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Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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556 of 632  Sat 11th May 2019 4:37pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

Standing outside the council house and daydreaming, whatever Rome was to me about the age of eight was about gladiators. And here I was, 15 years later gazing in awe at this mighty Colosseum, panorama of an ancient world crawling with myth, but deeply beautiful, the stones caught by the sun glow, the edges of cloud white against the sun. But the history of violence is in the stones, I walk out woozy. Outside is a netted fenced area where wild cats slink amongst giant stone blocks. Augustus' sundial, the Triumph arches marking the forum, I gaze down into memorials, but feel an outsider. The Pantheon, a gigantic doorway, a large number of columns about five feet across, for two thousand years of weather, its basement flooded by the Tiber on a number of times. An endless white city, silver domes amongst steeples, a thousand church bells, giant pine trees, the giant blocks of stone dragged through the crowded streets, straining horses, the creaking ropes. I gaze in wonder. Today the experience feels whole. There are mornings like this one when I wake up and re-live the days of my youth.
Our Kaga
Old Lincolnian
Coventry
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557 of 632  Sun 12th May 2019 7:30pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2012  Total posts:499

Kaga, as I’m sure you know, Lincoln racecourse is no more and closed a long time ago and the Lincoln Handicap moved to Doncaster – although point to point racing continued for a while after. It was where our annual school cross country was held. We got changed underneath the grandstand and ran the six mile route ending at the finishing post. You could only get out of it if you had a doctors note, and the school would check with your doctor as well just in case! Can you imagine that happening today?
Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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558 of 632  Sun 19th May 2019 7:41pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

In a field deep in the countryside, two young boys heard the distant sirens. They heard the bombers when they were three miles away. They hid in the garden. A lone bomber shed altitude, flew directly over the garden, released his bombs on the station at Shilton less than half mile away. Less than two years later the elder boy now a cadet(8f) flew over the same fields in a small Tiger Moth. His instructor shed altitude, flew the same pattern as the bomber, to the boy's delight. On the evening of 14th Nov 1940 in Coventry the boys heard the wailing sirens. The bombers crossed the Channel in the evening, there were 500 of them in waves. Below, the sea, a little choppy. Soon they by-passed the outskirts of London, avoiding the big guns. Their intercoms crackled, they shed altitude, each plane then released their loads of deadly explosives directly over Coventry. Five years later the boy, now in the forces, stood and stared in amazement. Three Lancaster bombers were idling on the tarmac, their props gently ticking over, and the boy and eighteen others were about to have the flight of their life. The three bombers flew wing tip to wing tip, through Southern England, circling back over the Channel, the crew answering any questions. The boy asked if on the way back they could follow the path the Germans had taken on that fateful night of the 14th. A few radio calls and yes. Drawing ever closer, the three Lancasters lost a little altitude as they neared Coventry, as low as they were allowed. You just had to experience Lancasters side by side in formation. So yes, it is about me, but who else could boast that double whammy. This is true, fact.
Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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559 of 632  Mon 20th May 2019 9:12am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

Fog swirls through the streets, buses flicker past in the mist, another footstep, another stranger. It's November, it's cold, and the fog closes in. I am waiting for my date outside the dripping Empire cinema, then a girl materialises before me. We both stand, eyes meet, no words for a few seconds, then "Are you Kaga?" she asks, "Yes". "I'm sorry I'm late, but Dot's not coming, she has the flu". She had the same nose as her sister, the same light freckles, and was about four years older, was smart, little make-up, no rings. She cocks her head. "We both hate to be stood up, so that's why I'm here" "Hey that's good of you". I glance at the sky, shrug my shoulders, say "Let's go to the pub, in the warm, we can talk". She nodded, we walked to the White Horse, a few yards away. As we enter we wipe our noses, we laugh together, and two pleasant hours pass by. Fate is whimsy.
Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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560 of 632  Sat 25th May 2019 1:33pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

Once again, another photo, another story. Neil's photo of the Opera House. This before television - few people in Coventry knew about the French Foreign Legion in those days, but here is swashbuckling Burt Lancaster portraying such. One Coventry lad saw the film and saw a way out of his harassment by the Coventry Police, who wanted to interview him about a robbery. Smithy. So he went to France and joined the FFL. A few weeks later the Legion found he was thief, and a 'queer' so they shipped him back to Marseille in an old shirt, shorts, boots with about five francs, and forgot him. Smithy had to go to the British Consul. I next came across him on Victoria Railway Station, where he told me this tale. He had a mobile kiosk that sold sweets, chocolate, etc and he was short-changing every note offered to him. I despised him, but hey, he was a Coventry kid. A year or so later the FFL took huge losses in Indo-China.
Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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561 of 632  Sun 26th May 2019 3:19pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

