t already know, but keep quiet.

October 2nd:

Pauline Payne of the Coulsdon New Millennium ProJects tells us what they have in mmd and calls on our support.

November 6th:

John Chisholm introduces us to England through the eyes of the writer A R Quinton Something very much out of the ordinary.

Club News

Good news about Charles Hancock, who at 91 is recovering well after a hip replacement at Shorley Oaks. He is at home and findIng the a whole lot easier, though crutches will be needed for the next month

Another hip is in the news: we are sad to report that Harry Cundell had a full and broke one a few weeks ago. He, too, is on the mend and relies on crutches for the next month or so to keep mobile.

Tom Chapple is at home recovering from a heart attack. He has his up-days and down-days but seems to remember to take all the pills he should, ably reminded by his daughter who sees him each day or telephones in lieu.

The weather was kind to the ten members who congregated at Denbies a couple of weeks ago to view English wine making at its very best They have had a tremendous season this year, what with cain in May and pretty continuous sun thereafter. The sugar content has been splendid and It should be a truly vintage crop to lighten our palates There was a slight hiccup when we arrived, when we had to wait for a couple of hours before the visiting crowds allowed a tour of the premises and its all-important product sampling, but the time was spent looking over the vineyard and nobody was too upset.

Our next outing arranged by Stan Rogers is the trip down the Thames on the good ship Waverley on September 28th. No doubt Stan will remind us today of any last minute details.

Reg Baker has asked me to remind everyone about the Annual Dinner to be held at Coulsdon Manor Hotel on Thursday October 23rd. Time is creeping on and he has a lot of organising to do with the hoteL

Most of all, he needs to know who is coming, what we want to eat from the menu list and, of course, payment for yourself and guests. You all had the form a couple of meetings ago, so make up your minds, ask your guests what they want and let Reg have it back. These lunches are always excellent, in fine surroundIngs, with fine food and great company. What is more, Reg’s organisation always seems to work perfectly

During the War
by Bill Brinkley

shapeimage_1-7A recent BBC item brought back memories of when my father had a fifty acre farm in Hertfordshire near Bovingdon aerodrome. I remember shot-up planes struggling back to base and waves of gliders being towed to their fate in Arnhem.

We used to take the tractor and trailer to the USAF base to pick up pig swill. Discarded luxuries such as oranges did not often reach home, let alone the pigs. Fellow pupils at Kings Langley School were rightly envious when my sister won the raffle prize – a banana – donated by the GI compere doing PR duties.

Food rationing brought out Dad’s entrepreneurial skills. Eggs – one for a shilling – were a currency readily converted into such things as clothing coupons. His first attempt at black market butchery was temporally frustrated when a former neighbour ‘helped’ us to drive an ‘escaped’ pig back to its sty. As the operation developed, my sister and I acted as clandestine lookouts charged with flashing car headlights from the end of the farm drive if any strangers were seen.

At Christmas the enterprise included turkeys imported from Norfolk, which required the illegal use of red farm petrol to enable us to get about As well as an import/export business, rustling of our own stock was a problem, made easier by an open back door and a bottle of whisky left on the kitchen table which encouraged friendly surveillance by the boys in blue.

The BBC item I heard recalled the German PoWs who were held back after the war to work on farms, Hugo, our neighbour’s man, preferred marriage to their buxom daughter to a return to the Fathacland. I remember our own PoWs making toys for us as Christmas presents and my father collecting other PoWs wandering the local lanes to bring them to our fa= for Christmas dinner and a touch of the homely and family life they were missing. Our own way of extending an Entente Cordiale.

The Editor adds: I suppose there will be no comeback on Bill’s family, or indeed himself, for being so open about his illegal activities so long ago. We are all criminals, to a greater or lesser extent — it comes with being human. I well remember quite extensive wartime smuggling across the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State as it was then. Anything from tea (going southwards), through ladies underwear northwards was fair game, to be hidden around the train compartment before reaching the border String bags full of jam and butter would be hung out of the door on the unplatformed side of the train; nylon stockings rolled up into the window blind and suspiciously pregnant -looking middle aged women liberating a roll of cloth wrapped round their tummies. We didn’t need to, but it was fun trying to catch out the Customs man.

Produced and edited monthly by Ian Scales (01737 553704)
for The Coulsdon Probus Club.
Edition No 81.

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