It was near 9 o'clock on a wet March morning when he came into my life. It was pretty obvious the cop had his eye on him. He was leaning on, or rather holding onto, the bus shelter - he looked real 'stinko'. His shirt was undone to the waist, tie awry, tails of his shirt hanging out, hair unkempt, unsteady on his feet. A young guy about thirty, I was out on my morning run. I made it fast to his side. The cop was making for him. I grabbed his arm. "Straighten up there, soldier" I said in a stern voice. I got my arms under him, winked at him and said "Let's walk". I knew the young cop, and said "I can manage this guy" "OK Kaga, but get him off the street". He leaned on me heavy but we stumbled to my flat. I dumped him on the couch, threw a blanket over him and let him sleep. He made a lot of noise during his sleep. He had been through an awful lot of pain, had a jagged scar across his forehead, smaller scars on his face and neck. Grenade, shell, something heavy. About three hours later he woke, went to the bathroom, looked around and at me. He grinned. "You bring me here?" "Sure" "Thanks". "What rank was you?" "Major. You?" "Buckshee private.,You like a coffee?" I made a couple of coffees and some beef sandwiches. "Why you bother with me?" "They were about to throw you in the can and throw away the key." He thrust out his hand. "Harry Neaves. I'm from Nuneaton". We shook hands, we talked army. An hour later he had shaved bathed and was well sober. "Lets go find your car". It was parked outside the White Lion. He kept thanking me, winced a few times in pain. It was about six weeks later he walked into the White Lion, spotted me. He was stone cold sober, expensively dressed, smart as a new pin. "Let's go for a nice meal, bring your young lady" he said, without a good morning, or other words. Outside he had a brand new Jag, leather trim, all the modern gadgets. His cufflinks silver and black and expensive, his tie silk. He had shaved around his scars. He bought our meals and wine and talked about his youth. Often pain showed in his face but no sadness. He was very good company. "You see me in the papers?" "Sure. I read a few things, said you were involved in politics, but not a politician. What the hell does that mean?" "I work behind the scenes but mainly I'm writing my memoirs". He signalled the wine waiter. When the drinks had been served I said, "So, how's your drinking, soldier?" He leaned back. "Christ. You're like a bloody MP". We both laughed. He glanced at the girl, "I keep to a limit, that way I can handle it". He glanced at his watch, "Sorry, but I have to go. Can I drop you off in Broadgate, is that OK?" I nodded. He paid the bill. "On expenses" he said. Then he drove us back to Broadgate and disappeared in a sqeal of tyres.
Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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562 of 632  Wed 29th May 2019 8:55am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

Johnnie Walker, I hope you're all well. As a kid I always loved running, but never joined a club. But . . . When I left school I became a farm worker/milkman, I milked the cows then delivered it. At seventeen I found myself sharing a barrack room with roly-poly Geoffrey Howe and eighteen other youths. Geoffrey had all the education, but couldn't run a dozen yards - on sports day he was first leg of our team, I was fourth leg. Geoff started us off, came in last over half lap behind the leader - we had no chance. Anyway, we finished 2nd and Geoff came across and shook my hand. He went on to become an officer in the Signals mob. Around twelve months later I met 2nd lieutenant Ginger Bagnall - he was my platoon commander. We enjoyed over six months of friendship and running training. Thirty years on and I read they both met at 10 Downing Street with Maggie Thatcher - wondered if they ever found out they knew the same milkman?
Our Kaga
JohnnieWalker
Bonny Hills, Australia
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563 of 632  Thu 30th May 2019 3:18am  
Member: Joined Jul 2011  Total posts:288

On 29th May 2019 8:55am, Kaga simpson said: Johnnie Walker, I hope you're all well. As a kid I always loved running, but never joined a club. But . . . When I left school I became a farm worker/milkman, I milked the cows then delivered it. At seventeen I found myself sharing a barrack room with roly-poly Geoffrey Howe and eighteen other youths. Geoffrey had all the education, but couldn't run a dozen yards - on sports day he was first leg of our team, I was fourth leg. Geoff started us off, came in last over half lap behind the leader - we had no chance. Anyway, we finished 2nd and Geoff came across and shook my hand. He went on to become an officer in the Signals mob. Around twelve months later I met 2nd lieutenant Ginger Bagnall - he was my platoon commander. We enjoyed over six months of friendship and running training. Thirty years on and I read they both met at 10 Downing Street with Maggie Thatcher - wondered if they ever found out they knew the same milkman?
Hi Kaga I am well, thanks Kaga - been a bit traumatic for the past few months as we bought a house on the coast last December, anticipating that it wouldn't take too long to sell ours in Queanbeyan. The nightmare should be all over this afternoon as the buyers are - finally - going to pay up! Cost us a fortune in bridging loan payments! Anyway - running! So many great memories. Like the time I anchored the Godiva Youths medley relay in the 1964 Midland Championships at Perry Barr - the home of the dreaded Birchfield Harriers. The first runner does two laps - 880 yards, then the second and third do 220 yards each, then the anchor runs 440. We had a good team - Clive Raven and I were fairly equal as 880yd runners, but as I had a bit more sprint speed I volunteered to do the 440. Clive was expected to be very competitive, and the rest of us were capable of at least staying with the Birchfield, Small Heath, Wolverhampton and Tipton runners. Sadly, with 100 yards left in the first lap, Clive was knocked over by the jostling pack. He picked himself up, 30 yards behind, and gave chase. The two half-lappers and I gave it our best but could never hope to bridge the gap, so I crossed the line in 5th place. We had caught up enough to know that we would have won the event without Clive's fall. We dutifully attended the medal presentation, and congratulated the Birchfield (I think they won) team as they collected their handsome plaques - then listened as the announcer told us that, as the Wolverhampton, Small Heath and Tipton teams were disqualified for jostling, the second place plaques would go to the Godiva team! There was a great deal of merriment as we motored home squeezed into Harry Lapworth's dreadful Ford Prefect! I still have that plaque! Edited by member, 30th May 2019 4:34 am
True Blue Coventry Kid

Our Kaga
Midland Red
Cherwell
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564 of 632  Thu 30th May 2019 8:01am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:5417

JW Sorry to encroach but . . . is that the Clive Raven I recall from the pits at Brandon and Blackbird Road???
Our Kaga
JohnnieWalker
Bonny Hills, Australia
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565 of 632  Fri 31st May 2019 9:10am  
Member: Joined Jul 2011  Total posts:288

The one and the same!! Small world eh?
True Blue Coventry Kid

Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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566 of 632  Fri 31st May 2019 3:35pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

JW Yes good days when we could run, I can only live on memories now. The two guys I mentioned, my family could have lived a week on the money they would spend on one tie. I felt good about running them into the ground, but they ended up running Thatcher's government. I take it you are moving to the coast in NSW. Forests, rivers and the coast - great place to live, if modernisation doesn't kill it.
Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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567 of 632  Sat 8th Jun 2019 1:46pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

I hurry down the passageway past a number of closed doors of the hostel and out of the front door and Rome seeps into me. A woman steps out of an archway, collides into me. Packages fall. "Sh**!" she says. We stoop, faces only inches away from each other. "No calamity", I say. She smiles - small, fair, blue eyes, freckles. A Doris Day type - 1953, Calamity Jane had just hit the cinemas. We stood up with the packages and carried them to her van. Her name is Joan, chats non-stop. We collect more boxes from her office to the van. She's with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as guide to the war graves in the old city. She offers to drop me close to the Colosseum. Ten minutes later she pulls up in a shady spot - a store. Kids come out to greet her. There are many fountains. "Sit at the fountain. I'll get some cold drinks". A girl about thirteen speaks to her - looking at me they laugh. She comes back with cool iced drinks. I visit the cemetery with her, less than 500 Commonwealth graves. Six days of wonder and excitement. Over the next few days I was shown and told the history of ancient Rome by an expert of seven years living in the city - this was the days before tourism was really known. No charges, no touts. Rome is a beautiful city, but to learn its history, and its old re-cycling. The marble of one facade came from a temple in the forum, thousands of granite from the colosseum, carted over to build St Peter's. Eight years later they were taken out. Ancient temples, monuments, were painted sunshine yellow, electric blue, statues had eye shadow, hazel eyes, coral lipstick, magenta temples, violet skies. The Eternal City. Have no idea if this is of interest to anyone.
Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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568 of 632  Sun 9th Jun 2019 9:55am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

I arrive back in Coventry in time for the London Motor Show - I believe it was in that year the Coventry TR made its first appearance. A few months later a number of them stood on the forecourt of an Italian dealer. There was a storm - 'The paint ran'. Patrick Leigh Fermor was a major in the Parachute Regiment. He abducted a German general from occupied Crete. It was then rumoured he went behind enemy lines with a phial of 'germ warfare'. With that and the secret Shaftesbury Hospital, two questions I seeked the answers to. Who better than Dick Crossman (Labour for Coventry) - he had been Eisenhower's top psychological warfare officer, sent to Aachen, near the end of the war, to help get them back on their feet after Nazi executions (worth reading about). Crossman told me he had never heard of the hospital. As for the phial, he reminded me that we were both still under the Official Secrets Act - nothing to be said. Which turned out a joke because a few years later he was accused of breaking the Act. Never did find the answer to either question.
Our Kaga
JohnnieWalker
Bonny Hills, Australia
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569 of 632  Wed 19th Jun 2019 4:32am  
Member: Joined Jul 2011  Total posts:288

Hey Kaga - I bet you can't wait for Donald Trump to unveil his re-election slogan - Keep America Great Again?
True Blue Coventry Kid

Our Kaga
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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570 of 632  Wed 19th Jun 2019 9:38am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3125

J Walker. No interest in politics, much rather talk of Bonny Hills - never visited. Loved the Blue Hills and the Three Sisters, real rugged country, another side of Australia's lovely country (my son held NSW kickboxing belt, years ago). Spent a couple of months on the borders of NSW and Queensland, walked a couple of miles into the dense forest, found what was once a clearing, had a couple of huts - the vegetation taking it back, the men had left it hurriedly in 1926, the big cross-saws still embedded in a tree-trunk. Really interesting for a story, and a book.
Our Kaga

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